Day 173: Visit to Mexico and Meeting MNFG

This morning we scheduled dental checkups for the kids in Los Algodones, Mexico.  Los Algodones is two miles South of the Q casino where we stayed last night.  We drove down to the border, parked in a tribal parking lot on the US side for $12, and walked through the border crossing into Mexico.  The signs said No Photography at the border, and I didn’t feel like finding out what the unspoken “or else” might be.

We were very excited to make the trip, as none of us had ever been to Mexico!

For American visitors, Los Algodones is a two-by-four block enclave of dental and vision clinics, with gift shops and barber shops mixed in for good measure.  Trish and I were at least one generation shy of the average tourist age.  The town feels perfectly safe, especially when you realize that you’re the most able-bodied target in town.

Our first stop was the dental clinic.  We opted for Circle Dental, but there are literally dozens of clinics to choose from.  All the other folks in the waiting room were there for dental implants and other serious work.  Once the kids finished their cleanings ($30 each), we walked the town a bit:


All the pedestrians are within the passageways over the sidewalks, so it was actually much more crowded than it looks here:




There were hundreds of street vendors running around trying to sell everything from asparagus to wallets.  This fellow was painting pots, plates, and saw blades using just spray paint.  Bits of torn cardboard were used for masking shapes, and a wadded up plastic bag was used to apply paint with a texture for shrubs and trees.  It was very impressive:





One block North of the shops is the border fence.  The obelisk on the right is one of many markers erected in the 1890s to mark the modified US-Mexico border created by the Gadsden Purchase in 1856.  Note that the fence was been built well within the US, as the obelisk is on the border:


Tricia’s glasses have been scratched up during this trip, so we stopped in one of the vision clinics:


For $70, Trish had an eye exam and ordered a pair of polycarbonate lenses in new frames.  We were told to come back in three hours at 4:30PM to pick up her glasses.

We walked over to the exit line to return to the US.  Folks who had been there before told us that it looked like a one hour wait:


I went back to what seems to be the only food store in town to get some food, but none of the foods are marked as certified Kosher.  It’s like we’re in a foreign country:


After clearing customs we headed back to RV and had lunch.  We called the vision clinic at 4:30PM and they told us to come back tomorrow at 10AM, so we left the parking lot at the border and headed North.

Throughout the day I had been e-mailing back and forth with Glenn Morrissette, the author of To Simplify, to see if we could meet in person.  I’ve been reading Glenn’s blog for a couple years now, and have been following his gutting and refitting of his Vanagon for almost a year.  Seeing that we was in Yuma, I sent an e-mail to him, and it turned out that he was overnighting at the Paradise Casino, so rather that return to the Q Casino we headed there instead.  The RV lot at the Paradise was quite a bit less crowded:


Glenn and I got together around sunset, and he let the kids try out the van interior he crafted from scratch:


Glenn and I must have chatted for some time, as it was dark when I took this parting photograph:


To explain the blog title “meeting MNFG”, I once mentioned Glenn’s van work to the kids.  They asked me if he was my friend, and I said that I had never met him.  When they inquired about his doings later, they asked “what is your non-friend Glenn doing now”, so Glenn was thereafter referred to as “My Non-Friend Glenn” (MNFG).  Our son pointed out that now that we’ve met, we should just call him Glenn.  So be it.

See the trip map for our jaunt South of the border.  After picking up Tricia’s glasses, we will head West and North to Palm Springs.

Day 172: Yuma Repositioning

This morning was refreshingly cool after highs in the high 70s on Shabbos.  Our front yard at Mittry Lake was as beautiful as ever:


I climbed up the slope across from our site to get a better view:





We are in the process of getting to Palm Springs by Tuesday, so we left our site on Mittry Lake and headed into Yuma.  We did our dump-fill-shower-dump-fill at a local RV park, then headed into town where Trish did the food shopping while I did the laundry.  We stopped at a local park for a late lunch / early dinner, then headed a few miles West, crossing into California and stopping at the Quechan Casino for overnight parking.  We expected to find a half dozen or so rigs next to us, as we did when we were casino camping in Northern California, so imagine our surprise when we found hundreds of rigs in the lot!  This is a photo of one of several rows in one of several parking areas:


Tomorrow we will continue West.  For today’s drive, see the trip map.

Day 170: Yuma Proving Grounds museum

Waking up this morning, I thought something was wrong.  It was not dark out, but not light either.  Then I realized that we haven’t had a cloudy day in weeks around here.

We unhitched this morning and headed to the Yuma Proving Ground museum.  After a surprisingly long delay at the security checkpoint, we made our way to the museum parking lot.  There, on display is the control car for the longest land vehicle ever made, the overland train:



The control car is the foremost segment of the train, shown here during testing:


The museum was quite well done, covering all of the equipment and weapon systems testing that occurred at the proving grounds, and continue to this day:




We returned to our campsite a bit after noon.  Yesterday I had parked the RV sideways to give us a nice view of the lake as well as to provide privacy from the road:


Not a bad front yard view:


I went for a 30 minute kayak ride around the neighborhood:



Good Shabbos from Mittry Lake, AZ!

Day 169: Back to Yuma

This morning we returned our library books and stopped in at Gem World to pick up some findings:


The wind sock was getting quite a workout this morning:


I removed the wind sock from the RV as we prepared to leave.  Our son decided to see how fast he could make the wind sock spin:


We hitched up and headed South towards Yuma.  For us, Quartzsite was not all that exciting.  I can imagine it would be fun if one were part of a group, but alas there isn’t yet a get-together for observant Jews in Quartzsite.

We’re camping for the next couple of days at Mittry Lake, so we turned in at the access road that goes through the Yuma Proving Grounds, a military test area.  At the entrance, a pair of guns are on display.  The larger of the two, below, is an M65, capable of throwing a 600 pound projectile at a speed of 1,800 miles an hour for a distance of nearly 18 miles:


The smaller gun, pictured below in the foreground, fires a 200 pound projectile and has a maximum range of seven miles:


The Proving Grounds have an extensive display of missiles and vehicles tested here:





The proving grounds have a museum we hope to visit tomorrow.  Leaving the display, we drove on another 6 miles to our dispersed camping location on the shore of Mittry Lake.  The WiFi antenna continues to amaze us, as we’re able to pull 250kbps of WiFi from the Yuma Proving Grounds Army base, which is 3.8 miles away!  See the trip map for the route.

Day 168: A Bit of Shopping

After the kids and I finished breakfast, we decided to head back to the big shows before Trish woke up.  The kids wanted these $15 miniature samurai swords they had seen at one of the booths.  I purchased an awning shade that attaches to the awning track and hangs down to provide a shaded seating area in the winter when the sun is so low that the awning shades only the RV, not the area in front of the RV.

Pictured below is the installed awning shade, as well as a 16 foot wind sock pole and wind sock that Trish was eyeing yesterday.  We installed it without her knowledge and called her outside.  We all love the bit of whimsy it adds to our RV:



We decided to do home school outside to test the awning shade. It does cut down the sun quite a bit, though I think I’d like a shade that cuts out even more:


It’s not Manhattan at rush hour, but it’s amazing what happens on the road when a 3,000 person town swells to a population of 500,000 for one month a year: