Sunday, January 31, 2016

First Days at Outdoor Resort Palm Springs

From Outdoor Resort Palm Springs, Cathedral City, California    From Wednesday, January 20th until Saturday, January 30th, while Pam and Ernie were at San Bernadino, Wayne and I relaxed at Outdoor Resort Palm Springs.  While we missed our travel partners, we hoped they were enjoying time alone and visiting the Los Angeles area. Meanwhile, we had sunny weather every day with afternoon temperatures in the mid 70's.

Ozzie and Lexie enjoyed the warm sunshine. The property is covered in citrus trees. 
The folding bicycles and dog carrier came out of the truck by Day 2 so Lexie and Ozzie could enjoy some outdoor time. Every day we took bike rides through the campground.

Nearly everyone here has a golf cart -- with good reason: more than 1,200 sites spread among 27 golf holes make for a pretty large area to explore. In this good weather, a golf cart, along with the bicycles, will get us out a bit more. I began looking for a rental cart on Thursday after we arrived, but it took until Monday to find one at Golf Carts of the Desert. They agreed to deliver it by 2 p.m. the same day. Cost was $325 per month plus tax, pro-rated for January plus $25 one-time delivery and pick-up. The cart arrived early in good condition.

Now to get Lexie and Ozzie comfortable riding on a golf cart. 
Desert Memorial Park is a Palm Springs Cemetery District graveyard that's located across the street and in the next block from Outdoor Resort Palm Springs.  Wayne learned that several well-known entertainers are buried there. One afternoon we drove by to see grave markers of a few of them.

One of our favorites: Actor William H. Powell of the Thin Man movie series
Frank Sinatra is buried at Desert Memorial Park alongside his mother who died in a plane crash near here. The day we visited, an empty Jack Daniel's bottle was on the headstone (hard to see) along with some other mementos and a few coins. Two American flags and several bouquets of live flowers had been placed on the grave. Wayne said packages of cigarettes are often left there too.

Headstone of Ole Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board, Francis Albert Sinatra 
Many of the headstones in this cemetery are barely legible. Strangely, they are made in an unusual fashion for a desert setting: Raised lettering instead of engraved. Wind blown sand has etched away many of the writings. Wayne and I both wondered why anyone would choose that particular type of identification on a headstone.  In a few years, Frank Sinatra's headstone will be completely illegible.

Sonny Bono is buried in a different section of the cemetery.
Motion picture director  Berkeley Busby was a director and choreographer of film musicals. He is considered one of the greatest in the media. Ironically, he was a self-taught dancer, having no formal lessons. In his early years, he was constantly afraid that people would find out. 

Singer and actress Betty Hutton
The flag and pole Wayne bought at Quartzsite was a project for an entire afternoon. He and I spent hours on the ladder attaching the brackets, which we never got aligned to suit him. While he became discouraged at the installation, I did not and I think we will enjoy flying the flag and using the solar light for nighttime.

Watch out for that sticker bush! 
Another day we drove into Palm Springs and a few other surrounding areas, finding the subdivision in which President Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty, lived near Thunderbird Country Club. Naturally, the home was protected from the prying eyes of tourists by a gated guard house.

We spent time another afternoon looking at new Newmar coaches but not feeling the urge to buy. We also came upon an area of giant wind energy machines (killers of great numbers of American eagles, I'm told). The ones we saw today killed nothing as they certainly were "on strike" --  not a one was turning.

With putting and chipping greens readily available for practice here at ORPS, I spent an afternoon working toward improvement in both areas.  While my putting was okay, my chipping failed miserably today. I promised myself to practice more.

Golf in this area is plentiful and not terribly expensive... especially now with the exchange rate so unfavorable for Canadian visitors, many courses are drastically discounting play.

These three pictures are taken from the putting and chipping areas here at ORPS. I continue to love being here and will, no doubt, encourage Wayne to return to this resort area next winter.

Looking across from the putting green.

From the chipping area. 
These and other housekeeping chores kept us busy during the first ten days here at Outdoor Resort Palm Springs. On Saturday, January 30th, Pam and Ernie joined us for February. We missed our friends and are glad to have them near us again.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Coachella Valley and Outdoor Resort Palm Springs

California Here We Come!      We left Quartzsite and drove west into the Coachella Valley of southern California headed to Outdoor Resort Palm Springs (ORPS) in Cathedral City. Our travel partners, Pam and Ernie went to San Bernadino for the last days of January and will meet us here for February.

We rounded a curve to first glimpse the desert floor and this view of snow capped Mount San Jacinto with a small stand of palm trees all in one view. Oh what a nice refreshing sight.

Parts of this Riverside County California desert valley is also known as the "Inland Empire" and is southern California's second largest metro area. The Coachella valley is about 45 miles long with the Little San Bernadino Mountains to the north and the Salton Sea to the south.  The valley is about 15 miles wide and bordered by the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains. Joshua Tree National Park is to the east.

Included along this string of desert towns is Indio, Palm Desert, La Quinta Desert Palm Springs and Cathedral City, where we're scheduled to spend six weeks at ORPS.

Palm Springs, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, is the principal city of the Coachella Valley. It's the 1950s and '60s getaway place for many celebrities including Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned here. These days, the area is mecca for snowbirds, retirees and golfers. Here's a link for more  Palm Springs History and life.

Originally called Conchilla, meaning "Land of the Little Shells" the name change was forced when a printers error caused a brochure to contain to the misspelled word Coachella and the name stuck.

Palm trees and snow capped mountains one minute and arid desert floor the next.

Roadside sand looks like snow. 
Our travel day had been a good one and we would be at ORPS within minutes when we came upon a short string of stopped traffic along the road in the picture above. Turns out a gunman had shot someone near the high school ahead of us. The school was put on lockdown and the road was closed. Helicopters flew overhead and police cruisers blocked the intersections. ORPS entry was less than a mile ahead.  The vehicles ahead of us were easily turned around to find a detour.  We were too little large for a u-turn though, so several barricades and police cruisers had to be moved to allow our 66+ foot rig a large enough area to turn around.  Wayne drove to a nearby Flying J for fuel and a chance to find another route into ORPS.

It's always interesting to take the rig through the suburbs and today was no different. The streets here are quite wide and smooth.

A half-hour later, we arrived at our Outdoor Resort Palm Springs. From here, I'll  let the pictures talk.

Referred to by the residents merely as ORPS

Both sides of the entrance have nice fountain pools and colorful flowers.

La Paloma Club House at ORPS. There are two large clubhouses, a dozen swimming pools with hot tubs and an equal number of tennis courts. The property has 27 golf holes on a short par 3 course. 
Entry drive to ORPS 

Typical street scenes in ORPS 

Down this street and to the right is our street. 
While we are in the desert, ORPS allows unlimited use of water. It's one of the few places we've been that allows guests to water their lawns, wash RV's and cars and about anything else. I don't get it but it's nice to see everything so green and clean.

During any given day the streets here carry about an equal number of bicycles, walkers and golf carts as automobiles. Wayne and I would rent a golf cart for our time here and use the bicycles regularly too. It's the only way to get around as there are very few parking spaces for them. Lots of golf cart parking spaces though.

Across from the golf starters shack and the putting green.
To the right is El Saguaro Clubhouse. 

Outdoor Resort Palm Springs has over 1,200 privately owned sites. We rented through a real estate agent and pay $4 per day to the owners association as a resort fee. There is a daily pet fee of $2 per day too.

This resort is a walkers paradise with asphalt streets and pedestrian walkways everywhere.  The activities calendar is pack-jammed with everything from aerobics to zumba.  The property has a convenience store, a coffee shop and at least one restaurant open daily 6 - 8.

A few golf course shots....

We met many of neighbors the first day here. Most of the vehicles we see that aren't from California have license plates from Oregon, Washington, Utah and western provinces of Canada.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Great Quartzsite Dustbowl

From Rice Ranch, Quartzsite, Arizona        Quartzsite, Arizona is the third largest city in Arizona ... during a short period of time every January. I first heard of Quartzsite from a shopper at my pre-retirement garage sale. We've never attended the big RV show in Quartzsite but we drove through the tiny desert town during February 2011 and were, naturally, unimpressed. The annual Quartzsite RV Show was not on our bucket list but nearly everyone we met seemed to think it should be.

But..... as things happen, we learned the 2016 Quartzsite RV Show corresponded with our trip to Arizona quite by accident. The four of us agreed to tweak our our itinerary so we could witness the spectacle firsthand.

Vera and John, our friends from Phoenix, recommended Rice Ranch, a campground across the street from the big tent area in Quartzsite. Having never experienced this event, we didn't want to risk camping on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) the first time so we called Rice Ranch. It didn't take much to persuade our friends, Suzi and Jim to join us for a few days visit at the 33rd Annual RV Show in Quartzsite.

The ride from Yuma to Quartzsite on Sunday, January 17th, was only about 80 miles, driving north on U.S. 95. The desert scenery along the way was nice, if you like desert and I do.

