Daily Archives: April 22, 2018

Salvation Mountain and East Jesus

Wait, before we go to the edge – hold on, “the edge” is being kind, the guy who built Salvation Mountain is flat out fucking nuts – of sanity, check out our new (January) overhead dining light. We hated the piece that came with the Odyssey and we hated everything we saw at Camping World and online, so, we went to a Lowes.

This little section is for RVers or those who would like to learn a little about our world. 100% of the built-in lighting in our RV is 12volt DC. You don’t need to plug in to have light – that’s a plus. Most of it’s ugly – negative. We have purchased a couple of 120v AC table lamps because we are plugged in 99% of the time. One of those has an owl base and the shade is a black and white Manhattan skyline. With a beautifully embroidered and framed, 8×16 Mets logo in the windshield – oops, I’m told that has been banned and sits in a storage box (sorry Tricia, your sister did it), a Mets pillow (from one of those giveaway weekends when I had season tickets) also, that is, now alone, in the windshield, the “NY” Giants logo on the Jeep’s spare tire cover, and the Manhattan skyline on a steering wheel table (a good use of dead space when staying a while), there’s no mistaking where we came from – yet people look at our Montana plates and ask what part of Montana we’re from. (Yes, Miss Krippenstaple, long, run-on sentence. Sue me.) But I digress.

Andrea started researching RV lighting after one of our kitchen fluorescent lights (again, 12v DC) blew and almost caught fire. I mentioned this previously. A little detail here for RVers. Besides a wall switch that controls both fluorescents, each light has its own on/off. To avoid future excitement, I turned the bad one off and I jumped on the light replacement bandwagon. Seems as though everyone is replacing fluorescents with 12v DC led strips so I bought some on Amazon. Not needing a ballast and all that clunky hardware, I snipped the wires coming from the ceiling into the ballasts, removed that junk, the bulbs, and extra wires, and hard-wired the led strips to the ceiling wires. I ran the strips back and forth across the reflective metal several times – the led strip has a sticky back – and wow! Brighter than before. Next one won’t need as many led’s.

For you electrical novices, there are websites to guide you in this modification, even a You-tube, I think. Just understand that you’re not dealing with killer voltage so don’t be afraid.

Back to the dining overhead. Andrea impressed upon me the fact that though standard lighting thingies sold at retailers like Lowes are intended for 120v AC, if you screw in a 12v DC light and wire it to a DC power source, it will work just fine, safely. The trick is finding screw-in DC bulbs. At Lowes, this light fixture jumped out at Andrea and said “buy me”. She loved it. We bought it.

But, they only had one DC bulb that fit. It was hard finding bulbs, even online, so why not try the strip lighting again?

I lined the top of it, rerouted the incoming wires to the strip lighting and it looks great (first picture is with strip lighting). The light is more evenly distributed.

The original RV light had a push button switch, no wall switch as it is in the slide. I surgically removed the switch and rigged it on a hidden bar on top of the light but that was only until I got this installed:

Oh, and those are the strip lights. That remote control was easy to install. It even dims. I ended up buying a few different remotes because the same manufacturer uses the same RF signal – it would end up controlling the bathrooms and kitchen lights (when I get to them). I also bought easy plug-in connectors (bottom) to avoid dealing with loose wires:

The remote signal receiver is on the left. Different remote than one in picture with led strip box.

This particular brand of remote, sold by a dozen different Amazon retailers – buy the cheapest, they’re all the same – gets mixed reviews. Many say it craps out after one use. I agree. But somebody posted a fix. Every couple of days the remote seems to stop functioning. It has a couple of “Speed” +/- buttons for blinking speed. I suppose that’s for when you’re smoking some good California Kush, but if you press both buttons simultaneously, it restores functionality. The lights blink several times and then it works.

And that’s all about RV lighting.

Ok, already. On to Salvation. What a mountain. If you are staying in Palm Springs and need a quirky adventure, this is it. I think the pictures speak for the sculptor though you can Google this place and learn more:

There’s a photo-bomber everywhere. Maybe Michael Jackson coming back as a woman.

Just a half mile down the road is a town, and yes, you can go to Google maps and find it, East Jesus. If you think Salvation Mountain ain’t crazy enough, you can totally drop out in East Jesus, population 6. I spoke to the chief resident and he gave me that approximate number (as of Jan 21).

Welcome to East Jesus:

The interesting irony of all the peace, Love, Jesus, and God stuff is the constant background noise of machine guns, artillery and mortar fire, and ground shaking bombs. The Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range is very close by.

If you continue south and follow 112 around the bottom of the Salton Sea, the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge awaits you. Total bore. You can see the same birds everwhere in the area.

Just down the block (west), turn north and at the end of that road is a giant pile of obsidian.

We picked up a bagful of the shiny glass, from quarter inch pieces to six inches square. I’m going to do something with it. Not quite sure what yet. Stay tuned. Suggestions?

We left the Fountain of Youth on February 2nd, but had one stop to make up the road on 112 on our way to Desert Hot Springs. Next installment is The International Banana Museum.

The Fountain of Youth RV Resort – 1/2-2/2/18

Leaving nowhere in Arizona, you go further into nowhere. I love driving nowhere.

Go look up the Salton Sea in Google Maps. It’s nowhere, right? Now find The Fountain of Youth Spa, about halfway down the east side of the sea. It’s all by itself, forty-five miles from shopping and a Walgreen’s. Yeah, it shows Bombay Beach on the map. More on that later.

We got a site that was very tight. The RV in the site next to us faced east while we faced west. Our doors faced each other. Our awnings almost touched. The good news – the rows of RVs are tiered and facing west, we had an unimpeded view of the Salton Sea and more gorgeous sunsets than we saw in Gold Canyon, in just a month.

These were just a few:

After a trip up to the stores in Indio, I was racing to get back before dark, but had to stop near the “Sea” (I have no idea why it’s not a lake), because the sunset was so breathtaking:

I forgot to mention another key feature of the park. Due to it’s remote location with one road going in and one out, making a silencing a dubious prospect, the Secret Service has, apparently (or for legal purposes perhaps I should say, allegedly), been using, or more likely, built, the Fountain of Youth for its witness protection program. Unfortunately, some of the inmates, er, campers, stand out.

A month away from civilization will have you searching for side trips and we had a few. The pictures from those are too numerous for just one posting.

We took a few at the (not-so) high-brow Bombay Beach, which I’ll post here but the other trips deserve their own posts.

That was the nice part of town facing the beach.

From the beach we saw what at first looked like a miss by one of the many bombers and massive artillery from the Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range, just a couple of miles east of the Fountain of Youth, but it turned out to be controlled burns of entire fields of grasslands.

To follow:
Salvation Mountain
East Jesus
And, The International Banana Museum

Ramblin’ Roads RV Park -January 1, 2018

The distance between Gold Canyon and our January hideaway on the east side of the Salton Sea was just a bit further than we’d care to drive in a day. And what’s the rush? So we went a little out of our way to stay at Ramblin Roads RV Resort.

The address says Salome, AZ but it’s really just all by itself at the point where AZ 72 intersects with US 60. Actually, it’s not by itself. Across the street is the Little Church of Hope but by the looks of the town of Hope, which is just a few cactuses down the road, I kept saying, the Church of Little Hope. The truth is, there’s a sign on the other side of the couple of houses that declare themselves to be the town of Hope that reads, “You Are Now Beyond Hope”. Really.

Anyway, we had stayed at Ramblin Roads before and liked it. Nice place, but nothing truly exceptional. I was pretty tired after the drive and lay down for a minute. An hour later a sliver of light came through a hole in the shade of the rear window. I lifted the day night shade and was blown away by the sunset. I opened the window and was disappointed by a blah sunset.

A few weeks earlier, we put some simple window darkening film on the bedroom windows. I doubled up on that window by my head. I kind of liked the effect and the reflection on the side of the rear panel of the RV. I fooled around with the camera settings to get different looks.

It’s a Happy New Year, so far.

Phoenix Christmas Lights – Dec 2017

You can call them holiday lights and you’d be politically correct, but wrong. They are for JC’s birthday. Nobody puts up lights at this time of the year for anything other than JC’s birthday. So, Happy Birthday JFC. Turn on the lights, Phoenix!

We heard that the Mormon Church of Phoenix puts out a pretty good light display for the birthday boy. Then Andrea found a web site of a local radio station that listed the best 100 private home Christmas lights displays. Those homes owners had volunteered their addresses to be listed. We looked at the listings and tried to pick the ones with lights in at least the six figures. Yeah, some of them are really proud of their massive electric bills. Whatever, let’s go.

The Phoenix highway system is, by far, the easiest to navigate of any city we’ve been in, so we weren’t too concerned with which houses to visit, in terms of distance. That said, it still took a few hours to see just seven houses and the Mormon Church – the first night. We had so much fun, we went back two days later and saw seven or eight more houses.

It’s such an easy city to get around. If you want a cheap winter, or near winter, getaway, Frontier and Southwest compete to get you there. The lights go up about two weeks before Christmas. There’s enough to see, other than the lights, for a week. Check it out. Hey Phoenix Tourism Board – hire me! Or send me discount coupons!

The Mormon Church was our first stop.

The next one was carnival-like. People were parked up and down the streets. This house was a good start.

After that first “private” house, it was all a blur, but fun. The address for this one was just the street. Every house on the street got into the act. There were limos at the end of the block – lights tours. There were two, maybe three horse-drawn carriages taking people up and down the street. There were a couple of vendor trucks serving hot dogs, hot chocolate, and ice cream. People wandering around like blinded zombies. Fun atmosphere.

This next one was the lone house on the block lit up but you could see it a few blocks away. It was pretty damn cool.

We got out at the next one and sat down in the driveway to watch a few minutes of Tim Allen in ‘The Santa Claus’. We saw people with popcorn and then got a bagful at the popcorn machine. The host then brought us some hot chocolate. Nice touch. The rest of his property was a sea of lights.

A few more:

The one above included the obligatory radio station to tune into the Trans Siberian Orchestra performance of ‘Christmas/ Sarejevo 12/24’. We saw them live at the ice arena in Colorado Springs a few years ago and, quite frankly, I had only heard that one song so I was not sure what to expect. Then it was on – Jesus meets heavy metal. Holy shit! I loved it. That was the loudest concert I’d ever been to and I’ve seen John McGlaughlin – with Frank Zappa, with Carlos Santana, Yes, ELP, old Genesis, and Pink Floyd (and variations, solos, and tributes) more times than I can count – ok, I’m not that stupid, I was always good at math, but that was volume metal guitar, bass, and electric violin at instant tinnitus levels! Damn! Why’d you have me bring up tinnitus? Whooop, there it is! Don’t you hate it?

But, I digress.

And finally, we wondered how all those people in front of this house in a cul-de-sac got there before we saw the bus around the corner.

And we saw no more than 15 listings. A lot of crazies. A lot of fun.

Goodbye to 2017. Good riddance.

The Apache Trail – 11-14-2017

The Apache Trail

This was rather cool. It is a long drive through canyonesque desert, mountain switchbacks with gorgeous but tiny overlooks, twenty-two miles of washboard dirt road that you would wish on your mother-in-law following the Salt River and lakes, a spectacular bridge, a return ride through a ghost town (or close to it), and finally a gradual descent with a beautiful view of the mountains and Phoenix to the west.

I need to catch up quickly – we’re moving up the California coast in April – so just brief commentary. Too much information in the last one anyway. The censors weren’t pleased.

You start out northeast on AZ 88 and within 5 miles the road turns to dirt hell but the scenery is more on the heavenly side:

Then we got to the Roosevelt Dam:

Arriving at the Roosevelt Bridge in late afternoon, the low sun in the western sky, behind us, made for a nice picture with a little reflection:

And this is the Roosevelt Bridge if you were into more intense reflection on acid:

(I plead the first)

Then you’re finally back to a paved highway toward the bustling metropolis (not!) of Globe.

Before we got to Globe, we made a right on US 60 to head back toward Gold Canyon. I liked that side view mirror picture so much I tried another through the canyons of the empty town of Miami:

Coming out of the canyon, the western horizon spread out in front of us.

Luna says hi:

And lastly, a few days later in November, the annual Leonids meteor shower was a dud. However, I started playing around with various settings on my phone’s camera and caught the Big Dipper rising over that RV in the middle. It’s balancing on its handle. Ah, The Balance, and all is right with the world.

Good night, Vienna.