Sunday, November 21, 2010

Headed for warmer parts!

  I think we have both had our fill of the Casino campgrounds! It was nice hooking up with our friends Bettyann and Dave at the AVI, but there is nothing to do there if you're not a now we are at the Fountain of Youth Spa on the Salton Sea in Niland, CA. There was an email review from one of the camping clubs we belong to that sounded good to us and included a 4 nights for 3 coupon through 12/31 - it is sort of on the way to Palm Desert where we were headed for Thanksgiving so we thought we'd give it a try. And am I glad we did! I was a bit nervous after reading some of the online reviews that this wouldn't be what we expected, but that is why you have to really "weigh" the reviews that you read, cuz we REALLY like this place!

a view from the road as we were approaching the
Salton Sea. There is an abundance of farm land out
here & the run-off, along with 2 rivers from Mexico
have made it saltier than the Pacific.
 It is a bit trailer-trashy with a lot of park models (kind of like permanent trailers) mixed in with the RV's and the landscaping is nothing to write home about, but as we checked in at the gate I noticed people riding bikes to and from the pools, activities and home...and I knew right away it was going to be OK! We got a nice big spot to park Bebe in with one neighbor not too close to us and no one on the other side at all. There is plenty of room at this park right now although I have heard during the winter it is more packed with people in the overflow lot.
Duncan, Alf & Bill (my Bill is in black in the back)

We headed right out to the hot tubs...there is one mineral tub and the steam rooms are mineral water as well. There are 3 more hot tubs and 2 pools & one is dedicated for lap swam in the early morning. There are tons of activities planned and clubs to join that are either free or for a very small fee. I was thrilled to see that there was a dance the following night and that there are 3+ hikes planned each week, one of which was the next morning at 8am.

towards the top you can see Bill making his way up
Now, getting Bill out the door at this time (even though he is up around 5am most every morning) is quite the challenge, but he made it and we showed up early, Bill with 2 water bottles and me with one in my fanny pack - found out from Duncan, our leader, who sported a "Give Blood with Duncan" shirt that it would be a 4 hr hike so we ran back to our rig and got our camelbacks and some food, and it's a darn good thing we did!!  I didn't know what to expect but Bill had thought it would be a long hike cuz these old geezers don't move so fast, hahahahaha............who had the last laugh! We got back & 2 more guys were there (70ish) wearing the "Duncan" shirt, and we should have known right then what we were in for. As we walked through the park to get to the trail head lots of folks came to chat with us on our way out, everyone is SOOOO friendly here! We were hiking the chocolate mountains and not going to the top, THIS TIME - just about 1200 ft.  The terrain was "sketchy" at best with rocks, rocks and more rocks, scree in the steepest of climbs made it a bit one point I felt like I was at the top of a black diamond ski slope looking down and completely scared! The guys told me to just act like I was on skis and "side slip" down...OMG - what a site! Anyway, we got home 5 hours later and hit the hot tubs...passed out on the sofas and never even made it to the dance :(
The weekly and monthly rates here are not too bad, with the great winter weather, friendly people and activities - we will be back!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Avi Casino KOA...on the Colorado River

This is an interesting place...our friend's Dave and Betty Ann who we met in Pahrump told us about it. The price is great, the campground has full hook-ups, good wi-fi and is pretty empty. The first night we were put in a spot backing up to a busy road - it was a large site but we were up all night. We moved the next morning and have a great spot without any neighbors but the wind has been blowing constantly since we got here - I HATE the wind! We do still hear a lot of the traffic, but the temp is nice, the casino has a beautiful pool you can use & there is a great beach right on the river - and IF you are a gambler there is lot to do. It's not too smoky in the casino & they have some great meal deals...but there is just not much here for us. I can't ride my bike into town (Bullhead AZ) because the roads are narrow without paving & there is a bridge I could get killed on!

