Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Best Part Of Camping - Eating!

Oh - surely you didn't think I meant cooking.  No, I meant trying out different restaurants in various areas.  Yes, I have a few campfire recipes that I really like, but today I'd like to focus on eating out in Yuma.  Thanks to our friends locally, and some suggestions from Facebook friends, we've sample 3 great restaurants in Yuma.

First is Brownie's Cafe.  This is a good old fashioned diner.  If you were born after 1980, you probably don't know what that really means, but it refers to good old, almost as tasty as home cooked, food.  We had breakfast at Brownies.  I had the Maggie's Special which was home made corned beef, 2 eggs and hashbrowns.  It was fantastic.  Kim had waffles and eggs - the Belgian waffle kind, and he gave them a two thumbs up as well.  If we had more time here in Yuma, we'd go back for lunch or dinner as I hear the Brownie Dessert is to die for.  As it was, I was stuffed so I didn't try dessert.  Hey - there's nothing wrong with dessert with breakfast!

The next day, we were treated to Kneaders for lunch.  Soup, salad and sandwhiches - oh and desserts!  Are you sensing a pattern here?  This was a 'wheat cheat day' for me.  I do try to avoid wheat, but the bread at this restaurant smelled so good, I just had to give in.  And then there was the cannolis.  I had the turkey feta salad, broccoli cheese soup, a slice of Russian Rye bread and the aforementioned cannoli.  (Not as good as the cannoli I've had in the French Quarter in New Orleans, but well worth having.).  Kim had a toasted cheese sandwhich - I think there were 4 kinds of cheese in this double decker treat.  Again, we will return the next time we are in Yuma.  Hint - go early for lunch.  There were only 2 people in front of us when we arrived at 11:50am.  When we left 45 minutes later - the line was out the door.

And of course, you can't eat in Yuma, so close to Mexico, without sampling some Mexican Food.  We joined a group of friends at El Pappagallo.  Most of them ordered The Sampler-taco, tamale, enchilada, burrito and tostado.  I understand the enchilada was particularly good - cheese, sour cream and onion.  Must have been, because no one offered me a taste.  I had the carne asada and it was wonderful.  Great salsa and guacamole. 

If you are in Yuma, I would highly recommend anyone of these restaurants.

Now if you are reading this, and hoping for a camp recipe, I will share one of my favorites.  It's cooking in foil, and makes clean up a snap.  Take a large piece of aluminum foil (double layer if using the small regular size foil).  In the center spread out some sliced onion - I use 1/2 onion, but I love onions.  On top of that, a ground beef patty.  I like to mix my meat with some barbeque sauce, but you can also just top the meat with a generous glob.  Next layer with sliced potatoes, sliced carrots and sliced mushrooms.  Top with a pat of butter, or some olive oil.  Season for taste.  Wrap it up tent style - Bring the edges of one side together and fold over a few times, then crimp  up the sides - leaving some air/breathing room.  Put on the barbeque, right over the coals, medium heat, close the lid and cook for about 20 -25 minutes.  Yummy!  We eat this 2-3 times a week sometimes.  Easy to make.  Easy clean up.  What more could you ask for!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yuma and Specialty Diets

We arrived in Yuma last Wednesday, the day before all the heavy rains and tornado watches.  They say this kind of weather happens only once every 20 years or so.  Good thing, because I really like the area, but the ground around our 5th wheel was covered with 3 inches of water for the better part of 2 days and that was not so good.  Yuma has green!  The Colorado River makes the area very good for agriculture, and we've seen fields of all kinds of produce - all kinds of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, etc.  The skies are brilliant blue and the sun is warm most days.  I could see spending winters here very easily.  Yuma is large enough to have decent shopping, but small enough to make it feel home-town.

As I've mentioned before, Kim and I try to maintain a wheat free, dairy free, soy free diet, and finding the foods we eat can often be a challenge.  I'm happy to report that we found Sunshine Herbs N' More on Fortuna Avenue.  They stock the rice bread we use, the rice cheese I like, the coconut milk yogurt too.  If they get deliveries from those companies, I'm sure they can then order the other things I like (especially the coconut milk products from the Soy-Delicious Company).

Happy Travelling!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Earp, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

We camped 3 nights at the Emerald Cove Resort along the Colorado River.  It's a large park, over 700 spots I think.  The place was packed for the MLK Holiday Weekend.  I was afraid it was going to loud and a party park.  Actually, it was very pleasant and quiet.  Beautiful putt putt golf course.  Two pools.  Two spas.  Lovely back in sites along the river.  Unfortunately, these are reserved for members of the Colorado River Adventures campgrounds.  We stayed there under an RPI membership.  It was adequate and the spaces large enough to accomodate our 3 slides. 

While there, we made a trip into Quartzsite for the Rock and Mineral Show and the RV show.  Never in my life have I seen so many RVs on the road, and campground after campground filled along with all the folks dry camping on BLM land.  Oh my goodness.  It was a sight to see.  And that was it....a sight!  The place was packed full of vendors of all things - not just RV related or gem related.  It reminded me of the vendor areas at a huge state fair.  Not much rhyme or reason to where things were.  I'm filing this under the heading of Been There, Done That, Don't Need To Do It Again.  On a positive note, if you are looking for large crystal geodes, or are a jewelry designer/beader - you will find great prices on things.  If you own a metaphysical store, prices on bracelets and necklaces were very very good as well.

(photo courtesy of therockwarehouse.com)

(photo courtesy of travelsw.com)

(Pictures courtesy of http://www.quartzsitervshow.com/)

We also took a ride up to Lake Havasu City as well.  We had driven through on our way from Laughlin to Phoenix, but we were towing the 5th wheel and unable to stop to see the London Bridge.  It really was amazing to see the bridge reconstructed there.  There is a replica of London Town, a shopping area, under the bridge.  Worth a stop to see and snap a few pictures.

We also stopped to take pictures at the Earp, California post office.  Yes, the town is named after Wyatt Earp, who homesteaded in the area while he was working some gold mines just south of here.  There is a picture of Wyatt on the building, and we stopped to see if Kurt Russell or Kevin Costner looked more like the real Wyatt Earp.  If you care, IMHO it would be Kurt Russell.

Next stop:  Yuma, Arizona

Special Diets and RVing

I am on a wheat free, dairy free diet, so finding stores that carry the products I eat can be difficult while travelling.  We were in Northern Phoenix, and there really was nothing close by that carried all the things in one store.  Here are the stores we shopped at most frequently:

Safeway in Anthem, AZ carries many gluten free products including waffles, rice crackers and pretzels. (5 miles from our campground)
Bashas in Cave Creek/Carefree carries wheat free bread and dairy free ice cream. They have a great meat market - the best hamburger and steaks we found in the area. (10 miles from our campground)
Whole Foods Market in Tempe or Scottsdale (both about 20 miles from our campground) carried everything I needed from rice bread to rice cheese to coconut milk (in a carton like regular milk, not the canned coconut milk used in Thai cooking) and coconut milk ice cream.
Trader Joes had the best bulk food shopping that I found.

I don't do soy products myself, but soy milk is readily available at most stores, and many do carry the Soy-Delicious ice cream too.  I didn't find that many stores carried soy cheese or almond cheese either - other than Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

I was a little surprised that the 'regular' stores did not carry these products as I can get them at my local Top Foods and Safeway Stores in our small home town of Snohomish, WA.  We stocked up before we left Phoenix as our next stop was Earp, California/Parker, Arizona and then on to Yuma, and I'm not sure we will be able to find these things in the smaller towns if it was a challenge in Phoenix.

Phoenix Wrap Up

I just wanted to share a few thoughts about our stay at Pioneer Park in North Phoenix.  I found it to be a nice RV Park.  Mostly snow birds or full time residents in their late 60s to 80s.  We had a site on the perimeter edge, so that our back window looked out on to the desert.  We did really enjoy this as we were able to watch the local wild life, including the twice daily parade of quail, the daily visit of the local coyotes as they ran by on their way to Lake Pleasant, the bunnies, the squirrels and the birds.  The sunsets were gorgeous!  This is a quiet park.  People were friendly, and the office staff very helpful.  The restrooms and showers are a bit dated, but clean.  The pool and spa are under cover which is nice morning or late night swims.  There is a pool (billiard) room, a craft room, a card room, a library and puzzle room, plus a large multi purpose room.  There was a shuffle board court, and a quite popular horse shoe pit (complete with bleachers), and bocce ball court.  Shopping is close by off I-17 at the Carefree Highway and Happy Valley Road.

The only minor complaints I had about staying here were nothing that the Pioneer Park people could fix.  The wind whips up quite a bit at night and can shake and rattle the rig quite a bit.  It's worthwhile to roll up the awning each afternoon.  There is a shooting range just over the hill, and the sounds of gun fire carry.  You learn to ignore it rather quickly.  And when the FBI comes to practice with automatic weapons at the nearby Correctional Center, it's a bit unnerving.  I'd rate the park a 9 out of 10.

