Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Rubber Tramps Rendezvous the Second

I'm sorry about not blogging for a while, I was having a good time at the second Rubber Tramps Rendezvous in Quartzsite (at the same location as last year), and did not make time for blogging. Next year we may be on the other side of Quartzsite.

This year, there was a seminar scheduled for almost every day. Not all of them were held, some were moved, and several more were added so it averaged about one a day, but there were several days that had two and others that had none. I gave one on LED lighting, with a second demo portion at dusk where I showed a number of the ones I have been using.

Several people got help modifying their vehicles. The solar install on a van will become an article, I don't know if any of the others will. In the picture Bob Wells is lying down on the job, holding up the ceiling.

We had campfires almost every night. (Some days were too windy.) Bob was worried about having too much firewood, so some people made bigger fires and we wound up having to buy more firewood.

At the big tent show, I got a job for the summer as a host in a National Forest campground, working for a private contractor. There will be more about this in a future posting. (There were four such contractors at the show, as well as other employers looking for people.) One of the few things I purchased at the big tent was a 50-amp to 30-amp dogbone adapter.

There's a list of other blogs that have RTR posting at http://suanneonline.blogspot.com/2012/01/rubber-tramp-rendezvous-jan-10-24.html

Posted Sunday 05 February 2012 01:48 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

South Mesa RV Park and Yuma Arizona

After some last minute shopping in Quartzsite, I headed south on US 95 to Yuma. Yuma has three Walmarts, and no (free) overnight parking. Only one of the RV parks has a Passport America discount during the winter, so I decided to try it. (I joined the "50% discount" Passport America club at the big tent show, this was my first use.) With the discount, it was less than $40 for a two-night stay at South Mesa RV Park.

Of the hookups, the 30-amp socket was jammed so I used my new 50-amp dogbone cable, the water faucet was so crusted with calcium that my hose wouldn't screw on, (I used a neighboring sites second hose bib) and the sewer connection was so slow that I had to keep shutting the valve to avoid having my hose pop off again. (Yes, I did spill some when it popped off.) It took me over an hour to drain and flush my tanks. The site was gravel with a concrete patio and a small palm tree. It appears that most of the park residents were there for much longer stays than I was.

The park is 8 miles south of the Marine base, and further than that from any useful shopping. I spent much of a day doing laundry, which was at the other end of the park from my site, so me and my cart got a workout going back and forth. (The office, pool, clubhouse, laundry, and restrooms are near the park entrance.) The Verizon signal was slow and unreliable.

While my experience with the park was not great, the distance from anything is the main reason I probably will not be back. There are free camping spots almost as close to Yuma.

Posted Tuesday 07 February 2012 04:37 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Los Algodones and Quenchan Indian Land

Los Algodones is a town in Mexico on the corner where Mexico, California, and Arizona meet. It has many Dentists, Optometrists, and Pharmacies where people from the US go to get those services cheaper. Most people pay to park in the lot on the US side of the border and walk. The town knows where its money is coming from, and is very tourist friendly. The sidewalks are crowded with merchants trying to sell stuff and barkers trying to get you into their businesses. There is no checking foot traffic on entry into Mexico, but the US does ask questions when you come back. The line (shaded with benches most of the way) took about an hour in the early afternoon.

I purchased a hat, two belts, and a poncho on my first trip, and got an eye exam and ordered glasses on my second. While some simple glasses can be made in hours, mine will take a week or so. Both times I ate lunch at taco stands.

The Quenchan Indian tribe operates that parking lot, an RV park just a bit further, and a Casino at the Interstate 8 junction. Many RVs boondock on their land, I stayed on just north of the freeway and was informed on the third day there is a $10/day fee for doing so, with discounts for longer periods. (Freecampsites.net incorrectly had this listed as a free camping area.) The fee includes fishing, apparently on the nearby All-American Canal. One problem with where I stayed was the frequent noisy trains.

Posted Saturday 11 February 2012 21:49 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

American Girl Mine Road BLM

After ordering my glasses in Algodones, I needed a cheap place to stay in the general area for a week. Freecampsites.net showed Ogilby Road as a possibility. Near the freeway the BLM land has "Fee area" signs, but after a mile or so on the wide but washboardy American Girl Mine Road there is a "14 day area" sign. I continued on this for another mile or two then turned off on a narrow unnamed side road and selected a level gravel area that had obviously been used before. Someone had a gardening urge and had surrounded the plants with rings of stones, as well as a couple of fire rings. The area is not nearly as isolated as I expected, there are RVs in every direction. None are particularly close, This area is relatively flat, and it's pretty easy to see for miles through the bushes and short trees. The trains that were a noise problem in my previous camping spot can still be heard, but they are miles away so not as irritating. The weather was quite nice, getting up to about 80 most days and most nights it stayed warm enough that my furnace did not run. Verizon and T-Mobile signals are strong, as are the Yuma TV stations. (TV reception is much better here than it was at South Mesa RV Park.) Several of the desert plants are in bloom.

The week I spent campped here allowed me to work on several RV projects, as well as time to read several books. (The Belisarius series by David Drake and Eric Flint, the first books are available in the Baen free library.)

Posted Tuesday 14 February 2012 22:58 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Journey to the Center of the World

Sometimes the journey is better than the arrival, even when it's not much of a journey. Today I visited the Center of the World and the Museum of History in Granite. Felicity, California near the south-eastern corner of California has both attractions, along with a section of the original steps from the Eiffel Tower, a bronze arm sundial, and a small church. Visiting either of the main attractions is $3, both together is $5. The self-proclaimed Center of the World is in a small granite pyramid, and you get a certificate for visiting it. The History in Granite exhibit is a bunch of granite slabs engraved with contents that would make a short book and is still under construction.

Posted Saturday 18 February 2012 03:55 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Tumco Ghost Town

Tumco was a gold mining town, with a peak population of about 500 over a hundred years ago. The last mining done on the site in about 1950. What remains of the town is a BLM historic site, and motor vehicles are prohibited. Nearby is a 14-day camping area, and many signs of the mining done. Some of the vertical shafts have fences around them in various states of repair, and one of the easy to get to horizontal shafts has an iron grate in front of it. As with all such old mines, it is unsafe to enter them. The vertical shafts seem to be filling in, and some of the tunnels have collapsed.

Most of what is left of the town is stone, concrete, and brick building foundations. Large piles of rusting cans appear to be the remains of the town dump. There are two graveyards with only piles of rocks to mark the graves. The remains of huge vats that held cyanide are still there, and large amounts of reddish-brown mine tailings. All that glitters is mostly iron pyrite.

Posted Monday 20 February 2012 17:34 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area

Ocotillo Wells is an area in the California desert where dirt bikes, ATVs, dune buggies, and other off-road vehicles can go pretty much anywhere. There are several campgrounds where camping is free. The one I stayed at had two pit toilets, an overfull dumpster, and about a dozen sites with fire pits and picnic tables under sun shades. Besides the noise from the off-road vehicles, there were a couple of tilt-rotor airplanes that made many low passes. Internet via Verizon was slow.

Posted Friday 24 February 2012 19:41 UTC
Last edited Tuesday 09 April 2013 01:11 UTC

Yaqui Pass Campground

Yaqui Pass Campground is a "primitive" campground in Anza-Borrego State Park. It is a large gravel parking lot with no amenities. There is no charge for camping. One end of the Bill Kenyon Overlook Trail is at the campground, the other is a short way down the road. My Internet connection through Verizon is slow, I don't know if I would have gotten any signal without the amplifier and antenna.

Posted Sunday 26 February 2012 23:12 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC