Life on the Open Road

The continuing saga of a full-time RVer, who travels primarily in the West.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Whale Watching in a High Surf Advisory

I guess we should have known this was a bad idea.... I ran over to San Diego after Christmas for a few days and we decided to go whale watching. All was well at the dock, where Mara learned to use the binoculars. We were all looking forward to seeing some humpback whales, on their way south for the winter. Even the harbor was nice and smooth, but as soon as we hit the huge waves in the open ocean, there were a lot of green faces on the boat. I thought it was lots of fun, but I don't think anyone else agreed with me. We didn't see any whales, so we all got a coupon for another trip. I don't know if too many of the passengers will take them up on it, however....

In addition to the retired USS Midway, we got to see two active aircraft carriers in the harbor. On the left is the USS Nimitz, commissioned in 1975, the first of the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In the center is the USS Ronald Reagan , the 9th and latest of the same class, commissioned in 2003. Both are about the same size, with flight decks of 4.5 acres each. If you look closely, or click on the picture, you can see the elevator doors are open on the USS Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas with the WINs

This free BLM camping spot is the best utilized piece of government land in the US. About 75 WINs traditionally assemble here for Christmas and New Years.

Christmas Eve there was finger food, music and singing around the campfire. The tent is our "WINwam," an experimental games and gathering place.

One windy morning, 50 of us crowded in for our morning coffee get-together.

We all enjoyed a terrific Christmas dinner at the VFW, complete with turkeys, ham, and oodles of side dishes. The weather was 70 and sunny. The VFW is located next to the piece of land we're camped on. It's a great dancing spot, with a live band almost every day.

We hope you all had a very merry Christmas

And best wishes for a happy New Year!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

War in the Woods

We are camped just at the edge a lovely, mysterious patch of salt cedar trees, just outside Yuma. Local would-be warriors come often to wage paintball wars. I braved the war zone long enough to get these shots.

Their hi-tech guns hurl 5 cent paintballs at an alarming velocity. But the warriors are all helmeted and armored. Multicolored tree trunks tell the story of many battles.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

History Mystery

Curiosity drew me downtown to learn about Yuma Crossing. Why have millions chosen this place to cross the Colorado River? The answer is that all traffic west was funneled here by harsh geography–mountains and canyons. A glance at the map will confirm that this is the only reasonable place to cross.

In 1848, Gold Rush traffic at the crossing became so heavy that ferry operations began. One busy entrepreneur made $60,000 in one year–millions in today’s dollars. A railroad bridge made the ferries obsolete in 1877.

To this very day, Yuma is the only feasible US crossing within 100 miles for both trains and cars.

I discovered something equally surprising about this historic point–an extraordinary engineering feat. Here, Yuma’s main canal flows under the Colorado River. Yuma’s water supply flows from Laguna Dam 15 miles upriver. Geological considerations put the canal on the wrong side of the river. To get the water across to the Yuma side, a reverse siphon was constructed in 1915, down 90 feet, across a thousand, and up the other side, where it flows via gravity into Mexico, gradually being used up in agriculture. None reaches the sea.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Naked Santa ???

Okay, so he's not really naked. But before we went to see Santa, we took Mara shopping at an ornament store. Out of the thousands of ornaments there, the one she liked best was of Santa and a moose taking a bath together. Hmmmmm.... She was just enthralled with it, and exclaimed "He's NAKED!!" She took the ornament to the mall to show Santa, while she asked him to bring her some "M&Ms" for Christmas.