Our Amazon Affiliate Link

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Acclimation

When you have spent the better part of the last 7 months in climes where the temperature has rarely gotten to 80 degrees and then overnight the temps are averaging mid 90's your aging body has a difficult time adapting to the change......at least mine does.  Third Wednesday saw the high for the day hit 95 degrees......we turned our A/C on by 9:30 am.  Rancho Jurupa Regional Park sits in what is essentially 'bottom land' next to the Santa Ana River, so along with the heat you get a small dose of humidity thrown in.......something we haven't seen since Cape Blanco.....humidity that is.  Heat combined with humidity makes it feel at least 10 degrees warmer than it is.


At any rate while my body was struggling to acclimate to the heat/humidity I was feeling a little subpar........of course, when I do feel subpar, which is not often, my solution is to get outside and 'move'......'move' on this day meant a 3 mile walk around the neighborhood with TLE to get the juices flowing again.  We left for our walk just before 10 am, and were back just after 11 am and I was feeling somewhat better.  We were so glad the A/C was already on as we stepped back inside the coach to cool down.

Now that I was feeling better I spent time vacuuming out the trailer again, wiping the dust and grime off the passenger side of the coach, and then attached the sewer hose to the dump valve in preparation for flushing out our tanks before we re-position the coach to my daughter's backyard for the next 8 days.

I spent the afternoon reading, and taking a nap (why do I get up sooo early?) then my son, Tim, and his girlfriend, Laila, came over for dinner and a fire.  As we talked about 'cabbages and kings' it became quite apparent that these two are well past the 'boyfriend'/'girlfriend' stage as they are talking about buying a house, getting married, etc........makes me happy to see my son has found a good woman, and Laila is a good woman.  How do I know you ask?  My definition of a 'good woman' is a woman who makes a man want to be a better man, and that is the effect she has on my son, and it is apparent.

Moi, TLE, Tim and Laila.......outside, by the fire..sans flash

Tim and Laila did not join us at 'The Salted Pig' Tuesday night as he wasn't feeling well (allergies), so they decided to come over Wednesday night......it was great to spend 'one on one' time with them.

Tim gets up pretty early to go to work, so they left just before 9 pm, and TLE and I went inside to watch a recorded 'Survivor', 'Castle' and 'Hell's Kitchen' before heading off to dreamland a little after 11.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The best part.......

The forecast temperature in Indio on Tuesday was 100.....we haven't seen 100 degrees since I don't remember when, so in order to get through that I-10 corridor before the high temperatures of the day arrived we decided to leave Winterhaven before 7 am, and, in fact, we were on the road merging on to I-8 westbound by 6:55 am.

It is the simple pleasures in life that make each day worth living.......seeing my speedometer working, and my cruise control holding our speed at a steady 60 mph mile after mile as we floated eastward on a bed of air Tuesday just made my day.....but the best was yet to come.

Just before El Centro we left I-8 and headed northbound on HWY 111.....eventually we came to a Homeland Security checkpoint.........


......as we inched forward I saw several vehicles ahead of us being waived over for further inspection.....I'm thinking...."....here I am pulling a large enclosed trailer...I'm sure they'll want to look inside...", but alas, when we pulled even with the border agent he simply asked "What are you carrying in the trailer?"....I replied..."A VW and a bunch of bikes".....he responded...."Have a good day", and waived us through.  Certainly, I have nothing in the trailer to hide, but who needs the aggravation and delay.....we're trying to beat the heat!

The day we left Wittmann we were down to under 1/4 tank of propane, and I was sure we could get all the way to Lake Tahoe without running out, but decided, nonetheless, to stop at Wells Market on our way out of Wittmann (same place we filled up in February) to fill the tank.  Unfortunately, for some reason their propane fitting would not connect to our tank properly and they were unable to 'fill 'er up', so we headed out thinking we would find a place along our route up to Lake Tahoe over the next few days.  Of course, I need something to worry about, so I worried for a couple of days that the problem was with our propane valve, and not Wells Market's fittings, and was concerned that we might have to have something repaired.....I need to stop doing that. Well, as you know, 10 days have been added to our itinerary, and we'll probably need to get propane well before that.  I remembered getting propane at the Flying 'J' in Palm Desert a few years before, so I had TLE look up the station to verify they still sold propane and they did, so we exited I-10 at Bob Hope Drive around 10 am and did just that.....as it turnes out nothing was wrong with our tank valve at all.....we took on 42 gallons....yup we were a little lower than I thought!

The climb up over Banning Pass was the usual grinder, especially as we approached the heat of the day, but the Newell purred along up the grade from below sea level at Indio to almost 2,000' as we passed the summit just past Beaumont and merged on to California 60 to Riverside.  We arrived at Rancho Jurupa Regional Park at 11:30 am, and were in our site with both A/C's running within 15 minutes.

We had made plans to meet as many of our kids as were available at one of our favorite local brew pubs, 'The Salted Pig'

Have been waiting to taste this very good 'Imperial Stout' for a while!

TLE and I arrived at the 'Pig' about 3o minutes early to be sure we could get a table big enough to hold 9, or 10 people, but as it turned out we ended up having 12 show up (kids, grandkids, great grandkids, spouses, fiances, etc.).  For me, and I know I can speak for TLE here, this is the best part of life.....standing at the end of our long table and seeing all of these people who are connected to each other because Elaine and I fell in love 44 years ago just fills my heart to overflowing......


