Thursday, November 30, 2023

Maybe This Is The Year We Should've Stayed At Home

 Of course, you have been wondering why blog posts were interrupted. 

There is a very reason to it: I am sick!

I think it all began on the 3rd. day of our trip. I had body aches when getting out from behind the wheel and my fingers had been tingling after hours of driving.

From there it went all downhill. 

Excruciating pain in my right hand, especially at night, depriving me of sleep for 4 nights, as of now. The hand is all swollen up and feels "on fire". and I still have body aches all over. Words like ARTHRITIS, GOUT and other scary scenarios are spooking around in my brain. This goes along with unreasonable chills, having me looking for my jacket even when inside the trailer. Monday will find me in an ER and hopefully, we will know more by the evening. Meanwhile, I got a numbing cream to put on my hand to douse the pain, which I hope will allow for some sleep again.

Bea is taking this very heavy and has thrown around ideas of going home. It even affected her nightmare scenarios. But that doesn't look too attractive, especially in my current condition. I'd rather fly home and get it checked out, but Bea and Dixie would have to stay behind. So for now, we have landed on the ER-visit on Monday.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with our friends and enjoy the company of all those people, many of which we have known for years.

Using this key board hurts my swollen fingers, so I'll call is quits for today.

Friday, November 24, 2023

What The Other Half says....

 if you click on the following link you can get the actual view of my better half with some updated infos about how this adventure is going now.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

We Were ridin' Into The Sunset

Little Baby Tarantula
A miracle happened this morning. Something so unbelievably unreal, that all I could say "WOW".

My phone rang and a glance onto the display read "NAPA Auto Parts". Now, was it that they had given all up on the van or did they already close for Thanksgiving???

None of the above. The lady said "Your van is ready".


There it was. Our adventures along US Highways could continue.

I told Yves about it, and his eyes lit up. Ready to go? Ready to go!

Last evening in WHY

Arriving at the shop I saw the van parked outside the gate. It was like an apparition. After 8 days in the shop, it was finally ready to serve us again.

I quickly crawled under the van to check on the cables - they were all shiny new. I tried the shifter.... it worked just fine.

After paying up (it wasn't so bad) I drove over to Olsen's groceries, filled up 2 5-gal water containers got a few more groceries and made it over to the gas station. Compared to other places in AZ, Ajo takes the cake when it comes to the highest gas prices. Cheapest was $4.05 (minus my rebate). Even out in Gila Bend, which is notoriously expensive, the price of gas was significantly ($3.59) lower. But we needed a fill-up.

We also needed a fill of a 7gal. Propane tank. There was a station on the other side of the road, and that's where I went. Price tag said 4.89/gal. What?

I know that even in California propane is $3.99. What on earth is wrong here in Ajo? I guess local town council has decided to take advantage of the fact that the town is enroute to Mexico, thus increasing local taxes and that everybody needs to stop for fill-ups. Well, I wouldn't want to stay there for the winter. 

Btw. the BLM in Why is a great place to stay for the allotted 14 days, we loved the views and the walks and lately even some friendly people stopped by to say hello.

But the camp can never be home for us. Simply because "Home" for us is at the Holtville Hot Springs BLM.

After we had dumped our waste water at the Coyote Howls RV Park ($12) we hit the highway 85, first north to Gila Bend then following I-8 via Yuma,AZ all the way to Holtville.

Mural in AJO

I can get a kick out of Bea's comments when we are approaching the BLM Camp. "I can see the water tower" "Now I can see the Power Plant", and needless to say I can't but getting excited myself and now I have to control my gas foot, cause in CA vehicles with trailers cannot exceed 55mph.

We had started from Why around 1:30pm and were now heading west against the setting sun. Minutes after the sun had gone below the mountain range in Mexico, we arrived at the LTVA. (Long Term Visitor Area)

Thanksgiving traffic on I-8 near Yuma

Our Turn-off

We found "our spot" marked off with lights and a funny reminder of a disastrous pie I once made: "The Cherry Chisel Cake". How sweet of friends to remind me that I should not mess around with pie baking anymore. :-))

Even after it got dark, friends came by to welcome us in camp. It was just wonderful.

We are tired now, but I need to say that we are not the only ones being happily back here. Dixie went to inspect her old spots right away and I am so amazed with her ability to remember certain geographical locations.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Continuing Saga

 Aah...this was to be THE morning where we would receive a call letting us know that our van would be ready for pickup. After breakfast we did our Dixie-morning walk. It was a bit chilly when starting out, but warmed quickly so that I got rid of my sweater. The sky was super blue, not a single cloud to see.

