Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bye Bye Brenda AZ

As much as we have thoroughly enjoyed our "extended stay" in Brenda AZ, the time to head for a new destination north had to be March. To be honest, we were way too comfortable here and as good as that may sound, comfort has not much in common with self improvement and adventure. I find myself lying around getting fat and complacent when things get too easy!

Our new Suzuki has proven to be an excellent exploration tool. We have not been gentle with it but we have fixed almost all the little things until it's just about perfect now minus all the mud and weed scratches but hey, that's what it's for! 
We also upgraded from 6 seven gallon aqua-tainers to 9 giving us 63 gallon capacity on water runs which are only a couple miles each way and the little Zuki handles the weight pretty well.
Our battery bank has also increased in size from five group 27 RV units to eight! In the winter, amount of time between sunset and when we actually go to bed is about 4 hours so if we didn't want to have to run the little Honda EU1000 for a couple evening hours to maintain our 95% to 100% capacity needed for overnight fridge and furnace operation, we needed a few hundred extra amp hours to make up for the slack time. This bank size is working flawlessly and we have no need to run any generator unless it's overcast all day.
 Our friend Dana had us over to enjoy the pool at his park and we were hooked.
We were even treated to a visit from Jess's Dad Paul and our Son Colton from Washington State for a couple days and they were kind enough to drive our trusty Volkswagon Jetta home after enjoying some sun and desert fun.
True to our word we did finally tear ourselves away from paradise and head north.
About 200 miles northeast, our new spot is a little more remote but so far has proven to be a great place to explore for the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Finding a lighter, more agile 4x4 tow car

Our stay near Lake Mead pointed out one weakness we had not anticipated in our trusty VW Jetta. We couldn't get our kayak down to the water without a lot of dragging and cursing. Four wheel drive and decent ground clearance were a must and we had neither. 
Our potential candidate would have to be able to carry our 12 foot 100 lb kayak on it's roof, adapt to our towing system, carry 42 gallons of freshwater and have a manual transmission. As an extra bonus, what we found was also half the weight of our soon to be decommissioned towed.

 After a lot of craigslist hunting and phone calls, we headed into Quartzsite to see if we could do some horse trading and creative funding to find this little gem. As you can see, George approved immediately. This 1988 Suzuki Samurai was almost a perfect match for what we needed. A two piece hard top model makes it even more suited for our needs since I would be reusing the roof racks from the VW to carry the Hobie.

The tailgated bed area was the perfect size for hauling water into camp as well as propane, prospecting tools and of course, George.
Even the paint scheme almost matches like the rich guys outfits we see in Quartzsite! We still have our little VW but we are sending it home with family soon where we will use it again for work commutes and town runs this summer. 
It has been a blast going through the Suzuki and fixing all the little things to make it perfect for us. We have already clocked quite a few trail miles on it while exploring old mines and washes. Stay tuned for more from the deserts of AZ!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Arizona Alright part 2

After a few days at the beautiful Black Rock RV Park in Brenda AZ, it was time to move back out into the desert where the rent is a little more affordable. As with every move day, I went  through my checklist of all things GMC including topping off the engine oil, antifreeze and power steering oil. Inside, we tie everything down, tape everything closed and move everything that could fall down to a safer location. We also made sure to fill up with water, totes and all since we were heading for an area with no hookups.
On a tip from a friend, we had heard about some BLM land that was close to the little community of  Brenda so after a five minute trip and a little scouting, we decided on a nice private spot around 2 miles from the highway and the general store.
With spectacular views and zero neighbors, this new spot has proved to be one of my favorites.

With Quartzsite only 12 miles away and Brenda at 2 miles, we have everything we need to be comfortable for awhile out here. What we were in need of however was a different car that could be used to explore all these old trails and roads. The Jetta has been such a great car but it's ground clearance makes it useless on the trails. I'm thinking.....Samurai!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Arizona Alright Part 1

We said "goodbye for now" to Laurie and Scott in Las Vegas and pointed the bus towards Kingman AZ to visit Jessicas Aunt Ethel and Uncle Joe.  
While the coach leaked oil on their pristine driveway Joe and Ethel took us out to a wonderful Italian place called The Garlic Clove for dinner. It was amazing! The next day we all jumped in the car and headed for Oatman to see the burros.
Nice little tourist town now with a ton of history and interesting buildings to explore.

The burros are all very nice and are very used to people feeding them so be warned, if you have a brown paper bag in your hand, they will follow you around.

We traveled along old Route 66 and even toured one of the last original gas stations that was the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the movie Cars.   
That afternoon we said our goodbyes and spurred the coach towards Lake Havasu City and beyond.

About 20 miles from Havasu, the left wiper arm lost it's stabilizer arm and it was pouring rain so we pulled into the first place that looked big enough to turn around.

As it turns out, it was a great place to fix the wiper and spend the night for free.

The next day we arrived in Brenda AZ thanks to a tip from our old friend Dana. He invited us to stay next to his place at Black Rock RV Park for a few days for New Years.

Dana showed us around the park and took us into Quartzsite for some shopping.

And of course, Gem World! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Las Vegas

We rolled in a couple of days ago with @laurieandscott and it's been a whirlwind of chasing down the "must see" areas from Fremont Street to the High Roller and there just isn't enough time or money to see it all.

The Vegas Thousand Trails rv park is nothing to write home about but all we need it for is sleep. It's not like we're hanging around the park looking for things to do.

The Venetian was a real jaw dropper with its indoor canal and high end shopping mall. I know I must have looked like a tourist with my slack jaw looking up at the fake sky ceiling.

I've driven by Las Vegas several times in my life while headed somwhere else and never stopped to explore. This has been an experience we will never forget.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dry camping on what used to be lake bed

Ten days ago we rolled in here on a tip from our friends Laurie and Scott from and we've been here ever since.

After repositioning the coach to maximize the power of the sun on our tilted solar panels, we rolled out our carpets and went on a water run to the nearby town of Overton NV. We can haul 42 gallons at a time in 6 seven gallon totes with our car so as long as we conserve and don't do laundry every day, we can make our 110 gallon capacity last quite awhile.

Once we get back, 28 miles, with our load, we pump it from the totes, into our tanks with the help of a 12v sureflow diaphram pump.

Laundry day uses about 40 gallons for 3 good size loads so I try to haul in an extra trunk load of water when it's time and we run our little Honda eu1000 to keep the batteries up while the washer runs. The dry cycle takes too much power to run off battery so we hang dry which actually works great in this climate.

When all the chores are caught up, we get out and explore all the many attractions and cultures this area has to offer.

All of this leg of our trip would not have been possible without a tip from these two fantastic individuals. Be sure to check them out at and on instagram @laurieandscott. The sting of homesick we feel with Christmas so close will be so much easier to deal with with good friends next door that feel like family already. Merry Christmas all! We will post again soon.