Monday, June 22, 2015

Hottest Day Of The Year And The Air Conditioner Just Quit!

Kicked back watching satellite TV with the volume turned up to overpower the drone of the air conditioner... Life is good! Then suddenly the A/C stops and the TV is blaring way too loud. The news
Getting hotter by the minute, the A/C just stopped running!
just confirmed the day is a record breaker shattering the high temp set 18 years ago.  Oh Crap! This is going to get uncomfortable real quick!

Not being one to panic, I quickly verified there was no power going into the A/C and installed a standard male plug. Using an extension cord plugged into another receptacle, the cool air was flowing again within a matter of a few minutes.

Though the problem was temporarily solved, the next day I started tracing the wiring to figure out what happened.

Turns out, once again, the manufacturer was less than brilliant when it came to wiring techniques. The romax going to the A/C was about 5' too short so they used the equivalent of a large Scotch Lock Connector to splice in the extra length of cable.

Partially melted hidden wiring splice
Guess it worked good enough for 22 years, but just when I needed it the most, it heated up and broke connection. It got so hot it actually melted the plastic case of the splice connector. Potential for fire for sure.

To make matter worse, the connector was hidden behind a panel with no indication it even existed. It was pure luck that when I was looking for ways to string new cable I chanced upon it.

Retirement is a hell of a job!
Repair was easy enough, and done properly so there will be no further problems. The A/C was back to running full tilt, and life in paradise returned to normal.

Now to get on with more important activities... Oh waiter, a Daiquiri would be good about now!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kayaking.. The Perfect New Sport!

I've been in Florida two months now, time really is moving along. Haven't had any time to be bored for more than a few hours, so I thought I better get busy making sure I have very few opportunities to feel like I have nothing to do.

I've been thinking about a couple ideas for months now that will return my freedom to wander in a cost effective manner. Having lived most of my life in the land of 10,000 lakes (Minnesota), water related activities have always been a draw.

I just didn't want to bother with a larger boat, and motor.  Maintenance and purchase price being more than I wanted to deal with. I've had canoes in the past, but even they can be weighty and cumbersome for the single individual unless you invest more money than I felt comfortable with.

Fishing has never been a key focus in my recreational activities, but I didn't want to completely rule it out either. Florida allows old farts like myself (at least in a few more months) to fish without a fishing license.  By fall when I turn 65 that's another option I plan to take advantage of.

The answer, for me at least, was a kayak. For a few hundred dollars I have a boat I can carry with one hand like a heavy suitcase. Toss it on the roof of my Jeep with a few straps and I'm ready to head out. Zero maintenance, no license required, I can leisurely enjoy secluded water ways with little effort or cost on a spur of the moment schedule, perfect!

This morning my new watercraft made it's maiden voyage. I loaded up and drove 10 miles down the road to a local park that is the perfect place for a newbie to test his abilities and flexibility...  Now that was a sight to see. After back surgery 15 years ago, flexibility is a long gone thing of the past.

I was still able to drop my stiff old bones into the kayak without falling into the water. Once seated, I was snug as a bug and quite comfortable. I felt a bit wobbly and unstable for the first 15-20 minutes of hugging the shore line as I got my uncoordinated body working smoothly.

Before long I was getting more comfortable, and the stability issue melted away as my body understood the art of keeping my balance while seated. This is no big trick and I recommend it for everyone!

I haven't done any swimming for over 20 years, my confidence in avoiding drowning is pretty much zero. You won't see me in the water without a life preserver snugged up tight around my body.

I chose a well protected bay that had very calm water. Plenty of people around incase something happened, and at no time was I more than a block from the launching area. Not much in the way of a current to drag me too far away either . My first time out, over estimating my endurance could have been disastrous.

I was on the water about an hour. In that time I saw my first manatee, actually just his nose as he came up for air. A strange bird that stayed under water except to pop his long neck and head up for air as well. He was fishing for food along the shore. Never did see his whole body, just his neck and head when he came up for air.

I was able to paddle right up close to the many boats that are tied up to the docks around the small harbor. A number of unique and interesting craft including a couple of large sailboats that looked a bit worse for wear. The wood void of any finish had all turned grey, the hull paint peeling and looking tattered. I thought they would be good candidates for ghost ships. Other boats looked to be adequate to live aboard, and some were quite unique in shape and style.

