February 8th, 2023
We arrived at Windhaven RV Park in Yuma around 5 (this is where we spent January and February of 2021) and got settled into a site (Doug had reached out a couple of weeks ago about availability and price, as we knew back then, we just wanted to leave Mexico without going any further south when we could actually get out of here). Carri, the manager, checked us in, we paid $299 (for a month though we won’t stay quite that long but it’s 199 a week, so a better deal), got the Wi-Fi password, the laundry room code, parked and unhooked the Tundra.
First things first: we went out to DQ for dinner to celebrate making it out of Mexico and into the US with no issues (we’d had a small niggly feeling that this entire matter might show up in the US data base via Doug’s passport, but nothing was said). We both love an ice cream treat.
Sadly this has left a really sour taste for Mexico in our mouths, and it will be a while before we are ready to return! Now we can start to relax although we are still awaiting the reimbursement of the settlement money and dealing with the tow receipt.
So Thursday, Fran went to stock up our trailer and we spent a quiet day at the campground getting settled, Doug set up our Wi-Fi extender and he enjoyed the hot tub. Fran can’t go in due to her wounds but she is sitting on the edge soaking her feet while we both have a happy hour drink. See pic above the RV park’s hot tub which we had to ourselves every time.
The next few days we spent doing chores (like caulking and cleaning), organizing and trying to relax and reduce our stress levels; we both felt our bodies and minds had been beat up pretty hard.
Sunday, Fran drove to Walmart to get one thing and by the time she got there, the truck had a flat tire!; luckily we have a compressor and after calling Doug to find out how to connect one part, she got the tire inflated, saw a screw in it and took it over to the auto department to get it fixed; that took 1.5 hours and cost $15. The store was a zoo on super bowl Sunday! Insane!
The weather the past few days has been marvelous – low to mid 20’s C / low to mid 70’s F. Sunday was somewhat cloudy and there’s a breeze most days but nothing too strong.
There is a canal behind the RV park where you can walk without traffic so we use it a lot.
Monday, a PanAm overlanding friend of ours whom we’ve met up with a few times reached out as she was passing through Yuma. Kirsi and her beloved dog, Jack, dropped by and we had a lovely afternoon catching up. (Oops -forgot to take photos!). That night we had some unexpected rain and Tuesday we had a dust storm with 40kmh / 25 mph winds.
We added a new poster to our walls in our trailer; A few years ago, Joshua gave Doug a scratch off map of the world and we finally found a spot to put it up; he’s been enjoying “uncovering the world we’ve already visited” ever since.
Wednesday, Doug did a walking marathon even though it was the coldest day we’ve experienced in a while; the morning temp was not much above freezing but it’s sunny. It did end up hitting 16C / 63F. Fran went for a haircut and ran some errands.
Our wonderful kids gave us gift certificates for the local day spa to help us relax and because Fran didn’t want to do a massage due to her injuries, she went for a deluxe Pedi on Friday and Doug booked a 60 minute massage for next week. Lotus Day Spa was very nice and it was relaxing for us both to continue to help us unwind.
When Kirsi was visiting us earlier this week, she told us about “Escapee RV’s” – a cooperative RV leasehold campground with a few locations around the western US. e decided to check out the Yuma location. You become a member, pay a fee to be put on the wait list and when your name reaches the top, you get first dibs on the next available site; if you choose to take it, you pay a leasehold fee of several thousand dollars and the site is yours until you’re done with it but there are annual fees plus electric to pay. Some sites have just concrete pads, others also have storage sheds as well and still others have manufactured homes on them. A committee sets the price and it’s yours if you choose to take it. So on Friday afternoon, we went to check out the one here in Yuma (Kirsi is on the waitlist for the one in Pahrump). It’s quite a bit out of town (which we didn’t like) with no amenities nearby but it is very nice looking; all sites have short brick walls around them, are a very good size and there is a pool, hot tub, and other services. It was interesting to check out but we’re not in the market just yet.
Doug is sleeping better but Fran no so much; her last wound must be putting enough stress on her system so as not to enable her “body battery” to get back to normal. On Friday the wound finally began to scab over so she hopes she’s nearing the end of this healing process. It was such a large wound, it’s no wonder but if that is what is affecting her ability to sleep well, it can’t end soon enough.
Saturday it began to warm up again; hit the mid 20’s C / mid to high 70’s F for the next few days. Sunny and warm; exactly what we were looking for this winter; it’s just a shame our time in the North America is nearly over.
On Monday, which is President’s Day here in the US, we went to check out a few other RV parks to investigate their fees and seasonal/annual options – for down the road a few years. We saw three RV parks (which turned out to be sister parks) and the prices were the same: $300 a month plus electric and they are no larger than Windhaven here but have more activities and they are putting in dedicated Wi-Fi at all the sites this year! You can put a storage shed on the lot and stay all year or part of the year but you pay for the entire year regardless. This seemed like a better place than Escapees because it’s on a few blocks from the main part of the area called Fortuna Foothills with shops and restaurants, close to a freeway exit yet away from the main frontage road. So we got the information and we’ll keep it in mind for a few years from now as a place not only to winter, but we could store our belongings here and not have to pay for a storage unit and storage for the truck and trailer.
Today it was lovely and the warmest day yet at 25C / 77F – however, a very strong wind came up in the afternoon and last for the next 36 hours. The trailer was actually rocking a bit overnight!
Tuesday afternoon, Doug went for his massage and Wednesday he attempted another long walk but seems it may have been too soon after the one he did last week, as blisters came much earlier and he came back after doing over half a marathon instead of a full. We had another dust storm in the afternoon which ended in the early evening. Temps have cooled off some too but the sun is still shining down on us.
Thursday, Fran’s final wound had finally made it 3 days with a scab and no “seeping”. Things are looking up. Some of the other scabs have fallen off but she’s keeping them moisturized with Vaseline which seems to make them less itchy so less chance of picking at them. There’s been little pain except many of them are still tender to the touch, especially the one on the side of the left knee – still looks bruised! That dog must have bit that area hard.
Doug went out to caulk some things on the outside of the trailer yesterday in preparation for storage and discovered two more broken wires; seems they are trailer brake wires that must have come down when the welder tore off the coroplastic underneath. Naturally he couldn’t get the exact same plastic piece to hook it all back up, but he did find a suitable alternative and it’s all back together.
Over this past two weeks, Fran spent some time gathering some photos together both from our time in Africa early last year and our several months in Europe to make a couple more collages for our little “home”.
Another plus about “living” here in Yuma is how good the dry air is for Fran’s arthritis; granted we’ve not done any extreme hiking while here, but she experiences very little, if any, stiffness in the mornings and her knees rarely give her any pain.
We’ve been told by the Mexican lawyer that the wire transfer “is in the works” but we’ve yet to see and are somewhat hesitant to believe it; time will tell. We are also still trying to sort out the tow receipt with not much luck either.
Friday it warmed up again back into the 20’sC / 70’sF and other than a few “Simpson clouds”, it’s back to normal after another pretty windy but sunny day yesterday.
For our last full day in Yuma, we took care of some chores and began readying for our departure tomorrow morning. We are sure going to miss the warmth and sunshine as it’s cold up in Reno! We plan to take our time to get there and we will stop at our storage unit in Fallon to drop off a few things and leave the trailer there for the next few months.
We treated ourselves to pizza and DQ for our last dinner. It was yummy.
The past two weeks as you can derive from the above, we really did not do much other than have a lot of down time to ourselves which we really needed. No driving, no sightseeing, no having to find a place to spend the night, just chillin’. It was very comforting.
Sunday morning, the 26th, after exercise and tea, we packed up, unhooked and left Windhaven making our way north. It’s quite a long drive up to Reno from here and we wanted to break it up and we’d also made dental appointments for cleanings in Vegas.
North of Yuma:
So our first overnight spot was the little town of Parker, Arizona where we’d stayed before a couple of years ago. There’s a casino, The Blue Water, that allows RV dry camping for up to 14 days. There are no real services but access to bathrooms and a restaurant but this time we found a free Wi-Fi signal which was great because we have very limited data on our US plans.
After parking, Doug unhooked us and to went to check out “The Desert Bar”, a place we’d heard about from friends but never manage to make it there. You drive a few miles north of Parker and get off on a dirt road and drive five miles into the desert.
Here you’ll find Nellie E Saloon:
The DESERT BAR aka Nellie E Saloon is located 5 miles down Cienega Springs Road off highway 95 , approximately 5 miles north of Parker, Arizona on land that was once an old mining camp. The camp was located on the land which is now the parking lot. When Ken acquired the land in 1975, there was nothing left of the old camp. With the land and a liquor license from an old business on leased river land, Ken decided to give “bar in the desert” idea a try. In 1983 Ken opened for business in the temporary three-sided structure where he operated for five years, until the current structure was built. The name “Nellie E” originates from the old mining claim. The used to mine copper and take it to the smelter and get gold. When Ken opened the bar, he hauled water in a 50 gallon tank in back of his truck. He then purchased an old fire truck, which he used to haul water. In 1989 he started using a well in the canyon as his water source. In the summer of 1997, Ken drilled a new well on the north side of the bar that operates on solar and is set at 360 feet.
The “Nellie E” was completed in 1988. The saloon is powered by solar energy and stored in batteries and run through inverters.
The Desert Bar is open weekends from October thru April (weather permitting) with live music both days.
Here’s some pics of the drive to it:
The the place itself:
The sun was out with a few clouds but the wind had picked up again. The temps were in the high teens C/ high 60’S so not bad but you had to find a spot to sit in the sun.
We enjoyed a drink, listened to some music (the live band went on a break about 5 minutes after we found seats) and chatted with two couples from Minnesota.
When we returned to the trailer and Fran went for a walk along the river checking out the hotel/casino. They have a bowling alley, a cinema and mini golf as well as a river front with picnic tables, a small marina and a cantina (close this time of year) right on the river.
Monday morning we continued north looking for a place to wash the trailer before we store it on Thursday and after a few closed ones, we found one in Bullhead City with an RV bay! We washed both the truck and trailer and then filled up the tank with the cheapest gas we could find. Back in Yuma best price was $3.39 a gallon and here we got 3.19 (when we passed through here back in January, it had been 2.79) .
We had planned to overnight at the Railroad Pass Casino outside Boulder City southeast of Vegas but upon arriving saw how slope the parking lot was and decided to try and find a place closer to our dental appointments in Summerlin (west side of Vegas). We found a city park called Desert Breeze where others had stayed on iOverlander and decided to try that. We got parked, went for a walk checking out the park which is quite large; it has 4 baseball diamonds, 2 dog parks, a few playgrounds, several soccer fields, a skate park and across the street a rec centre with a pool. We went over there after walking and used their free Wi-Fi for a bit before returning to the trailer for the afternoon/night. It sprinkled a bit and it’s definitely cooler here than in Yuma.
Tuesday morning it was clearer but still quite cool for us. We arrived at the dentist early hoping not just to be taken in early but to use the Wi-Fi,” wink, wink”. We gassed up before arriving and we both got x-rays, cleaning and a check up for $77 using a Groupon. Done for another six months.
We made our way out of Vegas after getting some breakfast north to Beatty where we parked in a dirt lot behind the casino for the night. We both took walks and then had a pretty decent, albeit colder night. We awoke Wednesday with the plan to push on all the way to Fallon where Doug booked a cheap hotel rather than doing another cold night. Well not 30 km / 20 mi outside Beatty, it began to snow and it only got worse from there. We had a couple of mountain passes to go through and it was blowing and there were white out conditions. At one point while following a camper van, it just decided to stop on the road and we slid a bit, but Fran managed to get us back in the lane. We waited quite a while before moving. A line formed behind us and conditions did not improve. However after maybe half an hour after switching drivers, we saw vehicles behind us pull out and pass us and that van; we decided to “follow the leader” and following a line of vehicles until we were stopped again in about a half mile. Now we were behind a car who was right behind a large tractor trailer. After a while vehicles began passing us on the right but we felt the trailer was too wide to get by the tractor trailer so we stayed put; the car left and in the meantime the tractor trailer installed chains. This took more than another half hour and finally he began to go and we stayed right behind him until the road got better (we could see pavement now) and he pulled over to remove his chains (and we expect he had to put them back on again in a coupe of miles as it got worse once again).
After another long delay at another section of the highway, we finally pushed on through to Goldfield where we could get cell reception and check the road and weather conditions ahead; do we stay put or push on?
It seemed we were out of the worst part for a while and wind speeds were dropping ahead so we decided to go for it. We had to climb up to Tonopah and that was slow going and we always tried to keep a vehicle in front to follow as the conditions remained quite “white”. It got better before Tonopah and from then on the road was pretty good with a few small patches of icy snow. After gassing up once, grabbing snacks form the trailer, we continued.
We had a plan to dump our tanks outside Tonopah and at a rest area; now we were regretting not doing so earlier as the temperatures were below freezing and we should have winterized the trailer. It was covered in snow and slush and freezing up fast. The dump station was closed but we attempted winterizing as our fresh tank was empty. Doug managed to get antifreeze running through the bathroom lines but the kitchen sink was not cooperating; we had to hope there was no damage.
The next dump station was in Hawthorne and they wanted $10 to use it (we’d read if you bought $10 in gas it was free but that no longer seemed to be the case) so we pushed on as there were two more ahead in Fallon.
We looked at the gas gauge and figured we should be able to make it to Fallon on what we had and crossed our fingers as gas was super pricey here in Hawthorne. Fran was driving now and within 50 km / 30 mi – the range dropped drastically with all the hill climbing and it began to look iffy that we’d make it. The first dump opportunity was just before the gas station and as we pulled into Fallon’s outskirts, we opted to skip the dump and made it with ONE MILE’s worth of gas left in the tank – wow! The skies were clear here and there was very little snow on the ground.
