Escapade Day 3

Tuesday March 21st 2017

I got a slower start than planned this morning. After a long day yesterday I resisted the urge to get out of bed this morning. By the time I left my campsite, I didn’t have a chance of making the first session at 8:30. I made it in plenty of time for the second session of the morning, but that was questionable for awhile. On the interstate I had to pass 3 independent wide loads. Each flatbed had unidentifiable items that were wider than a single travel lane. Each load had a pair of security cars and one even had a police escort. The problem wasn’t me getting by, but all of the trucks on the road getting by the wide loads. Each load caused a slow down from the seventy five mile an hour speed limit to around 40 as the trucks waited their turn to squeeze by. A few miles after I got by the first one, the same problem was repeated for the second and again for the third wide load. It appeared to be a coincidence that 3 wide loads were on the road this morning.

I attended four seminars today. Two were very good, but the other two had issues. One way to draw business to your booth in the vendor area of the rally is to present a seminar. That means you should prepare something to go with the topic area you signed up to present. I’m pretty sure one of the vendor’s didn’t. He asked the audience what they were present to learn, then proceeded to ask and answer questions from the audience for an hour. The discussion wandered away from the topic of Smart TVs very quickly. He provided some good information, but he often didn’t answer the question that was asked.

The other seminar was a show and tell style presentation. I had the impression the presenter had memorized some facts about his solar products, but didn’t really have any idea what he was talking about. When I passed by his booth in the vendor area later I noticed he was also selling cleaning rags and grill mats.

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Mountains behind the fairgrounds

I left after the seminars were over for the day. The evening start gazing event was scheduled for 7:30. It was a wait of more than three hours from the end of the seminars. Considering that last night when I left at around 8:30 only a few celestial bodies were visible in the clear night sky, I didn’t hold much hope for a fun session.

Escapade Day 2

Monday March 20th 2017

I went back to Tucson for the second day of the Escapee’s Escapade. I got there around nine. This was right in the middle of the first round of seminars of the day. From a review of the schedule, I knew I wasn’t missing anything vital. By arriving at nine, I avoided most of the traffic coming through Tucson.

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Sun reflecting off the mountains behind some of the RVs at the Fairgrounds 

The second round of Seminars for the day started at ten. I went to a presentation on RV Caravans to Alaska. Unfortunately, it was extremely sales focused. Like many of the seminar sessions, it was presented by one of the vendors that are there to sell product. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they also convey some basic information about the overall topic. In this case the presentation was ninety percent marketing and 10 percent something else.

Two presentations I attended were presented by the Geeks on Tour. They sell training, information and support for various technical necessities of the RV life style. Specifically, I attended a presentation on using Google Photos to store and manipulate all of the pictures I take and a presentation on what some of the many pieces of technology available to make life on the road simpler. The Geeks are a husband and wife that travel most of the year in their motorhome. Their presentations were ninety five present informative and only about five percent marketing.

The other presentation I attended was on tire pressure monitors. It was about fifty fifty informative vs. marketing. A strong case was made for having a tire pressure monitoring system along with the features it should contain. The presenter’s product obviously had all those features, but he acknowledged that other products had many of the features as well. It was presented more as; these are good things to consider, once you do your homework, you’ll buy my system. I liked the approach.

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Woodie and the Long Boards.  (Low light out of focus picture.)

I took a break after the last seminar and drove back into Tucson for dinner. The evening entertainment started at 7PM. A Beach Boys tribute band called Woodie and the Long Boards performed. I really enjoyed all of the Beach Boys music and watching some of my fellow attendees dance in the aisles. After a break they returned as an Eagles tribute band. Not being a real Eagles fan, I headed for home. It was almost ten when I got back to my RV home. Not really late, but a long day. Tomorrow I need to try and make the 8:30 seminar, but I don’t plan to stay for the night session of star gazing. So, it should be a shorter day.

Escapade Opening Ceremony

Sunday March 19th 2017

Today was the first official day of the 57th Escapade at the Pima County Fair grounds in Tucson. This is a major rally of the Escapees RV Club. Most people attending the event stay on site. I am commuting from my site 70 miles away.

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Opening ceremony of the 57th Escapade on the big screen. 

The Escapees RV club is a social, education and advocacy organization for RVers. It has been around since the late 70s. I have been a member for about 3 years, but this is the first Escapade I’ve been able to attend.

