A change of plans

We headed out of Iowa a little after 9:00 am, planning on going to Oklahoma. Then we saw a huge flock of pelicans in Nebraska. When I say huge, it was at least 1000 birds, some wheeling in the air and even more on the ground. Amazing! I remembered how I had been in the middle of the great bird migration in early March almost 5 years ago while on I-80 in Nebraska. Ummm. It was almost March. Was it possible the migration was starting early? There is a bubble of deliciously warm air over the Great Plains, so we turned north to I-80 instead of Oklahoma. We aren’t in the middle of the main migration, but we did see a lot of birds. Take a look at this picture. All that almost solid white are birds completely covering a borrow pit along the side of the highway.

As usual, it isn’t the best of pictures, but it shows how thick the geese were. These were mostly Snow Geese with a few other geese and even some ducks stuck in the middle of them. During the main migration, this kind of scene occurs in fields and ponds for well over 100 miles. Sadly we only saw the geese and ducks, no sandhill cranes.

We are spending the night in North Platte, Nebraska at Holiday RV Park. Definitely some traffic noise, but it is convenient and pretty cheap for electric, wifi, and cable. Central water, and there is a sewer hookup we don’t need yet. Normally they are full hookups (we have stayed here a few times before), but they are leaving the water off for the season. Since today’s high temperature was in the 70’s, it doesn’t seem reasonable, but it is still February. From here we plan on heading to Colorado, probably Loveland. I’d like to see Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter, but I sure don’t want to camp there. Lowland camping with electricity and cable sounds a lot more enjoyable. Then again, we may change our minds!

Oh, and I have picked up a rotten head cold. I am coughing a lot, and I have a sore throats from the drainage. Ugh.

Southwestern Iowa and warmth

I did have some good news regarding the last post. The water pump is fine – no more weird noises. It must have had a bubble or something in it, because everything is fine now. Also the new mattress still feels great.

We did travel on Valentine’s Day, and we made it to a lovely state park in far southwestern Iowa named Waubonsie. We have been the only campers here, and the weather has been really nice with blue skies, light breezes, and highs in the upper 40s/low 50s. The stars are gorgeous since it is a long way to anywhere with light pollution, and the owls and coyotes have been very noisy at night. During the day we did laundry (how exciting) and just relaxed. Last night I made roasted potatoes and onions, then pan grilled some turkey sausage. Yum. Tonight I baked a pasta casserole in the Dutch Oven. It was ok, but it definitely needed more seasoning. It was nice to just do things more camping related.

Here is the campground. Not much green but lots of vegetation. The campsite we are in is only $11.00 a night right now since it is off season, but it has electricity and water.

We sat around a fire in the evening, propane instead of wood because it is so much easier to adjust. Kevin doesn’t always look so dour! We have a sunshade-type shelter we use to keep out of sun and wind occasionally, and this time we have used it both nights to reflect the heat from the fire. It made it much more comfortable. Notice the box wine on the table and the light from the trailer behind the shelter.

We may be the only people here, but there are lots of birds and animals. Lots of geese heading to and from the nearby Missouri River make a racket, multiple owls beginning at dusk and continuing until we go inside hoot at us, plus coyotes are talking to one another. We have also seen turkey and deer plus a number of birds. It is lovely to heard the night sounds while gazing into the fire.

Pretty nice for a propane fire pit!

Tomorrow we will leave here and hopefully make it to somewhere in northern Oklahoma. It is nice to not have a schedule. We will decide somewhere down the road where to stay and how long. Retirement does have its advantages!

Soon to be traveling again!

Today the part for our truck’s recall notice came in, and Kevin is getting it installed now. He is also going to get an oil and fuel filter change for the truck, so it will be an expensive day. The recall issue is obviously free of charge, but oil and filters on a diesel pickup are pricey. Luckily it doesn’t have to be done often.

I am having an issue with the trailer water pump though. It sounds awful when I use it, noisy and rough. The water level is low, so I tried to fill it. I couldn’t get water to go in though! I have no idea why, so I am just going to leave it until Kevin comes back. It is well above freezing, but the wind is nasty and wet. I had forgotten how much colder a wet wind feels than the dry winds we get out West.

Ooh, but we do have good news too! We bought a foam RV mattress to replace the barely adequate coil mattress we got with the trailer. I really like foam, though this is a bit softer than I prefer. It is thicker than the old mattress, but the quilt I made still fits, so I am glad of that! Many RV mattresses are odd sized; ours is a “short queen”, six inches shorter than a regular queen. That means special mattresses, special sheets, etc. Quite a pain! I made the quilt that is on the bed now, and I love how nice it feels. It is with quality cotton fabric and a luscious wool batting so it drapes well yet is comfortable in a variety of temperatures. I like using wool batting in quilts for adults, but I use cotton batting in quilts for children or ones I know will be washed a lot. The wool can be machine washed and dried, but it does take more care than cotton.

