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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Desert View - Day 14 - Surprise, surprise!

8:16 am - Wednesday - November 22nd - Grand Canyon - 45º F, humidity 41%, wind 2 mph out of the south by southeast.....clear blue skies.....forecast high 65º F.

Today's missive will be brief.....I was supposed to be off work today, but just got a knock on the door that I am needed at the store.  I slept in because I thought I didn't have to work today.  I will have to finish the blog this afternoon.

See you then!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Desert View - Day 13 - A great arrangement

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6:47 am - Tuesday - November 21st - Grand Canyon - 33º F, humidity 31%, wind - CALM....forecast for today is partly cloudy with a high of 61º F......I'm up later, because TLE has the 'open' shift today.....I report at 12 pm for the 'close' shift.....wish I could have slept in longer.

One of the most common questions I am asked each day is "Is there some place I can get some water".....typically I am standing at my register with my back to the rear of the store.....right behind me, in direct eyesight with no obstructions is the Water Station sign......


.....which can be seen as soon as you enter the store.  When I turn around and point they begin to apologize immediately.  It's no big deal, but I find it humorous.....sometimes we can't see what is right in front of us because we don't expect to find that for which we a looking so easily. Our minds seem to want to make most things more complicated than they really are.

On Monday I had the 'open' shift, and after completing my 1/2 mile walk through the juniper forest, arrived at the General Store at 7:24 am, punched the clock and then began my 5 hour work shift.  Nothing really interesting to report about the day......things were so slow that by the time TLE arrived to relieve me I had accumulated just $100 in cash receipts.....I'm sure I had 3-4 times that in credit card receipts, cash receipts is how I judge how busy I was.......on a weekend day I will do $300-400 in cash receipts in the same time period, which is still not being very busy.

I was home by 1 pm....usually it is earlier, but I spent about 15 minutes talking with Jonathan (custodian) who is an avid mountain biker like I used to be.  As was the case back when I still lived in a 'sticks and bricks' home and had a garage full of bikes of all types (recumbents, MTB's, road bikes, etc.) Jonathan is afflicted with the same 'disease'....we discussed all the various types of bikes he owns, and how he needs to thin out the herd so to speak.

I took some time to eat a small lunch TLE had prepared for me......she is so good to me....always making sure I have lunch whether she is there, or not.  Anyway, she made some 'deviled eggs' in one container, and some yogurt with strawberries in another.  I'm trying to cut down on my caloric intake again, so I can shed some more unwanted inches and pounds.  Being able to work out every day is helping me begin to shed weight again.....I've managed to lose 2.5 pounds this week and am once again marching toward my goal of 189.  You will recall that early this year I had ballooned up to 215, which is the most I have every weighed.  Over the next few months I was able to get down to 198, but stalled out after we arrived at SLT.  I was back up to almost 204 again, but am now back down to 201......12 pounds to go!

After I finished my 5th workout in as many days I thought I should take a few pictures of how I have arranged the trailer interior while we are here at Desert View.....the only way to really get a good picture is to take a selfie.....

 Here I am standing at the front of the trailer taking a selfie looking toward the rear of the trailer.....you can see my Cannondale Bad Boy on the 'trainer' to the left, then the back/situp exercise apparatus in the middle, and to its right my Intense 5.5 MTB.

 Further to the right you can see my table with all my tool bags sitting on it, then to its right the Workmate® with the bench grinder mounted on it.....I was given that Workmate® as a Christmas gift back in 1978, or '79.

 Just to the left of the door I have a battery charger for my cordless impact driver, and also mounted a fan, which I am not using a lot right now

 On the floor is my heater, which I am using a lot right now

 My screw organizer is to the left of the fan

 All of the beer coasters we have collected over the past few years

 My XM Radio receiver

 My stereo, through which I play my XM Radio on channel 107.3 FM

 My small, but more than adequate flat screen TV

 A few more tools, and my weather station.....temp, air pressure and humidity....bought this in Coos Bay, OR back in 1978 when we were on a 2 week motorhome trip

Just finished recalibrating the settings for our current location and altitude


 Everyone needs at least one street sign, right?

.......I know, I know.....I've got a lot of stuff crammed into a small space, but all that stuff gets used on a regular basis, and it makes me happy.