About 11:30 this morning I converted my emailed registration confirmation for a name badge and a bag of brochures. I toured the vendor booths to identify anything I might want to buy this week and generally killed time until the first time attendee seminar at two and the opening ceremony at three. I had done enough research and reading about peoples past experiences so there wasn’t anything informational at the new attendee seminar that I wasn’t aware of. What was remarkable was the number of first time attendees in the room. It will be interesting to see if they have any statistics.

The opening ceremonies started kind of formal with the Pledge of Allegiance, and National Anthems of the US and Canada. The Escapade directors handled the first group of door prizes and the organizations leadership spoke, but the highlight was the words and story told by the 90 year old co-founder of the club Kay Peterson. It is inspirational, but drives home the point that the club is the family business.

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Strings of Balloons over the RV sales area behind the Escapade staff parking area. 

At the conclusion of the opening ceremony everyone got an ice cream on a stick. They called it an ice cream social. I found the beer and wine being given out by the RV dealership showing new and used rigs at the Escapade a much better social. They also had snacks to go with the drinks. It was only about 4:30 so I could have made supper out of the cocktail hour. That’s where the real issue with being a commuter or “weekly walk in” as they call commuters. The next real event was at 7pm. Finding something to do until that then was going to be a challenge. Those staying on the grounds could go to some of the other social gatherings or back to their RVs until the evening entertainment.

Today, I chose to end my day a little after 4:30. Tomorrow I will probably hang around until the entertainment starts. I’m just going to have to play it by ear.

Household Chores on a Hot Day

Saturday March 18th 2017

Phoenix tied a temperature record at 94 degrees today. That’s almost 20 degrees above the seasonal normal. Since I didn’t have a plan for the day, I ended up staying in air conditioned comfort most of the time.

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Sunset after a hot day

The RV got a good vacuuming this morning. The dirt and dust from the desert winds had begun to accumulate in the rig. Along with that, I’m parked on pea size gravel. It gets tracked in on the soles of my shoes. After I take off me shoes stepping on the gravel is a dance inducing pain avoidance activity.

Today’s big outing was to fill the gas tank and buy groceries. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the price of gas in this area. The station I bought at was $2.25 per gallon. A few hundred yards down the street it was listed at $2.05. Then I saw $2.15 cash or $2.18 credit. These are all in the same community so tax shouldn’t be the cost driver. Another time, in the same area, I’ll know where to buy gas.

The Super Walmart I bought groceries at was about 10 miles away in Casa Grande. There continues to be comfort in the similarities of all Walmarts. They seem to have pretty good consistency in layout. Aisles may be in different order, but once you find the can goods, you find what you want. Similarly, once you find the bakery, you know what you are looking for. Prices on the other hand are a mystery. I’ve seen some products vary greatly. For example, an eight ounce can of Del Monte vegetables was sixty sevens cents today. The last time I bought the same product, probably in Florida or Georgia, they were eighty nine cents a can. Other things are cheaper here. My guess is it all evens out in the long run.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Friday March 17th 2017

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. My activities for the day had nothing to do with Ireland, Leprechauns or Saints. On a day that set the daily record for temperature in Phoenix, I went for a hike in the desert.

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Saguaro Cactus near the entrance of the arboretum.

It’s not as strange as the written statement. I visited the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. It is located in the Tonto National Forest about an hour east of Phoenix. The arboretum contains carefully cultivated desert plans mixed with a variety of native plants and terrain. The park contains a small body of water called a lake, a creek and some steep terrain. The main trail goes around and partially over a large Magma Ridge.

Consistent with the time of year, many of the desert plants were in bloom. Most of the year the desert is brown and dark green. This time of year yellows, violets, and shades of red join the color spectrum. It is a very pretty display. This blog entry contains some of the pictures I took on the walk around the main trail.

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Ayer Lake

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Looking back at the Lake from higher up the trail.

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Picket Post house

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Steep decent

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Drop off on side of trail.

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Narrow path along the creek.

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Angels vs Rockies

Thursday March 16th 2017

I went to another spring training baseball game today. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim played the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale Arizona. (How’s that for a mouth full of places in one sentence?) This is the same complex I have attended Arizona Diamondback games at. The Rockies share the facility with the Diamondbacks.

It is interesting to see the similarities and differences between Diamondback games and Rockies games. The most obvious difference is the home team dugout. The Diamondbacks use the third base line which is nearest there side of the overall complex. The Rockies use the first base side. Other differences are more subtle. All of the stadium staff are the same. You see the same ushers, vendors and security personnel. The women who serves as a roaming reporter in the stands is the same. Today she was saying “for your Colorado Rockies” instead of “your Arizona Diamondbacks”.

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Dinger the Rockies mascot.

Another difference was the team mascot. The Diamondbacks mascot makes a brief appearance during the pregames. The Rockies mascot is in the stands through-out the game and is used between innings for promotions and publicity. In general, there is more things going on to keep the fans entertained during the Rockies game.

Another weird observation, doesn’t relate to the difference between the two teams, but rather the rules the teams are using. Today for the first time I saw the pitchers hit. The National League Rockies had their pitchers hit and the American League Angels used a Designated Hitter. The National League Diamondbacks always used a Designated Hitter even when their opponent was a National League team. Apparently the team can choose which rules they want to follow.

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Final score Angels 8 Rockies 7

It was a long day at the ballpark. I got there an hour and a half before game time. My stop on the way to get a haircut was much quicker than I allowed. Even an hour and a half early many other people were already at the ball park. I expected to catch some pregame batting practice, but the batting cage was not on the field and the grounds crew was already laying down the lines. The game lasted just about 3 hours. It might have ended sooner, but the Angels tied and went ahead by three runs in the top of the 9th inning. The final score was Angels 8, Rockies 7.

I was at the ballpark for four and a half hours but with travel time and the haircut, I was on the go for about 8 hours. My RV home was hot when I got home. The inside thermostat read 99 degrees when I turned on the AC. It took a good two hours before the AC got the temperature into the 70s.

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Sunset at the RV Park

 

Farming the Desert

Wednesday March 15th 2017

It was partly cloudy with a good breeze out of the north today. This helped keep the temperature down to the low 90s. If you were out of the sun, the breeze kept it comfortable.

Last week I explored the area to the northeast, today I drove to the southwest. I continue to be amazed by the width of this valley. I start out with the assumption that the distant mountains are four or five miles away. After ten or fifteen miles, they still look the same distance away.

This valley is dedicated to farming. The ways they have irrigated the desert is amazing. There are big cement lined canals that bring water to smaller canals and irrigation ditches. There are also valves sticking out of the ground indicating underground water sources as well. I’ve known at an academic level that irrigation is used to farm the desert, but this is the first time I’ve come face to face with it in volume.

It is next to impossible for me to tell what is growing. Most of the fields don’t have anything planted right now. Some fields show the remnants of cotton around the edges, but just dirt in the body of the field. Other planted fields have a low green ground cover type of plant that I can’t begin to guess.

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Cactus garden at the RV park office.

After a few slow days getting acclimated to the heat, I’m ready to get back into tourist mode. The heat is forecast to peak on Saturday with the high in the upper 90s. Tomorrow, I’m going to another Spring Training Game. My seat is under the overhang on the shady side of the ballpark. Staying hydrated will probably require buying one of the four dollar bottles of water or an eight dollar bottle of beer. The Salt River Fields at Talking Stick stadium has cheaper seats but more expensive concessions. You can’t bring much into the stadium. Everything is searched and then you get wanded.

A Week in the 90s

Tuesday March 14th 2017

It was hot today. The temperature got into the low 90s and the wind was not as strong as it had been. It wasn’t an outdoors kind of day. The air conditioners have been on since mid morning.

Yesterday, I resisted the need to turn on the air conditioner. Last night I paid the price. It wasn’t cool enough in the rig to get to sleep until close to two in the morning. This RV park is located between the interstate highway and one of the main east west railroad tracks. Between the time I went to bed and the time I got to sleep, I heard around ten good size trains go by. They blow their whistle for the nearby grade crossing then you hear the rumble of each rail car until the train has passed. The trucks on the highway are not as startling, but far more frequent. It was only quiet for less than a minute every now and then.

This morning I was dragging. I wasn’t ready to compete with the heat. I’ve stayed home all day doing various odd tasks around the RV, but for the most part remaining inside and taking it easy. I took an unplanned nap in front of the TV this afternoon. Now, I’ll probably have difficulty sleeping tonight. This could be a downward spiral that I’ll need to avoid.

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View of a hill beyond the end of the campground road. 

I did take a walk around the RV park this evening. A few more sites that were filled yesterday are vacant tonight. The campgrounds in this area are generally occupied until mid May. There are very few people that remain over the summer. The temperature combined with the total lack of shade makes the idea of temperatures in the low 100s a frighting thought. Electricity to run air conditioners is essential.

Early Desert Heat

Monday March 13th 2017

Today’s topic is the weather. I’ve been hearing reports of the “blizzard” about to hit the northeast. Both the national news and the local Arizona broadcasts are talking about the mega storm about to hit the eastern seaboard. It’s hard to know for sure, but if I apply my experience from a lifetime in New England, they are probably going to get a normal heavy storm. It just isn’t that unusual to get a heavy storm in March. The national news is over selling the storm to some extent and the local news even more so.

Here in Arizona we have the opposite problem. Today was the first official 90 plus degree day of the year. The normal temperature for this time of year is 76 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve been here almost two weeks. It started out with below normal temperatures and now we are starting a week of near record highs in the 90s. The good thing is that it gets down into the sixties at night for sleeping. The bad part is doing things outside without shade is probably not a great idea.

This morning, I was going to visit the Picacho Peak State Park. It is advertised as a good place to see the desert in bloom. When I got there, I found the park area to be the desert between the interstate and a massive rock known as Picacho Peak. I lost interest fast. From a distance the peak and surrounding desert is very picturesque. Up close it didn’t look like a place I wanted to be on a day that had already reached the mid 80s. Spending seven dollars for admission for a few minutes seemed like a bad value. I still may visit the park, but on a day that isn’t quite as hot. I am probably getting subliminally influenced by the TV people warning of heat stroke. I automatically discount the actual words coming out of their mouths. (I’m not really paranoid, just cynical.)

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One of the flowering bushes here at the campground.

I think some of the other residents of this park have decided that spring has arrived. Every day as I walk around the park I find more empty sites. I haven’t actually seen anyone leave, but they clearly are escaping. Even with the heat, I’m not ready to move on yet. Most of the Canadians have until late April or longer on their six month stays so I think they’ll start leaving about the same time I leave at the end of the month. I’ve counted six RVs from Alaska in the park. When they decide to head north is not something I can guess. With that kind of reasoning, the ones that left must have been from the southern United States or the west coast. I’ll be watching to see who leaves next.

Confusing Day

Sunday March 12th 2017

Today got started on the wrong foot. With yesterday’s power issues, I had turned off the unnecessary power. One of those was the power strip I use to charge my phone and tablet. Consequently this morning neither my phone or tablet were charged. I turned the power strip on and set to charge my devices. Life in the connected age meant I didn’t want to leave camp without the security of a charged cell phone. I could have kept charging it in the car, but I didn’t think of that until after it was fully charged.

The result was that I didn’t get out during the cooler part of the day. This area is entering a heat wave. Each day this week is forecast to be ten to twenty degrees above normal. By the end of the week the highs are forecast in the upper 90s. I had entertained thoughts of going to the Picacho State Park to check out the desert in bloom and walk some of the trails. Doing that in the heat of the afternoon just didn’t seem like a good idea. Instead I drove east in the valley. My goal was to distant mountains on the side of the valley. The bottom line is they are much further away than they look.

The desert is very green. The side of the road is lined with yellow and blue wild flowers. Some of the cactus plants seem to be particularly brilliant. I haven’t seen this area of the desert at other times of the year, but assume it is a more natural brown similar to the deserts in Nevada and Southern California that I’m familiar with.

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Arizona road message board.  What time and seat belts have in common is a mystery. 

Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings time. While most of the country turned their clocks ahead an hour they remained the same here in Arizona. Since I seem to tell time by the programming on the television, I’m an even more confused camper tonight. The local TV channels are on a seven to ten prime time schedule. Pacific Daylight Time on the west coast is the same as Arizona Mountain time right now but it has an eight to eleven prime time schedule. The satellite TV channels I watch are either EDT or PDT so I really need to think it through before I know what time it is. The bottom line is most of satellite programs I watch will be over before the regular over the air channels start prime time.