I finally am! Picture this -- me, sitting in my 5th wheel, middle of the Arizona desert, 72 degrees on the window thermometer in the shade, probably around 85 degrees on the sunny side, barely a cloud in the sky ... tapping away on my laptop, which is connected to my 300 watt inverter (converts 12 volt to 110 volt) that I picked up for a mere $60, which is plugged into the RV's cigarette lighter, which is powered by the RV's battery, which is being constantly recharged by my new 64-watt solar panel -- am I cool or what?  ... lol. This is indeed what I had envisioned when I started out toward Arizona several months ago.

Of course, I'm not in Arizona anymore -- crossed the line into California about 10 miles back. But it is still the desert, so who cares? The important things in the previous paragraph are the inverter and the solar panel. I had checked earlier and was told by a company in Scottsdale that I'd need an inverter that cost around $300. Now that unit probably handles a couple of thousand watts and would be great to supply the power needed for microwave, air conditioner, etc. All I really need is something to power my laptop, printer, eventually a scanner, and occasionally a television. I ran across just such a unit for only $60 at a seminar at the campground where I was staying in Yuma. The seminar was conducted by Steve and Barb McMahon of McMahon Enterprises, Wireless Phone Specialists. They had loads of info on cell phone options, a cell phone antenna, connecting cell phone to a laptop, satellite hookups, and the inverter. I didn't have time to stay for their entire talk, just bought the inverter and left, but I plan to see them again in Quartzsite where they will be throughout January. I'll have more info to put here at that time. Their phone number is 1-888-397-8782 if you want more before then.

I went out 2 days ago and bought a solar panel. Going to have it installed permanently on top of the RV on the 30th. At that time, I'll get more info on what the best type of batteries are and will get some of those also. I've currently got 1 deep cycle 12-volt that goes dead in a matter of a couple of hours whenever I run anything in the RV. I'm going to get it tested, then either replace it and add another 12-volt or change to two 6-volt golf cart batteries. I've been told those are great for RVs, but need to do some more checking. My main intent is to have enough power to run my propane heater all night without running down the batteries -- seems there's some kind of safety switch in the heater that eats up the electricity. By the time I return to Quartzsite, I want to be sure I've got enough power to get through those cold nights. If I can accomplish that, I have a feeling I'll enjoy Q much more than I did the first time.

But enough about equipment -- more about where I am. As I said in the last chapter, I landed at the Tamarisk LTVA on the 21st of December. It's actually about as big as 3 football fields laid side-by-side and indeed only had 3 other RVs and the host. It turns out I was right about it being a friendly place to spend Christmas. They have a campfire almost every night, so on the first night I met the hosts, Wayne and Dot from New Mexico, their little dog Cocoa, Dave and Betty from Arizona, Merv and Lee from San Diego, and George from Canada. We all sit around the campfire and chit-chat each night for a couple of hours after dark and before wandering off to bed. A day or so after I arrived, Roy and Connie from Canada showed up and also joined our evening sessions. On Christmas Eve, Dot fixed some egg-nog, others brought pie, snacks, and we got together and celebrated the eve.

The LTVA itself is very pretty, lined with trees all around. The wind doesn't seem to blow much here and there's plenty of shade if anyone wants any. The only complaint I guess I have is that the border patrol are constantly hanging around, watching for illegals. Seems we're only a mile or so from the border, so I guess it's prime territory for the border patrol people. They can be seen driving around the desert all day, and sometimes are heard ATVing around at night.

Drove into El Centro last week to do some shopping and look for an internet connection. Tried the public library and they were like many others I'd seen -- there was a 2-hour wait to get on for 30 minutes and they didn't allow any floppies or other type of media. I went downtown and looked for an Internet Service Provider sign. Found one on Randy's TV & Electronics on Main Street and was pleased to find they had a real nice phone setup for $4 for 30 minutes. Got on through the local Mindspring number, answered 30 or so emails, downloaded my latest log chapters, and was out in about an hour. Guess I'll have to add ISPs to my list of where to look for a connection when you're traveling.
I want to go choose a different chapter
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6. Are We Having Fun Yet?
Well, that's about what's happening here now. I'm getting alot of rest, reading alot, learning all about solar energy, and getting a great tan. Figure on staying here until Y2K or so, then moseying back up to Quartzsite to see what January is like up there. Will have more to say (and maybe finally some pictures) when I get my batteries up to snuff.  Below, you'll find a picture of me with my new solar panel and the Tamarisk LTVA hosts.

Photo is Last Day at Tamarisk LTVA
Had one of our friends at Tamarisk take this shot of me with the campground hosts, Dot and Wayne. I'm holding their dog, Cocoa. Got too far away again, didn't we? Note my new solar panel to Wayne's left.