Life on the Open Road (April 2006 - May 2008)

The continuing saga of a single fulltime RVer who travels the western US. This is part one of my journey, from April 2006, when the blog started, to May 2008, when the blog continues at

My Photo

I have been a full-time RVer for 18 years, primarily "boondocking," camping free without hookups, in the Western US. I am connected electronically with the world via satellite TV, phone and internet. My batteries are charged solely by solar panels. I welcome your comments and emails.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Man Who Wears Three Socks

Well-known to all the Snowbirds in Quartzsite, Paul Winer is famous as the "Naked Bookseller."

A very personable guy, Paul seems to love posing with everyone. It was in the 50s when we were there, and I was chilly, but he seemed fine.

He's moved to a new location this year, on East Main St., in a real building. The selections were great, and Barbara and I each bought some.

There is a sad side to his story. His daughter, Celia, died in 1995 at the age of eight. She herself was famous for being one of the smallest babies ever to survive, at 1 1/4 pounds. Paul and his wife Joanne have made a large 20-acre garden in her memory.

Many trails wind through the various unusual displays.

This wagon is from the late 1800s, and is thought to be one of the original wagons used to haul goods from the ferry in Ehrenburg to Quartzsite.

The rest of the story of Celia, and Celia's Garden, can be found here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Biggest Flea Market in the World!

Quartzsite, Arizona -- the grandaddy of them all. The whole town is one big flea market, and the busiest time is the last two weeks of January, when the RV show comes to town. The first thing I did was stop and get a window awning. The whole transaction, including installation, took about 15 minutes.

Then out to where 150 WINs are parked, on Plomosa Road, about 7 miles from the center of town.

I'm parked in the "ditch" near the first hole of our desert golf course.

Friday was the big tournament -- The 4th Annual Marty O. Masters Invitational Golf Classic Open," or something like that. My rig is on the right side of the picture.

We use tennis balls instead of golf balls, but it's not as easy as it looks. Here you can see Bertie's shot went about 2 feet.

Next, on to shopping at the RV show. Finding a parking place was a real challenge!

This year the show was in 3 tents, instead of the one big one they've had in the past. If you don't find it here, they don't make it!

Shopping is definitely different here. This is one of the other areas around town.

Today, Barbara, Ron, and I went up to the top of "Q Mountain." Great view of all the rigs and vendors.

The "big tents" from the top.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hike to Wind Cave

Diana, Barbara, and Ron felt like hiking, so they headed off to Usury Mountain State Park in Phoenix to go up to Wind Cave. They are aiming for that stripe around the mountain about 2/3 of the way to the top. The desert was green and happy from the recent rains.

Almost there!

Here we are at Wind Cave. Nice, but not as good as the scenery on the way up.

From here, you can see the Phoenix air marker in the distance. We've always wondered why it was there and how it got there.

It's visible for quite a distance on the ground too.

Turns out it was built in 1956 by some Boy Scouts. Still don't know why. Maybe the pilots were having a hard time finding Phoenix?

Friday, January 11, 2008

From a Three-Year-Old's Eyes

Hi! I'm Mara. Grandma Diana bought me a camera for Christmas. It's a Fisher Price, made just for 3-year-olds, with 2 viewfinders.

Here's Grandma trying to figure out how to operate my new camera, but I was too fast for her.

The view from a three-year-old's eyes includes a lot of butts!

Dinner is always a surprise. Can't tell much from the bottom of the dishes.

Here's my most artist shot. I carefully lined up all the iced tea glasses as foreground for my picture of Grandma Lora, Jonathan, and Mommy.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Largest City Park in the World?

It says so on the internet, so it must be true, huh? This is South Mountain Park, 7 miles south of downtown Phoenix. Most of the facilities were built in the early 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). There are 51 miles of hiking trails in the park.

The view of the "skyscrapers" of downtown Phoenix from Dobbins Point.

A young Native American woman working at the park seemed mesmerized by the view, even though she probably sees it every day.

There's a forest of TV antennas on the top of the mountain.

And lots of petroglyphs around, but I didn't see them. Maybe next time.

Near the park is the Mystery Castle, built 1930-45 by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter. He must have been one wacky dude! His daughter still gives tours of the castle.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Our Year in Review

It's been another fine year, doing what we want, as free as we can imagine, drifting from south to north and back.

Some statistics--

Miles driven: Randy 10,000; Diana 13,000
Gas cost: Randy $2000; Diana $3000
Different spots camped: 103
Days with the WINs: 61

We each tried to picked our highlights. After a lot of careful thought, Randy came up with his:

1.Bagby Hot Springs, near Estacada, OR. Not only a great hot springs, but a terrific hike through old growth forest.

2.Camping at cool mountain passes.

3. Open ended wandering with no specific destination in Oregon.

Diana did not have any trouble coming up with her top 3:

1. Her new grandson, Jonathan, joined big sister Mara on October 1st.

2. Her new trailer (the one on the right), and the improvements we made to it.

3. The Cascade Lakes near Bend, OR. Wow! They were a real surprise.

New Year