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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy 235th Birthday America!

Mt. Rubidoux, July 4th, 2011

For me the 4th of July weekend is always the real beginning of summer and the attendant heat in Southern California. We have this annual ritual provided by Catalina Eddy. No, Catalina Eddy is not a person, but an annual weather pattern that creates what we call "May/June Gloom". This weather pattern off the coast drives a heavy marine layer sometimes up to 50 miles inland, and keeps temperatures in May and June in the high 70's to mid 80's. The overcast burns off by noon most days. By late June we usually see the end of this pattern, and we wake up to bright sunshine each morning. Often temperatures are into the 80's by mid morning with day time high's into the mid to high 90's.

Our last marine layer morning was Wednesday, June 29th. Thursday broke with BRIGHT sunshine and temps into the high 90's. By Sunday, July 3rd, we broke triple digits to 102.

Normally our only responsibility in the park is taking care of the cabins, but on holiday weekends all the hosts take turns working in the kiosk to help with the influx of large holiday crowds. Elaine and I were assigned two shifts: 10:30am to 2pm on Sunday, and 10:30am to 2:30pm on Monday, July4th.

One issue this park has had on past holiday weekends occurring during the summer is power outages. By 10:30am on Sunday it was already in the low 90's. One of the rangers went to each RV park to check voltage readings and came back to the kiosk advising voltage had dropped from 120 to around 108 in both parks, as well as at the kiosk. Fearing another outage he took one host and went around asking people to shut down one AC unit if they were running two, or if they had generators, and wanted to keep using both AC's they could switch over. Everyone was co-operative and we made it through the day with voltage running around 109-110....low, but not destructive to AC compressors. We thought Monday, the 4th, would be easier since the forecast was for about 8 degrees cooler. NO SUCH LUCK.....by 1pm the voltage had dropped to 105 and we had personally turned off our AC to avoid damage. Not everyone did, however, and by 3pm we had our power outage.....UGH!!! So, we returned to our coach after our kiosk shift to no AC, and no prospect for electricity anytime soon.

As you know, we do have on board a 7500kw propane generator. Normally I would not hesitate to fire it up....when full we carry 48 gallons of LPG. Our generator burns about 1/2 gallon per hour, so we could, theoretically run it for 96 straight hours, or 4 days. HOWEVER, we last filled up when we moved into the park, and after 5 months we are down to 1/4 tank, or less. I have been planning to drive out of the park in the next week, or so to refill. Theoretically I could run for 24 hours on 12 gallons, but when it gets this low the reading is not as accurate as when it is full, and I didn't know when power would come back, so we sat outside in the shade. Two of our kids camped overnight Sunday night, and had gone into town to buy a small wading pool. How fortuitous was that! We put our bathing suits on and submerged ourselves in the deliciously cool water. We spent the rest of the afternoon talking, laughing, and drinking cold drinks.

As the sun set we noticed some lighting coming on at the Club House (houses showers, laundry and restrooms), and then some of the interior lighting came on, but NO power at the individual site pedestals. Eventually I remembered I had the little Honda 1000 watt portable generator and 5 gallons of gas, so I plugged it in and fired it up, so at least we could run the "attic" fan and move air through the coach, as well as lighting, and the outside radio. It ran until we went to inside around 10:30pm, and it was getting cooler by that time. Still no power restored.....we noticed around 9pm that lights were on in the cabins, but still no power in the RV parks.

One reason Rancho Jurupa Regional Park fills up with thousands of people on the birthday of our country is the spectacular fireworks show the City of Riverside puts on each year on the top of Mt. Rubidoux, in whose shadow we reside. Pretty much anywhere in the park you can get an unobstructed view of the mountain top. The show starts precisely at 9pm, and it did on this evening too. We had all our chairs set out with our 3 daughters and their boy friends to watch what we thought would be a 25-30 minute show. We were around 10 minutes in the show when it suddenly stopped. We sat there for 20 minutes expecting it to restart, because, after all, there had been no GRANDE FINALE! You have to have a GRAND FINALE, right...it's a rule, isn't it? It soon became clear that the show would not restart, so the cars began to surge toward the one exit to the park. After the traffic had leasened we said good bye to our kids and headed inside for the night...around 10:15pm we heard two loud "KABOOMS" from the direction of Mt. Rubioux and rushed outside to be greeted by the resumption of the fireworks show, and it was spectacular, and there was a "GRAND FINALE"! We had no clue what had happened, but 80% of the people who had come to the park to view the show missed the ending.

We found out the next morning that 3 fires had ignited on the east side of the mountain (we are on the west side) and the fire department had told them to stop the show until the fires were put out.

We then went to bed with only the basement Norcold fridge still on. Every other DC source was off to preserve our battery power with the exception of the attic fan that I ran for about an hour to pull in cooler air. I awoke around 4:30am to find that the power was back on and quickly went outside and reconnected our cord to the pedestal. Today we ran the AC from 9am until 9pm, but, of course, the park is empty so we had nearly 120 volts all day long.

Well, that our 4th of July story, and we are sticking to it! Thanks for reading!