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2002,

Some six years ago before embarking on our tour of the states, I made plans to have an accommodation address in one of the four non sales tax states that exist in the USA.

I chose Oregon out of Delaware, Montana and New Hampshire as it seemed the most popular for our purposes. There are plenty of mail forwarding companies that offer an address in these states.

I asked about having our vehicles registered at the address I chose and was told that basically it was against the law to use an accommodation address to avoid paying sales tax in the state you reside.

As we reside in Europe it seemed that it was OK to therefore use any accommodation address to register and insure vehicles whatever state we chose. Sobeit Oregon.

All went well and we managed to buy the RV and car without paying the 6 or 8% sales tax in the state that we actually bought in, as we took an out of state delivery and duly registered them at our address in Oregon.

About eighteen months into out journey around America we found ourselves actually in the state of Oregon. And thinking to tidy up the paperwork I applied and passed the driving test enabling me to get an Oregon driving licence.

This must have triggered some computer at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and they wrote to me a few months later saying that as I didn't actually live in the state of Oregon my licence was hereby cancelled immediately.

After a few days of anxious negotiations on the phone, fax and e-mail they conceded as a one time only concession to allow me to continue to use the licence and retain the registration at our address indicating that we were "Continuous Travelers".

 

Now three years later as we are about to return to the states and buy another RV and tow car, the position of our Oregon status has reared it's head again.

I duly sent an e-mail asking if we could continue to use our accommodation address to register the next two vehicles and as my licence expires in 2003 would I be permitted to renew it there.

After a considerable delay they replied and said that they were sorry but again as I did not reside and pay income tax in the state of Oregon I would not be able to either register vehicles or renew the driving permit.

This threw me into something of a panic. As with having already ordered the car and negotiations for the new Motorhome well under way, it now looked like I was going to have to pay an extra $13,000. in sales tax besides having to acquire another licence in another state.

 

Several Americans that I am in contact with about our impending visit to the states suggested I register in one of the other non-tax states immediately. Turning the pages of the FMCA magazine, of which I am a member. An advert for registering RV's tax free in Montana took my eye.

A five minute phone call to the Attorney who suggested the creation of a LLC (Limited Liability Company) would solve the problem and be perfectly legal. It all seemed quite painless even the fees to set up the company and register the vehicles.

There are annual fees to maintain the company and deal with the mail but at $120. pa. hardly heavy.

 

This LLC is now in the process of being set up in time for the purchase of the Motorhome and car. We depart shortly to continue the wonderful nomadic lifestyle through the Western States and eagerly await delivery of the vehicles.

Any readers who are also considering taking this step for an extended tour of the USA, I would be happy to answer e-mail's to:- raynipper@aol.com

 

 

 

RV ing in our 01 Eagle. Part 2.

Date:  23/12/02

 

 

Sorry I have been out of touch recently. But trying to absorb a steady stream of e-mails with a slow laptop while on the move is too time consuming. Now I’m back in France for three weeks I have a permanent PC connection.

 

With our impending return to the states this year I started my quest to research all the options of buying another American Motorhome. With this in mind I joined a couple of Internet groups specialising in diesel pusher RV’s.

 

I had hoped to move up market and possibly buy a new model. We had been very satisfied with the fit and quality of our old 94 Eagle but with new ones running at over $350,000. It was economically impossible to even consider one.

 

It soon became apparent reading the group posts that Numar came out very favorable and extremely popular. I started to consider the purchase of a new Dutch Star. It was then that I discovered that Numar built using the same Spartan chassis and Cummins engine that was used under Eagles and Dreams and yet the final price was less than half that of an Eagle.

 

As many have said the sheer value of a Dutch Star is hard to beat. Also I had an added incentive to buy as its Euro legal being only 39ft. long and 100” wide. The Dutch Star could then be imported to the UK as and when we finished touring the states free of tax and considerably cheaper than one bought here.

 

Both Numar and their principal dealers have websites depicting every facet of every model. After specking out a new DSDP 3853 with all possible options and extras for three months using pictures and floorplans on the Internet, my wife and I chose fabrics, cabinets, decor, exterior graphics and getting an extremely favorable price. It only remained to actually touch the product.

 

Flying in to Phoenix I was suitably impressed with the drive and ride of both Freightliner and Spartan. The Spartan felt a little more sturdy and the Freightliner felt more lively. I then went through the motions of actually living and using the Dutch Star. It was then that more compromises appeared that I was prepared to contend with.

 

There was no "WOW" factor when you enter a DS. The dinette slide was too intrusive when in being 30” and put the driver in a cubicle. The raised floor annoyed me intensely as trying to negotiate the narrow passage between couch and kitchen required great care. The kitchen lacked workspace. And the whole interior was basic and almost dare I say, primitive.

 

But the economics stacked up considerably in favor for the Dutch Star and it was still number one in the frame. It was while I was pondering these compromises that I visited another dealer to check out some other DS layouts hoping that one might not be so difficult to live with.

 

Here was a line of American Coach Eagles and Dreams, they all had the "WOW" factor when entering and a solid quality feel to them. And although the new price was twice that of a DS there were a couple of 01 and 02 units that were only just outside my budget.

 

After taking a test drive and going through the motions of using and living in one particular pristine unit that had decor that I know would please my wife (WAF). It had the flat floor and acres of kitchen worktop. I threw in a ridiculous offer some $90k. below the sticker price of $269,000.

Sensing blood the salesman brought out the big chiefs and there followed the usual cat and mouse game for a couple of days that I have been accustomed to when trying to get a bottom line figure in the states.

 

13th.October 2002 I eventually bought the 01 Eagle for some $50k. more than the new DS. And because of its size I will be unable to bring it to Europe. All in all it will cost me considerably more than a new DS. But it not only has the "WOW" factor but no compromises to tolerate and I can rise every morning without wincing over some annoying facet or detail that would eventually become a festering sore.

So for what it's worth, buy what you are prepared to live with.

 

Ray.

Overland in France but 01 Eagle in AZ.

 

 

RV ing in our 01 Eagle. Pomona show 03.03.

Dear Editor,

For many years I have wanted to experience the giant FMCA RV show at Pomona California. This is where several friends have bought new motor homes in the past at great reductions. We have attended large FMCA conventions at other locations but only as a visitors and had been overwhelmed at the numbers of motor homes attending. Usually between 6000 and 7000 rigs come to these Mecca’s.

This time when we were offered the opportunity to be Fleetwood hosts and ambassadors at the show, I jumped at the chance. For not only do we get to visit the show for nothing but we get parked within the exhibitors enclosure just yards from the new motor home displays.

We were encouraged to arrive early to register and familiarise ourselves with the proceedings. The show runs from Thursday 20th. March to Sunday 23rd. March 2003. We did in fact arrive two days before the show opened and parked up with hundreds of other volunteers overlooking the Monaco display. From there we had a view of a sea of motor home roofs and were able to enter and preview the outdoor displays.

Monaco had by far the largest display area. Encompassing Holiday Rambler, Royale Coach and Safari. They had double the Fleetwood display with its 29 different model brands. Next came Provost, Numar, Winnebago and about 30 other RV manufacturers, four chassis manufacturers and numerous dealers.

This whole display area approaching 20 acres, was not only on tarmac but carpeted as well. I would guess that there were close to 800 display coaches. All open and available to visit.

The latest trend for 2003/4 are darker exteriors and graphics. It seemed that just about all the manufacturers focused on the same drab and dark colours. Slide outs have gone to the extreme and many coaches sported four slides.

Airstream did have some smaller non-slide petrol units. In contrast they also brought along a thing they called a “Sky Deck”. This resembled a truck with a staircase inside leading to an upper deck that could hold 20 plus as a grandstand.

Travel Supreme took advantage of Spartans new mid engined chassis to put a garage behind the rear wheels that held a Mini. This resulted in an extremely long overhang but still retained the conventional interior layout.

