Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Let's do the Time Warp again!"

Oh, I have SO MUCH to tell you all about!!  A lot has happened since I last posted.  I’ve been super busy working long days into the nights and traveling, all of which has kept me from getting my computer fully charged and posting.  But first, I need to catch you all up.  We need to time warp back a couple of weeks. 

"It's just a jump to the left, 
and then a step to the right"

On January 14, I headed south to Quartzsite for the last few days of the RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) and the opening of the RV Big Tent Show (and when they say Big Tent they mean BIG TENT!).  
The BIG Tent

The RTR is a yearly gathering of mostly vandwellers (but there are lots of other types of rigs there too – anyone is welcome) organized by Bob Wells of CheapRVLiving.  

If you want to hit the road, 
with a tent or with a towed, 
in a bus or in a van, 
or an SUV with your best friend Dan, 
Bob’s great website is the place to go, 
with everything you will need to know.  

- (I was in a rhyming mood)

Participants gather for 2 weeks of boondocking in the desert around Quartzsite enjoying seminars that cover pretty much everything you need to know for your full or part-time life on the road.  There is no cost for attending the RTR nor do you have to register, just show up and join in on the fun.  The other great part of this gathering is seeing all the different rigs people live in, how they have set them up for living, and learning about their unique lifestyles.  I saw some amazing designs and ingenious ideas.  Even though I missed most of the gathering, I still learned so much and met some amazing people. 

RTR Gathering.  Everyone is scattered all over the desert - this is just a small portion of the attendees.

One of the coolest things I noticed was age range of those in attendance – 20-something’s to 70-something’s (maybe even 80-something’s).  It just goes to show that you don’t have to be young or retired to start such a journey.  I met several women in their 60’s – 70’s who had raised their families and were now on their own but had the clarity and courage to make THEIR longtime dream a reality.  They didn’t let their children's or friends' fears and doubts stop them, they just blazed ahead.  Boy, do I admire them - they are road warriors in every way. 

The desert and Quartzsite off in the distance

Another reason I wanted to go to Quartzsite to attend the RTR and check out the big RV Show was to learn more about Workamping and find a job for the summer.  A lot of full-timers workamp for a season or more to earn enough money so they can travel the rest of the year.  Workamping can take many shapes:  Camp hosts at campgrounds; retail, wait staff, shuttle drivers, and equipment rental jobs in National Parks; working at Amazon in the fall; or even sugar beet harvest work.  There are so many different types of jobs in so many locations.  (NOTE: Not all workamping jobs pay wages, some only give you a campsite in exchange for working 20-40 hours per week; some may pay a wage, but not provide a campsite or housing for free; and others pay a wage AND give you a free campsite.  If you are looking for a workamping job, be sure to find out what the terms are BEFORE accepting a position.  Do the calculations to see if what they are offering is worth your time).  Probably the most common workamping job is as a campground host.  As a camp host, you greet guests, “enforce” the rules, and basically keep the campground and bathrooms clean.  Hopefully you also have time to enjoy where you are – especially if you are lucky enough to be working in a National Park or National Forest or other gorgeous location.  Well, I was fortunate to score a sweet job for the summer working as a campground host in Washington State in the Cascade Mountains.  Ah, the Pacific Northwest, one of my favorite places.  I am super excited.  My campground is on a lake so I will get to enjoy paddling around it in the beautiful handmade canoe my dad made me.  What an adventure this summer will be!   

An RV Wagon Train I saw circled up ready to defend against. . . Wiley Coyote?  Roadrunners?
If you have never been to Quartzsite, AZ, you are missing out on a very unique experience.   During January and February the small, quiet town and surrounding desert swells in population from just under 3,500 to upwards of 1 million people with RV’s, trailers, tents, vans all scattered across the desert boondocking among the Saguaros.  Most are coming for the (Ah-hum) warm weather and the big Rock, Mineral and Gem shows, RV Show, and the hundreds of vendors who sell just about anything you can think of, and a few things you probably don't want to think of.  

Yep, you read that correctly, Bacon Lemonade.
I have to say the Garlic Parmesan Curly Fries DID look good!  But I couldn't afford them financially or gastronomically.

For someone like me who is crowd-a-phobic (and short), going to the Big Tent show and vendor area was a bit overwhelming, but I am glad I went and experienced it.  I recommend checking it out at least once.  Be sure to bring comfortable shoes, and a GPS! - I got lost trying to find my way back out of the Big Tent area - and I don't get lost easily.  I think I got confused with the rows upon rows of huge, "all-look-alike" RV's on display and the deviously calculated placement of the porta-potties.  I did eventually find my way out of the maze and back to the general mayhem of the A - Z rows of vendor tents.  

Rows A - Z of vendor tents across the street from the Big Tent area.
I never got through all 26 + rows of vendors and I was there ALL day and had to have walked several miles.

The trip to Quartzsite was a blast and a much needed break from hanging in Lake Havasu for so long.  I ended up staying for 5 days and enjoyed the company of new friends and a new place.  After Quartzsite, I headed back to Lake Havasu City and the BIG surprise!

. . . to be continued  (Oh, it's going to be good!!!)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Golden Rays of Power & Extraordinary Friends

When I first decided to start my road warrior life and bought my tearbaby, I knew I would need a solar system in order to do. . . well, lots of things - like charge my electronics, be able to see after dark, work on my business projects and keep warm.  I started reading about how solar power worked and found it kind of like this:

Well, thanks to my two new friends here, I am about to have my very own "Solar Array of Power" AND thanks to their amazing skills of explaining things to me, I have a little better idea of how many pancakes will fit on my roof and why aliens don't wear hats - the rest is still a bit fuzzy yet.  I also plan to conquer the properties of electricity and bend them to my will and desires so that I can run an electric space heater on high as often and long as I want and use an induction cooktop inside my trailer on my 200 watts of pure golden energy!   My friend doesn't believe I have such powers and just walks away saying "I can't hear you!".

The other project we have been working on is a minivan modification.  One of the main reasons I wanted a minivan over an SUV was so I could use it as my office / work space when I couldn't work outside.  Problem is, it turned into an overflowing storage shed nightmare inside and has been totally unusable for a work space without my having to unload half of my stuff.  Yes, I do still have too much stuff, but even with getting rid of a lot of things, I found that it still wouldn't be very conducive as a work space the way I imagined using it.  So, it has to be reconfigured and modified into what I hope will be a fabulous office.  We are almost done with both the van mod and the Solar Array of Power so very soon I will have light, computer usage anytime I want (meaning more blog posts!), an office to work in, and if I am successful with my extraordinary cosmic powers, heat anytime I want it!!!!  Bwahahahaha!!   I know, "You can't hear me!"

But seriously, I can't even begin to think how I could ever express my overwhelming gratitude for their tremendous help, kindness and generosity towards making my dream of being a successful road warrior possible.  Sometimes I wondered why my departure was delayed so long, now I know why - so that our paths would cross.  It is amazing that when you make the right decision for yourself, the right situations and people often find their way to you.  I will never understand the reason(s) why I would be so deserving of such incredible friends, but I am grateful beyond words.  Thank you!

In other news, can you guess what the weather has been like out here?  I'll give you one guess!  (Trust me, your odds of guessing correctly are pretty good - much better than your odds of winning the Powerball Jackpot!).  If you guessed cold and rainy, you'd be correct!  We haven't had a warm day since before Christmas!  I have to admit, this relentless cold weather is taking a toll on my spirits lately, and it really isn't much warmer anywhere else in this region for me to head to.  Quartzsite, about 85 miles south and where I am trying to get to, is actually COLDER than where I am now!  What's up with that!?  And this next week doesn't look like it's going to be much warmer.  It is distressing and no fun to be cold all the time and having it get dark so early doesn't help.  I can’t wait for it to warm up and stay light till at least 7 p.m.  It is like the scene in "When Harry Met Sally" where Sally is putting letters in the mail box one at a time then checking to see if they went down as Harry is waiting impatiently for her, then when he can't take it any longer he stuffs them all in.  I am ready to stuff these short, cold days into a mailbox and mail them to Guam!  I wonder how long it would take me to drive to Costa Rica?  Hmmmm, may have to look into that!

Well, as soon as we have some of the projects a little further along, I will take some pictures and post them so you can see what we've been working on.  I am so excited to have them done so I can use my office and have lights in Zelda!  I know I shouldn't complain about the cold and not having power for things like lights and computer when there are so many people who have so much less than I do.  I really am grateful for all that I do have.  I have a roof over my head, some food in my cooler, transportation, and amazing friends and family who are always there for me should I need a place to crash, a listening ear, love and support. or wisdom that I lack.  Really, what else do I need?  

"Surround yourself with people who make you a better person."
- Zig Ziglar

Friday, January 1, 2016

Out With the Old and In with the New!

