We went through San Diego to Blythe, CA for the Bluegrass Festival and quilt show; then, to Quartzsite to meet with RV School friends. After exploring the Southwest for awhile we joined the Mexican Connection to Caravan to El Fuerte, Mexico. After leaving Mexico we went north to the Southern Oregon Coast. There we met with family to celebrate Ruth's sister's 75th birthday.
Adventures of Krystonia
January 19, 2006
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you were in a place that was familiar to you but you still felt lost? Where you had a feeling of frustration, anxiety and confusion? That happened to me, but I was not dreaming! I will explain later.
Hi — We left home on January 10th. After a stay near San Diego and visits with friends, we are now in Blythe, California for the 19th Annual Bluegrass Festival and Quilt Show. We are not big Bluegrass folks but enjoy listening for awhile. For us the Quilt Show is the draw. It is fun to see the names of the bands. Some examples are: Perfect Strangers, Lost Highway, Just ‘N Time and The Dry Branch Fire Squad. The Festival is at the County Fair Grounds. It is a big draw for RVers. We are told that they have parking for 900 RVs. It is full and they are starting to use the overflow area for late comers.
Now, let’s get back to being lost. I (Arlo) was born and grew up in San Diego. I lived in the same house until I left for college. Also, my favorite weekend activity was swimming at La Jolla Cove. Therefore, we thought it would be fun to visit La Jolla and then take some pictures of the house I grew up in.
So, first, we found La Jolla Cove with no trouble and had lunch there. There are pictures on the web site. Then we started looking for “home”. I knew where I was and where I wanted to go, but things looked so different from what I remembered. It was like living the dream I spoke of. We found the house. My Grandfather bought the house in about 1927 and it was in the family until my parents sold it in the late 1960’s. It was a triplex built on the side of a canyon so that each unit was above (or below) the other. I have a picture taken about the time my Grandfather bought it. I thought it would be fun to duplicate that picture today. I was not able to take the picture I wanted, too many new houses in the way and trees grown up blocking the same view. I was able to get a few pictures which are published on the web site. When we get home I will put the old picture next to the new one.
Adventures of Krystonia
February 1, 2006
After fourteen days in the desert one greatly appreciates a long warm shower and a vacuum cleaner. We were in Blythe at the Fairgrounds for the Bluegrass Festival for a week of dry camping (no hookups for water, electricity or sewer). From there we went to BLM land out of Quartzsite, with a stop at The Pit Stop to dump waste water and re-supply fresh water. Here we stayed another week.
We are now in Tempe, AZ with full hookups. It took us the first day to get our bodies clean. The next morning we vacuumed everything in Krystonia to remove the dust and dirt. Next was a trip to the car wash to get the deluxe wash on the truck. Now we are almost human again. It is a lot of fun dry camping with friends, but it sure feels good to clean up afterwards. The RV life style is not like staying home…..
I have been thinking a lot about what to write about the Bluegrass Festival. I don’t know how to describe the music in writing. I suggest if you are interested, listen to some. The big news was Ruth got another blue ribbon at the quilt show. This was the same quilt that got the blue ribbon in Sacramento several years ago. The difference is that in Sacramento it was judged by professional quilt judges. In Blythe, everybody that came through the door was handed a ballot to vote for their favorite in each category. So this ribbon was a “people’s choice”.
I have written about Quartzsite in the past. As often as we have been here it still amazes me. If you look at the pictures on the web site you will see a picture I took standing on top of Krystonia looking out across the desert. In the distance you will see many RV’s parked in the sand and sage brush. Most interesting is we were 6 miles south of town. The closer to town the more RV’s you see. I have been told that there are over 100,000 RV’s this time of year. In the town there is the world’s largest flea market. The diversity of items and shoppers can keep you entertained for days. One of our favorite places to eat is the Quartzsite Yacht Club. Try to explain that in the middle of the desert.
Adventures of Krystonia
February 14, 2006
Happy Valentines Day. We are in Ajo, AZ… You have got to be kidding? No, there really is an Ajo! If you want to say it out loud, the A is short and the J is Spanish, pronounced like an H. It is located between Gila Bend and the Mexican border. Shortly I will talk about how we got here since our last newsletter, but for now some Ajo information.
Ajo is “where the summer spends the winter.” It used to have one of the largest operating open pit copper mines in the world. It is no longer in operation but there is still a large hole in the ground where “many people enjoy seeing just how tons of copper ore were brought out of the ground.” The mine was started in 1854. Ajo was once a town of 16 bars and almost as many churches; it had board sidewalks, gun fights and was what some called a rip roaring town. Now it is a town of mostly retired people.
The entrance to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is just 10 miles south; our next destination.
