Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Q.....Day 2

8:00 am, Mountain Time, Real Saturday - 43º F, 72% humidity, wind 12 mph out of the southwest......CLEAR BLUE SKIES!  

Friday we awoke to partly cloudy skies, which progressed rather quickly to heavy cloud cover, with the wind speed climbing into the 20's in advance of the forecast rain later in the afternoon.  Our battery charge was down to 87% when I first got up, and it was obvious we were not going to get much sun, if any at all, most the day so I turned on the big 7.5 kw generator to throw some electrons back into our house batteries.  If you are going to use a generator as one charging component for your batteries it is best used first thing in the morning when the batteries are at their lowest as you will get more bang for your fuel buck.  Once your batteries get over 95% the charge rate slows significantly and you are just wasting fuel.  At any rate, we ran the big generator for about and hour and got the batteries back to 90%.

We wanted to watch the Inauguration of our 45th POTUS, Donald Trump, but we also wanted to take a walk over to Tyson Wells to browse through the many vendor booths to see what deals there might be on RV related stuff, so we headed out around 9 am for the .8 mile walk over.......

The BIG TENT can be seen in the distance


......in all it took us a little over 10 minutes to make the walk.....we spent the next hour, or so browsing through one vendor booth after another......the BIG TENT does not officially open until 9 am on Saturday, so we'll return there on Saturday for sure.

Just before we left for Tyson Wells I plugged in the Predator generator to continue charging our house batteries as there was to be no sun Friday, plus we wanted to turn on our DirecTV DVR so we could record the Inauguration in case we did not get back in time for the beginning.  We located some bargains at Tyson Wells which we will revisit later in the week as the show winds down.....it always seems the prices begin to come down as the end of the RV show draws near.

We were back around 10:30 and promptly turned on the Inauguration proceedings and watched for hours......like here in Quartzite, it was overcast with rain on and off in Washington D.C......


.....as a famous man once said this peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another here in the USA is both common place and miraculous at the same time.  

As the afternoon waned, the wind became more fierce with gusts into the high 20's at times, and eventually the rain came around 5 pm.....at first just sprinkles, then almost torrential in nature, but we loved every minute of it.  As I often remark to TLE this one of the many things I cherish about this lifestyle......you are so close to nature living in a tiny house......you can feel the wind, you can certainly hear the wind, you can hear the rain on your aluminum roofing.  There is something about sitting here right now watching the sun hit our solar panels and knowing that our batteries are being recharged silently while we enjoy the peace and beauty of the Arizona desert.  We are not plugged into an electrical outlet, we do not have a hose attached to a hose bib, or a sewer line connected......we are off the grid, and completely self sufficient.........life is good!  With the use of our Predator generator we got our batteries back to 98%, which is not bad for a cloudy day.  I didn't mind running it all afternoon as we were watching the Inaugural events at the same time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Q......Day 1

7:59 am - Mountain Time - Friday - 46º F, 72% humidity, wind 10 mph out of the south....partly cloudy......70% chance of rain later today (2 pm).  Slept well last night......no chickens crowing at 3:30 am (for my friend Tom......😏)......no sound of traffic even though we are only 200 yards from highway 95......


First Quartzite sunrise (Friday)

As I reported early Thursday morning we had to get our act together sooner than we had planned as it had begun to sprinkle around 6 am........our friend Tom's backyard does not react well to copious amounts of rain, and if it rained hard enough for long enough we would be stuck and not be able to move Thursday, hence the rush to depart the backyard.  As it turned out we got the final things stowed, and were idling out to the front of Tom and Darlene's home by 8 am on the dot.......


Tom is taking the picture


On our way!

.....we said our 'until next times' to Tom and Darlene, and were off in a cloud of dust.....as we merged on to SR60 it began to rain in earnest, and by the time we were passing through Wickenburg it was raining quite briskly.  We only had 110 miles to travel Thursday and the miles flew by quickly.  Before long we were passing through Aguila, the Brenda, then we were merging on to I-10 and only had 14 miles to go to Quartzite.

The Newell was running smooth as silk.....the coolant temps were right around 183º F, and the tranny and oil temps were barely registering.....the cruise control was cruising, and the Jake was 'jaking'.....I rarely ever had to use the brakes!  Before long we were exiting I-10 and it was just 10:10 am!

