Home Away from Home Christmas

Home Away from Home Christmas

 

In the past when Irene and I have come down south in the winter, we were always at home at Christmas time. This year we decided to stay down south for 5 months or the entire
winter. This means that for the first time in 44 years we have been away from our family at Christmas time and the closer we get to Christmas are realizing what we are
going to be missing;
Our Sons and their families live in the same town as us so we are fortunate to be able to see everyone on a fairly regular basis but Christmas has always been special with our family get together’s. Basically what I’m trying to say is we love our family and are missing them.

at the back of our RV
Humming Bird

The RV Park is going to be hosting a Christmas Party on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas Day we are getting together with a couple of other couples for a “potluck” dinner
which promises to be pretty good.

Tonights Sunset
Sunset

If you have ever wondered what Christmas would be like in a warmer climate; it seems to be pretty much the same only it is warmer and your not slip sliding around in the rain or snow. Shopping is still horribly busy and what is holding us back is the cost of buying American dollars at $1.43 per dollar. The silver lining; Gas is under $2.00/gal in many places and today we filled up the car with diesel for $1.89/gal.

We would like to wish our blogging friends and our family and friends a Very Merry Christmas, We hope you can spend it with the people you love. Whether your beliefs are
the same or different we wish you Peace and Love!

Nativity

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Morning Outings

Most Mornings we like to go out and explore in the area we are in. There are a couple of favorite areas we frequent. Lately we have been walking with a couple of friends  and we take all of the the dogs. Our friends have 3 and so do we. It looks like an old agricultural area but is severely overgrown. It is well away from traffic and we can let the dogs off lead so they can explore.

I also enjoy going to West Wetlands Park in Yuma, it is a little more civilized and the dogs have to be leashed at all times. There are two spots in the park I like to take my camera in and that is at the pond and also the Hummingbird Garden. The birds at both places are wild but somewhat habituated.

West Wetlands Park

Two other recently tried places are; Conservation Park near the Airport and Fairgrounds and East Wetlands Park along the Colorado River.

Conservation Park

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East Wetlands Park

Yuma Arizona

Yuma Arizona

I would like to wish a Very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, hope you are able to spend it with family and friends.

We are enjoying our stay in Yuma Arizona and here are some photos of the area;

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Live entertainment
Arizona Market in Yuma on Ave. 4E. These 2 were pretty decent.

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Crop Duster
We were watching him as he would zip along the field just a couple of feet above the ground.

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Osprey Fishing
Managed to get a couple of shots of the Osprey while waiting to see if the balloons were going to fly

Greater Roadrunner

25th Annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival

25th Annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival

25th Annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival

The 25th Annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival was held on the weekend of November 20~22nd, 2015 and since we had been here in 2012 and enjoyed ourselves we decided to attend
again this year. Since it is a 3 day event and when we attended the Friday one before there was only a limited number of Balloons so the decision was made to skip the Friday morning event at the High School. We don’t know how many balloons became airborne but on the news that night they mentioned one had become entangled in some Hydro wires and had to be rescued. I don’t believe anyone was hurt but they had to wait to be rescued.

Saturday we headed over to West Wetlands Park in Yuma for the scheduled 7:15am start, only to discover that it was too windy to try and fly the Balloons. We were a little disappointed but it wasn’t a total loss as I managed to get a few shots of an Osprey looking for a breakfast fish.

Fishing Osprey
Fishing in the early morning, just as the Sun is starting to come up over the horizon.
Osprey Fishing
Managed to get a couple of shots of the Osprey while waiting to see if the balloons were going to fly

At the park there were bouncing balls and we couldn’t help but wonder how much fun our own grandchildren would have with these.

Bouncing Balls
At West Wetlands Park in Yuma, Arizona. The wind was too strong to send the balloons up but some of the young kids were having a ball.

Coming up in the evening was the “Balloon Glow” which was to be held at Sun Stadium

Preparing for the "Balloon Glow"Preparing for the "Balloon Glow"

Saturday evening we headed into the stadium early so that we could get a decent parking spot and seats, both of them were attained but we were there much earlier than we needed to be. Unfortunately it was too windy for them to fly again, a few balloons managed to partially inflate but it was determined that it wasn’t safe to continue.

Hot Air Balloon
There were a couple of outfits who attempted to inflate their balloons

Getting Ready

Almost there
The wind was blowing too much to allow them to fully inflate

Some uncovered their baskets and burners and fired them off to try and give the crowd something to look at. It’s amazing how much light and heat they give off.

Fireball
A number of the participants made an effort to entertain
Lighting by fire
It is amazing how much light they can throw off

Sunday morning we got up early enough to go, but when we went outside  it was windy so we made the decision to go back to bed. Almost the whole town had the same idea  because apparently hardly anyone showed up. We were told that a couple of them were inflated and released. Mother Nature was in charge this year but we hope things turn out better for them next year and that they get the crowds back.

Cocopah to Sans End

Cocopah to Sans End

 

At the end of our 3 days at the Cocopah Casino in Somerton we made the decision to move over to Sans End RV Park in Winterhaven. Winterhaven is only about 3 or 4 miles away from Yuma but is in California and not Arizona. The state line is the Colorado River. Winterhaven runs on Arizona time since it is so close in proximity.

We thought we would give it a try and booked into Sans End for a month as we had stayed there a couple of winters ago for a couple of months. As it turns out the park had been sold and they have new managers to run it. The managers seem very nice and helpful and have obviously made a serious attempt to clean up and make improvements in the park.

It was somewhat disappointing that the people we had made friends with in a previous year are no longer here, we don’t know if they will still arrive or if the changes in the park were too much to take. Either way there is still lots to do and the new people staying here are quite friendly.

There seem to be a number of different changes in town as well, more to do with where we used to frequent as opposed to large physical changes; The market on 32nd street is still there but is now a farm implement and tack shop,

Fry’s no longer sells Horchatta and Pistachio ice cream. Some things remain the same; You can still get Fritters and Flips at Food City for $.70 each. (They are all very good and unbelievably huge), You can still get a great “Date Shake” at Imperial Date Farms. I had planned to take a couple of pictures of the Fritters and Flips but we ate the evidence, maybe in the next installment.

Sharp-shinned Hawk
This was very close to our motor-home when we returned from getting some groceries. I hurried into the motorhome and grabbed my camera but wished I had spent more time checking my settings before shooting. I’m hoping that it is in fact a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

When we returned home from getting some groceries last evening when  we had a surprise visitor; in the next spot over from us was a Sharp Shinned Hawk making a small racket, thankfully he did otherwise he would have been missed.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

We paid a visit to West Wetlands Park and Irene managed to spot a Roadrunner (the original and not the car) along with a couple of other small birds.

Pretty Bird
Pretty little bird in West Wetlands Park in Yuma Arizona. I believe it to be a Northern Mockingbird.

Pretty Bird

We took a drive down to where we used to see the Burrowing Owls, only to find that the bank had been graded with almost all the burrows plowed under. Fortunately right at the end a couple have managed to at least re-dig out some burrows. We saw one but it flew before we could get a photo. The one below was from a previous vist….

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
One of N.America’s smallest owls which lives underground in burrows made by ground squirrels etc. This one was in Yuma Arizona

Santa Cruz to Yuma

Santa Cruz to Yuma

We booked into the campsite Friday night but they wouldn’t let us book for another night until 1:00pm the next day so we hung around the park and took the dogs for
walks, nothing special but a break from all the driving. Saturday we went for another walk down by the lake where I took a couple of photo’s and when we went up to the park entrance to book a second night, we talked to the park ranger and discovered Santa Cruz was a little over an hour away. I had wanted to see the
Monarch Butterflies even before we started the trip so it was an easy decision to pack up the dogs and go see them.

Forgetting it was a weekend we found an awful lot of other people had the same idea, but we had parking Karma which made it much easier. Where we went was Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz.

(If you click on any one of the images it will give you a larger size)

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Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz California.
Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz California.
Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz California.
Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz California.

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Whenever a wave started to crash onto the rock the Seagull was standing on, he would jump up and fly until the water had broken over the top then he would land back on top again.
Whenever a wave started to crash onto the rock the Seagull was standing on, he would jump up and fly until the water had broken over the top then he would land back on top again.
At Natural Bridges State Park this Cormorant was quite enamored with his shadow on the ledge of a white faced cliff.
At Natural Bridges State Park this Cormorant was quite enamored with his shadow on the ledge of a white faced cliff.
Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz California.
Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz California.

The cost to get in was $10 but then found out the dogs were not allowed on either the beach or boardwalk. Irene stayed, read her book in the car and walked the dogs. We went to bed pretty early when we got back to camp, I must have been pretty tired because I slept through the night but Irene wasn’t so lucky because she was kept awake by noisy neighbors who partied all night.

Sunday and Monday were basically uneventful other than a lot of driving and bouncing along California roads. Eddie the evil motorhome seems to be holding up
just fine, except for having a vent knocked off by a low hanging branch above the road. Just one more needed repair.

We are finding that Propane is a tough commodity to come by in California, of all of the service stations we have looked for it at, only one sold it and of course the person who was allowed to pump it wasn’t in that day.

