Thursday, January 30, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 2 Begins: Bellingham to Pomona, California

Part 2: Days 1 - 3

After seven weeks at home for the holidays and a trip to our float cabin on Powell Lake we started Part 2 of our Snowbird RV Adventure. 

The following posts have been reordered for easier reading in chronological order. Posting dates are not reflective of actual calendar dates from our trip.

If you follow my blog you know that Part 1 started in November and lasted until mid-December. We drove our 25' Sunseeker motorhome 1,644 miles from Bellingham, Washington, to Pomona, California over 40 days.

Alaska Airlines from Bellingham to California via Seattle.
Now on to Part 2!

February 2: On February 2 we flew via Alaska Airlines from Bellingham to Ontario, California. We arrived late so decided to spend the night at the nearby Hilton Doubletree Hotel.

February 3: The next morning we took an Uber to Pomona RV Storage at Fairplex to retrieve our RV. It was just as we had left it and ready to roll.


Welcome to California and strong Santa Ana winds.

We know Pomona well because we lived here for almost 30 years. We went to our favourite Von's grocery store and stocked up on fresh food for the next three days. Our small refrigerator can hold an amazing amount of food when we don't want to eat out.

Premium Site #114 at the Fairplex RV Park has extra space.

We checked into the Fairplex RV Park, just blocks away from our former home. It's located on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds and a popular spot for RVers when there are events scheduled like the NHRA Winternationals this coming weekend.

Dinner again at El Merendero.
We're in spot #114, same as last December. It has a larger grass area which is nice. We went back to El Merendero for a Mexican food dinner. It's within walking distance on the other side of the fairgrounds.

February 4: We were supposed leave for Arizona this morning but Santa Ana winds are blowing, especially in the desert. We added a day to our stay in Pomona and called to modify our next reservation. Travel on Wednesday looks much better.

We are already following some of our own travel tips:

#5 -- When you are looking for a place to stay, consider fairgrounds.
#3 -- Pick travel days during good weather whenever possible.
#11 -- If weather changes, don't be afraid to ask for an extension.
#7 -- Don't be afraid to cancel a reservation.

And here's a new one.

The refrigerator in our Sunseeker.
RV Refrigerators - RV refrigerators range from small to large depending on the size of the RV.

Our brand is Dometic. We're familiar with that brand because the first propane refrigerator at the float cabin was a Dometic that was repurposed from a trailer.

Almost all RV refrigerators are dual AC electric and propane. A few are three-way with propane, 120 volt AC electric and 12 volt DC to run off batteries. Ours is dual.

The refrigerator control panel.
In auto mode, it moves from electric to propane and back as needed.

It runs on propane while on the road, if there's no electric hook-up or when the generator isn't running.

It's amazing how much fresh and frozen food we can store in our 6 cu. ft. Dometic Americana model. A separate freezer is better than one inside of the refrigerator section. This one gets cold enough to keep ice cream firm.

A full fridge for healthy(ier) eating.

Having a refrigerator in the RV allows you to cook with fresh foods without frequent shopping. As you know, we enjoy eating out, but cooking our own meals makes our trip more economical and relaxing.

Trip Mileage Log
Airline - 1,250 miles
Shuttle/Uber - 13 miles
RV Leg - 2 miles
RV Total - 2 miles

Stay tuned for more of our travelogue blog posts and get some more handy tips from two RVing newbies. -- Wayne and Margy

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 2: Pomona to Ehrenberg, Arizona

Part 2: Day 4

We like our smaller rig for easy maneuvering and parking.
February 5: The Santa Ana winds died down overnight. Having lived in Pomona, we know how damaging they can be. We made the right decision to delay our departure.

Day 4 took us from Pomona to the Arizona border. We planned an easy driving day to get back into the swing of things. The first half was to breakfast at Denny's in Thousand Palms, an hour and a half east. We stopped last year with our rental RV and knew parking our 25' rig was possible if it wasn't too busy.

Interstate 10 heading eastbound from Palm Springs.

The Arizona desert is beautiful this time of year.

Automobile and RV pumps at the Flying J truck stop.
The second half was an hour and forty-five minutes following Interstate 10 (Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway) to Ehrenberg, just over the Arizona border. We stopped at the Flying J Travel Center for gas and propane.

This was our first time using a truck stop style station, but found it welcoming for RVers and cars. They cater to truckers with so have lots of services like fast food restaurants, motels (some locations), parking and mini-marts.

Site #159 with a neighbour's side-by-side ATV.
We checked into the nearby Arizona Oasis RV Resort in Ehrenberg at 4:00, after changing our clocks to Mountain Time.  We got settled into Site #159 and walked down to the Colorado River before sunset. We paid extra for a pull-through spot. For us, the convenience is worth the extra cost for short stays.

The desert is quad country. You can ride right from your site so we saw lots of 4x4s and side-by-sides.

I've always wanted to stay along the Colorado River. I expected loud campers and wild parties, but the Arizona Oasis was friendly and quiet with many seasonal occupants.