Our immediate destination was the Riggles exit off of I-10 where there is an ARCO fuel station with a large truck/RV parking lot where we planned to park to unload the VW so we could cruise around checking out various boondocking sites where we will spent the next 10 days, or so.  Last January we, along with our friends, found a nice secluded site off Dome Rock Road east of SR95 and we loved it, but it was a longish drive back to the paement, and then to the 'Big Tent' area, plus it was always difficult finding a parking spot that didn't require a 10 minute walk to the 'Big Tent'.  This year we decided to check out the BLM land south of I-10 off of SR95 called 'La  Posa'.  After driving around La Posa West (there is also a La Posa East, which is on the east side of SR95) we found a suitable place to park our Newell and trailer, and it is a 10 minute walk to the 'Big Tent'.......no need to drive our car through mind numbingly heavy traffic to find a parking spot, and still walk 1o minutes!

We found a perfect spot for us where we can face just a few degrees to the north side of east which will enable our tilted solar panels to catch the sun's rays early in the morning and as late as possible in the afternoon.  By the time I had them tilted it had begun to rain, and we were chased inside for about 45 minutes, after which time I returned to my setup duties deploying our flags, and then hooking up the trailer and coach to our new Predator Generator, which I promptly started so we can continue to get those 20 hours of break in time behind us.....I turned on the 'Eco' setting, and let her run for about 3 hours before shutting her down for a few hours........it wasn't too long after that we saw our first sundown this time around in Quartzite.......



First Quartzite sunset.....Thursday

......eventually I turned the Predator on again and we set about watching several more episodes of 'The Crown', which I wrote about in yesterday's post.....thank you to all who recommended this excellent series......I am hooked!  Since there will be heavy cloud cover the next day, or two we'll be using the Predator a lot, but then the sun will return.

We were in bed by 11 pm, and asleep shortly thereafter........nice to be boondocking once again!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Chance of rain.....

6:51 am - Mountain Time - Thursday - 48º F, 74% humidity, wind 9 mph out of the south........chance of rain, and because there is a chance of rain (65% right now) we need to get our wheels rolling sooner than we thought.  I'll have to write my blog post about Wednesday later today after we get to Quartzite!

U P D A T E

3:31 pm - Mountain Time - Thursday - Quartzite, AZ -  56º F, humidity 66%, wind 16 mph out of SSW......partly cloudy.....arrived in Quartzite about 10:15 am after a 2 hour drive through mostly rain.  Found a great site in Las Posas West off SR-95 in walking distance to the big tent, but far enough from I-10 so there is no freeway noise.

Wednesday saw us tearing down our camp, folding up the awning mat, stowing the patio awning, putting the last things away in the trailer, then ultimately reinserting the VW Beetle into the trailer just as the sun set.

In the morning before all of the afternoon activity I drove into Surprise to the local O'Reilly's Automotive store to buy some 10-30w oil for our new generator and some Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer additive as required by the warranty and operating instructions, then returned to unpack the new Predator Generator, fill it with oil, then add the Sta-Bil, then fill the fuel tank with 87 octane regular gasoline.  The instructions suggested pulling the start rope 20 times to prime the engine, but it only took 15 pulls before she started.  I let her run for a few minutes to be sure all was well, and it was.

The old and the new

Around 5:15 pm I got out our Sea-B-Que BBQ to grill a filet mignon whilst TLE roasted some veggies for dinner.  We ate while watching a Netflix original series called 'The Crown', which came highly recommended, and we were not disappointed.  It essentially chronicles the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II beginning in the late 30's......very, very interesting, and certainly a departure from 'Breaking Bad' which we recently 'binge watched'.

We were in bed pretty early, and it is a good thing, as I related above..... Thursday we drive to Quartzite..........thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Get 'er done!

7:55 am - Mountain Time - Wednesday - 39º F, humidity 69%, wind 3 mph out of the south.....clear blue skies once again!  Forecast high 69º F.........was very cold last night, but will be warmer today than it has been for a while.

I am officially back.......my cold is officially over.......I finally feel like myself once again.  That was one whopper of a cold!  I told TLE on Monday that Sunday had been my best day in a long time, and Tuesday, after 3 successive days of being able to work around the coach without an energy crash I am back!