We focused mainly on the American Coach display. Mainly because that’s the mark we enjoy. Eagle, Dream, Tradition and Revolution models had not changed much apart from the darker colours. But the Eagle now has a 42ft. on a Spartan chassis with Active Ride suspension.

My wife and I drove the new models and were amazed at the improved ride and handling characteristics. With 500 hp. They handled like a sports model. Braking, turning and ride were all improved to such a degree that I even considered trading our recently purchased 2001 Eagle.

Over 650 trade exhibitors occupied the two enormous Fairplex exhibition halls. From engines to eggcups. Transmissions to teacups. Anything you could possibly require to aid life on the road.

Two of the busiest stands were the Internet access facilities. One had four PC’s available to use and the other had 12 phone lines free for laptop use. There was a queue at these booths from morning to night. Indicating the RV ers need to communicate with friends and family back home.

To ferry the visitors from their respective parking areas, the organisers had laid on a continuous supply of trams. They operated from 7am. To 7pm. Daily. Each tram seating 80 passengers. There were four designated coloured areas that the 3000 visiting RV’s were parked at. Some with electricity at extra cost. Dump and water stations were available the whole time but trucks that could empty RV tanks for a nominal charge also plied the parking areas.

Being part of the Fleetwood team made it a sociable event for us. We were parked up with another six similar RVs and invites to lunch and dinner became the norm. Fleetwood also provided a constant round of food and fun. Raffles, games and prizes kept us busy.

Our commitment to Fleetwood for the free attendance to the show was to work as hosts for one four-hour shift. For this we were issued with shirts and hats indicating we were ambassadors. Our shift happened to be on the Sunday morning. It could not have been better. The weather was sunny and warm bringing out plenty of happy smiling visitors. It was an extremely enjoyable time as we were provided with director’s chairs, sunshades and sun blocking cream. Snacks and beverages were available all the time. I guess it was a profitable time for Fleetwood as even before the show ended, 51 rigs had been sold on that one stand.

 

FMCA shows are popular for their RV related seminars, this one was no exception and the 40 topics a day were well attended. I would have liked to sit in on more than the four I did attend but time just did not permit. Topics from chassis maintenance to yoga were available and I learnt a great deal about servicing my particular engine chassis combination. Parts and service items were being supplied at special show prices.

Most of the larger manufacturers also provided the evenings entertainment. Groups, comics and singers drew enormous crowds every time. The giant firework display on the Saturday night we happily watched from the comfort of our RV all free.

5pm. on Sunday afternoon when the show was due to end, the mass exodus was something to behold. The 800 new coaches had to be removed from the display area as the show was being dismantled and carpets rolled up. These rigs were all lined up again in front of us awaiting the squads of drivers who take them to their respective dealers.

Dozens of big shiny new rigs were hurtling around at breakneck speeds. Amazingly we only heard of one getting damaged. But the exodus continued through the night as drivers who were presumably on some kind of bonus needed to complete the operation as fast as possible.

The next rush was for the thousands of visiting motor homes to get emptied at the eight dump stations provided. One must have misjudged the turn and took a water standpipe out of the ground. The 100ft. Fountain of water cascaded down onto two of the dump stations rendering them unusable.

We were in no hurry and finally left the showground around 10am.

From there we had arranged to meet with some of the American Coach owners at Palm Springs only 75 miles to the east. Many of you might have seen the images of the hundreds of windmills generating electricity through the Palm Springs Valley. We have always wondered why they were erected at this location. This time we found out.

We did notice that all the windmills were turning quite rapidly. Not realising that it was the wind that was propelling us along so easily at over 70 mph. but as we turned off the freeway and passed another RV with it’s awning billowing out like a sail, we heard the wind trying to unroll our awnings also. 

But all in all an extremely enjoyable experience. And one that I hope we will have the pleasure of repeating at some time in the future.

Ray Nipper.

 

RV ing in our 01 Eagle. 04.03.

Dear All,

The three day return trip back to France from Arizona was almost without problems but if it can go wrong it will go wrong.

 

We stayed with friends in Yuma for a few days before we had to leave and fly out. This was extremely convenient for us as the emptying of the fridge and tanks could be performed in comfort and leisure as well as enjoying a sociable wind down. A couple of last minute shopping trips to Mexico for trinkets we could comfortably live without and the day of our departure came upon us all too quickly.

 

Putting the Eagle into storage was simple and only took a few minutes. Driving into the purpose built garage left three feet of space all round the motorhome. Enabling access to storage bays, propane and battery isolation switches easily. We filled numerous 99c. containers with water to aid the humidity and positioned carpets beneath tyres to insulate them from the concrete.

 

Driving the 165 miles back from Yuma to Phoenix in the car was also easy and uneventful until we came to within a couple of miles of our covered storage for the Jeep. There had been an accident at the junction of the I-10 and I-60, which brought the whole area to a complete standstill. We had planned on getting the Jeep washed. But after inching along for an hour we diverted into the storage yard and phoned for a Taxi immediately in case the ten minute trip to the airport took longer.

 

In the end we made the airport with four hours grace. But this did enable us to choose exit isle seats that gave more leg room for the ten hour flight. Security has been tightened up to the extreme. Because I was carrying a laptop this had to scrutinised with explosive sensitive swabs, opened and booted up to ensure it actually worked. Apart from shoes and anything metal all our checked luggage was opened and searched.

 

Arriving nicely on time at Heathrow we were welcomed by a drop of 35 degrees F and an icy wind as we walked to the waiting busses. No cosy gantry for us. Customs was a mere formality and soon we were being dropped at the Heathrow car storage by the usual unhelpful shuttle bus driver where we had left our Citroen three months earlier.

 

As we stood there surrounded by our cases with an icy wind cutting through us in a vast car park, memories of Steve Martin in Trains, planes and automobiles came to mind. Our car was not where we had left it!

We tramped around three quarters of this sea of metal. Eventually cold, tired and angry I went to the reception and asked what they had done without vehicle? Name, number, colour? Was the casual and annoyingly calm questions the attendant asked? Apparently they had resurfaced the car park and had to move some cars. He immediately found ours in the other quarter I had neglected to search.

 

Apart from looking another ten years older the little Citroen started first prod and comfortably transported us the ten miles to Prue sisters house where a warm and enormous welcome awaited us. Food, wine and half the large family were there.

Ironically it was snowing when we left three months before early in January. The weather welcomed us back by snowing again April 9th.

 

Next day, after pumping up a low tyre, we drove the 60 miles to Portsmouth and the ferry getting used to being on the "wrong Side". The millpond crossing went smoothly apart from hoards of school children beginning their continental vacations. But on arrival in France we were subjected to the first and most thorough scrutiny of passports and faces. I guess all authorities need to be seen to be on the ball at last.

 

The French house looked like we had just left it. Apart from all the spring flowers. Neat and tidy both inside and out. All we had to do was put the kettle on and wade through the mountain of post that friends had arranged neatly in piles of importance.

 

You would think that with only a few hours sleep over the previous three days, we would slumber the clock round. But somehow sleep would not come and we found ourselves making tea and having a snack in the early hours.

Now two days later and most of the paperwork attended to, I’m checking out flights for the return in summer.

 

 
 

 

Rving in our 01 Eagle. 10.03.

Hi All,

After leaving Vegas and 98 F we took three days to get up to Missoula in Montana

where the vehicles are registered in the name of a LLC we own.

The first night we stayed in a real cheap campground 200 miles into Utah for $7.65. But

It was just nicely off the freeway to be quiet and had an onsite Mexican restaurant.

On up through Utah the next day and almost to the Montana border. But this time we

stayed in a Wal-Mart car park free. The temps were dropping and it was cold that night,

34 F. Next to us was a minute camper with two people and two dogs inside. They had a

gas Bar-B-Q outside and the cook had to endure freezing temps to create breakfast for

them all.

300 miles of tree topped rolling hills following rushing streams and rivers along the
valleys was just magic. The Rocky Mountains are stunning the trees are gold, red and yellow. Saw plenty of wildlife and deer all over but so many dead beside the road.

The third day we made it all the way to the Attorney's office in Missoula by mid afternoon

And discussed our mailing address and future mail forwarding.

We even had time to visit the DMV that day and after some negotiations and form filling

managed to change our Texas driving licenses for Montana ones. They should be

mailed in a few weeks.

Montana and the North western states are benefiting from an unusual Indian summer.

Normally at this time snow would be covering the high ground and freezing temperatures

Are the norm. But this week temperatures in the high 70's and low 80's have been

recorded. This is about to change and although we would love to stay and explore the

beautiful hills and mountains up here, it's doubtful the weather will hold off for much

longer.

Tonight (Thursday) we made it to a wooded campground beside the stream. Mainly

Because we can have a 50 amp. hook up to power the heated floor, electric blankets,

heaters and washing machine.

So it's back south ASAP. Just seen the last flights of Concorde on the ITN news.

I was wrong and the weather is supposed to stay fine for at least a few more days.
So we spent a night at a Wal-Mart car park in Spokane after leaving Missoula.
Bloody cold in the morning at around freezing. But bright and sunny all day driving along the Columbia River. This is an enormous river that runs between Washington and Oregon. It ends up in a giant gorge, trouble is it is also a busy route for a railway and motorway EACH side and barges up and down the stream.
Five years ago we stayed in a campground on the Washington side called "Peach Beach" as they grow all kinds of fruit there. We had a terribly noisy night and vowed never to stay there again.
This time we succumbed to a lovely spot right out on a spit of shingle into the river. Even though it was in the same valley and traffic flow. Amazingly we had a peaceful night and maybe as it was a Saturday night never noticed any traffic either train or road. But woke to a clear view over the river.
Next day south to Bend where our friend is in rehab. Turning off the main thorofare and taking a minor route south over very disinteresting terrain we came into a one-horse town (street) and stopped at the only Cafe/Restaurant there. Where for $10.49 we were fed stupid. Completely to a standstill.
100 miles further south I found a Membership campsite (Coast to Coast) out in the country about six miles from Bend. It's perfect apart for the hundreds of Canada Geese pooping all over the place. Pond, deer, meadow, pine trees, clubhouse and tranquillity all for $6.00 a night.
Have contacted our friends in rehab and will see them for dinner Monday. I also have to try and take the MOTORHOME to a Cummins service agent to get them to stick their diagnostic machine on it as I’m experiencing an irregular engine note. This proved a waste of time and $70.00 later they pronounced that we were firing nicely on all cylinders.

What a day.
Left Bend Oregon after seeing our friend in hospital was making good progress. Early this morning freezing temperatures and high probability of snow at higher elevations was forecast.
This confirmed that we head south towards California and some possibly warmer climes.
Driving south through the middle of Oregon down the National route 97 we pass near to Crater Lake. We missed this beautiful natural wonder the last time round due to having a plane to catch and decided to take a look this time.
Well, we diverted off the 97 and headed into Crater Lake National Park. It's at 7,000 ft. and as we drove into the park entrance it started snowing. Ugh. We found a lay-by and turned round as by then the road and signs were all white. A few miles out of the park and the sun shone so we turned about again.
We soon found the park roads covered in snow again and realized the ten foot poles along the side of the road were a bad omen. As the road climbed up to the crater edge Prue was yelling at me to take all the road. She was on the sheer 400 ft. drop side and with everything covered in the white stuff was not comfortable. How two motorhomes could possibly pass on this narrow road without one coming off the sheer edge we don't know.
Eventually and with trepidation we arrived at the "Rim Village" in a full blown blizzard.
We visited the trinket store and made a cup of tea. After half an hour the cloud moved on and we were fortunate enough to be able to see the cobalt blue lake below. But with more clouds heavy with snow moving in we decided to move down the mountain.
Half way down we were stopped by a maintenance man, as they were about to fell a 100ft. dead pine tree. After twenty minutes holding the camera at the ready, the tree came crashing down across the road and the camera died. You will just have to see the debris aftermath.
We made it down to 4,000 ft into a small town in northern California called Tionesta and found a campground whey off the beaten track called "The Eagles Nest" at only $13.00 a night.
Haven't seen any eagles but we are surrounded by deer, dozens of them munching on anything growing. We are the only RV in this campground run by two old women.