During our trip we’ve come across a lot of road construction and in one particular section there was a very narrow lane with pylons on both sides. A semi driver in front of us was knocking over some of them and some were still spinning by the time we went by. Irene was driving at that point and she wanted me to point
out; she didn’t knock any pylons over and nobody gave her the finger. (inside joke; her dad used to say if only 2 people gave you the finger it was a really good trip)

Tuesday was the final push to Yuma and we arrived in the late afternoon, we’ve taken a temporary step and paid for 3 nights at the Cocopah Casino (parking lot is set up for RV’s with the cost being $10.00 for 3 nights) This should give us a little time to tie up a few loose ends. It turns out the phone we brought with us isn’t unlocked so we will have to get that straightened out and to firm up some of our other plans.
We had thought we might go into Sans End in Winterhaven for about a month, it apparently has new owners who have made a lot of changes since we were there
2 winters ago. If some of the people we got to know have returned it would be nice to catch up with them.

Early Morning in Yuma

Cocopah Casino before the sunrise
Cocopah Casino before the sunrise

So far the trip down has added more than 2400 miles to Evil Eddies odometer and the tread on the car dollies tires have been all but scrubbed off.
We were going to try and buy some new tires at Costco in El Centro, but the guy behind the counter wasn’t interested in helping and started handing me some
gobedly-gook about not knowing what to torque the wheels at, I even told him it was 100′ lbs but he obviously didn’t want to do it. If the moron couldn’t figure that out then maybe it will be better to take it somewhere else….

Starting from the Okanogan

Starting from the Okanogan

Late Halloween night it rained very hard but Sunday morning the rain had eased up a lot. We wanted to go into town to pick up a couple of plumbing pieces as
Cousin Z’s kitchen sink drains were leaking and we wanted to finish repairing them before departing.
Just before leaving the house, someone pointed out that the clocks hadn’t been set back the night before, so we had to wait another hour before leaving.
By the time we had completed our task at hand and said our goodbyes it wasn’t an early start by any means. We were further away from the Canada / US border than
had been anticipated and it was well past dark before crossing.
We spent the first night in Oroville.

The following day we made our way through most of Washington on mostly secondary roads at an unhurried place, pulling off when we wanted and then just using the
GPS to get back onto the highway. Usually it would take us on some cockamamie round about route but eventually get us back in the right direction. We made a wrong turn and it must have really got pissy with us because it took us through the most god awful place well into the night on nothing more than a paved cow trail. It might have been a 2 lane road at one time but the sage brush had grown so far into the center of the road which only left room for one lane. It was so far out in the middle of nowhere there was no oncoming traffic so we needn’t have worried. It was probably good that it was at night time otherwise we might have been terrified.

We went through some high country in Oregon and through some light snow, and our first night in California we woke up to snow on the ground and ice on the puddles.

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South central Oregon
South central Oregon

We worked our way through the mountains and then into Nevada and stayed in Sparks on a very cold night. We never brought an ice scraper so had to run the
motorhome for a good 15 minutes to clear the front window. We still had quite a trip through the mountains that were all covered in snow but dropping pretty quickly
from over a mile high and back into California. We went from freezing cold with the heater on high to running with the air conditioner on in the afternoon. It was about
that time our GPS figured it was time for more shenanigans and took us through a bunch more of California’s back country till finally we could go no further and
spent the night at a rest stop.

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I can remember thinking as we were drifting off to sleep that; if the Semi drivers didn’t run their engines all night it would mean a lot less pollution going into the air, but
then I thought it helped create white noise to soften the noise from the trains that ran all night on the tracks about 50′ away.

Travelling through South central Oregon we pulled over to the side of the road to read our map. The sun was only shining in one small area.
Traveling through South central Oregon we pulled over to the side of the road to read our map. The sun was only shining in one small area.

Travel-20 Waching over his girls White Tails

In Northern California.
In Northern California.

In the morning we headed west again and not knowing the area we decided a stop at a tourist bureau would be a good idea and plugged it into the GPS that took
us into the town of Gillroy; down narrow downtown streets, I never saw the tourist bureau and even if I had, would not have been able to turn into it. At that point we
were tired of being on the road and Irene plugged the nearest campsite into the GPS and then discovered that the GPS was set for shortest distance and not for the
fastest route (I had updated the maps in it just before departing from home and it might have been the default setting) The campsite she chose was
Coyote Lake State Park; which was another back road drive, paved but complete with switch backs. I can say it was well worth the drive; Well treed with lots of Deer, wild turkeys, along with other kinds of birds.

There was something on the roof of the motor home that attracted these birds real early in the morning, Better than an alarm clock!
There was something on the roof of the motor home that attracted these birds real early in the morning, Better than an alarm clock!

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White tail Deer
White tail Deer
Coyote Lake State Park, California
Coyote Lake State Park, California