Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Squaw Lake Campground

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  Much of the desert land in southern Arizona and California is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The largest areas of BLM land are located in the western states and are managed similar to national forest land with leases given to individuals and companies who use the natural resources while leaving the land opened for recreational purposes. Although most of the land is undeveloped and available for free dispersed camping (limited to 14 days at one location) the BLM also manages a number of  primitive campgrounds. Large sections of BLM land around Yuma and Quartzsite have stricter rules but longer camping limits due to the extreme popularity of the area with snowbirders. A permit, which costs $180.00 for 8 months or $40.00 for 2 weeks, is required to camp in any of the 7 Long Term Visitor Areas.

    Squaw Lake is located very near the Imperial Dam LTVA but is managed separately. A fee of $75.00 a year or $15.00 a day is charged and a pass holder is allowed to camp at four different areas – Squaw Lake, Oxbow, Senator Wash North and South Shores and Ehrenberg Sandbowl, an ORV site. Squaw Lake has more amenities than normal including tables, grills, fire pits, flush toilets and $1.00 showers. Free fresh water and a dump station are provided 1.5 miles away at the Imperial Dam LTVA. The area is very pretty but the RV section of the campground is just two large paved lots. Tenters get much nicer sites right on the water however most of them require a long walk from the parking area. We wanted a paved site to make waxing and minor maintenance work easier so this parking lot campground worked out fine. Each site consists of two parking spaces. We were concerned about generator noise when we saw all of the large class As and fifth wheels and a lack of solar panels but most people were very considerate and ran their generators for limited amounts of time. This may be much different in the summer months.

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  Two sites are marked as accessible but they do not have a paved path to the restrooms and showers. It’s much better to camp in the first parking lot and travel through the day use lot to get to a paved path to the building. The restrooms and showers are accessible but a token is needed for the showers and there isn’t a path from the showers to the token machine.  Campground

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            arizona1

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sans End RV Park

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   After almost a month of camping in the desert with too many short and cloudy days and not enough driving to help our solar panels fully charge our batteries we resorted to plugging in. Yuma, Arizona is one of the warmest places in the US during the winter and a very popular snowbird destination with more than 60 RV parks so finding a park is easy. I chose this one for its close location to Yuma and inexpensive-for-the-area $30.00 a night rate. Actually I chose a different one but our Garmin took us to this one! :-D

  We stayed just one night so we didn’t explore the park but it seems to be pretty typical with full hookups, a pool and a clubhouse. Most of the sites are very close together with a small sitting area and table separating them. Wheelchair access varies but many of the sites look like they’re accessible.

So now fully charged we’re heading back to the desert for a week or two to do our annual washing, waxing and general maintenance work.    Park

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pioneers Park Museum

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   The first group of galleries in the museum covers the interesting history of fifteen different ethnic groups that have settled in the Imperial Valley. Each group contributed artifacts and designed their own displays so some are much more elaborate and informative than others. Additional galleries include local history, farming, irrigation and Native Americans. There are also outdoor displays and relocated buildings. We spent so much time in the ethnic galleries that we missed seeing the other galleries. We’ll have to visit this place again!

  The museum is accessible but we didn’t check out the outdoor displays and buildings.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Museum

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       california1

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Slab City, Salvation Mountain and East Jesus

n  Visiting Salvation Mountain has been high on my list ever since I heard about it years ago. The mountain is the creation of Leonard Knight, a self taught artist who wanted to spread a message to the world – “God is Love”. He tried sewing a hot air balloon but he made it too big to fill, then he tried making a stationary one out of concrete but it collapsed. Next he tried plastering the side of a hill with concrete to make a good base for paint but he used too much sand in the mixture and after four years of work it all slid off into a pile of rubble. Finally he used adobe and straw covered with many layers of paint and built an amazing folk art mountain. This is such a cool place!
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  The mountain is huge with trails to the top. One section is built with trees and has paths winding around inside the structure.
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  The co-operative artistic community of East Jesus is about a mile away. Charlie Russell came to Slab City in 2007 and began building a complex where artists could live and create, free from normal restraints. Scrap material, much of it gathered from Slab City discards, is used to create both the buildings and artwork. A sculpture garden is opened to visitors. Free tours of the living quarters are given when a guide is available.
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  Both Salvation Mountain and East Jesus are part of Slab City, the site of a decommissioned World War II Marine barracks. The land belongs to the state of California and provides a free home to about 150 permanent residents and many more people during the winter months. Poverty and the lack of any public services such as trash collection, water and sewage lines has resulted in large amounts of discarded junk and some very creative housing. There’s also a church, free library, a desert golf course, an open air night club, an internet cafe and several private clubs. We were a bit hesitant about visiting based on wildly varying reports from friends and internet searches but we’re really glad that we did go. Our plan to check it out turned into a two day visit. Common sense is the best guide. The desert is big so chose a good spot and avoid infringing on anyone’s space.
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   Salvation Mountain is not wheelchair accessible due to loose sand but it can be viewed from the parking lot. The paths and living area of East Jesus are covered with carpet scraps which makes rolling around fairly easy.

