Tuesday, April 4, 2006, Indio, CA
Well, I am sitting at our table in our camper writing this, but I don't have a view out the back door of beautiful countryside! Rather I am overlooking a metal-working place in an industrial area while an auto-electrician is checking out the problems with our electrics - air-conditioning, fuel tanks transfer switch, light indicator for park brake, hazard lights and we don't know what else. And we are not listening to the gentle bubble of a stream or the chirp of birds, but rather the sound of angle grinders on steel and the spanish conversation of the auto-electrician and his son. Not so romantic really, but it seems that a lot of things need fixing on the truck. At least we will know that all these things have been checked recently and should be in good working order. So far we seem to have found people, who we are ready to trust, just by word of mouth. I keep getting confirmation that we are really on the right path with this trip because, although there are constantly things that need doing, we are finding what and who we need and getting a free lesson in patience along the way!
We drove from Tucson back to California on Saturday and stayed overnight in a little town called Westmorland, just 40 miles south-west from Coachella. Even though we were in desert in Arizona, it came almost as a shock to see the change in the countryside as we crossed the border into California. Suddenly we were surrounded by sand dunes, and being the weekend, the dune buggy enthusiasts were making the most of them.
We arrived at Ron and Marilyn's at about 1.00 on Sunday to pick up our 'home' (the camper), and of course it took more time than anybody imagined getting the truck and camper united. First of all, trying to back the truck under it into just the right position proved to be a real challenge for Juergen - but he finally managed. Then the threaded parts of the tie-downs were too long, so Ron had to shorten them. Lucky for us he had the necessary tools in his huge workshop. But we were finally done by about 3.30 and drove out with our very own house 'on our back'. Juergen suggested we should put a 'just married' sign on the back - not us, the truck and camper!!!
The next problem we faced was that the rear-view mirrors didn't stick out far enough. Juergen was slowly becoming a nervous wreck driving in traffic, not being able to see anything that was happening behind him. We finally stopped at a RV dealer we were driving past and he suggested going to Benlo RV - a recreation vehicle service centre. They are in Cabazon Road in Indio (if anyone needs to find them), which seems to be a back street, and you wouldn't know they were there unless someone 'in the know told you'. I can't praise their friendly service and helpfulness enough. They had to order the mirror extensions that we needed, but we picked them up today, and while we were there, their technician hopped in the camper and showed me how to light the gas oven that I'd had so much trouble with last night.
The area we are staying in is the Palm Springs-Indio Area. It seems to be an area full of resorts and golf courses in the middle of the desert. It is a place popular with the rich and famous as well as a lot of RV-ers, who are often affectionately known as 'snow-birds' because they fly south for the winter to avoid the cold weather. The people who live here and run the businesses and have their normal life here rather than a holiday seem to be mainly Mexican. A lot of the shops in some areas only have signs in Spanish, including our auto electrician. It is a family business with Mike's wife working in the office and one of his sons helping him in the workshop. His other son had also worked with him for a couple of years before moving on to another shop. He worked hard on our truck and now we have the electrics fixed. I find myself wishing I had had more time to learn more Spanish before we left Australia - I may have even been able to talk to people like the woman at the bus stop this morning!
We have been staying in the Indian Wells RV Park while we get used to camper and how everything works. When we get the truck sorted out we will probably head out to a national park near here and spend a couple of days before going back to Long Beach to visit with Suzy on the weekend. We haven't made any definite plans after that but we'll let you know where we are when we know!!!