Tag Archives: RV park

My Life Now

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In late January of 2018, I bought an old fifth wheel out in the desert. The fifth wheel is almost as old as I am, and I don’t think it would stay together if I tried to take it on the road. I imagine hooking it up to a tow vehicle and getting up to 50 or 60 miles per hour on the highway only to have pieces of the fifth wheel start to fly off. Wind and vibration might peel the metal walls from the frame, allowing my life (or at least my material possessions) to be sucked out one by one. None of that for me, thanks; my fifth wheel is stationary.

The RV (actually my winter home and not used for mere recreation) came with solar panels and deep cycle batteries. Everything was already hooked up. I can charge my laptop and cell phone inside, and when the sun goes down (and it’s dark by 6 pm in the desert in the fall and winter), I turn on electric lights, just like people in conventional homes do. The difference of course is that folks in conventional homes receive a bill for their electricity each month. The other difference is that on cloudy or rainy days, folks in conventional homes don’t worry about running out of power.

I have running water. To be more specific, I have cold running water. The fifth wheel has no water heater, so that water that comes from the faucet is cool in the fall and winter. Since we don’t cook meat, cold water and dish soap works for washing dishes. I wash my hands and face with water from the faucet, but I buy my drinking water from one of the reverse osmosis machines in town.

Top two-thirds of photo shows blue sky and clouds. Bottom third shows sunset and silhouette of building in lower right corner.
Shower house at sunset

When I want to take a shower, I go to one of the four shower houses in the RV park where the fifth wheel is sits. Cold water showers are included in the price of the rent. Since I hate cold showers, I feed quarters into the machine that magically allows the hot water to flow. The water is plenty hot, but sadly short. Lately I’ve been taking dollar showers. The Man is happy spending 50 cents to wash himself.

The RV park is nothing like the RV parking lots I’ve seen across the country. Nothing in the whole place is paved. Desert plants grow wherever they grow. Lots are not laid out uniformly; some are bigger than others and the RVs are oriented every which way. Some of the RVs are large (motor homes as big as Willie Nelson’s tour bus) and fancy (Airstreams and brand new fifth wheels) while many are like mine–old, sun-bleached, decrepit.

Mountains in the background. In the foreground a young saguaro grows amidst then bushes and a desert tree.
Desert plants growing wherever they grow

The people living in the desert are a mixed bag too. There are old desert rats who’ve been full-time residents for decades and newcomers tent camping in the desert for the first time. There are people who seem to have a lot of money (the ones in the giant motor homes and fancy RVs) and folks who are barely scraping by on social security dollars and food bank bread. Some people are social and participate in many activities down at the clubhouse, while others are practically hermits. In addition to Americans who come from as far as as Washington state and Maine, many Canadians come to the desert to escape their country’s harsh winters. It truly takes all kinds.

The people who want to be social can find a lot to do down at the clubhouse, starting with coffee in the morning. The park manager brews a fresh pot when she opens the office at 8 am, and for 25 cents a cup (or $10 upfront for the monthly plan) residents can gab and drink as much java as they can stomach. Since the closest McDonald’s is 50 miles away, the senior citizens gather here instead of the Golden Arches.

Other activities to participate in include hikes on Tuesdays, Bible study on Wednesdays, gentle exercise every morning, and card games several afternoons each week. A group of artists gathers on Mondays, and the crafters meet on Tuesdays. There’s a pancake breakfast on Thursday mornings and movies on Monday nights. Dancing is on Friday nights and the open mic for musicians happens on Saturday afternoons.

I participated in the crafting group once. I was invited, so I showed up. A dozen women and zero men sat around a couple of long tables pushed together. I was the youngest one there by at least 15 years, which didn’t bother me.

Let’s go around the table and introduce ourselves, the leader of the group said.

I had the distinct impression they wanted to do introductions so they could find out more about me. I was the only person in the group who didn’t include the number of children I had birthed in my introduction.

Early in December 2018, The Man said we should participate in the group hikes. He said we needed to get out of the house, get some exercise, and be more social. I agreed with at least the first two points.

Small, rugged, rocky hill with little vegetation in the background.  Cholla cactus in the foreground. Young saguaros without arms in the mid-range of the photo.
We saw this view during the group hike we went on .

Someday I’ll post a complete recap of the entire hiking adventure. For now I’ll say that what was advertised as a 3 and 1/2 hour hike took me and other slow folks over 5 hours to complete. When it was over, my hips ached, I was beat, and the rest of my day was shot. Even The Man was wiped out. He and I agreed the hiking group was not for us, but people ten, fifteen, and twenty years our senior didn’t seem to have half the trouble we did.

I’m glad to have a warm place to touch down in the winter. I wouldn’t want to be in the desert when summer temperatures soar above 110 degrees, but in fall and winter and the early days of spring when the average daytime temperature ranges from 87 degrees to 66 degrees and hard freezes are rare, I think the desert is a wonderful place to be. We don’t see snow and winter rains are infrequent. The sun shines most days, boosting both our electric power and our mood.

We do deal with desert winds. They blow and they blow, sometimes for days on end. Something about them can really agitate me, so being able to cook and wash up inside the fifth wheel is a huge blessing. I’ve had to do my housekeeping outside in the desert wind, and I’d rather not, thank you.

Of course, we have to figure out what to do when the mercury climbs. I for one don’t want to be in the desert much past the middle of April when it’s hot enough to make me grumpy. There are many questions to answer before The Man and I leave the fifth wheel. Where should we go? Together or separately? How will we earn money? What nature do we want to be close to? Where will we find cool temperatures?

I remind myself I don’t have to figure it all out today. Time will tell. The story will unfold.


Truth or Consequences Hot Springs (My Experiences Part 2)

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In a previous post, I wrote about my experiences at four bathhouses (Blackstone, Indian Springs, La Paloma, and La Paloma Too) in Truth or Consequences (T or C), New Mexico. In this post, I will share my experiences at three more bathhouses I’ve visited in T or C.

I soaked at Riverbend Hot Springs (100 Austin Street) once in March of 2014. SDC10007Riverbend has both public and private pools for soaking.

According to the Riverbend website

The public pools consist of five pools that cascade from one to another, creating a different temperature in each one. Temperatures usually range from around 100-108 degrees. They are situated around a shaded river deck and include a cold shower for cooling off, as well as our large shaded patio with chaise loungers, mist fans (in the summer), dining tables and chairs, and our barrel sauna…The cold and clear Rio Grande River is also accessible for swimming at your own risk (closed when the river levels are fluctuating).

The Riverbend website has this to say about their private pools:

Our private pools are perfect for those that desire to bathe au natural or would like more peaceful privacy. They are walled on three sides but open to the riverside mountain view. Each have their own river deck, cooling mister systems and reclining lounge chairs or benches. They are available for rental by the public and are discounted for overnight guests.

I soaked in the Rio pool.

The Pool I soaked in outside, next to the Rio Grande

This is the Rio, the pool I soaked in outside, next to the Rio Grande

The Riverbend website says,

Rio (“river”) is very popular for its extremely close proximity to the river, its high temperature, and its quiet flow of water. This cozy pool seats two people very comfortably and has a temperature of about 107-108 degrees. It has a small shaded deck for cooling off between dips.

The private cabana (?) housing my hot little pool

Here’s a view of the deck from the pool I soaked in.

The water in the pool was nice and hot, and the pool was deep. I enjoyed being outside naked, and I enjoyed the view. Since most of the soaking in T or C is done indoors, in bathhouses, soaking out in nature was a real treat. However, even though there was a wall between my soaking area and the one next to me, I could clearly hear the voices and follow the conversation of the men in the next pool. Hearing other people’s inane conversation was less than relaxing.

Soaking in the public pools at Riverbend costs $10 per hour. Private soaks cost $15 on a walk-in basis and $10 for overnight guests. Reservations are taken for private soaks.

 This is the view I had while I soaked in the hot pool at Riverbend. That's the Rio Grande in the forefront. Turtle Mountain is in the background.

This is the view I had while I soaked in the Rio pool at Riverbend. That’s the Rio Grande in the forefront. Turtleback Mountain is in the background.

I’ve soaked many, many times at the Charles Motel and Hot Springs Charles Motel(601 N Broadway Street), the first time in March 2014, most recently in December 2015. At the Charles, there is a women’s side and a men’s side, both with individual tubs (much like conventional home bathtubs with faucets and drains) for soaking. I’ve only ever been on the women’s side, so that’s what I will write about. Also, the Charles offers soaking in outdoor, rooftop Jacuzzi tubs, but I’ve never soaked in them or even been on the roof to look at them.

IMG_4085The photo to the left shows the women’s side. Each tub is in its own little cubical, separated on two sides by walls that go almost all the way to the floor and a curtain in the back. There is drinking water available to anyone soaking.

While the walls and curtains offer visual privacy, they don’t do much to block sound. Sometimes women soaking in tubs next to each other want to chat, which makes for a less than relaxing experience for people like me who want to soak in silence. I’ve found that the best time for me to soak at the Charles is first thing in the morning, as soon as it opens at 8am. I’m usually the only person soaking that early in the day, and the whole area is blissfully peaceful.

This is my favorite tub to soak in at the Charles. It's shorter than the rest, which is ok since I am short, and it's deeper than the other tubs too. I like deep! I also like the pink and blue tile.

This is my favorite tub to soak in at the Charles. It’s shorter than the rest, which is ok since I am short, and it’s deeper than the other tubs too. I like deep! I also like the pink and blue tile.

Private soaks at the Charles cost $6 for an entire hours, and that includes a towel! The outdoor Jacuzzi tubs seat 4 to 6 and cost $8/10 per person per hour. According to the website,

Temperature [in the baths] ranges from 98 ° to 115 °F… All our tubs are drained, cleaned and sanitized after each use.

Of all the places I’ve soaked, The Artesian Bath House and Trailer Court (312 Marr Street) is probably my favorite. I first soaked there in March of 2014 and most recently in December 2015.

SDC10009

Like at the Charles, soaking is done in tubs much like those in the home, tubs with faucets from where the water flows and drains through which the water exits. Unlike at the Charles, at the Artesian, each tub is in its own private room with a door that locks. At the Artesian, I do not hear other people’s conversations while I am soaking. At the Artesian, I get an hour of quiet, peaceful, hot water bliss.

The Artesian also has at least one large tub, big enough for two (or maybe three) people. I was able to soak in the large tub once when the individual tubs were all taken. There is plenty of room to stretch out in the big tub.

My last one-hour soak at the Artesian cost six dollars. The bathhouse is closed on Wednesdays.

The Artesian is also an RV park, open to nightly, weekly, and monthly stays. I spent two months there in the winter of 2014. Because the Artesian has restrooms and baths, it is a perfect place for a van dweller like me to stay. The monthly rate was extremely affordable, and included WiFi access. I was also able to utilize the electric hookups to charge my laptop and phone batteries. Folks staying there pay for the electricity they use, but my usage was small and I only payed a few dollars a month for it. Also, because I was a tenant, soaks cost me just $3 an hour.

I miss soaking in the wonderful, hot mineral water in T or C, especially in the winter.

I took all of the photos in this post.