Returning to camp site, Yves and Louise were up and outside with their coffees enjoying the nice morning. Chatting away with them the time flew by quickly. Since I had had a bad sleep last night, I napped a bit on the couch.

Before I knew it, it was lunch time. Hours ago, I had wondered why the shop hadn't called yet. So now I grabbed the phone and dialed their number. The news I got was simply devastating. The part from the GM-dealership had not arrived and after talking to the dealer it became clear that it was never shipped either.

What in the world?????

Yes, we would have to wait yet another day, but tomorrow, Wednesday, the part would definitely be in Ajo.

Honestly, I have given up all hope of getting the van back before Thanksgiving. Wednesday will be the last day before everything closes until Monday or even Tuesday which will then mark 14 days here at Why, when the plan was 3-4 days only.

I am furious about such sloppy business attitude and wonder whether I have landed in a desolate part of Africa or whether this indeed is the United States.

So here we are awaiting another day in the Arizona desert.

We Still Haven't Made It To California

 And you might just imagine why we are still hanging out in WHY,AZ. Of course, it is the ongoing drama with our van.

Today was supposedly the day when our van would be fully repaired, with transmission shifter cables installed. After calling at 8:15am I learned that the parts had arrived. At around 12:30pm I called again and was told the van would be ready in another hour. Half an hour later our friend Yves drove me to town. After getting some drinking water and a few groceries, it was time to pick up the van. 

We quickly found out that the van was still on the hoist. Oh boy!

Then we were told that a tiny safety washer clip was missing. It was a crucial part as it would hold the 2 wires together. It didn't come with the new cables and Napa didn't have it. Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

We went back to the town center where we had a coffee and a pastry. (yummy! ]

We did a walk around the old Spanish plaza, then I called the shop again. They had now ordered it from a GM dealer (in Phoenix?) and it would be in Ajo in the morning.

Naturally, I am wondering why there hadn't been this washer clip when the cable had been taken out? Did the mechanic lose it? (it's really tiny) Or hadn't it been there at all? Questions without answers.

What we did get an answer for is that the lower cable had never been replaced at the Chevrolet Dealership in Freehold, NJ. That makes a lot of sense, as I discovered the cobber wire which I had put on it, was still wrapped around the gear lever at the transmission, when it failed again here at the BLM.

The shifter cables made by DORMAN come with a really crappy bushing. So NAPA has replaced it right away with a better bushing.

Now all we have to do is wait for another day, and another attempt to pick up the van.

Interestingly our van hasn't been the only vehicle which got in trouble out here.

Yesterday late afternoon we saw that another van had pulled up not far from us. What was strange about it was the position with the rear hanging sort of down in a hole.

Shortly after I was approached by the owner of said van, a young German lady who was in dire need of help. It turned out that she had tried to drive through a small wash, but underestimated the climb on the far side. Since her van was an extended Ford Transit with a long rear overhang and on top of that a mounted Bike rack on the receiver hitch, she got hung up in the rear, in the process damaging here waste water pipe as well.

Yves had a shovel and we dug like crazy to free the rear from the hard gravel she got stuck in. At the end, we tried to throw rocks and pieces of wood incl. a chain under the rear tires, but nothing helped.

The Transit just getting pulled out

Bettina, got stuck there for the night.

This morning she called the same company I had used last Monday and a lady driver operator showed up. With the help of a winch the van got out of the ditch and Bettina looked much happier.

Afterwards we had a little chat with her and learned that she was on a one-year adventure trip in North America, starting her trip in Alberta, Canada where relatives gave her the van. Talk about an adventurous lady!

And this, dear readers, were the doings of the adventure team, Bea, Peter and Dixie for today. But I am sure there is more to come.

Friday, November 17, 2023

The Sunsets Of The Deserts

 We have heard it several times: What are you doing in the desert? Why are you staying in the desert?

The questions deserve an answer. First of all, there is the weather. Dry and warm air persists throughout the winter.

Rain is extremely rare. And when it comes in February/March the desert turns into a flower garden.

The Desert is not overcrowded like f.e.x Florida is during winter months. If one seeks solitude, one can find it in the desert. 

