A Routine Tuesday

Tuesday March 31st 2020

It was a cloudy day today. The sun never found a gap in the cloud cover, but it still managed to raise the temperature into the high seventies. It was a comfortable day and dull at the same time.

Today’s wildflower blossom.

Today was very much a representative case of my new routine. Breakfast is slow and unfocused with the TV news playing in the background. Most of the morning news seems to be a restating of the yesterday’s COVID-19 news as if it had just happened. The state of Arizona releases its latest virus numbers in the 9AM hour, so the news people keep reminding the viewers the new numbers are coming. That makes the news program a combination of old news and hype for new morbidity statistics interspersed with cuts to the meteorologists doing the weather from their living rooms. Somehow having the weather forecasts done remotely is a way for the TV stations to encourage work from home.

The rest of my daily routine begins with a walk around the RV park around noon followed by another walk before dark. Between the walks its more TV, some reading and a little cooking. Today it even included a brief nap. I need to add a little variety and a few more elements to this routine.

I’m afraid these blog entries are going to get even more boring as the days and weeks go by, but I’m going to continue to write them. They are one thing in my current routine that is also part of my normal routine.

More Restrictions Coming

Monday March 30th 2020

The beautiful Arizona spring weather continued today. The high temperature was a degree or two above Sunday, but was still very comfortable in the seventies.

Wildflower blossoms of the day.

The state of Arizona issued a “Stay at Home” order today. It starts tomorrow evening. It seems to only close a few more business than those that were already closed. I think the order is more of a public perception issue than a serious step up in restrictions. The state was starting to get coverage for not having a “Stay at Home” order in the national press and the mayors of Phoenix and Tucson were calling on the Governor to implement stricter controls. On paper, there is more shutdown here than in a lot of states, but the mayors still want more controls.

This new restriction doesn’t impact me significantly. It does not cause the RV park to close. That is my biggest concern with the current pandemic countermeasures. I continue to worry about being without a place to park my RV home. As long as I’m parked in a safe place with some access to power and water, I’m fine. Social isolation is pretty much my way of life.

Closing RV parks and campgrounds is seen by officials as a way to discourage tourists from coming into an area. They not only represent a potential virus carrier, but also a potential burden on the local health care system. A compromise solution, in place in other areas, is to close the RV park to new arrivals. All of the big RV groups are currently reaching out to government officials across the country on the issues of full time RV travelers. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

My Second Slow Sunday in the Desert

Sunday March 29th 2020

The temperature made it a little above seventy five today. That’s still about five degrees below the average for the date, but I’m not complaining. The forecast is for a few degrees increase each day this week. Most of the day was sunny and calm. Near sunset a line of wind came through and blew the dust around for a few minutes. It has been calm again since.

Train heading west outside the RV park.

Another routine day in the travel holding pattern. After a slow breakfast accompanied by some TV and internet reading, I took my first walk of the day. This time I ventured a little further out the front gate of the RV park compound. The area has some nice desert wildflowers and a better view of the passing trains. There are two parallel tracks along the route between the Phoenix area and Tucson. Most of the trains are very long with four engines. The tracks in this area are fairly flat. East of Tucson is probably the nearest mountainous area along these tracks.

My second walk of the day was near evening. There are more people out at that time walking their dogs. The dog people in this park all seem to have more than one small to tiny dog. It is rare to see someone walking a single dog or a bigger dog.

Any perch in a storm.

Week One of Waiting it Out Complete

Saturday March 28th 2020

Today’s weather was a slightly less windy version of Friday’s. It was a mostly sunny day with a high temperature around seventy. Tomorrow is forecast to begin a warming trend that will have the temperature in the nineties by the end of the week.

Fruit trees in the RV park with the mountains to the north.

This is the end of my first week of waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic. During the week three of my next four stops have been closed, so the decision is looking pretty good right now. The campgrounds at the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon have closed. The Grand Canyon National Park is still open to day use visitors, but the local authorities are complaining about the danger associated with the high number of visitors. Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation is also closed to visitors. The private campground I was planning to stay at is currently closed. As I anticipated pretty much my entire month of April has fallen apart. I’m glad I made the decision to come here.

Arizona still hasn’t shutdown the state to the extent that some locations have. I read an article that ranked the states by reaction to the crises. Arizona was in the middle of the pack, but I expect it to change at any time. As the number of cases climb, the pressure to apply more stringent measures will increase. It is hard to know what the appropriate level of restrictions should be. When life is in the equation, the decision needs to be weighted heavily in favor of preserving it. I intend to stay as isolated as possible over the next few weeks.

Taking it One Day at a Time

Friday March 27th 2020

Wind was the operative word in today’s weather. It blew hard and gusted even harder. Although the sun was out most of the day, the temperature only got into the high sixties.

Mountains on the north side of the valley.

As the end of the month gets closer, many of the snowbirds in the RV park have packed up and headed home. These are the folks that are keeping to their schedule despite all of the issues with travel associated with the COVID-19 virus. I learned when I arrived last week that others had departed early and some had extended rather than heading into potentially worse areas of the country. There are also many RVs with Texas and South Dakota license plates which usually means they are full timers like me.

Today was another day in my new routine of a couple of walks around the park during the day with reading and TV in between. I will probably do a little touring of the area from the inside of my car over the next few days and weeks as a diversion. I might even find an area to hike that allows for “social distancing” while hiking. Also on my list during this period of forced downtime are a few maintenance tasks around the RV. I’m taking it one day at a time.

A Slow Day with a Little Exercise

Thursday March 26th 2020

The forecast drop in temperature finally arrived today. The mostly cloudy day only allowed the temperature to reach seventy. Late in the day the cloud cover broke for a little while. It allowed for a pretty desert sunset.

Tonight’s sunset

Today wasn’t a very exciting day. I lingered over breakfast with a second cup of coffee with the TV on. It was almost noon before it was warm enough to open the door to the outside. Even then I didn’t leave my RV home until much later.

Today was a two walk around the park day. Going up and down each of the roads and around the perimeter I get more than a mile of exercise, but it isn’t very interesting. I ventured out the main gate for hundred feet or so. That is a walk for another day. It is a very sparsely settled neighborhood.

Wildflowers along the entrance road to the RV park.

Grocery Shopping in a Pandemic

Wednesday March 25th 2020

Today began sunny and calm. It got windy during the middle of the day and ended with cloud cover. The temperature made it to the upper half of the seventies. Tomorrow is forecast to be up to ten degrees cooler.

Interesting afternoon cloud cover.

With the exception of my move on Saturday, I’ve been pretty much staying around my RV home for the last two weeks. There isn’t a stay at home order in Arizona yet, but it only makes sense to isolate as much as possible. On my last trip out for groceries fifteen days ago, I stocked up on food fairly heavily. Since then I’ve only used up the things that have a short life. I was out of bread, milk and Orange Juice. Today was the day to replenish and extend my supplies before a more restrictive edict is established.

The experience was not what I expected. From the news broadcasts I expected to find ghost towns in some areas and waiting lines in other areas. Traffic on the interstate was a level I’d judge as normal. On the surface streets of Casa Grande traffic was light, but many businesses seemed to be open. On the surface Walmart appeared very normal. The parking lot had a normal level of cars and nothing appeared different as you entered the store. The produce and bakery sections of the store were fully stocked and had an expected level of customers roaming around. It wasn’t until you started to work deeper into the store that differences became visible.

The meat section had been well picked over. I found meat to buy, but not in the size packages I would normally purchase. For example, instead of a pound of ground beef I had to buy a two and a half pound package. As a positive consequence my freezer will get filled with a few more days of food so I can stay isolated longer.

The can goods, pasta and baking supply aisles were in bad shape. There were a few odd items in the middle of long empty shelves. Surprisingly I found some things I could use in those odd items. An unknown brand of bow tie pasta found it’s way into my shopping cart along with a jar of Prego spaghetti sauce. Neither would be my choice in normal times.

The dairy section had plenty of milk and eggs. The butter substitutes were a bit picked over, but I managed to find a large container of my favorite brand. In the Orange Juice section I had to buy the good stuff. They were out of the Walmart generic OJ I’ve been buying lately.

Overall the selection of food wasn’t bad. I got some form of everything I had on my mental list. The store was busy with people of all ages. There really wasn’t much obvious concern about the virus. Most, but not all, of the Walmart employees were wearing plastic gloves. Concern about maintaining distance was not apparent. I was in the checkout line behind one multiple family shopping party with about four mothers and half a dozen or more kids. It was a mob that I kept my distance from, but the poor checkout person was surrounded. Later, in the parking lot, I saw them all climbing into one van. Maybe they don’t have a choice, but probably they just don’t get it.

Top down view of a cactus in bloom.

I think I’m through with big stores for a few weeks. The convenience store at the intestate on-ramp near my RV park seems like a better choice for the few things I’ll need during this period of isolation.

A Little Train Watching and Some Reading

Tuesday March 24th 2020

Once again I misunderstood the weather forecast. Today was another great day very similar to yesterday. The high temperature was in the mid seventies with lots of sun and not to much wind. The cooler cloudier weather in the forecast is later in the week.

I got a slow start to the day, but with nothing planned it played into a nice lazy day. I spent the day reading interspersed with a couple of walks around the RV park. The TV is on all the time, but I’ve stopped listening to most of the virus coverage. The conflicting information and the focus on the negative needs to be taken in small doses. I watch the first few minutes of the local and national evening news to get an update, then go back to entertainment broadcasts.

Train with double high containers heading east outside the RV park wall.

This park is in the classic RV park location. It’s between the Interstate highway and the train tracks. At my request my site is located well away from the highway. It turns out to be closer to the train tracks. During the day you don’t really notice either the highway or the trains. I’ve looked out my window a couple of times to be surprised by a passing train a few hundred yards away. At night it’s another story. The truck traffic on Interstate 10 is a steady coming and going noise from both directions. Every now and then the trains join the noise symphony. Loud train whistles for the grade crossings announce the arrival of each train. The rumbling noise of the train moving along the tracks is even accompany by actual vibration inside my RV home. All of this is more of a diversion than an annoyance. It is interesting to listen to as I wait for sleep to arrive.

Working on Next Winters Reservations

Monday March 23rd 2020

Today’s weather was nearly perfect. It was a bright sunny day with a light breeze. The temperature reached the mid seventies. The forecast for the rest of the week is not as good. Highs only in the sixties are possible the next few days.

For the second day in a row I was up before 5AM. Despite the uncertainty of my immediate travel plans, I’m still working on reservations for next winter in Florida. Yesterday morning I tried to reserve one of 4 available campsites at one of the popular Florida state parks for the end of February without success. This morning there was only one available site at that park so I attempted to reserve a site at another state park nearby. This one had three available sites, but is usually less popular. I struck out again. When I pushed the enter key at 5AM, it came back with “no inventory available”.

It looks like there will be more sites to choose from later in the week at both state parks. Once I get a reservation for two weeks at one of the parks, I’ll work on filling in the gap from my last reservation. I will probably need to reserve an RV site at a commercial campground away from the coasts. Making and juggling reservations is my least favorite activity associated with this life style. On a positive note, I did manage to cancel and get a full refund from the state Arizona for my next two week stay at the Dead Horse Ranch State park near Cottonwood that I’m not going to use.

After my failed attempt at making a reservation for next winter I went back to bed. Once I did get up, my day wasn’t very interesting. I took a couple of walks around the RV park and spent most of the day reading an Ebook with the TV on for background noise.

Settling in for the long wait

Sunday March 22nd 2020

There was a high layer of clouds that filtered and blocked the sun today. It kept the temperature in the low seventies. Overall a very nice weather day.

Cactus in bloom.

I worked on getting settled in for a long stay as a I wait out the COVID-19 virus social disruption. Hopefully nothing will require me to move until at least the middle of May. It is that level of certainty about were I will be parked that caused me to stop traveling and settle here for awhile. I’ve got the tires that face the sun covered, my bicycle locked to the ladder on the back of my RV home and have got the inside setup for a long stay.

Many of the winter residents of this park have returned home. Most of the people still here are full time travelers like me or people who have decided to stay until things stabilize a bit. After I make the general assumption that most of the South Dakota, Texas and Florida license tags belong to full time RVers there are plenty of people from other states and provinces a long way away. The people across the street are from New York and down the road a bit is an RV from Alaska. It looks like about half the three hundred and fifty sites are occupied.

All of the buildings and recreation facilities are closed. The planned activities and events have been canceled. The only open areas are the office and the laundry. I’m not sure what I think about using the laundry. My dirty clothes are accumulating, but I wonder about laundry facilities in good times. Right now I’m going to watch how busy the laundry gets before I make up my mind. There is a reason I carry too many clothes.