 Our great grandchild 'D.C.'......he even let me hold him! 

We drank copious amounts of brew, ate some great food, laughed and talked for 2 hours.....this was just how I saw my day ending....:-)......this is, indeed, the best part of life!

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"I admire your professionalism" - Part Two

At last we come to the day of judgement......the day which all of our travels these past three months have revolved around.....our return to Dr. Eva Urena in Los Algondones for TLE's* dental implant surgery.  I'm certain no one really looks forward to dental surgery (except Bill Murray's character in 'Little Shop of Horrors') involving drilling into your jawbone, and I know for a fact TLE was not looking forward to this day, but then again this day is all that stands between us and another summer at SLT**.  In fact, this day and the near future resolution of TLE's current dental needs (a new crown) are all that stand between us and traveling back to the eastern realms of our great nation.  Due to the nature of the dental work required, and several appointments spaced months apart we have had to modify significantly our travel plans this year.  Nevertheless, that is part of the nomadic lifestyle......stuff happens and you adapt....you make a new plan, which is what we are still doing as I write.


Just a few minutes before TLE headed for surgery

We were up early Monday as we wanted to start our 8 mile drive to the Mexican border at 8 am, and arrive at Dr. Urena's office by 8:30 for our 9 am appointments.....dental implant surgery for TLE and the first half of my 'deep cleaning'.

We arrived at the large border parking lot at the U.S./Mexico border entry point about 8:15 (see Google Earth map below), and began our 5 block walk to Dr. Urena's office........


......arriving just after 8:30, and settled in to wait for TLE's turn in the 'chair'.  Just after 9 am TLE was called in by Dr. Urena, and I offered up a silent prayer for her.....not because I don't trust Dr. Urena, but just because I know that sometimes the unexpected happens.

Naturally, when we crossed the border we both put our phones on airplane mode, but as soon as we arrived at Dr. Urena's office the WiFi on my phone recognized the office WiFi hotspot from our prior visit and quickly connected me once again to the outside world.  I was rather opportune that my phone decided it was time to update its operating software....better to use someone else's broadband than mine, right?  It took the better part of 40 minutes for all the downloads, and installations to take place (Verizon did this update in two consecutive stages), and by that time I was hearing TLE laughing, and deduced her surgery must be done, and I was correct.....within a minute or two I was called back for my deep cleaning.  I had arrived expecting that I would be having the entire 'deep cleaning' done in one appointment, but Dr. Urena prefers to do it in two appointments as it can be rather traumatic to your gums.  When she advised she would just do the left side of my mouth (upper and lower) this trip I was caught off guard and asked "well, when will we be doing the second part?"....she replied "when Elaine comes back to have her stitches out".....doh!  Why had I not expected that?  Of course, when there is surgery there are often stitches involved, and this was one of them.  So now I asked "when will that be?".....Dr. Urena replies....."in 10 days".....wait, what?  We're supposed to be in South Lake Tahoe in 4 days.

This is part of what I was writing about earlier in this post...... stuff happens in this nomadic life, just like in 'sticks and bricks' life,  which requires you to adapt and make a new plan.....more on that later.  

Before commencing with the 'deep cleaning' Dr. Urena gave me two shots of novacane to my left upper and two more to my left lower jaw.....this was not something I was expecting as my former dentist of almost 30 years never did this, and, of course, it would get very uncomfortable.  The novacane essentially took away any possibility of discomfort, and that was very much appreciated.  While she dug deeply into my gums I was thinking about how to deal with the unexpected 10 days that had just been added to our itinerary.......there was no way we were going to sit in Winterhaven for 10 days, so the choice was easy.  Instead of 1 day and night in Riverside with our kids we'll have 10.....we'll just drive back down to Los Algondones on May 7th, get TLE's stitches out and the second half of my deep cleaning, then back the same day to Riverside.  We'll just leave Riverside the next morning (8th) and be in SLT** on the afternoon of the 9th.

Dr. Urena was done with the left side of my oral cavity within 20 minutes, and I walked back into the lobby to find TLE doing just fine.....she was not aware at this point that she had to return in 10 days to have the stitches out, so I explained what we should do and she agreed immediately.

Next it was time to pay for our services...$800 for TLE's dental implant, $12 for the oral antiseptic mouth wash we will both be using once a day for the next 10 days, $160 for the first half of my 'deep cleaning' ($80/quadrant), then it was off to the pharmacy for TLE's antibiotics ($27), and back across the border into the good old US of A.  We were back at the car before 10:30.....just two short hours after arriving. 

How do our costs compare with what we would have paid in the U.S.A.?  Typically the amount paid for a dental implant is close to $2,500 (Dr. Urena's charge - $800), and the cost per quadrant for a 'deep cleaning' starts at $150, and can go as high as $400 (Dr. Urena's charge - $60/quadrant).  Our total out of pocket expenses for this visit were $999.  We'll owe another $160 in 10 days for my right upper and lower quadrants, and then when we come back in a few months another $700 for TLE's crown.

TLE says the surgery to install the implant was less painful than the actual pulling of the bad root canal a few months ago.....she has taken no pain killers this time, just the antibiotics, and the oral antiseptic.  The other thing that has impressed me both times we have been to Dr. Urena's office is that we were taken in for our appointments on time.  I don't think I ever had that happen with my old dentist.  Additionally, if you are unable to walk the 5 blocks to the office, George will drive over to the border checkpoint and pick you up.....I don't know any dentist in the USA that will do that.