The Colorado River here is wide and deep enough for boaters.

A beautiful RV Park beach to enjoy the Arizona sunset.

We used one of our frozen meals to go with a Caesar salad for dinner. The refrigerator I mentioned in my last post makes meal preparation easy in my very small kitchen. You can read more about my kitchen by clicking here. -- Wayne and Margy

Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 200 miles
Total - 202 miles

Getting propane at the Flying J Travel Center.
Propane is a useful fuel in RVs. It can be used outdoors for a BBQ or onboard for things like the stove, refrigerator, hot water and heater.

Anything involving heat is a huge draw on electricity. If you aren't in an RV park with hookups having propane makes life easier.

Trailers have tanks outside, usually on the trailer's tongue. Motorhomes have theirs underneath in a compartment.

It may be warm here in the Southwest during the day, but nights have been chilly. Our propane heater runs several times each night to keep us warm and toasty. The 9.8 gallon tank is the same size as the 40 lb ones we use at the cabin. It was half empty, so $14 worth of propane lasted a total of 21 camping days for all our needs.

The Flying J attendant filling our propane tank at Ehrenberg.

Propane tank refills are easy to find while traveling. Many RV parks offer this service. Travel centers like Flying J and Pilot are a good source. The Allstays App is a good resource to find propane. Travel center station descriptions list if it's available. Other locations have a red LP symbol. These include hardware stores, regular gas stations and U-Haul facilities.

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 2: Ehrenberg to Apache Palms in Tempe, Arizona

Part 2: Days 5 - 8

Driving Interstate 10 east towards Phoenix, Arizona.
February 6: Our stay along the Colorado River was too short, but we had reservations waiting for us in Tempe, Arizona. We stayed in the city four nights so we could attend sports events at Arizona State University.

This is our second year to stay at the Apache Palms RV Park in Tempe. It's the perfect place to stay when we want to visit the Phoenix and Tempe region.

The entrance from Apache Blvd in Tempe.
Apache Palms is an older RV park, but it's kept in excellent condition by it's owner. You can make online reservations and it's highly recommended, especially during the winter months and when there are special events in the area.

Even through we aren't a big rig, we book one of the five elite pull-through sites so we can get extra space, a cement patio and picnic table.

There are full hookups at all 77 sites. Current prices range from $50-65 a night and they offer a AAA or Good Sam discount of 10%.

Sites are close to each other, but you don't feel crowded, and trees add to the atmosphere. The people we've met here are friendly, and we feel safe even though we are in a big city.

Site #22 at Apache Palms RV Park.

February 7-9: February is the time to get some Arizona warm sunshine on our pale Pacific Northwest legs. It's also the beginning of college softball season. We went to selected competitions on all three days of the ASU Kajikawa Tournament. The weather was perfect and the games exciting.

The ASU Women's Softball Stadium.

We also got tickets to a men's University of Southern California vs. ASU basketball game while we were there. As Wayne's alma mater, USC is our favourite Pac12 team. Since they do not have a softball team, we can be a free agent at those games and cheer for other schools.

USC lost to ASU in a close 64 to 66 game.

While fixing meals in our RV is fun, we couldn't pass up dinner at In-n-Out Burger. We don't have any in Washington so it's a treat and brings back memories of living in Southern California.

A gorgeous Arizona moonrise.

We walked to one from the softball field and took an Uber to go back to our RV in time to catch a gorgeous rising moon. -- Wayne and Margy

Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 158 miles
Total - 360 miles

The reason we come to Apache Palms each year is because of it's location. We like to attend sports events at the University of Arizona. The RV park is located across the street from a Valley Metro Light Rail that makes stops at the university.

The Valley Light Rail stations are in easy walking distance to ASU sports venues.

You can also ride the Rail north to several stops in Phoenix and east to the Mesa area.

The light rail cars and stations are clean, well lit and monitored by security.

The cost is reasonable. Day passes are $4.00 and $2.00 reduced fares for eligible people. We chose  $16.50 15-day passes at the senior rate. Public transportation is always a good choice, especially when you are staying in a city environment.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 2: Tempe to White Tank Mountain Regional Park

Part 2: Days 9 - 11

Our RV ready for pickup at Chapman Fleet Services in Tempe.
February 10: Our Forest River Sunseeker 2250 RV was purchased new in April 2019 with 1000 miles from factory delivery. Since then we've added 5000 more.

It was time for an oil change and systems check. Our RV is on a Chevy 4500 chassis so we made an appointment with a Tempe dealer's Fleet Division for large vehicles.

Service on the road has always been a positive experience. Chapman Chevrolet was no exception.

After our morning appointment was over, we headed west and north of Phoenix to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. We had reservations for a three night stay in the beautiful desert environment of this popular park.

A beautiful desert setting at Site #9 at White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

We walked through the 40 site Family Campground before dinner. As you can see, a strong rain and wind storm was approaching. We had a site on the inner side of the loop road which was fine, but the sites on the outer side had even better views and more privacy. This time of year reservations well in advance are a must.

Well maintained trails led to the central restroom with showers.

Each site came with electricity and water hookups. A sewer dump station and trash bin was provided at the entrance.

February 11-12: After the night's heavy rain and morning sun, the desert came alive. Green grass sprouted everywhere and there were a few flowers starting to bloom. Each day we took a hike on some of the park's trails. There are many to choose from.

White Tank Mountain views from the Ironwood Trail.

Valley views with Phoenix in the distance from the Ironwood Trail.

How many campsites have their own massive Saguaro cactus? If you want one, come visit White Tank Mountain. -- Wayne and Margy

Well spaced sites give you privacy and a piece of the desert all your own.

Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 51 miles
Total - 411 miles

Friday, January 24, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 2: Desert Hiking in the White Tank Mountains

Trails in the park range from easy to difficult.
Yesterday's post shared about our four night stay in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

On the second and third days we went hiking on two of the the well maintained trails through the desert environment. The park map is a great resource for trail locations and difficulty. There's also excellent signage.

Here are some of the pictures I took along the way on the Ironwood and Ford Canyon Trails.

Saguaro, Ford Canyon Wash and White Tank Mountains.

Does this cactus make me look tiny? Of course it does. The Saguaro is a giant among cacti. I'm 5' tall so this guy is 25' or more. They don't start branching before 50 years of age and can live to be 200.

Hedgehog Cactus.

The Hedgehog Cactus gets it's name because it resembles the spiny animal. They grow in short clusters with arms only a few inches in length.

Barrel Cactus.

The Barrel Cactus are short and round. Despite their diminutive size they are long lived, up to 130 years. Beautiful yellow flowers will ring the top in spring.

Jumping Cholla Cactus.

The Jumping Cholla Cactus and I go way back. The branchlettes with numerous sharp spines detach easily from the plant. You see them littering the ground underneath just waiting for someone or something to come along. And that's just what I did many years ago in Baja California. I left the campfire to take care of business in the dark. I felt something touch my foot and gave it a kick. I managed to get a piece of Cholla embedded in my skin over the straps of my sandal. What a painful process to get it removed far, far from civilization.

Another type of Cholla.

This is another type of Cholla Cactus, possibly the Buckhorn.

Spring can't be far away when cactus are starting to get buds for flowers and poppies are starting to bloom.

The desert comes alive in Spring and we'll be here to see it change. -- Wayne and Margy

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Snowbird RV Adventure Part 2: White Tank and Return to Apache Palms

Part 2: Days 12 - 15

Site #20 at the Apache Palms RV Park in Tempe, AZ.
February 13: We really enjoyed our stay in the desert foothills, but it was time to return to Tempe for the next softball tournament at Arizona State University. Games didn't start until Friday, so Thursday was a relaxing day for reading in the warm sunshine.

February 14-16: We stayed again at Apache Palms RV Park so we could attend games at ASU from Friday through Sunday. I already mentioned this is the perfect place to stay for ASU events.

This time ASU hosted visiting teams from Illinois State, Kentucky, Detroit Mercy and Boise State for the Littlewood Classic Softball Tournament. I like softball tournaments because we get to see teams from around the country.

ASU vs Boise State in the last game of the Littlewood Classic.

On Sunday, we went to a basketball game between the women from University of Washington and ASU. The basketball games were an added bonus for us.

Sparky is the ASU Sun Devil's mascot. He's popular with young and old alike.

On the way to basketball we stopped at a new breakfast spot. Express Burrito is perfectly positioned between the Light Rail and the arena.

Wayne's chorizo and egg burrito and my machaca and egg one were a great change of pace.

Do you like discovering new places to eat? What are some of your favourites? -- Wayne and Margy

Trip Mileage Log
Leg - 53 miles
Total - 464 miles

I love to cook, but our small RV kitchen doesn't lend itself to elaborate meals. Some of my standbys are frozen microwave entrees from the store and salads. When I do cook, I make simple items that can be prepared on my stovetop. Here's one example.

Quick and Easy Taco Salad for Two

1/2 pound hamburger
1/2 small can of pinto beans
1/4 cup salsa
1 tablespoon packaged dry taco seasoning
2 bowls chopped lettuce
diced red onion and salad dressing (if desired)
grated cheese and sour cream for toppings
A Taco Salad dinner prepared and enjoyed in our RV.


I divide a pound of hamburger and the can of beans (with liquid) in half and freeze for later.

Cook quarter size hunks of hamburger in a frying pan. Remove excess fat. Add beans and some liquid. Season with salsa and taco mix. Simmer to blend flavours and reduce the liquid. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Chop lettuce to fill two salad bowls. Add onion and salad dressing if desired. Top with the meat mixture, cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Serve with chips, salsa and guacamole if you have an avocado handy. Yum! And it's so easy to make in a small RV kitchen! -- Margy