Tuesday I spent time getting the box of engine wraps (blankets) I previously wrote about ready to ship via UPS to a fellow Newell owner with a different engine setup.  As was the case when I acquired them, I just asked to be reimbursed for the cost of shipping them.  Once the box was sufficiently taped and reinforced I used my fold up 'dolly' to move it out to the VW where TLE and I would load it.  We had an appointment to meet a couple for lunch who are going to work with us at Tahoe Valley Campground this summer (Michael and Mary) at noon......destination......Whitehorse West.  You will recall I visited there with my friend Tom for hamburgers a few weeks ago.  Since Michael and Mary (they will be our activities directors this summer) are hosts over at Cave Creek Regional County Park Whitehorse West was the perfect midway meeting point.

We left home about 11:15 am to make the 35 minute drive over to Whitehorse West arriving just before noon time to find Michael and Mary already there.  We had a lovely two hour lunch talking mostly about TVC, but also getting to know each other.  After our lunch I am convinced even more than before that we are hiring some really good people.  Over the course of the last 5 months we have been able to spend time on the phone with all those we are hiring interviewing them and getting to know them, but there is nothing like a face to face meeting to really get to know someone.  We bid adieu to Michael and Mary a little after 2 pm to make the drive over to a nearby UPS Store to drop off our shipment, then moved the car a few hundred feet over to BevMo to stock up on some adult beverages for our Quartzite sojourn, then we drove across town to the nearest Harbor Freight Tools store to buy a new portable generator.

A few weeks ago while visiting the local Wittmann Flea Market I noticed one vendor running a 2,000 watt generator which looked almost identical to a Honda, and was, frankly, just as quiet, but it was not a Honda.....it was a Predator.  Predators cost less than one half of what a new Honda costs.  We have had a first generation Honda 1000 watt generator for about 9 years, and it has served us well.  I bought it used off eBay at the time for $250, and have had to have it tuned up one time in 9 years.  It has served us well, but it was much louder than the current generation of Honda generators.  This new Predator is much quieter and has an Economy mode which enables the generator to run at a lower speed until a higher load is detected at which time it throttles up to a higher speed to support the higher load.  When we are blessed with sunny days with little or no cloud cover we do not need a generator to charge our batteries back to 100% as we have 620 watts of solar panels, but on cloudy days we sometimes need some assistance, and a small generator is a very efficient way to recharge our batteries.  We have a large onboard propane generator (7500 watts), which consumes 1/2 gallon of propane per hour, whereas a small generator an provide the needed power to charge batteries and operate our coach systems and consume about 1 gallon every 8 hours of operation, so unless we need to run our air conditioners we really don't need the overkill of the big generator.  We are looking forward to using our new generator over the next few months and the increased efficiency and much quieter decibel footprint.

We were home close to 4:30 pm.....it was a good day, with much accomplished......Wednesday will see us finish our preparations for our departure first thing Thursday morning.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Packers.......

6:28 am - Mountain Time - Tuesday - 41º F, humidity 84%, wind 4 mph out of NNW.....partly cloudy......why am I up so early?!  Woke up to go to the bathroom about 5:30 am, and could not go back to sleep.....oh well, there are always naps!

So, here we are once again.......our time in Wittmann is fast coming to a conclusion......we have been here for around 6 weeks now.....time to begin the process of putting our stuff away, which mainly means organizing and packing up the trailer for VW insertion on Thursday morning.  And that is how I spent most of my time Monday.  

As you will recall I did not re-install the stainless steel heat shield on the new stainless steel flex pipe exhaust wanting to run the 6V92 for a few minutes to be sure the two stainless steel clamps had properly seated and there were no exhaust leaks.  Once I was confident there were no leaks I turned off the engine and finished the job of re-installing the heat shield.



By mid afternoon I had gone as far as I could go in the trailer.....I'll finish it Wednesday.  It has been around three weeks since I came down with THE COLD, and I am finally beginning to get my strength and endurance back.....emphasis on endurance.  Monday is the longest time I have been able to work on and around the Newell for several hours at a time without having to stop to rest, or take a nap.

We have so enjoyed our time here in Wittmann with our good friends Tom and Darlene, and this stay will mark our longest sojourn with them......we have so enjoyed and appreciated their hospitality, and that they just let us live our lives in their backyard.  Nonetheless, it is time to roll our wheels and change our view......time for some boondocking!  

Another captivating Wittmann sunset!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Exhausting!

8:11 am - Mountain Time - Monday - 48º F, humidity 86%, wind 3 mph out of NNE.......partly cloudy, but there is sun!