TLE was home by 5:40 pm......shortly thereafter we were treated to a little color to the west as the sun set on another day at Desert View......




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Monday, November 20, 2017

Desert View - Day 12 - Routine behavior

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5:45 am - Monday - November 20th - Grand Canyon - 25º F, humidity 31%, wind 2 mph out of the east....partly cloudy with a forecast high of 59º F......beginning Tuesday the highs will be back into the 60's for the next week......every day in the 60's at this time of year is a blessing.....no rain, or snow in the forecast for the next two weeks.

Sunday was another gorgeous day.....clear blue skies from horizon to horizon, no wind, and it felt quite a bit warmer than Saturday.  It was almost painful to be outside Saturday, but not so much Sunday.  I spent quite a bit of time on my blog Sunday morning describing my efforts to fix the air leak I wrote about.....I was deep in thought when I looked at the clock to see it was already 6:50 am, and I had to be on my way walking to work by 7:15 am.....I hadn't eaten breakfast yet, and still hadn't finished my post, so I had to kick it into high gear.  Amazingly I was on my way walking by 7:15, but I don't like to rush around like that so today (Monday) I will endeavor to be more disciplined!

I'm beginning to like the early shift (7:30 am to 12:30 pm) except for the getting up at 5:30 am part.......obviously, it is still dark at that time, and it goes without saying I prefer to wake up with the sun coming in the bedroom windows.  What I do like is getting home before 1 pm every work day.....I have the whole afternoon ahead of me to do as much, or as little as I wish.

Sunday at the General Store began slowly, which is typical of most mornings this time of year.  After counting in my cash drawer, and doing the required morning duties of a cashier (check cooler/freezer temps, turn on lights, sweep if necessary, clean glass if necessary, etc.) I spent about an hour 'merchandising'.  I've used that term a few times since we arrived here at Desert View and it occurs to me some may not know what I mean.  Basically, merchandising means going around the store and straightening the product on the shelves, pulling product forward on hooks, or on the shelves, checking tags to be sure the product under the tag reflects what is on the tag, etc.  It also involves straightening up all the t-shirts/sweatshirts on hangars to make sure they are hanging straight, and refolding the same if they are on the shelves, or re-zipping the zippers if they have been left down by customers.  There are typically only two of us on the floor first thing in the morning......a cashier (moi), and whoever is on duty in the Deli, so it is very quiet until customers begin to grace our store.

Once we begin to get customers in the store then I stay closer to my register, and when things get slow go back to merchandising in the areas closer to my station.  I enjoy talking and joking with the customers......most are talkative and excited about being at the GC, but there are always some who wish to interact as little a possible....they are few, and far in between.

The other thing I like about the 'open' shift is that it seems to go by much more quickly for me than the 'close' shift.....TLE seems to like the 'close' shift so far.  The afternoon shift does tend to be the busiest with many more customers frequenting the General Store after 12 pm.  So far I walk to and from work, and TLE uses the car, but no doubt the time will come when inclement weather will dictate less walking, and more driving for both of us.

TLE arrived for duty about 11:55 am, and by 12:40 I was on my way home for the afternoon.....

Walking home from work Sunday

......I know I have said this before, but I really like walking to and from work here, and I love the feeling of remoteness......no traffic signals, no traffic jams, and no crowds like Yellowstone.....I think we ended up in a good place for the winter.

I spent some time moving a few things around in the trailer, eventually did my workout routine about 3 pm.....this is the 5th day in a row for me, and it has been a long time since I have been able to do that.  That is the final thing I love about working 5-5.5 hour shifts.....I have time to exercise, and the older I get the more important consistent exercise is.  The more consistently I exercise the fewer aches and pains I experience, plus I sleep much better at night.  Exercise also has the benefit of releasing endorphins into your system which increases your sense of well being.

TLE was home again by 5:45 and we settled quickly into an evening of watching the final episodes of Mad Men's 7th season.  Another day lived well......ahhh, finished with my post and it is only 6:32 am......much better!

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Desert View - Day 11 - Walking on air!

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5:52 am - Sunday - November 19th - Grand Canyon - 32º F, humidity 22% (now that is low humidity!), wind 3 mph out of the south by southeast.....partly cloudy today with a forecast high of 52º F.....slightly warmer than yesterday.