We did drive out to look at the camping areas at two regional parks - Lake Pleasant and Cave Creek.  Beautiful desert camping areas.  There is water and electricity at each site, but no sewer hook ups.  I loved the views and the quietness of the parks, and would definitely consider camping at either place in the future.

All and all, our visit to Phoenix was good.  We have family here, so we will return.  I didn't realize how big the metropolitan Phoenix area was.  The freeway/highway system I found confusing, and I am very thankful for GPS.  What did we do without it?

Wickenburg, Arizona

We had one week left in Phoenix, and decided to take a day trip up to Wickenburg.  From Pioneer Park, we took Highway 74, connecting with Highway 60, right into Wickenburg.  It was a nice drive, decent highway.  .  We took the Walking Tour of Wickenburg, picking up the map at the Chamber of Commerce, which is housed in the old Santa Fe Railroad Depot.  There are bronze sculptures throughout the walking tour, with recorded messages on the history of the spot.  There are also some smaller sculptures of desert wildlife strategical placed on the side walks.  I had to look twice at a roadrunner, and the rattlesnake gave me a bit of a start. 

The Jail Tree (residents were too busy mining gold to build a jail, so the sheriff handcuffed prisoners to the tree used for hanging the bad guys)

Betsy at the Saloon

Henry Wickenburg

We toured the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.  This is a must see if you are in Wickenburg.  There is a Hall of History, which recounts the story of Wickenburg.  There was a large gold discovery made there by Henry Wickenburg.  Allegedly, he discovered the gold when he tossed a rock at an escaping mule.  The rock broke and gold was found.  Since that time, more than $30 million in gold has been dug from the Vulture Mine.  There was a section in the museum devoted to Cowboys, Indians, Minerals and a changing Art Gallery.  Unfortunately, the Art Gallery was closed when we were visiting, but the collection of Cowboy and Indian memorobilia and the Mineral/Gem exhibit was very impressed.  On the lower level, there is an early Wickenburg street scene, and examples of period rooms from the early 1900s, and an exhibit which features an old adobe home and stable.  This museum was well worth the admission price of $7.  The docents are quite knowledgable and eager to share the history of the region.

Kim in the General Store Replica Room

The Saloon Period Room

Gun and Rifle Collection from the Desert Caballeros Western Museum

Living Room/Parlor circa 1905

Early 1900s version of a Johnny Jump Up (bouncy chair for babies)

Stagecoach Replica

We took Highway 60 back to Phoenix, and picked up Highway 303 which took us to Happy Valley Road and I-17, just about 5 miles south of our 'home' at Pioneer Park.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Awinings: Who needs 'em...

The holidays are past, the weather was cooperating and I had no excuse to procrastinate any longer. If you recall from an earlier post or two when we were
having problems with our electrical stuff we had to stay with relatives for several days until we could get a new converter/charger to keep our batteries charged. We (I) were a little distracted at the time with all that going on and I left the awning extended while we were away. A wind storm came up one evening and, despite the best efforts of our neighbors, the awning canvas tore about 6-8 inches at the rear edge right where it attaches to the side of the trailer before they could get it put away. Some of the brackets got slightly twisted too.

I bought some awning repair tape from the local rv dealer and today I extended the awning to see what could be done. First the rear arm was stuck and I had to get out the ladder to see what was jamming. Seems it is just due to all the twisting that occurred during the wind storm. I just twisted the arm a little and the rivet head that was hanging up came free and I was then able to completely unfurl the awning.

Upon inspection of the tear it was obvious that the vinyl was sun damaged. It was brittle and cracking and had a permanent curl. I cleaned up the vinyl as best I could and applied several pieces of repair tape, which is holding for now but with the sun damaged vinyl I can see we will be replacing it sooner rather than later.

My forgeting to retract the awning while we were away is just one more of those lessons you hope you could have learned from someone else's mistakes but sometimes have to learn for yourself. I don't feel like a complete idiot as I've read many accounts on rv blogs and forums where others have 'been there, done that' already.

Ok, what's next? I'm ready for our next adventure. One without any new mishaps.

Keep on truckin'!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Traveling By Air - Now Feels Weird

We are back at Pioneer Park in Phoenix, after flying home for the holidays.  The last few years, I had flown hither and yon on business and pleasure, so much so that it got to be routine, and no big deal.  Now it just feels weird.  No fear or anxiety, but just not right.  I guess I am liking this whole RV thing.

We were treated to a beautiful sunset on our first night back!

 The coyotes were surely howling last night.  I guess they appreciated the sunset too! Rumor has it the javelinas have returned but I neither saw nor heard them.

This morning the sun is out, the quail are on parade, and life is good .