We recrossed the Arizona border and stopped off at Fry's Supermarket on the way home to buy some 'On The Border' Chips (for me....TLE is on soft foods for a few days), and some brown sugar, then headed home for the afternoon.  As soon as we returned I sent off an e-mail to our SLT** boss advising the change in our plans, and he immediately replied that our 9-10 day delay would be no problem,   Then I sent a text message to all the kids letting them know we would be in town for 10 days, not 1 day.....of course they were overjoyed......and I am too....:-)

Thanks for stopping by!


* TLE = The Lovely Elaine
** SLT = South Lake Tahoe

Monday, April 27, 2015

April showers.....

It was raining when we went to bed at 10 pm Saturday evening......and every time I woke up during the night it was raining....sometimes hard.  Of course I always need some small thing to worry about on the eve of our departure from any given geographical point.  If it rains enough in a short period of time in Wittmann the 1 mile of dirt roads we must traverse from Tom's home to hit pavement sometimes become almost impassible. So, that is what I worried over each time I woke up to the sound of rain, and that is what I worried over as I stepped out of the coach first thing Sunday morning on to the somewhat spongy dirt surrounding our coach.......was it too soft?  Should we wait until later in the day to leave?  What if we get stuck?  I know......MADNESS!

I had gotten up shortly after 5 am Sunday because we wanted to be on the road by 7 am to get ahead of winds forecast for the area between Wittmann and Yuma.  In the past I have delayed our departure a day, or two to avoid winds.  I don't know anyone who looks forward to driving an RV in the wind, except maybe a tail wind.  On this day our direction of travel was essentially westward, and on this day the forecast wind was to be coming from the northwest.  

We decided to stick with our departure time, and after saying our "until next times" we were on the road, and that is where some really good news comes into play......the speedometer works......and, therefore, now I once again have cruise control!


Our first stop of the day was Buckeye, just 30 some miles eastward where we stopped at a Fry's Fuel Station to fill up.....I figured we had around 1/3 of a tank left, or just over 60 gallons, so I figured we would need around 120 gallons, and we took on just 117 gallons at $2.39/gallon......that is the best price we have paid yet on our journeys.  The plunge in fuel prices since the fall to the present level means we saved over $140 over what we were paying just a year ago for the same amount of fuel!  

As we merged on to Arizona 85 to connect to I-8 we hit the forecast headwinds, and that was pretty much the tail of the rest of our travel Sunday, but with a working cruise control all I had to worry about was steering the coach.

When we leave Yuma we will have just over 600 miles to Lake Tahoe, and we want to get there with about 1/2 tank left, so we decided to take advantage of another good diesel price in Yuma at another Fry's Fuel Station and topped off the tank with 22 gallons of diesel at $2.35/gallon!

From there it was just 15 more miles to McCoy's RV Park in Winterhaven.......just one mile over the California border, and just 8 miles from Los Algodones and our dental appointments on Monday.

We arrived at the park around 1:15, and after a slightly difficult time backing into our spot, were set up with the A/C going by 2.....we chose this park based on proximity to Los Algodones, and the fact they accept Passport America.....it is not a 5 star park.....maybe not even a 2 star park, but it has what we need for two nights.

We decided to head over to Prison Hill Brewing Company for dinner around 5:30.....we're calling it TLE's 'Last Supper'......Monday she goes 'under the knife' to have her dental implant installed, and won't be eating solid food for a few days.  You may recall that we visited here back in February when we came for our initial dental appointments.  We both ordered John Coffey Stout's.....OMG!  It was even more yummy than I remembered!  We ordered one appetizer (shrimp, onions, bell peppers, and sausage on a skewer) and their Bail Out BLT (I had this last time and loved it) and split them between us.  It was just the right amount of food!



 Old Town Yuma...

We were back 'home' by 6:40 and settled in for the night.......there were several good NBA games on Sunday, and I was able to watch the second half of the Clippers vs. Spurs in which the Clippers prevailed to even the series at 2-2.  In the last game of the day the Dallas Mavericks held on to defeat the Houston Rockets to avoid being swept.....will they win anymore games......I don't think so, but I've been wrong before.

Winterhaven sunset....

So, what is the moral of the story?  Don't worry, be happy.....everything's going to be all right!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saturday Fleas.....

Real Saturday was our last full day here at 'Newell House' in Wittmann's land, but it was also time for the Wittmann Flea Market!  This is one of our favorite flea markets, and when ever we are in town on Real Saturday we feel compelled to make the 5 minute run over to 'downtown' Wittmann and see what the offerings are.  You will recall I am in the market for a 15/16th half inch drive socket to be used, hopefully never, to remove the vaunted gear drive shaft for my speedometer.  We headed over with Tom about 8 am, and as it turned out I found exactly what I needed for one dollar.

I spent parts of the rest of the day putting stuff away, and organizing the trailer for VW insertion later in the afternoon.  In between my work spurts I watched NBA playoffs......I'm not really sure why they have this 'first round' pitting teams that barely made the playoffs against really good teams.  I think almost all the series are sitting at 3 games to zero, or 2-1 with the week teams really having no chance of advancing.  Doesn't make for very interesting basketball when it seems the results are pretty much foreordained based on the pairings.....anyway, that's my two cents, and I'm sticking to it.

