Monday, February 28, 2005

Local Color

The desert is not a drab place! Here's a desert golf course - sure looks interesting, but we've never seen anyone playing here. They're too busy looking out for ultralight airplanes making touch-and-go landings nearby. There's these orange flowers. I would call them California Poppies, but I was told they're called Mexican poppies here. Then there's the purple ones. But the real local color in Quartzsite is the people. I didn't take many photos, but here's one who really likes to have his picture taken. This is Paul Winer. He owns the Oasis Bookstore - where you can find just about anything. He has a very colorful past as an entertainer. He has won many a court battle for civil rights. Specifically the right to wear anything you want ... or nothing. He is also an illustrator for books - the best known being "Snowbird Mating Season" and "Jesus in my Golf Cart" Here's how he signed the book I purchased:

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Joshua Tree to Quartzsite

On our way back to Quartzsite from Indio - we looked at the map and saw Joshua Tree National Park. Hey, we rarely pass up an opportunity to add another National Park to our list. So we took the 8 mile side trip. What IS a Joshua Tree anyway? Well, I still don't know what a Joshua tree is. Apparently they only exist in the northeast corner of the park and we were in the south. Even if we wanted to make the drive, we couldn't because the road was closed due to washouts from all the rain. This is one that was still passable. But we did see Cottonwood Springs - a real Oasis. There's a rushing stream spilling out under those palm trees. Seeing it on this cold, rainy day though didn't have the effect as if it was the normal hot sunny desert. Now we're back in Quartzsite - where every day is a weekend ... honest! We understand that all these RVs and flea market style shops will be gone by the first week of March. We're still here in Rainbow Acres for another week. Gee, I wonder how it got its name?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rich and Famous RVs

We gave our WiFi seminar today at the Outdoor Resorts Motorcoach Country Club, here in Indio. We didn't get to stay at this park though because it is 'class A motorhomes only' and we are a class C. In case you don't know about the class distinction in RVs, here's the scoop. Class A: like a bus, where the driver sits on top of, or even in *front* of the front tires. Class C: like a truck with a cab-over, the driver sits behind the tires. Class B: a camper van Why they gave the smallest one a letter in between the other two - I have no idea. It took me quite a while to remember which was which. If you want to read more about the different types of RVs, check out the GoRVing site. Actually, most of the RVs in this park are not only Class A motorhomes, but they *own* their lot. We heard that one owner just sold their lot for $70,000 more than they paid less than a year ago. You heard right ... $70,000 MORE than the original price. Silly me, I thought a little sliver of property for an RV would cost $15 - 20,000 TOTAL!! I mean, there's no house involved here. It's a 'bring-your-own-house' proposition. Some of these lots are now selling in the $2-300,000 range. Omigod ... I need to lie down. It is a gorgeous resort though, I must admit. Complete with waterways and boat docks, and a spectacular mountain backdrop.

Greetings from Indio, California

There's a Coach Connect park in Indio and we are scheduled to give our WiFi seminar here today. We originally planned to make it a short trip over and back from Quartzsite, but then we were invited to join Dick and Frankie on a visit to friends in Yuma - so we're making a circle out of it. I hate to retrace my steps - this is so much more appealing. We passed very close to the Mexico border, lots of people crossing over to buy their meds and go to the dentist! We also passed by the Imperial Dunes. Now *there's* some desert sand! The little black dots you see are people on their dune buggies. This is BLM land all around so you see thousands of RVs parked in this desert too. And, we passed by the Salton Sea. Not particularly picturesque on this drizzly day, but interesting nonetheless. It is the largest lake in California - bigger than lake Tahoe or Mono Lake. And, it's saltier than the ocean - making it the fastest lake to boat in because of the increased buoyancy. Now we're in Indio - near Palm Springs, playground of the rich and famous. That's not us - we won't be staying long. :-)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

More WiFi Stuff

Here in Quartzsite, there is a WiFi provider named RVLogon. They are not in a particular park, but instead, cover wide areas of Quartzsite and the open desert. The antenna / Access Point that is nearest to where we are is in Rainbow Acres. We took a walk and found the antenna - it is about 700 feet from where we are parked. We know that because each lot here is 85 ft wide, and the antenna is 6 lots down, then across one more lot (120 ft deep) and 2 streets. 700 ft is still an estimate, but it's pretty close. If it weren't for the roof of one house, we would have line-of-sight. So, this looked like a good test for WiFi adapters. Here's the different equipment we tried. 1. My computer with a Microsoft USB adapter. I couldn't even see RVLogon in my list of available wireless networks. 2. Jim's Sony Vaio laptop with the built-in adapter. He can see RVLogon in his list. He can even connect and browse! That is truly a *Wonder Computer*. But, the signal fluctuates and drops occasionally. It's not reliable. If he adds our special outdoor antenna (5db gain) he can connect and browse reliably. 3. Frankie's Dell laptop with Zyxel USB adapter. She can't see the network on her list at all. We tried adding our special outdoor antenna connected to her computer thru a PC card and it could see the signal, but not enough to connect to it. Jim then switched out the PC card for an Ethernet 'bridge'. He attached the outdoor antenna to the bridge and voila! She could connect and browse very reliably. You know the old saying, right?! If at first you don't succeed, try try again. This is never more true than in using computers for anything. Especially WiFi! I've been writing more tips on WiFi, but since this is primarily a personal travel weblog, I didn't want it to get overwhelmed with WiFi info. So, I put the tips where I think they are more appropriate - on Coach Connect's website. Specifically they're on the 'Support' page - then click on the button for "WiFi on the Road - Tips and Tales" The latest tip is: "The equipment you use to connect to a WiFi hotspot is VERY important." *edited 3/2/09: since Coach Connect is no more - I have also collected all our Wi-Fi articles on our other blog:

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Rin Tin Odie

We're back in Quartzsite now. Our drive from Havasu yesterday shows you why this desert is green! But, this morning is gorgeous, and Odie was very insistent on going for our little hike here. Most places we just take him for a 15 minute walk on his leash, but, here in Quartzsite he gets to run free in the desert and we have a hill to climb. He must know where we are because usually he's quite agreeable about waiting for us in the morning. We have our coffee, read our email, maybe even have breakfast, while he just sits there and patiently waits for his turn to be taken for a walk. Not this morning, he's pawing at our legs, running back and forth and throwing his toys at us. "Take me for a walk!" "I wanna go hike to the top of the hill!" .... "Now!" Ok, All right. Rin Tin Odie. Of course, we love the hike too. We are always rewarded with beautiful views at the top. My task for today is to start spring cleaning. Over a year of living full-time in this motorhome and the cupboards are looking more like trash bins! We've learned a lot about what needs to be where - it's time to empty it all out and rearrange! Let's take advantage of the sunshine while we can.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Greetings from the London Bridge

No, we didn't take another plane trip. The London Bridge currently lives in Lake Havasu City in Arizona! Driving over it, you can't really tell much. But, there are some nice walks you can take beside and underneath. We're here because we're visiting a Coach Connect park called Crazy Horse Campgrounds. You'd expect, since we're worker bees, that they'd give us a site out in the back 40 by the dumpsters. Hah! Feast your eyes on this site, waterfront no less. We even had our own dock. Wouldn't you know we left the kayak in Quartzsite. Well, we'll just have to come back! Since we were looking west across the water, I waited till later to take more photos. What a pretty view and sunset. I snapped a few more photos and went back inside. Jim was outside cooking some steaks on the grill when he said, "Chris, you've got to come out here." Oh My God .... either the world is coming to an end in one gigantic fire, or this is one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Desert Fantasies

Jim and Chris, your world-renowned explorers become desert-trained rockhounds. They know where there's quartz, gold is sure to follow. They climb into the searing sunshine. Brave the dangers of abandoned mine shafts. Claim rich new lands in the name of the country of their birth. And, finally, triumphantly, bring home the gold!

Monday, February 14, 2005

We've gotta keep meeting like this!

This is a BIG country. 3,000 miles coast to coast and 1,800 miles north to south. With thousands, maybe millions of miles of highway traversing throughout. It seems unlikely, but those of us who live on those roads seem to 'run into' each other all the time. With no planning, we had two such liaisons this weekend. Of course, email and maps do help us know where we all are and be able to take advantage. Joline knew my Mom from previous conferences. She visited Florida in January of 2003 to take me and Mom to the Prophet's Conference in the keys (yes, that's Mom, me and Joline right in the middle of the first photo). We stayed with her in her 5th wheel, and it was the first time I had seen a datastorm. I think this is where the idea for Jim's and my current lifestyle first germinated. Thanx Joline! Here's her 5th wheel "Brightwing" boondocked in the desert here in Quartzsite: and here's Joline: Joline usually travels by herself, but she is currently on her way to a 6 week trip thru Baja and her friend Marilyn has joined her. They made us a fabulous dinner, and we had a great time catching up. Hey! When you get 3 women together, who needs words when you have hands and facial expressions? We'll be watching your Blog, Joline! The next day we visited John. We met John at Life on Wheels when all the Datastorm users had a get together there. John is planning a trip to Alaska this summer and his 'old' Datastorm dish would not be operational north of the Canadian border. So, he got a new one. A BIG one. See that big disk that looks like the moon rising over the top of his rig? That's his new 'F3' Datastorm Satellite dish. The combination of this bigger dish (it's 1.2 meters across compared to our .74) and using a different satellite called 'Horizons 1' (our satellite is 'SatMex 5') will give him the ability to get Internet ANYWHERE in North America. Can't wait to watch your website John to see Alaska. You know, that was our original plan for our first year on the road, but when we learned our satellite dish would not work, we changed our plans. After our totally techie visit talking about F1's, F3's, satellites, 4020s, 6000s and the like, we decided we wanted dinner to be a true Quartzsite experience so we went to the 'Snowbird Cafe' Notice how it's a tent structure - cuz it only exists during the 2-3 months of winter season here. John tells us that the rest of the year they provide food services to firefighting crews. The dining appointments were quite elegant, as you can see. And the maitre d' was out of this world! The food was really very good - as long as you liked corned beef and cabbage or turkey - because that was the entire menu last night! Oh yeah - and a scrumptious peach pie! Thanx John! See y'all on the road!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

'Mowing' the 'lawn'

This is the way we mow the lawn in the desert! It looks so nice and clean and even when he's done! Till a rambunctious little black dog goes and messes it all up!