Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Guppy has landed

We finally arrived in Arizona Friday afternoon, a mere 4 days later than originally planned. To say the trip out here was "interesting" would be a bit of an understatement.

Remember me closing a post by wondering what was going to fall off the Guppy next? As it turned out, nothing did. The tow dolly, however, managed to lose a wheel, and not just a wheel as in steel rim with a tire on it but the hub assembly, too. It was one of those rare occasions when both the S.O. and I were at a complete loss for words. After staring at the place where the hub used to be, I muttered, "there's no identifying information on the dolly is there?" The answer being No, we quietly unloaded the car, pivoted the dead tow dolly around to get it farther off the shoulder, and continued on our way. Somewhere in western rural Kansas there is now some good ol' boy praising the Lord for gifting him with two usable wheels (the one that didn't come off and the spare) and a possibly repairable tow dolly.

Was the tow dolly actually repairable? Maybe. It had been dragged along for at least a couple miles but other than the entire wheel assembly (bearing, hub, you name it) being gone, there didn't seem to be too much damage. Did we feel like trying to find out ourselves in the middle of nowhere? Nope. We didn't pay much for the dolly to begin with and had put probably 10,000 miles on it. We'd gotten our money's worth out of it. Time to accept that fate doesn't want me knitting in a vehicle, which is what I do when I'm a passenger. We'll convoy, reluctant though I am to do so. On the other hand, now the S.O. and I will be able to swap off on what we're driving. As long as we had that anchor tow dolly behind us, I was too nervous to drive the Guppy. Without the car in tow, though, it'll be just like driving a large U-Haul truck, and that's something I know I can do.

Will we invest in another tow dolly? Probably not. We compared mileage for the Guppy before and after losing the anchor. When we stopped dragging my car along behind us, mileage improved by almost 40%. That is a gigantic savings. It more than offsets the cost of us driving the Focus instead of towing it. It also more than offsets the cost of a good tow dolly. A brand new one would cost us more than the Guppy did, and used ones can be hard to find. So we'll convoy. We have walkie talkies; we'll survive.

As for Arizona, . . . we're in a 55+ RV/Mobile Home park. Most of the park is taken up with a couple hundred mobile homes, some of which are occuppied year round and some are winter residents. The section set aside for RVs (motorhomes and travel trailers) is actually fairly small. It's nice. Well maintained, clean, decent amount of space for each site (unless you have a Class A Leviathan with multiple slide outs or a 5th wheel on steroids, then it might seem a little tight). The sites are set up with the parking for the RV on one side of a concrete patio and space for parking a car on the other. The park has been around for enough years that the landscaping is well established; it's not nearly as sterile as some desert RV parks. The monthly rate is quite reasonable and includes city utilities and cable tv.

I had been kind of looking forward to having cable, but changed my mind pretty fast after the first few political commercials. Holy wah, they fight dirty here in the desert. And it's not even possible to avoid the horrible ads by watching "House Hunters" or "American Pickers." Oh well. One more day and it should be safe to watch the boob tube again. After all, we all know there's going to be speculation about 2020 as soon as the polls close, but actual advertising for or against various possible contenders shouldn't start up for at least another week or two.

Being in a "senior" park feels a bit odd. It's way different from being in a campground, of course, because no one (legally) does extended stays at campgrounds other than the hosts. Here there are long-time residents as well as winter regulars who come back every year. There are scheduled activities (potluck dinners, crafts one morning a week, etc.) in the clubhouse. It's kind of like being a temporary resident in a small town. How deep we'll dive into community happenings is an open question. The S.O. and I are both fairly introverted so aren't sure about the potlucks (I tend to get nervous if there are more than 6 people in a group), but I may go check out the crafts on Wednesday mornings. If it's a case of people bringing in whatever they happen to be working on and just kind of schmoozing as they knit/sew/embroider, I could see participating. Low key, unstructured socializing is fine with me. If, however, it's directed activities (e.g., "This morning we're going to make wreaths out of bread bags") I'll pass.

I've had a number of friends and acquaintances say they have no interest in being in a "senior" community. I'm not sure why, other than it's the usual anti-aging bias we all have. We all think we're going to be young forever, but if we move into 55+ or "senior citizen" housing, we've just admitted we're old. I have a hunch that just about everyone living in a seniors complex felt that way before they actually bit the bullet and conceded that, yes, I'm old enough that the idea of living someplace where I don't have to listen to college-age neighbors party until dawn is looking good. 

So will we become regulars here? Who knows? We're here this year because the Kid is duty-stationed here in Safford; next winter may find us being a bit more nomadic (a few weeks here, a few weeks there) or doing a 90-day or longer VIP stints at a National Park or Wildlife Refugre. I still fantasize about doing several months at LBJ in Texas; maybe 2017 will be the year we get lucky.


  1. I like community potlucks, suggest you try a couple. Things like tow dolly's pretty much share the same parts as boat and other such trailers and the parts are readily available in any decent size town. Part houses always have the bearings in stock but you may have to go to Tractor Supply or a RV store for a hub. The guppy appears to have settled in right nice.

  2. enjoy your time in the wild west of Arizona..where they are crazier even than Texas

  3. @BBC -- perhaps you didn't notice the phrase "rural Kansas?" Or the fact we got the tow dolly super cheap to begin with? There are times when the smart thing to do is just walk away, and this was one of them.

  4. Enjoy your park! I'll be here in DC hoping that either the post-election crazy people never show up, or that they keep their excitement to Pennsylvania Ave.


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