There is a local Kayaking and Canoe club that meets every month. I plan on attending the next meeting this coming week. They go on local outings and camping outings as well. This leads into the next part of my past few days.

I made a drive yesterday to Ocala FL and placed an order for the other half of my recreation plans. My motorhome is pretty much stationary now.  Over the past year I have found that though big is comfortable for the long term RVer, getting into small out of the way places is either impossible or at the very least plenty awkward. I've had to pass up lots of interesting possibilities just because maneuverability ruled out any notion of going there.

If I'm to explore on any sort of affordable level, I needed something small, lightweight, and inexpensive to travel in. Enter the Runaway Camper Company.

Range Runner (Runaway Campers Photo)
Billed as the cheapest, most economical, but quality built RV on the market, The Runaway Camper is a very basic Travel Trailer that will allow you to have a comfortable place to sleep and carry your gear. With Teardrop Trailers in mind, this is similar in thought but without the hatch on the back for a small kitchen. I'm thinking of building a chuck wagon kitchen box to be mounted in the back of my Jeep making outdoor cooking simple and easy.

With a set of roof racks on top, I can strap the Kayak on top, and be gone for the weekend, the week, or even a month in no time.   I ordered the Range Runner model which is 6' wide and 8' long. Enough room for two to sleep with room to spare.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Max Gets Transformed And We Take A Drive To The Cruise Ships

We were up early today and took a quick trip just around the corner. Max got dropped off to be transformed into a whole different breed of dog. I've been clipping the old boy since leaving Minnesota early last fall. To say he was a sorry sight is a drastic understatement. He's tolerated looking like a scruffy mess, but it was time to get him all spiffy and yes....Cute!

He's been panting up a storm dealing with the thick fur coat he's been saddled with during these days of unseasonal high temps. 90 degrees with high humidity is uncomfortable for me, and I can be stripped down to almost nothing if need be. He's been stuck and not the least bit happy about it.

Finding a new groomer wasn't something I looked forward to, but I just took a chance and took him to the closest place I could find. A block down the highway was convenient enough and I'm pleased as punch with the results. Very reasonably priced and they did a top notch job.  Done in just over 1-1/2 hrs.

Max Before
With the rest of the day available, and temps outside getting too warm to do much else, Max and I took a cruise up A1A heading toward Jetty State Park north of Coca Beach. It's a popular place to go to watch the rockets take off from Cape Canaveral.

After being in line at the entrance, as soon as I got close enough the sign stating "No Pets Allowed" had me making a U-turn and thinking of what else is in the neighborhood to check out.

Max After
Turns out there are cruise ships ported just before the park. I saw them from the highway and decided it was time to get up closer to these behemoths and give them a good looky-look.

They are some kind of huge, this was my first chance to see these floating cities other that on TV. I stopped about a block away in a spot that was clearly posted as No Parking, No Stopping. I snapped a couple pictures and quickly moved on.

Disney Cruise Ship
The old saying it's often easier to ask forgiveness than ask permission, I boldly turned right into the ramp leading into the boarding area. Signs directed vehicles to loading gates, all bringing them to individual manned gate houses. Supposedly there to make sure those entering had good and legitimate reason for being there.

Guess what, I had none of that so just before I got to the gate I veered off and took the ramp back to the freeway. I still was able to drive right alongside the largest of the ships and
Micky Has One Huge Boat!
looking up from ground level was dizzying. Years ago I dreamed of taking a cruise on one of these great ships, but now I realize I hate crowds and there are thousands of people trapped inside these things. You spend all your time dressing for one thing or another.  If I can't wear jeans I'm not comfortable. Lastly the whole point would be to indulge in all the gourmet food that is available 24 hrs a day.  Now that I'm diabetic, all the fun has been taken out of eating. So much for taking a cruise as an item on my bucket list.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Few Much Needed Upgrades

Plastic wire run made wiring simple
As I get nearer and nearer to my one year anniversary of living in my now 22 year old motorhome, recently I've made a few repairs and upgrades. Minor things, but significant in not only maintaining my home, but improving my overall comfort level.

