and Now for Something Really Different

We are wanderers. Have been since before we started RVing. For the past couple of years Carol and I have talked about where we might settle down “some day.” We had never found anyplace  we wanted to stay for more than a few weeks so the topic was moot. While we were at the Escapade we visited the “Row” where various SKP organizations and Coops had members present to attract new members. We stopped by the Jojoba Hills SKP Resort booth and spoke with John at length. We decided it would be a nice idea to stop there for a week before going on to Malibu Beach RV Resort since it is less than 3 hours from Yechiel and Miriam’s home in LA.

We have not considered a Coop until now. We have stopped at a few of them and they have been very nice, but the members did not seem very welcoming to guests and it seemed it would take some effort to become part of the group. The welcome at Jojoba Hills has been anything but cool. People walking buy have stopped to talk and we have been greeted by everyone with a nice welcome. The views from the site we are on are wonderful

and the facilities are second to none. We are planning on getting on the wait list and leaving a fully refundable deposit on Monday when the office reopens. The refundable nature of the deposit reduces the risk should we get cold feet, in fact the membership payment is also refundable when we decide to leave the coop so the financial risk is pretty small.

Things I never thought would be part of our life, California as a residence (not domicile), staying in one place for an extended period of time, owning a golf cart. We do not plan to give up regular travel, but it is nice to think of having a home base in the warm, away from the crowds, near our West Coast family, with access to fine culture to our north and to our south when we want to take advantage of it. I have no idea how this will work out, but I am looking forward to yet another change in our life style.

To our Rochester friends: we are not giving up the apartment, yet.

Terror in the Desert!

When we set out for a drive in the desert we never know quite what we are going to experience. Some happening can be downright terrifying. Even in the Far East where dragons abound we never got into quite this situation. As you can tell from the open door I bailed out and ran, turning back only to get this picture:

Attacked by a fearsome dragon in Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs CA
For more information about the critters in Galleta Meadows follow this link. It is really quite something to be driving along Borrego Springs Road and be confronted with wonderful creatures sculptured in metal and accessible to drive or walk right up to. We have seen them before and may have even written about them in the past, but the dragon is new since our last visit in these parts.
Backtracking a bit. Saturday night was our last stop in Phoenix for this year. We went back to MIM, we are now on intimate basis with Musical Instrument Museum, twice. First in the afternoon to see the Drum exhibition. The number of drums were fewer than we expected, but the exhibit was a wonderful display of what drums from all around the world are about. We returned in the evening for a performance, by Anat Cohen collaborating with Aaron Goldberg, piano, Daniel Freedman, drums  and Vincente, last name lost, on Bass. There was no written program so the names, other than Anat may be a bit off. Actually, Vincente is the only one I missed and he was standing in for Anat’s usual bassist. (I bet Lee B helps me correct that name). If she is playing anywhere near you, don’t miss her, I’ve linked her name to her schedule. At the concert we met up with Susan and Lee again. They had their daughter, who was in town for a visit along so we got to meet her as well. That was a pleasure.
Sunday we broke camp and rolled down the road to Indio where our friends Dean and Jane were staying. We pulled into the dusty dirt parking lot of the Fantasy Resort Casino and were leveling the coach as they pulled along side. Generally casinos offer free overnight, or longer, parking as they expect us to come in and play. We sat in the lot until dinner time approached and then walked to the Bistro, just outside the casino in the adjacent hotel. Although the menu was completely different from their website we all found items to meet our appetites. We returned to the coach where we schmoozed for a while longer and agreed we hope to meet again in a year.


Amidst all our other activities the jeep has mostly stayed placidly on paved roads, occasionally venturing off onto gravel roads. We have never quite gotten to a place to venture a bit further into back country. Yesterday the mail came with our permit for Arizona Trust land access and I decided to see if we could take advantage of it now that we are about to leave AZ behind for a year.

Just north of us is Boulders Staging Area with many trails and jeep tracks scattered across acres of BLM land – thank you fellow taxpayers. I downloaded this map and we set off to see what we could do. I will admit we were foolish. We went alone, we told no one where we were going. We trusted Ruby to do whatever we asked of it. We had a great time and other then some new AZ pinstripes we had no incidents. Looking at the map you can see the approach road from Highway 74 and Loops 6 and 8. That is all we did, about 4 miles once we got on to Loop 8. That took a couple of hours. Here is Ruby with me at the wheel climbing over some steep narrow boulders:

The picture almost does this climb justice. 
Where we came from 

Where we are headed
Carol took the wheel when we got into the Wash at the end of Loop 8. Oh yes those are burros out the driver side window. Here are some more:
Well at least it’s part of a Burro and some Orange Mallows. Speaking of bloom in the desert here are another picture or two:

Have to have at least one picture of Carol taking a picture 🙂

We made it back in time to clean up and go to Shabbat services at Temple Chai. They had a “Nosh” before services and then a wonderful service with the assistance of a guest soloist who is a talented opera singer with a wonderful selection of liturgical music. It was quite “haimish” (homelike, friendly for those whose Yiddish is lacking). We returned to the coach for a restful evening.

What a Week!

A week and a half ago we were in Phoenix at the Diane Schuur concert. We left on Saturday to get set up at the Pima County Fairgrounds just east of Tucson for the 55th Escapade, a gathering of about 900 RVs, members of Escapees, for 5 days of fun and education and an opportunity to spend money on “stuff” you just can’t find anyplace else. We even bought a new satellite dish and had it installed so we no longer need to listen to the dome whine as it keeps shifting from one satellite to another. I attended seminars on several of systems in the coach, water, 12 volt electric, etc. I could have taught a couple of them, but there is always something new to learn, or be reminded of.

We made new friends and renewed acquaintance with people we had met along the way. The two best socials we attended were for RVillage and Xscapers (you may need to log in to do more than read the post). RVillage is a one year old social network for RVers of all stripes. We sign in and “join” each camping place we stop in hopes of finding other like minded RVers nearby to sit and chat with. There were well over 80 members attending the social which offered bubbly and snacks to celebrate the first anniversary.

Escapee membership has been steady and not growing in particular because it is perceived as a club for retired full timers (read that as OLD people). The membership has been aging and there is need to bring in younger members who are raising families and working from the road. Thus a new club-within-a-club called Xscapers has been created to welcome younger members while also including the young at heart such as us. The focus is on mobile connectivity and more spaced out less intense gatherings than Escapade. Escapade is wonderful, but it is five intense days that do not leave a lot of time to keep up with daily activities, especially for those who need to keep up with their businesses.

How’s that for a summary of 5 intense days?

We moved on back to Phoenix after a two day stop in Tucson to visit a high school classmate (Margie) and her husband. We arrived in Phoenix and got set up in plenty of time to get to a concert at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts which is actually in the Scottsdale Arts Center where we heard Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform. We have owned recordings of this group from before they got together with Paul Simon to record “Graceland” which lead us to going to Memphis and to tour Graceland some years ago. We seem to be catching up on things Medical while in Phoenix, lab work and such and doing less museum going than usual. Had a delightful visit and dinner with Mary and Tom in Cave Creek after I wrote most of the above.

For now we are busy planning – how I hate that word – our travels through to May 3. As I may have mentioned before we are flying out of Salt Lake City on April 29 to be in Rochester until we fly out on May 3. We are going to the RPO concert on Thursday and then the Percussion Concert in Kilbourn on Friday to hear the world premier of a piece written to honor John Beck. On our return to SLC we will continue east arriving in VT for our nephew’s wedding on June 13. There will be a “minor” detour to Spartanburg NC where we will attend Camp Freightliner to learn more about this chassis we are planning to live on for as long as we are able to be on the road. We will also have our annual service done while there.

