Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hello from Yuma, AZ

Hello from Yuma, AZ

Saturday evening January 31, 2009 (sixth travelogue of this trip)

We are staying with some good friends (Ed and Stevi Hackenbruch) in an area called Foothills in Yuma (map) . There apparently is not a good satellite view of this area. It is too bad, because it is a great area.

We left Quartzsite on Monday (January19) and drove about 80 miles south to Yuma. We stayed here last year as noted in our blog (here) . We had so much fun last year, that we quickly accepted the offer to stay again.

As we noted last time, the Foothills is a very unique area which is focused on RV owners. Each lot is quite large and is set up for two RVs with water and sewer as well as 50 amp electrical service. At least 50% of the lots remain setup for RVs but many have either modular or adobe style houses. Some have both. Many of the RV lots have casitas which are small buildings (primarily adobe style) which have a small room, and bath room. Ed and Stevi have a washing machine and refrigerator in theirs and Stevi uses it for her art studio (beautiful wood burned spoons and forks, and equally beautiful decorated gourds). Most of the lots have short brick walls surrounding the lot.

We have been doing a bit of sight seeing in the area, including a day in Algadones, Mexico, the local flea market, and some shopping for supplies. We have also been doing a lot of relaxing and enjoying the great weather. I have done several small projects on the bus and have a few more to attack.

Ed and Stevi have a ritual where if someone draws blood, they both go for ice cream. Those who know me very well, know that I have made sure we get to go for ice cream fairly often {grin}.

I have been doing a bit of bike riding and Pat and I have been walking at least 30 minutes most days. Some of you may recall that Pat broke her foot in October and it was not treated properly at the time(emergency room in MO). When we got home we saw a specialist and she had to be in a special boot until about two weeks ago. She is enjoying walking without that d*#n boot!

Yuma has a large agricultural base. They grow a huge amount of lettuce, and cabbage. They also have some great orchards, and we stopped by today to pick a bucket of oranges. You use a special orange grabber with a basket that plucks the oranges from the tree. You go out in the orchard and fill a 5 gallon bucket to the brim for $5. I have posted a picture of Pat with the picker (not great quality, but you can get the idea).

We will be here for another week or so. From here, we are not sure what we will do. We had planned to go to Shoshone (our favorite hideaway in the Death Valley area) and maybe Bakersfield to see some friends and go the the famous drag races. That is quite a long way out of the way. Since we have to cut back quite a bit (terrible economy), we may stay here a bit longer and then head home so that I can generate a bit of income by preparing some of my project cars for sale.

That is all for now.

Pat picking oranges
(sorry about the picture quality -- not the best lighting situation)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hello from Quartzsite, AZ

Sunday morning January 18, 2009 (Fifth travelogue of this trip)

We are at the Eagle Bus Rally (map). Actually, this is a combined Eagle/GMC/Flxible bus rally (yes Flxible is spelled according to the company name). There are close to 100 buses here (33 Eagles). The space alloted is a bit small, so we are kind of close together, but it is not too bad. Some of late comers had to park a bit off site, but they are close enough that they can participate in all the activities (coffee and donuts in the morning and h'orderves or pot luck at night,plus nightly bonfires and our board and general meeting). I have attached a picture that shows some of the rally.

If you have been following our blog, you know that we came here from Indio where we did two trade shows. We need to catch up on the FMCA rally in Indio. There were over 1500 coaches in attendance and lots of activity in the vendor area. Talking to many vendors, I got the same answer: lots of interest, but not much in the way of sales. That was true for our booth. We think that we had good contacts – both in terms of quantity and quality.

After the FMCA rally, we pulled under the palm trees and camped for a couple of days. The weather was great, getting into the 80's during the day. On Tuesday we traveled a bit over 120 miles east to Quartzsite.

We have written a bit about Quartzsite in the past. It is a crazy place to say the least. In the summer the population is less than 4,000. However, in the winter that number grows drastically. I have heard that during the December/January time frame over 1 million people will send a few days in the area. Quartzsite is in a basin and when you approach from either the east or west, you will crest a hill and see a sea of recreational vehicles of every shape and size.

This time in January is the peak population period, since the huge RV trade show is in full swing. This is a huge tent with several hundred vendors (we do not vend there). In addition, there are acres of “swap meet” booths all over town.

When we are here, we dry camp (no electrical/water/sewage hook-ups). We have solar power (not too effective this time of year when the sun is low), a good generator and lots of water, sewage capacity. We could probably dry camp for a couple of weeks before we would have to dump and get water.

From here we head to Yuma, AZ to stay with some good friends for a week or two.

That is all for now.

Eagle Bus Rally in Quartzsite

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hello again from Indio, CA

Hello again from Indio, CA

Thursday evening January 8, 2009 (Fourth travelogue of this trip)

We are at the FMCA rally in Indio (map). This is just a few miles from the Polo Grounds were the dog show was held.

As we had mentioned, the dog show was very interesting. I wish we could tell you that is was profitable. That was not the case. Indeed, it was the first show/rally that we have been to where we were skunked! We did talk to quite a few folks and they all liked the idea of protecting their pets/investment. The way they set up their booths is quite a bit different that what we are used to, and as a result, our booth was somewhat hidden by adjacent booths. In addition, we observed that these folks are very focused on dogs, and if you are not selling dog related products, they just walk on by. We are convinced that this is a good market, but we have to figure out how to get folks to think about our product.

On Sunday we moved to the Indian Wells RV park for a couple of days. That allowed us to charge our batteries and do several loads of wash. I also finished an install that I had started quite some time ago. The installation was very complex because of the generator control circuit. The installation was quite troublesome for some very strange reasons, but I got it done yesterday after setting up the booth at this rally. Thankfully, the folks have been very understanding.

Today was the first day of the show. The attendance seems to pretty good. We will get the official number in a day or two. Lots of folks have stopped by the booth and seem interested in our products. With the economy in the toilet, we will see if this interest turns to sales in the next two days of the show.

Pat did her Stamping craft class today and I do my safety seminar tomorrow.

That is all for now.

UPDATE (Friday Morning): When I was writing this blog last night, we noted that the bus started rocking quite a bit. We saw at least on neighbor come outside and look around. It turns out that there was a 4.5 earthquake about 8:00 PM last night in San Bernardino. At the time we thought about the possibility of a quake shaking the bus, but the TV (LA stations) did not have a banner on the bottom of the screen. This morning, they have had a couple of news story on the quake. It shook things pretty good, but there was no major damage or injuries.

We talked about earthquakes, and decided that the big old bus would probably be a great place to be if the BIG one occurred (assuming you were not next to trees or buildings).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hello from Indio, CA

Hello from Indio, CA

Friday evening January 2, 2009 (Third travelogue of this trip).

We are at the Empire Polo Grounds (map). This is the site of the Kennel Club of Palm Springs Dog Show. Actually, that show starts tomorrow. For the past two days there was a smaller dog show here. The show tomorrow and Sunday will have over 3200 dogs entered each day. We obtained a list of the breeds being showed, and there are over 170 breeds. There are 32 “rings” where the judging takes place. This is said to be one of the biggest dog shows in this part of the country. We are in the RV area and it is almost full (room for 350 rigs, but some folks pay for two spaces. There is almost every imaginable type of RV here. Some of the rigs are owned by handlers who groom and show dogs for their owners. Several have large box type trucks pulling fairly large RV trailers. The truck is full of dog crates with dogs in them.

One medium sized motorhome pulled in yesterday and they have 15 small dogs they unload/load several times a day into small portable pens.

We are just amazed at the number and type of dogs at the show. Today was the first day of the show and people bring there dogs into vendor area. It is really fun to see all of the dogs (Pat even enjoys it, and she is not a big animal lover).

The booth next to us collects semen and freezes it for storage. Pat asked her how they collect the semen and she replied “just the way you think”.

OK, why a dog show. Last year at the FMCA RV show in Indio, the booth next to us sold all kinds of dog accessories. The owner convinced us that we should try this market. Many of the entrants at the shows travel in motorhomes. They often have several very expensive dogs that the owners/handlers are very fond of. In the event of a fire, the loss would be enormous. There have been several “close calls” in the recent past. This is a new market for us that does not have competition.

Today was the first day of the show and it was very quiet. However, we are told that the next two days are “the big days”. We hope so.

We will post more details after the show is over.

In other posts we have mentioned our service truck. We have created a fully equipped service truck that will allow us to install our systems, and carry our product/show equipment. It is a 2002 Dodge 2500 4X4 truck (V10 with 5 speed transmission). As you can see from the picture, we had it “wrapped” with our product/company information. The truck was silver, but it is fully wrapped with vinyl material. I really like the truck and have been working on getting it organized.

Thats all for now.

Our Service Truck