The Oregon Coast

(April 4, 2018)

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Highway 101 continues north and ends in Lund, BC. The vistas in Oregon are unmatched. Although the highway mostly hugs the coast, the curves are gentler, and the views are more spectacular than in California. Also, Oregon provides plenty of turn offs with parking and little paths to the beach or lookouts. Dogs are allowed on their trails and even some beaches. I knew I’d love Oregon, but I didn’t know how much. This state is incredibly gorgeous, and RV & dog-friendly.

Also, along the coast, you won’t find very many chain stores and restaurants. The citizens support mom-and-pop shops. It’s very refreshing. We had lunch at The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips in Port Orford. Their motto is “Cod is my Co-Pilot.” There were lots of quirky sayings inside, like “You won’t die from eating lutefisk; you’ll just smell that way.” The fish was cooked to perfection!  No, we didn’t have lutefisk, but I’d give it a try.

Port Orford:

We camped at another casino parking lot. Thankfully, there are just frogs keeping us company here. The casino lets us go in to use their lounge and wifi.

(April 5, 2018)

We continued our drive on the coast, but we can definitely tell that we are heading north.  The rain has started, and it is getting chillier.

Devil’s Churn would be amazing to see at high-tide.  The waves have been crashing into the rock and creating a chasm.  It was low-tide when we were there, but still fantastic to see.

Nearing Tillamook (Where did the hills go?)

We took the detour to Tillamook, OR to see the cheese factory, but there were just temporary displays (they are building a new facility) and hoards of people.  We didn’t sample any of the cheeses because we saw many dirty little hands touching the samples in the “cheese buffet” line-up.

Tomorrow, we are heading to Portland (Portlandia!) to visit our friends George and Monica, whom we met back in 2014 in Europe.  Can’t wait!

 

Among the Giants

(April 2 & 3, 2018)

It’s hard to believe that a week ago, we were still enjoying the wide open desert spaces, and now we are strolling, driving, and camping among the giant redwoods. They are so massive that they block the sun and you must drive with your headlights on. We camped at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We arrived early enough, but it felt like early evening since the sun couldn’t get through the dense forest. The scent was exhilarating. We also got to hear the campground sounds that we long to hear: chopping wood (thunk thunk thunk), crackling fires, children giggling, tent zippers zipping. We’ve always thought that someone should make a sound track of these summer sounds.

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Avenue of Giants

Of course, dogs can’t go on hiking trails, but they can walk in the campgrounds, so that’s where we photographed them. The campground is mostly second growth, but there are still some stumps of the old-growth trees.

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We wanted to walk in the old-growth forest, so we took the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, which was approximately 1.5 miles. There are old-growth redwoods, Douglas fir, and tanoak trees in this section of the forest. The trees were far too immense to capture in my basic camera lens.

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Where’s Paul?

 

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Scorched trunk

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Find Paul

There is nothing that can compare to a walk among the giants.

We spent the second night at a casino in Crescent City, CA. At first, it seemed like a good find. We registered, and they sent us to a grassy area away from the main parking lot. That was a nice change from the usual paved lot. There was a bush on one side and a pasture on another. Poppy sniffed around for a bit and came inside. All seemed well. And then the dogs came — yes, a pack of agitated barking dogs. They were not happy that we were there. Paul had read a review online that a camper had been accosted by the dogs, but Paul neglected to share this tidbit. Eventually, the dogs went away, and a little fox came by the Chinook. We carefully surveyed the area before the girls did their bedtime business.

Two April Fools!

(April 1, 2018)

The morning started off so nicely.  We made it to the coast, got a great parking spot, and walked along the ocean in Santa Cruz.

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We even found some California poppies:

What could possibly go wrong? We were just on a quest for Indonesian food. There are no more Indonesian restaurants in Canada (we’ve looked far and wide). Any time we hit a new city, we search for Indonesian food. Well, today was our lucky day: San Fransisco has 3! We chose one right off the highway. That should be easy. WRONG!

Problem 1: no parking

Problem 2: one-way streets

Problem 3: hills

Problem 4: motorhome

Result: No rijsttafel for you!

We must have looked like Laurel and Hardy trying to get back to the highway. We first went down down down; then, up up up. Then, imagine the Chinook at a stoplight looking like the shuttle ready for liftoff and Paul flooring it when the light turned green. I think some pedestrians’ faces turned green. I almost spewed green.  I only have pictures from the gentler hills.  For the intense ones, I was holding on for dear life!

It all seemed so tame heading in:

Where is that bridge?!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

But wait! It got wilder! We decided to stay on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s scenic. It conjures up images of carefree people in convertibles and sweeping vistas. What could possibly go wrong? Oh dear! The highway hugs the Pacific coast. You see, it’s in the name. There is no deception. Coasts aren’t straight. We went up and down and around. There were many hairpin turns. Dishes were rattling; drawers were sliding open; I kept running back to pick up items that fell; Poppy was shaking; Paul had white knuckles; Daisy slept. We had to finally stop in Olema so that my stomach could settle and we could ask how to get back to the 101. Phew! After all that fun, we camped for the night at The Home Depot in Santa Rosa. Serenity now!

Would we do it again? Heck yeah, but in something a great deal smaller!

Sawtooth Canyon and Calico Ghost Town

Sawtooth Canyon, BLM camping
(March 27 & 28, 2018)

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Since there was no camping available within Joshua Tree NP, we continued heading north toward Bakersfield. We located Sawtooth Canyon on freecampsites.net (a favorite resource). The campground isn’t visible from the highway, and we had to travel about 1 mile down a washboard road, but what a delight when we arrived! Most campsites are quite private. They each have a picnic shelter, cement picnic table, firepit, and bbq. No expense was spared. It is all for free! The caveat is that the sites aren’t level at all, but for that price, we didn’t complain (too much). We did some rockhounding and found rough lapis.  The moon was nearly full and the evenings were warm, so we enjoyed a crackling campfire, grilled steak & veggies (peppers, potatoes, asparagus, zucchini), and a buttery Chardonnay. What more could anyone ask for?

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On the second day, we changed locations, trying to find a more level spot.

Calico Ghost Town
(March 29, 2018)

A friend recommended that we stop and see this attraction. It was an interesting stop. The buildings are original, but they are mostly shops now. The shops were fairly pet-friendly, but the temperature was too hot for the girls. One shop owner turned the window A/C for Daisy. How sweet was that? We made the decision to go back to the Chinook, turn on the generator and A/C to cool the girls down before we headed north again.

 

Spot the Chinook:

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For lunch, we went to this famous 50s diner.

We also visited the quirky Diner-saur park around back:

That night, we stayed in a very noisy RV park in Bakersfield.  The train tracks ran right alongside the park, and there was no buffer.  You win some, you lose some.

Heading North, but going downhill

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Painted Rock Petroglyph Site (Bureau of Land Management)
(March 18-20, 2018)

We first tried to stop at a state park, but the cost was too dear, so we kept going and came across this park near Gila Bend. The petroglyph park is 12 miles off the highway, and I guess that is enough to keep people away, so it’s very quiet. It is a pilot BLM campground, which means there are actual sites with firepits, pit-toilets, and trash bins. The cost is $8/night.

The sites are large and well-spaced, so this is quite a deal. There are lots of hiking trails and as the name suggests, petroglyphs. There is no cell coverage, though. We needed to make a very important phone call on Monday (March 19), so we had to drive up a hill until we could get a connection. I’ll write a post about the important phone call later.

Here is Daisy under her picnic shelter. This screen is for keeping flies off food, but it works very well to keep flies off Shih Tzus.  You can see that fly on the outside by her tail.  No Daisy for you!

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The flies bite, and Paul’s skin reacted to the bites again.  He was covered in welts.

The petroglyphs are just a short stroll from the campground, and are easily accessible.

There was so much open space, so Poppy enjoyed her walks.  Lizards are fast, so she had lots of entertainment.

We also bumped into a couple we had met in Borrego Springs, Bob and Sandi, just like my parents!  We were so surprised when we saw Sandi zip by us on her bike.  They told us such interesting and funny stories about when they lived in Canada (Sandi is Canadian).  They should write a book!

After this park, we headed back to Yuma so that we could say good-bye to my aunt and uncle.  Yes, sadly, all the snowbirds have to head north now.  We start our journey north on Monday March 26, but we will go slowly.  Thirty centimetres of snow fell today in our town in Saskatchewan.  We want to give it some time to melt.  The Chinook is our little snow melter, but I don’t think it is a match for Saskatchewan right now.

A Change in Altitude

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From Tucson, we travelled south to Benson and then on to Tombstone and Bisbee. In Benson, we stayed at a really nice RV park (San Pedro RV Resort). Our site was just gravel, and there were no barriers between the sites, but the sites were very large – at least 3 times the size of regular parks. The price was right (with Passport America, $20/night), but our favorite part was the birds! So many birds! We now were in a more forested area of Arizona. Also, this park also has permanent residents with mobile homes, so there were paved streets and nicely maintained yards. Because it can get cooler there in the winter, the pool and hot tub were indoors.

Benson is near Kartchner Caverns. We drove out for a tour, but you must book in advance online, so we gave up on that idea. Instead we enjoyed relaxing and cooking and spending time with our new friends, Becky and Myron from N. Battleford. They became full-timers in July too; however, they had already spent a couple of winters down south, so they are more seasoned. You can check out their blog at http://canucksonwheels.com We really enjoyed getting to know them and learning all their tips on full-timing for Canadians.

Tombstone
March 15, 2018

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We parked in the RV lot and walked the main street in Tombstone with the girls. It’s a very pet-friendly area. I always waited outside shops with Poppy while Paul went in with Daisy in her pouch. The shopkeeper would always motion for me to bring Poppy in. We fell in love with all the native-made jewelry. Maybe next year I’ll get something.

Who’s a good girl? Poppy! She’s not in jail . . . yet!

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A tough old dog in a tough town
Daisy turned 15 this month!

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We didn’t go into the OK Corral because dogs weren’t allowed, but we got to see some of the actors walk down the street in that direction. It was so windy, and it added to the scene.  Look at that dust fly!

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However, a water truck came to tame the dust.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Boot Hill. We can’t do it all in our first year.

Out of the Desert and onto the Beach

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We crossed into Mexico on February 15, 2018. We were told by the border guard that she couldn’t stamp our passports and that I had to go into the office. Paul pulled over and waited. And waited. And waited. I was in the office for such a long time, and a young man kept coming to check on me and was apologetic. I think the only person who could stamp our passports was involved in a deep game of Candy Crush and refused to stamp them. He was going to show me! So, we never got our passports stamped.

Paul went to the insurance office, which was only a matter of meters from the border. I stayed in the Chinook and I staved off window washers. Those guys don’t take “no” for an answer. The insurance office had to call the office in Puerto Peñasco to get the price that Ted negotiated for on our behalf, and it all went smoothly. However, we only got the policy, but not the receipt, which we need to give to our Canadian insurance company for a refund when we return. Something else to do.

Ted and Dona are staying at a full-service park, Playa Bonita, but we stayed just down the beach at Concha del Mar. It is family owned and operated. It is dry-camping, but the showers are hot and free, and for $11/night, we were satisfied. Yes, we were satisfied — until night came.

There is a nearby nightclub that blasts music starting at 10 pm on weekends. That first night (Thursday), it went on until 3:30. However, the next night (Friday), it was much worse. A mariachi band, complete with several trumpets, played from 10 pm – 5:15 am. Then, from 5:15-6 am, it was “open mike”. At that point, I was so delirious from lack of sleep that I couldn’t stop laughing. This one man could only play the low E-string on his guitar while he did some sort of Mexican yodeling.

The next morning, we walked over to Ted and Dona’s park to see if other people had heard it. Yes, it was audible there too. Ted and Dona drove us around to find a new park far from the madding nightclub.

So, on Saturday, we moved to Playa de Oro. It is a full-service park, and more expensive ($22/night), but quiet. Also, the beach is more picturesque and accessible. We stayed there Saturday night and returned to Concha del Mar on Sunday. What a difference a good sleep makes!

Of course, there was still a nearby party Sunday night, but the wind was so fierce that it drowned it out. We stayed from Sunday-Thursday at that park. There are things we liked about that park (the owners and workers and the fact that it was open parking), but it was like staying at a drydock. There was a crew of workers that repaired, washed & waxed, and painted RVs and cars. Most of the work was done on-site, but sometimes they took vehicles to a shop.  For example, Donna Dee had the side of her truck painted ($450 US). They took it to a shop, but most RVs are just done at the park. They actually turn out quite well, considering all the dust and sand.  I was very impressed by the speed and care taken.

One day, Paul asked the owner where he gets his hair cut. The owner said, “My wife. She can do yours too, but she’s up a ladder waxing an RV right now.” Yup. They do it all! The next day, Paul got his $3-hair cut.

Our neighbour had his graphics removed and painted.  It turned out better than new.

On Thursday February 22, 2017, we moved back to Playa de Oro to avoid the nightclub madness (and to get wifi — glorious wifi!). We decided to stay at this park until we leave. It is really cutting into our budget (yes, Mexico is proving to be more expensive than the US for us), but it is quieter and we can walk to more places (and I have wifi to update the blog). The malecon is only a 35-minute walk.

Unfortunately, where there is a beach, there are fireworks.  Also, it was an American long weekend.  Luckily, there weren’t many fireworks, and people called it a night by 9 pm, but still Poppy has to wear her Thundershirt on weekends.

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Nevertheless, both girls love the beach.  Poppy chases seagulls and bites the waves.  Daisy just likes a soft landing when she loses her balance.

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About Poppy and her slender body — One man asked us if we got her here in Mexico.  No, she just looks like a homeless dog.  A Mexican woman who came to our RV selling snacks told Poppy to “Eat! Eat!” in Spanish.  So funny!

There is an excellent rescue organization here: Barb’s Dog Rescue.  I had read about it a few years ago on a blog.  We met people here in this park who go there to volunteer and they are also fostering a dog in their RV.  They invited us to join them.  I really want to; however, with Daisy’s weakened immune system, we can’t this year.  We will definitely help out if we are back this way next year.  For this year, we can only make food donations.  Thank you to Barb and all the volunteers.

We plan to stay one more week, and then we are heading back north. It’s hard to believe that it will be March on Thursday. Many RVers are already heading back to their home States and Provinces. We won’t be heading back that quickly.

Don’t Feed the Coyotes

After we left the Chinook rally, we headed to Ajo and Why, Arizona. Our plan was to meet Ted and Dona in Why and cross the border together on February 11, 2018.

At the Chinook rally, Karen and Kenny told us about a vintage trailer rally that was happening in Why at Coyote Howls East campground. We made it on Saturday evening, but everyone pulled out on Sunday morning, so we didn’t meet anyone, but we did see some beautiful units (too dark for pictures).

Here is one that stuck around after the event:

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We set out early Sunday afternoon to buy our Mexican vehicle insurance. At the Why gas station (insurance provider), we were told our Chinook was too old (It’s a 2002, and I guess, in the Mexican world, that’s vintage), so we had to go back to Ajo to buy insurance. Off we went.

In Ajo, we found the insurance company, but the cost for 2 weeks would be almost $400 US! This was way out of our budget. We had until 4:30 to decide before the office closed. However, we couldn’t contact Ted and Dona or Donna Dee to say we would be backing out. We tried to find wifi all over town. There was a campground across from the IGA, so we asked if we could log in briefly because we were getting desperate. They refused!

The IGA helped us out, and gave us their password. Paul tried and tried to contact Ted and Dona, but they were out of range too, so they didn’t get any of our messages. It just so happened that we looked up and saw the “Party Bus” (Ted and Dona’s Airstream motorhome) carrying all our friends that they had picked up at the airport: Joe & Carla, Jane & Garry, Susan & Chris. Off we were, down the highway trying to catch up!

We met up at the Why gas station, where Ted just put liability on the motorhome. It truly is vintage, and insurance is astronomical. Joe had picked up Daisy’s medications in Saskatoon, and delivered them to us. We honestly didn’t think she’d live this long, but as I’ve said before, Arizona has been good to her. We were so thankful to Joe!

 

At the gas station, you’ll find this “don’t feed the coyotes” sign. We were mocking it because we hadn’t heard any coyotes the previous night. In Saskatchewan, you aren’t camping if you don’t hear coyotes. Well, I learned my lesson about mocking signs. When I went to put the girls back in the motorhome, there was a coyote lurking! He was stalking us. Donna Dee had just let little Tonto scamper about, and the coyote had been watching and salivating. He kept creeping closer to the motorhome, and then backing away. He was so skinny and mangy. He didn’t look like a healthy Saskatchewan coyote. No one would want his fur on a winter parka hood.

Coyote Howls East campground is dry-camping only but there are water spigots and shower houses.  The price was reasonable — $9/night.

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Early that evening, a coyote walked past our campsite while we were preparing dinner.  That night, things picked up!  There were coyotes yipping everywhere!  The campground was alive!  Coyotes are bilingual, and one was trying to mimic a dog to lure the girls out.  I made them hold “it” until morning.

I was not going to feed the coyotes.

Chinookery

We left Oasis Palms RV resort in Thermal and headed towards Borrego Springs.  We camped in a free site, but this time it wasn’t on BLM land.  It is land owned by the Avery family (Avery labels and office supplies).  They have lots of land out this way, but they have left some of it for the public.  There are signs where it is private, but the rest is open.  The property was very clean.  People are respectful and do not leave trash around.  There are some good hiking trails in the hills (but too precarious to carry a camera up there).

We met up with Yves and Boogaloo again.  Sadly, the Land Rover is out of commission.  Yves accidentally towed it in first gear, so the engine is dead.  He has put out an SOS, and hopefully someone in California will have a spare engine for him.

View from our window and door:

We went in to Borrego Springs to get wifi.  What a sweet town!  The public library has outside benches, free wifi, and charging stations.  There is a nearby post office where people have packages sent “general delivery.”

This is the little mall around the library: (I love the MCM light fixtures)

When we got to town, we saw a Chinook parked, so we parked beside it.  We had a clear view while we were at the library, so when the people returned, we went to talk to them. They asked if we were heading to the Chinook rally in Yuma.  What rally?  That got our wheels literally in motion.

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That evening, Yves wanted to have a potluck, so he invited some nearby campers, and we had a delicious Mexican meal, complete with French beignets.

Daisy loved it there, and she had many walkabouts:

Yves got busy and gave Boogaloo a shave.  Yves said, “I don’t do fantasy.”  Boogaloo just got a basic shave down.  He must have felt so much cooler.

We were hoping to stay another day, but we got talking and thought we should head back to Yuma to find the Chinookers.

Yuma truly is the centre of the universe!  We keep finding our way back!  We found the Chinook rally, and they welcomed us.  It turned out that another couple paid their fees but couldn’t make it and couldn’t get a refund.  We got their spot.  It was very exciting for us because the only Chinook we had ever seen was ours (and the one in Borrego Springs).

Find our Chinook:

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The oldest is the crowd was a 1999, so they all were pretty hard to tell apart.  We had an ID tag made for Poppy with our Chinook on it.  If she got lost, we had hoped someone would locate the RV from the picture.  Ha!  Not in this crowd!

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Bob and Debbie also have a Destiny.  It’s a 2001, and they’ve owned it since it was 2 years old.  They were a fun couple.  Bob collected all the brochures he could get his hands on while Chinook was still in business.  We got to pore over them one afternoon.  Delightful!

Karen and Kenny also arrived late like us, and they were not members either.  Karen is my trailer soul mate!  You should see the trailers that have followed her home!  She has renovated some serious machines.  She has even sold trailers that found their ways to RV parks to be used as rentals.  One trailer, a rare Aeroflyte, was listed on eBay, and a museum was bidding against a personal collector.  Check out this 1959 Spartan that she sold to Enchanted Trails.  Three of her former trailers are at this park.  We hope to stay in touch to see what projects they are working on.  Kenny built a “tiny house” 25 years ago, long before anyone had heard of them.  He built it to take to swap meets so that he had shelter and a washroom.

Tomorrow (Sunday February 11, 2018), we are heading into Mexico.  Our first stop will be Puerto Peñasco.  Six friends are flying in from Saskatoon and Calgary.  Ted and Dona are picking them up at the airport.  Then we are all driving over together.

Here is a local treat that we indulged in on the way.  They are sold everywhere in southern Arizona and California.  Try one when you are this way!

