Getting Settled at the RV Park

Saturday October 21st 2017

Yesterday’s wind didn’t return today. It was replaced by a gentle breeze to compliment the lower temperature. The high in the low seventies made for a beautiful day. The upper 80s return tomorrow.

Most of my activity today was focused on settling in to my site. I put the tire covers on the wheels facing south to ward off a little of the UV damage. The lower wind level allowed me to put the patio awning out for the first time in several weeks. There wasn’t much value in putting it out when the temperature was in the upper 90s. I wasn’t going to sit out under it in those temperatures. Today it was nice to sit under the awning and watch the football games on TV. Inside the RV I haven’t done much more than I would for the average week or longer stay. The setup inside will evolve. Things will get taken out as needed and probably won’t return to storage before the end of my stay is in sight.

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Getting setup for a longer stay. The awning is out, the chairs setup and the wheels covered.

I went out for a drive this afternoon to see what’s changed in the last six months. Not surprisingly not much has changed in the local area. One of the bigger surprises was the price of gas. It is over $2.60 a gallon in this area. That’s twenty to forty cents higher than Lake Havasu AZ. So heavy traffic and expensive gas go on the negative side of the balance sheet for value related to staying in Las Vegas this winter.

This RV park is filling up with snowbirds fast. There were about five of us that came in yesterday and today I counted six more. Walking around the park I don’t see many available sites. From what I’ve learned so far many people don’t stay all winter. This is a one or two month stop on the way to Arizona for many folks. A similar group spends late March and April here on their way north.

Windy Travel Day to Las Vegas

Friday October 20th 2017

The flock of birds landed on the roof again this morning, but it was a welcome alarm today. Last night I learned that a high wind warning would be out for the area today. It had been calm during my entire stay at Lake Havasu State Park. Wouldn’t you know that on my travel day it was going to be very windy. I decided to get an early start so that I would hopefully be off the road before it got serious.

I was out of the park and on the road shortly after nine this morning. I made one stop to fill the gas tank and arrived in Las Vegas around noon. The last hour of the trip was a real white knuckle affair. Coming up US95 from California to Bolder City Nevada there was a strong cross wind with gusts that wanted me off the road. I slowed down and kept two hands on the wheel to make it safely up the 70 mile leg of my morning travels.

I got checked in and situated on my site at the Las Vegas RV Resort. This is not a beautifully landscaped park with lots of space between RVs. Rather it is a high quality urban RV park. I was here in April so I knew exactly what I was getting. The sites are lined off areas in a large level paved area. There are many RVs packed in orderly rows, but you have plenty of space. I have more space here than I had last January in a park south of Tampa Florida which cost significantly more. It’s about the same amount of space I had south of Phoenix last March, but that was on annoying pea gravel.

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Site 217 at the Las Vegas RV Resort.   Note the white painted lines that delineate the boundaries of the site. 

In selecting Las Vegas as a place for the next three months, I knew I’d be in for some cooler weather. There will be days that don’t get out of the 50s and the nights may be below freezing. I can easily handle those temperatures. I have a full propane tank for the times I need the furnace, but will use the heat pump in the AC unit, the electric fireplace and an electric space heater for most of my heating needs.

The primary attraction of Las Vegas is the multitude of activities available. Just tonight I learned that a Hot Air balloon festival is going on this weekend. They are having difficulty with the wind but never the less is an interesting opportunity to see an uncommon event. I doubt that I will get up early enough to cross the valley for the morning events, but I will check out the afternoon events one of the days this weekend.

Last day at Lake Havasu State Park

Thursday October 19th 2017

Once again the day began with a flock of birds landing on the roof of the RV. They were about twenty minutes later this morning. I wasn’t rudely woken up until almost seven. Like the last couple of mornings they were gone within a half an hour. I wonder what the attraction is on the roof? Do I want to know what they may be leaving on the roof?

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North side of the London Bridge in the Desert.

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South side of the London Bridge in the desert.

This morning I drove over to the resort area at the London Bridge. The parking area is under construction to add a new Holiday Inn Express to the accommodation options. It made access to the bridge area difficult. There were not many people in the resort area this morning. Clearly the snowbird season has not really started yet. The ducks in the channel outnumbered the people by a large margin.

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Duck taking a drink between quacks. It was making a real racket.

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Spitting Lion statue.

The second order of business this morning was restocking the refrigerator. I drove out to a large Walmart on the far north side of town. It had everything I needed including a little impromptu entertainment. One group of three not quite senior ladies shopping together provided the entertainment. Each of them was using one of the stores electric wheelchair shopping carts. When I encountered them they seem to be having a race down the cereal aisle that turned into a demolition derby. Nobody was hurt and they were all laughing and enjoying there race. I saw them later in another part of the store fighting to get to the dairy refrigerators first. My guess is this is a regular adventure.

Back at the campground the guests are changing from the mid week residents to the weekenders. There must be an old car or hot rod show in the area this weekend. At least three big box trailers pulled behind motorhomes have exposed their contents to be loud old cars. They were loud both visually and audible. Yellow was the predominant color and large headers and exhaust pipes provide the noise.

This campground is very nice, but it is not quiet. The hot rods were just the chorus. The featured noise makers are the speed boats on the lake. It seems like the boats are either calm and quiet pontoon boats or speed boats. The speed boats come in all sizes, but have two common features. The cockpit is big enough for one or two people and the area behind the occupants is all engine. They are loud and they are fast. The early part of the day before the wind creates waves on the lake and late in the day after the breeze goes down are their favorite times.

My Modes of Full Time RV Living

Wednesday October 18th 2017

A flock of birds decided to land on the roof of my RV about 6:30 this morning. It’s a very rude way to start the day. They hung around for about half an hour making both a vocal racket and the annoying sound of bird feet running across the roof. I got a little more sleep after the birds moved on. When I finally got up I found a cloudy day which managed to keep the temperature down for awhile. Toward the end of the day the sky cleared enough for the sun to heat things up into the low 90s.

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London Bridge down the channel from the State Park.

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Light House at the entrance to the channel.

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Boat from the London Bridge Resort to the California Casino.

This was a basic RV living day. I did a few chores around my RV home, read a little and wandered around the park. In general it is the least active and lowest stress level type of full time RV living day.

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Duck in the reeds.

I think of my full time RV living lifestyle in three categories. They are Travel Days, Touring Days and Living Days.

  • Travel Days are exactly what the name implies. They are days when I am relocating from one camp to another. I try to keep the distance down, but even when it is only a few miles it is the most stressful kind of day. The stress comes from planning, preparing and executing the travel. Driving down the road isn’t particularly stressful, but finding the next turn, the next gas stop or the hardest of all the next campground is taxing. I try to keep successive travel days to a minimum, but when you need to cover larger distances in short periods of time it can be necessary. Even when I stop for a couple of nights, the non driving day is still pretty much a travel day as I don’t setup a complete camp and probably use some of the off day for travel planning.
  • Touring days are days dedicated to sightseeing. I’ve been in touring mode most of the summer. I setup a base in an area and visit all of the big tourist attractions in the area. Not every day in this mode is active, but I feel obligated to use my time in the area wisely. When I take a break from touring, I feel as though I’m squandering an opportunity to experience something new. A touring stop typically lasts a week or two, but it can last less. Last weekend at the Grand Canyon south rim is an example of a short touring stop.
  • Full time RV living days encompass everything else. It is typically a longer stop in an area that I’m familiar with or has a multitude of different things to do in the area. I don’t have to leave the RV every day to do something and I don’t have to worry about the next travel day. Similar to a non RV lifestyle, I leave home to go shopping, out to eat or to visit something specific. Basically, I can relax and enjoy life. This stop in Lake Havasu is a short stop in that mode. I’ve already toured this area this year and don’t feel the need to do extensive touring. I’m also feeling a little burned out from all of the touring this summer. My next move, on Friday to Las Vegas, will bring me to a place at which I plan to spend the next three months in RV living mode. Call it a time to recharge my mojo.

The pictures in this blog entry were taken on my wandering around the state park today. I really like the sunsets over the lake that are visible from my site.

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Sunset over Lake Havasu.

Hanging around at Lake Havasu State Park

Tuesday October 17th 2017

It is hard to believe it is the second half of October already. I had a few days of Fall at the Grand Canyon, but here in Lake Havasu AZ the weather is more like summer. After getting down into the sixties overnight the temperature got back up to 95 degrees this afternoon.

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Lake Havasu with many little water fowl floating and diving. There were many similar flocks on the lake.

I sat outside in the shade of the RV reading for most of the day. It was comfortable out of the sun. The boating action on the lake would catch my attention from time to time. I don’t know if it’s the surrounding mountains or very big engines, but the noise from some of the boats can’t be ignored. The part of the lake in front of the state park is the approach to the channel that goes under London Bridge so there is a lot of traffic. Most of the watersports activity seems to be in other areas of the lake.

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Closer view of some of the diving birds.

In between chapters of the book I did some exploring of the park. The Lake Havasu State Park is a mile or more piece of land along the shore of the lake to the north of the channel under London Bridge. It has several boat launching areas with very large paved parking lots. The campground, a day use area and large areas of open desert land separate the launches and parking lots. A primitive trail runs along the lake with a few curves inland connecting all of these areas. Only one of the boat launching areas seemed to be in use today.

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A prepared desert habitat area in the state park.

It was nice to spend the day doing very little. Tomorrow I’ll get out and see what’s changed since last spring. I visited this area in April on my way north. At that time it was transitioning from snowbird season to summer. Now it is transitioning back to snowbird season.

Travel Day to Lake Havasu AZ

Monday October 16th 2017

I’m back in the hot Arizona Fall weather. This morning I left Kingman AZ and drove to Lake Havasu State Park on the side of the Colorado River behind the Parker Dam known as Lake Havasu. Sunday Morning I left the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at around 7,000 feet in elevation. Last night in Kingman AZ I was at around 4,200 feet. Now at Lake Havasu it’s around 500 feet in elevation. The temperature was 95 this afternoon. It is even hotter when you consider it was barely 70 over the weekend at the Grand Canyon.

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Beach area at the Lake Havasu State Park Campground.

I didn’t experience any mishaps or annoyances today. It was big improvement from the last three travel days. One thing that didn’t change was the quality of the road. Interstate 40 is very rough with a few really bouncy areas. I only traveled about 75 miles, but I stopped at a rest area along the way for a very long lunch. With the generator on, the AC and TV made for a very enjoyable lunch in the middle of the comings and goings of all the trucks. The leisurely lunch was designed to time my arrival at the State Park closer to the 2PM check in time.

The park is located on the edge of the commercial area in the city. The turnoff from the main highway is beside a major shopping area. The road passes many businesses and residences then abruptly transitions to the desert area around the lake. This is the State Park with many areas for launching boats, parking lots, day use areas and forty seven campsites.

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Site 12 at the Lake Havasu State Park campground.

My site has a good view of the lake and a little beach area. The sound of ski boats, jet skis and speed boats provide the background noise. The sites are well separated, but there is next to no vegetation between sites. I’ll be here until Friday. I’m looking forward to exploring the park while I’m here.

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Sunset over Lake Havasu.

Travel Day to Kingman AZ

Sunday October 15th 2017

My stay at the Grand Canyon ended today. I packed up this morning at moved west one hundred and sixty miles to Kingman Arizona. I went from temperatures in the 60s to temperatures in the low 80s.

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First visitor this morning.

As I was packing to leave the wildlife that I’d been told to expect in the campground finally showed up. A couple of Elk came by to say goodbye. They passed down the far side of the main campground road about one hundred feet from my site. My camera is always at the ready in a case on my belt so I pulled it out and started taking pictures. A couple of the pictures are pretty good.

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Second visitor this morning.

The Elk were only one of today’s interruptions during packing. I like to stay focused on the preparation tasks so I don’t forget anything or make any silly mistakes. Today, the Elk and two fellow campers interrupted me. One guy wanted to know what someone from Florida was doing at the Grand Canyon in October. He was really confused when I told him I live in the RV full time and didn’t just drive out from Florida to see the Grand Canyon.

The other interrupt may have had a negative impact in my preparation. The guy across the street came over while I was hooking up the car. He wanted to know all about pulling a car behind his motorhome. After answering his questions for ten minutes or more I returned to my task. I re-checked everything before continuing where I left off. Later while traveling over a particularly bumpy section of road my dashboard auxiliary car brake monitor indicated the brake was no longer in the ready state. This happens when the axillary brake system is not wedged between the brake peddle and the drivers set correctly. It probably had nothing to do with the interrupt, but I haven’t had it happen in a long time.

In addition to the brake issue, my travel day annoyances continued. The drivers side power window on my motorhome got stuck half way up. This is similar to a problem I had before and thought I’d had the factory fix. I continued to play with the switch off and on as I drove down the road. After about 40 miles of a refreshing breeze in my face the window went up the rest of the way. One more thing to add to my list of things to fix when I get parked for the winter.

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Site 4 at the Blake Ranch RV Park and Horse Motel in the outskirts of Kingman AZ.

Today’s actual travel was easy. After coming south from the Grand Canyon on Arizona 64 to Interstate 40 it was a straight shot west. Neither road is the smoothest I ever been on but certainly not the worst either. Over the course of the 160 miles I came down close to three thousand feet in altitude which improved the temperature greatly. Tomorrow I move on to Lake Havasu.

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

Saturday October 14th 2017

Everybody says you have to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon. So this morning I was up at 5AM to catch a 5:30 shuttle bus to Mather Point on the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a dark walk across the sleeping campground to get to the shuttle and then a dark walk out the trail from the Visitors Center to the canyon rim. There was the hint of sunrise in the eastern sky when I arrived at 5:45 for the 6:30 sunrise.

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About half an hour before sunrise over the Grand Canyon.

The temperature was in the thirties. I was bundled up in layers for the morning temperature, but nothing helped the wind chill on exposed skin. The wind really howls at the canyon rim. People were dressed in all levels of appropriateness for the conditions. The ones that were rapped in blankets could be heard complaining about the cold. By the time sunrise rolled around there were several hundred people gathered around.

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Minutes before Sunrise

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Sunrise over the Grand Canyon

The minute or two when the sun breaks the horizon was spectacular. It was worth the wait, but maybe not the chill. The lighting on the east facing canyon walls was also pretty. I’d probably do it again on a future visit. I considered finding a spot to watch the sunset, but after a long day of activity it wasn’t in the cards.

After watching the sunrise, I took the hiking path back to the campground. It’s about a three quarter mile walk along a paved path suitable for walking and bike riding. My only problem was finding the path behind the book store. I was the only human on the path this morning. A couple of Mule deers were along the side of the path. They watched me closely as I took their picture and moved on. Later in the day while riding the shuttle bus I saw an Elk and another deer.

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Mule Deer along the path to the campground.

After breakfast and an attempt at taking a nap, I walked back over to the visitors center and caught the blue shuttle to the Bright Angle Lodge area. Then I caught the red shuttle toward Hermit Rest. This area is only accessible via shuttle from March through the end of November. I stopped at the Powell Point memorial to John Wesley Powell and waked the Rim trail to Mohave Point. There are some good views of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon along this route.

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The main Grand Canyon Visitors Center

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Mountain Lion statue guarding the Visitors Center.

I was back at my campsite by 5PM. Overall I was out touring for about six hours. I could use another day to see more of the park, but I could only get the two nights here in the park. Tomorrow I move on to Kingman AZ for one night then down to Lake Havasu for a few nights.

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Patio table on the canyon rim in the middle of nowhere.

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The Colorado River is visible in the center of this picture more than a mile bellow the rim. 

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Friday October 13th 2017

The day started with the same cloud of misshaps hovering over my head as the last couple of days, but it ended with the majestic Grand Canyon. A very positive end to a nice sunny day with the high temperature in the low 70s.

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View of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim Rim Trail.

My morning problems started with not being able to get out of my campsite. I was in a pull through site that had a large pine tree on each side and a fence on the opposite side of the exit road. The trees were close enough that the overhang behind the rear wheels would kick out into a tree before I could make the turn. I ended up backing out of the site the way I came in. One pays extra for pull through sites so it is easy to get in and out. That certainly wasn’t the case this morning.

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Site I55 at the Grand Canyon Trailer Village.

The first order of business once I was on the road was getting gas. The station I scoped out yesterday was very busy. I was waiting for one of the pumps with reasonable access for some time when I realized that the people at the pump hadn’t even started to fill their tank. The gas station across the street was empty because it was charging ten cents more a gallon for credit cards. At that point I didn’t care. I drove over to the expensive station and put in seventy gallons of gas. I probably had five gallons or so still in the tank. That would only be about forty miles on a good day.

I arrived at the Trailer Village in the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim unit a little after noon. After I got settled and had some lunch, I caught the shuttle to the visitors center. I’ve been to the south rim once before. I took a tour from Las Vegas around Christmas of 1998. It was a small plan flight to the airport outside the park then a bus ride into the park. I remember snow on the ground and the Bright Angle Lodge, but not much else.

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The Visitors Center is located at Mather Point. It looks new and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t here nineteen years ago. I just missed the start of the park movie so I walked out to Mather Point to get my first view of the canyon. It didn’t disappoint me.

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From Mather Point I walked along the Rim trail for two and half miles to the Bright Angle Lodge. This is a wide paved trail a few feet back from the rim of the canyon. There are many access points to the very edge of the drop. The afternoon sun was shining on the far side of the canyon. This brought out many of the red, white and brown colors in the rocks. It was an easy walk, but a bit long at 7,000 feet in altitude. I was tired when I reached the lodge.

From The Bright Angle Lodge area I took a shuttle back to the campground. The shuttle system is heavily utilized. They even have rope switchbacks at some of the bus stops to manage the crowds. It runs from an hour before sunrise until an hour after the last evening program.

What’s a Fall Break?

Thursday October 12th 2017

It was in the low 40s inside the motorhome at seven thrity this morning. That is big change from the last few weeks at lower altitude. It was a nice fall day with a high temperature around 70.

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One of the unique forms of accommodations here at the Williams Circle Pines KOA.

I got a good nights sleep once I got used to the highway noise. Interstate 40 is within sight from my campsite and the railroad tracks are on the other side of the Interstate. Road and train noises don’t bother me as long as I know what they are. The wind noise and occasional coyote calls at the last campground were more disturbing.

This morning I drove into the town of Williams primarily to find out where a gas station is located to fill up the RV tomorrow morning. There is a couple of viable options two exists down the highway from my location. I also drove through historic Williams AZ. Located on old route 66, it is called the gateway to the grand canyon. I didn’t stop anywhere but it looked like a very tourist focused town. The reason I didn’t stop was a continuation of yesterdays annoyances. This time the low tire pressure light in my car came on. The tires all look fine. I think it’s a cooler temperature and higher altitude thing. I’ve put air in all the tires and will check them again in the morning.

During the rest of the day at the campground I got a few chores done and took a couple of walks around the place. This campground has a little bit of everything from RV sites to cabins. The most interesting accommodations are the six tee pees. They seem to be very popular. The park had a lot of turn over today. During the middle of the day it looked like it was going to be empty tonight. By three in the afternoon there was a steady line of arrivals.

I understand this is Fall Break in Arizona. Apparently the schools have a weeks vacation during the week of Columbus day.  I know about Spring Break, but when did Fall Break become part of the lexicon?  In my day we only got a few scattered days between the start of school and Christmas. (End Geezer Speak) That explains all the school age kids at the park. Before I learned about the school holiday I was very confused about the large number of kids running around the campground. My only question is why weren’t there similar school vacation revelers at the last campground nearer Phoenix.