Saturday, December 19, 2009

Off to the North Ranch and Wickenburg

I'm Going To Market Jacob's Tails Directly
If You Are Interested, Please Let Me Know

Click On The Pictures To Enlarge Them

I’ve got this THING now – whenever I need to do laundry and we’re heading to an Escapees Park, I will put it off for a few days or even buy more underwear to stall til we get there. If there is such a thing as a good laundromat, it can usually be found at an Escapees RV Park. It happened again as we headed to ‘North Ranch’ near Wickenburg, AZ.

We took a different route to get there from Laughlin and went up through Kingman on Highway 40 and then south along highway 93. Fred calls that the kind of road that helps clean out the holding tanks as we went up and down and around through the hilly country between the Hualapai and Aquarius Mountains. Lots of Pinion Pine trees, Mesquite, and Palo Verde and still the Saguaro Cacti sticking out above the bush throughout the hills (are we not impressed that after nine years, I am finally remembering the names of the various trees and plants?).

Now, every Escapees Park is different but they usually have a few things in common like the afternoon social (or happy hour); the Sunday ice cream get-together; and laundries that are reasonably priced, clean and well maintained. ‘North Ranch’ turned out to be a bit different. Yeh, they had the happy hour but nobody came (as far as I know); there was no ice cream on Sunday; BUT the laundry was clean and well maintained.

Besides the laundry, we did manage to explore an area we had never visited before as well as re-connect and enjoy the company of a couple (Dianne & Andy) we met at the Escapees Park in Pahrump.

We went out to an old mine (the Vulture Mine) that supposedly was started by Wickenburg (the town was named after him) and were very disappointed by the guy who wanted you to pay, pay, pay to look at a bunch of junk and get your picture taken with a donkey. BUT the area around was hilly and speckled with Saguaro.

Fred is not one to like museums but even he will tell you that the Cowboy Museum in Wickenburg was fantastic. It has a lot of exhibits of the old days in Wickenburg and you can actually touch them.

Most impressive was the art work and sculptures . . . a great collection, mostly donated by one family.

Parked next to us at North Ranch was Steve. Now Steve was an interesting character. I would say he was just barely old enough to stay at a 55+ park. He had taught most of his working life seemingly with students who needed to be led through every step of every activity they ever did. What made him so fascinating was that his hobby was astronomy and he carried a humongous telescope – all automatic. All day long, Steve locked himself in his Motorhome with the windows covered and at night, he brought out the telescope and showed us all the wonders of the various celestial bodies . . . the craters on the moon; Jupiter; twin stars in the Milky Way.

We stayed at North Ranch over the USA Thanksgiving and then headed over to Quartzsite but not before I discovered Trader Joes. Gotta go there again!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Old Friends – New Friends

I'm going to market
Jacob's Tails
If you are interested, please let me know

Click on the pictures to enlarge them

The best thing about revisiting places you been to before is often revisiting with folks you have shared time with before. The dry-camping area at the Tropicana Express in Laughlin, NV is one such meeting place.

Mya – that gal we met at Avi eight or nine years ago who traded me a book for a Tin Man last year – was there and had phoned to see when we would be arriving; the two sisters – Julie (from Alaska) and Nellie (from Georgia) and their spouses (Bill and Joe) were already there; George and Gay from Ontario were there and Chuck and Sheila would be arriving any time. It was good to see everyone again and find out how the summer had gone.

Unfortunately (for us) the Casinos have tightened up considerably – no more Comp rooms; penny machines that take a minimum of 45 cents for each spin and watching $20.00 go poof in five minutes. It wasn’t quite the fun time it has been other years.

As someone said, “Parking isn’t free; you spend twice as much in the Casinos.”

But the food is good and you can still get a Prime Rib dinner for $7.99 (up a dollar from last year).

But there are usually new friends and when Don and Jan moved in beside us, it didn’t take long for Jan to whoosh me off to the mall to find a new jacket and Fred and Don to solve all the problems of the RV world.

Sallee and John came up from Yuma for a couple of days and we all went off to see what progress had been made on the Hoover Dam Bypass. The Dam was both the world's largest hydroelectric power generating station and the world's largest concrete structure when it was completed in 1936 more than two years ahead of schedule and supposedly under budget.
After 9-11 traffic over the Dam was severely restricted and construction on the Bypass was started in January 2005.

The Colorado River Bridge, nearly 2,000 feet long, is the central portion of the Hoover Dam Bypass. It will span the Black Canyon (about 1,600 feet south of the Hoover Dam), connecting the Arizona and Nevada approach highways nearly 900-feet above the Colorado River.
Needless to say, it is impressive and they expect to have it completed by 2011.

As we travelled along, we happened to notice this strange array of something off to the west so we went off to investigate. What we discovered was a complete field of solar panels and a few more being worked on. It turns out that what we saw is called Nevada Solar One. It is a 64 MW commercial-scale solar energy plant. They expect it will eventually have 19,000 receivers (panels) that cover 350 square acres. Unlike the solar panels we are used to, these are curved. Two panels face each other to create a trough that seems to extend for miles. There were hundreds of troughs in this one field.
This system collects the powerful desert sunlight and converts it into 750-degree F thermal energy, which can then be used to create steam for electrical power generation. The receivers are filled with a special synthetic oil that can withstand the intensity of the daytime heat as well as the much lower temperatures at night and still protect the sensitive glass/metal seals of the receivers.

They say the p
ower produced is a little more expensive than wind power but is more reliable and can be built closer to where it is needed. Interesting, eh?!

Well, that’s our stay in Laughlin. We usually stay longer than the two weeks we stayed this year but it just doesn’t seem to be as much fun as it used to.