Orange County Swap Meet, LAC-X and Philippe's

Sunday we spent the whole day running around. In the morning (but not too early!) we went to the Orange County Swap Meet, to see if it would be a good outlet for ivory jewelry. They sell everything from rubber chickens to hot tubs, but it doesn't really look like what we are looking for. Plus there is an effort underway to sell the land it sits on, so it might not even be there in the future.

Next we went to LAC-X market, a huge warehouse store that specializes in Oriental food.
This store had a tremendous array of items that are not found in Sam's or Costco. There are more kinds of rice and tea that I could count, and it's the first place I've seen that sells Fructose in 5 gallon buckets. In the fruit section we saw some fresh Dragon Fruit. A nearby customer encouraged us to buy it, so we got a couple. It has a unique look and a very subtle flavor. Actually, it didn't have much flavor at all, at least not according to our Western palates.
Next we went to Philippe, home of the Original French Dipped Sandwiches. They serve beef, port and lamb sandwiches, and their claim to fame is that they dip the cut side of the bread into au jus before making the sandwich. The place has sawdust on the floor and uses paper plates, and even at 4 in the afternoon they were packed!

Thus ends another busy day of retirement!

January 28, 2011

After we left Riverside we went to the Oasis Palm RV park by the Salton Sea. We've been there a couple of times and always enjoy it, but this time we went there so we could attend the monthly Swap Meet at the Fountain Of Youth RV Park, just the other side of Salton Sea (we didn't stay at FOY because it's pricier than Oasis). We set up a table to sell earrings and knives, but those items aren't exactly Swap Meet items. So we packed up and headed to Quartzsite.

What can I say about Quartzsite? During January and February this small town is the site of several large RV sales, Rock & Gem shows and Swap Meets. There are a few RV parks in Quartzsite but the majority of people seem to park on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, where for $40 you can stay for 2 weeks. There are no hookups - no water, electricity or sewer - but you have access to their dump station and water station, and it's just a mile or two from most of the sale events, so we parked there. It was a convenient location and reasonably priced, but here's the thing we couldn't get used to - this place is in the middle of the desert and there is nothing else around. Nothing. This was the view from our RV:

The town of Quartzsite is very small, and these January and February events are the only things going on. One thing sort of reminded us of Skagway - the grocery stores. Although they don't reach the same (low) level as Fairway Market, they didn't have much of a fresh food selection and things were pretty pricey. But they outdid Fairway Market in one aspect - this is the first grocery store where I've seen a sign in the meat market that says "For meat, please go behind the counter and help yourself".

One afternoon we drove about 30 miles to visit the town of Parker. It's another very small town, but at least it was a different small town.

We met several really nice people who have been camping on BLM land since November and are really enjoying it, but I have to admit that I don't understand it. I just couldn't find anything I wanted to do in the area. And it's very dusty. We had to make sure the RV was cool enough for the pets during the day and fortunately there was always a breeze, so we kept the windows open. But the breeze meant that dust was always stirred up. The dust got everywhere inside- not just in our RV, but inside every building - and after about an hour outside I would have trouble breathing. So Randy and I decided that we are simply not interested in long-term desert-camping.

While we were there we rented a vendor spot in the QIA Rock and Gem show. There were some beautiful rocks for sale, especially inside the QIA building, but our goods - ivory and knives - are neither rocks nor gems, so again we were out of place. We did make some sales but in the end we decided that Quartzsite isn't for us. We were debating moving on towards the Phoenix area, but the combination of desert and dust was discouraging. Just when we were trying to decide where to go, we got a call from Jack in Riverside, suggesting we come back and spend more time there. And it sounded like such a good idea that we did! Eventually we will need to head East, but for a little while longer we are relaxing with our California cousins.

Jack had a great surprise for me when we got back - a full day out with the horses. He and Teresa already had one horse and they recently bought another. Dolly, their original horse, is 21 years old. She is very smart, easy to ride, and determined to be in front of other horses on the trail. But she has short legs so to keep ahead of the taller horses who are walking, she has to trot.

Their new horse is a gorgeous five-year old Paint. They named him Charger but after today his nick-name is Nervous Ned Pepper. They've only had him a few days and he is still a little nervous about his new surroundings, so Anna started calling him Nervous Ned and then the guys changed it to Ned Pepper, which is of the bad guys in True Grit.

Today I got to ride Dolly again and Jack rode Charger/Ned. Jack boards their horses with his friend Dale, who joined us with his horse Roullette. Roullette is also a beauty - a little taller than Dolly with brown and white markings, and she has one brown eye and one blue eye.

Dale's friend Anna also rode with us. Her horse Ransom is a tall Thoroughbred who used to race. Ransom is getting a little extra training from their friend Craig, so Craig joined the ride with his horse Cincinnati. Here's Cincinnati, Charger Ned, Roulette and Ransom. For just a moment Dolly and I were behind them, but right after I took this picture she started trotting to take the lead again.

I really love horses! I don’t know who owns this Percheron Paint - he was in a neighboring field. But isn’t he amazing?

January 12, 2011

It's that time again - time to leave people we don't want to say good-by to. We are at the end of our extended stay in Jack and Teresa's driveway in California. It's hard to go - they, and the rest of the extended Booth clan here, have shown us gracious hospitality and made us feel so welcome. But at some point we would have to move the RV out of their driveway anyway, so we might as well see what is down the road.

A few final notes about our stay here:

Jack made my day recently when he took me horse-back riding. He owns a pretty mare who, although she is over 20 years old, is friendly and energetic. It's been almost 30 years since I was on a horse, but she was easy to ride and I enjoyed it tremendously.

La Brea Tar Pits was one of the most wonderful places I've seen. From the huge mammoth replica outside, which is an interesting contrast to the modern high-rise buildings...

to a delicate reproduction of an ancient Dwarf Pronghorn, this place is one of my favorite memories.

But if we couldn't do any of those things, the trip would still be worthwhile because of the wonderful people we've come to know. Tonight Teresa grilled dinner while Randy and Jack tried out the pool table. A good night, ending a great trip.

Tuesday January 11, 2011

Today we went to see the Queen Mary (aka QM) at Long Beach. This beautiful ocean liner was built in 1936 and retired in 1967. During her long career she was the premier luxury liner of the time, a troop transport (renamed the Gray Ghost, she was supposed to 5,000 troops at a time but eventually carried up to 16,000 on a trip), a hospital ship (bringing wounded veterans home), a family ship (bringing war brides to their husbands in the US), and then a luxury liner once again.

While she was in the war, the QM was fitted with artillery for protection, including five 40 mm machines guns, one of which is still on deck.

The QM makes regular appearances on Discovery’s “most haunted places” shows, so we took the QM Ghost Tour. Most of the ghost-stories are of unknown people. But one tragic event was very real. During the war the QM was useful because she was so fast that she could (and had to) run quick zig-zag courses to avoid being torpedoed. But on one trip her course cut across the path of one of her smaller escort ships, which was immediately cut in half. Over 300 sailors died within minutes. It’s a sad story and is the stuff ghost stories are made of, but these sailors aren’t the famous QM ghosts. Instead it’s the “Lady in White”, or the ghostly swimmer. The swimmer is supposed to be heard in the old pool, and leave wet footprints. The pool, in the depths of the QM, certainly looks spooky.

After the ghost tour, we went on a self-guided tour of the rest of the ship. We saw the old radio room, officers quarters, staterooms, and many other areas. The QM had a telephone switchboard which handled 585 shipboard lines as well as 10 ship-to-shore lines. Pretty fancy for 1936!

The bridge was beautiful; machinery of that age was supposed to be aesthetic as well as functional.

Of the areas we could see, the Queen’s Salon best represents the luxury of the ship's past.

The halls are tremendously long, and an unusual feature is that the cabin doors do not open directly into the hallway. Instead, they open into short side corridors off the hallway.

The Boiler room was really interesting. The QM ran with 27 boilers, a zillion gauges and truly ancient wiring, although it was state-of-the-art at the time.

The most amazing part was the Propeller box. They built a walkway around an enclosed area that holds 200,000 gallons of water, and in that water is the only remaining propeller. It weighs 35 tons, measures 18 feet tip to tip, and is still attached to its drive shaft. Very, very cool to see.

Later for dinner we went to Mike's house. He is famous for his fried fish, so he fixed Dorado and Wahoo, plus some hot chili. As usual, it was excellent.

Thursday we are leaving Riverside to head to Salton Sea and to the Fountain of Youth. FOY has a monthly Swap Meet and hopefully we will sell some jewelry and knives. Then Saturday, off to Quarzsite again, but this time as vendors, ready to make our fortune!

By the way, recently a virus wiped out all of our email addresses. Please send us an email note, so we can save your address again. Thanks!
Yesterday Randy worked on the RV, but I joined my cousin at the racetrack. It rained lightly all day and the weather is still cold, so we got seats under the roof so we could stay dry. But rain or no rain, I just had to go out to watch the horses workout before each race. I had a theory that this would help me pick winners. That theory didn't work very well, but I had a wonderful time!