  The parking lots at both Salvation Mountain and East Jesus are small but we could fit our RV into both. Larger RVs may not fit.
Salvation Mountain     East Jesus     Slab City
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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Scenes from the 2016 RTR

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  Anther RTR has come to an end. :-( It was wonderful to see old friends and meet new travelers. We really missed Lesa, Mike, Cheri, Atlee, Shane and Lily – hope you all can make it next year!

This was the largest RTR yet with a lot of new members eager to learn and experience life on the road and on public land even if it was just for a couple of weeks or a few days.

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                                            See ya next year!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Map Making Tutorial

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I’m still unhappy with the changes that Google has made to their maps however it looks like the new maps are here to stay. Since I’ve had a few requests for a tutorial I’ve decided to go ahead and make one. Hopefully if the maps change again the tutorial will still make sense. It's pretty easy to make a map once you know the steps.

If you don't already have a Google account you'll have to sign up for one which is simple. You'll automatically get a Gmail account.  Just ignore it if you don't want to use it. You can also sign up for  Google+ but that's not necessary for map making.

Once you have a Google account, open a Google search page in your browser. Click on the grid in the upper right corner.
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Click on the maps icon. 
Click on the search bar.
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Click on the My Maps bar that drops down.
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Click on Create.
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You’re now ready to start adding placemarks! There are many ways to add placemarks. You can add a placemark by clicking on the placemark icon under the search bar and then clicking on a location on the map. You can click on a labeled location on the map and then on Add to Map when the window pops up. If  you have an address, enter that in the search bar. If you have the name of a park or place, enter that. If you have the GPS co-ordinates, enter them. If you just know the general area ( this is what I use most of the time for entering boondocking locations that we’ve found as we travel) enter the nearest town. I’m going to make a map for Quartzsite, Arizona where the yearly Rubber Tramp Rendezvous is held.
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Entering Quartzsite, Arizona in the search bar zooms the map into the correct area and adds a marker.
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To make a marker permanent double click on it to bring up this window then click Add to Map.
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This marker is just a random location in Quartzsite and I want it to mark a specific location, the Big Tent Show. I don’t know the address but I know where it is from previous years. To find the location I want to look at satellite view. Click on the down arrow on the left side of Base Map.
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Click on satellite view.
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Zoom in if necessary and drag the marker to the correct location. To get it really accurate I often use street view. That works best in cities but it involves opening another map so I’ll get to that later in the tutorial.
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I’ve also marked some other locations. Silly Al’s Pizza by using the address, 175 W Main St, Quartzsite, AZ 85346 ; the RTR by using the GPS co-ordinates supplied by Bob Wells on his blog, 33°39’03.0″N   114°08’45.4″W ; and the RV dump station and water fill at Rose RV Park on Kuehn.
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map21 With the Quartzsite Big Tent marker in the right location I’m now ready to add some details. This is one of the great things about making your own maps. You can rename your placemarks, add personal notes, clickable links and photographs. To do this click on the little edit pencil.
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  Now you can add information!
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  I’ve changed the placemark name, changed the placemark icon, added a description and a link which just requires copying and pasting the website link to make a clickable link. One little quirk in the description window is that it does not allow you to skip down to the next line by pressing enter. If you want to add another line press control and enter at the same time. Don’t forget to save your changes!

To change the placmark icon hover over the place name on the left hand menu. Click on the little paint can.
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You’ll be able to change the shape and color. Click on More Icons to open another pane with many more icons. You can also import your own. Strangely there isn’t a tent icon on the new maps.
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Photographs are very helpful but if you want to add one of your own you'll need to upload it to a  photo sharing site first. I use Photobucket.
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After you've loaded your photos click on the one that you want, then click on the "Direct" link to copy the address for your map

To add a photograph onto a map location click on the little pencil to edit. Then click on the camera icon in the right corner.

I haven’t found a way to add more than one photo to a placemark window.
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This screen will pop up. Click on Image URL to load your own photograph or if you don’t want to use your own you can load one from the internet.
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That’s it! You can add 2000 placemarks on each layer of the map. I don’t use or understand layers so if you want to use them you’re on own. :-D Layers may be very beneficial if you have many placemarks and you want to have a map layer that shows just one category such as WiFi locations, truck stops, libraries, campgrounds, etc. You can put each category on it’s own layer and look at each layer separately or all of the layers at once. You can have 10 layers total on a map.

Name your map and bookmark it to make it easy to find. When you open it again you may have to click on Open in my Maps if you want to add new locations or edit old ones.
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Before you do that, though, there are two very useful features on the preview map that aren’t on My Maps. Click the little guy in the bottom right corner and drop him anywhere on the map to get street view. Streets that light up blue have street view. Walk around on street view to find the exact spot where you want to place your mark.

Right click on an icon then click on What’s Here to get GPS co-ordinates. They’ll appear under the search bar. Update – it  appears that GPS coordinates are now automatically added to all placemarks on My Maps. Very convenient!
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  I don’t use the Draw a Line or Add Directions features but you may find them useful so start a map and play around with it for awhile. I’m not using the maps to their full potential but they work very well for my purpose. Let me know if any of this is confusing or if you find mistakes. Have fun!

Note; If you’re in Lite mode some or all of the tutorial instructions may not work.