Make a Run for the Border!

On January 2, Jim and Marietta dropped by around noon to see if we wanted to run into Los Algondones, Mexico.  Heck, yeah!

Los Algodones is really close to Yuma, and it is a destination for medical tourism.  There are lots of advertisements for doctors and dentists here in Yuma, but they are located in Los Algodones.  Jim needed new lenses for his glasses and an eye exam.  The eye exam is free when you get new lenses or a whole new set of glasses and lenses.  Deal!

We drove to the parking lot at the border (Winterhaven, CA) and just walked across.  How simple is that?  The parking lot is run by the Quechan tribe, and it costs $6/day for cars to park, and I think around $12/day for RVs.  On any given day, the parking lot is pretty full.  The Quechan tribe also has a nearby casino which allows overnight parking for RVs.


The streets are lined with offices of dentists, physicians, optometrists, and pharmacies.  Also, you have to navigate the street vendors peddling their wares — their many many wares.  I must admit that if I had more room, one or two pottery bowls might have made their way into my bag.  Instead, we settled on my practical items, like tequila and fresh shrimp packed in ice from Puerto Peñasco.


There aren’t many street dogs in Los Algodones.  I saw this little cutie sunning herself, but as soon as I took out my camera, she toddled over.  Then, her buddy saw and joined her.  I don’t think they were street dogs.  They were just highly trained snack hounds.

Medical tourism is for the dogs, too.  We met a man on a bench holding his little dog as the anaesthetic wore off.  The dog had just had his teeth cleaned.  He said his two girl-dogs’ teeth stay clean with bones, but his boy-dog’s teeth don’t.  The cleaning was about $90.

A dentist recommended a good restaurant to us, but when we saw that the prices were what we would pay in the US or Canada, we opted for street food.  We had seen one vendor earlier, and went back.  It was a great choice.  We each had 2 tacos and a drink for a total of $4.50.  That’s what I’m talking about!


We cooked up the shrimp for dinner.  Look at the size!


In addition to tequila, Paul also bought this bottle of mystery alcohol.  A local told him that they add it to a concoction of unpasteurized milk, coffee and hot chocolate.  A 1/2 liter only costs $0.68!  Well, how does it taste?  According to Paul, “Not bad.”  He doesn’t think it is very high in alcohol, even though the bottle says 24%.


We are leaving Yuma today and heading to Quartzite for the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR).  It is an event organized by Bob Wells.  Bob has an informative YouTube channel on how to live full-time on the road.  His website is  A few days ago, we were pulling into Wal-Mart, and we saw a van that looked like Bob’s.  It was Bob’s van, and he was lashing his bike to his carrier.  We got to meet him and talk to him briefly.  I was so happy.  We don’t think we will get to talk to him at the RTR because about 1000 units are expected.

We will be boondocking on the desert for about 2 weeks, so I won’t be able to update my blog until after the event.

Morning Walks

We have irrigation canals around the RV park.  The berm is well-groomed for people to walk or bike.  People really have to be careful about cleaning up after their dogs, although many do not.  No poop can get into these irrigation canals.  If you wonder how e-coli gets onto our lettuce, that’s how.

This is the park on the other side of the canal from Yuma Mesa RV Park, where we are staying.  I love the big saguaro cactus.  It’s a pretty park, but it doesn’t have a pool, hot tub, shuffleboard, etc.


Most days, we just take Daisy and Poppy on our morning walk, but on the odd day, we ask Donna Dee if Tru & Reece can come with us.IMG_6232

Tru is a Border Collie.  She’s an old girl, but you’d never know it.  She’s very frisky and would play fetch until she died.  She really does have OCD, so you have to control her fetch games.  She is also an Olympic Cuddler like Poppy.  Paul wants to steal her.IMG_6220

Reece is a Standard Poodle.  He is such a handsome boy!  Yes, I want to steal him.  I keep whispering in his big ears that he should hop in the Chinook when we leave.  In the meantime, we’ll keep playing with these two precious dogs.  Donna rescued Reece and has really brought him out of his shell.  He didn’t have a good early life, but he’s livin’ the life now!  Some evenings, Donna will come over and spend some time visiting in the Chinook.  She will bring one of the dogs, so we get more time with them.IMG_6219

One day, we crossed the main road and walked along another canal berm.  As we approached a date palm grove, we thought we might be near my Aunty Candice and Uncle Gunner’s place, and sure enough, we were!  That day, we also had Reece and Tru with us.  We were all pretty hot, so we got refreshed on my aunt and uncle’s porch.  What a great walk that was!  We were so surprised that it only took 35 minutes to walk there.  Of course, Tru found a lovely display of pinecones in a bowl and tried to entice my uncle to play fetch with her!  What a girl!

Other Creatures, Great and Small

There is a dead tree near our park, and every morning the vultures perch on it and warm their wings.  It was a little disconcerting the first time I walked by, but they kept to themselves and didn’t look twice at Daisy.


There are also citrus fruit groves and other crops.  Check out this field:IMG_6254IMG_6250IMG_6255

The day before I walked by, they were so wooly.  The next morning, I remembered my camera, but during the evening, they lost their coats!  As I approached, they came running over.

These sheep are from Montana.  It is cheaper for farmers to send their sheep south than to buy feed for them for the winter.  They get moved from field to field.  They can clear a field in a couple of days, and they add much needed nutrients.  Lucky sheep!  Who wouldn’t want to spend their winters in Arizona?


Along for the ride

We had a white-knuckle drive through Montana and into Idaho yesterday.  However, the Interstates are well maintained.

We camped last night just south of Idaho Falls at a Flying J truck stop.  They have plug-ins for RVs for only $12 per night, and the washrooms stay open 24 hours.  We think it was a pretty good deal, although the trucks do run their engines all night.  It was cold (20F), but the Chinook retains heat fairly well.  Plus, we were able to run our Dyson heater.

We had hoar frost and fog for our morning drive.  Unfortunately, we passed the Potato Museum just outside of Shelley, Idaho.  Next time, we’ll stop for a visit.  Paul doesn’t want to stop until it is warmer.

I find Idaho to be extremely beautiful.  It is rugged and there is a lot of sage brush.  The mountains were in the distance, but the fog interfered with our view.  These pictures are from our last rest stop before crossing into Utah.  Chilly!

Shortly after crossing into Utah, just past the Welcome to Utah sign, Paul said, “The battery light is on.”  Then, in minutes (minutes!), we lost all power.  Paul pulled to the side.  Thankfully, yesterday, we got a US phone plan, so we could call for a tow.  My CAA plan wouldn’t cover us, so we had to pay out of pocket and we were 30 miles from the nearest town.

Because the tow truck cab was pretty tight, and we didn’t want to leave the girls alone in the Chinook, we asked if I could ride in the Chinook.  It’s illegal, but the driver said to stay out of view and do it.  So, I went along for the ride, but inside the Chinook!  Poppy was pretty content.  We had a smooth ride, and she couldn’t hear the scary growl of the beast that lives in the engine.  She actually settled down quite a bit.

At the mechanic’s shop, they said we could stay in the Chinook while they replaced the alternator.  I ran across the street and picked up some southern BBQ, and we ate inside with the girls.

Inside the smoker:

 We thought we’d avoid the traffic in Salt Lake City by arriving around 1:30, but the breakdown cost us valuable time.  But, all was not lost.  The mechanic told us to go into Salt Lake City to Temple Square because the light display was fabulous.  So, we arrived in Salt Lake City at 5:30 and found a parking space near Temple Square.

We never would have attempted to drive downtown in a major city with our truck and Airstream.  Look at what we would have missed.

The roof on the Tabernacle is aluminum:


Outside the Temple Square, a family was offering visitors free hot chocolate.  Mormons do not drink coffee or tea, but hot chocolate is popular.  It hit the spot.  When in Salt Lake City . . .

Later we walked through a shopping district on our way back to the Chinook.
This is a fountain, although it is hovering at 32F.

The street where we parked:

The Chinook is here:

Tonight we are staying at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. No power, so we have to run the furnace. I’m sure we will sleep well after our adventures. Tomorrow it’s Sin City.

La Vie en Rose . . . Then, We Blew our Top!

We left Saskatoon on December 11.  It was about 34F (1C), but in a couple of hours it had climbed to 43F (6C).  The little Chinook was living up to its reputation of being a snow melter!  Before we had reached Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, all the snow was gone.  The roads were dry the whole way to Lethbridge, AB.  Driving this late in the season is a surreal experience.  It looked like fall, but the sun was low and glaring.  Just past Medicine Hat, we were both blinded by the sun and neither of us saw a big wood pallet on the highway.   Eek!  We ran over it.  What a lot of noise!  Paul pulled over when it was safe, but there didn’t appear to be damage.  After a few more miles, he pulled over again, just to be sure.  We think all is well.

Lethbridge is a gorgeous city with coulees all around.  Unfortunately, it is also incredibly windy.  It certainly lived up to its reputation again.  I barely slept.  The wind was so noisy.  It sounded like it wanted to break in.  We’ve experienced plough winds before when camping, so I am cautious.  Lots of small branches came down, but nothing major.  Phew.

The sunrise was spectacular. La vie en rose?


What a lovely pink morning!  It was already 45F (7C) by the time we left. It must have been the Chinook.

We crossed into the US at Coutts AB – Sweetgrass MT.  I had special International Health Certificates for the girls, but the guard did not ask for them.  He also didn’t ask to see their food.  It was a pleasant crossing, and the Duty Free shop had excellent prices, so we stocked the liquor cabinet (basically, it’s crammed where it fits — space is at a premium).  4L for $49.

The wind stayed with us all day.  Paul was exhausted keeping the Chinook going straight.  We pulled into the rest stop past Shelby MT.  What a treat that was!  It was a new facility.  Outside, there was a street sweeper cleaning the parking lot.  Inside, there was a wall of doors — each one leading to a private WC, complete with toilet, sink, and a little strap-in chair to hold small children while mom took care of business.  However, upon our arrival, the air conditioner shroud blew off!  We had just got out of the vehicle when the wind took it sailing!  Thank goodness we weren’t on the highway.  Fortunately, I had seen an RV dealer right where we pulled off, so $200 US later, we have a new shroud.

Poppy wore her Thunder Shirt most of the way.  I think she had a breakthrough this time.  She was still so nervous, but she left us for a while and climbed up on our backpacks and pillows and hunkered down for a few hours.


Too bad the last picture is blurry, but she almost looks happy up on the back of the sofa, wedged between the Thermarest mattress, pillow, and sheepskin.  Maybe she’ll almost start enjoying the ride.  We can hope.

We are staying the night in Helena MT.  It’s surprising how many campgrounds stay open year round.  We have hot showers and electricity.  Life is good.