Where We’re Heading To Next

It’s March 18, 2019 and we are currently parked at the Pima County (Tucson, AZ) Fairgrounds with about 2000 other Escapee RV Club members enjoying the annual Escapade national gathering.

One of the evening entertainment sessions at 59th Escapade – Tucson, AZ

Since we “hit the road” and started our full-time RV lifestyle in late 2016, we had been Workamping our way around the country. We work at campgrounds or RV parks offering about 15-20 hours per week in exchange for rent-free living at the park and it typically includes all our utilities, cable TV, wifi, laundry and sometimes discounts at the park store or nearby attractions.

But being members of the Escapees RV Club, we were able to take advantage of getting on a “Wait List” for any of their parks. We put our names on the Wait List for the parks in; Wauchula FL, Hondo TX, Casa Grande AZ, Benson AZ, and Pahrump NV. We figured whichever park had our name at the top of the list first (waiting lists are often many years long), that’s the park we’d call “home” for the winter.

In addition to having a place to winter regularly, the “home base” would provide us a place to go at very little additional cost (only electric and propane) to be should we need a lengthy stay for say, recovery from a medical procedure – planned or otherwise.

As it turned out, we rose to the top of the list at Rover’s Roost in late 2017, accepted the lifetime lease agreement, continued our Workamping commitments for spring, summer, and fall of 2018, and then arrived here November 1st to be “on vacation” for the winter months.

We’ve spent a very relaxing and enjoyable winter at our leased lot at the Escapees Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ. I’ll share more with you in later posts about our time here at “The Roost” both having fun with our new friends along with some of the projects we’ve completed to our “home on the road”.

Our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park at Casa Grande, AZ

But now it’s early spring and it’s time to leave “The Roost” for the summer season (it gets WAY too hot here) and head north to cooler climates.

This year, we are heading to Montana to work at an Army Corp of Engineers campground as Park Hosts. We’ll be at Ft. Peck Dam Downstream Campground for 3 months (April, May, and June) and then we will move a little east to our next Workamping commitment at DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery in Spearfish South Dakota working as visitor center and museum employees. We’ll be there July, August, and September.

Here’s a map of our trip north next month. This is subject to change as we have over 120 places on our Bucket List and we’ll try to hit many of them along the way, even if it takes us off track a hundred miles or so. We’re not in any big hurry to get north, we’ll hopefully just follow the spring thaw!

If you’d like to check up on us as we travel and see where we are at any given moment in time, you can just go to www.aprs.fi and type my ham radio license number WB8BHK-9 into the Search box and it’ll return a Google map with our exact location at that moment. We’d love for you to follow along!

I admit I’ve been a bit lax the last few months and haven’t posted blog entries as often as I would have liked to. I’ll work to improve my postings as we travel north and we appreciate you following along.

Oh, by the way …. we’ve designed a new logo to market our brand. Whatta ‘ya think?

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Visit to the “Voice Of America”

One of the benefits of attending the Dayton Amateur Radio Association “HamVention” every year is to spend time with my long-time (notice I didn’t say “old”) friends.  Dave, Ed, and I grew up together in the 60’s in Redford Township, Michigan – a western suburb of Detroit.  We played together, we rode bikes together, we got in trouble together and we attended school together (since the 2nd grade) and we also got our ham radio licenses together – all first licensed in 1969.

This year at HamVention we decided we’d like to take a trip away from the main venue and visit the site of the Bethany Transmitting Station of the world famous Voice Of America (VOA) located just off I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati.

VOA Bethany Transmitting Station

The VOA Bethany Relay Station was designed by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation.  Although the actual recording studios were in New York City and later moved to Washington, D.C., the signals were relayed through dedicated AT&T long distance telephone lines to the transmitter site near Cincinnati.

The VOA began in 1942 as a radio program designed to explain America’s policies during World War II and to bolster the morale of its allies throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. After the war, VOA continued as part of America’s Cold War propaganda arsenal and was primarily directed toward the western European audience. In February 1947, VOA began its first Russian-language broadcasts into the Soviet Union.

With the words, “Hello! This is New York calling,” the U.S. Voice of America (VOA) begins its first radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union. The VOA effort was an important part of America’s propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The initial broadcast explained that VOA was going to “give listeners in the USSR a picture of life in America.” News stories, human-interest features, and music comprised the bulk of the programming. The purpose was to give the Russian audience the “pure and unadulterated truth” about life outside the USSR. Voice of America hoped that this would “broaden the bases of understanding and friendship between the Russian and American people.”

The Bethany site encompassed hundreds of acres of land for the huge rhombic antenna farm that could be switched to direct the 1.2 million watts of radio frequency programming to different locations around the world, depending on the time of day and atmospheric conditions.

In one of the pictures above you can see my friend Dave talking to the last remaining employee of the VOA at this site — Dave’s getting quite a history lesson.

Note the windows at the top of the tower in the first picture – It kind of looks like an airport control tower.  I asked our tour guide the purpose of that tower.  His response … “for sharpshooters”.  This Bethany Relay Station was specifically placed here because of it’s distance from the east coast stations where they could be more susceptible to enemy attack.  Even though the Bethany Station was so far west, they still stationed military armed personnel to protect the Voice Of America to make sure the message always got out.

Due to new satellite and internet technology, the need for the high power RF radio broadcast stations has diminished and the station was closed as an active transmitting site in 1994.  Fear not however as the Voice Of America still broadcasts every day from their studios in Washington D.C. and their programming can be heard on the internet and on some local PBS network stations around the country.  Find out more and listen to VOA live at https://www.voanews.com/

And thanks to dedicated volunteers, we were able to tour the museum.  Take a look at the pictures below.

Here’s a few pix of us boys at the Dayton HamVention and at the VOA

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Quartzfest – Ham Radio Convention In The Sanoran Desert

There were two reasons for our trip to Quartzsite, AZ this past week.  The first was because we were so close (3+ hours) drive time from there we just HAD to see what everyone has been going to see and do for so many years, (The big Vacation, Sports, and RV Show).

Then I found out that this week was also the 20th annual Amateur Radio Convention known as “Quartzfest“.  Being a ham radio operator since the late ’60’s, (My call is WB8BHK) I thought it would be fun to hang out with some like-minded people.  We were all camping in the same area … on BLM land about 6 miles south of Quartzsite in an area known as “Road Runner”.  Quartzsite is just above Yuma on this map.

Sonoran Desert

Camping in the desert there is free for up to 14 days.  Of course, you need to be totally self-contained (fresh water/waste tanks/batteries/generator/solar) since you are in the desert with no utilities or hookups.  When we showed up on Sunday, the registration desk showed we were rig #239 … by the time we left on Thursday there were just under 600 rigs/hams registered!

The purpose of the Quartzfest Convention is to provide a time for education (through seminars and forums), sharing of ideas, display and demonstration of radios and antenna projects, and of course — to have fun.

The Sonoran desert treated us well while we were there, although Monday was VERY windy.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were beautiful sunny days with low winds and temps in the 50’s to 60’s.

The pictures in the slide show below illustrate just some of what we saw surrounding us in the desert.  Some of the interesting RV rigs with all kinds of antennas.   Check out the pix of the guy in his electric recumbant bicycle, he was zipping around all week silently.  Take a look at Mark’s company web site here.

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Check out this short video of our trip to Quartzfest 2017

We’ll have subsequent posts of our day trip to Lake Havasu and Parker Dam along with a post about the Big RV show at Quartzsite.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog.  Do you purchase any products from Amazon?  If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search.  By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more.  We’d really appreciate your help.

Thank you,

Herb & Kathy

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Getting Ready for Quartzsite

The big RV Show in Quartzsite starts this Sunday (Jan 22) and we’ve been doing some things to the coach to make sure we’re ready to go.

We’ve been watching some of the YouTube videos about the Quartzsite RV Show and “The Big Tent” and we’re looking forward to the event and seeing all that it has to offer.

We’re planning on dry camping just a few miles south of town on BLM land with hundreds of other Ham Radio Operators that have an area that will be used for Quartzfest 2017.  This is an official ARRL Amateur Radio Convention.

In our cars, we get so used to everything working just fine that we take it for granted that all will be “ok” when we turn that key.  It’s too easy to do that in the motor home as well.  But if something should go wrong, it could cost thousands of dollars and make for a really lousy day – especially since the coach is not only our mode of transportation, but it’s our home as well.  If it has to go in the shop for mechanical issues, we’d have to pay for a motel bill – and that’s not good.

Before we head out we always want to check the following.

  • Check the water level in the deep cycle batteries since we’ll be using those to power our; lights, fresh water pump, refrigerator, water heater, and tv.  I try to water the batteries monthly anyway even while we’re hooked up to shore power because they can boil off even while they are in “float” charge sitting here at the park
  • Check the engine oil level and radiator water level
  • Check and adjust all tire pressures (coach at 90 psi cold and the car at 30 psi cold)
  • Check the food inventory to make sure we’ve got enough in the fridge and pantry to last us a few days
  • Empty the black and gray tanks and fill the fresh water tank
  • Do a visual check of all the exterior lights (turn/brake/hazards/headlights)
  • Lower TV and radio antennas

The day is just about finished and all the above has been completed and we will be ready to head out Sunday morning.  We work here at the RV park on Fridays and Saturdays, so our plan is to leave Sunday morning, (it’s only a little over 3 hours to Quartzsite) and come back Thursday afternoon.

I’ll have plenty of pictures and video to share with you after we get back.

In the meantime, we’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog.  Do you purchase any products from Amazon?  If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below.  By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more.  We’d really appreciate your help.

Thank you,

Herb & Kathy

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our Adventure to Quartzsite

For over 35 years now, there has been a group of people traveling to a once barren area known as Quartzsite, Arizona. These seekers come by the thousands and are often referred to as “gypsies of the modern world”. Entering the grounds of Quartzsite is like entering another world… Back to the good old days in many ways.

But now, this town of 3800, in January of each year, grows to nearly 100,000.  People in their RV’s come from far and wide to hang out for the winter and enjoy each other’s company while visiting some of the attractions including; rock and gem shows, the worlds largest RV show, ham radio convention, and countless other venues.

http://www.quartzsitervshow.com/files/9813/7175/9122/aerial12_980_300sm.jpg

Although there are some RV parks at Quartzsite, most folks stay in “campgrounds” of sorts at BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands.  There are berg-quartzsite22nearly 12,000 acres of open desert where one can “Boondock” for up to seven months (for a low fee of $170) or other desert sites where you can set up camp for free.

Although there are pit toilets, black water dump stations, and fresh water stations at the entrances to the BLM campgrounds, it’s easiest if the RV is self-contained to make your stay self-sufficient for a few days or more.so

We have a 70 gallon fresh water tank, 52 gallon gray and black water tanks, a pretty hefty battery bank (to power the 12 volt lights and water pump) along with both solar panels on 2016-12-19-09-21-14the roof and a 8000 watt diesel generator to recharge the batteries.  We also have a 2000 watt power inverter that will take the 12 volt dc battery and convert it to 110 volt ac power so that we can watch our TV at night and make coffee in the morning.

Our refrigerator and water heater both run on propane when we’re boondocking and 110 v shore power when we are connected in an RV park.

So Kathy and I are excited as we plan on heading to Quartzsite on Jan 22nd.  We’ll be there for three or four days and hopefully we’ll have enough food in the fridge and propane in the tank to keep us self-sufficient for that time.

We’re looking forward to being at Quartzite, we’re counting on seeing a lot of cool stuff, meeting a lot of great people, and hopefully NOT spending a lot of money at “The Big Tent” RV show.  We’ll update you with pictures as we get them.  Stay tuned.

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We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Amateur Radio Field Day June 2016

I’ve been an Amateur Radio Operator (radio “ham”) since about 1969 growing up in Detroit and for many years since then I’ve participated in the annual Field Day exercise sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL).

Although many (including ham radio operators) consider ham radio a hobby, it is really a public service.  You see, during events like natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, mud slides, severe rains, etc.) very often there is no immediate source of electrical power.  Yes, nowadays we all have our cell phones, but if the power outage is widespread and there is no electrical power to the cell towers, then the wireless phone in our hand isn’t much good to us.

Over the years, ham radio operators have jumped to the rescue along with other volunteers and we have provided the means for those volunteer groups and government agencies to talk to one another and coordinate the workers and accomplish the mission.

For those of you here in Morrow County, you might remember the tornado that ripped apart the Village of Cardington or the historic blizzard that hit Morrow County in 1978, but you may not know that radio hams were an integral part of the emergency teams working to make peoples lives whole again.

The ARRL Field Day is an exercise in emergency preparedness and to that end hams all over the United States exercise and demonstrate their ability to, on short notice, set up their radio equipment typically in a public place but without commercially available power and then operate over a continual 24 hour period to see how many contacts they can make with other hams all across the country.

The four stations set up this year used either gasoline generator, battery, or solar power to operate their “rigs” and logged their contacts on laptop computers.  Those logs will be submitted to the ARRL who will cross-check and tally all the logs from across the country and then publish the winners of the different classes and areas.

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We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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