Sunday was the day I chose to replace the rusted out 5" exhaust pipe section in the driver's side engine bay.........I got to work about 11 am when it has warmed up sufficiently for my delicate sensibilities.   First job was to remove the stainless steel heat shield, then the two stainless steel clamps holding the section in place.......


......then I had to place a block of wood between the muffler and the floor of the engine bay (underneath) to keep the pipe from wobbling around as I tried to remove the rusted flex pipe.......


......it was a booger!  Took me close to 2 hours to wrestle it loose.....ultimately I had to use my reciprocating saw to cut a slice in the pipe near the base, and a large screwdriver to pry the bands apart finally making it possible to remove the bad section..........

The offending piece is toast!

........cutting and fitting the replacement piece (21" long) was the easy part, and within 30 minutes I had the new section in place ready to be clamped........


......then with the aid of Tom's air operated impact driver tightened the upper and lower clamps back in place.......

.......I finished just before 2:30 pm.......decided to wait to reinstall the stainless steel heat shield until Monday......want to start up the 6V92 and run it to be sure both clamps have seated properly before bolting on the heat shield.

As would be expected I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening watching two NFL playoff games......the first had the Greenbay Packers playing the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas for the honor of going to the NFC title game next Sunday.  It was a thriller going down to the final 3 seconds tied 31-31......Greenbay's place kicker successfully kicked a 51 yard field goal as time expired to win the game.......and what a game it was!  The night game featured the Pittsburgh Steelers playing the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, and once again another great game decided in the final two minutes when Kansas City failed to execute a 2 point conversion to tie the game giving the ball to the Steelers who ran the clock out to win 18-16......all of the Steeler points came from field goals......six field goals!  I couldn't have asked for a better day of competitive football.....the total opposite of Saturday's games.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pipeline......

8:20 am - Mountain Time - Sunday - 47º F, humidity 98%, wind 5 mph out of SSW.....heavy cloud cover.

I was awakened by my phone 'dinging' indicating a PM from my friend Tom asking if I wanted to go to the Wittmann Flea Market with him......uhhhh......just got up, sorry......wow, another 9 hours of slumber!  Since I was awake I went ahead and got out of bed and began my morning routine.  I am usually the first one up......90% of the time.....I first close my window, then turn on the bedroom heater so when 'she who must be obeyed' arises the bedroom is warm.  Next I turn on the light in the bathroom, and turn on the bathroom heater, then turn on the lights in the kitchen and salon followed by the opening of the mini blinds to see what kind of day awaits, and then the salon heater is cranked up to high.  Finally I turn on the sink faucet to HOT, then fill our coffee cups and the coffee carafe with hot water to preheat them.....the coffee stays hotter, longer, right?  If it is Saturday, or Sunday I turn on the English Premier League Soccer (Fox Sports)......we love watching the Premier League!

Once I have taken care of my morning ablutions I sit down with a fresh cup of hot coffee (touch of 1/2 & 1/2) and begin to compose my daily blog post, which is where I find myself right now.......

Rain was forecast for Saturday afternoon so I needed to be sure all of the engine bay stuff I had left sitting outside on the ground by the trailer needed to be put away before it got wet.....when I was removing all the engine bay stuff I noticed some diesel soot all over the driver's side engine bay, which indicates the 'flex' exhaust pipe (see picture below) has a breach in it......I replaced this section of exhaust piping about 7 years ago for the same reason, but I used galvanized, and it appears to be leaking once again........

You can see the serious rust on the flex pipe

......the galvanized flex pipe did not stand up to corrosion very well, as you can see above (rusted section to right of stainless steel heat shield), so last Wednesday I ordered a 5" x 4' section of stainless steel flex pipe from Ryder Fleet Products (cost about $48 plus shipping) which arrived Friday.....

 New stainless steel flex pipe

 ......I will only need about 2.5' of this pipe to replace the seriously rusted section.....hoping to get that new piece cut to size, and replace the severely rusted section on Sunday.........

I spent the afternoon and evening watching NFL playoffs.....the first game was at 2:15 pm between the Seahawks and Falcons in Atlanta......the Falcons won easily, as predicted.  Next up was the game between the Texans and Patriots, which was close for the first half, but became a blowout in the second half due to numerous turnovers by the Texans.....again the gain went as predicted.  Hoping the games on Sunday will be more competitive

Captured this interesting sunset Saturday evening.......once again, I love the long, big views here in the desert!


Thanks for stopping by!