Welcome

The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.



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Friday, January 20, 2012

Let Our 2012 Travels Begin

We are normally “home” in Cool, California for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season and get anxious to hit the road right after New Years Day.  This year was different.

Many of the readers of this blog have been inundated with my “health issue” – Valley Fever – that has had our travels on hold the past few weeks.  For those that know about it, skip the next paragraph.

[We think I actually contracted Valley Fever back in late September while in Albuquerque, NM for the Balloon Fiesta. It took a couple of diagnosis of bronchitis and pneumonia before a blood test revealed the cause of my coughing and tiredness.  A microscopic dust fungus spore landed in my lung and doctors have been monitoring (blood tests, x-rays, CT-Scans, and a Bronchosophy camera exam of my airways) since early November. They say 60% of those who have Valley Fever (VF) never know it.  I apparently have a “mild to moderate” case and thankful it has not “disseminated” (spread to other parts of the body).  It can result in death if not treated with anti-fungal medications. Right now, I do not require further treatment. I will repeat all my tests again in 3 months and continue testing for probably the next two years.  To learn more about VF, go to the Valley Fever Center for Excellence website: http://www.vfce.arizona.edu/]

At 5 pm on Tuesday of this week my doctor called and said I was free to travel. The fungus spore is not growing right now and I don’t have to report back for three months!  Yahoooo! 

When I got the call, Luke was down at our community RV storage lot “winterizing” the motorhome for our expected drop in overnight temperatures.  He came home, I told him the good news and we decided that we should hit the road the next day. We have our checklists and have our routines so we knew we could do it.  Northern California had been dry for the last few months but a cold, wet storm was headed our way.  Our winter destination would be towards the Southwest (Southern California and Western Arizona) and catching up with our RV buddies.

We normally can load the RV with our clothes, food, electronics, meds, and dog goodies with three trips from the house to the storage lot using our CR-V.  This time we had more to haul.  We had just gotten the motorhome back from service work the previous day and had much of our “stuff” stacked in our house and garage while repairs were made to the hole in the floor of our storage bays. 

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You can never have too much electronics or rolls of Costco TP.

IMAG0807We were determined to hit the road by 2 pm Wednesday, before the Sacramento/Stockton commute time, and we made it!

There is not much clearance between the RV and the storage yard gate.

 

FINALLY ON THE ROAD

We actually had a pretty decent drive south.  Luke decided the Sacramento traffic would be easier if we took I-5, instead of Hwy. 99.  We would eventually cross over to Hwy. 99 just north of Bakersfield (via Wasco) and then take Hwy. 58 to avoid LA traffic. 

IMAG0810How would you like to tow this portable classroom through Downtown Sacramento during commute time?  He had an escort vehicle so he could use two lanes.

We set our first overnight stop at Santa Nella, 157 miles from home.  That was probably a little further than we should have gone leaving at that time of day, but it was a familiar RV park and we called ahead and they had space for us. 

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We did encounter one traffic accident just north of Santa Nella.  The guy driving this pickup rolled it and had to be airlifted to a local hospital.  The CHP website said the driver admitted to “having a few beers” before the accident.

We arrived at 6 pm (driving and parking in the dark are things we try to avoid), but we got set-up quickly by the flashlight app on my phone.  After a quick dinner, it was time to find homes for all the “stuff” we had just piled into the motorhome so we could hit the road.  We also needed a good electrical hook-up that first night because our “house” batteries had all died while our rig sat in the shop for a month.  They took a good charge overnight so no permanent damage was done.

Most of the time we make the trip to the RV winter mecca, Quartzsite, AZ (“Q”) in two days.  But because of our odd starting time, we planned to take three days.  After checking with friends, we decided to spend our second night on the road at the IMAG0840Hesperia Elks Club, a drive of 320 miles. 

Once again we pulled in after dark and the camphost showed us where we could park with electrical/water hook-ups without having to disconnect the car we tow. When I went into the Lodge to register, we got invited to stay for a free enchilada, rice, and bean dinner to help celebrate the 10th birthday for the daughter of the bartender/chef/lodge manager. Yea, no cooking!  Lodge members greeted us with hugs and we visited quite a while after dinner with the locals. Yes, we got birthday cake, too.

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Surprisingly, my diabetic blood sugar reading was a very decent 125 this morning after last night’s dinner and dessert. Smile

 

BOOMERVILLE, HERE WE COME…

IMAG0871Our RVing Boomer friends have been busy posting all their activities the last few weeks.  I am an active “poster” on our Yahoo bulletin board and in Facebook and had been lamenting that we could not come out to play with everyone. Since I put the word out Tuesday night that I had been cleared to travel, I have received at least 40 emails and FB messages congratulating us and filling us in on the events that would be happening in “Boomerville” (a piece of the Quartzsite desert the Boomer RV Club calls home for two weeks every January). 

I knew our travel time from Hesperia to Q would be about 4-5 hours with potty stops and fuel. On today’s agenda was the annual chili cook-off that was set for 2 pm. I’ve enjoyed throwing stuff into a pot in the past so, while we had electricity this morning, I seasoned and pre-cooked the ground beef I would use in my chili. I figured I could fire up the stove upon arrival and heat my concoction in time for judging.   As we traveled, I noticed our GPS was showing our arrival time at 3 pm, not 2 pm. Hmmm, what’s up with that?  We were on the road about an hour when it hit me…there is a one hour time change between California and Arizona and we lost an hour.  Duh, no chili cook-off for me this year.

We did make a couple of stops on our way east from the Palm Springs area to Q, but arrived in time for the daily 4 pm Happy Hour.  I haven’t officially checked-in yet, but I suspect there are about 100 rigs calling Boomerville home right now, with more on the way.  After announcements and introductions of today’s new arrivals, the “formal” session (actually, Boomers don’t do anything formal) ended and we were overwhelmed with well-wishers welcoming us with Boomer {{{ HUGS }}}.  Thank you all. 

IMAG0873After Happy Hour we found a parking spot on the south side of the “fire pit” gathering spot and enjoyed a typical Q sunset while I re-heated our chili hamburger and made taco wraps for dinner. Then it was “Nappy Hour” time (thanks, Whitey, for letting me steal that term). 

FAMILY DISAPPOINTMENTS

I know our decision to take off on Wednesday was sudden. It all worked out except for one BIG disappointment to our family.  On Tuesday night I had to call our daughter Robin and give her the “good news” that I was cleared to travel and then the “bad news” that I was backing out on our planned weekend visit that included taking the grandsons to the San Francisco Exploratorium and then kid-sitting Saturday night while she and her husband Troy attended a friend’s 40th birthday party.  Sorry, gang.  We will see you in Palm Desert for a week in early April.

 

NEXT:  Quartzsite – A million RVers shopping for “stuff”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Back -- 2011Travels Before the Blog

It is hard to believe another page is off the calendar and the new 2012 family calendar is back up on the refrigerator.  That makes today an appropriate time to look back at where we went and what we saw in 2011.  This posting is a long one re-capping our January to April winter travel that happened before I started blogging.

OUR TRAVELS… Pre-Blog Adventures

We have been “extended” RVing since 2004 and our first trip of any new year is called our “Winter” trip and our destination is normally to the desert areas near Palm Springs and Western Arizona.

We departed January 3, 2011 and traveled sloooowwwwly through the fog-shrouded Central Valley of California.  Our driving days were short, with only 2-3 hours of visibility through an area know for dense winter “tule” fog that can limit visibility to just feet.  After overnight stops in French Camp and Wasco, we eventually made it to Desert Hot Springs and snuck in a dinner with friends MerrieAnn and Jeff Martin. 

It was then off to Mexico!  We overnighted in Quartzsite (commonly just called “Q” among RVers) and then met up in Gila Bend with other RV friends from the Escapees Chapter 8, Mexican Connection Club.  We were going to be “advance scouts” to see about bringing the entire club here in 2012.  Our five rigs caravanned the 132 miles to Puerto Penasca (aka Rocky Point), crossing the Mexican border at Lukeville, Arizona, without incident. 

IMG_2416The road to Rocky Point and the port area were actually built by the US Corps of Engineers during WWII as an alternate port in case the West Coast was barricaded during the war. 

We settled in for a week parked along the beach at Playa Bonita RV Park and felt very “safe” all week.  The weather was too cool for hanging out on the beach, but the Beachfront Sitescenery was wonderful.  IMG_2490

On two occasions we used an American expatriate to tour the town and eateries in a 12-passenger van.  During a day tour we visited oyster fields, a local aquarium, went tequila tasting, and visited scenic overlooks. The town is very “Americanized” with English spoken and US dollars accepted.

IMG_2498One evening we did a Taqueria Tour, sampling local foods cooked in street booths.Taqueria Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2502“Locals” do pester a bit and try to have you buy their trinkets, fresh shrimp, and offer their labor services for very low costs.  We did buy shrimp and Luke had the wheels on the motorhome hand-polished.

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The only memorable story about this trip was learning that while we could bring pork and chicken INTO Mexico, we could not bring it back into the USA – even if we brought it with us from home.  We all had stocked up our freezers with both meat products to start the trip and had to cook and eat it all while in Puerto Penasca or risk having it confiscated at the border.  How many ways can you cook pork and chicken??? 

BOOMERVILLE IN LATE JANUARY

Boomerville aerial shot“Boomerville” is a plot of BLM land in Quartzsite that our Escapees RV “Boomers” Club calls home for two weeks every January. it is a reunion time away from the congested shopping areas and the “Big Tent” RV Show that attracts a million or more RVers every winter.

The Boomerville gathering is really a non-structured rally that goes with the Boomers’ philosophy of no rules, no officers, and ‘call it and they will come’.  More than 100-150 Boomerville Check-inunits can check in during the two week period.  Hosting is by committee with places to check-in, exchange goodies, have free pancake breakfasts, hold fire ring discussion groups, enjoy dinner potlucks, go for hikes or 4-wheeling, compete in chili potlucks, go geocaching, share foods during breakfast potlucks, and, did I mention potlucks?  Boomers like to eat!

IMG_2538Pancakes by Gretchen & BobIMG_2539IMG_2540

IMG_2599The group also enjoys lots of “fun” entertainment and fund-raising for our club’s charity – CARE, Escapees’ Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees.IMG_2542

A new addition to Boomerville was an evening program called “Pace’s Theater”.  Each night someone would present a slide show that was projected on the side of Sue and Ken Pace’s white motorhome.  Programs included travelogues about Burning Man, RVing to Alaska, and I presented a recruitment slide show on attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta “the Boomer way”.  It worked as sign-ups came in fast and furiously and we ended up with 46 rigs attending this year.

LAKE HAVASU BALLOON FIESTA

We slipped away from Q for a weekend and took the RV up to Lake Havasu for their “first annual” Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. We had planned to crew for the pilot we crew for in Albuquerque every year, but winds played havoc with the event.  Mike and T Liberti were only able to get one flight in with their sponsors. They safely landed on shore – not everyone did.  We did hang around for a “candlelight” or “torch” burn one night when some of the pilots set-up their baskets (without the balloon “envelope” ) and burned their propane tanks synched to music.  Fun, but not flying.

GEOCACHING RALLY

SKP_GeoLogo - final - CopyI’m on the Administrative Team for the Escapees’ Geocaching Club and helped organized this year’s rally back up in Q.  We had nearly 50 rigs show up at our Plomosa Road location in Q for a four-day free rally.

Cold weather did not hamper the group who gathered each morning for coffee and the day’s caching challenges.  I hosted the general sessions and taught a bit of the beginner’s sessions.  Barb Westerfield held court in her rig with beginners and others wanting to learn more advanced geocaching techniques.  Sue and Ken Pace, other members of the Admin Team, provided lots of games and prizes for the winners. 

LAKE HAVASU CITY – WINTER BLAST

We bounced back to Lake Havasu City (LHC) and took up residence at Cattail Cove State Park.  We were there for two weeks and attended the LHC Street Festival, a Geocache Event, Winter Blast, and plenty of Happy Hours with the Boomers who had also migrated north for the Winter Blast.

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Our dog Star enjoys the off-leash dog beach at Cattail Cove on the Colorado River.  This year she decided to surprise a couple of ducks who had been teasing her for quite a time. She looked like she was walking on water in this photo.

 

 

IMAG0152Winter Blast is a four-day/night fireworks extravaganza that is actually a training and demonstration conference for the Western Pyrotechnic Association. Fireworks are shot from three areas from 5:00 p.m. until after 10:00 p.m.  It is hard to describe how spectacular the “formal” shows are each year.  Presenters are fireworks vendors wanting to show off their latest, greatest products.  Shows have been done by those who have done the Olympics, the Washington, D.C. Bi-Centennial, Disneyland, etc.

Check out this video I shot during the 2011 Sunday finale.

This was the finale on an hour-long formal fireworks show at the 2011 Winter Blast.

MORE TRAVEL STOPS

Our winter trip also took us to Boulder City, Nevada where we toured the insides of Hoover Dam, saw the new bridge, and did some local geocaching.

IMAG0187We then passed back through Q and Phoenix to Yuma where we stayed with retired RV Driving Instructor Dick Reed on a lot in the Foothills before landing at the Yuma Fairgrounds for the Gypsy Journal Rally.

The GJ Rally is a fun, educational rally put on by Nick and Terry Russell, publishers of the Gypsy Journal IMAG0227Newspaper.  I have been assisting Barbara Westerfield teach Geocaching classes and this year we added a session on “Smartphone Apps for RVers”.  I was also asked to fill-in for a missing presenter and facilitated a Women’s Only RVing session.  Feedback was great!

Wherever RVers gather you can count on the Boomers getting together.  There was a “Happy Hour” during our times in the Foothills and another during the GJ Rally.

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VALLEY OF THE SUN – PHOENIX

Our wheels rolled north back to the Phoenix area where we bounced to RV parks on the North, West, and East sides of the valley. We caught up with a number of friends who live or were traveling through the area. 

IMAG0186Our primary destination, however, was Scottsdale Stadium and Spring Training for the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants .  We also caught three other games during our stay.

 

BACK TO CALIFORNIA

Every year we wrap up our Winter Trip in the Palm Springs area where our daughter and her family spend a week at their timeshare in Palm Desert.  This year we based our RV at the picturesque Indio Elks Lodge, close to shopping, restaurants, and freeway access to the family.

We arrived early and got more excitement than we anticipated.  An older RV parked across from us caught fire and both Luke and I had a chance to help get the owners out and to help put out the flames before the fire department arrived.  We IMG_2841have attended numerous RV fire safety seminars taught by “Mac the Fire Guy” and our training and supply of extinguishers certainly came in handy.  No one was hurt, but the rig was declared “totaled” once the firemen used their axes and hoses to douse the remaining embers.

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IMAG0284After our visit with the family we got one more quick visit with MerrieAnne and Jeff Martin at their new winter home in Desert Hot Springs and then it was time to head north past the snow-capped mountains and windmill farms for the two-day trek home.

Our Winter Trip lasted exactly 100 days and covered 3,359 miles in the RV and another 230 miles with the “toad”.  We would stay home until May 24th when we would join Gloria and Frank King for our trip to Alaska and the rest of our Summer-Fall Trip.

[You can read details of that ~15,000 mile journey by clicking the  Blog Archive on the right side panel of this Blogger posting.  If reading on Google Reader, click the blog title to go to the original posting.]

ABOUT THE BLOG…

Doing the blog was probably one of the most challenging and rewarding personal accomplishments of 2011.  For the record, this blog began in May, 2011 – just before we departed for our 5-month Alaska+ adventure. The rewards were the written comments I got after each entry and recognizing that 58 folks actually “subscribed” to this blog and that it received 30,660+ “hits” during its first 6-months!  Thank you!

NEXT:  THE ROAD AHEAD