Since you've been RVing has your relationship with your spouse or travel partner gotten better? stayed the same? or gotten worse? Or do you travel alone or with a pet? Vote at our latest poll. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
I popped into the Tucson Botanical Gardens a second time. You never know what you'll see blooming plus, they have some unusual cacti. The lush pink blooms are from a hybrid cactus. You don't always see multiple flowers on the same cactus at one time so this was a colorful treat. And to the right is a Peruvian cactus. Its bloom is either about to blossom or is finishing up.
I'm not sure if all King Ferdinand agaves have this loop but it sure is unusual. Agaves like this bloom gradually up the stalk. Also, nice saguaro blooms. White doves and gila wookpeckers are already finding things to eat even though the fruit has not yet ripened. Each blossom will turn to a lush red fruit prized by birds, animals and the Tohono O'odham Indians.
Last night I went out just before dark, walking down a wash, hoping to see Lesser Nighthawks. I remember watching and hearing Nighthawks in New Jersey and Minnesota make a jel-like sound as they dived. Lesser nighthawks, a birder told me, do not make that noise. Instead they almost look like big bats, swooping over bushes to capture insects on the fly. Two coyotes made me a little nervous so I found a different way to go back. Then, returning home, I believe I saw a jaguarundi! It was definitely a black cat but much longer and larger than a house cat but not large enough for a mountain lion. It was just about dark so I couldn't tell if it was solid color and didn't think to try for a photo until too late. George and I saw one in Big Bend. This is beyond their normal territory but there have been sightings. A mystery! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
While we got very little rain this winter in the Arizona desert, RVers can enjoy blooms galore at the local public gardens. At Tohono Chul, desert wildflowers were a splash of color when I was there. Cactus were not blooming there yet. And, this little pond hosts desert pupfish, an endangered species that can live in very warm water. Another shaded riparian area is lovely to sit in on a warm day.
Some of the cactus are blooming at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum west of town. Earlier, the road over Gates Pass from Tucson to the museum was awash in yellow from britte bush. Below is a hedgehog cactus in bloom and a yucca sprouting up, getting ready to bloom.
Another oasis right in Tucson is the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Located on Alvernon Way between Grant and Speedway, an incredible amount of cactus and succulent species from deserts around the world are packed in a tiny space. These yucca are in full bloom. Do they look like lillies? They are in the lilly famly! And to the right is an agave of some sort, blooming in the middle of its tall stalk.
This are two from other areas. On the left is a baseball cactus from South Africa and next to it, a Mexican fire barrell cactus.
This crested cholla grows at the Botanical Garden. Through May you can also see a large variety of butterflies but in a very humid tropical hot house. Beautiful orchids and other flowers attract a number of species of non-native butterlifes.
A few nurseries also specialize in cactus and succulents. One of the species in bloom at Plants for the Southwest had an attractive crown of pink flowers. Weird Plants is another retail location for unusual cacti and hydroponic supplies. And next weekend, the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society will host the Sonoran X Conference with all sorts of rare cacti and succulents on display. Admission is free to see plants, though there is a charge for the workshops.
Pretty soon saguaro cactus will also be blooming. In fact at the Botanical Garden, I saw one saguaro already forming a blossom, which should open soon. They are my favorites, though I also love all the colors that other species put out. In what looks like a pretty dull place a good part of the year, spring brings wonderful color and surprises to the desert. It's seeing beauty like this that makes RVing all worthwhile. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
Boy - was this family and cat lucky! After a trailer had been delivered to Camping World and turned over to them, the sales manager was inspecting the roof and he heard a "hiss." Turns out it was a cat and it had ridden 60 miles on the roof! You can see the video at CBS Sacramento.
Of course, the person or family did not intend for the cat to come, and you certainly would not put it on the roof. However, many people do let their cats and dogs run loose when they travel. It may work fine, but not if you have an accident. A cat, which had to be loose and not in a carrier, was the only fatality in an accident on Reno Highway in Nevada. A truck turned in front of a motorhome pulling a cargo trailer and the motorhome couldn't avoid it. They struck a power pole. You can see photos at the NevadaAppeal site.
This is George's dog, McDuff, who has since passed away, relaxing on the 5th wheel's love seat. We did not leave him in the trailer when he traveled. He was in the truck. Both in a truck and motofhome, a carrier is not only safer for your pet but it keeps them from interfering with your driving. And, secure it in some way so it does not become a projectile if you have a collision. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
Are you a snowbird returning home? This week in the desert of Arizona, temperatures are supposed to get into the 90s. It will get RVers thinking about heading out. Or, perhaps you are starting a summer of travel- a destination in mind or not.
This couple owes about twice what their RV is worth and can't make the payments. It is their only home. Will declaring bankruptcy allow them to keep it rather than having it repossessed?
The short answer is no, but Bankrate's Bankruptcy Advisor Justin Harelik has a suggestion under Chapter 13. This is a reorganization of your debts, but it could lower the amount owed on the RV - as long as you could still pay it off within five years.
