Sunday, January 31, 2010

Antique Car Show, Quartzsite, AZ

Today we walked over to the antique car show under the big tent. That's the great thing about where we're's within walking distance to all of the major shows around town!

Anyway, the car show was very impressive...all of the cars were immaculate! We saw old Chevys, Ford trucks, Cadillacs, and even something called 'The Boozerunner'. No joke, this car/van was for sale for $125,000! It was a real beauty and the owner had spent 32 years working on it and it had only 12 miles on it.

My personal favorite was a 1961 bright red Thunderbird...I could easily see myself driving around in that!

We thought we'd seen it all, but after we left the big tent, there were more cars outside. Our favorites were 5 older model cars all pulling teensy period trailers! And all of the owners still used them! I think they all belonged to a club consisting exclusively of these types of trailers.

Next Wednesday we head up to Parker, AZ (about 35 miles from Quartzsite) to watch 'The Best of the Desert' dunebuggy races. It's a 425 mile race through the desert starting on Friday Feb 5 and ending on Saturday Feb 6. Thursday are pre-trials and Sunday are awards. We drove up to Parker on Wednesday to look around and try to reserve an RV site at a campground called the Bluewater RV Park, located right next to the Bluewater Resort and Casino. The casino is where the race ends and where the awards will be presented, so we really wanted to stay somewhere close. We weren't really expecting to get a site there...we were sure it would be completely booked, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. Well, they had ONE spot that was wide enough for our RV, but when we went to look at it, there was someone there who'd been there for the past 7 months and wasn't planning on going anywhere! There was an empty site next to him, but you couldn't fit a pop-up in that space, let alone a 35 ft RV with 2 slides. Sooooo...we went back to the office and after hanging around for at least an hour while people came and went and she searched for sites, she finally said there weren't any. Then all of a sudden, she remembered a lone pull-through site and we grabbed it! On our way out, we stopped at the site and it was perfect for us! Walking distance to the casino and a short drive into the town of Parker where the pre-trials will be held and where the races begin. Phew! Should be a fun-filled five days!

Tomorrow we might take a walk over to the Oasis Bookstore...the owner is a nudist... interesting...:-)

More soon!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quartzsite continued...

I'm behind in my blog duties...gotta catch everyone up! Let's see...

Last Wednesday we didn't make it to the SKP Boomers in the BLM where Dawn and Jeff were staying. They had graciously invited us to their RV for appetizers and drinks, but it was the beginning of a tremendous rain that was passing through so we declined. Thanks for the invite, Dawn...we'll get together in Connecticut this summer!

(Emma playing with Daisy, the next door neighbor)

So it started raining Wednesday night and the rains continued on Thursday until late night. Along with the heavy rains came 50mph winds with gusts reportedly up to 90mph! The washes were actually full of running water! There was a gem, mineral and jewelry show going on at the QIA (Quartzsite Improvement Association) right across for our RV park which began on Wednesday and lasted through Sunday, January 24. Well, Thursday it was shut down because of the heavy rain and winds and when we went over there on Friday, some of the booths had blown over. We did manage to buy a few strands of stones and a beautiful picture of a polished stone that was put on's hanging in the RV.

Our friends from Florida, Judy and Sam, were drycamping on BLM land with the Beaver RV group and when their rally was finished, they moved into town for the FMCA rally. If you remember, Judy and Sam also stopped in at the Hacienda in Las Cruces and we had a wonderful time with them. While they were in Quartzsite, we went out to dinner at Silly Al's pizza....great pizza! Another night we went to Taco Mio right across the street from our RV park and had excellent Mexican food. On Saturday night, their last night in Quartzsite, we had them over for dinner...Ed bought a new grill and we had a great dinner of chicken tenders on the grill along with baked potatos and salad...mmmm! He loves that grill! Oh yes....for appetizers we brought out some fantastic salsa made in Tucson that our friends Kathy and Richard had given us when we were in Benson! Thanks was delicious!!

Sunday was the last day for the RV show and the Tyson Wells flea market. Since we'd already been to the RV show 3 times, we opted for walking around the Tyson Wells flea market. It was definitely interesting! You can find anything from nuts and bolts to Mexican imports and everything in between! Ed bought a really nice wooden belt...very unique! And we spent a good 1/2 hour talking to the belt maker and his wife...part of the fun at these shows is meeting the people! On our way to the fleamarket, we stopped by an area of vintage RVs/buses looking for a couple, Darcy and Wally, whom we had met in Benson. They own an RV called a Genesis, which is a one-of-a-kind bus that was the tour bus for Aerosmith! We found them! Now mind you, we've only talked to this couple a few times when we took Emma for a walk...but they greeted us like we were old dear friends and invited us in to see their bus...they've owned it for 3 years and when they bought it, they gutted it and have been remodeling ever since. After the tour, we sat and chatted with them for a good 1/2 hour and our next side trip was at their suggestion. We've made reservations in Parker AZ from February 4 thru February 8 to see the 'Best of the Desert Parker 425' desert races! While we're there, we'll head up to Lake Havasu for the Winter Fest outdoor fleamarket taking place that weekend. We've wanted an excuse to take a trip up we have it!

Today (Monday) was laundry day and we took a long walk with Emma...there's nowhere for her to run because every inch of ground is gravel, so we try to take her on walks to expend a little of her energy.

More updates as the week unfolds!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quartzsite, AZ

Unbelievable! Quartzsite is a sea of RVers and fleamarkets, with a touch of RV shows and gem shows mixed in. We arrived at the Sunsetter RV Park last Saturday (January 16) and our jaws have remained in the dropped position ever since! The physical area is total desert with very little rain, although it did rain much of Sunday night and all of Monday. Supposedly there are 2 more rainstorms coming through this week, which has surprised the weathermen. The only tv we get is cable, and no antenna stations...which means no watching the NFL playoffs. Oh well...we can catch up on our reading!

We spent all of Saturday setting up and cleaning...we'll be here for 2 months so most everything gets unpacked. Sunday we walked to the RV show, which is HUGE!

Ed bought a new wax (he's a wax fanatic!) and some awning clips that we have to return because they're the wrong size. I bought a gold chain for a ring that I wear around my neck and some hand cream. That's new RV! There were alot of used RVs and some new ones, but after looking through enough of them, they all seem the same. I think we'll keep ours for fits us!

Sunday night we went to the only Catholic church in the area. Now picture this...there is only 1 service at this Saturday night mass, no weekly mass, no Sunday morning mass...just Sunday night at 5:00. Now add to that the fact that there are over a million RVers in the area for about 3 months and many of them are Catholic. That church was jam packed! We stood along the wall and the service was a little long because all of these people took the sacrament! There were even people sitting in the kitchen! Next week they're adding a Saturday night service...good move!

After church, we found a restaurant that wasn't too too crowded, called the Grubstake. It's a local bar and restaurant and the line was long and the waitresses were getting a little edgy...but we snuck over to the bar and grabbed 2 empty seats and had our dinner at the bar. The bartender was originally from CT and Westerly RI, so of course we had an 'in' from the very start! Great food and Ed had one of his favorite beers...'Arrogant Bastard' kidding! It's hard to find this beer so he was ecstatic when he saw they had it on draft!

Yesterday was laundry day...the only laundromat in town is owned by the people who own our RV park so it's right next door to us. Didn't help us tho...when we walked in, of course it was packed! What else do you do on a rainy Monday?? We managed to find 3 double frontloading washing machines and we were in business! The whole washing/drying process took about 3 hours...not too bad. In the meantime, we went in search of toilet paper. Not such an easy task when you have to buy fast desolving toilet paper made especially for RVs. You'd think with RV dealers on every corner and an RV show going on, and 2 little markets close by, someone would have RV toilet paper...guess again! So after the laundry, we headed west to Blythe, CA, which is another small town about 22 miles from Quartzsite, but it has an Albertson's food store and a KMart...ahhh! Stocked up on everything we needed for a few weeks, including, thankfully, toilet paper!

Throughout this trip, I've been keeping up with an old highschool friend through Facebook. Dawn and her husband Jeff have been RVing full-time and they are in Quartzsite until Wednesday or Thursday (or Friday depending on the weather). They're staying on BLM land with a well-known group called the Escapees (SKP for short). So last night, after more than 20 years, they came over to our RV for dinner after they spent the day at the RV show. We had such a nice time catching up and talking about this RVing lifestyle. They're very laid back and easygoing and we really enjoyed the evening...thanks for your company, Dawn and Jeff! We're looking forward to seeing them at their happy hour tonight...we'll have a chance to see the BLM drycamping lifestyle!

We've also been in touch with 4 or 5 other couples in our travels who are or will be in Quartzsite this week and next and we're looking forward to getting together with them.

Today we're going back to the RV show to exchange our awning clips, and then we'll stop at one of the many fleamarkets for awhile. Oh yes, I'm hopefully getting a much needed haircut...I can't wait! It's a sunny day right now, but the forecast calls for more rain...that's ok, the whole state of AZ needs rain!!

Gotta go and get ready for a busy day! Love to all!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Phoenix and Old Town Scottsdale, AZ

We arrived at the Paradise RV Resort in Phoenix, AZ on Thursday, Jan 14...and believe me, this is a RESORT! It's a mix of park models and RVs and there are probably more than 500 sites. Very nice! We met Ed's old friend Tom and his wife Carol there....they have 2 kids in the Phoenix area so they stay at Paradise for about 6 months. We stayed until today (Saturday) and had 2 dinners with Tom and Carol...had a fantastic time! They are great people and we will definitely have to get together with them when we all get back to Connecticut. I digress... Friday Ed and I drove into Old Town Scottsdale for a day trip. It's about 40 miles from Paradise, but it's all highway driving. The Phoenix area is must've been that we've seen NO stores except Walmart, Safeway and Ace Hardware for the past month (Benson is tiny and has nothing in town!)...whatever the case, Phoenix is packed with stores of all kinds and the shopping areas go on for miles! A shopper's paradise! Old Town Scottsdale consists mostly of art galleries and western type shopping...very quaint! We had a very enjoyable time walking around for a couple of hours...then back to the Paradise park before Friday rush hour.

Today we are traveling about 130 miles to Quartzsite, which will be our home for the next 2 months. We're very excited to see what all the talk is about...flea markets, gem shows, RV shows, packed with over a million snowbird RVs, mainly from Canada and the western states. Most people boondock on the Bureau of Land Management land surrounding Quartzsite, but we decided to stay at an RV park because 2 months is a long time to dry camp. We will probably take the RV out to the BLM for a few days, just to experience it, though.
About 50 more miles to Quartzsite, so I'm sure I'll have plenty more to blog about soon!

Love to all!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Biosphere 2, Tucson, AZ

Monday was a beautiful day...70 degrees and sunny, so we decided to spend the day at the Biosphere 2. Since it's a good 80 mile ride each way, we made arrangements with Richard and Kathy to let Emma out while we were gone, and off we went!

A little history on the Biosphere begin with, it's called Biosphere 2 because the group who developed it consider the Earth to be Biosphere 1...makes sense! Construction was started on the structure in 1986 by a company called Space Biosphere Ventures, with the goal of reasearching and developing 'self-sustaining space colonization technology'. From 1991 to 1993, a group of 8 Biospherians were locked into this structure to study survivability. With them were 5 different biomes: a rain forest, an ocean, a desert, agricultural areas, and a human habitat. They also had an area where they kept livestock such as pigs and chickens..and on Sunday nights they had a meal with meat. In 1994, a second group of 7 Biospherians were locked in the structure, but their stay lasted only 6 months. Although it was considered to be a failure by outsiders, it was considered a huge success by all involved in the project. After the 6 months, it was decided that they had reached their goals and that any further research did not require human occupancy. From what I understand, the main 'failure' was that the Biospherians were not consuming enough calories with the food that was being produced...about 1200 calories a day, which was 60% of what they needed. The Biosphere 2 is now operated by the University of Arizona.

When we arrived at the Biosphere, we had a choice of a self-guided tour or a group tour. Fortunately, we chose the group tour...he took us places that a self-guided tour did not have access to. We saw the living quarters, walked through the rain forest and desert and around the ocean, and then we had a tour of the underground mechanics of the structure. It's amazing to think that not only did the Biospherians have to do research, they had to maintain and fix any and all mechanical problems. One of the areas I found fascinating was the visit inside one of the lungs. As it was explained to us, depending on how hot or cold the air was in the Biosphere, it expands and contracts, just as it does on Earth. If the air expands and there's no place for it to go, it would cause the structure to they built two underground 'lungs' with access via a tunnel. The air would flow through the tunnel (the path of least resistance) and would fill the lungs. The lungs were made of a rubber membrane with a metal top, and as the air filled the room the top would rise.
This trip was the last of our sightseeing trips in the Benson area. We leave on Thursday (depending on the weather...we're supposed to get rain showers Wednesday night and Thursday morning) and will spend Thursday night and Friday night in Phoenix visiting friends, and then on to Quartzsite. We've really enjoyed Benson and all it has to offer. For such a small town, we certainly were kept busy running around seeing everything! I can't believe we've been traveling for 3 1/2 months already! There's still so much to see and do...I hope we fit it all in!

Thanks to Richard and Kathy for being such great 'hosts'! We'll miss them!
Love to all!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ

Yesterday, we took a ride to see the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, which opened in 1976. The size and diversity of this museum is second only to the Smithsonian. It has over 300 aircraft on display, both in hangers and outside. We were greeted by a friendly staff who told us we were in luck because yesterday and today the museum had a special exhibit called 'NASA Driven to Explore', and one of the exhibits was the moon rock exhibit where we could touch a 3 billion year old moon rock! In addition, astronaut Mark Kelly gave a presentation, using video of his last trip to the International Space Station as Commander of the Discovery Space Shuttle in June 2008. It was a fascinating presentation, and the video showed the inside of the space shuttle, the space station, as well as the crew and their daily tasks. As a side note, about a week ago I saw on the news that the International Space Station could be seen that night at 6:55. We were having dinner at Frank and Bonnie's so I set the alarm on my cell phone. Sure enough, at 6:55 we were standing outside under a perfectly clear sky, and saw the space station fly by overhead. As excited as I had been at that moment, Mr. Kelly's speech made it even more exciting! He will be commanding his last space shuttle flight on the Endeavor in July 2010. This flight will be the last space shuttle flight in the program. NASA is working on another shuttle program whose ships will possibly travel to the moon and Mars. It will take at least 6 years to complete the first space shuttle in this new program. Mr. Kelly has a twin brother who is also an astronaut and might possibly be on the International Space Station when Mr. Kelly arrives in July.

After his speech, and after exploring many of the hangers, we took a guided tram around the grounds to see the aircraft that the museum had obtained and restored over the years. We could've walked around the grounds by ourselves...there were signs describing each aircraft, bht the tram ride was a much better choice. It was at least one hour long and the guide was exceptional! He had graduated from Annapolis and had been a pilot himself...he had an amazing knowledge of every plane on the museum grounds. Included in the aircraft was JFK's Airforce One, which also carried President Johnson and President Nixon. We learned what distinguished the Airforce One aircraft from the others....Airforce One has a blue line painted above the gray painted base. Other aircraft included Migs, Hueys, Fighter Jets, the Kitty Hawk, as well as a few German aircraft. I'm not doing the museum justice, so here's the website:

Tomorrow we will be visiting the Biosphere 2...this will be our last visit in the Benson area. Thursday we will be heading for Phoenix for 2 nights to visit an old friend of Ed's and then on to Quartzsite AZ on Saturday.

More blog tomorrow!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee, Arizona is my favorite place so far in Arizona. Formed around 1880 and located about 45 miles south of Benson, just like Benson and Tombstone, it was a mining town, copper being it's main mineral. Then in the 1970s, the town died, becoming neglected and run down. Fortunately, the hippies found it and made it the town it is today. Its main street has many artsy shops, galleries, a museum, and a few restaurants and bars. All along the mountainside are houses built into the mountain walls, with literally thousands of steps leading up to them all from the main street. In fact, every 3rd weekend in October, Bisbee holds a weekend long event, which included the Bisbee 1000, Great Stair Climb. The route takes the walkers throughout the town by climbing the stairs. Each house has so much character...I want to live in them all!

Our first stop was the Queen Mine Tour, complete with a helmut, flashlight, and slicker. Everyone straddled a mine train and went about 1500 feet into the Queen mine tunnel. We were able to walk around while down there and the guide was very informative. We learned the whole process of mining, from excavating, to concentrating, to smelting.

From there, we walked through historic Bisbee where we had lunch at the High Desert Market and Cafe. I had a a smoked chicken on grilled focaccia with soft bleu cheese, sliced apple, and avacado...unbelievable! Bonnie had a spinach and tomato quiche, while Ed and Frank had turkey on grilled focaccia with cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pesto. Everyone thought it was a great meal!

Across the street from the cafe was St. Patrick's Catholic Church, which we were told had spectacular stained glass windows...and they were! The church was built in 1917 and was beautiful; the windows were awe inspiring, and were created by the famous artist Emil Frye.

Heading back to the car, we stopped in several shops along main street and admired the houses along the way. Once we arrived at the car, we headed out in search of the Shady Dell campground. This campground is one of a kind. The owners, past and present, have dedicated their efforts to finding and restoring vintage aluminum travel trailers and renting them out. There are also spots for regular RVs, but the attraction is going back in time to the 1950s. We were able to tour one of the best in the campground...the Airfloat. It had 2 twin beds with original chenille bedspreads, a black and white tv on a tv stand, an old Westinghouse refrigerator, and a full sized bathroom with a full bath! They also recently renovated and rent a 38' 1947 Chris Craft Yacht. Also located in the campground is Dot's Diner, a small 12 stool diner that is absolutely adorable!

Thanks to Ken, our 'guide' for showing us around and providing a history of the campground. The website is:

That was it for our sightseeing...we headed home and had a delicious last dinner of kobe steaks with our friends Bonnie and Frank, before they head on to Tucson and then Mexico.

We still have to see the Pima Air Museum and the Biosphere II, but we have another week here so we should be able to see both.

Safe travels, Bonnie and Frank...keep in touch!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gammons Gulch, Benson AZ

Gammons Gulch is a well-kept secret and worth seeing! It's about 15 miles north of Benson in the middle of nowhere... (rumor has it that Julia Roberts has a summer house in the area...). It is basically an old west stagecoach town that is used for movie settings. It was created when Ray Gammons bought 10 acres 37 (?) years ago and began collecting artifacts and transporting old west buildings from other areas and refurbishing the buildings at Gammons Gulch. He is currently building a new 'saloon' to attract more movies because the building that he has used as a saloon in the past is too small for most movies to consider. The 'town' is in a constant state of additions and improvements. Movie stars that have shot scenes there include Alyssa Milano and Jeff Fahey. Our tour, given by the very funny and personable owner Ray, took about 45 minutes and was a very interesting and thorough tour. After he took us through all of the buildings and gave us a history of the buildings and artifacts, he let us wander around on our own. Ray has lived in the 'hotel' in the town for the past 15 years and his wife is currently working on establising a museum on site.

A very enjoyable it's on to pizza with Frank and Bonnie, and Richard and a local pizza joint in Benson!

Bisbee tomorrow!