After getting enough gas to make it to the next large centre, we returned to the dump, got that sorted and made it to the hotel. Fran checked us in and got us sorted while Doug finished the winterizing process and this time the kitchen cooperated – phew – no expensive damage done.
We had some cold sandwiches for dinner in our room and after hot showers and exercise, left the next morning to get the trailer re-washed after that messy drive. Doug did not find it fun using a self serve pressure washing car wash when it’s barely above freezing outside!
We made it to the storage unit by 9:30 and by 11 we had stored away the trailer, dumped off a few items into our unit itself and made our way to Fernley, near the I80 to Reno. We stopped at Walmart to get a few things, then got gas at the freeway and were at Serena’s by 2ish. What a day’s adventure we had yesterday.
We knew the code to enter Serena and Kurt’s garage and let ourselves in and got unpacked. Heidi and Titan were super excited to see us. Serena was home by 5 and Kurt about a half hour later. We had a pretty quiet night.
Reno had snow two days ago so there was snow on lawns but not on the road. Serena advised a storm was on the way for Sunday with more snow. The area has received way more than usual this winter and it seems to be getting old to them.
Friday, Serena worked from home today and we had a relaxing day after that terrible drive two days before; pretty much all we did was take walks – Fran took one with Heidi. That night we took them out for dinner at Olive Garden and then went to the Reno Ice arena for a public skate. We’d come across our skates when moving our storage unit down here and Fran realized that we hadn’t skated in years and it was something she always loved doing growing up. We rented skates for Serena and Kurt, and spent about an hour on the ice; they suffered a lot from the uncomfortable skates and although we were kinda wobbly on the ice at first, no one fell.
Saturday a storm was threatening in the afternoon but we got our walks in, ran a few errands before it snowed. We got maybe 15 cm / 3”.
Kurt had to work this weekend so we stayed home in the evenings. Sunday afternoon we took advantage of drier weather and went over to the Grand Sierra Resort for a hot tub and a Fat Tuesday with Serena after lunch. They open their pool area to non-guests for $20 for the day but maybe cause only the hot tub was open not the pool and they didn’t charge us. We spent nearly 90 minutes drinking our adult” slurpies” and soaking in the hot water.
Monday morning, our last day in Reno, Serena went off to work around 8 and we finished packing. After some breakfast Doug loaded up the truck and headed to the storage lot to drop it off. Kurt took Fran to Avis before noon, and she picked up our one way rental back to Vegas. She got a four door Mazda sedan that had plenty of room for our four carry-on bags and two backpacks (we can check two bags free).
She arrived at the storage unit in Fallon just as Doug was just finishing up and we hit the road to make our way towards Vegas.
The roads were in great shape today:
And we made it as far as Pahrump by 6:30 and decided that was far enough for one day. We stopped for blizzards at DQ as we arrived in town. Doug had booked us a room online at the Nugget and after checking in, we got some snacks for dinner and had a pretty good night.
Tuesday, we were up early as we couldn’t get back to sleep, got online for a while (hotel had superfast Wi-Fi) and left around ten to top up the tank and finish the drive to the Las Vegas airport car rental drop off.
Fran has been in touch on Facebook with a potential buyer for our old coach batteries and has arranged for him to pick them up Thursday morning. Let’s hope that pans out.
We dropped off the car and took the shuttle to the airport; completed checking in our bags, and got through security pretty quickly. We were almost an hour ahead of schedule. We found our gate and took turns walking and staying with our carry on bags to get some steps.
The first leg of our KLM flights was supposed to leave at 3:59 pm; the plane from Amsterdam arrived late and we left about 35 minutes late concerned we’d not make our connection in Amsterdam. They did ask for people to check carry on bags so we managed to get rid of one of them. It was a 9.5 hour flight and we did get there too late (11:40 am instead of 10:55 am) to catch the connection to Athens (even if we had arrived on time, we doubted we could have made it through passport control fast enough as this is where we entered the EU for the first time). The airline booked us on a 5:10 pm flight to Athens on Aegean Air so we had a few hours to kill in Athens. We were both quite sleepy because as usual, neither of us slept on the plane. We had each been given €15 vouchers for food in the airport to compensate us for the delay so after walking a bit, we found a place to sit and have a light meal.
Naturally, our 5 pm flight was late (as the plane arrived late) and we didn’t take off until after 7! This airline sucks at announcements and even on the plane, announcements were rare. We disembarked, grabbed our bag – YES – all three of them arrived and were amoung the first off the plane. Since we were arriving after 6pm we could not be picked up by the fellow at the parking lot, so we took an Uber and got to Minou after midnight. She seemed in great shape, we plugged in and pretty much went straight to bed by 12:30am.