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My How Time Flies
Monday, February 10, 2014
By Stephanie White, Land Yacht Enthusiast

Stardate: January up to Feb 11, 2014

Location: So-Cal and Arizona

January was a busy month. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time working - yet another reason for anyone considering a career in accounting to run as fast as possible the other direction. Still though, there were some noteworthy moments we'll cover today.

Started for a week out in Desert Hot Springs where I became addicted to an evening soak in the natural mineral spa hot tubs. Stayed at the Catalina Spa & RV Resort. It's a great place to be in the winter, temperatures were in the high 70's and nice and cool at night. My spot was an end location adjoing a small cactus garden. The garden was small, the cactus were not, so not sure if that last sentence needed a comma, hopefully you get the point. Auggie quickly learned to keep his adorable little snout as far from the cactus as possible. The garden also had some big shrubs with red flowers which provided constant entertainment from numerous zippy little hummingbirds. Even more enjoyable is that the hummingbirds actually would stop and perch in nearby trees.

From Desert Hot Springs I headed back west to Rancho Oso Campground, tucked in the hills near the Los Padres National Forest, just outside of Santa Barbara. The campground is part of a working horse ranch with the RV spots terraced up a hillside providing expansive views of the ranch and the hillsides. It's a wee bit creepy though. Backing the ass end of the RV out over the terrace had me wondering how many people ended up caroming backwards down the hillside and putting a speedy end to their future RV travels. It's also quite an adventure getting from the main road to the campground on a narrow, in places one lane, winding road with some remarkable hairpin turns; so much so that on one of the hairpins it was so tight that it bent the telescoping piece on one side of my towbar.

Those of you who know me well probably know that I am terrified of horses. While I was at Rancho Oso over the weekend, I confronted my fearful demons and went on a two hour trail ride, on a real horse. It was a fabulous sunny afternoon, bright blue sky, no clouds and just a slight cool breeze. We had five of us in the ride, two wranglers and three riders. I fessed up my fears to one of the wranglers at the barn before the ride. She put me on a very docile wide beamed horse named Chili, that she described as a smart car on legs. Chili and I took our place right behind the lead wrangler and off we went into the hills. I settled in and actually even got to trot a few times. After we returned to the barn and I got off Chili my knees were hurting so bad I could hardly walk. I saunted off in my best John Wayne stroll I could muster and was quite proud I had conquered a demon. 

Ranch Oso, being out in the boondocks, has no internet or cell access so I spent my workdays having set up camp in a great little coffee shop in Galeta. I took over a booth in the back and joined about 3 other people that I saw every day doing the same thing all day. I made note that until I am actually retired there will be no more stays at locations without Verizon access; I much prefer working at my desk with two monitors. One downside to having to go to Galeta was the view from my desk window, above the aforementioned ass end hanging out over the terrace, was a spectacular countryside panorama - sadly, I didn't get to see much of it.

Next stop on the trip was a week at an RV park in Anaheim. Brother Brenton joined me for the weekend and we did Disney til' our legs cramped. It was enchanting as Disney always is and had a supercalifragilistic time with Brent. The park was so close to Disneyland that we actually had a better view of the fireworks than all the people in Disneyland who (like us on the first night) didn't spend two hours camped out in the perfect unobstructed-firework-watching-location prior to the fireworks show. Got to connect with my good friend Denny a couple times and we gabbed away the time like we had seen each other just yesterday.

High tailed it out of Anaheim to Arizona for a week at Rancho El Mirage RV and Golf Resort in, of all places, El Mirage - hence the name Rancho El Mirage, huh? Got settled in on Saturday and then went to the sports bar at the golf course to watch the Super Bowl. Auggie and I took long early morning and after work walks everyday and had happy hour on the patio. People were nice enough and said hello but didn't really chat with anyone to speak of. Oddly, on the following Saturday as I was going through my departure routine and had pulled out of my spot into the street to hook up the Jeep, a half a dozen people all materialized and were telling me how sad it was I had to leave. Go figure. 

It was funny though, the one time I would have loved to have left with nobody even so much as making a blink, was the one time when I had to deal with hooking up one "frozen" bar to the car. That meant I had to have the darn thing e-x-a-c-t-l-y the precise correct distance from the RV. So - I have the lady who was staying across the street, her two neighbors and a couple from down the way all standing around the car while I am in and out, and in and out, and back in and out, of the drivers seat eek-eek-eeking the damn towbar to the coupler on the car so that I can get the cotter pin in and, finally, secured. 

Now I'm feeling good, itching to get underway and I hop into the RV drivers seat ready to head out. Put the coach into drive and - nothing, it won't go forward. Try reverse and then drive again - still nothing. Stomped the gas pedal and roared that 400 horse diesel nice and loud, by golly, and more than once. Not sure why, but it turns out I had to repeat the steps to get the Jeep crankcase in neutral all over again, probably for the benefit of my new friends who are still standing around to see me off.

Having finally made my way out of Rancho El Mirage I am headed to Benson, which is about 40 miles southeast of Tucson. Going to be a nice 3 hour drive or so on a beautiful sunny Saturday. No sooner do I get on Highway 10 than someone pulls up and motions enough for me to understand something is amiss on my stern.

I pull over at the first available place on the side of the freeway just a ways past our encounter. Knowing there is an issue with one side of the towbar I am just a wee frightened at what I may see when I get to the back of the RV. Foremost, thankfully the car is still there, yay! However, the whole hitch is bound up and the car is completely off track from following directly behind. Then I notice the passenger side front tire is torn up, but not flat, from having tracked incorrectly behind the RV for who knows how far. I'm able to get the hitch to release with a mechanism designed to do just that and figure we are home free. Keep in mind while all this is going on cars and trucks are whizzing by at somewhere in the neighborhood of warp-2, perhaps 3.

I jump back in the drivers seat and pull forward a tiny bit just to see if the car will straighten out. Get out and rush to the back hoping for the best and now the car is more crooked and the one good side of the tow bar is retracted all the way in (which is the wrong direction). Now I'm getting worried, look and see that there is a fairly high "curb' from the blacktop to the shoulder and figure maybe (hahahaha, right) that is part of the problem. Get back in the RV, Auggie by this time is realizing that Mom is a tad bit tense and starts flailing and barking and generally acting like a puppy. I sat down looked him in the eye and promised him a steak if he would shut up - hah kidding, not really. I did though, sit down and look him in the eye and beg him to please settle down, which amazingly, he did - who knew?

Well, the "curb" wasn't the problem so I figured I'll just go back and start from the beginning. If you recall, the departure from Rancho El Mirage wasn't exactly flawless so it could be any number of things going wrong. When I get into the drivers seat I find that the steering wheel has locked toward the left so the car has been trying to turn left the whole way down the freeway. I turn the motor on, the steering wheel unlocks, I go though the whole drill to get the crankcase in neutral, etc and give a try on pulling forward a short way again. Finally, the car is tracking along like it's supposed to and with the exception of a not quite completely ruined tire we are good to go. And off with us, now about an hour behind schedule, but on the road. Auggie still behaving like a gentleman, thank God.

Arrive in Benson at Valley Vista with plenty of my Saturday left. Take Auggie for a nice walk to stretch his legs, get settled into my spot and settled into a nice cold beer. Made a call to Big-O tires in Tucson to arrange for a new tire which will arrive on Monday. (Just so you know, there is no Les Schwab in AZ.) Having had enough fun for one day, I decide the walk between my patio and the fridge is about the extent of the activities for the remainder of the day. I'm content to laze about and enjoy relaxing and hanging out with Auggie McAuggerson.

In regard to Benson, it's a nice enough place but the wind is ferocious. It's a bit of elevation at 3,500 feet and overlooks the lower desert to the north and, past the desert, the distant mountains. The RV park is nice but too far to walk or bike from eating or drinking establishments. Weather is warm during the day and cool for sleeping at night. Like Desert Hot Springs and El Mirage, the sunsets compete with each other daily for the winner of the "most beautiful sunset ever" award. 

That brings us up to yesterday, Sunday February 9, 2014. I went to Tombstone and had a great time being a full-blown tourist. Strolled around Boot Hill, saw a gunfight re-enactment, had my picture taken with the very handsome re-enactors, rode a stagecoach and popped into a couple shops. On the stagecoach ride we went past the Wells Fargo RV Park, right smack in town and skipping distance from all the pubs. I called them up when I got home and am headed there for a stay this coming Saturday.

After work today I got my tire replaced and was fortunate enough to find a replacement tow bar, that I would call gently used, on Craigslist for a third of what it would cost new. All in all a quite happy ending to some "character defining" moments over the past weeks.

I leave you now so thatI can refresh my drink and contemplate what color shorts I shall wear tomorrow...