Our ride north from Yuma on U.S. 95.
Castle Dome in the distance

The big guns of Yuma Proving Grounds

Drawing nearer to Castle Dome and then beyond. 
We reached Quartzsite around lunchtime, behind Suzi and Jim and Pam and Ernie who were already there. Within minutes, I saw the familiar army green hat of my friend Vera. She and John were parked directly ahead of Pam and Ernie, who were to our immediate left. Vera brought us two large bags of delicious citrus... tangelos and oranges from the trees at their home outside Phoenix. What a treat!

Rice Ranch campground entrance as seen through the coach windshield on approach

We navigated through a maze of camping rows to reach our campsite.
Quartzsite is a dusty desert town with two exits off I-10 less than ten miles east of the California state line. While it's population swells to the point of bursting during the various shows, the town's official population was less than 5,000 in a recent census.

One can visit the RV show in Quartzsite without spending a single red cent. Camping on BLM property is virtually free, car parking is free and admission to the show costs nothing.  That can be good, but is mostly a bad thing in my view for all the obvious reasons.

Looking toward the Big Tent at Quartzsite.
Colorful helium balloons fly high over the show area.
The afternoon we arrived, Wayne and I ate lunch and then headed for the big tent. Lexie and Ozzie stayed home as the rocky grounds would be too difficult to push the stroller through. I didn't take pictures that afternoon. Next day we wandered among the vendors beyond the tent.

Here's how it all looked through my eyes....

People milling about looking at....? 
Meanwhile, talent challenged musicians play at music on every corner.
One woman sat on the ground banging  the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket.

Buying and selling junk mostly. Praise the Lord.

There were no RV manufacturers represented at the Quartzsite show. I saw one dealership with inventory on the show grounds. About six new Entegra coaches were on display and some used ones.  We looked in nearly all the new coaches and a few used ones.

On Tuesday we drove to La Mesa RV and looked around at the inventory on their Quartzsite lot. Several units we'd seen at their Yuma location had been brought to Quartzsite but their prices were not reduced.

We also stopped in at a lot where a few higher-end coaches were for sale. No big bargains here either.

A couple of Prevosts, a Newel, a Zephyr and a few others were at this lot.

The best part of being in Quartzsite was our early evening happy hour, dinner and campfire get-togethers. We enjoyed three nights: hot dog night, pork roast and chicken chili night and pizza night. All prefaced with early happy hour. We are retirees, after all.

Jim and Suzi. Notice the Suzy RIP grave marker beside her.
Ernie found it near a dumpster, obviously a dog's grave marker, which was, sadly, removed and discarded.

John and Vera's Fleetwood Expedition and the first evening's sunset.

Second night. Chicken chili and grilled pork roast.

Grilled pork roast and chicken chili night.
Left to right: Jim, Suzi, Pam (standing), Ernie and Adia.
Left to right with backs to the camera, Wayne, John and Vera
On Tuesday morning, John and Vera left us. Pam and Ernie, Wayne and I had to change sites that day too. We would have one more evening together with Jim and Suzi before they returned to Yuma and the four of us moved on to southern California.

Left to right: Vera, me and Pam in our best K-mart pose.

The Wayner, Smiling John and Ernie

Our second site at Rice Ranch. Just as dusty as the first one.

Tuesday was our last full day at Quartzsite. We made a final visit to the big tent and took turns spinning the wheel for prizes from The Palms RV Resort in Yuma. No, we're not going back to collect our winning.

Pam took a turn at The Palms of Yuma's wheel of fortune.

Ernie won a 7-night stay at The Palms in Yuma!
Wayne won a one-night stay.  I won "notta"
Wayne and Ernie both got lightweight, telescoping, lighted flagpoles and American flags for the coaches. That would be our big purchase of the show.  We bought them at the Flag Pole Buddy vendor booth.

Pam and I made a final purchase. It was the important selection of a small "natural" gift for our travel pal and good friend, Joyce.  We pored over hundreds of pieces looking for the perfect one for her collection. Can't post a picture of it here as we don't want to ruin the surprise.

Look beyond the first sign to the yellow one behind.
R.V. Proctologist - RV tank cleaner.  Yuck.

Tuesday. Pizza night. Our last evening at Rice Ranch. John and Vera are gone. 
Fireball for the daring among us. That would be Jim.

A parting shot of Rice Ranch.
Quartzsite is officially checked off now. Wayne and I are both glad we went and we had a good time. We agree we probably wouldn't go again.