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December 18th 2005
Published: December 18th 2005
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Christmas RigChristmas RigChristmas Rig

Note the new number plate and the rather dodgy haircut
Howdy Folks,

HAPPY CHRISTMAS to you all, hope you are not too exhausted from all the festivities already.
We thought we would take this opportunity to send you seasons greetings and do a quick Blog before we head off into the IT wilderness of Mexico.

We really enjoyed our first Thanksgiving experience, thanks to Ian & Margie for taking us and Edie for inviting us. We had a great day, in excellent company, in a beautiful house overlooking the Hollywood hills. We feel as if we have had our Christmas dinner already, we did pass on the JellO though.

Now it was time to leave the great Metropolis and head off towards the Mexican border. En route (our new number plate, by the way) we decided to visit Palm Springs/ Desert; everyone we met had told us how nice it was. Along with Florida it must be the retirement / winter capitol of the US and actually, we can see why.

Now for some reason we don’t have a photo, but it is such a neat, green, lush, manicured place, a bit Disney really. It is in the middle of the Desert and there are at least

Less than an hour before we were in the Desert. I didnt think about the temperature change and was the strange tourist in shorts.
150 golf courses, as many Country Clubs and shops and restaurants to die for. (We had the second best Sushi so far, first, still goes to Ian’s local sushi bar).It is the only place I have ever been where you get cycle & golf carts lanes on the main roads.

If you get fed up with the Desert you can drive into the Santa Rosa Mountains on the Palm to Pines Highway. You quickly leave behind the Desert ecosystem of palms, creosote & ironwood trees and enter mountain scenery of pines, juniper & mahogany. In about one hour you arrive at the alpine village of Idyllwild. Here you can partake in Cross Country Skiing , Snowboarding or those other snowy type sports, we however went to a Greek restaurant for lunch!

Palm Springs area has most amazing RV Resorts. We had already stayed in an Outdoor Resort on the Oregon coast, but the ones here have been purpose built with luxury in mind.
One of these resorts is based around a one mile canal system and golf course. You can purchase a site and develop it as you wish. We decided to go and see if
Posh parking placePosh parking placePosh parking place

This is the basic site you buy but they dont look like this for long.
it was as nice as everyone said and how much they sold for.
During the conversation we were offered a 2 night stay free, what could we say?

So, parked in our new luxury spot we went for a walk, to see how people had developed their sites. Well, there was a selection of, fireplaces, hot tubs, fountains, out door entertainment areas (cooking stuff to you & me) outdoor bars and one even had an infinity pool!

The thing that amused us the most was that you can have an electric powered boat, up to 18ft long (and they all were, believe me), that basically can’t go anywhere.
When asking the salesman “what do you do with the boat” he replied “well you can sail it to the club house” which was at least all of 300 yards away.
The problem with that was you then had to walk to the building.
Anyway it was great, the views of the mountains were superb and the site was very beautiful, but as we are not in the market to buy, off we we

We were heading to the Joshua Tree national park. Me to see the trees and Graeme
(who is becoming a bit of a grave follower) wanted to see the hotel where Gram Parsons died. We particularly liked the ad for this place. It is where U2 stayed, the ad read. “U2 can also stay”

It is a funky sort of place. We found a great café called “The beatnik” full of crystals, and jewellery, old posters and music, coffee and cookies, Graeme found a new friend!.
Whilst we were talking to the girl serving us, she said she was about to sing in “Palm Idol” Thinking “Oh yeah” we said “what will you sing, can we hear it. Well,…… she took our breath away, what an amazing voice; we almost stayed just so we could vote for her.

The scenery in the park was great, lots of huge round rock formations, Joshua trees and sand. The trees were named in 1851 by the early Mormon travellers who, on first seeing them thought they looked like the biblical profit Joshua with his arms raised to heaven? To us they looked like spiny trees.

We decided we wanted to hike to “lost horse mine” but took the wrong turning down a small sandy track in the RV. This resulted in Graeme doing one of his best U turns yet! Unfortunately we managed to gain a few scratch marks on the sides from rather larger than UK size Yucca plants. Oh well, more polishing to do

During 1896 - 9 $270 000 of gold was extracted from The Lost horse mine. We wondered how anyone ever found anything here at all, it all is the same colour and so easy to get disoriented, no wonder the horse was lost.
Some years later, one of the guys who discovered the mine, set off on foot (still no horse?) and never returned. His mummified body was found months later 300feet from the mine head. Bearing this in mind & with the sun setting we turned around and scurried back to the rig. We also had to get the rig back down one mile of narrow, sandy track, before dark without gaining further damage.
Later that night, whilst reading the guide book, it suggested these routes were not suitable for all cars. oops.

Having experienced the Californian desert we set off to the Arizona one.
We had decided that Tucson would be a good
Graeme's new friendGraeme's new friendGraeme's new friend

There were some interesting things to be found in the beatnik cafe!
place to stop for a few days to sort out everything we needed to do prior to entering Mexico. We then discovered we needed to have a slide motor replaced and it had to be shipped from Indiana, which is about as far way in the states as is possible to be. So here we, counting the days……….. We had planned to be on the coast in Mexico for Christmas so I am now getting a bit anxious.