Color and Beauty in the Desert

How often have I heard someone say “the desert is gray, colorless, boring? I once heard a woman looking out at the mountains in Borrego Springs complain that they were uninteresting. I felt sorry for her companions and wondered if maybe she needed cataract surgery or just a “recognition of beauty” implant. Listening to public radio the other day I heard an announcement that because of the recent rain and cool spell there would be a splendid bloom of desert flowers. The two places that were mentioned were Picacho Peak State Park and Lost Dutchman State Park. We consulted Google maps and chose Lost Dutchman since it was closer. We drove into the park and with guidance from a host and a ranger we set off on a hike to the high places where the desert was indeed in flower:

From Lost Dutchman we continued to drive the Apache Trail through Tonto National Forest. this roads winds its way up and down and around the mountains like snake with indigestion. It pauses in Tortilla Flats for refreshment and a shopping opportunity and then continues for a total of over 40 miles, the last 24 of which are good dirt road ending at Roosevelt Dam. By the time we got to the Dam the sun was beginning to set and our GPS assured us we would not get back to Scottsdale before 7:30 PM. 
The next day brought beauty of a different sort. We had tickets to hear a performance by Diane Schuur at Musical Instrument Museum. We had never been in their concert hall before and it is a wonderful venue. Great sight lines and fine acoustics. Diane gave her all for 75 minutes, playing and singing songs from a recently released album of Sinatra tunes in honor of what would be his 100th birthday this year.
Shooting with my phone from row M and you want to be able to recognize her?

She is no spring chicken but there was no telling that from her performance. Her range is 4 octaves and her scat singing is just incredible. She matched the saxophone with ease and even sang against the base. We had the pleasure of dining with Susan and Lee Berk, he is a college classmate of mine, at their place and walking to the concert from there. We found ourselves surrounded with lovers of Jazz from Susan and Lee to the entire audience including the head of The Nash where we had been the week before. We will be returning to Phoenix next week and will hear Anat Cohen perform at MIM and Ladysmith Black Mombaza at the Scottsdale Performance Center. In the mean time we are settled in to the Pima County Fairgrounds for five days of RV Rally, a totally different cultural experience.

Jazz to Nostalgia

We are always on the lookout for a venue we can get to with decent music. Carol found The Nash ( an almost three year old venue on Roosevelt in downtown Phoenix. It is not very far from the Elks Lodge we are staying at in Scottsdale. We tried to get in Friday night but we were too late to get tickets online and 7:30 is real early for us to eat and get into town if we are not sure of getting in. We planned ahead, a bit for Saturday and got tickets for Chuck Johnson Quartet.

 He performed two sets of straight ahead Jazz, mostly standards. The sidemen were also marvelous.

I couldn’t get a picture of the bass player and somehow I missed the pianist Al Daniels altogether although his playing was not to be missed. The venue is small, the sound is great and the seating is comfortable. Oh and the price is very nice too at $15/person. We got to talk with the performers during the break and after the performance and made friends with at least one audience member who was seated alone near us.
Dinner before hand at Corey’s just two doors down the street was very nice. There is a huge selection of draft beers and a decent selection of salads and sandwiches to satisfy veggie needs as well as meat eaters.
Although there was some nostalgia in the music, we doubled down today. We needed to get to a farm market to satisfy the need to replenish the greens supply and Carol found one that was highly rated (whatever that means) on the grounds of The Wigwam in Goodyear AZ. I suspect only one person (my sister Sandy) reading this will get the sense of nostalgia. Among our many family trips at winter break, one of the early ones, in 1971, was at the Wigwam. As we all remember it was chill and it 
rained during our stay. We rode horses and the youngsters rode in a buckboard to the chuck wagon breakfast out in the desert and fighter planes from Luke AFB sought targets in the desert. Yechiel reminds me that he too remembers much of the trip although he was 5 at the time. One of his memories was the “treat” of arriving home at 4 AM due to a very delayed flight in Chicago. I remember returning to a house in the middle of remodeling and the builders arriving at 7 AM as usual. We never heard the power saw or hammers until almost 10 in the morning. But I have digressed.

Or have I?  I suppose I ought to devote some writing to our travel history before we started traveling in an RV and before there was such a format as a blog. I will post those thoughts at and mention them here as they happen.