At the beginning of the month Maureen cooked up a couple of dozen pink grapefruit fresh off the tree and made juice which lasted about a week and a half. It was delicious. She also made sure that she had enough lemons zested and juiced for the freezer. She also finished work on Kelly's green Tacky Christmas Sweater. She now has to sew it together and add the decorations.
On the 2nd we took a little trip to a place called Salvation Mountain. It is southeast of the Salton Sea, just east of Niland, CA. We stopped at the Buckshot Cafe for lunch. The food was very good. An elderly couple was working it and they were fairly busy. The bathrooms were interesting - very old - out the side door then back in through the kitchen door. Salvation Mountain is an art installation made from adobe, straw, and thousands of gallons of paint. It was created by local resident Leonard Knight, and encompasses numerous murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses. In December of 2011, Knight (at the age of 80) was placed in a long-term care facility in El Cajon for dementia. Concern has been raised for the future of the site, which requires constant maintenance due to the harsh surrounding environment. Many visitors bring paint to donate to the project, and a group of volunteers have been working to protect and maintain the site. We then continued on up the road to Slab City.
Slab City or The Slabs is a snowbird campsite used by recreational vehicle owners and squatters from across North America. It takes its name from the concrete slabs that remain from the abandoned World War II Marine barracks of Camp Dunlap. Several thousand campers, many of them retired and most clearly not working at all, use the site during the winter months. The temperatures during the summer are unforgiving (105,110 and as high as 120 degrees F). There is a group of around 150 permanent residents who live in the Slabs all year round. Some of these "Slabbers" derive their living by way of government checks (SSI and Social Security and Social Security Disability) and have been driven to the Slabs through poverty. Others have moved to The Slabs to learn how to live off the grid and to be left alone. Still others have moved there to stretch their retirement income.
The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, and there is no charge for parking. "The last free camping in California." The camp has no electricity, no running water, no sewers nor toilets, and no trash pickup service. Many campers use generators or solar panels to generate electricity. Supplies can be purchased in nearby Niland. There was quite a bit of trash around. We continued on to El Centro and dropped in on Lynn and Sharon (Sharon was out shopping) who live at Swan Lake.
On the 9th we left about 10 in the morning returning at 3 pm. We drove up to Big Morongo Canyon and did the short Marsh Boardwalk. Larry was able to ride his scooter on the trail. We then went on to Joshua Tree National Park. It got cooler the higher we drove. A nice park with lots of interesting rock formations. There were quite a few rock climbers around. We stopped at Happy Valley Picnic area for lunch and were visited by a Western Bluebird. We chatted with a couple from BC who had a big wicker picnic basket. We stopped at Keys Viewpoint and in one direction you could see the Salton Sea. In the other direction you could see the San Andreas Fault.
On the 10th we checked out Bristol Farms, a new grocery experience for us. It's an amazing store - somewhat like Choices or Thrifty Foods. It's quite expensive but the selection is very different. We got some fresh halibut, baby Pacific shrimp, bacon, veal and lamb. We also got some interesting cheeses.
Happy Valentine's Day! Time for our road trip. We left the park just after 8 am and arrived at Redlands Truck and RV just after 9. The job, which was a Tiffin recall installing a heat plate over the exhaust, was only supposed to take an hour but because ours was one of the ones where they had to cut the floor (from underneath) it took longer. We finally got out of there about 3:00. But that enabled us to go to Carolyn’s Café for lunch which is our favourite. While we were waiting we went to Camping World to see if there was anything new. We met an interesting couple from North Carolina in the sewer department. They are new to RVing (they bought their first coach six months ago) and they asked for advice. We felt like we were holding a class! We arrived at East Shore RV in San Dimas about 4:30. We booked our site for the NHRA Drag Races in November 2013 and for the Winternationals Drag Racing in February 2014. We decided to go to the Sports Grill at the track. The Kalitta racing team was there giving autographs (found that out on Facebook) and door prizes. Larry got autographs on a Tequila Patron hat that they gave him from Alexis Dejoria (Funny Car), Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car)and David Grubnic (Top Fuel). We had a couple of beer and shared an 8” Pepperoni pizza.
The people in this park are very friendly. Maureen met a guy from Abbotsford on the first morning. We had a good day at the races on Friday. When we got back to the park a couple was walking by with their Golden Labs. They had spotted our front license plate on the coach - RVLEDGUY.COM - when we were here in November and at that time missed seeing us and checked out the website. They were happy to see us this time and purchased quite a number of Larry's LED lights. Their names are Cindy and George and they are from the Oakland CA area. Another guy stopped by to talk about the races. We chatted with more people in 24 hours than the whole time since November in Palm Springs.
Saturday was another good day of racing. While eating our lunch sitting on a wall, we met John and Jean from Napa CA. Their son-in-law is from North Vancouver and their daughter is now a Canadian citizen. They've been up to Vancouver a few times. It was cooler this day and when the sun went behind the stands it was actually cold. Of course there was wind coming from the ocean. As we were heading back to the car, Larry picked up a thumb tack in one of his tires and it immediately flattened. While he waited at the gate, Maureen went and got the car and came back to pick him up. Luckily he had a spare tube at the coach.
There was a crazy crash on Sunday. Antron Brown won his race over David Grubnic but right at the finish line his engine exploded in a fireball at 329mph, shredded the back tires, flipped the Top Fuel Dragster on its side which then veered across the track into a cement retaining wall, breaking the gate where the Safety Safari exits during oil downs and accidents. It bounced off the wall still on its side then came across to the other side of the track hit the wall, slid down the track into the sand at the end of the track. Fortunately David Grubnic (Grubby) had smoked his tires at the starting line and was able to get out of the way. The Safety Safari guys got to Antron right away with fire extinguishers and helped him get out of the cockpit and walk away. Incredible! He was one of a few drivers who was testing out a “cap” on his cockpit at this race. They think it saved him from a lot of burns and injury. He said later he was able to turn on his fresh air lever which enabled him to breath without inhaling the Nitro-Methane fumes. Funny thing was, he actually won the race but his car was destroyed. They always have a second car in their trailers but during eliminations the rule states that you cannot use a different car, only during qualifying. It took them over an hour to clean it all up and repair the gate. If you're interested you can view the crash here www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMwp1aLcJuY.
We left for Yuma on the 18th – 253 miles. There was a lot of traffic coming towards us, mostly RV’s, because it was a holiday weekend (President's Day) and they were all out at the dunes for the weekend. Fry's Sushi for dinner! Yummm! Tuesday morning early we had the coach washed and waxed. They did a great job. Then we went to Los Algodones MX. We parked in the lot and unloaded the scooter. First stop was getting our eyes tested and ordering new lenses ($129 for Maureen's Progressives, $188 for Larry's two pairs of bi-focal sunglasses), then on to get both our hair cut ($8 for Maureen, $4 for Larry and an excellent job), then to El Paraiso for a Mexican lunch and live music. We then went to the Purple Pharmacy for some acid reflux medicine for Larry, then back to the eye glass shop to pick up our glasses. The glasses took longer than they had said so it was 4:00 by the time we got out of there. The shop is right across from the line back to the US and we had been watching it for a while. It moves fast but still took us about 30 minutes. As the day went on it got quite a bit cooler and the wind came up. The scooter worked well. We got back just in time for happy hour with Joan and Eric, our Michigan friends we met a year and a half ago in St. Andrew's NB. It rained in the night. We had heard that they had snow in Tucson that postponed a round of golf and also north of Phoenix.
Wednesday was busy as well. The local lady who sells LED lights was over at noon and didn’t leave until 2. She bought a few lights but mostly wanted to talk about collaborating on an order from China. Then we went and got our stock of water filters. We checked out another RV park that has just been purchased by Cal-Am and stopped for a quick visit with Ken and Mavis, who live in Vernon. Then Happy Hour with Sharon and Leo from Swan Lake.
Our next stop was Casa Grande. The RV site in which we’re staying is owned by Lloyd and Karen who own behind us in Vernon. The park is called Sunscape RV and it is about 10 miles southeast of Casa Grande. It's a nice little park with a well established cactus garden beside it. The people are very friendly. There was a big black cloud on the horizon and they were calling for possible thunderstorms but it didn't amount to much. We had arranged in advance that we would take them out for dinner in payment for the use of their lot. However, since it was Larry's 60th birthday they ended up taking us instead. We went to Francisco Grande Hotel. It was very nice. Thanks Lloyd and Karen! When Maureen was on her morning walk, she heard a Northern Mockingbird for the first time - amazing song!
It was very cold and windy at the races on Sunday. Maureen had gloves on as well as a head band for her ears, her sweatshirt hood and the ear protection on top of that. It blew the whole day. This was the first time in 6 years that Larry actually put on long pants. We finally gave up at about 4:00 and headed back to the park. We stopped by Lloyd and Karen's new coach, which they had brought to the other site they own in the park, and we planned to go to Culver's for dinner. Our treat this time!
When we got up on Monday the 25th there was frost on the roof of the Jeep. Yikes! It was a nice 2 hour drive to our next destination - Sunflower RV in Surprise AZ. Dale and Jeannie from Swan Lake stay here in the Winter. They had found a site for us. We weren't in it 2 minutes when Mike from behind us was out welcoming us and telling us about their daily happy hour at the back of our coach - apparently a number of them just drink water - but we discovered they were a boisterous group. Then Dale and Jeannie arrived and invited us to their place for happy hour. They had also obtained tickets to the Canadian dinner at the clubhouse. There were about 200 people there - half of whom were from Alberta. Dinner was roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, green beans, salad, carrot cake. Everything, including the people, was decorated in red and white. They also had draws for $50 – each of us couples won once. They had a trivia game also. We didn't do very well at that.
Tuesday morning we met Jim and Marie from South Surrey for breakfast. We wanted to make sure we saw them because they are moving to Nova Scotia so we may not see them in South Surrey again. They rent a house in Trilogy Vistancia Golf Resort. It's a beautiful place. We went to Dale and Jeannie's for dinner.
Then we were off again. It was just over a four hour drive back to Palm Springs. Our friends from Nanaimo/Campbell River are back there for a week so they were waiting for us. A couple of days of happy hours and shopping before they leave. The weather's getting warmer!