Scooter racing

Scooter racing
After parking for the night, we'll still have time for a little racing

Friday, 31 January 2014

Quartzsite Paid Off

Just a quick update.  I bought a few bags of gold dirt at the Quartzsite Metal Detecting hunt.  We set up the sluice on the back of Syd's truck and voila…an easy hour's work and I ended up with quite a bit of gold and a lot of garnets.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Weird and Wonderful

What a great night!  Eighteen of us headed off to Spook Mountain (in the desert, of course). Our goal was to view the strange mists that appear on moonless nights.  The mist will appear suddenly and light up - then disappear just as suddenly.  It doesn't just waft away - one second it's there, the next it's gone.

We built a very large bonfire, had a quick dinner and lots of snacks (including Pecan Pie flavored Pringles!) and even managed to find a Geocache.  Then we sat down to watch the show.  Sure enough, as soon as it got dark, a small patch of mist could be seen, with flickering lights at the base.  Then, a few minutes later, a thick mist rose up and lit up with bright pink lights.  It stayed lit for several seconds then *poof* it was gone.  Unfortunately, that was the end of the show for that night.

 That was okay, since we had to leave anyhow.  As I've mentioned, most Snowbirds start to nod off around 8 p.m. so activities tend to end early.  Maybe that's why they don't have Daylight Savings Time in Arizona - it would disturb the circadian rhythm of all these old people.

Sunset over Spook Mountain
A couple of days later, Lynda, Syd and I went back out with a plan to stay out there much later.  We got an amazing show!  The lights came and went for over 2 hours, sometimes chasing each other across the base of the mountain - going from left to right and then just as rapidly reversing direction.  Around 9 p.m. it just stopped. (must be the Snowbird Effect)

 There are a lot of theories about these gases - some say the mists are lit up by lights from passing trains or from cars on the highway.  This would be a great explanation except for 2 things:  there were no trains when we saw the lights and the cars are on the other side of the mountain.  There are no other sources of light in the area.  National Geographic came out a few years ago to view the phenomenon and could find no explanation for it.  The only theory that would work is that they've hired some recluse to live in a cave at the base of the mountain and do special effects lighting on random nights.  Nice job if you can get it, I suppose, but not many perks.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Quartzsite Quest

Well, Saturday was a day for discovery.  Lynda, Syd, Ray and I left bright and early (bright and early for me…they thought the day was half over), and off we headed for Quartzsite, about an hour away from Yuma.

We arrived just as Arizona's largest RV show was getting underway, so traffic was a bit heavy.  Our ultimate destination was the Quartzsite Metal Detecting Club (probably not their real name but that's what they do).  The group has a huge field and they seed it with coins, tokens and special objects that can be redeemed for prizes after the hunt is over.  About 200 of us lined up on the outside of the field and waited for the marshall to signal the start.  We had one hour to scour the field and find as much money as possible.  It was loads of fun!  Syd found $13.60 in coins, Ray found about $7.00 and a necklace and I came away with $3.60 in coins PLUS a small pewter token.  Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the Grand Prize token!  I won 2 gold nuggets and a 1890 Silver Dollar.  The prize was worth $200.00. 
This took some of the sting out of the fact that I had just finished paying $250 for several bags of gold dirt.  As I've mentioned before, it is just so much easier to pop a cold beverage and sit in the sun on your lot, leisurely sifting through bags of dirt:  no snakes, no spiders, no scorpions, no sweating, no back breaking labour.  Just hand over your wallet and voila….gold dust.

To celebrate our successes, we decided to stop at one of Quartzsite's most famous landmarks:  the Reader's Oasis, a used book store which features what is probably the world's only nude septuagenarian librarian, Paul Wiener.  I am NOT kidding about that last name.  To be fair, he was wearing a little something in a fairly strategic area.  On the day we arrived, he was also wearing a top hat and looking quite dapper. 

You know those crocheted dish cloths that everyone has nowadays…. they shrink to half their size when you dry them and are useless in the kitchen.  Now I know what to do with them:  mail them to Quartzsite to supplement Mr. Wiener's wardrobe.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Search for Unpronounceable Gemstones

I've been busy since I got back.  In addition to RV and car repairs, there have been movie nights, bingo nights, and even a night being entertained by a truly excellent Elvis impersonator.  Lynda and I tried our hand at geocaching which, in Yuma, can be a tad tricky.  There are snake holes everywhere!  And not nice snakes either!  They are supposed to be hibernating but I don't think they would take kindly to being poked with a walking stick.  I'll just bet they wake up grumpy.

Dumortierite rock
Polished Dumortierite
The latest quest was for a stone called dumortierite which, according to the book, is a bright vibrant blue.  Maybe that's true after you've polished it for several weeks but, in the wild, dumortierite looks exactly like every other rock on the desert floor:  grey, featureless, kinda lumpy.  It is slightly heavier than the other grey, featureless, lumpy rocks but the only way to figure that out is to pick up 2 identical rocks and compare them.  There were lots of green rocks but Syd just wanted blue ones.  He and Lynda had no trouble spotting them, but the only way I would have found one was if someone had chucked it at my head.  After a couple of hours though, I started spotting them and even (accidentally) picked up a reasonably nice specimen.

Kyanite - easy to spot
Kyanite polished

I also found some kyanite which is a gorgeous light blue and at least it's easy to spot - especially the one I saw, which was the size of a football.

Then we went to a small mining museum where they had huge BOULDERS of these dumortierite rocks just laying around all over the place.  I mentioned that we should have just driven up and taken one of them but, apparently, that would not be what a true rock hound would do.  Who makes up these rules?!

The Beast and Zippy Get A Facelist

You should see the Beast these days!  As I may have mentioned, backing up is a talent I haven't quite mastered.  The one who suffers most is the poor Beast.  Last year I smacked into a tree which was concealing a six foot tall iron beam encased in cement.  The question of why anyone would put a post like that in the middle of a hedge has never been answered.  Anyhow, the bumper was cracked from top to bottom and, while duct tape held it together for awhile, it wasn't a great fix.  The person who runs the RV lot told me he could fix it and proceeded to glue the bumper together using huge globs of pink Bondo.

On my way East last summer, I managed to inflict additional (and almost identical) damage to the other side of the bumper when I slammed into a concrete post at the US border.

Just to keep my car Zippy from feeling left out, I also managed to scrape the whole side of it when I turned too sharply into a parking spot and hit…you guessed it….a concrete post.

 NOTE TO SELF:  Avoid concrete!  It’s bad for bumpers.

 Well, on my first day back, one of the mobile RV repair people happened by and offered to fix both the Beast and Zippy for a very reasonable price.  In fact, it was about a quarter of the price that ICBC quoted me for the car and the initial bumper damage (pre-US border).  On top of that, he painted the front bumper because it was showing sun damage, repaired and painted minor scratches along the sides and he polished up the decals around the coach.  He then primed and painted Zippy's door and bumper. The Beast looks marvellous and Zippy is back to being all green again!  I swear the car drives better now than it has since I dinged it.
While I was away, I also had major repairs done on the living room slide, which started to shake loose in Arkansas.  By the time I got here, large chunks of wood were falling out of the slide every time I opened it.  Turns out the bolts holding it in place had sheared off and the floor was starting to disintegrate.  This would have added a whole new meaning to the term "air conditioning" if the thing had fallen off while I was driving.  sigh....
Thank you to Lee and Bill for doing so much work!
I really appreciate all these mobile services out here in Yuma.  If you need repairs, it's worth the drive!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Two Left....Only One Came Back

It's been a hectic few weeks.  On November 27th, RRR and Nui left Yuma to head to their respective homes for Christmas.  Nui headed to Vancouver, where the temps dropped to -6C, which cemented her resolve to head back to Yuma and stay put for the rest of the winter.  RRR, on the other hand, was heading for -45C temps, but, being a hardy soul, decided to stay in Sudbury.  Nui is hoping to persuade her to re-think that plan for next year.

RRR still hasn't had a chance to wear her "blingy" t-shirts because "it's been too cold".  Anyone who knows her will instantly know that the end of the world is upon us.  RRR has been known to go outside in the dead of a Northern Ontario winter, wearing only a tank top and thin cotton pants under a light jacket.  Nui is planning to build an ark, in preparation for the coming apocalypse.

Nui was delighted to welcome Prince Porketta's wife and daughter for two weeks in early December.  There was sadness as we reminisced about all the good times with the Prince, but there was also lots of fun.  There were marathon shopping sprees (Nui gave up after the second one) and lots of boots were bought, including one pair of thigh-high leather boots with 6 inch heels!  How anyone can walk in those things is anyone's guess.  No wonder we all have bad backs when we get into middle age.

The holidays were fun and busy as usual.  It was so much fun to have a little kid around.  My great-niece Willow was hard to pin down for photos - she is in constant motion.  We should rename her Whirlwind Willow. 

We're happy to report that Santa was very good to RRR and he gave her an iRobot vacuum cleaner.  She plans to name it Agador, in honor of Nui's faithful floor cleaner (which she couldn't live without). 
What both Nui and RRR needed, though, were new decks of cards.  Over the 2 months that they were together, they played roughly 1000 card games (specifically, "that f***ing game") and wore out 2 decks of cards.  These have been preserved for posterity.

It will be lonely here without RRR - she was a great travelling companion.  With any luck (and if the insurance companies would quit being so greedy), she will come back and the adventures will resume.