2013-01 stayed in Cathedral City for a week

Prior to our trip to Quartzsite, we did manage to use our RPI membership to stay for a week in Cathedral City at Cathedral Palms. The park was in need of updates, but the friendly and helpful owners are working hard to improve it. The owners sponsor gatherings at a campfire and dinner outings to local restaurants; we met lots of nice folks at the campfire. Location is great, right down in town and an easy bus ride with Ray and Kay to Palm Springs for the Thursday Night Street Fair. We had fun checking out the street performers and vendors, and Marilyn Monroe who had just been freshly washed. One afternoon we did a short hike in the local hills. We also spent an afternoon with Ray and Kay at the Empire Polo Club (our first ever polo match) and stopped in for a snack at Jackalope Ranch, which is much more than just a typical restaurant - so glad we checked it out!

more pics from Palm Springs area

2013-02 Lake Cahuilla - lovely spot in the desert!

We spent superbowl weekend at Lake Cahuilla on the edge of Indio and La Quinta. This is a Riverside County park and campground, very nice place to stay - walking around the lake each morning was a real pleasure. Would like to stay here again and take advantage of our $11/night cost using the Passport America discount, but free is better, so off we go to Thousand Trails.


2013-01 A short trip to Quartzsite AZ

We had intended to go through Quartzsite on the way into Palm Springs area, but they were having a hard freeze - 22 degree weather! So, with our heater still on the fritz, we delayed our visit with friends at Snowbird Mecca. After a couple weeks in Palm Springs area and the weather slightly warmer, we headed to Quartzsite for a few days boondocking and shopping in the endless flea markets. This is also a great place to pick up solar panels and any RV gadget imaginable, but we'll table that for another year.

Really enjoyed our evenings around the campfire with Miles and Adina, friends we met while camphosting in Colorado this past summer. I am sure our paths will cross again!

pics around Quartzsite

2013-01 into Desert Hot Springs

Made our way down from Vegas into southern California, once again using our Coast to Coast membership for discounted stays at Calalina Spa Resort and our favorite, Sky Valley Resort. Met up with friends from our previous stay 3 years ago at Sky Valley. This year, the swans successfully produced some offspring and together the family has a near-constant shadowing of papparazi taking photos of them, two adorable "ugly ducklings" and their proud parents.

Sky Valley once again proved to be the nicest park with the nicest hot tubs. We will be visiting this park again between stays at the Palm Springs Thousand Trails which is free for 3 weeks at a time. We delayed getting together with Ray and Kay (Gary's brother and his wife) and my mom and sister until we are completely over the flu and hopefully non-contagious.

pictures from Sky Valley

2012-12-12 into 2013 - Nevada

We stayed at a Coast to Coast resort in Bullhead City. We had a great view of the river and lights of Laughlin from our back deck, and enjoyed visiting with our neighbors. It was a short walk (half mile or so) down to the river and across into Laughlin. Good to finally enjoy our discount camping clubs, and this place was particularly nice for the $10/night price. Out of curiousity, we had checked the price at Riverside Casino's RV Park - over $70/night!  Ouch. Guess they really jack it up during the holidays.

From Laughlin we headed to Las Vegas to take advantage of free time at Thousand Trails Las Vegas. We had the crazy thought that it might be fun to take the city bus (free for the holiday) and go to the strip on New Year's Eve. First there were no buses, then over-crowded buses, then a "bio" incident on the bus requiring everyone to get off and wait for the next bus, all-in-all a 3-hour trip home including over an hour waiting at a bus stop in 29 degrees. Next time, I'll pass on that adventure. But...it's an evening we won't soon forget, and the fireworks really were spectacular.

a few pics from Laughlin and Vegas

We had initially planned to stay about a week, but both of us came down with a horrific flu about three days after New Years (I am convinced it was due to the very long night and very cold weather we endured on New Year's Eve, not to mention...the buses full of coughing partiers). This flu layed us out in bed 2 days solid, and then just somewhat miserable for at least a week beyond that, then cold symptoms lingering 3 weeks later. YUCK! Fortunately, we were able to extend our stay in Vegas until we were capable of hooking up and making the drive down to SoCal. From now on, I will always get the flu shot. Always.

2012-12 Racing the storm from KS to AZ

We were scheduled to finish the season at Amazon on 12/23 to get the season completion bonus (we had actually hoped for an extended season but they did not make that available this year). Then, due to approaching weather and the way the shifts fell, Amazon was kind enough to allow all campers on our shift to finish on 12/20 so we could hit the road on 12/21. This allowed us to hit the road in advance of an approaching storm.

We initially planned to head to Oklahoma City and wait out the storm there. So we spent a leisurely morning running errands and visiting friends in Joplin. However, as we watched various weather reports for our drive (Gallup, Albuqueque, etc,), it was apparent we would have to either 1) winterize the RV, 2) make a very fast run west, or 3) be stuck on the east side of the mountains for a week or more. So.....our leisurely morning was followed by a very long drive from Joplin to Tucumcari, NM.

The skies were absolutely incredible as the sun set across the Texas panhandle. Wow!

For the evening, we stopped at our favorite restaurant in New Mexico, Del's in Tucumcari. Great food and a fantastic salad bar. Then they were nice enough to allow us to stay free in their parking lot overnight.

Next, we had hoped to stay two nights in Williams AZ (in the snow) - seeing the Grand Canyon and the Polar Express in snow sounded wonderful, and just a couple hours downhill to warmer weather. However, our furnace which had kept us comfortably toasty in Tucumcari had suddenly stopped working in the morning. The repair was not a quick fix - so without heat - we had to bypass Williams and head to the Colorado river, lower altitudes, and no freeze.

Once again driving at night, as we headed downhill towards Bullhead City, we had a very close call with an idiot who decided we were not passing the big truck fast enough. He came up behind the truck on our right doing about 90mph, and were it not for Gary's quick reaction to pull to the left and make room (just barely keeping us out of the ditch - truck goes brrrrrp on the warning strip, then trailer swings over and goes extra loud brrrrrrp), the little black mustang would have either plowed into the back end of the 18-wheeler or side-swiped our front end. It was the closest call I've ever seen, and we still can't figure out how he managed to not hit us. Our lucky day, and also the idiot's lucky day because he almost certainly would have been killed. Gary saved a life that day, maybe three.

pics from Kansas to Nevada

2012 Oct - Dec at Amazon, Coffeyville KS

We jumped into Amazon Camperforce after hearing good things, and bad things. It certainly was hard work, 10+ hours each day on your feet, sometimes heavy lifting, bending, walking very fast, and the hardest thing of all, standing in one place for long periods. I was absolutely amazed at the whole process and still can't get over the incredible variety of things people order online.....coffee filters? split peas? a 3oz tube of hand lotion...and oh the diapers....loads and loads of diapers, the bain of Gary's existence. He won't walk anywhere near the diaper row at the market for fear he'll have flashbacks.

We met some really nice people, both in the camperforce and full-time Amazonians.  I applied for a campercoach position (there were about 8 of us for the 200+ workcampers) and spent half my shift interviewing other campers regarding their Amazon experience. This was a fantastic experience for me - and while we were struggling with aches and pains, we definitely were humbled by the many folks I interviewed who were 70+ and in their 3rd or 4th year at camperforce! One 77-year old woman was working as a "picker" which requires walking about 10-20 miles per day, including stairs and mostly on hard concrete. I couldn't keep up with her....what an inspiration.

Our stay was uneventful, the park being somewhat unattractive but serving its purpose, just across the street from the Amazon facility. Amazon gives you a choice of some nicer parks which are a bit further away - we chose to be close. But we put in a suggestion for Elk City Lake to be a covered location - it was a half-hour away but worth the drive!

It worked out well when we first arrived because mom had just sold her house, so we were able to spend some time helping with the packing. Also had time to visit with our good friends in the Joplin area.

Side note: There was a fantastic mexican restaurant, El Pueblito, just down the road on the edge of Coffeyville; we usually split the fajitas dinner and always had leftovers for a meal the next day.

some pics from fall in Kansas and Missouri