A Travellerspoint blog

The final chapter: Feb. 24/25 – Mar. 1

(or) the last half of our trip home and a summary of what we learned

rain
View "Snowbirding 101" or Our first trip South for the winter on jcsc's travel map.

That weatherman was certainly right! Thursday night/ Friday morning was one to be remembered. The wind started about 2 AM and then shortly thereafter came the rain. It’s “exciting” trying to sleep in a trailer that is shaking so hard that you wonder if it is going to just get blown into the lake. The rain came at the trailer horizontally. It was fun after it was light enough so we could see. The birds, the ones that we could see, were having a hard time just holding on. After while the wind slowed down and about noon we were able to pull out.

Our ride to Cal Expo RV Park in Sacramento was uneventful because the storm had passed on through and we found a place just 2 spaces down from where we had spent 6 days in November. We took the next 2 days seeing Susie’s family again before the last leg of our trip.

It was our plan to leave on Monday, Feb. 28. According to the forcasters (again!) there was supposed to be a series of storms coming through N.CA for the next “forever”. I was in the getting-home mode. Each weather report differed a little, but they all showed a brief window of no storminess south of the Redding on Monday. I was concerned in that I had no chains for the PU or the trailer (new law). So I followed my impression to leave promptly Monday. We had a great trip to Redding. Then the clouds came up and we started across the mountains. By the time we got to Weed, it was 32 degrees, windy, and snow being blown lightly about, but none falling. As we came down the mountain, the weather improved. Although there was some snow on the sides of the road, the roads were not icy and we made it safely up to the RV park for our last night out. It had been a busy, nerve-racking day and it was good to relax along the banks of the N. Umpqua River near Roseburg.

Mar. 1, Tuesday, was our last day of our snowbirding excursion. It was uneventful, although we were introduced to winter. Having been in the desert all winter, we felt like we had missed it since it was usually in the 70’s most days. Now we were back driving through cold drizzle. To be honest, I kind of like the WA winters. (I just miss the sun after a while) Susie doesn’t like winters here, or anywhere else it’s cold! So I didn’t mind the drive up I-5. We arrived home about 6 PM.

OBSERVATIONS AND DATA FROM OUR CLASS – SNOWBIRDING 101

Data from trip
• 8138.4 total miles; 3919.8 miles pulling trailer; 11.62 mpg pulling trailer
• 15 weeks (to the day) gone from home

Observations
• We enjoyed our trip very much. We approached it as a college class. I logged all data regularly on my Excel spread sheet. We analyzed every aspect of what we did. Here is what we came up with:

o I don’t like to drive a combined unit of 48 feet. Driving on a highway is fine, no problem. But getting gas, shopping, eating out while pulling the trailer…..not my “cup of tea”.
o Our trailer, w/ the additions that I had made to it, worked excellent.
o I found that most of the people that we saw RVing were noncampers. They were interested primarily in getting from home to their pre-rented sight, that they had stayed in for the last “umpteen” years, ASAP. They parked their “homes”, put up their sat TV dish, put out their chairs and decorations, and mainly just sat there for 3-4 months.
o Don’t get me wrong, they were the nicest people I have ever met, happy, always a greeting, ready to help if I needed any, but they were content to stay put for the winter.
o We enjoyed, as you could tell by my running blog, going out and exploring all about where we were located. Often times, after a week at a place, we were ready to move on to the next. I suppose this feeling may lesson as we get older. But for now, I just can’t find myself sitting by the pool all day.
o We definitely need to find a better way to access the internet. When a park advertizes free Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi available, we found that most of them mean that they have access and most of the time the band-width was jammed and we could not use it very well.
o We learned that if we exercised certain financial planning and constraints, we could afford our dream as easily as staying home.
o We loved seeing and learning about all the areas we visited. Many of the places we want to go back to and spend more time. Oh, yea, I had plenty of photo ops too…..took over 11,000 pictures……now for the editing!
o And finally, yes, we plan to do it again next winter. But we plan on driving a small car, w/ good gas mileage, and renting an apartment, condo, park model, etc. We found that by looking around, we could find (at least in the area we were in) places to that would be close to the same price as our RV park costs and the extra gas to get us there.