The areas S.California, Arizona and partly Nevada offer BLM areas, where folk may set up camp, either in 14-day free-areas or with a permit valid for 7 months for $180. This is by far, the most budget-friendly solution for camping. Just 2 - 3 days in an average private campground could cost you the same amount. 

Most areas are so spacious that you will not have to park anywhere near "the other rig". Eastern states do not offer BLM areas for camping.

Deserts are natural and in most cases undisturbed areas where the view and experiences in nature are abundant. And part of the latter are stunningly beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

What I haven't mentioned yet: We have always met our best friends in the desert. There we find folks with similar interests, most of whom pursue a simple lifestyle close to basic needs.

Another thing why we really like to stay at BLM is the personal freedom. Naturally, common courtesy is required also in a BLM camp, but the limits are generously set. You want a campfire at your site? Go build one and invite your neighbours. Look up in the dark sky and you'll see millions of stars. 

The desert invites to desert walks. With open eyes you may see and follow natural life on the ground. Special insects, coyotes, birds, lizards and so much more lives on the desert floor. And yes, snakes are part of it, but there is no reason to be afraid of them. During cooler winter days they hibernate. Night temps are cool or even cold. The ground doesn't retain the higher day temps, and snakes and lizards become sluggish to immobile and don't appear in the open during winter days.

These are the most prevalent reasons why we and others are seeking the desert, rather than doing camping in a strictly regulated RV Resort, where the yearly fees can be thousands of Dollars.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Update On The Ongoing Problems

 When, the van first got to the repair shop, which also is a NAPA Auto Parts store, the word was that it would take a week. if not more to get the parts. And it was explained as the result of a recent strike of the UAW and of course the fact that the parts would have to come from Kentucky.

I was not a happy camper with that, so I started phoning another NAPA store in Phoenix. I was stunned to learn that parts would be available there. So why hadn't the folks here in Ajo found this. I asked them to please call the Ajo store with relevant information. While checking on the progress this morning, I learned that the Phoenix store had not made the call and that the parts had already been ordered from Kentucky and would be overnighted to Ajo with arriving either Friday or Saturday. By Monday morning, the van would be fixed and ready from the middle of the day.

OK, at least we got that time line and I have no problems with it, as we are in a great place with our friends near by.

Weather was a little over cast today but plenty warm enough to take meals outside. 


And speaking of meals, Louise had made a huge load of spaghetti with meat sauce and I delivered the dessert - Flapjacks with Apple sauce. All was yummy!

First half of the afternoon was relaxing time, Bea napped, while I was outside listening to my favorite music channel.

With coffee cup in hand we then continued playing board games outside. Yves won twice and I won once.

Meanwhile, Dixie pretended to sleep, (or was she?) but alerted us immediately when a motorbike rumbled through the area. Dixie is the perfect guardian dog.

Old dried out tree remnant found under our desert walk. Can you see the shape of a goat head?

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Ride To Town Which Did Not Happen The Way We Intended It.

This morning we were readying to go to town to complete some errands. When I started the van and "put it into gear", our gear shifter came lose again. It was a moment of total disbelief. So I crawled under the van to check the shifter cable, it was sitting where it is supposed to sit, but the van could not be put into gear. Moving the gear lever at the transmission brought the gear shifter back into function, but only when shifting towards "P". As soon as Bea tried to move it into "D" (downwards) it got lose again.

The van was not movable!

So I found a towing service and automotive service shop and called COACHNET to request a tow to Ajo.

After multiple phone calls the guy showed up and above you see that he loaded it onto a flatbed truck. Since the van had been stuck in "P" we had to get it into "N" to roll it up onto the truck.

Later, I got a call from the shop telling me that parts were on national back order and would not be deliverable until next week. What a country!

But I guess we are lucky that we have our friends here and that we are in the desert where it is warm and all this had not happened on Monday while being on the highway.

Not knowing what the day would bring, we had taken a morning hike with Dixie. The BLM here is a very large area and one can walk on "for ever".

We found a cactus with fruits on top. Bea picked one and back at the trailer we sliced it open. Inside one can see the dark cactus seeds. 

Reminding a little of KIWI fruit

The fruity part has a sourly taste and can be eaten in small amounts. Small amounts, because it is high on oxalic acid and it has the potential to destroy your kidneys if consumed in bigger amounts. I am sure the Indians used it in their meals.