The best solution is to avoid this in the first place. Save up a larger downpayent so your payments are manageable, buy a smaller, less expensive RV or even a used one would all have be better choices in retrospect than to be in the position where you might lose your only home.
Ths couple, depending on their financial situation, may have to work for a while, even if that wasn't in their plans. There are plenty of options for that too, as outlined in Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road. Let's hope they can work things out.
When the weather is bad - high winds, heavy precipitation or icy conditions - it's often better to stay in the campground one more day before moving on. A strong headwind can knock your mileage in the cellar. And, it could even cause an accident.
In Charleston, SC, this morning, a pull-trailer ended up flipping over. The day was windy and winds from an 18-wheeler caused the trailer to serve and then jackknife. See Live 5 News for a photo. It ruined the owner's day and also delayed traffic a couple of hours. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
With a few days left in our trip, we headed inland to Hanmer Springs. More beautiful countryside, pastures and rolling hills.
We decided to stay for two nights at the Top 10 Holiday Park. We were within wakling distance of town and the springs so we didn't have to move our campervan. After lunch and wandering around a while, we came back up to the thermal springs. In 1883 the Government Lands Departments took over development of the Thermal Pools area, which included a santorium. The pools were used for treatment. After 1918 the pools and now hospital were separated and in 1960, gifted to the local council. By then the pools were a tourist attraction.
We purchased a two-day senior pass. Each day you enter you can stay as long as you like. Other options allowed you to enter, leave and come back once; ours did not. You can purchase food and drinks at the cafe. Spa services were also available next door. There are more than a dozen pools with different sorts of mineral water and at different temperaturs. Plus you can use a private pool for thirty minutes instead. My favorite was the rock pool with a mix of minerals in the water and of medium temperature. George liked the hexagonal pool with whirlpool in the middle and the sulpher-water pools, though he hopped from one to another. He likes the really hot ones!
Children can also have a ball. There were two tubes for sliding plus the "SuperBowl" for an extra charge. An aqua pool with play area for children and a lazy river also appealed to them. For the SuperBowl, you ride an inflatible raft singly or doubly down a tube to a huge bowl (that big yellow & blue bowl in the photo below), where centrifugal forces keep you high on the wall for several turns, ending with a drop through an enclosed finishing flume into the splashdown pool. Kids looked like they were having fun!
This was a lovely chance to relax before heading home. We talked to interesting people from all over New Zealand and the world. There were also more active things to do in and around Hanmer but for us, the thermal pools were perfect. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
After a drive down Route 1 south from Picton, following the coast at times with stunning beaches, we arrived at Kaikoura. For beauty, Kaikoura is right up near the top of the list of places to visit on the South Island of New Zealand. A curving beach where the town sits has a backdrop of tall mountains, sometimes covered in snow. The peninsula that extends out from the south end of town from the air looks like a whale's tail and whales are what you can see in Kaikoura. (Photo: Looking back towards Kaikoura from the peninsula)
A deep sea canyon, rich in marine life, lies just a few miles off the coast at Kaikoura. Sperm whales, the largest of the whales with teeth and 4th largest overall, can be seen year round and seven other species can be seen off and on. Because they must come up to reoxygenate every 45-60 minutes, boat tours can usually locate one to three each tour. We took the Whale Watch tour, but you can also see them from the air.
Sperm whales are enormous. They are 45-55 feet long! Their brain is the largest brain of any creature. They can dive as deep as 3,280 feet, eating about a ton of squid and other marine life each day. Only the males live in the canyon off Kaikoura. The females cannot withstand the cold temperatures so live in subtropical waters and raise their calves there. The males come north to breed, then return to the colder waters. When you spot them, you can only see a small portion of the whale unless you are lucky enough to see them breach. The thrill is seeing the tail when they dive.
Our day was overcast and the seas a bit rough. I'm sure our narrator was trying to be helpful and humorous but she went on for a good ten minutes how we might get seasick and what we should and should not do in that case. The man in front of us did not even make it through her talk before getting sick and several others also used their little white paper bags. I think her talking about it so much made it worse! George and I took ginger capsules we got in the gift shop before the boat ride, kept our eyes on the horizon and were fine.
The various tour operators work together to spot whales. The spotter on each boat looks for spouts. Sperm whales stay up 5-10 minutes once they surface. They also use echolocation. Our captain listened through a device to try to pick up clicking noises. Whales can swim very fast so will not surface where they went down. We ended up spotting three sperm whales, watched dusky dophins feed and then ride our wake, and saw an albatross. On the way back, we spotted a penguin perched on a rock.
When I was there ten years ago, it was sunny. Kaikoura is prettier on sunny days but still a neat oceanside community. There are a variety of activities you can do while in Kaikoura. It should definitely be a stop on your travels in New Zealand. We stayed in our campervan at a Top Ten Holiday Park that was within walking distance of town and very nice. Crayfish are popular but expensive. On my last trip I ordered one without realizing they charged "market price." My dinner ended up costing $90! They were about that expensive in Kaikoura, though you could get a half dinner for less. We did find a good bakery/coffee shop. George has gotten hooked on sausage rolls! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak