FMCA Rally- Indio, CA
Jan 15, 2012
|We left Mesa on Jan. 3rd and spent the night in the parking lot of Starlight Solar. We got there early enough to discuss the game plan. How many panels, did we need a new controller, change the configuration.....all that techy stuff.
We added 2 more panels and a new controller. These 2 panels will stay flat. The other 4 that we have can be raised in 2 different directions. This was the most cost effective solution with the limited 'real estate' on the top of the coach. An important factor when putting solar on the roof is to place the panels so none of them are shadowed either by the A/C shrouds or the panels themselves. The least little shadow can really reduce the power you are trying to garner from the sun. As always, the work was done quickly and cleanly. The coach was ready about noon.
That morning we found our friends Fred & Jo and their home for the next 2 months. It is in the "Foothills" of Yuma. A popular place for wintering of both snow birders and full time RVer's. It is a large neighborhood like a housing development. Instead of 'sticks & bricks' housing, it is lots that may have a trailer or park model on it. Many of the lots are landscaped leaving space for one or two motorhomes or 5th wheels with full hookups just like an RV Park. The area is just like any neighborhood USA. I think you get the idea. The property owners then rent out their space for short or long term stays. The rates and lengths of stay vary. We have been told that Craigs List is a good resource for finding these economical places to spend the winter instead of an RV Park.
We did not have any reservations anywhere. KOFA, the Escapee coop, only had one dry camping spot available, but was not suitable for testing the panels. Fred & Jo told us about the VFW dry camping area a few miles northeast of town. We decided to give this a try for a few days. It was pretty dusty, but, hey, free is free. It was a good place to test our solar panels. Everything is working. We still have not seen the panels completely charge the batteries, but we will have the opportunity when we go to Quartzsite in a couple of weeks.
To keep busy before moving on to Indo, CA for an FMCA Rally we had the great opportunity to spend time with Jo & Fred. One evening we went to a Chinese Buffet. JC ate as if he had never eaten before. We were all amazed as to how many things he tried and was able to eat. It was very encouraging. He said some of the food was hard to get down, but he is determined. For all we know he may not get his salivary glands function back. Without the salivary glands eating is definitely a challenge, but we are hoping that with time they will heal. Nevertheless, it is a slow process to recover from cancer treatments. He is doing awesome.
Fred & Jo also treated us to some of their home cooking. Fred made the best soup with all sorts of healthy beans, ligumes, beet greens and more. Jo treated me to the very best cup of coffee I have ever had! I recently bought a Keurig machine which I love, but I am tempted to get an Aerobie like hers. It would be good for boondocking because I would only need hot water. JC would not have to start the generator for me to make coffee in the morning. Hmmmm, something to think about.
We left Yuma on the morning of the 9th to meet up with friends John & Carol to go to the FMCA Rally in Indo, CA being held at the Riverside County Fairgrounds together. It has been a while since we have been to a rally. I really enjoy them. One or two a year is really nice. More than that and we spend too much money. It never fails that we find stuff we just have to have. It was reported that 1333 rigs were in attendance. Not too shabby.
There were lots of classes. We all kept busy attending some together and some in different directions. Carol and I had fun learning the tricks of how to make sparkle iron-on t-shirts. John liked the chassis class and JC learned more about hard water and mineral deposits. We wanted to make sure were handling our water properly. We all attended the talk about Alaska that Mike and Terri Church put on. We have been to their seminars before, but we are planning to go the summer of 2013 and a refresher was in order.
The vendors are quite good. Roadmaster, which is the equipment we use to tow our car, had a crew that scouted all the attendees rigs for their equipment and inspected each and every car. This turned out to be a good thing for us. They found a crack in the part that grabs the ball. If it had broken, we would have seen our car driving past us or worse. We were very thankful. Of course, it was a good thing for them too. The portion of the towing system that is attached to the car had to be replaced. They were fair and got the job done quickly.
We really had a good time. These folks really go all out for their chapters. The theme was "Pirates". They had a parade which was a real hoot. So much effort was put into the costumes and floats. We were not expecting much and were pleasantly surprised as to how big and fun the parade was.
The entertainment was excellent. We frequently skip some of these events because they have been disappointing. We were all glad we took the time to attend.
Best of all was spending time with John and Carol....getting to know them better. They are a lot of fun and they have a dog named Jimmy that we get to play Aunt and Uncle to.
We took a day trip to a recommended hike at the Whitewater Preserve which turned out to be quite nice. We did the Canyon View Loop trail and went as far as daylight permitted. The loop connects with other trails that can make a 1.2 mile hike into a 13 mile hike. The trail brought us to a nice overlook for viewing the expansive river bed. In wetter times the river is probably something to see.
Our next stop will be Joshua Tree National Park for 4 nights. JC has wanted to visit this park for some time. I am so glad it finally worked out time wise and we are geographically very close.