Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Beginning Our 2nd Year RVing

January started out the year without much fanfare. In the last post, I talked about Jeff running his 260 miles at the Across the Years race. It is called that as it begins on 12/28, and ends on 1/2. That was actually a pretty big accomplishment for him, since he hasn't really been running that much. The nice thing about being at Rover's Roost in Casa Grande was the fact he could just take off across the desert with no fences. He could go miles on those dirt tracks out there. I think he only became lost once or twice!

But, we weren't to stay there much longer. The biggest gathering of RVer's in the world is in January, in the desert, in Quartzite, AZ. There is a big tent with items for sale, and a very large RV show. We had driven out there for a couple hours last year, but didn't actually drive the RV out there and stay. Once I found out there was a really large contingent of Alfa's that gathered out there, I was determined to go. Jeff didn't necessarily want to spend a couple weeks boondocking in the desert. Boondocking is basically no hookups. You bring full water tanks, empty waste tanks, and use the generator to charge the batteries once or twice a day. To be fair, we hadn't gone more than about 5 days on our tank system so far, and Jeff didn't really think we could make 2 weeks. And, he wasn't sure about hanging around in the dusty desert that long! So, I said let's go for a few days, see how you like it. Once we got there, we were having so much fun, we ended up staying the entire time, with plans to go again next year! At one point, there were over 30 Alfa coaches out in our little area. As I understand it, the Alfa group has been going to that same area since the 80's. Although Alfa didn't make class A's that long ago, they were making something. 

Ours is the very bottom one! Photo courtesy of David R. Volker.

The "New" Alfa logo written in the desert. Photo courtesy of David R. Volker.

Evenings were chilly, but we had a nice bonfire in the evenings. Also the mornings, but I usually slept through that one!

Our co-wagon masters did an excellent job of keeping us fed, and busy! Thanks to the Prichard's and the Tisdale's!

A view of our home at dusk.

One of the many beautiful sunsets in the desert.

Our Alfa group had many social get together's while at Quartzite. This is a really fun group!
February was pretty uneventful. We drove back to Hondo, Texas in order to check out the SKP co-op park there. You have to belong to the Escapee's RV club to stay there, or to buy into the co-op. Since the Escapee's is where we get our mail service, we were already members, and have stayed at several of the SKP parks. Someday we might even buy into one of them. A good way to have a home base, yet still be able to rent out your spot when you are gone traveling. It rained a LOT when we were there! But it was great to visit the San Antonio area, and visit some friends there.

March brought us back to Puerto Penasco! We spent the entire month there with a group of Alfa owners. There was quite a caravan of us heading south into Mexico! Plus, there were already several Alfa coaches on the beach waiting on us! Once again, we had a marvelous time there!  We got better acquainted with some of the owners we hadn't been around much, too. 

Most of the group visiting downtown.

Several of us bought some amazing shell art from a beach vendor.

Jeff must have said something snarky to Susan!

A statue downtown on the water front.

Our group gathered on the beach most days.

Our space was great no matter the weather! Courtesy of the Prichard's.

One of the many beautiful sunsets.

Me, on the beach!

For cool evenings, we even had fire!

The view from our gathering spot.

Hanging out.

There were lots of toys for the kiddos at the open shopping areas!


I tried on some wings while there at a local shop.

We picked up a lot of shells!

This family has a tortilleria. It was fun watching them make the tortillas.

A retired art teacher, who lives there on the beach, has totally transformed her 5th wheel! LOVE IT!

Lots of colorful metal art for sale.

Breakfast at a fun local place.

When we started this "journey", we had no idea what to expect. But the friendliness and helpfulness of other RVer's is astounding! Every time we have had some problem or issue with our coach, someone else is ready with help and advice. There probably isn't much we could experience that these folks haven't already dealt with! Many of our new friends have been living and traveling in their RV's for over 10 years, and still loving it! Some of them have winter places, and travel in the summer. Some go from point A in summer, to point B in winter. There are so many options! We are still just loving the traveling!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and Beyond, 2017

One of the reasons I decided to resurrect the blog, is that one day I realized this is the best way for ME to go back later and see where we have been! I was actually trying to remember where we were when on the Run for The Hoses across America, and referred to the blog. That is when it hit me! Duh... although it isn't a journal necessarily (I've never been good at that, either!), but it is a way to re-live the fun years later.

The last post left off as we were heading towards Albuquerque with our Alfa friends. Our first stop was a really nice RV park just west of Albuquerque called Enchanted Trails RV Park. As they are right on the interstate coming into town from the west, they get a LOT of pre and post Balloon Fiesta RVer's! I'm not real sure how many we Alfa's we had in our group, but it was easily more than a dozen! 

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is loads of fun! I have heard about it for years, but never attended. When we were offered the opportunity to attend with our new Alfa friends, we were in! The biggest worry was, could we make it boondocking for that length of time? As it turned out, we did pay to have the truck come and pump us out once, and also strung several hoses to the closest potable water spigot. Other than that, we ran our generator each evening to charge the batteries. 

In order to get our site for free, we had to volunteer a certain number of hours each. There are a number of things you can volunteer to do, but we chose to do some set up, tear down, and also work in the break tent for the other volunteers. We got to visit with lots of different volunteers that way, plus, we were right on the field where the balloons lifted off!

Jeff setting out snacks for other volunteers.

The greatest thing about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is that the field is open. In other words, there are no ropes to keep you from the balloons. You can walk right up to them, and in some cases, even help the crews. You can feel the heat from the flames on your face! As the mornings are quite chilly in October, this is really cool! 

The morning glow!

There were so many different balloons!

There are maybe 100 balloons laid out on the field? Not sure, but they go up and up!

These two were really cute.

If you can imagine it, they can make a balloon out of it!

A selfie with a back drop!
Even when we were at the coach site, which was about a mile away from the field, we saw balloons! Many of them landed right among the RV's, which was really cool. 
This guy went right over our RV! 

And I got to see and hug a couple of my friends from Robson Ranch! Yes, there was a women's trip out to Albuquerque. I think they stayed in a hotel nearby. 

After the Balloon Fiesta, our next big adventure was Puerto Penasco, Mexico! We were a little apprehensive about driving into Mexico with our "home", but we had a small convoy. We met with the Prichard's and the Novion's in Gila Bend, AZ, then headed down the next morning. The only problem we had came from our engine over heating on the minor hills. 

Thankfully, with Dale Prichard along, we got that problem pretty much handled. Apparently, the fins on the radiator in the rear had built up so much grease and dirt, that the engine wasn't getting cooled properly. All it took to "fix" it was to clean those fins off! Jeff spent quite a while on the beach, directing the nozzle. We have no idea how much maintenance was done on this rig, or how much was deferred or just not done. We had the radiator flushed and refilled in Boise earlier in the summer, but I guess that didn't include doing anything else, like flushing the outside! We are learning, and gradually trying to catch up with stuff. Next project, having the a/c units removed and serviced. That is a big job!

Back to Mexico. It was awesome! We were camped right on the beach with full hookups! 

The view from our front window!

Jeff hanging out under the awning.

Rocky Point is a nice little town that is basically a destination for AZ tourists. There are condos galore, and many of the local folks speak English. There are lots of fun restaurants and street food vendors, too! Luckily, there is a bar and grill just next door to the RV park on the beach called Wrecked at the Reef. A very fun place with good food. They also have live music a lot.

Our friend Susan enjoying a Margarita on our first night there.
There is also a fun shopping area called the Mexican Rodeo Drive. There were blocks and blocks of little shops offering all sorts of fun things. 

As it happened, we were there for my birthday October 28, so we went to a spot on the very top of the cliff for dinner. And there was an amazing view of the harbor and the sunset from up there!

Jeff and Dale, hamming it up for the camera!
Another really cool thing about Mexico is that there are artisan's and skilled carpenter's there who do an amazing job for much less than the US price. We had been trying to get a small credenza type cabinet done in the US, to go along with our dining table. Not only were the prices around $3500, we never could get them to actually schedule and get us done. I guess there was just too much work around for them. So, we found a carpenter there in Puerto Penasco. This particular guy didn't speak a bit of English, but luckily we had a friend in our group that was fluent in Spanish, as he was born in Argentina. We got everything worked out with Oswaldo, our carpenter. We ended up getting what we wanted for under $500!


After, along with slide out drawers on the bottom, one for the printer!

Did I mention the amazing sunsets we had there on the beach? WOW!

Once we left Mexico and it's stunning sunsets behind (Jeff tells me the sun rises were also phenomenal.... I'll take his word for it!), we headed back to Casa Grande for the rest of the winter. The weather makes southern Arizona a wonderful place to pass the winter! It is like summer! Lol, warm and sunny. And it was close to Jeff's dad in Chandler. Jeff spent a couple days a week visiting him. 

Cal on his 90th birthday.

We decided to park it at an Escapee Co-Op called Rover's Roost, where our friends Dale and Susan Prichard routinely winter. We made lots of new friends there, too, and had a blast. 

Lots of evenings with friends by the camp fire.

Lots of desert with no fences for Jeff and the dogs to run!

Rover's Roost had an artist in residence that painted a lot of fun things on the sides of buildings there.

One of the fun things we did with the group was to visit the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, next to Picacho Peak. Not sure what to expect, but thought it sounded interesting. It was a blast! If you are ever in the area, I 10 between Tucson and Phoenix, check it out! 

You know I love birds! And got no poop on my head!

This was our chariot.

The namesakes.

Jeff holding an actual ostrich egg!


We participated in the annual Christmas Eve party there at Rover's Roost. We were elves.... handing out gifts! It was a lot of fun!

Jeff found this awesome outfit at a party outfitter. He was a big hit!

Susan was also an elf!

One of the final things we did in 2017 was the annual Across the Years race, in which the participants can choose the number of days, from 1 to 6, that they run around this nice little trail. The trail is at the spring training camp for a couple major league baseball teams there in the Phoenix area. Of course, Jeff chose the 6 days! The great thing about this location is that there is room for the ultra runner's to tent camp (they rent tents from the race!), and there is a large dirt field for those that bring their own RV! Of course, we took our home there and parked right next to the trail! Jeff went round and round and round! Six days, 262 miles! He decided that was a good stopping point, as it was equal to 10 marathons. You know what else? He wasn't even stiff or sore afterwards! He attributes that to the amazing socks that he was introduced to that use a technology similar to reflexology or acupressure to help improve balance, stability, endurance, etc. Great for athlete's and people with foot issues (including neuropathy from various medical issues!). Check them (VoxxLife socks) out on youtube then let Jeff know. He can help hook you up! 

Getting ready to go!

And he's off! He even broke out his flag from the run across the country!

The Jester holds many ultra running records. Plus, he's a nice guy!

Tent city.

Getting a couple blisters wrapped.

Our little home next to the trail.

I will end this post now with some amazing desert sunsets!