I'm staying south through this coming summer hot season. Being on the East Coast, humidity is a real issue. Unless you want your rather small quarters to smell like a locker room, keeping the air moving is pretty important.

With the prospect of monthly electric bills climbing well over $100, running the air conditioners will
Good ventilation makes better sleeping
eventually become an around the clock necessity. Right now it still cools off enough at night to sleep, as long as a breeze can be maintained.

Installing a ceiling fan places that breeze in the best possible place, directly over the bed. The trick is with no wiring in place to run a 110V appliance, how do you make it work?

The overhead light fixture in the bedroom is 12V, so I removed it to make a place to mount the new fan. I chose the smallest ceiling fan I could find so that it wouldn't overwhelm the room. Since it had a light attached, losing the existing light was not an issue.

To supply 110V power to the fan I bought a length of peel and stick wire run material and simply wired up extension cord wire, running it through the tube before sticking it to the ceiling. Another piece of tube ran the wire down the wall along the edge of the shirt closet. Plugging it into an existing outlet and the job was done. Pretty simple, the whole thing took about 30 minutes to accomplish.

Now I can sleep with the windows open, and when I do run the air conditioner it does a much better job of directing the cool air directly down at bed level. Much more comfortable sleeping and I can set the thermostat a little higher saving a few dollars in the process.

Repurposed light fixture
The next project was the light fixture over the kitchen table. Nothing wrong with it beyond the fact it was just ugly and outdated. Down it came, and the bedroom fixture that I had just removed was installed in its place. It had been a replacement for a failed fixture in the bedroom, so it is more current in styling and adds some warmth to the eating area too.

Thrift store chairs 
Last fall, before hitting the road full time, one of the permanently mounted swivel pedestal chairs at the kitchen table had the weld break that attaches the chair to the tubular mount.  I paid a local welder $25, what I considered a bit steep, to reweld the mount so that I could retain the original chairs.s

After about 9 months of I guess what would be considered sever service, I'm no light weight, the weld has broken again, I've never been a fan of permanently mounted dining chairs, it was time for a change. An afternoon of cruising thrift stores found me two suitable replacements. $20 times two secured me a matching set of
Original chairs that broke
padded chairs that are close enough in color to the sofa that you would think they are original.  Four bolts per chair secured the originals to the floor, with the nuts being accessible inside my storage bays. A short half hour's work and I cured the problem of the broken chair.

This recliner crowded things too much.. I got rid of it
An additional benefit to replacing the immovable chairs with two that can be moved about is that since I disposed of the recliner that completely overcrowded the living room, now when I have company I can make use of two more chairs that can be relocated to keep everyone in the group.

Every RV I've owned was never just right from the factory. These simple changes addressed some legitimate issues, and when it was all said and done the investment was less than $100.
Well worth laying down on the floor to unbolt the chairs, even if I needed a crane to get back on my feet...Not really, but at my age the floor is a long ways down.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Getting Out In The Hood!

Now that I've got a whole new state to explore, Max insisted we get in the Jeep this morning and get started.

After enjoying a breakfast buffet, including my favorite..Biscuits and Gravy, courtesy of the park I now call home, we headed across the causeway and headed north.

No particular destination in mind, that's the best way to just stumble upon interesting places to stop.
We wound along a narrow rode taking us through some pretty deluxe digs. People with considerable money live in these parts. Long driveways, manicured lawns, and closed gates at the road keeping
prying eyes far away. These folks have guys. There's a guy that comes weekly to take care of the lawn, another guy takes care of the bountiful flowers and shrubs that adorn the estate. Setting up the satellite dish on their own... oh no, call the guy.

Along the coast we drove, soon to wander through the town of Titusville. Smaller in size, older and less flashy then their neighbor to the south. This is where the history of our space travel comes from.

We ended up headed for the Kennedy Space Center. Because I had Max with me going in wasn't on the agenda for today... I'll be back. Still, what I could see from the road impressed the dickens out of me. We see the space shuttle on TV for decades, but being close to those massive
rocket engines and attached fuel tank is pretty impressive.

I could see displays of various other rockets and space paraphernalia behind the building, but with a charge of $10 just to park in the lot, again I held back for another time when I could take in the whole experience.

Further up the road was the Astronauts Hall of Fame. Again, from the outside I could tell this is a place I will return to.

The front of the building is the backdrop for a full scale replica of the Space shuttle. With an access ramp attached to the back side, apparently it is part of the display allowing visitors to enter and
experience the machine that was the backbone of our space efforts for past decades.

There really is only one word to describe the vehicle that hauled so much space stuff into orbit...AWSOME!

Then it was back south and home again on U.S. Hwy 1. It's a slower trip than taking the freeway I-95, but you get a much better feel for this part of the Atlantic Coast.

There's a lot of what some would consider recent history here. By recent I mean things that mattered to my generation.

Maybe teens of today don't get it, but during my lifetime we have accomplished some pretty spectacular milestones.

A man on the moon, color TV, cell phones, computers. Life isn't the same from when I was a kid. Not by a long shot. Some of the changes have been good, some not so much. The only thing that has remained constant is forever more there will be change.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When Things Don't Work Out...Adapt!

First attempt, a gooseneck flatbed
If you've been following along you may remember that a friend of a friend of mine was embarking on the road to Tiny House living. Purchasing an old 5th wheel flat bed, they started the process of rebuilding the deck and making ready to construct their own Tiny House with plans of moving at some point to the state of Maine... or maybe Colorado.

It didn't take too long into the process to discover that they may have bitten off more than they could chew so this first venture was scrapped. Actually they sold the trailer frame and modified their plan to buying a ready built portable building (shed on skids). With a completed, straight and square, structure to start with, finishing off the interior and installing the assorted systems seemed more workable.

Round two, a finish it yourself cabin
The local ordinances put the skids to this plan as well. Turned out there would be a substantial daily penalty for such a venture. Scrap that plan too, even before it got started.

Undeterred yet another direction or twist has taken place in their plans. The latest version of down sized living will be in the form of a 1988 Allegro motorhome.  The price was right, the condition not so much. Mechanically sound, but because of numerous leaks the wooden part of the structure was in pretty sorry shape. The big plus is that this motorhome is constructed with an aluminum square tubing frame work. Stripping it down to the bare frame makes it easier to insure the repairs to the roof and other areas of water infiltration are repaired properly.

Then it's a matter of insulating the rig considerably better than it came from the
Third try, the tarp covers a bad leak in the roof.
factory, and rebuilding the interior to suit their needs. To date much of the floor has been cut out and replaced. Roof repairs are next on the list of immediate concerns, and the whole interior has been stripped out.

The theme in the remodel is simpler is better. Original wiring has been all removed, as has the various systems and appliances. The plan is to make use of solar power as much as possible and minimize the use of 120Volt items.

Taking an older RV down to it's bones and bringing it back is no small task. I will continue to monitor and report on their
Stripped to it's bones, now to build it back 
progress.. Good Luck Danni and Kris!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

$500 A Month For Shelter...Where You Stay Is Up To You!

Free camping at Walmart
In the past I've made comments that you can spend your month on the road traveling, or stay parked in an RV park for generally about the same amount of money. Conservatively in the neighborhood of $500 a month. Of course if you're into luxury digs, obviously you can surpass that figure a couple times over quite easily.

If you refer to the title of this blog, I'm on a modest budget. $500 is in my comfort zone and allows me to live within my means. My motor home consumes diesel at the rate of about 10 MPG. At today's average price, $2.90 a gallon, that means I can drive on the highside of 1500 miles per month on my allotment assuming I camp somewhere for free every night. That usually means I hop from one Walmart or truck stop to another keeping my daily driving distance in check so that I don't exceed that 1,500 mile mark during a given month. My voyage from Minnesota to Arizona last summer substantiated this theory quite well. The nice part is this relaxed rate of travel is more pleasant and way less tiring.

Campground in Phoenix
My other theory was that if you plan on spending time in an RV park, stay a month! Way more economical because most places will give you the whole month for what the daily rate would eat up in two weeks. No point rushing off.

I stayed at a very clean and quiet park 15 miles north of Denton TX for a month last fall that all told came to about $400 for the month including electricity. I spent another month on the north side of Phoenix shortly after that for just a few dollars more, but well under the $500 mark. Again just a month ago I stayed west of San Antonio well within my $500 budget.

