Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A funny thing happened on our way to winter travels...

We’re writing again from Tecopa CA where we’ve taken up residence for the winter. Not so much a change of plan as more a change in outlook. Normally, we’re quite positive about life and our prospects, and like many this year, we’ve had our spirits lifted by the election outcome. Yet we’re challenged by our perceptions of the economy. Nancy and I have debated at length our travel plans, various budget scenarios and family responsibilities. Perhaps like many, we decided that a cautious approach to spending was in order, along with serious reconsiderations for our travel plans and ways to reduce expenses/maintain income. We see it as trying to be realistic and not panicked by the very real drop in projected income. While stopped for an overnight drycamp and a soak at the Tecopa Hot Springs and armed with a resume, a smile and willingness to work I asked if they needed any help for the rest of the season. I was greeted with a “maybe, but you’ll need to check with the supervisor in the morning.” The long and short is here we are still after my first full week in the campground and hot springs operation business. Who knows where it might lead, but for the time being we’re both feeling relieved by reducing expenses because our site costs are included and it’s 40 miles to anywhere, increased income for a few months and daily hot springs soaks, a good area for bikes and hikes, and all of Death Valley to explore. Did we mention date shakes at the nearby China Ranch Date Farm?

We just spent the winter solstice and our 29th anniversary in nearby LasVegas, a long way from where it all began at our little cabin in the woods at Big Pond, PA. We’re not gamblers but did enjoy some good meals of Ethiopian and Thai food. We also did some food shopping, watched stormy clouds on the snow-capped mountains surrounding the LasVegas valley, enjoyed(?) the famous (and hideously inefficient) casino lights and watched the many families with children from around the world descend on our hotel (Circus-Circus) and the many family-centered activities available there. There was still a lot of gambling and shopping going on, too! We also had a great visit with old friends, Kim and Rick Swords, who are in town visiting their daughter’s family for the holidays. But, it's nice to back home where it's quiet and the stars are brilliant jewels in the black desert sky.
Happy trails, and holidays, too!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fall, 2008 Update

Live from Tecopa, California…gateway to hot springs and the DeathValley NP

Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is upon us. I’ve often thought of a blog update and as many times done something else. Perhaps it should be fewer thoughts and more frequency. Just do it. Let’s see if 2009 is any better:) Not sure if anyone is still out there to read these updates anyway. No matter, if you’re there, we hope you’ll enjoy these musings.

Our European trip seems so long ago, but the other night we pulled out the CD and relived that trip again. With the economic and financial turmoil we’re all experiencing, it makes us doubly grateful that we went in spite of the expense. The money would have disappeared by now anyway, even if we’d stayed home! Same can be said for our purchase of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Prius. And with the many trips to visit a convalescing mother it was really a saver @ $4.50+gasoline. We remained in the Corona, CA area through the middle of November. And there was plenty to do there, too.

Tom worked on many energy efficiency and water wise type projects around the park at Glen Eden and still managed to enjoy the pool, spa and hiking. He also worked at a nearby organic garden at Glen Ivy Hot Springs and was paid in fresh fruit and vegetables all summer long! He was even able to work with his sister Mary’s husband, Bruce and help out with his garage door business. All the while Ms. Nancy participated daily in hydrotherapy, pool-time exercizing and improving from her back and sciatic difficulties. Yes, we’re all feeling the weight and wear of the years.

We also found time early in the spring to get to our annual dental and drug checkup in Algodones, BC, Mexico. We joined the rest of snowbirds flocking to the relatively inexpensive (but quality) dental care and prescription drugs over the border. The irony is never lost on us as we venture there to exploit the difference in standard of living, while thousands of Mexicans struggle to come here to do the same…work for a more decent wage. However, our passage across the border is a lot easier and safer than theirs. Ah justice, or is it Just Us?

We also managed a trip through the four corners area to visit daughter Cathy in Cortez, CO. She’s set up in a new restaurant and bar business with her father there and appears to be making a good go of it even in the off-season. It was also near Mesa Verde National Park where we spent a day touring a few of the many Anasazi ruins from the 7th to 13th centuries. These ruins were of the probable ancestors of the Pueblo peoples of modern New Mexico and the Hopi of Arizona.

And what a year for a presidential election! We both kept busy with GOTV(GetOutTheVote) in the Corona area and online, helped with canvassing and phone support. Needless to say, we were both rewarded with the result, the first in too many years!

Thanksgiving was great this year with continuation of the "trash can turkey" main course. The main event was hosted by Gerry and Sally, long time friends from Alberta with 7 other fulltimer RVers in attendance. They did the most work dressing the bird and preparing it for the "can". The sequence shows the 17 lb bird in preparation with its aluminum foil "coat", under the thoroughly clean and degalvanized can with charcoal atop and around and those late comers who arrive for the feast!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back in the soutwest, still traveling but...

Where has the time gone? We just returned from Europe and here it is 2 ½ months later and not a blog update. I should be ashamed! It’s not like we just stayed put after those 2 busy travel months. Today we’re in one of our favorite RV parks here in southern CA near a mother with a broken leg (and a baby sister with some health issues). We expected to spend time in the deserts of AZ again this winter, but plans change. “Wherever we go, there we are.” An old saying that aptly describes our travel and life philosophy. We’re very grateful for our lives and this lifestyle which allows us this flexibility to change direction and location so easily and conveniently.

(Home at Hole in Wall CG, Mojave National Preserve, Californina)

By way of a recap since returning from Amsterdam in November, we’ve enjoyed friends and travels through Phoenix, Prescott, Ft. Mohave/Bullhead City all in Arizona., the Mitchell Caverns and Hole in the Wall campground near Kelso, CA, southern CA and the Yucaipa/SanBernardino area for Christmas, and Quartzsite, AZ for our annual meetup with fellow baby boomer RVers and the big RV Tent show, flea markets and Rock and Mineral Shows, many thousands come through here in winter for the warmth, humanity and the good bargains, and most all in their RV’s.

We now are enjoying well-needed rains and enjoying the smell of fresh foliage and flowers as spring and the birdsongs return to southern California. Golden CA poppies are beginning to show on the medians and hillsides, while snow-capped peaks are clearly visible on the San Bernardino mountain tops. As we wonder about this change in plan and direction, we’re reminded of the importance of family in our lives and are so grateful to be able to be here for them. It’s also a pretty special place when looked at for shear beauty and opportunity, too.

We’re an hour from Newport Beach area and 1.5 hours from the ski country of Running Springs and Big Bear. Tom even has a big bruise on his backside from a cross-country skiing encounter with an icy hillside track! First time in 18 years on a pair of skis, and no broken bones, just black and blue this time. We’ve also changed vehicles and added a Toyota Prius to our on-the-road travel package letting go of our long-time Mazda pickup. It was a difficult decision but the truck was showing wear and the clutch was proving more difficult for Nancy’s (and Tom’s) back. This is our first automatic auto in nearly 30 years, and at an average of 50+mpg, a pleasure to drive both in comfort and cost:) It’s also our first time without a pickup truck:(

We're getting to learn about a new computer educational system with our XO laptop computer. This is a newly designed laptop from the “One Laptop per Child” program, an educational foundation dedicated to introducing educational opportunities via the internet, collaborative learning and lowcost technology into the developing world. These machines are still in development and were only released in December 2007. They are lowcost, <$200.00, rugged and durable with some great features, a child-sized keyboard and wireless networking capabilities. It’s a new system built on a Linux platform with all open-source software and operates differently from the more traditional MAC and PC-windows systems we’re familiar with and is a bit of a challenge for Tom. But, if a child is supposed to operate it, perhaps there is some hope for him yet J Well, that’s it for this installment. We’ll keep you up to date on the Roadshow as we move along and situations and locations change. Thanks for the feedback and encouragement along the way on this blogspot. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Be well and keep in touch…tom and nancy, solarnomads@aol.com

Total Lunar eclipse, 21 February 2008 near Corona, CA…the clouds opened for just a few minutes allowing me to take this photo. Next time visible in US 2010.