Now, there are many places we would not mind staying for a while, but Tucson is not actually one of them. It is a bit of a one horse town, but I think the horse left!! One good thing though is that North Arizona is cold by now but in Tucson being quite south, it is about 65/70F, so at least it is warm by day . Night times are almost freezing though.

Whilst here, we rented a car to get out & about. So off we went to visit the Biosphere 2 project. I remember reading about this some years ago during the planning process.
The Biosphere is a completely sealed, futuristic structure made of steel and glass. It
Oops, wrong wayOops, wrong wayOops, wrong way

Lost, on the way to Lost horse mine. Best u turn yet
contains examples of five of the earth’s habitats, ocean, desert, rainforest. savanna and marsh Eight people lived here for 2 years and had to be completely self sufficient. The effect on them, and their effect on the environment were studied. (The first Big Brother really).

I was always interested to know the results but never did read about it at home. Strangely enough the visit didn’t really tell you much either. They did discover though, that despite all the experts’ knowledge and research, to ensure the people could survive within the sphere, they did not take into consideration that fact the microbes and the hundreds of tons of concrete used in the building process would use up the oxygen. This resulted in them having to pipe in O2, thus destroying the sealed environment they had spent millions of $ creating!

It was a fascinating place, but it is now quite desolate and redundant. It felt as if they had all just got fed up and gone home. When you consider the success of the Eden project you think they could at least use it for some commercial enterprise.

A week later and still waiting for our part……
We have met up with our first English couple travelling in an RV, Mike & Dorothy, who are also waiting….

It really is like the Wild West out here. The scenery is just as you see in the western films and the towns such as Tombstone are still intact complete with original bullet holes.

We visited Old Tucson Studios, which is based on a 1860s western town. Little house on the Prairie, Gunfight at the OK Corral and the Three Amigos were filmed here to name a few. Also some new film with Matt Damon.
When we arrived in the car park we were met by the sight of 3 Coyotes roaming around, cast members taking a break between filming perhaps?. After watching them for a while we realised they were there because they knew they would get fed by the people leaving the studios. These wild creatures probably existed on a diet of burger & fries.

If not western & wooden, other buildings are very Spanish influenced and the Churches and Missions are beautiful. We now frequently hear Spanish spoken and the road distances are in Km.

We are experiencing the Christmas rush here
Biosphere DomeBiosphere DomeBiosphere Dome

At the time this was built there were rumours it was a "cult" type thing, spooky
In Tucson. Is it very different from home you may ask? Well….. you don’t often see an inflatable Father Christmas impaled on a 6 ft Cactus and there does not appear to be the same manic rush, probably because the stores are so spread out and there fewer people
Lots of stores employ a “bell ringer” who stands in the doorway, ringing a bell, all day long…… really irritating
Lots of the rigs have their decorations up , which looks a bit strange in the sun
Really though, it is all passing us by, most days we don’t even know what the date is so may miss it all together. I do get a reminder though as each time I open the fridge I see the Christmas pudding Sue bought over.
Still hoping for that beach…….

Whilst here, our preparations have gone well. Graeme has purchases so many spare parts for the rig we could probably build a new one.
I have purchased lots of Indian curry sauces in case we tire of beans.
The pile of Mexican travel books continues to grow.
I am just recovering from my first really bad US hair cut. I look like a cast member from Cell block H!! Still, as dreadful as it is, the plus side is it was good value as it should be months before I need another one!
We are looking forward to the challenge, can’t wait to go……still waiting

We decided to hassle again and see where our part is as it should be here by Friday 16th.and we are ready to go on Monday. Also, have just about exhausted our interest in Tucson.

Not best pleased to be told that they have not got the part yet so won’t be shipping it until the 23rd………… A quick summit meeting between Graeme & I, to calculate the time factor with Christmas in the middle of it all, resulted in the decision to go, without replacing the motor. This must be the fastest decision we have made so far, it took all of 2 minutes. We just wont use that slide out until Trish & Neal come, then they can help manually push it back should the motor fail!

So off we go in the morning. Will let you all know how it goes. Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year, see you
Coyotes in car parkCoyotes in car parkCoyotes in car park

Being greeted by cast memebers at the studios.Actually for burger fed creatures they looked a bit manky
all in 2006 xxx

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


Practicing  for Mexico?Practicing  for Mexico?
Practicing for Mexico?

No meat involved, we had bought a Flatbread with beans for lunch but the dog was still interested. Him and his many cousins lived at the Mission.
"Da Vinci" Door "Da Vinci" Door
"Da Vinci" Door

This door was painted on the wall in the mission church, it was incredibly realistic. A team of international restorers have worked on the project for about 7 years.
The ultimate rigThe ultimate rig
The ultimate rig

Soon they look like this... note boat, outside bar and grecian pillers
Looking like granny !Looking like granny !
Looking like granny !

End of another busy day, planning the next one.

19th December 2005

Merry Christmas
Hi Merry Christmas to you and Graeme - hope you have a great time. Hope you have recovered from your ordeal alison xxx
24th December 2005

Merry Christmas
Happy Christmas to you both, wherever you are at the moment (hopefully Mexico)! Hope your fully recovered from your acrobatic bike ride Moira! Love and best wishes for the new year, Steve and Kamla xxxxx.

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