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Salton Sea, CA

After leaving Slab City, we drove around to the western side of the Salton Sea, but we backtracked by going south and then around so that we could see Salton City.

Here is Spreckels Sugar in Brawley, CA.  I actually took this picture on our way to Slab City.  What’s interesting is that the sea level is marked on the side of the structure.  That’s how low it is here.

The Salton Sea is an environmental disaster, not unlike the Aral Sea.  Instead of learning from the mistakes made by diverting water from rivers that flowed to the Aral, history is repeating itself here.  Water from the Colorado river is diverted for farming, but also for San Diego and the Coachella Valley.  This is expected to increase over the next year, causing the Sea to shrink even further.  It is having disastrous effects, both on the wildlife and humans.

Back in the 1960s, Salton City was developed and was intended to be a beach community.  All the infrastructure was put in place, but with a dying sea, the town died too.  It looks like a ghost town.  What a sad state!  However, the population has started to rise in the last few years due to rising housing costs in California.  You can buy a serviced lot in Salton City for less than $5000!  Of course, it comes with health risks because the Sea is in such poor shape.

We stopped and made lunch at what was supposed to be a parking lot for the beach.  Poppy was ecstatic to roll around on the polluted shore.  We let her.  Life is short!

This is the avenue leading to the beach parking lot.  There are 2 lanes leading there and 2 leading away on the other side of the median.  The city planners had expected lots of traffic.  Now, it looks post-apocalyptic with all the dead palm trees and crumbling pavement.IMG_7229

This is the beach parking lot, where we made our lunch.  We were wondering if Mad Max would show up.  Eerie.

Of course, a beach is a beach, and dogs must have fun.

We tried to brush off the dusty sand from Poppy’s fur before she got into the Chinook, but it was deep in her fur.  Whenever she shook, there was a cloud of polluted dusty sand in the air.  Mmm!  Then, we all got to inhale it.

Next, something wonderful happened.

We arrived at Oasis Palms RV Resort and discovered something we hadn’t seen in months . . .

. . . G R A S S ! !

Imagine the dogs’ joy!

Imagine our joy!  We could finally give Poppy a bath!  Before she could sprinkle more of that Salton Sea dust around, we lathered her up.  We are near a town called Thermal, so the water from the pipe came out warm, so I didn’t even need to warm her bath water.

Here she is, all fresh and clean!

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It didn’t take long for her fur to dry in the late afternoon sun.  Of course, Poppy had to lick herself a bit to “improve” her scent.  She wouldn’t want the other dogs to think she was one of those kinds of dogs!

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Oasis Palms RV Resort is one of the nicest parks we have ever stayed at.  The facilities are well-maintained, clean, and orderly, and we can pick fruit from any of the trees in the park.  The best part is that the managers are dog-lovers and dogs basically run freely within reason.  They can go in the buildings and in the pool and hot tub area.  There is a fire pit with a mountain of firewood.  The managers start the fire every afternoon for happy hour, and the dogs are welcome to come to happy hour.  Poppy is in her glory!  Daisy also enjoys watching all the dogs play.  There is a separate “dog run”, but it’s mostly for the dogs who are high energy and don’t play well in the public areas.

When we were in Yuma, the RV park we stayed at was pretty run-down.  It wasn’t anywhere close to being in the same league as this one, yet there were still people there watching every move the dogs made.  Some insisted that dogs be taken outside the park to pee (like a dog can hold it on the walk to get beyond the entrance!  HA!).  This park is glorious, and dogs bounce and play together everywhere in the park.  There was a concert tonight in the clubhouse, and 2 dogs where wrestling on a sofa near the stage.

The RV park is fairly well situated to the Palm Springs area.  Today, we went to Palm Desert, Indio, and La Quinta with Ted and Dona.  This evening, we went somewhere special for dinner.

There is a Mexican family that lives fairly close to the park.  On Saturday nights, they set up a shelter and tables in front of their house and cook up Mexican food for the locals.  Someone got wind of this in the park, and the secret gets passed on to new park residents, and we got in on it!  Dona got 2 quesadillas, Ted & Paul got 2 tostadas and a beer each, and I got 2 tostadas and a pop.  The food was divine!  Our bill came to $25.25 for the 4 of us!

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