So many folks from up north are traveling down to warmer areas:
Southwestern Deserts: Options for RV snowbirds
"A kinder, gentler climate, the driving force behind the snowbird migration, is not the only consideration in choosing where to spend the winter, free from ice, snow, cold winds, rain, sleet, and window-rattling storms. RVers choices for a winter roost though, are as diverse as their choice of rigs.
In last week’s post I wrote about the variety of climates among desert areas, now let’s look at other considerations when choosing a winter destination. At the glitzy top of destination possibilities are the full-service resorts with teams of gardeners that maintain the manicured grounds and have pages of amenities like swimming pools, hot tubs, and recreation rooms, planned activities like line-dancing, exercise classes , bus sightseeing tours, and golf tournaments, and abundant classes and workshops in rock-hounding, photography, ceramics, wood-carving, painting, jewelry-making, and more.
These parks often fill up for the entire season and command the highest rates, and they will keep you busy non-stop. You will find them around Yuma, greater Phoenix, and Tucson in Arizona, and the Coachella Valley, California, towns of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Indio.
At the opposite end is the RVing boondocker, who seeks a more natural, back to nature, desert experience (photo above). This RVer is willing to forgo conveniences like hookups, cable TV, and the activity schedule of the resorts for a solitary campsite with few or no neighbors. But this type of campsite has its amenities also–beyond not having neighbors close enough to hear their TV–no security lights dim the stars that seem so close you can reach out and grab a handful, curious kit foxes and kangaroo rats come visiting at dusk, and sleep comes to the tune of the coyote serenade.
A multitude of alternate wintering options lie all up and down the scale between the two ends. Its position on the scale, whether toward the top or at the bottom, can usually be defined by the amenities, location, and of course, price. Somewhere between the high line motorcoach and golf resorts of Palm Springs and the free “coyote camping” sites of the solitary RVer, something with just the right features and attractions awaits you. Don’t be too anxious to commit to the first option that tickles your fancy. Try several venues, traveling about the desert and seeing all that it has to offer.
Unlike the East and Southeast parts of the country where most of the land was divvied up in giant parcels to privileged founding colonists in the 1600s and 1700s, much of the western deserts remains in the hands of the US government. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), certain designated portions of these public lands in Arizona and California have been set aside as Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs) where primitive camping is permissible for the season for the grand total of $100–and you can move about between them.
There are no designated campsites–find a spot that appeals to you–and amenities usually consist of a water source, trashcans, and a dump station–and the ambiance and camaraderie of other boondockers as close or as far away as you choose.
LTVAs are the ideal place to try some primitive camping, where you are in the company–but not too close–of other friendly folk. Try the LTVAs in Arizona at Quartzsite or Senator Wash (photo), adjacent to the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge near Yuma.
If you want to learn about boondocking and the methods, ideas, and inventions that these independent RVers utilize, time spent in one of these LTVAs can be a fascinating introduction into the world of boondocking.
For more privacy, you can camp anywhere in the desert for up to two weeks–then you have to move at least 25 miles away–and is free. Take time to enjoy the desert in these wide open places. Take hikes, visit historic mines, ranches, and ghost towns, watch for the emergence of Spring wildflowers, hang out a bird feeder, climb a mountain, follow critter tracks in the sand, follow a meandering arroyo, stalk a javalina, spot a phainopepla, and howl back to a coyote. Go ahead. Nobody will hear you, but if they do, they’re boondockers, they will understand."
Visit four awesome national parks without the crowds
"If you love visiting the national parks but hate the summer crowds, the August 2011 issue of Sunset Magazine suggests visiting these parks:
Capitol Reef is Utah's second largest national park, and has slot canyons, arches, cliffs, petroglyphs, a river flowing through a valley of 2,000 fruit trees, and 31 miles of trails to explore--and one-fifth of the visitors to the state's most popular national park, Zion.
You can camp--without hookups--at one of 71 shaded campsites along the river at Fruita Campground for $10.
Washington's North Cascades is known as the American Alps yet has only about 20,000 annual visitors. What you will find are 312 glaciers, 400 miles of hiking trails, and two mountain peaks that reach over 9,000 feet.
Watch peregrine falcons from atop 389-foot high Diablo Dam or hike to a back country fire tower with an awesome 360-degree views.
Camp at Colonial Creek Campground in an old growth forest at the base of glaciated Colonial Peak on the shore line of Diablo Lake for $12. No hookups, first come first served. Several other campgrounds lie along Route 20, the only highway through the park.
Sunset calls Great Basin the "quietest place on the planet." See 4,000 year-old bristlecone pines and drive most of the way up 13,065-foot Wheeler Peak for vies across Nevada and into Utah. Take Lexington Arch Trail to a six-story limestone arch.
Camp at 10,000-foot Wheeler Peak Campground--where you will feel the altitude--for $12.
No other canyon in North America has the dramatic vertical sheer 2,000 foot cliffs of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado. On the north rim you can take a 3-mile round-trip hike to the "jaw-dropping" panorama of Exclamation Point ot to Chasm View.
Camp at the amid the pinyons and junipers at North Rim campground for $12. No hook-ups and RVs over 35 feet not recommended (other campgrounds with full hook-ups are available). The 13 sites are first come first served and a Senior Pass will cut half off the fee."
A toad? This might fit in your basement:
Main Street of Yesteryear in Basement
"The homeowner built a full-scale replica of a turn-of-the-century Main Street in his basement.
John Scapes of Schaumburg, Ill., has been working for three decades on a very intricate creation in his basement. The retired mechanical engineer has brought an incredible attention to detail to his project, building a full-scale replica of a turn-of-the-century Main Street. Scapes says he was inspired by a an exhibit he saw at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago when he was 9 years old.
Everything looks authentic, down to the last detail. The street is paved with faux cobblestones, the streetlight actually works and carefully placed mirrors make the street appear to curve.
Scapes' little piece of Americana includes a barbershop, hat shop and a photo shop. The general store's shelves are stocked and the store includes a post office and a working hand-cranked phone.
The double doors of the sawmill open to reveal the pristine workshop where Scapes crafted his nostalgic world. Other neat features include storefronts that open to reveal storage space, a mirrored saloon and a milk wagon in the corner that conceals plumbing. "
Video of the replica of the "1890's Main Street" exhibit front from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.
Nov 1, 1512: Sistine Chapel ceiling opens to public
"The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, one of Italian artist Michelangelo's finest works, is exhibited to the public for the first time.
Michelangelo Buonarroti, the greatest of the Italian Renaissance artists, was born in the small village of Caprese in 1475. The son of a government administrator, he grew up in Florence, a center of the early Renaissance movement, and became an artist's apprentice at age 13. Demonstrating obvious talent, he was taken under the wing of Lorenzo de' Medici, the ruler of the Florentine republic and a great patron of the arts. After demonstrating his mastery of sculpture in such works as the Pieta (1498) and David (1504), he was called to Rome in 1508 to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel—the chief consecrated space in the Vatican.
Michelangelo's epic ceiling frescoes, which took several years to complete, are among his most memorable works. Central in a complex system of decoration featuring numerous figures are nine panels devoted to biblical world history. The most famous of these is The Creation of Adam, a painting in which the arms of God and Adam are stretching toward each other. In 1512, Michelangelo completed the work."
Q: In golf, WHERE DID THE TERM 'CADDIE' COME FROM?
A. When a young Mary, Queen of Scots went to France; Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scots' game 'golf.' So he had the first course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment. To ensure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary liked this game & on return to Scotland she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced 'ca-day' and the Scots changed it into 'caddie.'
Q: WHY ARE MANY COIN BANKS SHAPED LIKE PIGS?
A: Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called 'pygg'. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a container that resembled a pig and it caught on.
Q: Why DO DIMES, QUARTERS & $.50 PIECES have notches, but pennies & nickels don’t?
A: The US Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing gold and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small quantities of the precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels aren't notched because the metals they contain are not valuable enough to shave.
Ray was busy, so it seemed like a good day to go shopping. Jay wanted to go into the next town with me. When Misty and I went down there to pick him up, Jay's sister and her dog Pepper were there. Misty was pleased to see Pepper again, she loves meeting other people and pets. Pepper is going to stay with them for a week while his sister goes to Jamaica.
We stopped at two thrift shops and at the first one, Jay took advantage of a "Fill a bag for $5", getting pants and several shirts. There was even room for me to put a pair of beige pants and blue shorts in the bag.
The second shop yielded some fabric which is just the right color for the drapes in the cargo trailer. It is the same color as the paneling, and Formica. It's not that 'pinky' in real life, more beige.
The drapes could be made out of the same dark brown cushion fabric, but I always had the idea that dark colors high up, make a small place look smaller and top heavy.
A stop at Kroger's provided some more bargains, and another of the never-ending trips to Petsmart to buy the kittens more canned food.
It started out cold, 41°, with us wearing jackets, which we soon took off, as it turned into a 71° sunny day.