Thursday, December 31, 2009

Response to Forest Service Proposed Changes

As I stated in my December 4, 2009 post, the USFS is proposing that the discount at their concessionaire-run campgrounds for Senior Pass (Golden Age Passport) and Access Pass (Golden Access Passport) holders be reduced from 50% to 10%.

Suzi Dow who, together with her husband Fred, own the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide website, has just posted a response to this proposed change. Read her response at Response to Proposed Directives for Forest Service Concession Campground Special Use Permits (FR E9-28744) - as of December 26, 2009.

This is a very well thought-out and reasoned response...I encourage everyone to read it and then to contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and also to the Chief of the USDA Forest Service, Tom Tidwell:

Mr. Tom Tidwell, Chief
USDA Forest Service
Mailstop: 1144
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-1144

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blazing Star
Mentzelia laevicaulis

We walked over the border again on Friday to pick up our new glasses and Earl's new partial. We had lunch again at the same place as before, and this time I picked up their card so I'd remember the name: El Rancherito Restaurant.

As we were walking back after lunch, I had an unpleasant experience with one of the vendors. Short of walking out in the road, there's no way of walking from one area to another without passing through the vendor areas...there are covers over the sidewalks and vendor booths on both sides, so it's like walking through a cave. The vendors are very aggressive in vending their wares, but up until today, a "no thank you" has been enough to make them back off.

As we were returning to cross the border after lunch, one vendor stuck out a gold necklace for me to "feel." Well, like a fool, I touched it and he immediately took his hand away leaving me holding the necklace. As I tried to give it back, he grabbed my arm and wouldn't allow me to give it back, talking all the time about how bad he needed the money. Earl finally had to intervene to make him unhand me and gave the necklace back to him. The vendor's aggressiveness...way beyond the line...had taken me by surprise, and I was just kind of paralyzed...I was also trying to extricate myself from the situation by remaining polite. However, now that I've had time to think about it, I know what I'll do next time: 1) I won't touch anything offered to me, and 2) if a vendor grabs hold of me, I'll say in a loud voice to take his hands off me, even screaming, if necessary. To hell with being polite!

We left Winterhaven on Saturday and headed to the Costco in El Centro. We had planned on staying at the RV park at the expo center in Imperial, but it had rained recently and the grounds were muddy, so we continued on past Glamis on SR-78 and boondocked off Ogilby Road.

We're back in Quartzsite now, spending a couple of days at Arizona Sun RV Park so that I can do some laundry. On Tuesday, we'll move out to BLM land for a few days. Friends, Mike and Mary (who live across the street from where we used to own a house), are going to be leaving at the end of the week and will be gone through New Years...they've offered their lot to us while they're gone, so we'll move over there once they leave.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do Grackles Have Jobs?

Each morning, very early, we've seen Grackles heading south and then in the afternoon, around 4:30 or so, we see them coming back north...hundreds, if not thousands of them, some in groups of three or four and some in group of dozens.

So we they have jobs? Where do they go in the morning and what do they do all day? Where do they go at night?

I Googled "Grackle daily migration" and came up with this article: Travel of Birds: Chapter III, First Flights.

So, it appears that during the day, they're going to their feeding grounds and coming back to their roosting area at night. We don't know where the roosting area is, but it would be interesting to track it down in order to see the thousands of birds roosting in one place!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Common Sunflower
Helianthus annuus

We left Quartzsite last Saturday and came down to the Yuma area for dental work and eye glasses over the border at Algodones. We checked into the Sleepy Hollow RV Park which is located less than a mile from the border.

Earl's appointment with Dra. Gabriela Gonzales Murillo at Dental Americano was on Tuesday at 11:30 AM. The only thing the doctor did this day was to take impressions for Earl's new partial. They will be ready on Friday and, at that time, Earl will have his teeth cleaned.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant close to the dentist's office (don't remember the name) and then stopped at a local vendor to buy Earl a new wallet.

Today we went back over the border to have our eyes checked and get new glasses at Best Optical.

It sure is less expensive to have this work done in we spent about half what we've spent at each of the last two eye doctors here in the U.S. and Earl's partial was a lot less than what he would have spent had he had the work done in the U.S.

We did go into Yuma while we've been here to do shopping at Wal Mart and Staples and had lunch at Wendy's.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Forest Service Trying to Reduce Senior/Access Pass Holder Discounts

Some background...I know most of our readers are well aware of the following, but for those of you who aren't:

There are currently two discount passes available from the government for federal recreation areas: 1)The Senior Pass (the old Golden Age Passport) and 2) the Access Pass (the old Golden Access Passport).

The Senior Pass is available for all U.S. citizens who are age 62 and older; the Access Pass is available to all U.S. citizens who are permanently disabled. These two passes allow free entrance to federal recreation areas that have an entrance fee (such as National Parks) and allows half-price on some Expanded Amenity Fees such as camping.

As an example, if a Pass holder were to visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, they could get in free instead of paying the $25 entrance fee, and at the non-concessionaire campgrounds, Mather and Desert View, instead of the full campground fee of $18 for Mather and $12 for Desert View, they would pay $9 and $6. (Trailer Village is a full service RV park run by a concessionaire, and they don't honor these two passes for half-price camping.)

The same is true at other federal recreation areas: If there's an entrance fee, pass holders don't pay it, and can camp for half-price.

Well, now the Forest Service has proposed that this 50% discount be reduced to 10% for all concessionaire-run campgrounds (and many, if not the majority, of USFS campgrounds are run by concessionaires). The entire proposal can be read at the above website.

You can see, I'm sure, where this is headed...if the USFS gets away with reducing camping fees (and other Extended Amenity Fees) from 50% to 10%, can the other federal agencies be far behind?

What's the National Park Service going to quit honoring the passes for free entrance to their parks?

At the above website, there is a link to the website where people can leave a comment...the direct link to the comment site for this proposed legislation can be found here.

I hope everyone will take the time to leave a comment at this site and write, telephone, or email your U.S. Senators and Representatives to put a halt to these regulations!

I don't know who's idea this was, but I can say that they can't see the forest for the trees. If this proposal is passed, we...and many other campers...will not stay at these campgrounds. So, instead of receiving 50% of the camping fee, they will receive ZERO percent from us! Now, how is that a good thing?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Maxx's Surgery

Maxx came through surgery OK today...whew! He's still a bit groggy, so he's currently sleeping it off in his bucket (the vet does surgery at 8 AM before they open at 9, and since they close at noon, the animals haven't completely worn off their anesthesia by the time the owners have to take them home). The vet gave us some antibiotics for Maxx and wants to see him again tomorrow morning to check the sutures on his butt where they removed the tumor.

We'll have to pick up some more antibiotics on January 1 (I guess it'll have to be the 2nd since they probably won't be open on New Year's Day) for another 5-day round because of his teeth which were in bad shape. He may have to end up having some removed (he had three removed in 2006 at the vets in Burns, Oregon when we were volunteering at Malheur NWR).

Depending on what the vet says tomorrow, we may be heading down to Yuma soon so that Earl can go to a dentist in Algodones to have a new partial made.