Monday, October 28, 2013

Cool Windy Day

Yesterday (Sunday) I arrived in the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs area) for a week long stay. Excellent timing. 90 degrees was the high yesterday. Big cool down since yesterday. Today, the temps were in the low 70s.

That was the view as I headed out for a hike this morning. The overcast and gray skies were not the problem. It was the strong and gusty winds stirring up lots of dirt. The wind and dust made for an unpleasant hike which I cut short after almost being blown down a hillside. Shielding my eyes from dust and with my balance/focus issues, it was time to call the hike complete.

Cool weather is predicted for the entire week. That works for me. Cool temperatures and a mild breeze make for a good hike -- another day later this week.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sand Filled Shoes

Parked at the Elks in Yucca Valley, nearby Joshua Tree was a place for exploring and hiking.

The distinctive shaped Joshua tree is not a tree at all, but a really large member of the yucca family.

Another draw to the park are the rocks. There were rock climbers on the rocks. Some were just scrambling. Others were in teams using ropes to scale the more difficult climbs.

When I parked at one of parking spaces for climbing rocks, I met a couple from Oregon. My age. It was a good time of the year to climb rocks in Southern California. They said they mostly scrambled, but they did have ropes and equipment just in case.

I was walking in one of the more popular parking places when the tour bus drove up. As they exited the bus, I noted it wasn't English that was spoken. Their timing was excellent. Two weeks earlier, the Federal government shut down would have denied the tour bus entrance to the park.

With a ten minute photo stop, they would have been unable to see this tarantula that I spotted when I was hiking a desert trail. My foot gives an idea of the size.

One of the must stops along Park Boulevard, is Skull Rock. No tour buses when I arrived. Nor were there any other people. I was alone to scramble some rocks and take photos.

Hungry time arrived. Time to eat my gorp that I brought as a snack. No sooner had I sat down, and this beggar appeared. When he realized (can birds do that) that I wasn't going to feed him, he left.

Hiking on trails that are shared with horses, stirs the sand on the trail to a fine grit. These shoes don't keep out the sand. I poured out a couple of tablespoons of sand.

You ask why the minimal shoe for hiking. That works best for me. The less material there is between me and the earth, the easier it is for me to walk/hike.

At the end of the hike, it feels so good to empty the sand filled shoes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Stories

It was time to hang out with the unclean and the unwashed. Yup. It was time for a laundromat visit. Search results on the Yelp app found two laundromats to choose from. First stop was the closest one. From the parking lot, my first impressions were not good. Just in case I was incorrect, I went inside to check out the washers and dryers. The place was dirty. Rather dark. Several washers weren't working. It was by far the worst laundromat I have ever visited in the 12 years of nomadic wandering.

Time for Plan B. Got in my truck and consulted the Yelp app once again to get the address for the second laundromat. As I sat there trying to read the small print on my iPhone, a truck pulled into the parking lot. Late thirties couple dressed in "retro hippie". She went into the cleaners. As the guy got out, I noted there was a goat on the front seat of the truck. Soon the goat was on a leash and they also went into the cleaners. I was unsuccessful in getting a photo.

Okay. Time to move on. As I backed out of the parking space, a guy came up to the truck window. He was clean shaven, missing a few teeth and had clean clothes. Expecting he was going to ask for some spare change, I rolled the window down part way. His question -- and I am not making this up -- "Do you have some Viagra that you could spare."

My response was that I couldn't help him with that.

Headed off to the second laundromat. No problems. No stories. Just clean clothes.

Certainly was an interesting stop at that first laundromat. The good part is that I have more stories for my repertoire.

Didn't get a photo of the goat today, but I was able to get this photo in Tombstone several years ago as this young man walked his pet goat along the boardwalk.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mini Book Review: Walden On Wheels

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas

Full book title: Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Graduating from college with an undergraduate degree and a $32,000 debt, Ilgunas finds there are many people competing for the same poorly paid jobs. How to get out of debt became a focus. Three years later after working in remote Alaska he had paid off his student loan.

