Tuesday, March 11, 2008


When we ramble about between Workamping gigs, we rarely have an Internet signal where we park overnight. If we find a library in a small town, we avail ourselves of their computers to do our banking and check our email. Usually, the banking takes five minutes and the email takes way more than the allotted half hour so it is often backed up for a week or more. Sometimes, we get lucky and hit a larger town’s library that offers a WIFI connection, usually for free. We make a point to purchase a couple of paperbacks from their sales as a way of making a donation.

So there we were Friday afternoon, in Casa Grande, AZ’s beautiful library and I am doing a quick zip through the Inbox. After discarding 37 really important Viagra, free laptop, and proven money making schemes I find all the jokes and forwards that arrived even though I’ve told everyone I’d be offline. Those get zapped unread too. Now down to a manageable 20+ emails, I find one from my writer pal, Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak, dated the previous Monday. She wants to know if we are still in AZ. She says she’s leaving Pine, AZ for Casa Grande to present her seminar at the Gypsy Journal Rally the following week.

Now Jaimie and I have been missing each other by a day, or 50 miles for more than a year. So I fire off a reply telling her we are in town but planning on heading out in the morning for - you guessed it - Quartsite! But I ask where she is and tell her to call me since I’m about to leave the library. Maybe we could at least meet for coffee. Once outside, it occurs to me she probably doesn’t have my number handy so I call her. Unfortunately, she and George were not going to arrive until Sunday. Drats! missed again.

In our effort to equalize the budget after two weeks of playing tourists, we had spent the last two nights at the very inexpensive Pinal County Fairgrounds along with some lovely Canadians who had been there for about a week. The office told us all however that we had to be gone by Saturday because they had 300 RVers coming in on Sunday for a rally.

Saturday morning we drove around to the back of the fairgrounds seeking the larger exit. We spotted a huge rig with a sign that read RV repairs on the side. Since we knew our next stop was going to entail some service work (see Jim's Blog for a tale better told), I suggested Big Jim ask the repair guy’s opinion. He grumbled but did not dare defy me.

As they were talking I saw another man, I’d never met but recognized from frequent pictures coming toward them. I jumped out and asked “Are you Nick Russell ?”
“ How could you tell?” Nick’s silhouette is unmistakable. Sort of like Alfred Hitchcock but only half as tall.
“Is this the Gypsy Journal Rally?”
“Sure is.”
“Dang it!” we aren’t signed up!
“Well you are now!”

So, to make a long story short…(yeah right!), the next afternoon when Jaimie and George came in to register, guess which volunteer handed them their badges!

We had a terrific week, met some terrific people, made new friends, and caught up with old ones like Roger and Brenda, a couple we’d been out to dinner with and toured Fort Smith with in Arkansas, Jaimie and George, and Alice Zyetz and sold a few copies of my book, The Tree at the Top of the Hill.

We even learned a lot, in fact, just yesterday, I impressed the heck out of Sage Words by telling him about some of the seminars. He's a computer geek serving his country with a lot of other Uber Geeks but he didn't know how to change a blog date! ha! I told him how-right after he walked me through the method of adding a picture-again. (If you have been paying attention you'll see I've managed to include a few of the tricks I've been struggling with in this very post!)

We also learned that we had pretty much missed Quartsite's action for the year so decided to save that experience for a future winter. At the end of the rally we headed out the following weekend for Yuma and a free boondocking site on BLM land.

There we relaxed and waited for a new windshield right next to some great blue grass and country musicians those nice people from Canada. The same three couples we’d waved goodbye to when we drove around the back of the building at the fairgrounds!

I love the word Serendipity!

See ya down the road,


Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Trails To You

We departed on the road to our second life on June 21st, 2004. On December 24th, 2007 we finally began doing what we’d dreamed of doing for years, traveling without a firm plan. The only thing we wanted to do this season was visit Quartsite, AZ, land of fabled free camping, a million RV friends, and the giant swap meet even Laura Schlesinger talks about on radio. We left Coffeyville, Kansas just ahead of another winter storm. We spent Christmas with Bev and Jim in Tulsa, and then slowly made our way to Hobbs N.M. We were expecting a week with Dad and Step-Mom, and with brother and his good wife. From there the idea had been to go west to Quartsite. We arrived in time for my brother’s birthday on Dec. 28th.

So…the Post Office combined with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Polk County Clerk’s Office to cause a royal snafu. Our RV registration sticker arrived at the Escapees Mailroom (almost across the street from the Clerk’s office) a bit late, and we eventually left the fair city of Hobbs 3½ weeks late. It was still January, Quartsite would be winding down by the time we got there but still something to experience.

Oh well, ever mindful of the fact that we Hoye kids got to see a lot of the delightfully tacky tourist spots that the Cumberland boys did not, I suggested we go see the Cowboy towns first. Not surprisingly, Big Jim nodded gleefully, and we set out for a day in Tombstone.

Now, I have a handicap my parents didn’t realize when I was a child. In fact, it didn’t become obvious even to me until I was on my honeymoon forty years ago. Because my folks owned a rock and gift shop on the famed Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts, I was aware of the wholesale price of the trinkets sold in those shops. I have a terrible time buying souvenirs! I only bought only one item on our honeymoon, a brass fish-shaped ashtray which (without thinking) I got rid of when we quit smoking. Since beginning our Workamping life, I’ve done a lot more buying for gift shops as well as figuring the mark-up and pricing once the stock arrived.

So there I was in the Tourist Mecca of the Old West, not buying a thing even though I really wanted a pair of cowboy earrings. I doubt I’ll ever get over this problem, since now I not only know what the stuff wholesales for but where to buy it - QUARTSITE! I could wait.

Tombstone turned out to be a great idea on several levels. Most importantly, Big Jim was able to satisfy that long submerged Little Jim thirst for Saturday afternoon cowboys and gunfights. The re-enactments are cleverly designed to lead everyone on the street down toward the enclosed area where the famed gunfight at the OK Corral really took place. It wasn’t in the Corral folks. They collect a fee as folks funnel through the gate, and the fight is very well done. Interestingly enough, our guide at the Good Enough Silver Mine, who said his name was Nick, was actually shot the next day. ‘Turned out he was one of the Clanton Brothers! (I did wonder why Wyatt Earp didn’t look more like himself until I realized I was picturing Hugh O’Brien).

On Day Two, we realized there were several venues in town my bewhiskered husband might find gainful employment during a future winter season. So Big Jim walked the streets of Tombstone dressed in his Old Miner’s regalia and handed out brief resumes and cards. Friendly chats with several people already doing that gave us leads. One was a guy named Stinky, who truly lived up to his name. He wandered the streets in his Union Suit and a floppy hat, with a gun strapped to his waist. Big Jim also proved he’d fit right in when several tourists stopped him to take his picture or to pose with a “real Tombstone cowboy.”

On Day Three we found, at half price, a frock coat for Big Jim. We’ve been looking for one for almost 5 years at a price we could afford. This one was about $100.00 less than the one he tried on in California a few years ago. After a new pair of the proper pants, he’ll be able to add another character to his storyteller’s trunk.

That evening we realized our vague plan of doing the same thing in Tucson over the weekend should probably wait. Not being true football fans (sorry S.W.), we’d just realized it was Super Bowl weekend only 30 miles up the road. There would not be an RV space anywhere in the area.

On Day Four we covered the same territory and I still didn’t buy the darned earrings for $18.00 that I know wholesale for $4.00! We did stumble upon a terrific Mexican restaurant where the food was great, but completely outdone by a Spanish classical guitarist named Juan. Be sure to visit the Lamplight Room at the Tombstone Boarding House, if you are in the area.

Bisbee, Arizona looks like it would be a lot of fun. We looked down on it’s twisting narrow streets from the highway but decided to save it until we have a tow vehicle with us another year.

We stopped at the breathtaking Picacho Peak State Park late Sunday afternoon, and bought some cactus candy on our way out the next morning. What incredible scenery and not one but two giant saguaros in our site.

Still in a cowboy frame of mind we went back to the Gilbert Ray (or is it Ray Gilbert?) RV park in order to visit The Old Tucson movie set the next day. We had a blast at the movie set. We rode a small train around the various locations and watched a great stunt show. The Medicine Wagon Flim Flam show was loads of fun and the Old Tucson tour with a man familiar to anyone who ever notices the extras in Western movies and TV shows was extremely informative. He had just the right hint of gossip about such legends as The Duke and Henry Fonda to spice it up. And while I still didn’t get any earrings, I did find an “old” hip flask for Big Jim to use as a water bottle when he tells stories. . (Somehow it just looks wrong when the bewhiskered old gold miner pulls a swig from a Dasani bottle.) I saved it for his Valentine.

Whew! We spent a lot of money this week! Time to find some less pricey spots.

See ya down the road,


Sunday, March 9, 2008