“Well I’ve heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don’t really care for music, do you? Well it goes like this: The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah”
As our eldest son, Andrew, played the chords of Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallellujah, in the backyard of our Phoenix-area rented home, Betty & I enjoyed the company of our family for a belated Christmas celebration. We were in a community appropriately named Anthem, Arizona! Our fabulous week together can best be summed up in one word: Hallellujah!
For the first time in 40 years, we had not been together with our family for end-of-December festivities. Betty & I were anxious for a happy gathering to take place.
We didn’t want to drive our motorhome back to Winnipeg, necessitating winterizing and de-winterizing, and we didn’t want to put our aging golden doodle, Charlie, in a kennel and fly home. So we said to our family: “If we rent a house in Phoenix, will you come and spend a belated Christmas with us in January, when flights are cheaper again?” They all answered “yes”, and our gathering last week was the result. As a bonus, my brother, Allon, was able to fly down from the Yukon to spend a couple of days with us as well. A great time was had by all, with the following pictures providing some evidence.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience for a couple of full-time RVers to spend some quality time with their family. We hope that all who wander this earth can find opportunities to connect in ways that inspire and evoke the response of King George II, on hearing George Frideric Handel’s Messiah: Stand up and sing Hallelujah!
When Betty & I were planning our travels, we were keenly aware of how much natural water has played an important visual role in our vacations. Our destinations have usually included oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams, with many preferred choices including a combination of these. Water has also played an audio roll, as we have been pacified by the gentle sound of lake waves on the shore; electrified by the crash of ocean waves or waterfalls; and lulled to sleep near babbling brooks.
So how would we handle up to four months in the desert? Betty & I knew from our earlier two week visit that water is a scarcity here. There are no car washes, and we haven’t seen a swimming pool yet, in Quartzsite, Arizona. Grass is non-existent in this arid land, except as previously noted in the artificially created oasis from Parker to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Yes, there is fertile growing land down in Yuma, but after spending time in Quartzsite, it appears to all the senses as an extreme novelty! Did you see that big tree? Did you smell that field? Did you feel that grass? Check out all those colourful flowers!
As a result of our past experience, and inability to predict our reaction to a seemingly desolate space, we created a Plan B. Betty & I decided that if we could not hack a full winter in the desert, we would either travel one day to the Pacific Ocean out west, or a few days back east to one of the free beach camping spots on the Gulf of Mexico.
Well I can’t use the saying that “the bloom is (not) off the rose”, because this climate is a little too dry for growing roses, or any other flora and fauna anyway. We are extremely happy with our choice so far! BTW, when we first arrived, I went around gathering rocks to create a fire pit. Usually when one picks up a large rock, all kinds of little creatures scurry out from underneath. Here in the desert – not so much: I didn’t see one bug under any of the 20+ stones collected. And on a related subject, last year in Florida we had to keep our screen door closed, so that our motorhome wouldn’t be filled with flies, mosquitos, and other nuisance insects. While we keep our screen door closed here out of habit, and to keep Charlie in or out, it is not really necessary. Flies and other such bugs appear few and far between in the desert. Bonus!
So far, Betty & I have found lots to do, and we are far from bored with our choice of winter destination. Apart from a couple of overcast and light rainy days over Christmas in Lake Havasu City, we have seen nothing but blue skies and beautiful days here. Nights turn cold as soon as the sun goes down, but we prefer sleeping under warm blankets in the cool night air, without the need for air conditioners like last winter in Florida.
This week we are headed to Phoenix to spend a “Christmas week” with our family. It will be another unique experience for us – and for them – and we look forward to sharing some of it in a future post.
On the first part of the journey I was looking at all the life There were plants and birds and rocks and things There was sand and hills and rings The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz And the sky with no clouds The heat was hot and the ground was dry But the air was full of sound
I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name It felt good to be out of the rain In the desert you can remember your name ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain La, la …
After two days in the desert sun My skin began to turn red After three days in the desert fun I was looking at a river bed And the story it told of a river that flowed Made me sad to think it was dead
You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name It felt good to be out of the rain In the desert you can remember your name ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain La, la …
Those who follow our posts will know that Betty & I have been counting down (or up, depending on your perspective on life – lol) the number of provinces and states visited on our overlandish odyssey. We have a sticker map of North America on our entry door, with Betty or I usually pictured pasting another jurisdiction for our post. May 8, 2019 was the last such entry, with Betty sticking to Illinois (state # 36), while I added Wisconsin (state # 37). That’s a full eight months with no new additions. Are we falling down on the job or what?!!
Well yes, we have been travelling quite a bit since then – adding 5,500 miles (not kms) to our motorhome’s odometer – but it has all been to states previously visited on this adventure.
Until last week…
We were in Yuma, Arizona paying our pay-as-you-go Verizon jetpack bill, and picking up a few groceries. When it was time to return to Quartzsite, we asked Samantha (our gps) for the most direct route from our location. As she took us over a bridge, Samantha announced that we were crossing a state border into California. She then told us we were entering a different time zone. Samantha next advised us to turn right at the end of the bridge. She then reported we were crossing a state border into Arizona, and entering another time zone. This whole process took less than 90 seconds!
So yes, Betty & I were there in California – our 38th state. But we were not really there long enough to count.
At the end of March, we hope to cross over to Palm Springs, California and make our way up the eastern side of the state, through Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park, on our way to the state capitol of Sacramento, before heading back to Winnipeg. Next year – 2021 now – we hope to drive down the Pacific Coast all the way from Port Angeles, Washington, to San Diego, California.
So we definitely want to see more of our 38th state than the 90 seconds last week. As with all of our travels, we never really know what to expect. But we’re very much looking forward to visiting this one state with a larger population than all of Canada! And I’m sure that will take more than two minutes next time…