Monday, February 28, 2022

In These Sad Times

 I have to admit, I haven't had much fun lately. My thoughts have been occupied with the Russian invasion into a European country.

Reports from Ukraine have been harrowing. Thousands, - no millions - of people have gotten their lives turned upside down. The thought of ever having a war again in Europe had never carried the sense of reality. Bea and I had just talked about how our generation had been the blessed one, not witnessing any war in Europe since the end of WWII. And then - just out of the blue sky - we got a war again. And just like WWII it has been initiated by a power-hungry crazy-minded dictator. And we feel the desperate situation Europe and NATO is experiencing. Every country's sympathy and empathy is on Ukraine, but aside of sending weapons, can we help Ukraine defeat the Russians? Can Germany send soldiers without losing Russian natural gas to heat German households? And aren't we risking the beginning of WWIII? I think most people are afraid of the conflict spilling over to other countries. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, a membership which is at the core of Putin's angst. Putin is threatening a nuclear war, if the west is putting boots on Ukrainian soil, but he should know that Russia too would not survive a nuclear attack led by the U.S. Meanwhile, Europe is the scared rabbit waiting paralyzed for what is gonna happen. So everybody hopes that negotiations and peace talks can save this world from crashing into the abyss.

Ukrainians have a major advantage against the Russians. For them this war is a threat to their very existence as a free sovereign country. Ukrainians are full of passion for defending their country against the Russian criminal. And it is this passion which is lacking with Russian soldiers. For them this war is not about patriotism. They are simply following the orders of their generals, whose orders again come from Putin directly. Passion is important for winning a war, and I hope that Ukraine will remain a free independent country. Let's pray for that!

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Lake Nobody Wanted

The year was 1905. People in the Imperial Valley had been busy building an irrigation canal to convert a large stretch of desert into fertile land. The work on the canal had been tedious, but the water from the Colorado would make the Imperial Valley into the biggest vegetable producing area in the US. However, what nobody was aware of, was that the Colorado River had built up a big natural dam of sediments, sand and gravel down stream. Instead of running out into the Sea of Cortez, the back flow started to overfill the newly dug canal until the pressure on the canal dikes got too high. And then disaster struck. 

The river was now flooding the Imperial Valley. Newly built homes drowned in the flood waters. The water found its way into the upper Imperial Valley, which lies some 226.4ft under sea level. In fact, it filled the entire basin north up to the town of Mekka. 

A huge lake was filling up fast now. Since it was surrounded by higher terrain, the water had no outlet. 

When it had reached a certain level, the Colorado pressed its waters against the natural dam it had built downstream and finally broke through. The river was now back in its original bed and the water level in the lake stopped rising. The farm areas dried out again, though it took years before the damage could be repaired.


Fast forward to the fifties: Quickly, the lake became a popular area for recreation- seeking city dwellers from San Diego and L.A. People brought their boats and camped out along the lake.

Accommodations and restaurants were built and the area was crowded every weekend. Land owners sold building lots for vacation homes and cabins. During the fifties and sixties, the disaster of the early 1900s turned into a gold mine. 

Sadly, the lake had only one small inlet, the Alamo River, which really is only a small creek. The lack of freshwater into the lake should become a major problem. The salt-containing ground dirt under the lake started to convert the fresh water of the Colorado into Salt water. Additionally, a lot of agricultural run-off was getting into the Alamo River, thus leading to overfertilizing and poisening the water with herbicides and insecticides. The hot summers in the valley led to a steady high evaporation of water, thus increasing the salinity of the lake. Pretty soon the little marina south of Mekka got abandoned, as boaters didn't like to put their boats into the ever more salty water. On top of that, the water gave off an unpleasant funny smell.

Fish in the lake started to die, finally leaving only little saline crabs in the water.

In 2005 we saw the lake for the first time. We stayed one night in one of the state-run campgrounds, but didn't like the smell of the lake water, which had an awful reddish colour.

Due to yearly evaporation and ongoing droughts, the lake has now receded several hundred yards from the original shoreline. Where water once was washing up the shore, endless streams of white barnacle shells are now pretending to be sand. 

This weekend we are again camping in one of the campgrounds along the lake. 

It has become a major attraction again, this time for birders. And Bea is all excited to prowl along the saltcrusted shoreline to get some nice photo shots of the birds.

And while I'll leave Bea to the birds, I will be attending a "Sourdough Festival" in the Palm Springs area.

Some Salton Sea data:

Area: 343.2 sq.miles (888.88 sqkm)
Surface elevation: -226.4′ (69m)
Length: 34.8 mi  (55,7km)
Width: 14.91 mi  (23,86km)

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Oh What A Fun Day

 So, finally the day had come. Holtville was ready for its 75th Carrot Festival.

The temps were on its way to reach 90F, but it was only 10am and the heat was still tolerable. Yet, I secured myself a spot under a row of small trees. In front of me I had a row of low chairs with the owners taking place. 

Below: A big crowd

First out, as usual, was the honor guard. A marching band followed and then one float after the other passed by. The firetrucks of
Holtville pressing on their horns and putting their sirens to work were a given. No American parade goes without the fire department. Later. even a couple of firetrucks from El Centro went by.

The old cars from the fifties are always attracting special attention, but the big official carrot floats were the prettiest of all.

Is this Huskie enjoying the show as well?

Towards the end appeared what I can only describe as a lot of noise making and something which has no connection to the idea of celebrating the harvest of the carrots: A huge group of ugly looking ATVs. They are toys for men who have problems growing up. Not a good choice made by the organizers.

A couple of streets back, the city is having a tivoli set up. I didn't visit it this year as the heat was increasing and it was time to get back to camp.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Whoa, It's Sure Heating Up

 The weather forecast had predicted it, by mid-afternoon we hit 89F. And we were huddling on the backside of the trailer in the shade hoping for the slight breeze to increase a tad. 

With us were Petra and Gerhard. We talked about our travels and our many strange and remarkable experiences over the years. Our friends have another big motor home, a former overland bus, in Germany. 

We also talked about the experience with the stolen converter and how that also had become a problem in Europe. We thoroughly enjoy their company here at the hot springs, especially since this season has brought over a lot of very strange people, most of them we would not want to hang out with.

Since it was extremely warm today, I can still sit outside under the awning writing today's posting, which is over now. 

But we will be back tomorrow with pictures and report about the 75th Holtville Carrot Festival.

Thursday, February 10, 2022


 And so the saga rolls on....

Our German friends arrived Bullhead City,AZ  in time to take a look at Laughlin,NV the gambling city across the Colorado. While there, they parked their rig in a wide open parking lot across from a casino and decided for supper in the casino restaurant. They went to bed early as they planned to be at the MDV office for their level2 inspection early the next morning.

When Gerhard started the motorhome next morning he couldn't believe the noise he heard. Something was fundamentally wrong with their exhaust pipe. He had to crawl underneath to find out that thieves had cut out the catalytic converter, leaving the pipe wide open!

Now what? Could they still get their inspection? 

Petra took the Suzuki down first. As I had anticipated, all the ADOT-officer did was checking the VIN number. And while the guy was back in the office, Gerhard sneaked the motorhome into the parking lot for inspection. 

Thank God, they got their registration and titles for both vehicles. 

Next was a stop by a car repair where somebody weldet a pipe into the gaping hole where the catalytic converter had been just 18hours earlier.

It is a temporary solution only, but at least they were able to return to Yuma, where they spent the night.

Today is Gerhard's birthday and we would have wished a better surprise for him than someone stealing a part from their motorhome.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Case Closed But Another Is Just Starting Up - Or Is It 2 New Cases?

 Happy Monday, happy monday....and at 7:30am Petra, Gerhard and myself rolled out of camp taking course to the Yuma International Airport to meet up with a CBP officer, who would be able to process paperwork for importation of our friend's 2 vehicles.