We drove into Oatman - a cute little old mining town where the wild burros roam, we brought along a bag of carrots & Bill couldn't wait to get out there and feed them...they are aggressive and he had 5 all at once pushing in on him, he finally escaped into a store & they stood outside waiting for him, it was pretty funny to watch! They did a little wild west shoot-em-up re-enactment from the saloon out into the dirt road which was entertaining and a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Dave and Betty Ann arrived on Monday 11/15, and Bill had to go to Tahoe for work overnight, so it was fun to have someone to hang out with. They are really nice people and we hope to run into them again on our travels. We will stay another 2 nights (total of 9) and then head on out to the Salton Sea for some better weather before we hit Palm Desert for a few weeks with the fam...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Visiting Bill's son Will in SoCal

Will's military ID card expired when he turned 21 back in March 2010 and we have been trying to get him a new one for quite a few months! In May we made several attempts while in L.A. for a cousin's wedding...but didn't have all of the right docs, we thought he might take care of it this summer - he is not covered by any medical insurance until he has it! After our stop at Camp Pendleton we made plans, once again, to do this...we had Will get another letter of current registration from his school, made an appointment at the local military base and off we went - SUCCESS, finally!!

Will recently moved to a new house and luckily for us there was a nice spot in front for us to park, plug into the house electricity and use their washer and dryer! The latter was the part we enjoyed most, of course...having had many of our children come home bearing bags of dirty clothes only to tie up the washer and dryer for a weekend, we got a little thrill out of doing the same to him! 

I love that he's got his hair long again! We had a great visit, spent two nights there and went to dinner with Bill's friend Cindy from his Arizona days. We were happy to hear his projected graduation date is May 2011, although he may have to take a class or two this summer.  Bill's daughter Madeleine graduated in June 2009, my daughter, Lauryn graduated this August and my son, Jake, will graduate next month - with Will's graduation next year we will be done, woo hoo!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our first Military Base Campground!

We spent a week at Camp Pendleton's Del Mar Beach campground in Oceanside, CA and it was fantastic! Didn't hurt that there were record high temps in November where it hit the 90's but with the cool ocean breeze we were perfectly comfortable! Bill had a conference at the La Costa Resort in Carlsbad and the campground was an easy 15 minute drive. Gretchen and Peter, our Tahoe friends, were also at the conference and we had them over one night for a BBQ. It was so nice having an evening with friends! Bill was home in time to enjoy the
 beautiful sunset and some time on the beach most days. Wednesday the conference arranged a pub-crawl of the downtown Gas-Lamp quarter and we were shuttled down there in a beautiful limo for 20+. We hit a lot of the roof-top bars and had a lot of fun. 

Friday night I got to meet Bill's good friends, Scott & Jean. Bill was at the Air Force Academy with Scott, crewed for him on a few of his 100-miler's and also ran quite a few of the Tahoe relays with him as well. It was great to meet these people I have been hearing about for years! They have a lovely home with a beautiful gas fire-pit on their deck where we enjoyed the evening after a Mexican dinner at a local restaurant. It is truly one of the best things about this life-style that we get to meet up with old friends that have moved away.  Sunday night we went for dinner at Marni & Marshall's house - Marni is a good friend of mine I met in 2005 in Walnut Creek. They moved away a couple of year's later to Modesto - where I visited a couple of times and 2 years ago they moved to San Diego. I also had lunch with Marni the first day we got here. It was wonderful seeing her and Marshall and their daughter, Hilary. They have a beautiful home and we had a great visit!

Life on a military base is definitely not dull! I woke each morning to the young Marines running up and down the beach in front of our RV and each afternoon the armored personnel carriers (I thought they were tanks - well, they looked like tanks to me!) rolled by!  We had fun shopping in the MCX (Marine Corps Exchange) and finally found the portable gas grill with a stand I'd been looking for. 

We went for a couple of long walks on the beach, but other than that I have gotten NO exercise - we found out from Bill's friend's Scott & Jean, at the end of our stay, that there was a great gym on base, walking distance from the beach, which I finally found on our last day there - have to check that out next time! 

Here's a pic of all of the RV's parked on the beach BEFORE the weekend:
Most of the San Diego beach campgrounds are $60-$90/night and we stayed here for $35 - it was a great deal and a beautiful beach...the only complaint I had were the public bathrooms & showers, which Bill likes to use, but he found them adequate, so I really can't complain! We will be back!!