Acceptance at Duke University in a master's program, Ilgunas is determined not to get into debt again for education. With an ancient van outfitted as his dorm room, he lives on a campus parking lot. Living compact for two years became a daily challenge while he avoided any chance of being spotted by anyone including the campus police.

Closing in on his graduation, his campus living becomes known. The college relocates him to another campus parking lot. He finishes his degree and is honored to be one of the speakers to address the graduates.

There was no rule against living in a car on campus when the author first enrolled. However, shortly after his graduation, there was an additional rule on the parking permit application -- no living in vehicles on campus parking lots.

This is a great memoir of a young Ilgunas, graduating with student debt, adventure living in Alaska and finally living simply (credit to Thoreau) in a van while getting his master's degree.

For more written word from the author, check out Ken Ilgunas' website.

Just a few days after finishing the book, there was an entry at My Budget 360 about the Student Loan Bubble.

By comparison to Ilgunas, my financial struggle through college was easy. It took seven years of part and full time working to support my way through college. I even managed to buy a new baby blue convertible along the way. However, I couldn't make it to graduation without getting a loan in my last semester.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Quartzsite from atop Q mountain

October 2013

January 2003

Note: The white in the photos represents RVs/trailers and vendor tents.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mini Book Review: Crazy River

Crazy River by Richard Grant

With a reckless curiosity, Grant sets out to raft an unexplored river in Tanzania. Arriving in Zanzibar he makes his way to the mainland with the help of a local street smarts golf pro. As Grant travels East Africa, he relates the history of East Africa through the travels of Burton and Speke in the 19th century. He also relates an abbreviated story of the travels of Stanley and Livingston.

After running the river, he explores and speaks with the locals of Burundi and Rwanda -- the scene of genocides in 1994. He arranges an interview with the Rawandan president who operates as dictator to keep peace in the country. Checking with the Rawandan peoples, they say that if the president were to die tomorrow, the genocide would begin once again.

Throughout the book, Grant questions the continuing aid and handouts to the East African countries. In spite of the thievery, corruption, and encountered diseases, Grant survives to the end to write his view of East Africa -- where it was and where it may be going.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

That's Settled

Actually, none of the issues have been settled. This is only a lull -- a truce -- in the Federal legislative bodies' negotiations.

With new deadlines in early 2014, this "reality show" will continue. I really doubt that anything will be done before the first of January since the holiday season begins in a few weeks with Halloween and soon followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since the disagreements over budget issues will arise once again, I will repeat my suggestion from the last budget stalemate. The approach is simple that plays no favorites.

The suggestion: Every check written or every recipient of a Federal government payout will receive one per cent less -- including my Social Security. No exceptions. Taxes will be increased across the board at a half per cent. Just leave the existing loopholes in place. Once again no exceptions. Medicare premiums will also go up by a half per cent.

Of course that won't happen.

The truth: Nothing has been settled.

Now if these guys were really serious about budgets, the penny would be out of circulation and manufacture of the penny would cease. It costs almost two cents to create every penny. It's not much, but it is something.

This post is essentially a rerun of a post of February 16, 2011: Speaking Of The Budget

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Desert Warmth

Starting at 5200 feet at Prescott three days ago, it took just two days to drop 4500 feet in elevation to Quartzsite. Parked at Hi Jolly BLM for a few days before continuing to San Diego.

Temperatures have been great here. 80 degrees plus/minus. Very comfortable shorts weather. Good for walking the deserts and some hills in the greater Q area.

It's also comfortably uncrowded. Lots of room to spread out. Pick a place 100 yards -- or more -- from the nearest neighbor. Still there are empty places. This will not be the situation in January. Fortune might allow 50 feet between rigs. More likely, it will be 20 feet.

There will be no 80 degree days in Quartzsite when I return in January. It will be colder. Day time temps will be in the 60s and night times in the 30s. There will be crowds of people. That means traffic jams. Already I wonder why I will come in January.

To get some much needed exercise, I stepped outside and went for a walk.