There is not much to report about the rest of the day except around 3:30 I dumped the tanks, and we put the VW in the trailer for our 190 mile trip to Yuma Sunday.  Then around 4:30 pm we joined Tom and Darlene for a drive over to a local LDS church member's home for a silent auction and dinner.....the youth of the church are raising money for a summer trip.  The food was prepared 'Chuck Wagon' style using Dutch ovens to cook biscuits, gravy, meat and some great mashed potatoes.  The silent auction was a great success.....I think they had about 200-300 people in attendance from the local LDS Ward, and other local citizens.

We were home by 8:30 and due to the impending rain TLE and I quickly pulled up the awning mat before it got wet, and I disconnected the sewer and water hoses, so all we have to do Sunday morning is put away the step, and unplug from the electrical.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Success!!!!

I fiddled around with the drive gear shaft(screws directly into the transmission.....I don't know if this is the correct technical term for it, but that's what I call it) for quite a while Thursday trying to get the small broken piece of the 'drive tang' out so I could insert the new drive tang and put everything back together, but, alas, was not successful. I decided to soak the broken fitting with penetrating oil overnight hoping that would loosen it up a tad, but even after an overnight 'soak' it was still STUCK!  It was time for more brain power, and a different perspective, so I found Tom in his herculean garage first thing Friday morning and asked him to take a look at my problem, and see if he had a solution.  His first idea was to double down on my idea of using a magnet to try and pull it out.  He has some Rare Earth magnets that are several times more powerful than mine, but even they were not up to the task.

Next he suggested we heat up the gear drive to see if we could get it out that way......he lit his small propane torch and applied the flame to the threaded end of the gear drive shaft (see picture directly below) and then began tapping it (the threaded end) on a small 2 x 4 piece of wood.....on the third attempt the little, tiny 1/16th" piece of broken drive tang fell out......SUCCESS!


Next we disassembled the 'gear reduction shaft' (below), cleaned it inside and out with carb cleaner, then repacked it with grease and reassembled it. 

Cleaned, greased, and reassembled

Next I had to file the square end of the 'drive tang' a tad to get it to fit into the square slot of the 'gear drive shaft' properly.  Once that was done I re-installed the 'gear drive shaft' into the transmission then attached the 'gear reduction shaft' with new drive tang to it, and then screwed on the generator.


I won't be able to test it until we 'roll' on Sunday, but I'm 99.99999% sure we are good to go!  So, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal to me when I have been living without a speedometer since last September?  My GPS navigation program tells me how fast I'm going, and that is how I have gotten by all these months, but, simply put, I need an operating speedometer for my cruise control to work.  My cruise control taps into the speedometer signal generator and uses that signal to operate.  Without the signal I have no cruise control.  As much as I love driving the Newell, I love it even more when all I have to do is hang on to the steering wheel!

Around 11:15 TLE and I drove into Peoria to meet my niece, Heather (TLE's sister's daughter), and her daughter, Dawn, for lunch at Rock Bottom Brewing.....as you may recall TLE and I have visited this location on more than one occasion and like their brews, food and service.  Everyone was on time and we had a delightful time catching up on family news.

We were back on the road home a little after 2 pm.......made a brief stop at Fry's to do a small shopping, and arrived home a little after 3 pm.  We had dinner sometime after 6 pm with Tom and Darlene and spent the better part of the meal laughing at stories Tom was telling us about his experiences over the years at the dentist.  Tom is a great story teller.

We are all fans of 'Amazing Race', so we watched the recording of Friday's show and then bid each other adieu for the evening.......next comes Real Saturday and the Wittmann Flea Market!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Speed.....

When last I left off we had gone to bed about 1 am Thursday morning.....I obviously knew the day just past was Wednesday, because we had gone to the baseball game on the correct day.....when we first arrived in Wittmann Tom had mentioned that the very next Thursday they were going to go into Mesa for dental appointments, and then over to their other house to bring 'home' their 2002 Newell.  Unfortunately, I didn't wake up until about 15 minutes before they had to leave for the dental appointments, and TLE was still asleep, so we begged off joining them and spent the day in Wittmann by ourselves......I just completely forgot about the planned trip into Mesa on Thursday......


Tom and Darlene's 2002 Newell

Their Newell has been sitting in Mesa since they returned from our joint summer trip to Alberta, Canada back in June and July of 2013.  In just a few weeks they will be joining us, and other Newell owners at South Lake Tahoe for our next Newell Mini Rally.  Newell Corporation organizes large factory sponsored rallies each year, but our Newel Gurus group organizes our own non-corporate 'mini rallies' for those who have 'pre-owned' Newells.  If you have any interest in Newells ranging from the 'Classics' like mine, to later model Newells you are welcome to join us in June (Newell Gurus Mini Rally).....you don't have to own a Newell to come to the rally!

While Tom and Darlene were in Mesa I took some time to try and fix my speedometer again......and 'again' is the operative word.  Last March (2014) when we were in Wittmann I replaced the drive 'tang' in my speedometer sending unit and it worked well for a few thousand miles until we left South Lake Tahoe last September when the drive 'tang' broke again.  Unfortunately, this time part of the 'tang' that broke off is stuck in the slot where the new one is to go, and I have not been able to dislodge it.  With the aid of a 15/16th's socket borrowed from Tom (I don't have this one, but I will soon) I was able to remove the gear drive from the transmission and am hoping now that I can see what I am trying to remove I will be more successful.

 Not sure of the technical name for this 'shaft', but it plugs into the transmission and this is what the signal generator is attached to.

 If you look closely you can see what is left of the square shaft that is stuck in the sleeve (center).

The new 'tang' (lower), and the broken 'tang' (upper)

At any rate I am to the point now where I can at least see what I am working on.....now to get out that broken piece!

Tom and Darlene arrived 'home' about 8 pm and we watched 'Blacklist', 'Bones' and 'Elementary' with them before heading for the barn.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

D'backs!

 These past few days do seem to have a sense of sameness about them......a pleasing sameness to be sure........I get up, drink some coffee, write the blog, help Tom pull wire, take a nap, watch the NBA playoffs.......but then there is Wednesday where the afternoon brings along something different.  

Tom and Darlene have been season ticket holders with the Arizona Diamondbacks since their first year in existence as a franchise.  In our past visits to Tom and Darlene's home we have not been in town during the regular baseball season, but this year is different.  The baseball season has been in progress for around 3 weeks now, and they had a couple of extra tickets to Wednesday's game verses the Texas Rangers.


It's about 50 miles each way to Chase Field in Phoenix where the D'backs play their home games, and their weekday games generally start at 6:40 pm, so we departed Wittmann for the 100 mile round trip drive about 5 pm arriving at Chase Field just after 6 o'clock.  We decided to utilize an underground parking facility on 3rd and Jefferson ($10) and were at our left field bleacher seats by 6:20.  

Settling in for the game...the roof is open tonight

Tom and Darlene's tickets are in the very front row of the left field beachers, which makes for plenty of foot room......


Just prior to game time we paid a visit to the nearby 'cold beer' station where we got a couple of brews and some roasted peanuts, and then it was game time!  The game started slowly with the first inning taking almost 40 minutes as each pitcher struggled a little.......the score at the end of 1 inning was 2-1 in favor of the home team.....but that was as close at it got.  The folks around us were all very friendly and well behaved, and there was a continuous chatter back and forth involving many of the regulars.  There was one homerun hit (D'backs), and it landed just one section to our left.  By the end of the 8th inning it was 8-1 in favor of the D'backs, so with the game well in hand and an hour's drive home facing us we left just before the beginning of the top of the 9th.


The drive home was quick and uneventful  with us arriving safely home about 10:15 pm.  This is the first regular season major league baseball game I have been to in a couple of decades, and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience.

We were both still wide awake and decided to watch two shows that recorded whist we were absent.....'Survivor' and 'Idol'....we were in bed by 1 am.....ouch!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Waiting to exhale...."

We're kind of in a holding pattern right now as you have probably surmised.....TLE has been devoting parts of the past few days to doing a deep cleaning of the coach with her favorite cleaning solution....water and vinegar.....I think that's just her way of keeping me out of the coach for a while.....nothing like the smell of vinegar in the morning, huh?

While there was the semblance of coolness still in the air I headed out to the trailer to repair the pull cord on the Honda 1000 watt generator......if you follow me on a daily basis you will recall that I broke the rope trying to start it our last morning in Goosenecks, but was able to re-string it well enough to get it started.  When we were in Flagstaff I braved the frigid 7,000 foot temperatures to ride my bike over to Home Depot to purchase the replacement nylon rope.  I have never taken the mechanism completely apart before, and I should have been more cautious as I unscrewed the bolt that held the coiled spring in place, but not as focused as I should have been.....the result of my lack of 'focus' was that as I removed the bolt the spring 'exploded' out of the housing......I wish I would have taken a picture of the tangled mess.....here is a 'file' picture of this spring properly coiled.....


Once again the 'Hockwald Way' rears its ugly head.....:-).....so, before I could worry about installing the new pull rope I had to first untangle, and then re-coil the spring.  Fortunately once I got the spring completely untangled it was very easy to re-coil it and then move to installing the starter rope.  

After that I continued assisting Tom in pulling wire for his 'man cave' in the new garage for about an hour until we ran out of wire, and then early afternoon TLE and I took a drive into Surprise to do some shopping......sometime between our time in Camp Verde and our arrival in Wittmann our 'All In One' HP wireless printer/copier/scanner bit the dust.  We've had it for over 3 years, and considering the nature its existence in our 'home on wheels' it was not too surprising.  Printers are not very expensive, so it's really just more practical to buy a new one, which was part of our shopping mission.  Our first stop was Walmart where we settled in pretty quickly on the HP Envy 'All In One' wireless printer/copier/scanner for $79.  As you can imagine the wireless technology continues to improve, and this new printer was significantly easier to install and begin using than the old one.  With the now 'dead' printer we had to plug in a USB printer cable connecting it to my laptop in order to 'pair' them and set up the wireless connection.  With the new one none of that is necessary, and it just took a few minutes before we were able to use it.

Our drive into Surprise was also the first time we have driven the VW any distance since the replacement of fuel pump......whenever I do a DIY repair I'm always a little antsy about how successful my efforts were, but after driving some 40 miles without incident I a feeling more comfortable with my effort.

After buying the printer we headed over to Home Depot to pick up some more wire for Tom, then to the local Goodwill store which we like (we did pick up a replacement butter dish), and finally to Trader Joe's for a wine resupply run.

It looks like the next 5 days will see a slight cooling trend with temps here in Wittmann settling into the high 70's and low 80's.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tom's web.....

When we were in Wittman back in late January/early February progress on Tom's garage was more, or less at a stand still.  I had anticipated being able to help him do some of the work he had reserved for himself, but there were a number of hurdles which had to be cleared before the work he was going to do could be started.  As a result I think I helped him with one thing......installing the trim around the attic access door.  Since we left everything accelerated dramatically and within a few weeks all the final inspections had been completed so Tom could begin to do install light fixtures, pull wire, etc.

By the time we arrived back in Wittmann a few days ago he was beginning to install outlet and switch boxes in the 'man cave' he is building within the large garage, so first thing Monday morning I joined him to drill some holes, and pull a couple hundred feet of wire of various gauges, and here are the results......

 Tom contemplating the next 'pull.


The fruits of our labor 

We pulled heavy duty wire for the two convection ovens being installed, wire for the clothes dryer, wire for the microwaves, and wire for various electrical outlets and switches.  In all I worked with Tom about 6 hours.......my hands are stiff along with my arms and legs, but I am looking forward to more of the same Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Around 2 I went back inside to wait for my Monday call from my sister Jill.......we spent too many years of our lives ignoring each other, angry at each other, so now we have resolved to talk at least once a week.  Being able to regain a relationship with Jill has been one of the blessings of the past 3 years that I cherish.  We talked for close to an hour as has often been the case since we reconciled.

Then I took a long, hot shower and took a nap........later I began to plan our 'mad dash' to South Lake Tahoe after TLE's dental appointment on the 27th.  We'll leave Wittmann this Sunday morning to make the drive over to Yuma, and  spend two nights in Winterhaven, CA (1 mile over the California border and about 5 miles north of Los Algodones,Mexico), followed by a night in Riverside, CA to see our kids, then the next day we'll overnight in Lone Pine, CA, finally arriving in Carson City, NV on the 30th to do some shopping at Costco and Trader Joe's before covering the final 30 miles into the Tahoe Basin for the summer on the 1st.

The daytime temperature once again got into the 90's Monday, but we're in for a slight cooling trend over the next few days with a possibility of rain on Thursday, or Friday (I hope not).

To cap off the day we had dinner over at Jon and Laura's home (Tom and Darlene's daughter and son-in-law), and then watched our regular Monday night TV programs before hitting the 'sack' at 11 pm.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The deep cleaning begins......

For the first time in over two months I turned on no heaters of any kind Sunday morning....the overnight low was 52 degrees, and it only got down to 78 inside our coach.  The high for Sunday in Wittmann was 91 degrees so we (TLE and I) mutually agreed it was time to deploy our sun shade......based on our current orientation the passenger side of the coach gets sun pretty much all day long, so the sun shade creates a buffer zone of shade all day long.



As you will recall, we had wind about half the time we were at Goosenecks, and there was this fine red dust covering everything inside and out, and the trailer was just full of dust, so the first thing I focused on was vacuuming out the trailer, then driving.....that's right....driving the VW over to the concrete driveway of Tom and Darlene's attached garage to vacuum and wash her.  Just vacuuming out the VW took the better part of an hour, and then it was time to give her a good soaking and put a smile back on her 'face'.

The rest of the day was spent watching NBA playoffs, and I am happy to report that the L.A. Clippers won their first game at home against the World Champion San Antonio Spurs in convincing fashion.  I know, I know......the Clippers are not the Lakers, but they are from L.A. and other than the L.A. Kings (hockey) and Anaheim Ducks (hockey) there has not been much to cheer about in L.A. sports for a long time.

While we were in Flagstaff TLE made up a large batch of her famous lasagna (actually the recipe comes from my sister-in-law, Shannon Houghtaling, so it is technically Shannon's famous lasgna), so we shared that and some wonderful sourdough garlic bread for dinner with Tom and Darlene.

Also, for the first time since last September we ran our rear A/C most of the day and it performed flawlessly......those roof A/C's are 33 years old and they still blow 'ice cubes'.....amazing!

That was our Sunday......thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My ears are popping!

Partly cloudy skies greeted us Saturday morning

For the past 2 months we have been living at elevation ranging from 3,500' (Cottonwood) to Flagstaff (7,100') and on real Saturday we dropped over 5,000' feet in elevation in one day!  We went from 50 degree daytime temps, and sub 30 degree overnight lows to 90 degree daytime temps and 52 overnight lows......I slept with the window open last night!

Of course, I get somewhat ahead of myself....what did real Saturday look like from the beginning?

I was up before 6 (about the time I heard the percolator begin to perk) writing my blog and sipping my cup of  'Jo'.  The scene (above) that greeted me was quite different than the prior day.  Our goal was to be on the road before 8 am (AST) and we were successfully motivating down the road by 7:40 am!  I wanted an early start as we had to do the 6 mile, 6% grade out of the Verde Valley and I like to make the big climbs when it is still cool outside.  

Just south of Flagstaff on I-17 is the beginning of one of the longest downhill stretches we have done in our journeys at 18 miles of 5-6% grades.  We spent half our driving time to Wittmann 'jaking' at zero throttle.

We hit the Verde Valley grade about 8:30 and the Detroit Diesel climbed the 6 mile, 6% grade with nary a hiccup.  We took a break at the rest area about 20 miles north of New River to change into our street clothes....when I get on the road that early I usually drive for a few hours in my pajamas.......just more comfortable!

We were in Wittmann by 11 am (AST) and parked in our new full hookup site at Tom and Darlene's home next to the just completed 'garage'.  We are officially the first ones to use this site.....we have water, 50 amp electrical service, sewer, very good WiFi, and most important of all......8 days to spend with very good friends.

 Our 'digs' for the next 8 days

While TLE went inside to start work on making an enormous amount of salsa I set about setting up our 'camp'.  Haven't used our patio awning for quite a while, but with the sun on the passenger side of the rig all day long we'll need the shade.

Tom and I drove into Wickenburg to visit the 'Tractor Supply' store.....every time I have ever been in a 'Tractor Supply' store I have bought something....without exception.....and this day was no exception.


I like it.....

Just so you know I'm not the only one who liked this hat.....Tom bought one too....:-)

On our way back home Tom suggested we roll the VW out of the trailer and take a run at fixing it.  Our new VW fuel pump along with sending unit and new rubber gasket arrived Thursday via Amazon Prime....total cost for pump, sending unit and gasket......$85 shipped.....VW's price for the pump....$250, plus $50 for the sending unit, and another $25 for the gasket.....typical nationwide price to remove and replace the fuel pump (parts/labor) on a 2001 VW Bug....$500 plus.  

On advice from good friend Michael Kuper (Flying the Koop) we first checked the plug that sends power to the fuel pump to be sure it was getting power, and it was, so we did not have to go to step 2 which was to check the viability of the relay.  Before proceeding to step 3 we watched a YouTube video Tom had found that tells exactly how to change the pump.....it's not a long video, so click on it to see how easy it is, and why I decided to do it myself.


After watching the video we began the process of first removing the bad fuel pump, then installing the new one.  There is only room for one person in the back seat so Tom watched through the open hatch giving encouragement and advice while I did the work.  Within an hour the new pump was installed.  Now the moment of truth.......when it comes to stuff like this my confidence level is pretty low, but every time I take on a task such as this and succeed I am that much more emboldened to take on the next one.....I sat down in the driver's seat, depressed the clutch pedal and turned the ignition key......I could hear the fuel pump begin pressurizing......then continued turning the key and she fired right up!  With the encouragement of Tom and TLE I saved our financial coffers over $500 by doing this myself.....YAY for our team!

Darlene had purchased some steaks for our real Saturday dinner, so Tom and I pulled out his large BBQ so I could do the honors.  We had a great dinner and conversation, as we always do, and then headed back to our home on wheels for the evening about 8:30.....I was asleep in my lounge chair by 9.....woke up about 10:30 and went to bed dreaming sweet dreams.....

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2 days and 2 nights


I left you with a picture of snow on the ground yesterday morning (5th Saturday).......when you find yourself at 7,000 feet elevation in April in Flagstaff any type of weather is possible, but almost without exception we have gotten snow in Flagstaff in April over the years.  Back in 1983 we (TLE and 3 kids) were on a road trip to St. Louis to visit TLE's family...... as we passed through Flagstaff on that trip it was snowing.  Back in April of 2009 we were on our way to our first Newell mini-rally and got hit with snow once again as we passed through town, and now 2015 we get a light dusting of snow in April.

Within a couple of hours the snow did melt, and for most of the day we had partly cloudy skies, but it never warmed up past 50 degrees.  Once the sun got over the tree line that surrounds Black Bart's RV Park I went outside to dump 13 days of effluent from the black and gray tanks.

It has been almost 8 weeks since I had my last haircut, and my hair had become quite unruly, so I looked up Supercuts to see if they had a store in Flagstaff, and sure enough they do.....just about 1.5 miles away.  The kicker is we currently do not have a running car, so I pulled out my warm cycling clothes, got out my Cannondale Bad Boy and rode over to Supercuts about 11 am.  My clothing choices were good, but I should have worn something over my ears.....:-/  I have found over the years that one of the best times to go to Supercuts for a haircut is just before lunch and Friday was no exception......I was in and out in less than 30 minutes.

Of course, once I have my bike out you know I'm going to have a hard time putting her away after anything less than 10 miles, so I continued up the iconic and historic Route 66.  As you might recall I needed a new nylon starter rope for the Honda Generator and it just so happened there was a Home Depot a few miles up the road, plus there is an REI in town.  


My first stop was REI.....I didn't need anything, but just like to browse to see what is new and expensive.....when we were in Flagstaff last year about the same time this store was just about ready to open, so it's just a year old.  I didn't find anything I couldn't live without so after I was sufficiently warmed up once again I continued my trek to Home Depot.


I always forget there are a lot of hills in Flagstaff, and climbing a 6% grade at 7,000' I am once again reminded I need to ride my bike more......and don't forget the ever present wind in Flagstaff. I found the rope I needed at Home Depot very quickly and was back on my bike headed for the barn within a few minutes.  That persistent headwind I fought all the way to Home Depot was now at my back.....:-)

In my absence TLE had been making lasagna, and when I opened the door my olfactory senses were greeted with the most wonderful aroma.  I asked TLE to make me some hot tea whilst I re-stowed my bike..... checked my cyclocomputer and found that I had ridden 10.18 miles.....by the time I re-entered the coach TLE had a plate of hot lasagna and a cup of hot tea waiting for me.....yum!