This is in another national park area. Lava Beds National Monument covers about 100 square miles and has many flows of lava that flowed from many mountains. We walked on a 12,000 acre porous lava flow that had cooled thousands of years ago. We also climbed up a glass mountain. This type of lava cooled in the form of rocks of glass stretching miles towering above the 100 ft. trees. You are not supposed to take samples but with millions of tons around it’s difficult to resist.
Tomorrow we will make a decision on which direction we head. South for warmer temperatures again. There are high mountains to the east so it seems we are forced to head towards the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco.
It was here in San Jose that the brother of our good friend John Bedford lives. He invited us to stay but the RV had to be parked out in the street. Another restless night as the local traffic starts early.

Again metropolitan California showed us the state and terrible condition of their roads. Driving the motorhome felt as though we were on cobbles. It seems that in the high usage areas they constructed roads in great slabs of concrete. These have moved possibly due to heavy use and earth tremors. But the result is a most uncomfortable ride even with air suspension.

A roof panel came adrift. Electric seat motor came loose. Things fell from cupboards and drawers flew open.



We chose to drive close to the ocean down the Pacific coast from San Francisco to LA this weekend. After Monterey and Carmel via Route 1. against the more inland and direct Route 101.
This is 80 or 90 miles of narrow winding road with many hairpin bends that follow the contours of the coastline closely.
Two large vehicles cannot pass. Everyone agrees that it is the most scenic drive in California but they would never have attempted it in a large motorhome.

There are many "turnouts" or lay bys but no campgrounds that can accommodate RVs over 30 ft.
The only sites we have found with water and electric are more suitable for 25 ft. RVs.
We have managed to get into a state park half way right on the ocean that says only for 30 ft. But our 40 ft. just manages it. $18.00 a night for no services at all but a wonderful sunset.

Ray 01 Eagle.

The next morning was spent taking a tour of Hearst Castle. A 1920’s folly built by a publishing millionaire at great cost due to his extraordinary demands copying some European architecture styles. It has Mediterranean, gothic, Italian and cathedral type construction. But beneath it all is reinforced concrete as it sits beside the San Andreus fault line.

It was visited by many big film stars of the day. And the 45 min. video showed more stars in residence than at a modern film premiere. The location on top of a superb vantage point gave wonderful views of the coastline where hundreds of seals bask on the beaches.

We are making our way back to the Fleetwood Service facility in Riverside, CA fires permitting. They damaged a window and then replaced it. Trouble is they replaced it with one of lighter tint than all the others. It now sticks out like a sore thumb.

While twisting and turning along the mountainous coast route 1, the rough running of the engine became more pronounced. It was decided to visit another Cummins service agent to investigate the fuel system and possibly change the filters.

Bakersfield about 150 miles inland was the nearest Cummins agent and we phoned ahead to make sure they could accommodate us. I need not have worried as this service facility was well geared up for motorhomes. Clean bays, RV hook ups and knowledgeable mechanics.

They soon changed both fuel filters and then located an air leak that had been the cause of our rough running from day one. The mechanic also checked every clamp, belt and thoroughly went all over the engine including a dyno output test.

As the engine is still under Cummins five year warranty we were only charged for the filters and even then received a club discount. Final cost only $67.00 and the engine has never sounded so smooth.

We stayed the night plugged into the workshop electric and water compliments of Cummins and left for Riverside and the Fleetwood service facility again next morning.

We made a slight detour to the gates of Edwards Air Force Base hoping NASA had a visitor’s facility. But were turned away by security as it was an active military establishment.

We made it to the Fleetwood factory Wednesday afternoon and were told the replacement window was ready to fit next morning at 07. Am.

Up early in preparation for Fleetwood to start work on our rig, only to be told the wrong window had been ordered AGAIN. The window supplier was to come and see the problem himself later that morning.

Apparently our rig has non standard extra tinted windows and special glass has to be found to build a replacement window. This will obviously take a few days extra on our schedule. So we kick our heels over three days at Fleetwood’s Riverside facility, enduring night after night of trucks waiting to load at the nearby Cold Store running their engines and fridge units all night.

7.11.03.
 
 

 

RV ing in our 01 Eagle. Quartzsite 02.04.

 

Planning on attending the fourth Valentines Brits Rally in the Arizona desert at Quartzsite, we flew into Phoenix a few days earlier on February 11th. This should have given us plenty of time to restock and get the RV ready for an extended stay without hook-up in the desert.

After collecting our Jeep we stayed the first night at a local motel. Last time we flew in we made the mistake of immediately driving the 170 miles to the garage in Yuma where our Eagle was stored. This after a long day travelling across the Atlantic proved foolish and dangerous.

Now we are a day late in plugging into our friends house just a mile away from the garage. We usually stay with them for a week when arriving and leaving America. Frantic shopping trips to stock the fridge and drinks bar left us little time to unwind and get over the “jetlag”.

Quartzsite being only 80 miles from The Foothills of Yuma made it an easy drive on the 14th. Of Feb. Most of the Brit contingency had already arrived along with six American visitors.

 

Rick had as usual made all the arrangements for a fun week in the desert. First was the Saturday evening fish and chip supper at the local Yacht Club. Bearing in mind that hundreds of miles of sand separated us from water. This was a great success for all and with music and dancing thrown in for the few dollars it cost, made it an even better evening.

 

Surfacing a little late the next morning, the more energetic of the group went on an organised walk. It was organised to get back for 11am. and the habitual coffee break. Personally a tea drinker it was still a nice leisurely break to get to know the group better.

There were two couples from Idaho with their dogs, friends from old. The girls mother and friend came from Yuma for the day. Two British couples who had lived in the states for many years. Three more British couples touring in their RVs and of course Rick.

 

During the week we hiked up a mountain, played cricket in the sand, threw wellies in that age old Brit tradition. Every night after communal dining and pot luck dishes we sat round the large log fire into the night. Most days we were able to drive into town (two gas stations and a post office) to plug in our laptops at the “truck-stop”.

 

Quartzsite normally is packed with hundreds of thousands of winter visitors, SnowBirds as they are called flock south from the northern states and Canada to spend the winter months in the sun. All along the Mexican border and into Texas they come. The desert around Quartzsite is like Mecca. For some reason this little town of just a few hundred inhabitants year round swells to up to three hundred thousand during January and February.

But this year it seemed a little quiet and we had no difficulty parking, shopping and dining anywhere in town.

 

We all fared quite well dry camping. Water lasted through the week. But the last evening we noticed a breeze fanning the campfire into bright embers. Then without warning it became a desert sand storm where tables and chairs blew around and you could not see six feet through the swirling sand.

To add to the discomfort it rained for a few minutes just enough to make the sand stick to the outside of any vehicle. Those who did not manage to close their rig doors had the sand inside.

 

All in all a memorable week with mostly sunny skies in the desert. Next year is marked on the calendar.

Now we have appointments for service at Beaudry’s Tucson. Visits to friends also in Tucson and Phoenix. An American Coach (Fleetwood) “pre-rally” at Santa Fe for four days. The big FMCA rally at Albuquerque immediately after for another four days where we are to be Fleetwood Ambassadors at the show.

 

It’s all go here.

It was later at Beaudry’s on February 19th 2004 that our world changed forever. Life as we knew it would never be the same again. Riches to rags.

Ray