Saturday was my first opening, so I was up by 5:30 am sipping some java and typing my daily missive as I have done faithfully since every day since October 4, 2012 when we first arrived at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Campbellsville, KY.  I was off walking the 1/2 mile to the General Store by 7:15 am and was it cold!  Thankfully there were no clouds so the sun was on my back, and the brisk walk warmed me just enough to keep frostbite at bay.  I arrived at work by 7:25, punched the clock, pulled my cash drawer and then went about completing the opening duties I had been assigned by Ian, my floor supervisor, which include recording the temperatures of all the freezers and coolers, turning on the lights, dry mopping the floor, cleaning the glass on the front doors, and vacuuming the four doormats at the entrance.  By the time all that was done it was time to flip the OPEN/CLOSED sign to 'OPEN', and then retreated to my register to prepare for the first customers of the day it was 8 am.

Mornings tend to be slow until about 9:30 am, but I found plenty to do to keep me busy.....from 9:30  on the business was steady, and the time seemed to move quickly.  Pretty soon it was coming up on Noon time, which meant TLE would be walking through the door any minute to trade places with moi.  I was beginning to think about an afternoon filled with NCAA College Football, and just maybe dong a little repair work on my erstwhile air system.

As I wrote here I discovered that I had a serious air leak in the rear air valve sixpack......these six valves control the 'ride height' when we are under way, and also control the raising and lowering of the rear of the coach when we are stationary and need level the coach.  I discovered that the regulator/filter fixture was leaking out 10 psi of air every 60 seconds when the engine was not running.  Apparently the air compressor was able to overcome the air leak when we were underway, but within minutes of turning off the engine I would lose all air pressure, which would mean I would have to wait a few minutes every time I started the Newell for the air pressure to build up again before I could roll.

Anyway, I had found a new regulator/filter module on eBay a few weeks ago, and it finally caught up with me here at the GC*.  It was a used unit, but was warranted to be in operating condition.  I've never taken this thing apart before and really did not know how to dismantle it so I decided to practice on the 'new' one.  This was when I discovered the internal plastic guts of the 'new' regulator/filter were broken.......



........as you will note in the picture below, there is a metal cage over the glass bowl that must be removed.....I had planned to reuse the metal cage on the 'new' used regulator/filter module, and already knew how to remove it.  When I removed the glass bowl from thew 'new' used module the plastic piece in the above photo fell out.....that shouldn't happen.  It should be attached to the plastic piece on the left....there was no way to successfully glue it back......doh!  Well, I decided to remove the cage from the existing regulator/filter to see if I could use some of the parts from the 'new' used one to fix the existing one.....this is when I found out what the problem causing the existing one to leak. First of all the bowl was not screwed on tight to seal against the internal rubber gasket, and then I discovered that the petcock valve had given up the ghost and was also leaking air.  Okay, this is easy, and, contrary to my usual experience, it was quite easy.  I removed the bowl from the existing regulator/filter, and then removed the old petcock valve, then I removed the petcock valve from the 'new' used module.  Before reinstalling the petcock valve I cleaned up the bowl so I could actually see inside when needed to see if there was any water which needed to be drained.  Once the replacement petcock valve was installed I reassembled the entire module snugging up the bowl in the process.  I then started the engine to air up the coach.....it took about 10 minutes to build pressure, but then I finally reached 120 psi I shut off the 6v92 and walked back to the engine bay to see if I had solved the air leak problem.....I fully expected to hear that disconcerting hissing sound as air quickly escaped from my system, but guess what?  All I heard was the sound of silence.  The pressure gauge on the module held steady at 120 psi......is that possible?  That is not the Hockwald way!

The reassembled regulator/filter module air pressure gauge holding steady at 120 psi!

As I sit here composing I am still stunned that the fix was that easy....the air pressure overnight is still holding strong at 120 psi.  We have been living with this air leak getting steadily worse for at least a year, and now in the space of a couple of hours it is fixed, and now I know a lot more about my air system than I did a day ago.

Once I had cleaned up, and put everything away I got dressed to do my daily workout, and by 4:30 I was done.  TLE had asked me to grill a steak we had bought a few days ago, so I lit the Sea-B-Que, got out a cigar and some Tillamore Dew Irish Whiskey on rocks and celebrated my successful fix of our leaking air system......


 It was cold last night!



TLE was home by 5:40 and I was sharing my success with her.  We spent the evening watching the annual USC vs. UCLA game played this year in the L.A. Coliseum which was won by USC 28-23.....it was a good day!

Thanks for stopping by!

* GC = Grand Canyon

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Desert View - Day 10 - Alone time?

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5:47 am - Saturday - November 18th - Grand Canyon - 29º F (feels like 20º), humidity 48%, wind 10 mph out of the east by southeast.....feels - CALM to me.....cloudless skies with a million stars still out right now......just beautiful! Forecast high for today is 46º F......brrrrr!

At first I didn't cotton to the idea that TLE and I would be working opposite shifts each day, but now we are both beginning to like having a few hours to ourselves a few days a week, plus the 5-5.5 hour work days mean we each will have time at the beginning, or at the end of each work day to do our workouts on a more consistent basis.

We awoke to a cold, blustery Friday, and the wind remained with us all day and most of the night.  The wind was coming from the northwest and that means it is blowing directly into our water heater vent, which further means that the pilot light blows out occasionally, which tends to be kind of irritating.....especially when you go to take a shower and all you are getting is cold water.....wait, what?  I had a cardboard box in the trailer which TLE wanted to save, and I'm glad she did......I fashioned a sort of windshield for the water heater vent, which has worked well.  Without the shield the pilot light would blow out every 10 minutes.....with it the pilot light was only extinguished once in the last 24 hours. 




TLE was off to work at 7:20 am (in the Beetle again) while I remained behind.  I read my Kindle for a while (I'm on the 7th, and final installment of the Dark Tower series), then went out to the trailer to do my daily (hopefully it will be daily......I need better resolve) workout, and was done 40 minutes later.  I read some more while I cooled down from the workout, then took a shower.  Soon it was time for a small lunch (a single slice of the leftover pizza from Wednesday) before I headed off to work to relieve TLE at the checkout station.

I really enjoy the 1/2 mile walk to work, and am so grateful I can walk to work again.....the trail we take feels like we are 100 miles from anywhere as it winds in and around the juniper trees which are ubiquitous here at Desert View.  I arrived at the store after a brisk 10 minute walk, pulled my cash drawer and was on station by 12:10 pm.....TLE then left to count down her drawer and head home for her alone time.

The afternoon shift was quite pleasant with just enough customers to keep me steadily busy, but I did have time on occasion to do a little merchandising, and restocking of some shelves near my work station.  Just as I was pulling my cash drawer I glanced outside to see this spectacular sunset in progress, so I went outside to try and capture its majesty.......


 The 'pano' setting just does not capture the color


.......I went back inside to turn off all the cooler lights, the store lights, take the final cooler temperatures of the day, and then count down my cash drawer.....I was out the door and on my walk home by 5:35.......I've taken to wearing my Teka headlamp on my walks home, and I'm sure as we approach the winter solstice when the daylight portion of the day will be its shortest I'll really be glad I have it.  

I arrived home about 5:45 to find TLE reading and commenting on how much she enjoyed her alone time......life is good!

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Desert View - Day 9 - Sometimes being a nomad can be a chore....

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6:52 am - Friday - November 17th - Desert View - 46º F, humidity 51%, wind 10 mph out of the southwest......feels like it is closer to 20 mph.  Partly cloudy today with winds up to 25 mph, and a forecast high of 57º F.

Thursday was our second day off work since we began working November 7th......including our initial orientation day we worked 8 straight days.  We woke up to wind and while it never got really bad, it was steady all day long so we decided not to do anymore exploring, but stay home and do some chores we had been delaying.

My big chore was to deploy all my stuff in the trailer so I can better utilize the stuff I have which tends to get squirreled away when we are moving on a regular basis.  That involved putting together my mountain bike, and our two road bikes so I could get at more of my tools, plus my exercise bench, my bicycle trainer, my bench grinder, and my Workmate® bench.  That took a few hours, and once that was done it was time to give the interior of the trailer a full vacuuming.....the first time I have been able to do that since we left Gardiner, MT in early October.  Over that time I have tracked in a lot of dirt, plus loading the artificial turf into the trailer when we left Gardiner probably contributed a significant amount of dirt.

By the time I finished with the trailer it was approaching 3 pm, and time for a nap, which lasted about an hour.  Around 4 pm TLE and I both decided too many days had passed since we last worked out so I headed out to the trailer to ride my bike on the trainer for 30 minutes, do some pushups and situps, and then some stretching whilst TLE went through her personal workout routine.

That was pretty much our Thursday.....sometimes living on the road is just as 'glamorous' as living in a sticks and bricks home......sometimes the nomadic life is just as full of chores as a 'sticks and bricks' life.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Desert View - Day 8 - So, what's your 'point'?

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7:51 am - Thursday - November 16th - Grand Canyon - 41º F, 43% humidity, wind 6 mph out of the west by southwest.....high clouds with a forecast high of 62º F.....every day in the 60's is one more day for wearing short pants and t-shirts!

We've visited the Grand Canyon twice before, but only had time to give it a lick and promise.....on Wednesday we were determined to see all the view points between Desert View and Mather Point.  One might think "Well, it's the Grand Canyon....doesn't it look the same no matter where you stand?".......uhhhh....nope!  We were off in the VW around 10 am heading to the first 'point' of the day......Navajo Point, which is a little over 1 mile from Desert View.....in the picture below you can just see the Watchtower peaking over the crown on the hill.......just above TLE's head.........

 Navajo Point

.....there has been a fire burning for a couple of days off to the west, and that is the haze you see in most of the pictures I took Wednesday.


 Lipan Point

......our next 'point' of interest was Lipan Point, another few miles to the west of Navajo Point.....we observed numerous brave souls climbing rocks here and at Mather Point......




 TLE's new necklace.....made by a lovely Navajo girl

 Moran Point Pano

 Grand View
 If you look closely you can see a hiking trail threading its way along the right side of the wash....that's got to be 2,000' + lower than we were at the point

.....at almost, if not all of the vista points there were trailheads for numerous trails which wend their way slowly downward to the Colorado River......



......the 'Grandview Trail will probably be the first trail we hike as early as next week.....this is a 6 mile roundtrip hike to Horseshoe Mesa and back.  Many of the trails in use today were built by miners of a bygone era in order to access their claims, and some were created by Native Americans centuries ago......

Mather Point (near the South Rim Visitor's Center)....more brave souls off the trail tempting fate

.....ultimately we arrived at the South Rim Visitor's Center near Mather Point.......there are two buildings.....one is dedicated solely as a bookstore, and that is where we obtained our copy of 'Hiking Grand Canyon National Park' by Ron Adkison, a 255 page exhaustive review of all the trails in GCNP......as I suspected there are probably more hikes and miles than we will be able to cover in our 4+ months here, but we shall give it our best shot when the weather permits, and our bodies are willing.  After the bookstore we wandered over to the second building which houses a lot of information and history about the Grand Canyon.......

 The South Rim Visitor's center relief map.....Lake Powell in the upper right, and Lake Mead in the lower left

 The 1921-23 expeditions of the Grand Canyon by the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) at river level were done in 900 lb. wooden boats

.....by the time we finished with the second building it was after 1 pm, and we needed to do some shopping at the Market Place supermarket (includes a Deli, a large outdoor equipment section, and a large grocery department).  There are a few more 'points' we will visit next week when we return for our official, lengthy Delaware North orientation meeting next Wednesday (Yaqi Point, Yavapai Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, Hermits Rest, Maricopa Point, etc.).....we have only just begun!

After we finished shopping, and had stowed our spoils in the Beetle we went back into the Deli to have lunch......at 50% off their listed prices I don't think there is a less expensive eating option anywhere in the GCNP....we ordered a Pizza Supreme, normally $20+.....our cost, just over $10 including drinks.  It was actually a very good pizza.....we ate about half of it at the Deli, and put the remainder in a 'dogie box' to take home for future consumption.

I might note that cell phone service.....primarily broadband coverage, is very erratic at the Market Plaza.....it would range from a high of 2 bars of 3G to 1 bar of 1X , and never really stabilized.  It makes me grateful we have such good coverage at Desert View.

By the time we finished eating it was getting on to 2:30 pm so we began the 45 minute 26 mile drive back to Desert View.  We've gotten a nice overview of about half the vista points, and have noted most of the trailheads between Desert View and Mather Point.  We were home a little after 3:15 with smiles on our collective faces......a nice first day of site seeing!

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