The bonfire at the end of the day is one of the kids favorite activities.
This was our last trip of this desert season. It is getting to hot out there. The boys have been on Spring Break for about a week. Their mother and I usually split the 2 weeks they get (I think they are spoiled. I only got one week as a kid, and I went to a Catholic Grade School). The other 2 families that we were going with were leaving on Wed, so the kids talked their mother into bringing them back home a day early so we could leave on Thursday. Since they were gone for the day leading up to our departure, I had to do all the prep work for the trip by myself...who am I kidding, even with them here I usually do all the prep work. It is just easier that way. Anyway, I gassed up the white whale that is our beat up old motorhome, went shopping and purchased food and drinks for the trip.
Good friends...good times.
And then packed all the food. I also made sure we had stuff for target practice with the BB guns. This year I have thought up new target set up that I think the kids will like. So all my stuff was ready to go. I packed my own clothes, and pillows, and other personal stuff. I made sure we had sun screen. I also made sure I had back up plans in place in case the appliances in the motorhome did not work. I bought ice for the ice chests and packed my large LPG tank to run my camp stove and laterns if needed.
After everything was packed up in the motorhome I packed the trailer. We have 3 motorcycles, a generator, some tables, the stuff for the target shooting, and then wood for the nightly campfires. I have the trailer packing down to an art.
Something about fire draws little boys....and their dads! ;)
A place for everything, and everything in its place. (This is an ever changing art though as I usually discover "a better way" to load everything during and after each trip. Loading the trailer took about an hour or so. So now I was completely ready to go.
I had asked the boys mother to have them home around noon, as I wanted to be on the road no later than 2pm. As is par for the course they were home around 12:40. I told them to pack their clothes, and went out to run a last minute errand. When I got back they were all ready to go. So we locked up the house and hit the road. Now I joke around about the motorhome, but if any of you have motorhomes or travel trailers you know they can be tempermental. Everything seemed to be working for a change though.
It was running a bit hot, but it seemed fine. We made it over the grade between San Diego
and El Centro with out a hitch. The down grade into the desert presented several challenges as there were more cars on the highway than usual because of the holiday. At one point a van must have been right on my tail. As I approached a large semi in front of me, I tried to time my passing just right so I would not have to slow down or impede any other traffic I was just about to pull into the left lane, when this van appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly I could not get in the left lane, and I was approaching the semi pretty quickly. Bobby, who was sitting in the pass side seat heard some language he does not usually hear from dad!
Well we made it out to the OHV (off highway vehicle) area where we were meeting our friends.
Brian always seems to find a walking stick. Even in the desert.
I pulled of the county highway onto the dirt road that leads back into the recreaction area. The road was pretty bad at one point and I hit a pretty big bump. Everything seemed ok for the first mile or so, then we started having problems. The motorhome would just die. I could start it after a few minutes, but it would only let us go a few hundred feet and then would die again. ARGGGG!!!! The kids asked if I was going to call a tow truck. Well I was not going to get within 3 miles of where we needed to be and quit! I told the boys we would nurse the damn motorhome out to the camp site and call a tow truck if we could not figure out the problem....when it was time to leave. We were just about to unload the motorcycles so the boys could ride up to where the others were camped, when one of the other kids rode up on his own motorcycle.
Bobby just being Bobby!
I asked him to ride back and get his dad so we could at least get our trailer to the camp site. That accomplished the other dad came back to see if we could figure out what was wrong. Well we figured it out, and was able to nurse the motorhome back to the camp site for the time we would be there.
That accomplished I did something I never do in front of my kids (well almost never), I looked at the other dad and said, "Beer me!" That beer was pretty damn good after all of that! Since we knew what the problem was, I had a few days to fix it before we were leaving. Let the good times begin. We unloaded all the stuff from the trailer, I set up our camp. It was then the good things started happening. Every system in the motorhome that we wanted to use this trip.
...worked. The stove, the refrig, the generator, even the air conditioner (thank god). Yea, it all worked. I made dinner for us that night, and it was almost time to enjoy the nightly camp fire. The youngest boy on the trip had been given permission to set up the camp fire for the evening (but he was not mine, so I was not watching when it was lit, dont know if he got to light it too). We had a nice evening sitting around the fire, roasting marshmellows, and telling jokes. Then the kids started bagging on a couple of their teachers. It was hard not to laugh, but I noticed none of us stopped them. Kids have to have a chance to be kids and tell inappropriate stories.... Soon it was time for bed.
The next morning we were all up early and ready to begin a day of activities.
Back to the tournament.
There were several motorcycle rides to several different destinations. We road to an abandoned building and the rock gardens. That was pretty much everybody in camp on that ride. When we got back we had the 1st annual Superstition Croquette Invitational. 10 players, single elimination. My first round was with my youngest son. Well the boys are old enough that you dont give them a break. Play to win! It was a good game, but I won, and young mister Willson was a bit upset. Boo Hoo! Next! My next round was with one of the dads! Next! On to the finals. It was Brian's best friend against me! Remember young readers, Age, Experience and Determination will always win out against Youth, Skill and blah blah blah...
The cans would swing gently in the breeze. Made it more fun to try to hit than just stacking the cans up.
