Monday, December 30, 2019

Keeping Busy

Our friends from Canada Steve and Dianne have been inviting us out for some quad rides. That's what they call ATV's and UTV's. It has been fun and the scenery out there in the desert is pretty in its own right. On one such ride we went to Dripping Springs. Way back into the mountains.

There is a rugged beauty in the desert. Driving the trails has been very fun for me. On this particular ride, Lisa only got out twice to walk the trail because of the rough terrain. Does she not trust my driving skills? Should I be offended? Hmmm? We made it in one piece to Dripping Springs.
The springs weren't dripping and there was very little water at the bottom. It hasn't rained for weeks so that probably explains that. Near the springs there are many petroglyphs. Native American markings on the rocks that could be thousands of years old.

It is amazing how they have withstood the test of time. I just hope that idiots would just leave them alone. There was one rock panel that someone had shot at and there were chunks of rock out of it. Why? After that we drove to a stone cabin. Apache cabin it was called. There are quite a few cabins amongst the mountains and I can't imagine the people that lived in them. Where did they get water and food. The nearest Walmart would have taken them days to get to.
BlindApache in front of Apache cabin.
In some of the cabins people will leave trinkets. I don't know the reason for it but this was one of those cabins.

I think there are some ladies riding around out there "Commando". Then we went to another cabin.
Not sure of the name of this one but it even had a rest stop near it if you really needed to go.
And another cabin somewhere else.
We were looking at the stones at on cabin and it is just like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Fitting each rock into the right spot.

More riding. At times the ride can be challenging and a little thrilling. I like the challenge and I would say that the Ranger is handling the obstacles nicely. I call it the "Little Billy Goat" as it crawls up and over the rocks. And when Lisa is feeling nervous I keep telling her to "trust the Billy Goat". To which she says "No." and gets out and walks. I have not forgotten our purpose for being out there.
We had one possible Graboid encounter.

On a more personal note. While we are frolicking out in the desert, our garage back in Minnesota is finally getting built. We went with Foltz Buildings because of their great reputation in the area. Besides Jim and Barb were busy with their place still and we didn't have years to wait to get it done. I also wanted my building wrap put on the correct way. Not upside down.
Day one progress. They put in the poles. The builder said that the weather has been nice and there isn't much frost in the ground yet.

Day two. They got the walls and rafters up. This crew working on this building sure know what they are doing and can work quick.


Day 3 and 4. They got the building wrapped and the steel put up on the roof and one side wall and the back wall.

Day 5. The other side wall and some of the soffit. Also the walk in doors and windows. They said in about a 1 to 2 more days it will be finished. Amazing. We will have to wait until spring for them to pour the concrete floor.

On another personal note. It was Christmas last week. We did not get home this year for Christmas which is a first for us. So we had Christmas out here in the desert with new and old friends.
Photo courtesy of Jim. l-r. Dianne, Jim,Cec, Lisa, Me, Earl, Allison, Barb and Steve.

It was a nice gathering. Every couple was assigned a dish to bring. Lisa had mashed potatoes. Everyone went through the line and filled their plates. Now we are sitting behind these tarps because the wind was blowing that day. Well a gust of wind came and billowed the tarp behind the mashed potatoes, gravy and salad table. We watched in slow motion as the table tipped over and everything landed in the dirt. "More turkey anyone"? That's what memories are made of.

Happy New Year everyone! Next year promises to be a busy one for us.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Re-inventing the Stool Bus

When you are boondocking out in the desert, you have two options for waste removal. Number one being, hook up your rig and drag it over to the dump station. Number two is having some kind of waste tank and fill it and then haul it to the dump station.

Our first year here we had our fifthwheel.
It has larger waste tanks so we opted to just bring it over to the dump station once a week. Once you hook up and unhook a camper as much as we do it really is no problem to do that. Plus we only stayed a month last time, meaning we would only have to do that 4 times.

However this trip, we brought our pickup camper. (aka the Hobbit House)
It has smaller waste tanks and unhooking and hooking up to it is a little more challenging. So we opted to purchase a portable waste tank(also called blue boys) that you then fill and bring it over to the dump station without having to move your RV.

Planning this trip I researched the different types.
This type seems to be the most popular. They are small and lightweight and easily transportable. Because they are small, multiple trips may be required. Also they are so low to the ground. Many of these blue boys are meant to be drug short distances over smooth surfaces. Here in the desert the ground is rough and like I said in my last blog we have seen the ground wear a hole through the bottom and then having it spill its precious cargo all over the ground. Even since we have been here this trip we have already seen one leaker and as we went by him it stunk pretty bad. 

So as I researched blueboys I found this one.
I liked the large wheels for traveling over rougher ground. Ours is a 26 gallon capacity so it can get very heavy when filled so I try not to do that. The problem I see with this model is actually the wheels themselves. They are held on by a little button cap and I have heard that they come off quite often. So what I thought was a good item, it may turn out to be another hindrance. So I have been trying not to fill it completely full so that I can put it in the back of the Ranger. That works many times and is the easiest way to dump. Just as long as it doesn't leak in the back of the Ranger, which it has. Eww. I know.

So on my many trips back and forth from the pool, I have noticed some homemade carts. Some guys have used a two wheeler to haul them around on and I thought that was a great idea. Pneumatic tires for the rough ground. So to town we went in search of a two wheeler. We found one and then I just had to improvise a method of attaching it to the Ranger.

I don't have a welder and didn't want to find a welder to make a hitch. So I put on my thinking cap and decided to use a length of chain. I then wrapped it just so, so that it would support the weight and keep the front end out of the dirt. Genius strikes again!
Lisa took a picture of me test driving it. You want to make sure things are working properly before the day you load it up with the nasty stuff.
After some trial and error I filled the tank with grey water and strapped it down to the Stool Bus. It is sitting backwards because the first time I put it on there the wheels kept interfering with the other wheels. Ever so slowly I traveled to the dumper and without incident I made it and had a successful first run. There is still some tweaking to do but I feel confident with each trip it will get better.
The stool bus waiting in line.

It's funny how our lives have changed so drastically. When we had jobs, homes and families, our worries were, am I going to get fired? Will I make that deadline? Who is picking Johnie up from school? Is the wife still mad at me? Will the car start? Now I worry about how to get my poop across the desert. 

On a more personal note. We have installed our attic on top of the camper to help with some of the storage issues we are having in this Hobbit House. It is a Thule carrier that I found on Facebook Marketplace just before we left Minnesota. $50 dollars. What a deal. We didn't have time to put it up on the roof at home so I just threw it in our trailer and waited for warmer weather.
The Marketplace is great. We laugh and shake our heads at what people put on there and think to ourselves, "Are they serious?"

Monday, December 16, 2019

Graboid Search Continues

We have been taking many trips out into the desert with our Ranger. Looking for Graboid signs as we drive over the Pleistocene Alluvials.
You can see the classic dust cloud made by the Graboid as we chased it across the desert. It was going away from us rather towards us which we thought was weird. It was moving fast and we never did catch up to that one. 

The following days we were out there again. This time with a group of Graboid hunters. More eyes means more chances of seeing those dreaded beasts.
Here we all are stopping to compare notes. "Anyone see any Graboid sign? Anyone see any Shreeker sign? Anyone see any Ass-blasters?" "No?" "Well lets keep looking." 

Across the desert we would go. Stopping occasionally at an abandoned mine or homestead. Wondering if these people got eaten by the Graboids or just moved on with time. We may never know.

At one point in the journey we saw overhead where the Army had joined in looking for Graboids. Maybe they were chasing Ass-blasters. It was hard to tell.
Army Osprey flying low across the desert.
Our trail guide Earl took us out to a water tank. It is a manmade structure out in the desert to provide water to the wildlife.
There is a big tank underneath that steal roof. When it rains or condensation forms on it, it funnels it into the tank.
Then the animals can go down this concrete ramp and get water because it is connected to the large tank. Knowing that water would attract animals there was a good chance it would attract Graboids. We kept our eyes peeled in all directions but no sign. Our group of Graboid hunters were thirsty by this point so we headed back to the campers for Happy Hour. It was a good day of Graboid hunting and thanks to Steve and Dianne for including us on the hunt.
We have been out twice now with them and they have been out in the desert quite a bit so they know their way around better than we do. Hopefully there will be more Graboid hunts as we are here most of the winter.

On a personal note. The filling and dumping seems to be a never ending chore.
Here I am dropping the kids off at the pool. I like to be able to put my blueboy in the back of the Ranger and haul it to the pooper dumper because it is a mile away. Some of it is over rough roads. In the past we have seen people drag their blueboys along the ground, only to have the ground wear a hole through the bottom and then they leak or drain out as they go. That is dirty and stinky if you think about it.
This time I filled it too much and had no choice but to drag it to the pooper dumper. When I am dragging it along like that I call it "The Stool Bus". If anyone would have said to me 10 years ago that I would be dragging my poop across the desert, I would have told them that they are bat sh#t crazy. Butt (pun intended) look at me now, living the dream.
I will leave you with this picture as you think about what I just said. The views, the sunsets and the friendships that you make out here make it all worth while.

"Glady's! Get me some hand sanitizer! There was some splash back! Quick before I loose my lunch."

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

"Q" is for Quartzsite

I know most of the handful of people who read this aren't aware of what Quartzsite is and what it means to the RVing world. Fulltime RVer's have two main options for lasting the winter out in their campers. Florida being the most popular I think. It is a lot more expensive for sure. The other option that a lot of people like to do is the desert southwest. Quartzsite in fact. It is a small little desert town in Arizona. There are many camping options in town if you want to go that route. But what a lot of people like to do is dry camp in the desert all around town. Dry camping is camping without electricity, water or sewer.
This is called La Posa West LTVA. It is closest to town and fills up quicker.

There are free places to camp with 14 day limits or you can go to the BLM land south of town and camp there for the entire season for 180 dollars. 7 months of camping for that price. That is what draws so many people here. There are 4 large BLM areas to choose from but only one has a dump station and fresh water. So at the height of the season the lines at the dump station can get really long.
Looking farther south is La Posa South way off in the distance. That is where we are at.

When you arrive most people get in line to dump and fill. Then they start driving around looking for that perfect spot for the winter. Depending on how early you get here, you have many choices of wide open desert. You can stake out your claim by placing rocks around the outline.
Our little chunk of desert, complete with rock wall forcefield around it.
As things get busier and busier the spots get smaller and your neighbors are getting closer. We have not been here in January for the big show but have heard it gets really crowded. I would have to say that there are thousands of campers out here already.

You will see all kinds of vehicles. From million dollar rigs to rigs you are amazed that they even drove them here. There are people in buses and vans. Pop up campers and tents. I could not spend 7 months in a tent. I would be mighty stinky. But people are doing it. There is even a section called "The Magic Circle" which is clothing optional if you so choose.

When you are out here you can be as busy as you would like. There are things to do and see all around. We are glad to have the Ranger with us to get around. There are so many trails to explore and you can drive them around town and shop. There is a place out of town called Crystal Hill. We have been there twice already looking for rocks. I have even been panning for gold with no luck yet.
Crystal Hills

Looking for rocks.

Someone found something in there. They say you can't use tools to dig and I can't imagine someone dug this with their bare hands.

I get out and walk sometimes.

Our day is pretty rough. We get up, have our standard 2 cups of coffee, breakfast and then our 60 minute death march. After that we may pack a lunch and jump in the Ranger and explore the area, There are so many trails and places to ride. Very OHV friendly here.
Old mine outside of Quartzsite.

The Ranger on the trail.

The Ranger aka The Little Billy Goat. It is great for crawling around these rocky mountains.
Dry camping like I said is camping without the comforts as we like to say. No electricity, water or sewer. We have a generator for electricity when we need it. We have a water tank that we fill every couple of days for showers and dishes. And we have holding tanks for our grey and black water that we also dump every couple of days. With this pickup camper, our tanks are smaller than in our fifthwheel so I am having to dump and fill quite often. Making us wonder how long we are willing to do that. Our black tank which is our sewer tank needs to be dumped about every 5 days. I tell Lisa that I am dropping the kids off at the pool. It is not a job I like but it has to be done. Our grey tank needs to be dumped every 2 days and then while I am doing that I just top off our fresh water. It's all the price you pay for living cheaply out in the desert.

On a personal note. We found this guy between our two doors.
He was the size of a fifty cent piece and we don't know where he came from. I hate spiders and the bigger they are the more I am afraid of them. So now I am checking everywhere for them. I said to Lisa, "It's time to pack up and leave!" But she stopped me.

"Glady's! Where are the kids? Did someone run off with the kids?"