While in the Phoenix area we had a pleasant visit with family living there. We also enjoyed renewing our friendship with our old friend Bill Dick and his lovely new wife Lael. Then we headed west for Yuma, AZ. Several of our friends have RV lots in Yuma. We stayed on Dick Reed’s lot. It was a time for “happy hours”, food and fellowship. A trip to Algodones, Mexico is required when you are in Yuma. Algodones is a small Mexican town that appears to exist to serve Americans. Just 3 blocks square, it is easy to walk. There is a large parking lot on the US side. In addition to the usual Mexican art work, leather goods, and jewelry there are many establishments to serve the health needs of Americans. There are probably over 100 dentists, many pharmacies and alternative health care providers such as chelation therapy. A reflection on the health care system in the USA? When you walk across the border you are inundated by hawkers trying to convince you that they can lead you to the best Dentist, Pharmacy, or health care provider. (Pictures)
As we travel, I am astonished by all the warning signs of things we should be careful. For example, we were taking a scenic drive through the desert near Ajo. We had a flyer with a description of what to look for along the drive. It was mostly dirt road traveling through several washes. At each of the washes there was a large yellow sign with black letters warning “Do not enter wash if flooded”. First this ugly sign was clearly out of place in the pristine desert. Second, are folks really going to drive into a flooded wash? It made me wonder if all these warnings are making us a society with limited common sense. Have we figured out a way to reverse natural selection by protecting those among us who would drive into a flooded wash or do other foolish things if not warned not to? How is this affecting our choice of elected leaders?
Adventures of Krystonia
February 18, 2006
Oregon Pipe Cactus National Monument is located on the Arizona/Mexican border south of Gila Bend, AZ. In addition to being a National Monument is has been declared a Biosphere by the United Nations because of its vulnerability and significance. It has been listed as one of the 10 most endangered national parks. The problem is that it is on the border. Illegals crossing into the USA are causing significant damage to the park, both from the damage of walking through and the debris and refuge that they are leaving behind. If you are interested in more information about this, here are two web sites you may want to look at.
A large portion of the park has been closed to the public while a fence is being built along the border. This gives me a great feeling of dissonance because I believe in an ideal world there should be no walls or fences between nations while at the same time I believe that places like Oregon Pipe Cactus NM have to be preserved.
The good news is that this is still a wonderful place to visit. The scenery is magnificent. The Visitor Center is wonderful. The education programs are outstanding. There are about 20 volunteers, many who return year after year. Many of them are retired professionals who are knowledgeable and dedicated to their work. The evening programs are informative and entertaining. They have three “patio talks” everyday at the Visitor Center. There is also a 21 mile scenic drive that winds along the foothills of the Ajo Range outstanding desert landscapes and impressive stands of organ pipe cactus are among the highlights of this tour. The Park provides a van and guide at no cost that will take you on this drive.
Pictures are better that words in describing this Park. Please take a look at them at (Pictures)
Adventures of Krystonia
March 4, 2006
Trip to El Fuerte, Mexico -- We traveled with the Mexican Connection, a Chapter of the Escapees RV Club. The purpose of the Mexican Connection is to:
1. Expose members to RV travel in Mexico, its scenery, traditions, food, culture and folklore.
2. Travel south of the border and give back more than the enriching experiences gained, through charity donations and business patronization.
3. Enable members to feel comfortable to return to Mexico for future rallies as well as their own road trip adventures.
We all gathered at the Fairgrounds in Sonoita, AZ to prepare for the journey south. Over 180 folks in almost 100 RVs spent several days taking care of paper work, planning the drive, addressing the anxiety of “first timers” and taking Spanish lessons. We were divided into groups of 10 RVs with a group leader for travel south of the border. Each group was sent out with 15 minute breaks between groups. CB radios were required to allow the group to communicate. The leader would notify us of road hazards and what lane to be in for turns. The RVs behind warned us of fast approaching trucks, busses or cars driving erratically. Our goal was to arrive in El Fuerte safe and sound. We even had the help of police getting through difficult spots.
On the way down we stayed in Guaymas overnight. There we were thrilled with a sunset dinner on the patio.
Arrangements were made with Chal, a local hotel owner and guide to provide for all our needs and entertainment in El Fuerte. We had tours of the city, a float trip down the El Fuerte River and a tour of an Indian Village. Meals were prepared for us every other night. Prior to meal time we had “happy hour” with salsa, guacamole, chips and Margaritas or beer. The citizens of El Fuerte welcomed us. They are not accustomed to having such a large Gringo group in town. Sunday evening the whole town turned out at the central plaza. We heard a welcome from the Mayor and were entertained with dance and music.
The river float trip allowed us to bird watch and see some interesting ancient rock carvings. The Indian Village tour gave us insight into their folk ways. We saw pottery making, and were entertained with music, We took a one day trip to Topolobampo. It is a fishing village south of Los Mochis. Here we saw many shrimp boats. We were even thrilled with watching them unload the biggest shrimp we have ever seen. We ate lunch; shrimp of course, in a restaurant overlooking the bay. We loved this town because it is so much fun to say its name out loud. Try it… Another day we went north east of El Fuerte to the end of the road. Here we found the village of Choix. Along the way we saw kapok trees and cattle along the side of the road.
Picture descriptions of all of this are on the web site. We are sure you will enjoy looking at them. (Pictures)
Adventures of Krystonia
March 9, 2006
Tope – A traffic control method used in Mexico. Topes are found at places where they want you to slow down, like at entrances to toll plazas and check points. They are also prevalent in small towns and villages, usually coming into the town, leaving the town and often several places through the town. In the US we call them speed bumps. But that is not a good translation. In the US they slow you down, in Mexico you must stop and creep over them. Many places you see businesses that repair and replace springs. If you miss seeing a tope you most likely will need the services of one of these businesses.
Mexico is a land of contrasts, color and clutter. By clutter I mean that it is not nice and neat like the strip malls in the US. The people are happy and friendly. Many live in conditions that we would consider poverty. The solo entrepreneur is prevalent, from selling copper works along the side of the road to taco stands in front of their homes to jewelry sales stands along the sidewalks of town. One wonders how they are able to sustain themselves.
On the way home from El Fuerte we traveled part way with our new friends Phil and Patrice. The first night we stayed in San Carlos at the El Mirador RV Resort. “Experience the luxury of Mexico’s finest and Newest RV Resort” as claimed on their flyer. It was nice and a wonderful contrast to dry camping at the fair grounds in El Fuerte. The views of the Sea of Cortez were spectacular. San Carlos is a newer more modern city with many high end arts and crafts shops. The weather was cooler than El Fuerte and there were no bugs…
The next night was in Santa Ana, just south of Magdalena. This has an RV park for 7 RVs – overnight only. From here we caught highway 2 west to cross the border at Lukeville near Organ Pipe National Monument. Our friends continued north to cross at Nogales. Nogales is a very congested and conservative crossing. At Lukeville we had no line and were asked just a few questions. We were across in three and a half minutes. We had one last adventure before crossing back into the US. We had some post cards we wanted to mail from Mexico. Sonoyta, Mexico is the border town at Lukeville. This was our last chance. Finding a Post Office (we needed stamps, too) took about one hour. After parking the trailer on a narrow side street, we began walking. After finding the Police Department we got directions that were almost correct, but we did not give up and finally got them mailed. Hope they arrive at their destination.
Adventures of Krystonia
April 2, 2006
Most of the license plates around us say California. We must be getting close to home! After leaving Mexico our goal was to get to Bandon, Oregon by March 26th.
Ruth’s sister turned 75 this March. Her children and grand children rented a three story lodge on the beach in Bandon for a week of celebration. Friends and family, including great grandchildren came from many miles to celebrate. We visited with each other. We ate. We visited interesting landmarks on the coast. We ate. We walked on the beach. We ate. We flew kites, and we ate. (Pictures) People came and went as their schedules allowed. On Friday evening over thirty of us enjoyed a wonderful birthday dinner.
While in Bandon we met Eric. Eric is the owner of the Cottage Coffee House and Bandon Cyber Café. It features fast internet links and Knuckle Head Coffee. For five dollars you get all the coffee you can drink, a biscotti and an internet link. Eric is a “thirty something” single parent of a 10 year old son. After tiring of the rat race in Southern California he went searching for a place that had good schools for his son and a means of income that would allow him quality time with his son. He lives next door. His goal is to have a place where folks can come and relax. He even features a local live blues singer whenever possible. If you are ever driving on Highway 101 near Bandon I would encourage you to stop, met Eric, have a cup of coffee or check your email.
Getting from Ajo, Arizona to the Oregon Coast presented an interesting challenge. Always looking for new roads to travel we wanted to avoid Interstate 5 or Highway 101 north. RVers are always eager to share information to other RVers. We talked with several RVers who travel between Canada or Wyoming each year. It looked like Highways 93 and 95 (more or less) were good possibilities until we had to turn west to get to the coast. This would take us through central Nevada to the Oregon border. We were told about an RV Park in Ash Springs, NV that was a good layover spot.
Ash Springs RV Park is not in any of our RV Park directories. It turns out that Ash Springs consists of a single business consisting of a gas station, deli, mini-mart and RV park. You can get breakfast of eggs, toast, hash browns, bacon or sausage and coffee for $5. Just across the highway is Ash Springs the hot mineral pool that has been fixed up by the county.
Watching the Weather Channel we determined that we could make it between storms and started north. We got as far as Ash Springs. There we talked with our neighbor RVer from Canada. Apparently this is a popular spot for Canadian Snowbirds. When they come south in November, this is where they de-winterize. As they head home in March it is where they add antifreeze and prepare the RV for cold.
After talking to him I went on line to check temperatures in the next few cities we expected to be in. Guess what? We were heading to where it got down into the teens and lower at night. The next morning we turned south, back through Las Vegas to Barstow over the Tehachapi Pass to Highway 99. Then north on Highway 99, Interstate 5 and Highway 101 to Oregon. We drove through Sacramento on Interstate 5 without stopping! Just like all the other tourists going north.
We will be home on April 10th. Next trip… the midwest through Nebraska and Kentucky, so we can add them to our map. They are the only two states we have not RVed in. That is almost true, we haven’t been to Alaska either, but that is planned for 2007.