I hope you have enjoyed this vicarious snowbirding adventure that I have led you on this winter. If any of you have made comments to this sight, I haven’t seen any of them due to certain parameters inherent to the sight. If you want to comment, you can do so at my personal email account, jc2gofish@yahoo.com.

Thankyou,

Jack Cornwell

Posted by jcsc 11:07 Comments (0)

Desert Hot Springs and going back home

all seasons in one day
View "Snowbirding 101" or Our first trip South for the winter on jcsc's travel map.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Boy, does time ever fly! Seems like I just posted my last blog and that was a month ago. I’ve never seen 4 weeks go by so fast and we didn’t really do that much. I guess we were trying out doing what most snowbirds do………..very little. Up until this last time at DHS we had been going and going. So we wanted to see what it would be like just staying put.

Each morning I would go out on a bike ride with 2 guys that I had met here at the park. We would go out and ride through the desert getting some exercise, exchanging a fair amount of BS, and collecting roadside aluminum cans. When we got back after a couple of hours, Susie and I would decide what we wanted to do for the rest of the day. Sometimes we would just lay around and read. Sometimes Susie would play her keyboard, and/or I would work on my photos. I polished the trailer or washed the PU. Three times a week we would go to the Senior center or library to use their wifi or PCs. Usually these days would also involve grocery or other shopping. We went to the Palm Springs Art Museum twice and to 2 street fairs. One day we went to the Palm Springs Living Museum, a must for anyone visiting here! Another day we went to the Salton Sea. We went all the way down past Niland to the Sonny Bono bird refuge. On that same trip we went to Slab City and enjoyed seeing how people live in the desert free from most of society’s conventions. Another day we went down to the Painted Canyon. It’s been many, many years since I have been there. I wanted to see it again and show it to Susie. And most every night I/or we would end up in the park’s hot mineral pools. I would start in the 104 degree spa for about 10 minutes, then go into the 85 degree pool to cool down, then back into one of the hot pools, before cleaning up and going back to the trailer feeling like a limp “rag”.

And now we are on our way home. We have been on the road for 2 days and are presently at a most beautiful camping spot at Modesto Reservoir. There are over 100 full hook-up sites available and there are about 6 sites occupied. The lake is right behind us as we look out the back window. The fields are all green and there are lots of birds to watch. We are presently, snug-as-a-bug in our trailer having a restful evening. The weather forecasters are predicting another big storm coming in by this time tomorrow night. Guess we’ll know soon enough. More later……jc.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The forecasters were right. Thursday, the 23rd, was calm and overcast, but the storm hit during that night. Strong winds shook the trailer and the rain came at us horizontally. By noon the next day (Friday) things had calmed down and we pulled out for Sacramento. And now we are at the same park we were in (Cal Expo RV Park) when we came down in November. It has been pleasantly warm here during the days, but cold and frosty at night. Our plans are to pull out tomorrow, Monday, for our final leg of the trip home to Olympia. But once again, the forecasters are predicting another couple of storms. Since we are still pulling a trailer and will be traveling over a some high passes, I want to be sure it’s not icy or snowy. So when we get home will be a surprise to all of us. Stay tuned….jc

Posted by jcsc 19:08 Comments (0)

Desert Hot Springs, again

sunny 78 °F

So here we are relaxing, going to the library 3Xs a week for internet, and enjoying some of the Coachella Valley activities. I’m not planning to blog regularly while here. I may post some photos in my gallery from time to time, but I’m tired of writing and you need a break. So I’ll check in with you all before (or after) we leave here to head back to WA on Feb 22.

Posted by jcsc 13:57 Comments (0)

Tucson back to Desert Hot Springs

sunny 77 °F

Sunday, Jan 23, we left our Tucson RV park. We had lived here for about 2 ½ weeks and used it as a base for exploring the area in S. AZ. This is the most time we had stayed at any park. We had originally thought that we might act like the typical snowbird and enjoy some of the activities provided by the park. But there were so many places to see and learn about that we didn’t do much there at the park….as I’m sure you can tell if you have been reading my blogs. But now we were off again. This time we were going back to Desert Hot Springs in S. CA. We had enjoyed our time (2 wks) here when we passed through in December. We had reserved a space at another park with a view out over the desert similar to the one we spent a week in earlier. But this time we have a month. We plan on a more restful month and by the end of it we will have a better idea as to our feelings of being “real” snowbirds. I’ll try and remember to let you know our thoughts later on.
As our trip east, so was our trip back west, we spent 2 days to travel the 408 miles. We divided it a little differently and stopped at Saddleback Mountain RV Resort in Tonapah, AZ. This place is literally out in the middle of nowhere. It was originally made for the guys that were building the nearby big nuclear power plant. Somebody got this park when they were done making the power plant and has fixed it up and is being used for snow birds that want to be isolated. It is a very nice park, lots of space for each site, and lots of spaces. Every space had 2 nice big palm trees. There was a pool, wifi, full hookups, their own water and sewer system, etc, etc. There were even several big buildings that were housing units for hundreds of workers that didn’t have RVs. Whoever built this place originally planned big and built everything in from a cafeteria to pool rooms to a library to what ever you might want. We had a good rest because we were far enough from the freeway so as not to hear the cars.

Monday, Jan 24, we finished our trip back I-10 to Desert Hot Springs. Both days were excellent for driving except for a headwind. We pulled in to our reserved spot, hooked up, and I wasted no time to get in to one of the hot mineral pools. There are 3 spa pools and one swimming pool. It is an excellent way to relax after a day of driving, or for that matter doing anything or nothing.

Posted by jcsc 13:56 Comments (0)

Tucson, AZ III

sunny 77 °F

I’m late again for my blog. It’s been almost 2 weeks since we did the things that I will be writing about. Doing stuff is so much more fun than writing about it. But you are all so worth it…..so here goes.

Sat, Jan 16, we took the day and went to Patagonia SP. We had heard that there were lots of winter birds there. We left Tucson and went east on I-10 for about 15 miles then took hwy83 south until we hit hwy 82 at Soniota. From there we went down into the cool little town of Patagonia. This is one of those quiet towns that are so quiet you drive through them and don’t even know you did. We stopped and went into the visitor center and asked about different things. The guy said you could get most of the town news on the bulletin board above the Coke machine at the corner store or at the post office bulletin board. The 2 lanes of the road were separated by a wide park-like area through town. We then drove on down to Patagonia Lake SP. We didn’t walk very far since Susie wasn’t feeling very well. But we did see quite a few birds including the gnatcatcher shown in my pictures. We had hoped for maybe something a bit more, but since we were there in the middle of the day when most wildlife is resting, we felt happy to see the birds that we did. At this point we decided to not go back the way we had come, but to continue on the hwy down to Nogales and catch hwy 19 north back to Tucson. This loop trip for the day was a lot of fun and we once again got to see new and different things.
The weather then and for the last 3 weeks has been just great with warm days (73-80 degrees) and cool nights (in the 40s). We find it interesting how quickly it cools down as soon as the sun goes down. One moment I’m wearing my shorts, and the next I’m cold. The winter ground does not hold the heat of the day.

Sun, Jan 17, was spent around camp getting things done that gotta get done

Monday, Jan 18, afternoon we did a little shopping and then went to Mission San Xavier. Since this mission is only about 20 minutes from our camp, we had saved it for a small/short excursion day. This is a very neat old mission that is still being used today. They are also undertaking a major restoration of all the buildings. We walked through and photographed what we could. It’s very striking to see this bright white structure out there in the middle of the desert. Very close to the mission is a very colorful cemetery. It was posted to keep out. I wanted to go in for better pictures. When I asked someone that was working in there if I could come in, they said “NO”. I don’t know why, but maybe it’s an Indian cemetery. I did get some shots of it over the fence.

Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan 19, 20. We decided that the day we went to Tombstone and Bisbee, AZ, would be too long. So we made it a 2 day trip. We left our trailer at our Desert Trails RV site and got a motel for the night we were gone. We went out I-10 east to Benson, then dropped down to Tombstone and Bisbee on hwy 80. Tuesday we spent most of our day in Tombstone reading, watching, learning, and photographing. When you walk down main street, you can get the feeling quite easily that you are in the middle of a western movie. It even becomes more real when some of the “in character” cowboys act out the gunfight at the OK corral. We spent quite a bit of time in the courthouse museum seeing and learning the history of Tombstone. When we were tired/done, we went on down past Bisbee to our motel for the night. The motel was just 1 mile from the Mexican border. We had it pretty much to ourselves with only 2 or 3 other guests. After breakfast the next morning, we drove down to the border. I was impressed with the size of the metal wall/fence that goes between our two nations. The border patrol in AZ is huge. Everywhere I looked there were white and green 4-wheel drive SUVs and pickups. They were constantly scouring the desert. We went through checkpoints at least 4 times and we didn’t even leave and come back in to the US. Of course, we had no trouble going through these checkpoints. I think it was racial profiling in reverse….blond hair, white skin, WA license plates, “old guy”……
We then went up to Bisbee and spent some time walking through town and looking in some of their art galleries. It’s a fun town, kind of hidden in a canyon. The road just winds along with cool old buildings on both sides. We had fun going in to their old, but still very functional library. Of course, mining is what made Bisbee and is a big part of Bisbee today. The mining now is open pit style that makes things look awful. But then I don’t like the destruction of any part of nature.
We then stopped again at Tombstone. But this time we stopped at Boothill, their cemetery. It was interesting to walk around and read the different tombstones. I’ve included some in my gallery. Then off we went back to our “home” at our RV site back in the Tucson area. The desert landscape grows on you. We both got to really like the open spaces and distant mountains. It is really beautiful.

Thursday, Jan 20, was our day to explore Tubac. This little town is about 45 miles south of Tucson on hwy 19. We had past it just Saturday on the way back up from our Patagonia loop trip. It is a town steeped in history, but now a very thriving art colony. It is the first European community in AZ and has the best preserved 18th century Spanish Presidio in the world. We toured the presidio SP and recounted the history of De Anza and his party of settlers as they made their historic journey up to Monterey and settle the San Francisco area. The museum is wonderful. But the rest of Tubac as I already said is filled with art galleries and workshops. The art being created and shown here is mostly that with a desert or southwest theme. There are some Mexican wares that have been brought up from south of the border and some Indian art work too. We just ran out of time and energy so have planned to revisit Tubac sometime on another winter.

Friday, Jan 21, was the only day that we traveled north. I guess you could say that we traveled north every day that we went to Tucson because we are about 10 miles SW of Tucson. But we had 3 new places in mind to see this time. The first one was Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. The desert gardens and tea house are a very popular place for residents and tourists alike to visit. We stopped and looked around, but decided since we were literally living in the desert, we would rather spend more time at the other places on our list further north. So we left and went up to Catalina SP. This SP is in a beautiful setting right on the western edge of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The campground (which we were interested in seeing) is so different from the RV parks that we have been living in this winter. There is space between the campsites and there are gorgeous views all around. But the tradeoff here is no sewer hookups and no reservations to camp there. You have to be here early to get a place and that is probably going to be a “dry” site w/o any water or power. But it is a beautiful place to be camping in. Then we left and off we went north to our last destination for the day. Biosphere II is a place like none other for the person interested in science and learning. It was made over 20 years ago and is an on-going experiment in a controlled situation as to how 5 different biomes can survive with varying amounts of water. It is like one huge greenhouse covering all 5 different biomes. They have a very elaborate system that can control the climates in each biome to test what will happen with any different set of circumstances. It is very interesting and educational. When we left we had only time to get back to Costco for gas and then to our trailer. It was another rewarding day.

Saturday, Jan 22, and it was our last day and night in Tucson. We had decided earlier that this day would be another nature day. We like to use Saturdays as days to rest and enjoy nature. We had not visited Sabino Canyon and had heard that it was very nice. When we got there in the early afternoon the parking lots were quite full and it seemed that many Tucsonites also wanted to enjoy nature. The visitor center had a nice video presentation of this canyon park showing the most popular flora and fauna. One of the most popular things to do there was to take a tram up the canyon and then walk back, or you could take the tram both ways. Since the distance and elevation gain up the canyon could be extensive, many people choose this option. We chose merely a walk up to a small dam on a stream. It was another nice day and warm as we walked past hundreds of Saguaro cactus giants. We found a quiet place to sit in the shade of trees by the stream and photographed some birds and butterflies. It was very relaxing and we could see why it was such a popular place for those that live in the nearby city. Some of the kids were playing in the stream and keeping cool. Another time, we might take the tram up the canyon a ways and then walk back down.

Posted by jcsc 13:51 Comments (0)

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