Differences Between Cougars and Mountain Lions.
Cougars and Mountain Lions
A bit of catching up to do, I believe. So let's start at the top: I promised a bit more about this being our last trip with Moturis/Camping World.
We booked our trip as usual with the excellent Shalini Austin at SDSA, back in the summer. Almost immediately she had some bad news; Camping World have decided to stop their RV rental business, run for the last 12 years or so with Moturis out of Switzerland. In 2015, all that they will do is honour the existing bookings (like ours), into January and February.
All I can say is - what a damn shame. Yes, we've had some issues with the vehicles along the way, but it's only fair to also acknowledge that CW and Moturis were always good at repairing problems, and giving us the benefit of the doubt in the meantime. And with the back-up of the support of Shalini from Nottingham, UK, we have never been left stranded nor out of pocket. After all, that's why, in total, we've hired RVs from them for a total of 6 months!
Six months in the USA, including 38 states (possible more- we lost count in Kansas. Kansas can do that to you), 'the one time we went back' (breaking rule #1) -
Where will we turn next? No idea.
Right now, we're happy to say that our adopted home is behaving perfectly. Jacks are working again, the electrics, gas, etc. We've been warm and dry for a week!
The majority of the last week was spent at Desert View RV Park, Needles, California, along with the entire population of Canada. The snowbirds were very curious to find out what we were doing. Fortunately, they readily suggested that we were too young to be snowbirds. We agree. We're snowchicks.
We met many of our fellow campers at the Pot Luck Christmas dinner. I have to say that we were: nervous/terrified/cynical/dubious/hungry about going along, but it turned out to be good fun.
I confess that I had no idea what a Pot Luck Christmas dinner was when we were first asked. I had visions of some kind of partner-swapping event, where you all put the keys to your RV/golf cart/electric Zimmer frame/ in a big bowl, and hey - Merry Christmas.
I don't know about Sarah, but that certainly cured my ham, and left me in the second category above. My imagination was conjuring up images of blue-rinsed octogenarians in Santa suits, scarlet lipstick and stockings. It was all I could do to eat at all the day leading up to it, I felt so sick.
Of course, I needn't have worried. For the uninitiated, like me, a pot luck dinner is where everybody makes something, and you bring it along and share it all as a buffet. Who knew?
Was I disappointed? No sirree Bob.
Sarah cooked a rhubarb crumble (something typically British), in a baking dish that we bought especially from Walmart (go Walmart)….
… Seriously. How can you not love Walmart? The only things you can't buy there are scarlet lipstick and a Santa suit (I checked). Even better, if you get lucky in aisle 2, they let you stay in your RV in the car park overnight. They'll even help you wheel your date to the vehicle, and hoist her inside. No extra charge for Zimmer carriage.
Anyway… why was I so specific about the baking dish? Well, that's another story. I'll come back to that, most likely (spoiler: it exploded).
So the dinner was good. I got to go home with Sarah. Thank my lucky stars.
And we met some great people too. I hope they forgive me if I got their names wrong, but our Canadian friends across the road from our site were funny and generous. Grant (and Evelyn) have an ATV. Guess who got to go out in it across the desert? Guess who got to drive it? Lovely people.
The ATV very quickly put a smile on my face. 20-30 mph on the rough stuff, and 50+ mph on the tarmac.
I just want one.
Although I don't think it'll work so well in the neighbourhood back home. Too many damn bicycles (thanks Flip :) ).
Irwin and Jan were a couple on their first winter escape from Alberta, Canada. They run a dairy farm, and we had a good laugh with them. Hopefully we'll catch up with them when we tour Canada … you never know.
The Mountain Lions
Well, all good things etc etc. We left Needles, heading south on the other side of the Colorado river, through Arizona. We had it in mind to have a look at Lake Havasu City on the way down - a new town (1964) - because it has a very interesting design; there are no street lights. The original planner apparently felt that the sky was just too perfect at night to obscure it from the population. No blinding sodium lamps here.
And I can only congratulate them - the night sky is simply gorgeous. Last night, we sat outside (we're at a state park a few miles down the road), and enjoyed the constellations spinning above. The Andromeda galaxy (2 million light years away), the Orion nebula, umpteen star clusters: all visible with the naked eye. Beautiful, and inspiring.
It has to be said, Havasu City also has a better known tourist attraction. The old London Bridge is here. There's even a lickle English villagey with old pubs, bad food, and regular artificial rain showers.
Yes, deer, it's London Bridge
Absolutely sickening to my mind, but Sarah thought it was sweet. Her conclusion was that there are a great number of Americans who are tired of being part of a boring young democratic federation. These people want an old-fashioned constitutional monarchy! Of course …
She suggested that we could build upon the special relationship between UK and USA by giving them some of our royalty. Even our heir apparent; Charles and Horse. Sorry, Camilla.
God knows, we don't want them. Take them. Please.
A short drive south of Lake Havasu City, along the Colorado shore, we found this small state park, called Cat-tail Cove. It's so pretty, and we decided to stay for a while. At least, that was the plan before Sarah discovered that it's called Cat-tail because those local plants attract mountain lions. Sounds a bit ridiculous to me, but hey: I thought Pot Luck dinner was a euphemism for cougar-time.
Crags above Lake Havasu
Right up to date then; by coming back to the baking dish from Walmart.
Sarah has been coming up with the most amazing culinary creations this last week; all from a small gas stove and a giant American fridge-freezer. We've had hand-whisked pancakes, spaghetti bolognaise (not in the same dish), curry, chilli sauces etc etc.
So, last night, I decided to cook. Go me.
Enschilladas, stuffed jalapenos, breaded mushrooms. Sounds good right? Yep. I spent, ooh, I dunno … certainly minutes … getting them out of the freezer and shoving them in the oven.
Hey presto. Thirty minutes later, I lifted the baking dish out of the oven at 350F. Placed the dish on the hob, and …
The bloody thing exploded. It didn't break. It exploded, showering glass everywhere. In the end I felt lucky not to get badly injured.
So thank you, Walmart. If that's what you offer for my $6.89, I'll take my business elsewhere. I saw a replacement in Safeway for $6.99. Just goes to prove - you get what you pay for