.. The winner and champion...ME! My prize, 3 lotto tickets (which I shared with my 2 boys). We did not win anything. The second place winner got 2 lotto tickets...and he won $6. So in the long run he really won :(
It was getting pretty hot, so we all sat around in the shade as much as possible. I had made a frame work to hang clay targets and old soda cans from so the kids would have more of a challenge for their target shooting. It was received with great fanfare. The kids loved it. The cans would sway gently in the breeze and made shooting them more fun. All the boys can sit for hours sitting BB guns. They are all pretty good shots.
Soon it was time for another ride. This time our destination was an old crane that is out in the desert.
More shots of the crane.
This crane is a local teenager hang out and it shows. Extensive graffitti and it was obvious somebody had had a bonfire inside the night before. The boys like to hunt around the building for shotgun shells and other expended ammo. This was the site of the first accident of the trip. For some reason Bobby was walking backwards and not paying attention to where he was going. He walked into an open hole in the ground. He was very lucky that he was not hurt. He could have broken an ankle or leg or arm, or even have hit his head. We got off lucky. He puts it down to the luck he had from finding a penny a few minutes earlier. What ever, the kid walked away with only a minor scratch. We rode back to camp. The boys did some more target shooting, and just rode the motorcycles around the camp.
The real reason we camp where we camp in the desert! :)
They even walked over to the Ice Cream Man. Now the truth is out. This is the real reason we camp where we do. There is a man that has set up a store in the middle of the desert to meet the last minute needs of the campers. He sells ice cream. Nothing like an Old Fashion Bomb Pop or a large cookie ice cream sandwich after a hard day of riding :) It was soon time for dinner, so dad had to get to work. UMMM, chicken burritos, ummmm!!!!
Dinner out of the way it was time to get ready for the nightly camp fire. This time the kids filled a hole in the ground with some wood. But it was time for the dads to have the fun lighting it. Now this is not recommended...but still fun. A little gas in the pit, a trail (a long trail) leading away from it, it is all good fun.
The kids like it when we light the camp fire this way....so do the dads!
But only the dads get to be involved. The kids can only stand by and watch. Poof!!! Fire is lit! :) And we have another fun night around the campfire. The only down side was the kids are a bit down as the other families were either leaving that night, or the next day. One of the dad's motorcycle got a flat tire (that would be repeated again the next day) and the other family had a family obligation on Sunday. The dad who's family was staying the night said he was not in a hurry to leave the next morning. He would enjoy a good cup of coffee, and maybe a short morning ride, and then would start loading up. Little did we know that some plotting and planning was occuring that night.
The next morning the 2 older boys wanted to go on a ride.
These were old bombs that were out on the bombing range.
I decided I would feel safer if I went with them (my son is still learning to ride), so off we went. I was told we were going to a place called Tressels. The other kid is an experienced rider and knew the way. He told his dad and off we went. This was a very cool ride, and it gave my son a lot of experience riding. It turned into about a 3.5 hour ride. We made several pit stops. One was at an old Navy Bombing range. Very cool. Old expened bombs laying around, and an old tank that had been used for target practice. We finally made it to Tressels. It is a railroad tressel bridge across a riverbed full of soft sand. It is a very popular riding area for motorcycles and ATC's and ATV's. It is an active railroad crossing and the kids like to put coins on the tracks when the trains roll past.
I was really suprised he walked across the tressels...he is a bit afraid of heights.
(we did not see any trains on our trip). We walked across the bridge...just because it was there. I was very proud of my son. He has a slight fear of heights, so it was big thing that he walked across. After being there for a bit we started back. We took a different loop back and ended up at the crane again. This is where I discovered I had a flat front tire on my motorcycle. I had to ride back very slowly (it took a while) and when back I just loaded up the bike...I was done. As the other family was loading up, the kids and I decided we would leave also. I could not ride anymore and my eldest son said he was also done riding for the day. Bobby decided he would ride while I was packing up.
Soon we were all packed up and ready to go.
Just kicking it after a day of riding. That is the damn motorhome in the background.
Now some of you are thinking...did he ever fix the problem with the motorhome (well those that are still reading this novel). Well I was pretty sure I had it fixed. I thought I had hunted down the problem and corrected it. The motorhome would start and run fine for extended periods of time. I thougth we were good to go....wrong. We got about a mile down the road from where we had been camped...and damn it stalled out again. Well I knew what the problem was (or was/am still pretty sure) so I just started tinkering again. The problem was, I really did not have what I needed to make a good correction. So I tinkered and we would get a few hundred feet more down the road. Soon I was out of electrical connectors I was using to try to get a good connection for the electrical problem.
Our toys after a day of riding.
So it was time to admit defeat and call for help. The local CHP dispatch center was a great help (Prob helps that I am also a PD dispatcher...so there was prob a little extra proffessional courtesy going on) and got a tow truck started for me. And, is par for the course, as soon as the tow truck was on the way....I found the type of connector I needed to make a McGyver type repair. It was fixed good enough to get us home. (We did not cancel the tow truck until we made it safely back to the hard top highway though).
So that is the story of our last desert trip for this season. :) I now have until July to get the electrical problem fixed correctly. That should be a story in itself.