Friday, April 4, 2014

We are not purists.....

Our "jello" plan Thursday was to move north on I-17 to Flagstaff and find a dry camp spot at the county fairgrounds just south of the I-40 and I-17 interchange, but then Wednesday night, late, I looked at the weather forecast for Flagstaff and the over night temps for Thursday/Friday were projected by the guessers to be 20 degrees.......for us that is cold!  We were low on propane.....just how low we had no idea.  If we were going to dry camp in 20 degree overnight temps we would need to take on propane.....we were low when we arrived in the Cottonwood area, and now after 5 days of dry camping, and running the gas heaters, plus the big generator a few times we were really low.  Since we were going to have to drive into Flagstaff to get propane anyway we decided to find an RV park where we could just plug in for at least Thursday night.  Okay, we are not boondocking/dry camping purists......we boondock/dry camp when conditions are optimal for us, and seek a place to plug in when they are not.  

Why were we even staying overnight in Flagstaff you ask?  Ever since we bought our 2001 VW Beetle the check engine light has been coming on for short intervals, then going off for weeks at a time.  A few days ago it decided to stay on permanently.  While visiting the McClouds in Wittmann Tom had let me use his "code reader" to find out what code was generating the dreaded "check engine" light.  Here is what we got.....


"P0327....Knock Sensor 1 - Low Input" - not a big problem as long as the "check engine" light is intermittent, but once it becomes steady it is time to get it replaced.  A few days ago after it became apparent the "check engine" light was here to stay I stopped off at the local Autozone and bought a replacement sensor for $38, which I had hoped to install myself, but it became obvious to me pretty quickly that this was beyond my current pay grade......so I contacted the VW dealership in Flagstaff to make an appointment for service.

Additionally, while we were in Sedona the inside door latch on the passenger side quit working which meant TLE (or anyone sitting in that seat) could not exit the car without my chivalrous assistance, so that needed fixing, too.......we set an appointment for Noon Thursday with Jeff Ford, the Findlay VW service rep, and that is our reason for spending time in Flagstaff.

We woke up Thursday to hot air balloons floating lazily several hundred feet above our boondock site......we had been "warned" by our Amazon friends Michael and Liz a while back to expect hot air balloons in the area, but the weather conditions had not been optimal until Thursday......too much wind the prior week.   The overnight temps got down to 31 Wednesday night/Thursday morning, so we left our middle gas heater on all night.....this gas heater also sends hot air down into the water bay to keep it above freezing as well as putting heat in the bathroom, and also in the stairwell area, so it works well as an overnight heater.

Hot air balloons out in the "boondocks"

We were on our way by 9 am sharp headed back east on SR-260 to I-17 and then north towards Flagstaff......there was a forecast of snow for Wednesday night and they did get snow as you can see in the next picture.....we are about 20 miles south of Flagstaff at this point in our drive.  We did get a great view the San Francisco Peaks at one point, so TLE snapped this picture quickly.  Our total elevation gain for our 60 mile drive Thursday was right at 4,000 feet.  The 6V92 purred like a kitten and never got over 195 degrees, and the cruise control worked like a charm....I am so happy I got the speedo fixed!

San Francisco Peaks

A lot of snow at 6,500 feet, an still going up

About 10 miles into our drive we came to a Rest Area and decided to stop for a few minutes to call ahead to the RV park we were headed for to see if they sold propane, or could give us a referral.  As it turned out Jennifer was able to give us a referral to Flagstaff RV Center, which can handle big rigs such as ours.  We arrived there at 10:30 and found the pull through area at the propane station to be more than adequate for our 62' length.  Our propane tank has a 60 gallon capacity, however, as many of you will know, you can only fill a propane tank, normally, to 80% of its capacity, so theoretically our tank can hold 48 gallons.......on this day we took on 50 gallons at $2.99/gallon!  We were lower than low!  The last time we took on propane was in Carson City on November 13th, so we went almost 5 months on that fill up.....not too bad.

We discovered just as we were leaving that the dealership was just a few blocks from our location, so we decided to park in the large mall next to the RV center, unload the VW and drive it over to the dealership before heading back to the RV park.  We were there by 11:20, dropped off the car for repair, and then walked back to the mall to have lunc.  After lunch we drove back over to Black Bart's RV Park to get set up and await our call to come pick up the car.  Black Bart's sits right next to I-40, and while it is not a glamorous RV park, it is perfect for our situation......easy off and on for the Interstate, close to town, and the dealership.  We decided to pay for 2 nights since we didn't know if they would have our car done Thursday.

Around 3:30 I got the call from Jeff Ford at Findlay VW that our car was ready.......I had also asked them to find out why the "air bag" light was always on, and it turned out the driver's side seat belt buckle is defective and even though I am buckled in the sensor does not think so.  This part has to be ordered, and will not be here until next Monday, so when we return from the Page, AZ area next week, we'll drop the car off again to have that fixed, and also the rear brake pads replaced.  Otherwise the car is in good condition and should be for some time now.  As it turns out the door issue was an easy fix.....just a matter of re-securing a cable that had come lose....yay!

The dealership sent a van over to pick us up, and we back at the dealership within minutes paying for our car, and on our way (by the way, they washed and vacuumed our car!).....we did make a quick stop at the local Safeway to buy a few things....there are always a few things we need just in case you hadn't noticed.....:D

Thursday was a great day.....everything we needed to accomplish was accomplished.....we'll kick around Flagstaff on Friday checking out some antique stores, see a movie, and visit a local micro brewery.

Life is good.....thanks for stopping by!

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