Wednesday, January 29, 2014

GITMO Golf at Gila Bend Air Force Aux Field

Yesterday afternoon, Pam and I checked out the 'golf course' on base at the USAF Auxiliary Air Field in Gila Bend.

We are staying a couple of nights here because we were unsure about the generator hours policy at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument about 90 miles south of Gila Bend.  (Hours are 4-6 PM and 8-10 PM.)  Not sure we wanted to fore go charging our batteries at those odd times instead of later in the evening after our peak hours.

Instead, we found that there is a FamCamp at the Gila Bend Auxiliary Air Field.  It is 3 miles south of Gila Bend.  It was a step up from Quartzsite because it has full hookups.  But it is pretty austere.
We found a place and got all set up.
The laundry is free and we went and got a couple of loads done.
The facility is advertised as 'no facilities' which means there is no gas station, no shopette, no gym etc on base.  Back in the day, this base had lots going on.  But you could tell it has been overhauled with lots of old building and houses demolished and debris carted off.  Whole neighborhoods and blocks were empty.  Roads and trees remain.  Very little grass on the base.  We saw some F-16's doing some touch-and-go landings.

I walked over to what looked like the gym or maybe the FamCamp Office.  It was once a gym, but now is a 'Geospatial Intelligence Agency' facility.  Hmm... not what I was looking for.

Over at the Lodging / FamCamp Office it looks like a dorm that might be used for units when they train here or something like that.  Two people were in the building.  Really a sleepy hollow kind of place.

After paying $20 for my intended two-night stay I asked about the golf course.  You know--this is an Air Force facility.  No matter how basic or modest, the joke is that the AF always builds the golf course first---then the rest of the base.  The AF, the 'country club' group of the Armed Forces.  

On our way out next morning, we passed a couple who were over on a vacant lot at one of those empty blocks/housing areas --- playing golf!  Later in the day we went over and tried it out.
Greens fees, parking, tee times and big crowds were no problem.
We went over to the first tee and started our round.
Someone (or quite a few people) got together and really did a neat thing.  Despite how rough it looks, it was actually fun!  It took around 45 minutes to play all 18 holes.  Darndest thing I've ever seen.  Reminded me of overseas conditions when military folks make a 'golf course'.  The closest thing I have personally seen was the 'golf course' at Guantanamo Bay on base.  It was really rough.  Sand greens and all that.  This reminded me of that a little bit.

The 'green' is mostly free of rocks.  They took a 2 foot piece of rebar, pounded it through the center of an upside down pie tin, put a 5' piece of PVC pipe over it for the flag stick and attached a little flag at the top.
Then they marked out 18 holes that were between 30-65 yards long.  One of the coolest things we've seen.  I used my 56 degree wedge and Pam used her 7-iron the whole time.  Good news - no three putts and no lost balls, none in the water.

I thought it was good practice in learning how to hit chip shots from the rough.  Growing up and learning to play golf in NM, I sometimes found myself with one of these lies.  'Putting' was not really an option.  Most of the time I worked on a 'blade shot'.  When I was close to the hole, I tried to 'blade' it toward the hole.  The pie tin has a distinctive sound when you 'hole' it.

That's all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Found a Couple of Things in Mexico

We are stayed at the KOFU Ko-Op Escapees Park for a few days.  Sunday, we drove over to the other side of Yuma into California and another 5 miles to the border town of Algodones, Baja California, Mexico.

We were here almost 4 years ago to the day.

We parked in the parking lot and paid $6.  It was about 200 yards from there through the border gate.
The bathrooms at the gate have been upgraded and were very clean and well maintained.
We wandered down the street and along some stalls and shops seeing what was new this year.
It was nice day as we wondered around.  We saw some wood carvings and I was thinking it might be nice to get a Roadrunner.  Sadly, I did not take any pictures of those made of ironwood.  My reluctance centered around "where am I going to put it?".  So we didn't get one.

But we did have a bit of fun bartering/negotiating with a vendor over a metal sculpture/rock roadrunner.  Started at $35.  Got it for $15.
El Correcaminos
The other thing we bought was a small rug from Onesimo.  Hand made - $40.
Without a doubt, the most interesting part of our day was talking with the owner of the store where we bought the rug:  Onesimo of Oaxaca Shops.
Check it out if you are in the area.  Definitely worth it!

We found his store and Pam was looking at the workmanship and the rugs when he came over.  This was not your average hawker, '!!Come over here, I have anything you want for a good price!!! guy'.  We had already been past lots of stores and through gauntlet a few times, but he was different.

He is an entrepreneur and businessman. I was impressed as he was very generous with his time.  He was glad to show and explain lots of things about his business and his rugs.  As the owner and head of the family, he has 31 other people in his family to care for.  Many aunts, uncles cousins etc have made things that he sells in his shop.
Pam asked some questions about the rugs and the next thing you know, he was going through the whole process.  He didn't start out making rugs so he spent one summer learning how his mother actually did it and he documented some of it in his pictures.  The short version is the poster/pictures he has hanging in his shop.
But when Pam asked more and more questions, he went and got a stack of photos and really detailed all the steps of the rug-making process. Obviously he had done this before.  It was fascinating.
First the sheep, then making the yarn.  He had about 10 photos.
Then the different dyes he uses and the different ways he gets plants and boils them for the colors.
He had many different designs and sizes and colors.
I believe he said his uncle does the larger rugs.  But the grayish one is a rug that Onesimo actually did himself.  He said it took about 11 hours.  And an average day at that time was about 7-8 hours.
In addition to showing Pam the different kinds of wool and the designs, he talked about how the dyed wool is washed a couple of times so the colors won't run.  Still, he recommended washing in cold water and stretching it out tightly while it is drying.
It was one of those great learning experiences and the highlight of our time in Los Algodones.  If you are looking for a great shop we can recommend this one.

It was still only mid-morning and we walked around a little more.
We were here four years ago and the town seems to be cleaner, with more improvements.  It was a Sunday morning so maybe that is why there was not a whole lot of traffic.
It seemed to us that in general, there were less 'snowbirds' here than four years ago.

Next, we thought we would stop for lunch at the Quechan Casino.  We dry camped here last time we were in the area.
We went inside and looked at the menu and decided we'd grab something in Yuma.  But the dry camping area looked like it had some improvements.  It was larger and there was some order to where people had their rigs parked.

On the way home, we saw a well done series of murals on the city water towers:
That was our day in Mexico and our return to Yuma.  One that we will remember for a while.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Escapees KOFU Ko-Op in Yuma

We stayed four days at the Escapees Park in Yuma.  We recommend it.  I wanted to document our time there so I took a lot of pictures as I walked around the park a couple of times.

Although the sign for the park was relatively small, it was easy to find because there are no other RV parks on this road.
The front office was right on the main street and it had a couple of places for rigs while checking in.
I liked our space and the fact that the whole park is fairly uniform.
Inside the entry way to the community center was the front office.  Inside was a 'great room' with the pool tables, kitchen and eating area, more tables, the stage and a sitting area.
 Out the back door and next door was the laundry room.  Clean and well kept.
Our space was typical.  The residents were still in Quartzsite and were renting it out.  Cost us $20 plus a little over $2 for electricity.
The neighborhoods had a mix of park models and RVs with some landscaping on the corner lots.
We enjoyed our time there and did a lot in four days and would come back.  It is an well maintained campground and does not appear to be as old as some of the Escapees Parks we have visited.

And folks were friendly (not surprising at an Escapees Park).  I met Dave who has been a Full Time RVer for 22 years.  I have never met someone who has been doing this that long.  Have you?

Thanks for checking in on the Roadrunner Chronicles today!  Until next time...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How to Wash a Roadrunner

We took advantage of our loose schedule and decided after 10 days in Quartzsite that we'd head for Yuma.  The sunsets were beautiful, the area was fine, the rally was over and most had left and we felt like it was time to move on after 10 days in the boonies.
We did a little research and decided to aim for the Escapees Park outside of Yuma.  We called ahead and they had one, maybe two spots available.

We arrived at lunch time and were second in line to sign in.
But the folks in front of us were going to the dry camping area, so we had no worries.

One thing about Escapees Parks, they work hard at being friendly.  We were instantly welcomed by Evelyn and husband Mel who have worked here in the winters for six years.  Nice folks.

We found out it was OK to wash the RV and Mel mentioned they had folks getting their rigs washed regularly here in the park.  I figured I wasn't going to spend $350 (my guess on what a wash and wax would cost).  I was not looking forward to tackling the four day job.  I have to work up to these things...
Later,  Pam found an add in the local paper for Sergio.  I called and they wanted $120.  Hmm...much more reasonable.  And the Roadrunner was really dirty.  All that dust from Quartzsite was on the coach.
Then I called Benjamin's.  $100 for a wash and wax and got a 2 PM same day appointment.  The crew showed up at 2:00.  It was blowing and they were afraid the spray was going to go over the neighbor's rig.  Nobody was home and they were reluctant to get started so we rescheduled for 8:00 AM the next morning.

Later that afternoon, we straighten up a bit and Pam made a couple of trips to the laundry.  We had a nice dinner with some grilled vegetables and steaks.  Then we enjoyed our new HD TV for a while.

Promptly at 8:00 AM on Saturday, two guys from Benjamin's RV Wash (and Carpet Cleaning) showed up.  Sergio (another one, not the same as the other RV Wash company) and Nacho (his nickname) got right on it.
We talked for a few minutes, confirmed the price and they got with it.  The generator in the back of the truck was a little noisy, but the campground host on duty drove around and said no problem - anytime after 8:00 AM was good.
This was a thing of beauty to watch.  Two young energetic guys getting after it.  My back enjoyed watching them.  They were steady and thorough.  With their own 250 gallon tank of 'soft' water, they power washed the top and then proceeded down the side, scrubbing first, then spraying off.

I even pulled out the generator for Sergio to use his power washer on.
It worked and after 7+ years, I think this was the first time it had ever been washed.
Then they continued on around the side.
About 30 minutes after they started, the washing part was finished. I passed out a couple of bottles of Gatorade and then they got started on the next phase.

They let the water stay on the Roadrunner, then wiped
Meguiar's Mirror Glaze all over the sides, front and rear of the coach.
The sun was slow in coming through the light clouds and it was not hot yet at just after 9:00 AM in the morning.

Perfect day to get the job done.  I was really enjoying this.  And learning some things.  They purposely did not wipe the water off after they rinsed it.
They just started in with the wax.
It took them twice as long to wax it, taking them about an hour.
It really looked good.
I paid them, gave them a tip and they were on their way before 10:00 AM.  But not before they started on the ham and cheese sandwiches that Pam made for them.  
Interesting couple of guys.  Sergio said Nacho was a nickname that his buddy picked up and it stuck.  He also said he was going to college at night and was glad to be making some money.  He is pursuing a degree in technology - not sure if he wanted to go into video production or maybe in the audio area.  at any rate, I was pretty impressed.  

Great way to start our time here in Yuma:  get the Roadrunner all cleaned up and shiny again and meet some interesting guys.

Thanks again for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...