I am spending a lot of time reading since we are stationary and it is cold. I am working my way through Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries, and having a great time. My public library has an ebook system, and I have been able to get quite a few. I am trying to read them in order, but number 5 was checked out by someone else, and I accidentally checked out number 19 (and read it). I am now on number 10, “Death Before Wicket.”  I will check out a few more before we leave the campground here.  My library ebook system only works on real wifi, not my phone’s hot spot making it something I have to plan for. I loved the PBS series, and it turns out to be a quite faithful adaptation. There are only a few character modifications, but the Miss Fisher in the show is the same Miss Fisher in the books.

Tonight we will have Indian food with my oldest son and his family, then we head out tomorrow. I am so in need of warmer weather! We have 3-4 weeks before we intend on being home, so we have lots of time to dawdle along the way. No specific plans, just heading in the general direction of south.

Out of the warmth

Yesterday was one of those glorious desert winter days. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky, the wind was light, and the air was warm. Ahhh! I did a lot of just sitting in my recliner outside. We also took the bikes out for a ride to pick up a funnel cake for breakfast (don’t judge LOL!) and to visit the Quartzsite Museum, a surprisingly nice place. We also had a nice campfire with some of the RV Forum folks who were still around. Most people had left on Sunday morning, the official end of the rally, but there were enough to enjoy a nice chat.

We decided to leave today, as originally planned. We intended on heading through southern Arizona towards Albuquerque, waiting there until my daughter called to say she was in labor. Well, she called us this morning as we were finishing packing that she was headed to the hospital tonight to start her induction. We finished packing, but instead of just driving a few hours down the road, we made it to Grants, New Mexico after a bit over 9 hours of driving.  The roads were clear, though there definitely was snow along the sides of the roads in a number of areas. We are staying the night in a clean RV park called Bar S, only $21 for full hookups. We really needed to dump the tanks and fill up with water. The complication is that it is going to be colder tonight than we have ever stayed in the trailer, 19 degrees! (I almost used a dash instead of a comma, but it looked like negative 19, a bit much even for us.) There is a train that comes by frequently, but it doesn’t sound its horn, so I think I will sleep fine. The cats are just glad to be out of the truck. (I know it isn’t a great picture, but she keeps moving her head.)

Lily on her tower.

Quartzsite, Arizona

Once we got out of the Salt Lake City area, we had smooth sailing. We spent the night in St. George and then left by 9:00 am to head to Quartzsite. We took the route through California instead of Lake Havasu, and it was a good choice. We arrived a little after 3:00 on 25 January, but by the time we got permits, figured out where the RV Forum group was camped, and got set up, it was just after 4:00 and time for Happy Hour! It was a nice way to meet the rest of the group. By 6:00 we were back at our trailer and finishing the setup. It took Kevin a long time to get the satellite activated, but that is generally the case with DISH. Sigh. The service is good once we get it started, but it is painful working with them every time we move to get our address changed.

Yesterday we went to the big Quartzite show. This is a ritual for RVers in the West. There are around 100,000 people mostly camped in the desert with a few in town at crowded RV parks. The “show” is centered at “The Big Tent”, a huge big top tent that houses many vendors. There are also lots of vendors outside the tent, and there are multiple other vendor areas that are mostly flea markets with a few nice vendors of a more artistic bent. There are also a lot of food vendors! Kevin and I shared a wonderful funnel cake, one of my main weaknesses.

Here is a picture of the tent. OK, it is a lousy picture taken from the truck, but you get the idea.

The “Big Tent”

One of the things about camping in the dispersed area the BLM calls “Long Term Visitor Areas” is that hookups are non-existence. There are a couple of places with a single dump station, but that’s not much for 100,000 people! The line at the dump station has to be seen to be believed. This picture was taken at noon yesterday.

In the afternoon we took the electric bikes out for a ride. The scenery is gorgeous. I like this scenic saguaro with the mountains in the background.

Today we went towards Yuma, Arizona. Our first stop was Castle Dome ghost town and mining museum. What a wonderful place! It was quite cold with a hard wind so we only did about half of the available exhibits. I definitely want to come back another year in better weather and do the entire thing. Here are some pictures. You can definitely see why they call the area Castle Dome. The rocks are volcanic, and there were 300 mines in the area, mostly for silver and lead.

Part of the Castle Dome museum
More of the Castle Dome museum

We also went through the Yuma Proving Grounds. There was a very interesting dirigible tied up not too far off the road. Maybe used for range communication or monitoring? It looks like an instrument cluster or radar at the bottom. You can’t judge the size from this picture, but I bet it was 30-40 foot tall, based on the hanger it was near. Odd site in the middle of the desert!

Dirigible at Yuma Proving Grounds

On the road again!

(Ok, this post is actually being made on Tuesday, 24 January 2017, but I didn’t have the time zone set correctly in WordPress. Ignore the 25 January date.)

