Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The snowbird's guide to Yuma, Arizona

We began our grand RV adventure just after Christmas 2013. Three weeks later it came to a screeching halt in Yuma because of health problems. We spent the next 7-1/2 months there while I underwent an aggressive treatment program.

Yuma is filled with so many things to see and do for a city that size, it is almost unbelievable.  Winter is the best time to visit Yuma. Temperatures are just right -- not too hot and not too cold. This desert southwest city does have four seasons; hot, hotter, hottest and hotter than hell. My husband used to joke he wished he could go to hell because it just had to be cooler than Yuma.  Many tourist attractions close down in the summer because of the scorching temperatures, making winter an even better time to visit.

Our stay in the desert southwest provided me the time to write a book for other first-time visitors here. The snowbird's guide to Yuma, Arizona is a great introduction to this city of almost 100,000 year round residents.

Yuma is a city that  has something for everyone, regardless of their interests. Snowbirds need to make some tough decisions on how to spend their time year.

The snowbird's guide to Yuma, Arizona is filled with tips and recommendations designed to help snowbirds make the most of their time here. It is geared to the first-time visitor to Yuma, as we were, though returning snowbirds are sure to find useful information in it, too.

The snowbird's guide to Yuma, Arizona is available for Amazon Kindle for $2,99, If you're planning to head south for the winter, this 11,000-word book will come in handy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another must-have tool for the RV

Anything that makes living in an RV easier when you're on the road quickly turns into a must-have tool.

My latest "joy" that meets this criteria is something that I've thought about getting for the last several years, but never got around to it because I didn't want to spend the money on something that seemed so silly.

I recently bought it and discovered to my amazement that it's not silly, but does one heckuva cleaning job. That's the Swiffer wet mop. After using it a few times in our trailer. I am kicking myself for being so stupid about buying one earlier.

I've always used a sponge mop to clean floors. Don't ask my why, because I was never really happy with the way it cleaned. It seemed like I was just rearranging the dirt on the floors. If it hadn't been for my toes, I probably would have kept on using the sponge mop anyway. When it became imperative that the trailer floors be kept clean and disinfected, the sponge mop went; in came the Swiffer.

It does an amazing job of picking up the dirt, not that that much dirt accumulates since I'm Swiffing twice a day. I feel more comfortable going barefoot in the trailer now.

It's pretty easy to use: Just put on a fresh mop cloth, glide the Swiffer over the floor and then toss the dirty cloth.

There are a couple of things that Swiffer doesn't tell you, though. One is that the cloths are pretty saturated with cleaner, You need to hold the head over the sink while you attach the cloth, but you're still going to end up with sticky fingers. The second thing is how expensive the cleaning cloths are.  Swiffer brand cloths cost about 75 cents each. We bought a supermarket house brand that was on special; the cost worked out to about 25 cents a cloth.

The floors in our trailer have never been this clean since the day we got it.

Disclaimer: Federal law requires me to tell you Swiffer did not provide any compensation to me for writing about their product.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Goodbye Yuma! Hello Mile Post 147

The view leaving Yuma
To say that we were eager to leave Yuma, our home for the last 7-1/2 months would be an understatement. Fifty-three minutes after we walked out of the doctor’s office, we were pulling out of the RV park; that time, by the way, included the half-hour drive from the doctor’s office to the RV park.

We had already made up our minds that we would leave Yuma that day, even if I wasn’t released by the doctor (I wasn’t, which means we’ll be driving back to Yuma next week for what, hopefully, will be the final appointment). Everything was all packed, and all we had to do was take in the slides, turn off the electricity (we hadn’t unhooked that because we needed to have the air conditioning on for Chester), so some last minute site cleanup and leave. We were just starting the cleanup when the maintenance manager came by and told us not to worry about it. So we just hopped in the truck and took off.
Sonoran Desert
We had a grand trip until just about half-way to Tucson, when the truck broke down at Mile Post 147. Now the last thing you want to do is break down in the middle of the Sonoran Desert when there is an extreme heat emergency warning in place. We immediately got on the phone with Good Sam Roadside Assistance for a tow truck to come rescue us. We are sitting in the truck, sweating away, because the breakdown took out the air conditioning, when we learned Good Sam would only cover towing of the truck. I immediately got on the phone to our insurance agent in Kennewick to see if we had tow coverage on the trailer. We did, but it only paid if that company made the tow arrangements. I was brusquely told I should have called the insurance company first, and suggested I cancel the tow truck on the way and have the insurance company make new arrangements. However, they would only tow the trailer in.