Gerhard has been a professional driver of really big rigs and so it wasn't any problem for him to maneuver the motorhome around the somewhat tight curves at the airport building. Upon ringing the door bell, Mr. Officer appeared in the hallway, and was completely unaware of any existing appointment on this truly beautiful morning. Yet, he invited us inside where plenty papers and filled-out forms were soon covering his desk. Once things were put into order, his work started by using his desktop computer. Processing had started for real and we all exchanged expressions of relief.

After checking the VIN-numbers on the vehicles parked out front, we were ready for the next step, - paying a visit to the MDV at ADOT. 

Case 1 was closed, case 2 just started.

After waiting our turn, we got to the counter talking and explaining the issue to an employee. 

To make a long story short, we learned that ADOT is requiring a "Level 2" inspection for imported vehicles.

Now, a "level 2" inspection consists of making sure the VIN numbers on the papers match the ones of the vehicle. Of course, we have photos of them with our papers, but no Sir, they have to be inspected by an ADOT officer. I dared to tell the lady that exactly that had just been done by the customs officer an hour earlier. But nope, that was not to be relied upon. The kinky part with all that is that "level 2" authorized ADOT offices are sparsely distributed over the state of Arizona. And, most importantly, they only work with appointments. Such appointments proved to be difficult to come by, as none were currently available - at least not within reasonable distance or reasonable time.

So with our heads hanging, we left the Yuma ADOT - offices.

On the way home, Petra went onto the ADOT website and struck gold - in Bullhead City,AZ. 2 appointments (one for each vehicle) were just available on the 9th of February. EUREKA - What luck! 

Of course Bullhead City is over 200miles away, but it was the only way to reach the goal.

Now, it remains to patiently wait for the outcome, after our friends have reached Bullhead City.

If you have read the previous posting about me catching a "cold" the current update on that is that Bea got it as well - only that it is not a common cold. It is COVID. She had purchased a 2. test that day and used it herself now, and the result was positive. So we can safely say my "cold" was not a cold either - just a wrong result of the antigen test. I have to admit that we both got the weird feeling of having caught the plague. "The Plague" as understood in "deadly disease". And I am convinced it could have turned out as such, if we wouldn't have been vaccinated three times.

I can survive a bunch of common cold symptoms even without any vaccination, but the chances of making it through Covid without at least some lasting problems, seem remote to me.

Folks, if you haven't done it yet, it's not too late yet. Get those vaccines now. This latest variant is spreading sooo easily. We have been very cautious all the time, but nobody can control himself 110% for not making a mistake. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Sick In The Desert

 Just imagine it, one night you wake up drenched in sweat and when daylight arrives you are having a sore throat and are coughing and sneezing and feel totally out of it. And imagine there is a pandemic out there and you get scared that you have picked it up somewhere.

Those were my thoughts exactly, a couple of days ago. First thing after that night was to send Bea to town to get a home test.

The result was negative, but that didn't make me happy camper yet. Meanwhile a headache had appeared and later a slight fever. Geez.....have merci!

Could I trust that home test? Bea had bought 2 of them, but I haven't taken the second one. On the other hand, I was contemplating that IF it was Covid wouldn't Bea have it as well? The devil is in the details, as they say, but Bea is still doing just fine. It has been many years ago that I have had a cold like this, and it wasn't the flu either, cause I had no muscle aches. And I guess the flu would have struck down good, I mean flat out on the bed.

I am currently driving myself through the day, trying to get out in the sun, alternating with relaxing on the couch. 

Good thing it's sunny around here, even though it could be a wee bit warmer. 68F or 20C is not an overly warm day out here, and the nights have been bitterly cold down to the freezing mark. But it is looking up for the next week as we will reach 82F (28C) by the end of next week. Well, I guess we will seek refuge in the shade behind the rig. Are we never happy? It might seem so, but then again, even a bad day here is a better day than a good day home. 

Above: A Good Day at home
A good day in the desert
So, I guess we are happy enough to be here. If just that cold would be gone.

Friday, February 4, 2022

A Solution For Petra And Gerhard Is Cropping Up

 The Custom's saga got another volume to it the following day. As we tried to raise any officer in charge, we did speak to a commander at the Calexico Port of Entry, but all he could do was referring us to another phone number and yet another officer. Unfortunately that one officer could not be reached, so the last attempt in Calexico found its natural end. So sad.

As I tried to help our friends to find a solution a CBP website showed a list of several customs brokers for the San Luis Port Of Entry in Arizona. San Luis is close to Yuma. The broker lady I ended up with told me they would not be able to process vehicles for import. Instead she gave me the phone number of the CBP-office at the Yuma International Airport.

I even tried to intervene her flow of speech, but she was adamant that it would be the right place to go to and we wouldn't need a broker for that. I was in disbelief, but being desperate now, I dialed the number - and got an officer on the phone. I briefly explained the case and he jumped right into it asking what time we would like to come see him!

I was blown away. This sounded almost too good to be true. An appointment was made right away for coming Monday and the owners would have to bring the filled out forms, which, of course, we already had at the ready.

Now, thinking over why in the world an airport customs office would be in charge, I came to the following, quite logical, explanation: Yuma,AZ is a place that is full of RVers. One could almost say, the town lives of that winter tourism of RVers coming there year after year to escape gruesome winter days in the north.

Now most of these RVers are in the upper end age group. There will always be some who suddenly find themselves in a more or less precarious situation with their health. And some of these want or need to sell their RV right there in Yuma. It follows that if they are from Canada, they need to import their vehicles before they can sell them. So right there we find the need for a suitable place to process paperwork and the necessary inspections. The local regular border crossings are too busy for that kind of work, and won't have appropriate parking for big RVs, but the not-so-busy Yuma airport has available capacity for both, processing of paperwork and lots of parking, even for RVs.

So, come Monday, hopefully we will have some real happy camper neighbours next door. Oh, and btw. they will also save $400 for the cost of using a broker,


Now, that I have learned so much about vehicle import I consider to set up a consulting business in Yuma. 

(Just kidding of course.....)

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

A Couple Of Hours At The Border

 Petra and Gerhard would like to sell their motorhome in the US. But the rig is Canadian, even though it has been made in the US. Contacting CBP at the Calexico port of entry, should be a simple phone call, right? 

Well, not so fast, young man! CBP Calexico has a whole bunch of phone numbers but surly it wouldn't take long to get to the right officer with the knowledge about what to do, right?  


It turned out to be impossible to call CBP to get an answer to a simple question. All we wanted to know how to proceed and where to go. But we were out of luck.

So the other day we decided to simply doa pre-scouting drive down to the border to find our answers. Now, the Calexico port of entry is a big border crossing with a lot of buildings and a separate entry for commercial traffic. 

Naturally, we started at the private non-commercial entry. Entering a big nice building we soon ran into a tall security officer, who stopped us - and send us across a parking lot to a different building. There we were stopped by a CBP officer and sent into a cage-like waiting area. Finally somebody came over to see what the hell we were waiting for. Explaining our errand, he sent us over to the commercial border crossing, which is quite far away and as it turned out, not accessible for private inquiries. We had taken the car over there and had ended up in a fenced-in trap where one semi after the other appeared. The very young officer there could not help us, but we were relieved that he let us out through his gate, and after making a U-turn we got back on the road. What a mess. He had also given us another phone number, which we tried to call from the car - naturally, without any success. 

We spent about 2 hours there and hadn't achieved anything.

We also found a customs broker, but they did only Mexican stuff. 

Meanwhile, we have contacted a broker office in British Columbia. We are awaiting their answer whether they will be able to get the 2 vehicles processed for import.

The entire episode reminded me sooo much about my many battles with unwilling, or should I say incompetent, (?) government offices. On the other hand I have imported quite a few vehicles from the US to Canada and never had any problems - as long as I dealt with a small to midsize office.

Hopefully, we'll see a positive result soon.