We left the house this morning at 10:00, just in front of a forecast snow storm. We normally get our before 9:00, but we basically had to completely pack the trailer with staples. It took a lot longer than when we just load up fresh food and clothes! We are going to be gone for the longest time yet, probably over two months. Here is what the house looked like as we left.

Kevin had shoveled the driveway before we started to pack, but look at all the snow in the yard. We had stayed at home to see Kinky Boots, a musical at the Eccles Theater (we have season tickets), but the weather has had me itching to leave. We originally planned on leaving yesterday, but a snow storm with 6+” of snow put a stop to that. We snuck out today just in front of another storm.

We drove over just over 5 hours to Temple View RV park in St. George, UT. This is where we generally stay when we are in St. George. It is quiet and fairly roomy for a traditional RV park, and the folks who run it are very nice. We got everything put in (almost) the right spots in the trailer, and the cats acted like it was perfectly normal to be traveling again. Tomorrow we take long, luxurious showers, then Kevin will dump the gray water and make sure the fresh water is full before we take off for Quartzsite, AZ. We are meeting a group from RVForum.com. More to come about the RV experience that is known for having 100,000 RV come to camp without hookups in the desert. We intend on staying until Monday. I just can’t believe how pleased I am to be out again.

Baby presents done

I finished up my daughter’s baby quilt a couple of days ago, and I finished a car seat canopy for her today. Lots of pictures of the quilt, but I forgot to take a picture of the canopy! I mailed the package today, and it will hopefully be there for her baby shower Saturday.

Cheyenne’s elephant quilt
Elephant was quilted with random circles.
The background was quilted using a bamboo design.
Some straight line quilting too using rulers.
Back needed to be just a little bit bigger so I added a cute stripe

We also got a Anova sous vide cooker. It is wonderful! One of my sons got one for Christmas, and he convinced us to try it. Last night was pork chops, and tonight is chicken. The meat is evenly cooked and very moist. We do have to brown it after the sous vide, but that only takes a few minutes.

Finally getting ready for travel

It has been a long time since we have taken a camping trip, and I miss it. Our last time out was to Death Valley for the ’49ers Encampment in mid November. We have been busy with family activities, but I like to travel. We are heading to Quartzsite with an RV forum, leaving home on Monday, 23 January, arriving in QZ on the next day. After QZ we will head to Albuquerque to wait the call from my daughter that she went into labor. I made reservations in an Arizona state park for a few days on the way to ABQ. It felt nice to get the plans made. Two months between camping trips is a very  long time!

Oh, and we have had so much snow! Kevin is filling up the bird feeder every day, and it is emptied out in 6-8 hours. He even put out a bird bath with an immersion heater that has proved to be very popular, especially with Lily, one of my cats.

Lots of snow but we still went shopping!

We got at least 4″ of fresh snow last night. It was so pretty I should have taken a picture! We are expecting another 5-9″ over the next two days, so Kevin’s snow thrower will get a workout. Today the traffic wasn’t too bad because a lot of people were still off work, but the next storm will be during prime time. It has been a few years since we have had this much snow, and I have totally got out of the habit of dealing with it. For example, I keep forgetting to put on my snow boots before I go out. They are sitting at the door, ready for me, but I just walk right past them in my regular shoes. Sigh.

We waited until the plows had plenty of time to work and went shopping. I finally decided I needed a new iPad. I had an iPad 3 that was about 6 years old with only 16 GB, and it just wasn’t behaving well. I ended up at the Apple Store and walked out the door with a new iPad Air 2 with 128 GB  plus a nice case. Since I don’t use the iCloud for my backups, I had to set it up at home using iTunes on my Windows laptop. It took two hours since I had all kinds of problems. However I am using it to write this post, and I am quite happy with it.

After I got the iPad set up, I decided to work on my daughter’s quilt. It took some time to get the tension set up correctly (bad tension was the reason I had to take out the quilting yesterday), but it looks nice now. I need to work on it in short sessions of one hour or so to keep my concentration and to keep my arthritis from flaring up. I will probably finish the background tomorrow and then the elephant itself on Wednesday. I can’t wait!

Quilting again!

New Year’s Day

We got back home last night. I must admit that this introvert is hibernating today. I love family and friends, but I need some alone time too. While I was in the Midwest, I also missed the mountains. Here is a picture I took in Wyoming. Yes, there are mountains on the horizon, though they aren’t too obvious. I finally felt like I had space again.

Wyoming sunset, 29 December 2016

We ended up driving to Gillette, WY again, staying in the La Quinta again. Then we drove to Bozeman (snowy roads most of the way), dropped off son and his dog, then did some shopping. We stayed at the Lehrkind B&B in Bozeman.  It was a very nice place with a truly outstanding breakfast. Coming to Utah, we had snowy roads about 1/3 of the time, and the end of the trip was on cold clear roads. Now that I am back home, I have to get working. First I will pull out the quilting I started on my daughter’s quilt. It will be nice and warm on this cold, bright day.