Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sans End RV Park

   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
32.73988, -114.64219

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pioneers Park Museum

   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
32.82499, -115.50309

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!
  The mountain is huge with trails to the top. One section is built with trees and has paths winding around inside the structure.
  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.
  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.
   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
33.25401, -115.47299

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Scenes from the 2016 RTR

046a_thumb1  Another 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.
                                            See ya next year!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Map Making Tutorial

tutorial map
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.

 Update!  This page was my second attempt at explaining the map making process and it's now (2017) out of date. Rather than do it all over again I'm including a link from Google to get you started - My Maps. 
 The rest of the instructions below should still be good.

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.
Entering Quartzsite, Arizona in the search bar zooms the map into the correct area and adds a marker.
To make a marker permanent double click on it to bring up this window then click Add to Map.
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.
Click on satellite view.
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 and involves opening another map since street view is no longer an option on My Maps..
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.
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.
  Now you can add information!
  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.
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.
Photographs are very helpful
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.
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.
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.

  GPS coordinates are automatically added to all placemarks on My Maps but they're only visible to the map makers so if you want them to show on the maps that everyone else sees copy and paste the co-ordinates into the placemark box.
  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.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 RTR

  We’ll be hanging out in the desert with all of the other rubber tramps at the RTR for about two weeks so I won’t be posting very much. Everyone is welcome at these gatherings so if you have a tent, van, car or RV and you want to learn about how to live cheaply or just make some new friends come on over!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Corvina Beach

  A large sea once covered the area where the Salton Sea and the Imperial Valley are today. Periodically the Colorado River would fill the valley so at times it was a fresh water lake, a salt water sea or a dry salt plain. The last natural cycle occurred about 400 years ago. The water now in the Salton Sea is the result of a cut made in the bank of the Colorado River in 1905 when irrigation canals were being dug. Water flowed into the valley for two years before the breach was repaired. The beautiful fresh water lake became of a vacation paradise for a short period but soon increased salinity of the water, algae blooms, fish die offs and agricultural pollution left most of the small communities ghost towns. 
  Salton Sea State Recreation Area covers 14 miles of the northeastern shore. Covina Beach Campground is close the shore and has picnic tables, vault toilets and drinking water.  No length limit for RVs.

  The ground in the camping area is hard packed so rolling is fairly easy but soft sand and dunes make wheelchair access to the water impossible. Campground
33.47694, -115.89014

Coachella Valley History Museum

  The 1926 adobe building that houses the museum was the home of Dr. Smiley and his wife. The Smileys were on their way to California when their car broke down. Since a doctor was needed in the area and the Smileys needed money they settled in and decided to stay. The museum complex includes a history museum in the house, a two room schoolhouse and a date museum. Farm, blacksmith and railroad equipment is on display outside.
  The ramp into the museum is very steep. The museum interior and the grounds are accessible. The schoolhouse and date museum have ADA compliant ramps and are accessible.

   RVs will fit in the parking lot across the street from the museum.  Museum
33.72149, -116.22302

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Shields Date Garden

  Date palms require a dry, hot climate and warm nights to survive and bear fruit. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the USDA searched the world for crops that would grow well in the varied climates of the US. The Coachella Valley was perfect for dates so a few shoots were brought to the US from Algeria. Thousands of trees now grow in the valley and provide 95% of the US date crop.

  Shields Date Farm is a family run business started by Floyd and Bess Shields in 1924. The store, located on the edge of a small date grove, is brimming over with many varieties of dates, citrus fruit and souvenirs. Free samples are available. A short film about date farming is shown in a small theater.There’s also a garden with statues depicting 14 biblical scenes – $5.00 but free if you spend $25.00 at the gift shop or eat in the restaurant.
  The gift shop is accessible but a bit crowded when the store is busy. The theater is accessible. Since the reviews on the garden are mixed we didn’t visit it. We also found that dates are still too sweet for our tastes and we didn’t buy anything to get free admission to the garden.

  RVs should be parked in the gravel lot by the date trees. It’s kind of rough so wheelchair users may want to be dropped off at the entrance. Garden
33.70697, -116.26559