Give me a break! We’d only been sitting in a hot truck (doors open and windows down) for two hours and weren’t about to sit there another two hours, especially since it was 120 degrees out. Actually, we wouldn’t have been allowed to. About that time, an Arizona Highway Patrol officer stopped and informed us he was taking us to a truck stop about four miles up the road. We said we were told we had to stay with the truck and trailer. He told us to call the tow company and have them pick us up there, and if they said they couldn’t do it, he’d talk to them.

So that is how Chester got to ride in a cop car and be a K-9 officer for four miles. Not that he knew or even cared what was happening.  He was so hot he was gasping for breath, and then he collapsed; we thought we’d lost him. We waited at the truck stop for about 15 minutes before the tow truck arrived. It took about 35 minutes in the air-conditioned cab before Chester stirred again.

While we were waiting, Jon had called an auto dealer in Casa Grande about getting the truck repaired. However, the tow truck driver suggested we use a repair shop next door as it was more reasonably priced and did good work. After dropping me, Chester and the trailer off at an RV park, he took Jon and the truck to this shop.

And now begins the most exciting part of our day. The repair shop was really great, quickly diagnosed the problem and called for parts. The only catch was that they didn’t accept credit or debit cards; it was cash only. They had one of their employees drive Jon to the RV park to get me, and then took us to the local branch of my bank to use the ATM. Why is this exciting? Because the guy drove like a maniac – talking on his cell phone, talking to us, waving both hands around all the while speeding down city streets, changing lanes with no particular rhyme or reason. Jon, who was in the front seat, was hanging onto the “oh shit” bar for dear life. When we got back to the repair shop, he left us in the car while he went to check on the truck. I whispered to Jon, “are we still alive?” He replied he thought so, and then said the driver never went under 60 mph, even though the speed limit was 35 mph. We later determined the driver had graduated summa cum laude from the Beijing Taxi Drivers Training Academy.

The repair shop was great, and stayed past closing time to get the truck done that night. We stayed in Casa Grande a couple of nights, and drove into Tucson this morning.



Monday, July 14, 2014

The joys of RV showering

The shower in our RV
Keeping yourself clean is a never-ending job as well as a challenge when you’re living the RV life.

Almost all recreational vehicles today have showers of some size, from very small to almost as big as what you had at home.

The challenge is to make the most of what you have. If you’re dry camping, you have to be more conservative with your water usage than if you’re hooked up to an RV park’s water system.

Showers have a hand-held shower head that can also be hooked up to the wall. Positioning the shower head can be tricky if you’re using it at its full height. In our trailer, this isn’t such a good idea as the water sprays over the top of the shower, down the wall and onto the floor.

Just under the shower head is a horizontal button to control water flow. This is very important when you’re dry camping and you need to make the water in your fresh water tank last as long as possible  You just slide the button back and forth to turn the water off and on. Turn the water on and rinse down, then turn the water off and soap up. Turn the water on and rinse the soap off.

If you need high water pressure to feel really clean, you’re probably not going to get it in your RV shower. Most RV parks have public showers for guest use. I’ve used these in the past, but mostly I’m too lazy to carry everything over to the shower and back.

No matter how frustrated I get with the shower in our trailer, I only need remind myself of our first trailer which had no shower or toilet facilities. We used to go camping at a place that was very dusty, dirty, dry and hot in the summer. I’d be ready for a shower after a couple of days. Since I consider sponge baths a waste of time, that left bathing in a glacier-fed creek as my only option. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Something every RV cook needs

Old colander, new colander
I found something today that anyone who does any cooking in an RV or other small kitchen needs to have: a collapsible colander.

The regular size colander I have is great if you’re in a regular size home kitchen, but it takes up too much room in the limited cupboard space our travel trailer has. I didn’t want to toss it because I use it several times a week, but I was getting tired of moving it around in the cupboard as I looked for other utensils and dishes.

Collapsible colander
After an unsuccessful few hours of running around Yuma this morning for a tool Jon needed, we were on our way back to the RV park when we passed Wally’s World (no relation to Wal-Mart that I am aware of) on 32nd Street in Yuma. Their street sign boasted tools for sale, and Jon found what he needed for his project.  The store has much more than tools. It has a wonderfully eclectic mish-mash of a little bit of everything, including this plastic collapsible colander.

While this colander isn’t as big as my other one, it will do the job. It is small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer. It collapses and expands easily. Though I’ve never seen something like this before, it should be found easily in other stores, since it bears the Pillsbury logo.

Disclaimer: The federal government requires me to tell you that neither Wally’s World nor Pillsbury provided any type of compensation for mentioning them in this article.