2013 Travels travel blog

Carpe boondocking on BLM land south of Quartzsite

The road along 95 north of Parker is beautiful

Quartzsite bound

Bailey's home and Bo star on Quartzsite billboards

Carpe with the Quartzfest HAMs
This is BLM land south of Quartzsite

Desert sunrise

Carpe gets three solar panels installed

Bob inspects our new solar panels

Indicator shows solar charging rate

Carpe parked next to Davila's coach
We relocated to town for an FCOC...

FCOC rally coaches
All built on Freightliner Chassis

FCOC rally included "Know Your Chassis" class

FCOC rally attendees

The rally included catered dinners each nite

The FCOC demo chassis heads to its next assignment

Carpe on BLM land north of town
We raised our new solar panels...

Enjoying dinner with Carmen & Domingo

Volcanos in Arizona???
Stunning cloud formation at sunset west of Quartzsite

Quartzsite RV Show scene
Take you dog to the RV Show, in a...

Here we are with Michelin's Mr. Bibb
We're sitting on his left foot!

A spectacular desert sunrise
"Red sky in morning, sailor's warning" It got cloudy...

Sunrise reflected in Carpe's windshield

Thu, 10 Jan: As mentioned in yesterday's post, this morning came way too early for these two retirees! Carpe was scheduled in for service at 0730 so we had to have everything ready to go by then. That meant an early getup and breakfast.

We got checked in at 0730 and moved Carpe to the dump site for a good, thorough, black tank dump, rinse, dump, rinse, etc. One of the items on our list was the replacement of a balky black tank dump valve, so giving that yukko tank a good rinse was paramount.

After that the techs pulled her into the service bay where we got the aforementioned valve replaced, refitted a balky shower valve, and replaced all four rear jack springs. The rear jacks have been slow to retract for some time now so it is time for new springs. We hope that'll take care of that issue.

All work was wrapped up a bit after two. After finishing the paperwork and getting Dinkum connected we rolled wheels at 1450.

We continued south on 95 through Lake Havasu City, then Parker to Quartzsite. We continued five miles south of town to the BLM "Road Runner" area where we're currently boondocking until Wednesday. We're in the area of Quartzfest, that will ultimately attract hundreds of HAMs. We're quite early so there is a lot of room (see pix), but that'll probably change during the next few days.

We arrived at 1645 and got Carpe set up. We'd battled strong winds most of the way down, and the winds continued most of the evening. Gusts up to 50mph were forecast, and sure enough several gusts were sufficient to really rock Carpe and rattle our canvas slide toppers. Thankfully, it settled down by bedtime and we enjoyed a very restful nite.

Today's distance was 83 miles, all on AZ and US 95.

Fri, 11 Jan: We slept in this morning until we wanted to get up, not the alarm. We had a very lazy morning and didn't even stick our noses outside until after ten. Since it was 34°F at daybreak there didn't seem to be any pressing need to do so.

After disconnecting Dinkum we drove into town to mail a letter and to check on a few matters. We're in the thinking stage of adding solar panels to Carpe and spent some time talking with an expert. He gave us some points to consider and some conditions to test. We'll meet with him early next week after we've tried his suggestions.

Back to the campsite around noon with a stop to chat with Steve Weed, the Quartzfest coordinator. He'd arrived last nite so this was our first opportunity to visit. His rig, which is the epicenter of Quartzfest is about 100-200 meters from our rig so we can easily walk to activities but won't be in the middle of the hubbub. Suits us just fine.

Our plans for the next few days are pretty loose. We'll try to catch up on paperwork during our down time. Our friends Carmen and Domingo are enroute and should be here early next week. We're very much looking forward to rendezvousing with them.

Tue, 15 Jan: Today is the official start of Quartzfest 2013. Since our arrival last Thursday folks have been arriving in dribs and drabs. While we're still pretty much alone, there are now RVs in every direction.

We got word from the Davilas that they are on the way. Bob headed off to the Quartzfest opening events while Sandi took Dinkum to intercept the Davilas and lead them to our site. It was great to see them again and we're looking forward to our time together.

Following the opening events we drove into town for an early dinner at Taco Mia. It is a respectible Mexican place and we all enjoyed our meals and the company.

Wed, 16 Jan:
Carpe Goes Green!

This morning we left our nice BLM site south of Quartzsite and drove to Rose RV in Quartzsite. We and the Davilas will be here thru Sunday attending a rally of the Freightliner Chassis Owners Club (FCOC). We got our space assigned and, as the Davilas got settled in, we drove into town to dump our holding tanks, top off our fresh water, and top off the diesel tank.

From there we drove to Discount Solar in Quartzsite to have solar panels installed. Yup, we finally did it! We've been watching the prices and technology get better and better these past years and have finally reached the point where we could justify the investment. We don't expect to ever recoup this investment, but the increased flexibility and livability with the solar panels justifies the expense.

We installed three 155 watt panels along with associated controllers and wiring. We have been pleased with the installation thus far. It has reduced our daily generator runtime from four hours/day to one hour/day. Better, we can live "normally" while boondocking which is a nice bonus.

Sat, 19 Jan: Several days have passed. Our busy lives just don't allow for frequent updates to this Journal. Who'd have guessed that retirement would come with such demanding social obligations?

The weather here continues to be colder than normal. Overnite lows are now in the high thirties rather than the high twenties of last week. We're even flirting with the seventies during the afternoon. But it is bright and sunny so we just layer, layer, and layer.

Our solar installation continues to impress us. The panels start putting out juice right at sunrise and build during the day. We're not in a good position to tilt the panels yet, but when we relocate tomorrow we hope to better position Carpe so we can try tilting the panels to maximize their efficiency.

The FCOC rally has been interesting. There have been catered breakfasts and dinners each day, so we're really enjoying the respite from cooking. There has been one class, "Know Your Chassis", given by a Freightliner factory representative. It was very informative and took place around an actual Freightliner chassis. It is always helpful to see where things are located without the motorhome in the way.

We and the Davilas took several "tours" of the area. The official RV show starts today, but many of the vendors outside The Big White Tent are already set up so we've spent time wandering up and down the aisles. We're not big shoppers (well, Carmen is), but we enjoy seeing what's out there even if we keep our wallets in our pockets.

We picked up our mail Thursday at America's Mailbox trailer. Last year we had our mail sent to General Delivery at Quartzsite, and we waited in line almost four hours to pick it up. This year our mailing service, America's Mailbox, established a trailer across the street from the Post Office. For a mere $1 we had our mail sent in care of them and then just walked into the trailer and picked it up. Great service folks!

Later today we'll walk to the Quartzsite RV Show at The Big White Tent to see what's there. It'll be a mob scene, but we'll take it easy and can go back later in the week when the novelty wears off and the crowds thin.

Today is the last day of the FCOC rally so tomorrow morning we must vacate our site at Rose RV in town. We'll relocate back to BLM boondocking land, this time north of town off of Plomosa Road. We'll probably site with the Escapees Boondocking interest group.

Mon, 21 Jan: Yesterday was moving day! As stated earlier, we had to relocate from our boondock spot at Rose RV in Quartzsite (within walking distance of the RV Show). We (including Domingo & Carmen) first drove to the service area where we dumped our waste tanks and topped off our fresh water tanks. What a racket, $15/dump + $5/fill. They have two weeks to make it and make it they do...

After that we headed north some six miles to Plomosa Road and then east 2½ miles to the Escapees Boondock group's camping area. We found two spots off to one corner where we set up our camp for the balance of our Quartzsite stay.

Once Carpe got leveled and set up we went up on the roof and tilted our new solar panels for the first time. This entailed removing the existing mounting bolts and replacing them with bolts having knobs for hand tightening. Then the tilting straps got the panels at a better angle to the sun. It made quite a difference as the panels output more than thirty-one amps during midday. We were impressed.

We shared dinner with Carmen & Domingo, who kindly let us grill our steak on their grill. The remainder was pot luck. What good friends.

Today we're planning a "down day". Since it is a holiday the weekend visitors are still here so we'll eschew the RV Show in The Big Tent. Tomorrow (Tuesday) we're planning a longer Big Tent visit first thing in the morning. Hopefully we'll find a parking spot in the same area code as the show.

The weather has moderated a bit with overnite lows in the high thirties and we're forecast to flirt with seventy today and tomorrow. Beautiful, sunny days with spectacular sunrises/sunsets (see pix). Life is good!

Thu, 24 Jan: Today marks two weeks since we moved into the desert around Quartzsite. We've been living without any electric, water, or sewer connections and, thanks to our new solar panels, have done very well. We enjoy this relaxing lifestyle but reality is calling so tomorrow we'll return to civilization.

The weather has warmed to more normal sixties and seventies during the day and "not freezing" at nite. Yesterday it began to cloud up and today is overcast. It is instructive to note how our solar panels are affected. Instead of outputting 30+ amperes of current they are giving us < 10 amperes. That's enough to sustain us but not charge the batteries. Guess the generator will run a bit longer this evening.

Since our last post we've visited The Big Tent RV show every morning. Mostly we've been trying to find LED bulbs that will work for us in our existing fixtures. That entails visiting the vendors, asking many questions, buying something that might work, returning to the coach to try it, and then either returning an inappropriate bulb or buying additional appropriate bulbs.

By going to the show right at 0900 opening we were able to get good parking spots and avoid the crush of humanity. We're now officially "RV Showed Out" for the nonce...

As mentioned, tomorrow we're planning to leave Quartzsite and head back to Casa Grande. A week from today we'll drive the car to San Diego to board the ms Statendam for a four week South Pacific Cruise. So, we need to prepare for the change in lifestyle and a few days in Casa Grande is the ticket.

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