I spent the winter boondocking in the Arizona desert in Quartzsite. I bet your wondering how that measured up financially? The permit to stay on BLM land for the whole winter was $180. I had to drive to dump my waste tanks and fill my water tanks once a week. Total fuel for the month, $30.
I needed propane every month, $40. About once a week I had to drive to the next town north for
Boondocking on BLM land in Arizona
groceries, $50 a month for gas in the Jeep. Running the generator used about $100 of gas a month as well. I will round this up some to $250 a month to sit with no amenities in the Arizona desert. Sure it was a modest savings, but at what cost. I had to fold up camp once a week to drive to the nearest dump station, a trip of about 10 miles round trip.

Don't get me wrong, if privacy and plenty of space combined with a good deal of isolation is what you are looking for, this may be just the way you want to live. You can pretty much do your own thing, and there are social opportunities throughout the winter so there is no need to be a hermit if you don't want to be.

This Spring I'm living a different life. I'm on the East Coast, right smack dab in the middle of tourist heaven. Micky Mouse is down the highway a piece, home to our space program isn't too far away, and everything is lush and green. OK, it took a bit of online research, but once again I've secured a spot within my $500 budget.

East Coast mobile home/RV park
Right on the coast the average cost per month is from $500 to $1,000 plus electricity depending on how luxurious the accommodations. You can also find really spartan digs here for as low as $350 a month, but you will be right on the highway in a run down place with only unmaintained dirt paths between sites. By searching more than months ahead of time, and making use of Google Maps "Street Level" I not only found a clean respectable park for less than $400 a month plus electricity, I took an online tour of the complete +55 community that consists of primarily mobile homes with about 10% of the occupants being in RV's.

Life is good, right on the East Coast!
Of course there is a longer term lease involved, but I haven't spent any time on the East Coast in 45 years so why not. Every conceivable retail establishment is 10 minutes away, as is a wide range of restaurants. If you can give up some of the conveniences and go inland a ways, the price comes down accordingly.

All I can say is many times over I have proven that $500 a month in shelter costs is adequate to take you pretty much anywhere in the country. Some are spartan, but on average, if you do your homework, you can find very satisfactory places to stay everywhere.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Places Where Time Stands Still

My home for 2 years in North Texas
There are RV resorts, where likely you get all the amenities that let them charge the big bucks to spend the night. Next are your campgrounds, maybe a little less luxurious and usually more rustic in appearance. I've also stayed at some motor camps that have endured over the ages as an economical place to settle in. Be it for a day, or 10 to 15 years. Lets face it, there is a need and a purpose for out of the way places where life is slow, the expense is low, and you can live a quiet life without bother from the rat race of modern life.

My last two years of residence in North Texas back in the early 2000's was such a place. A mobile home park that had been around since about the
Every campsite comes with a covered boat slip
second world war. Many older homes, and a few RV's that had long ago seen their better days. The plus to such a place is the trees have been around long enough to mature and give the appearance of cozy seclusion. An ambience if you will, that just can't be found alongside the freeway around the A-frame office structure of the familiar KOA campgrounds you see today.

Yesterday I experienced an old Fish Camp where time has stood still for well over 70 years. A secluded getaway where those
Abandoned and sunk, the results of many Gulf Storms
interested in dipping a line and drowning some minnows came long ago to stay.

Nothing's changed since the brick office building, bar, store, and bait house (All in one structure) was built back in the 1930's. Very little has been maintained either. Cobwebs and Spanish Mose hang from the rafters, remains of long abandoned boats lay where they were last used. Some filled with vegetation, others laying upside down in their slip. Sunk in the mud and left where they lay, the owners not able to afford having them salvaged.

The owner, an ex Marine from the Vietnam War, calls this place home. Not interested in improvements, he likes the peace and quiet of a small venture that calms his memories of violent times decades ago. After serving in Nam, he went to South America and lived the same experiences
A world travel boat sits sunken in the channel
he had been accustomed too in the military. It changed him, now he leads a very simple life running his Fish Camp that has become lost in time.