I spent the rest of the day inside reading, and restoring warmth to my extremities.....we'll be pulling up anchor first thing Saturday morning and covering the final 148 miles to Wittman....


I will leave you with the above picture......things have returned to normal.....the snow is gone, and the sun is out!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Adios Goosenecks

Wednesday night/Thursday morning it got quite cold, and in our bedroom (we don't run heaters at night) it got down to 43.....I get the shivers just remembering it.  I got up before 6 and turned on all three gas heaters to take the chill off the interior, and then I checked the battery level.....76%.......wait, what?  We started at 100% Wednesday night (yep, one more time back to 100%)......how could they be down that far?  The batteries were at 98% when we returned home from Linda and Steven's at 8 pm (AST), and we only watched 2 hours of TV on the inverter....I was expecting maybe 87%.

Then I remembered......I had turned on the small generator to watch TV, but it seemed to be laboring, and was only registering 90 volts on the analog voltmeter., which is too low to run any electrical appliance.  I suspected some alternating current appliance was on, but nothing inside the coach was on.....I checked both electric heaters, and the block heater......all off.  Finally I decided to turn off the generator, and just watch the TV on the inverter.

Now (Thursday morning) I am staring at the Blue Sky monitor and remembering how the small generator was inexplicably laboring the night before and then thought I should check the water bay electric heater......I go outside and find that the thermostat dial is sitting at 48 degrees.......just slightly to the left of "OFF", and realize that we were running that heater off the inverter while we watched TV.....thank goodness we don't leave the inverter on while we are sleeping!  To reiterate....the Honda is only a 1,000 watt generator, which means, effectively, it can barely power anything drawing 10 amps, and those electric heaters do draw over 10 amps when in operation, hence the generator "labored".

Okay.....minor glitch.....now that the phantom AC draw has been rooted out I decided to go outside and turn on the small generator to try and get the batteries back to 80% before the sun comes comes over the eastern horizon.  I pull the starter rope to start the Honda and it snaps off in my hand.....what the #@%*&!

So, there I am standing over the Honda on my pajamas at 5:50 am (AST) in the morning thinking I'm going to have to wait until it gets warm enough to start the big 7.5 kw Kohler propane generator.....it used to start at any temperature, but the past year it will not start unless it is closer to 40 degrees.....I'm not sure why that is, but I suspicion the solenoid that is supposed to open up and allow propane to flow sticks when it gets too cold......may need to replace it.  I can hear all three gas heaters rockin' in the background sucking more volts out of my already depleted batteries and remembering that if they get too low I'll have to merge the start batteries with the house batteries to start the big generator.....if it will start.....we need the big generator to power the block heater on the DD because it is 'cold blooded' and when it gets below 40 degrees it needs a little preheating before it will fire.

So I unplug the Honda, disconnect the Kryptonite Cable that secures it to the trailer so it won't wander off in the night, and take it inside.....I'm going to fix the starter rope and get that sucker going....I will not be defeated! Ironically most of the time it took me to get the housing off so I could re-string the rope was taken up trying to find a 10 mm socket to unscrew the 3 bolts that secure the starter rope housing.   Apparently I only have one 10 mm socket, and it was not where it was supposed to be.....I think this must be the only thing I own that requires a 10 mm socket.....I finally find it after a 30 minute search and get to work on fixing the rope.  It took me a few tries, but finally after an hour I succeed in getting the small generator started, and electrical juice flowing back into the house batteries.

While my generator drama is unfolding in the predawn hours TLE is curled up in the warm bed dreaming sweet dreams completely unaware of the personal sacrifices I am making to keep our electrical system intact........when she awakens just after 7 am all is well, but she does ask...."Why were you going in and out of the door 15 times?".....:-)

As it turned out the big generator did fire up around 8:45 am (AST), when it was still 35 degrees, and we began the preheat on the 6V92 in anticipation of our departure from Goosenecks after 12 blissful days bringing our boondocking total to 38 days off the grid over the past 2.5 months.

Linda and Steven came by to say 'until next time' and we got this 'usie' to memorialize the event.......we spoke deliberately of making sure our paths cross again in the next year, and we are looking forward to the next installment of our burgeoning friendship.

 Until the next time

Our official time of departure was 9:30 am (AST), and as Goosenecks grew smaller in our review mirrors we both expressed a bittersweet feeling about leaving, but it is time we began our migration back to southwestern Arizona, and TLE's impending dental surgery.....first up will be two days in Flagstaff, which sits at 7,000 feet elevation.  The drive down US 163 to Kayenta, then US 160 over through Tuba City to US 89 and south to Flagstaff was without incident......out of Kayenta we climbed steadily to 6,700', then skated downhill to Tuba city, then began the climb all over again up to Flagstaff and 7,000'.

We stopped off at the local Safeway on US 89 to do a 'big' shopping.....it's nice to be back in a state where you can purchase alcohol easily.....then it was a short 3 mile drive to Black Bart's RV Park where we will plug in for a couple of days before heading south to Wittmann.  The day time temp in Flagstaff on Thursday was 42 degrees with a projected low of 21......we left the front electric heater on when we went to bed.....when I got up this morning at 6 am (AST) I was greeted by the scene below.......


......this is not the first time we have hit snow in Flagstaff in April......

Thanks for stopping by!