The name of the cactus is Fero Cactus, also called "Candy Barrel". And the fruits do look like candy. What you see peeking out at the top are actually the shriveled up blossoms.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Oh Sooo Lazy We Can Be

It was almost a pity that I woke up this early, but checking, I found out it was only 5:30am. Noo way, I would stay up, and so back to bed I went. But half an hour later I got up again. There had been too much change of time zones and on top of it all we had switched the clocks to standard time.

And by now, Dixie got to her feet and wandered over to the door - a sure-fire sign she wanted to get out to get done with her morning business. So off we went, a few steps into the dark desert. 

But, out east there was a lighter stripe of colour visible - the sun was on its way!

And only minutes after returning to the trailer an orange glow appeared in the east.

Morning had broken.

By the time Bea woke up, we had full daylight. A slight breeze moved the upper tops of the creosote bushes.

Dixie stayed outside on her leash and had started what she loves most - watching and guarding "the property", and I was sure she had a special eye on our friend's van.

After breakfast the sun had risen high in the sky and it was beginning to feel hot. I decided to take a closer look at our non-functioning water heater. Meanwhile Bea went for an explorative walk with Dixie. They came back quickly as it already was way too hot for hiking.

I started sweating where I was on my haunches in front of that water heater which resisted all attempts to get fixed.

Yves came over to help, but we finally gave it up for now.

Instead, we gathered up in the shade of their Dodge van, conversing back and forth about all our former travel adventures. 

We only broke it up for lunch, but got back together again for the afternoon. Yves and Louise had yummy Boston Cream donuts and we offered from our sweet home-made Blackberry Liquor.

Dixie had a great relaxing day as well and we decided to hang around here until Thursday, when we will take the last few hours to Holtville, where some other friends are already awaiting our arrival.

The day finished up with a nice sunset, which made us all running for our cameras to snap the best pic.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

We Finally Made It To Desert Camping


Finally Desert Camping

Where should I begin? Last night was the worst we have spent during this trip. The massive influx of truckers on a very small Walmart lot was indescribable. Besides of a steady coming and going there were those who thought they own the place. Their parking was nilly-willy without any system and responsibility of keeping access open.
After going to bed some guy had parked his rig most bumper to bumper to the rear of our trailer making this hell of a noise with his engine. Leaving even his lights on to shine right into our trailer. Oh well, we are living through an era of unprecedented egoism and thoughtless behavior.
So, after a short and loud night we left this Walmart with the resolve of never to return. By the way, Deming seems to have a massive problem with crime as an armada of police vehicles raced through town hunting...what?

But the new day ran up bright and clear and after filling the tank with premium-priced regular fuel, we were heading west again - to Arizona.
The beauty of the desert

Naturally we were now looking forward to meeting our friends. From the I-10 at Tucson, we turned to the I-19 which runs all the way to Nogales Mexico. But after only a few kms we turned again, west again onto Rte 86 Ajo Way.
This is an old road connecting Tucson with the town of Ajo and the village Why. WHY is always leading to word plays, because of why would anybody go to WHY? 
But we had a great destination. A few kms south of WHY is a BLM area where one can stay for free over 14 days. No services there, but a beautiful area to camp between Cacti and desert vegetation, which, by the way, is still very green.
At Texas Canyon along I-10 only a few miles from Benson,AZ

It's over 100 miles along Ajo Rd, so at one point we decided to take a lunch stop right next to Kitts Peak Observatory.
Armed with a sandwich and a glass of milk, I was just stepping out of the trailer to walk to the park benches, when I saw a white RAM Van turning around 100yrds down the road.
Yes, it was them
On Ajo Road

It was giving a light signal and I recognized our friends whom we were to meet later at the BLM camp. I was just flustered and called out to Bea. Yes, it was them and they had seen the ISLAND TOURS parked when they they spontaneously turned around to greet us. What a great meet-up that was. There was so much to talk about, but eventually, it was decided to continue the conversation at camp.

Kitts Peak
 Arriving at camp, I first noticed how warm it was. First order of things was to find my shorts and get into a short-sleeved shirt. After getting the rig set up and the awning rolled out, we gathered for coffee in the shade. 
Man, life was good. Forgotten was all the road stress and excitement, it just all became banter and talk. Dixie was probably just as happy as ourselves, as she must have recognized the desert environment. Over the 4-5 days we had been worried about her mental wellbeing. It can't be much fun for a dog to be run down the bumpy highways for many hours every day. There was no doubt that she had been stressed out in the evenings. But here, in the desert, relaxing, she became her old self again.
Cacti forest

Dixie needs a walk

Evening glow