Now it's more important to him that he takes in those who need a second look. A chance to live peacefully. Yes his place is run down, but it is orderly. The rules to staying there, and his vigilance, have cleaned up the social problems while maintaining the simple ambience that keeps him there.

The boat that rest along the channel entering this secluded spot from open water has a story. It's
My spot nestled in between the ancient oaks
history takes it down to South America, and many far off ports that echo some of the life of the proprietor. Doing battle with the Coast Guard, they wanted it removed and the channel cleared, he has for now succeeded in his efforts to declare it part of the soul of his serene establishment.

Life doesn't move fast here, in fact it stands still. What little turn over there is in residents is insignificant. I took the only vacant spot in the circle for my one nights stay that only happened because a friend from 40 some odd years ago is staying there for a good part of the year. Because I was a friend of someone respected in
A questionable camp bathroom with more abandoned boats lined up
the park, check in was limited to my first name, and little questioned about my plans or ability to accept the rules. Because they were ill equipped to handle a coach with large holding tanks, requiring me to buddy up with my friend to empty my tanks then relocate to my parking spot, I got a sizable discount on my nights stay.

It's very clear the owner is more interested in maintaining a caliber of  people that suit his personality than in making as much profit as the market will bear. All I needed was a chance to visit for the evening with my old friend, empty my full waste tanks and refill my fresh water tank, and a quiet spot to get a good nights sleep. Mission accomplished, and very well I might add.

Old dilapidated RV's are still home to someone
History is an interesting hobby. Life was different in the old days, and if you're lucky you can stumble across places like this hidden away from the fast pace of modern society. It was a winding narrow little road that took me 5 miles away from the modern life of suburbia and stip malls. I kept my fingers crossed that there would be space enough to get me turned around when it was time to leave.  It was close, and I had to be careful not to clip any low hanging branches as I weaved my way through a campground that was built back when RV's amounted to  small little spartan trailers with only the essentials in the way of conveniences.

If you can look past the rundown demeanor of places like this, accept that this is all some people can afford, you might just realize that it isn't such a bad way of living after all. Peace and serenity trump glitz and glamor every time. If your mind is happy, your body will adapt. That said, this morning I packed up and headed on down the highway to the next Walmart Super Center as I continue my travels.  I think that's a McDonald's across the highway, time for a burger.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Making Lemon Ice Tea: Dealing With RV Travel Plans That Fall Apart

It was going to be a lengthy voyage, from just shy of the California border to the Atlantic coast. Plans were set, the old motorhome was fueled and ready to go. I left some good friends behind, and hit the open road with enthusiasm.

I have a bad habit of driving more miles at a stretch than I should when I have a destination I want to get to. Three days in and I was half way across the country, and feeling the effect of long days sitting behind the wheel.

Even before leaving my roost of the past 4 months, I knew something wasn't quite right. By the time I hit the mid-point it was certain, something was amiss with my digestive tract. I was plenty happy to have a very functional onboard bathroom because I was spending a whole lot of time in that little space.

Making matters worse, my plans out east fell apart completely, ending my endurance trek across the southern states. For just a few moments a sense of panic set in because not only was I feeling pretty punky, I really had nowhere to go.

I could easily turn around and go back the three days to where I left... I still had the permit that would allow me to boondock the remainder of the winter in Quartzsite. It just didn't seem right that I should squander fuel expenses driving over 2,000 miles for nothing, only to go back and sit in the desert.

I could have pressed on, but the prospect of expending even more money on a higher cost of living out east, with little in the way of incentive to do so, seemed a waste too. My answer was to go to the nearest Walmart, and sleep on it for at least a night.

Still feeling plenty lousy, I took time the next morning to carefully access my situation. I realized for all practical purposes I'm a turtle. My home is with me wherever I go. I'm retired, I have nowhere to go and the rest of my life to get there. Better I scope out my immediate surroundings and see how they measure up before I go anywhere.

This is a town of less than 25,000 in population. Good, I don't like big cities, and tiny country towns don't offer much in the way of amenities. My trusty smart phone indicated a number of RV parks, of which one was quite reasonable in price. I always shop for RV parks by their monthly rate. Short term is both expensive and impractical for someone wanting to make the most of their travel budget. 

I've said before that one can either travel and stay at free places overnight, or one can spend a month in an economy RV park for just about the same amount of money. I had no reason not to stay a month, and it made the most sense financially.

An online check of local restaurants indicated an above average choice of fast food establishments, 3 Chinese restaurants, one of which had excellent reviews, and of course all the name brand Pizza chains. I wouldn't starve.

I was parked at a Walmart Supercenter so groceries and supplies were a given. The layout of the small city was pretty much one 4 lane main highway with most of the bulk of the retail establishments spread out along this main artery.

For me, the presence of not only a V.A. medical facility, but a full-fledged V.A. hospital made this an excellent choice in a place to just pull up and re-group.

I paid my months lot rent, and backed into my spot. Mentally I had accepted that for now, this was home. Management told me I could stay as long as 3 months for sure, and they would work with me if I needed more time to determine my next step.

There is a certain peace that quickly sets in when you realize that what was a disturbing and unexpected change of events had turned into a peaceful break giving me the chance to not only regain my health, but to just stop and assess my plans with no particular hurry to make any drastic decisions. It was time to relax.

Of course finding this safe haven has proven a second blessing what with the unexpected change in weather conditions. This morning I awoke with a heavy layer of ice on everything. Driving for the next few days is not recommended, and temperatures in general will be less than comfortable. Time to hunker down and make sure there is adequate propane for my catalytic heater.

Tonight I even disconnected my water hose and brought it inside. It was stiff as a board, and it will get low enough it would likely freeze tonight.

My health has returned, and with nothing but time on my hands my culinary talents have taken the opportunity to show themselves again. Supper was homemade cabbage rolls, and some healthy cabbage soup.

Did I expect to be spending the next few weeks enjoying some off the beaten track small city when I left?  Heck no, but as long as things happened the way they did, might as well make a nice picture of Ice Tea and throw in a little lemon.

It doesn’t matter which small city I’m in, it could be anyone of many thousands across the country. The lesson to learn here is when plans fall apart don’t panic. Spend the night somewhere safe, and take the time to discover what your present surroundings offer you.
You will likely be surprised in how easy it is to abandon one plan and just move on to another, and that every small city has something special to offer.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

On The Road Again!

It's been a wonderful winter in Quartzsite! Made some really good friends, saw plenty of interesting places, and enjoyed all the hustle and bustle of the Big Tent Show toward the end of January.

February has things slowing down considerably, and many of the winter residents have packed up and left for parts unknown. The itch to see new territory is a powerful intoxicant, and admittedly I find myself bitten by the bug.

It's time to hit the open road, but the question in mind is what way should I go? Obviously, for much of the country anyway, winter still has a serious grip and is not likely to loosen up for many weeks to come. Going back to Minnesota was never going to be a high priority for me this year, and the North East is suffering through more snow than I want anything to do with.

Go west young man... Though young is hardly description I have used of myself for many decades, the phrase seems appropriate. I've seen some of California throughout my life, but barely scratched the surface.

I pulled up stakes, literally since it's tent stakes that secure my satellite dish to the ground, hitched the Jeep behind the motorhome, and headed west from Quartzsite two days ago. California or Bust printed in the desert dust on the back of the Pace Arrow.

Hardly the long and arduous voyage depicted in dust bowl days, the border is but 20 miles away. But it is a general direction that points me toward the setting sun.

Maybe I'll head for San Diego. I've been through the Naval yards in Norfolk VA, Seeing the pacific fleet would be very interesting for me.

It will remind me of my years in the service, flying around the Mariana Islands delivering supplies to Loran Stations in the South Pacific.

Those are all great memories I find myself reflecting on often.

Then again, maybe I will go north from Quartzsite. Utah and Nevada are beautiful country that I have only scratched the surface of.

It is a bit early yet for that direction, a loop west might be a good choice before I head north. It's hard to say where the nomad in me will take me.

I guess you will just have to read along as I wander down the open highway again.

About all I can guarantee is I'm on the move again, and Quartzsite is but a memory fading from view in my rearview mirror.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wondering Where I Went?

If you haven't been able to find me lately I've taken a bit of a leave from the open road. I've been spending the winter months in the Arizona desert. You can follow my current activities on my other blog, Q... My Winter Home.

Once I get back on the open road I'll be back here again.