Well, it certainly has been a long time since I last posted.  I know, get with the program here Jordan!  A lot has happened since our last chapter.  Let’s see, I guess we’ll start with the flu!  Yes, I was the lucky recipient of a most delightful little Flu Bug as an early Christmas present.  Just imagine my surprise when I awoke to find it hopping around under my miniature tree!  It was so cute with its big red bow I just had to keep it!  I guess it didn’t like living in my tearbaby with me out here in the desert, since it only stuck around for about 2 days before it moved on to what I can only guess was a more obliging host with a warmer home and a lot more friends to play with.  Not much to entertain it here or for it to eat, so I can understand it wanting to find a better deal.  I am however grateful that it came to visit while we were having one of our rare, short “warm” spells and during the full moon - made visiting the bucket at all hours of the night much more pleasant.

My Christmas Decorations - took me and entire morning to put them up!  The Tree and Santa are from my dear friend, and the festive little Teardrop Trailer is from my wonderful sister and brother-in-law!

Christmas Day I was feeling much better so treated myself to my traditional “On-my-own-for-the-holidays” trip to the movies.  I rarely get to go see movies anymore and hate crowds, so I always love to go to the earliest show on the big holidays.  Usually I have the whole theater to myself or nearly so, but not this year – the theater was almost full - but it was a fun group of people in good spirits that were enjoying the movie as much as I was.  And it was SO worth it!  As a diehard original Star Wars fan I of course was biting at the bit to see the new Star Wars movie, and I loved it.  What a fun treat. 

Oh, and Santa was kind enough to bring me more cold weather.  Geez, Thanks Santa!  You’re a real sweetie.  And I have to say the 36 hour windstorm was extra special, especially followed by a week’s worth of lows in the low to mid 30’s.  Boy, you really know how to pick great presents Santa - I would have been ecstatically happy with a nice misfit toy or even some coal in my stocking (I KNOW I was bad this year – that had to have counted for at least some coal!).

Unfortunately with the biting cold temps, my fingers have been a bit on the frozen side, so typing hasn’t been very doable (tonight is no exception), and I haven’t yet perfected typing with my mittens on.  Though you might have had fun trying to decipher what I did type.  Maybe we’ll try that sometime.  
So then Jordan, why didn’t you get your butt to the library to recharge your computer and type us up a new post?  Well, I did go during the windstorm, but got there late and didn’t have time to do much besides warm up.  Since then I have been busy with a new big development!  My friend I met here has been helping me set up the “solar array of power”– should be up and running by early next week if all goes well.  No more 4 hours at the library waiting for my computer to recharge!  I will get to hang out in the sun all day while those glorious little solar cells work their photovoltaic magic.  “Hello sun, it’s me, Jordan’s computer, please feed me!”  I am swooning already.  And I’ll even have lights in Zelda too!  No more hanging out in the dimness from my little lantern each evening wondering if I really DID get my contact lens into the little case or not.  Good-bye Dark Ages!  It’s been fun but I must go towards the light.

On Wednesday, I received a very special gift.  A very dear and wonderful friend of mine who is originally from Arizona came to visit me.  Her amazing mother drove them 4 hours each way so I could see my friend and finally meet her mom!  How many mom's do you know who would do half as much?  We got to visit for several hours over a huge lunch and they even drove out to my campsite to see it.  They also brought me goodies!  Cookies, oranges picked fresh from an actual TREE! (I've only had ones from a bag or bin!), and homemade tamales!  I've never had a tamale before and the first ones I get to taste are made by Experts!  I can't wait till dinner tomorrow.  YUM!!!  As always, it seems with those that are most dear to you, the visits are never long enough.  But it was such an incredible thing to have my friend BE a part of this life of mine.  To her and her mom - a most heartfelt THANK YOU!!

To start the new year, I am hoping to head south to Quartzite next week to join up with a group of vandwellers and check out what the Big Q is all about.  This may be somewhat problematic since I am crowdaphobic.  But sometimes you just have to pull yourself up by your socks and face those big Fear Monsters . . . and beg them not to eat you.  I think it will be quite an experience and I see it as kind of a Right of Passage into full-timing.  Hey, maybe I’ll even get a gold star for going.  One can hope!

Well, that about covers the past week and a half.  I’m looking forward to what 2016 has waiting for me (PLEASE let it include some extended periods of warm weather soon!).  2015 has been another challenging year, but also one full of wonderful memories of time spent with family and friends, great learning experiences, and best of all, the beginning of this amazing life I have chosen for myself.  Chose the life that is right for you - make it one of your New Year's Resolutions.  

My New Year’s Wish for you . . .

Here's to an EXTRAORDINARY 2016!!