Walking the washes searching for pretty rocks is one way to walk desert. Actually, I didn't look that hard. I enjoyed the walk.

There were a few struggling saguaro.

With nothing better today for those week long stays in the desert, the widely available rock becomes material for those with a creative and artistic bent.

It was a great day for a pleasant and warm walk in the desert.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mini Book Review: Into Thick Air

Into Thick Air by Jim Malusa

Instead of climbing the high point (thin air) of planet earth, Malusa bicycles to the low points of six continents. Hence the title of the book -- Into Thick Air. These low points are deserts and the lowest of the six is the Dead Sea at 1388 feet below sea level. Starting at some distance from the low points, the author traveled via bicycle and camped on the way to the low spots.

Malusa wrote a good book because he knows that adventure travel is only interesting because of people met, the unexpected, misadventures or facing Nature's usual indifference to humans -- or anything else.

Several quotes from the book:

"The spaces between tourist stops are not empty -- they just seem that way if you're in a car. Although we can move between points quicker than ever, the places between still exist, so the world is not shrinking after all."

Regarding planning of a journey: "Travel without surprise was merely an agenda."

"A lifeline is also a leash. Even when turned off, the presence of the phone blunts the tingle of self-reliance -- the feeling that if I screw up bad enough, the show is over."

Considering Malusa's remote travels in desert terrain, the author quotes John Van Dyke's 1901 book The Desert. "The joy of mere animal existence, the feeling that it is good to be alive and face to face with Nature's self, drives everything else into the background."

Friday, October 11, 2013

From The Archives

What's in a name. 
With a different name, would this tavern/bar/saloon have survived.

Then you do have to wonder why 
the property owner didn't remove the previous business name 
 before posting the site "for lease".

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Elimination Round One

Prescott has been crossed off the list of places to settle down. It's cold here. Any shopping requires a car. Too much traffic.

37 degrees this morning when I got up. There was snow on the distant hills. The forecast predicted a high of 50. The weather predictors were close. My thermometer read 52 degrees shortly after one. No shorts today. Strike one.

The eight/ten mile long retail corridor along Hwy 69 requires a car to get to my favorite stops -- Costco, Trader Joes and Starbucks. Strike two.

With two and three lanes of traffic congestion on Hwy 69, it is slow going most times up and down the hills. Strike three.

Comparing this experience to the three month stay in east Tucson last winter, I will take Tucson. Everything was within two miles and I could walk to a Sprouts or Fry's grocery store.

The one positive about the stay in Prescott was a visit with Allan. He and I met ten years ago when we were members of the Wandering Individuals Network. Allan has dual residency with a single wide in a Prescott Valley RV park for summers and a small trailer that he parks near Parker on the Colorado River for the winter months.

As Allan showed me his home, I began to consider alternatives to the apartment or condo.

It's not a perfect world. That ideal sticks and bricks place has yet to be found. Prescott would be a good place for summers, but it has been eliminated for a permanent settling place.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Retro Taxi

The Checker Car company manufactured this iconic taxi cab a long time ago. According to an internet search, the last taxis made by Checker was 1981. With some loving care, some paint and restoring the checkered band, this taxi is doing business in Prescott Arizona.

Don't recall seeing a taxi driver wearing a white shirt. However, this driver wore a white shirt -- and a bow tie. That was truly a retro sighting.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Next Stop South

The great part about nomadic life is that the scenery from my front door changes at each stop. This is the view south from the Prescott Valley Elks. 

Over the past 12 years, I have enjoyed the changing scenery and views where ever I had parked. Will I miss those changing views when I make the decision to give up the wandering life in favor of sticks and bricks. Sure I will.

Crossing paths with other full timers is also part of this roaming life style. When parked at the Thousand Trails boon docking, Randy was there. When Randy and I were taking an evening stroll we met John K. walking his dog Amy (?). John's destination is the Benson AZ Saguaro SKP park.

Bob and Donna were parked at the Thousand Trails park and came up to visit Randy and me.

Another day Oland and Cathy left the Thousand Trails park to visit me for a social hour where we caught up on each others lives since our last visit over a year ago.

More familiar faces were met at the Prescott Valley Elks. After a summer exploring the mountain west, Art and Connie are headed to their lot at the Benson SKP park.

After a summer of work camping, Ken and Debbie stopped here for a few days to visit Debbie's sister before heading to their lot at the Benson SKP park.

Considering my winter travel plans, I may not visit my lot at the Benson SKP park. No doubt that will make some winter traveler happy when they can park on my lot for several months.

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Inspiration

When recently looking at my archive of photos, I was scanning photos from my 1998 trip to Australia. The photos jogged my memory as I recalled the experiences: camping; hiking; kayaking; urban exploring; rain forest; Great Barrier Reef snorkeling and more. 

One bus tour was of Kangaroo Island. Bus tours are for the older generation. At the age of 58, I wasn't the youngest on the bus of about 20 people. There was one couple younger than me -- other than the tour bus driver. The tour included a visit to what is called the Sahara of Australia. With constant winds, the sand dunes are in motion.

As we arrived at the parking lot, the tour bus driver explained the geology of the area and the formation of the dunes. The bus was parked and we had the chance to join the driver on a walk to the top of the dunes. Looking at the group standing there, I decided that it might be the young couple, the bus driver and me that would be headed up. How wrong I was.

Standing next to an older gentleman, he wondered if I was going. Sure. Let's go. We chatted a bit as we walked in the loose sand. Soon we were walking up the slope of the highest dune talking less. Two steps up and one back is the way it was going. I slanted to the side avoiding the steepest part of the dune and the gentleman followed me. Soon we were standing side by side at the dune summit taking in the view.

As we stood there I realized from comments he made that he was about the age of my father. I wondered if he didn't mind sharing his age. No problem. He was 82. I looked at him and told him that he was an inspiration to me.

And that conversation and scene remains an inspiration to me. I hope to be walking and climbing sand dunes when I'm 82.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dispersed Camping

Since this is dispersed camping on National Forest land, there is no one to enforce the fourteen day limit with no Fed employees.

That won't be a problem for me since I will hitch up this coming Sunday after seven days here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Insects And A Snake

There is lots of flora to see in the desert and it is easy enough to spot. It doesn't move. However, the fauna is more elusive, but I did manage to capture photos of some in the last two days.

On yesterday's hike, there was something brown moving across the gravel. Proved to be a tarantula. About four inches long it headed into the grass on the trails edge to avoid me.

Last evening when I was sitting on the shady side of my home enjoying my social hour with a brandy in hand (for medicinal purposes), I spotted this walking stick (body was about four inches long) on the tire of the trailer. As a vegetarian, I wonder why he was there. Didn't look like it had wings. Did it walk from nearby greenery -- about twenty feet away.

This evening as I stepped out to go for a walk about 15 minutes before the sun dropped over the mountains on the horizon, I spotted this rattlesnake. The last rays of the sun gave the snake a greenish yellow cast. I cropped the photo for a close up of the danger end of the snake.

Always a good day when I can spot some creatures in the desert terrain.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Here We Go Again

Have to wonder why the only people objecting to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- aka Obama Care -- are some members of the House of Representatives. The usual push back for new laws are the corporations. Not so this time. Since the Act was created by lobbyists for the health insurance and the medical industries, there are no complaints. The lobbyists created a law which will make sure their sponsors don't lose any money and in effect will be able to make more money -- and the government made it a law.

Not sure what the numbers of millions of people that will benefit from the Act, but sociopaths have no sympathy/empathy for other people -- even those in their own districts who would benefit from the Act.

So what is the problem with those who are voting against the Act. What the Republican party is voting for is the repeal -- or defunding -- of anything that could be construed as a victory for the Democratic party. That is even more true for a legislation that has become known as ObamaCare. Make no mistake, the Republicans in office are voting against an Act that is called ObamaCare. It has little or nothing to do with their district constituency or their lobbyists. It has to do with the Obama tag. It's a personal thing.