Monday, January 26, 2009


We had to go somewhere, so why not Quartzsite, Arizona. Most of the year Quartzsite is a place to get gas on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and San Bernardino. It’s not the kind of spot you would want to take your summer vacation in, but in the wintertime it’s a different story. The town has about 3400 persons living there year round, but come the cooler time of the year and the population swells to around 100,000. Most of these temporary residents bring their RV”S and camp in the open desert around the town. The Bureau of Land Management has areas set up with some limited facilities for RV’ers, like trash collection sites and dump stations. You can stay for free if you’re not there longer than 14 days, but for longer stays you must buy an annual permit. The vast majority of the temporary residents are snowbirds escaping the winter weather of the north. Besides all of the northern states being represented there is a huge contingent of folks from Canada.

So, what’s the attraction? Well, besides the warm weather and a cheap place to stay, it’s swap meets. While we were there they had an RV show with hundreds of new and used RV’s for sale. Also big is the Gem and Mineral Show. There are vendors there selling rocks from all over the world. So many rocks they come in 55 gallon steel drums hauled into town on semi-trucks. Want to by some crystals? This is the place. Want to buy just about everything else under the sun, you’re in luck. From socks to damaged can goods, to tools to antiques to just plan junk, they’ve got it here. How about an auction selling items that were returned to Bass Pro Shops. It took us four days to go through all the swap meets which is why we stayed for 5 nights.

What did we buy, you ask? Mostly a bunch of stuff we didn’t need, but it being such a good deal, it just couldn’t be passed up. For Cathie, a new sweater at the auction for $2, of course some gems both from the auction and from one of the rock swap meets. Also she likes Rice Checks so for $1.50 a box we purchased several. As for me, a couple of files for a buck a piece, baseball caps, 4 for a dollar (new but defective) and for both of us, 8 X 10 wooden picture frames at $1.50 a piece (we bought eight). This list does not include all the other stuff we bought that we’ve already forgotten about. We’ll come across it someday and wonder where “that” came from.




Friday, January 02, 2009


With no significant travel plans in our immediate future, I’ve been spending some of my free time aboard the museum ship USS Midway as a volunteer. I know, I know, the army taught me never to volunteer, but this is different. There are no bullets involved and I can quit anytime I want. And besides, my therapist suggested that I do something nice.

The aircraft carrier Midway is docked on the Embarcadero in San Diego and was opened to the public as a museum in 2004. I’ve been told that it is the second most visited tourist destination in San Diego. I’m not sure what the first is, but I bet it’s the zoo. Anyway the Midway has seen 4,000,000 visitors since opening. Many of the people who work there are volunteers, such as the docents and the Safety Team. I’ve joined the Safety Team, a group of folks who’s responsible for greeting the guests and ensuring that they have an enjoyable and safe visit. If someone gets injured we can administer first aid. Duties also include making sure emergency equipment is in good working order and being observant of potential safety hazards.

After a period of training, I began working one or two 5 hour shifts a week. With the exception of two stationary posts, at the entrance and exit, team members rove around the various areas of the ship that are open to the public. The best part, aside from being able to explore a really big ship, is interacting with the visitors. Yes, I have to actually be nice to people, which as many of you know wasn’t something required of me in my professional life. So meeting and talking to visitors from all over the world is my therapy, and I’m having fun.

For my friends and family, if you’re interested, give me a call and I’ll see to it that you can come aboard for free.

You can read about the USS Midway here: