Saturday, January 18, 2020

Miss Serendipity has made herself known once again......

6:29 am - Saturday - January 18th - Ramona, CA - 32° F, 92% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the east......clear, chilly with a forecast high today of 69° F.

When you have lived the vagabond lifestyle as long as we have you come to understand, and even embrace that every endeavor has its season.  After all we move from one seasonal job to another most of the time, and if not to a new seasonal job to a neat boondocking location, or traveling across country changing views ever day, or two.  You become more aware of the temporary nature of life in general, and of your life specifically.  We have wheels on our home, and can change our view without going through escrow, so no situation, or job feels permanent, or indefinite.  Next Friday is January 24th, and will mark our 9 month anniversary.....just enough time to have conceived, and birthed a baby.  Well, our 'baby'.....our job......has reached its birth day, and as of 1 pm on the 24th we will find ourselves once again jobless.  We received that news from Rich and Marnie, who were acting at the owners' direction, at 1 pm as we were 'punching the clock' for the day.  

The owners (not Rich and Marnie) needed to reduce payroll more dramatically than they originally thought back when they reduced everyone's hours a few months ago, so TLE and I along with one other employee have been given our walking papers by them, not Marie and Rich.....it's okay, really.  We had both been feeling a little restless, and ready to change our view for a month, or so, but had resolved to finish out our commitment to Rich and Marnie.  As we told them Friday, we would work for them anywhere, and hope to in the future.  They have been great managers, and have become good friends.

So, there is a season to everything in life, and our season here at RORVR is coming to an end next week.  What is next?  Most, if not all of the local workamper related winter jobs have been filled.  We'll spend some time looking for a job to fill in the 2+ month gap until we depart for Alaska, and collect unemployment in the interim.  Neither of us have ever filed for, or collected unemployment......ever.....so this will be a new experience.  I'll write more in the coming days about our Jello plans, and what Miss Serendipity is whispering to us.

So, what did I do Friday?  Since it was still raining when we arrived at the office for the beginning of our shift I returned to my list of indoor jobs Rich had given me a week, or so ago.  The bunk beds in three of the rental cabins needed to be repainted, so I spent most of my shift preparing wood surfaces for painting.  As is most often the case it takes 2-3 times longer to prepare to paint than it does to actually apply the paint.  After talking with Rich and Marnie at the end of our shift we headed home......there was a little bit of sadness since we have loved working and living here, and loved the people with whom we work, but on the other hand we are excited about what comes next.

Since I had received the new high voltage fuse box for the VW I set about removing the old one, and replacing it with the new one.......




.....it took me about 90 minutes beginning (2:30 pm) to end (4 pm) to complete the R & R, but in the end the VW started right up, and the battery is charging properly.  As you can see, I used a Sharpie to write 1,2,3 & 4 on the red wires to be sure I didn't cross up their order.  My temporary fix has worked all week with no dash lights randomly appearing, so I am 95% sure the old high voltage fuse box with the burnt terminal was the culprit.  

Since it was just 4 pm I suggested to TLE that we light the propane fire pit, and sit by the fire for an hour, or so before I grilled our salmon dinner, and she readily consented.  We do our best talking, and brainstorming sitting by the fire.....of course, a good cigar, and a couple fingers of Scotch always seems to aid the process.....:-).

So, there you have it....what comes next will unfold over the next week....stay tuned, and thank you for stopping by!


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Friday, January 17, 2020

Making a mountain out of a molehill......

6:46 am - Friday - January 17th - Ramona, CA - 46° F, 100% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the south.....overcast, raining since 2 am......forecast high for today 58° F.

Thursday morning began under 30° F, but by 10 am I had my UnderArmor shirt, and hoody sweatshirt off.  Right now in mid January it stays warm for about 4 hours (10 am to 2 pm), and that was our window to begin gluing down the new artificial turf on hole #9......


......we began with the center piece of this hole.....the mound, aka: 'Mt.' Lorenzo......not really a 'mountain'.....more like a molehill.  Everything on this hole revolves around the mound where the hole is located.  That piece must be glued in place before the rest of the turf around it can be glued.  While TLE placed globs of the adhesive on the cement, I used a serrated edge trowel to spread it out thinly......


.....once the mound piece was in place we took celebratory pictures......


......but that was the easy part.  We did not want to remove the large piece of turf surrounding the mound to cover all the cement surface with adhesive at one time as it would be difficult to get the entire piece in place before the adhesive began to set, so we folded over one section at at time, applied the adhesive to that small section, and then moved to the next.

Only the mound piece is glued down at this point, and the hole has once again been exposed to the light of day

By 2 pm we had glued the entire piece around the hole, as well as the piece beginning at the boulder (see above picture) and ending at the corner where the cone is.  TLE is off at 2 pm so that was a good ending spot, plus it began to cool off quickly at 2 pm.  I ferried TLE home, and then returned to clean up the tools we used, and then haul two empty 5 gallon adhesive cans along with the rest of the old artificial turf to the dumpster.  It took a while to clean the adhesive off the trowels as it had begun to set by that time.  

There are still three more pieces of turf to glue, but they will have to wait until Saturday at the earliest as it rained this morning (early Friday morning), and it will not be dry enough, or warm enough to apply the adhesive until then.  Once again, spending most of the day on my hands and knees had a deleterious effect on my knees, and the rest of my body.

TLE had a 3:15 pm chiropractor appointment, and successfully drove the VW into town and back without incident, so my temporary fix to the high voltage fuse box seems to be holding.  In the interim the new box has arrived, and I will install it on Friday afternoon.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

The resurrection of #9.....

6:43 am - Thursday - January 16th - Ramona, CA - 29° F, 100% humidity, wind - CALM......cold this morning!  Forecast high today is 59° F with a chance of rain this evening.

For the first time in a long time TLE and I worked together for part of the day.  After using RORVR's Ford F-150 to haul the large roll of artificial turf, and other tools up to the mini golf course I spent most of the morning fitting a piece of turf to the mound (Mt. Lorenzo) in the middle of the 9th green at the mini golf course.  There are quite a few angles on that mound, so I started with a scrap piece of turf I found in the maintenance building with which to experiment.  My goal was to use just one piece to cover the mound with as few cuts as possible.....

 First effort

......I finished with my experiment around 11:30, and was pretty happy with the result.  About that time I had a call from TLE on the 2-way radio stating she was ready to come help me, so I dropped what I was doing and headed down to the office to pick her up......

 Lookin' pretty good, right?

.....she took a look at what I had done with the mound piece, and had a few suggestions so I cut another piece off the large roll of artificial turf (see below), and we began anew.  With her help we gradually fitted a single piece to the mound cutting just two 'darts' on the back side to remove the slack created by essentially wrapping the piece around the mound.  Once we were both happy with the result I moved on to cut out a single piece to fit the large area around the hole (see above).  By the time we had that large piece fitted it was almost 3 pm, and time for TLE to head home for the day.  I could not have gotten that mound piece to fit properly without TLE's assistance......thank you honey!

I returned to cut out the final pieces for the rest of the hole.....I had four pieces to cut, and was able to fit them into a small area on what remains of the roll of turf....

 Ready to cut

The old turf ready for the dumpster

.....I managed to cut out the remaining four pieces and lay them out by 3:55 pm.  By the time I put everything away, and returned to put 4 orange cones on the course to warn away people from trying to use the hole it was after 4 pm, and time to head for the barn.  The next step will be to glue down all the pieces on Thursday.  After spending the better part of the day on hands and knees I felt like I had been in a car wreck, but a little Tylenol, and a long hot shower restored my equilibrium.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Finally......

6:50 am - Wednesday - January 15th - Ramona, CA - 29° F, 89% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the east......clear, very cold skies with a forecast high today of 66° F.

 We returned to work Tuesday after our 3.5 day weekend, but it felt like a Monday to us.  Waiting for me in the tool shed was the new clothes hangar rack Rich put together for me.  The pipe flanges I wrote about came in over the weekend so he went ahead and put it together so all that remained was for me to install it in Restroom #2, so after doing my opening duties, including the pool, I retrieved some screws, a ladder, plus the rack, and headed directly to the restroom to install it.  I located a place to install it near the folding table, and had it up within 10 minutes.....easy peezy!


And finally we come to the task for which I have been waiting, and planning since I arrived.....install new turf on Hole #9 at the Mini Golf course, aka: Mt. Lorenzo......

 It took less than an hour to remove the old turf

.....the first task was to remove the old turf, which consisted of green, gray and black turf.  The green turf was the oldest, and in the poorest shape.  There has been no turf covering the mound in the center of the above picture for a long time, which can be observed below......

 The big hole in the green turf is where Mt. Lorenzo is

......once the turf was removed the real work began.  Using both a pole scraper, and a handheld scraper I spent the rest of the day cleaning the cement surface of all the old turf and glue residue in preparation for the installation of the new turf.....

 By the time I was finished Tuesday this barrel was half full, and that does not even include the turf, which will be used as a template to cut out the new turf pieces


 A pile of the turf/glue residue

.......by 3:30 pm I had about 90% of the scraping done, and were my knees and shoulders ever sore.  In the end it was worth it as things are looking pretty good now.  I'll have a little scraping to finish Wednesday morning, and then it will be time to cut out the new turf pieces and install them....

 Just about ready!


......to finish up my day I headed to the storage area to dump the trash can full of turf/glue residue, checked the water tank, turned on the pumps for 3 hours, and then put away my tools for the day.  It appears Wednesday will be the warmest day of the week, which is just perfect for the final task of installing the new turf.

I returned to the office at 5 pm to pick up TLE in the VW and drive her to her Chiropractor appointment....she didn't want to drive herself until she is sure the VW electrical issue has been fixed, and I don't blame her.  The VW performed as it should going and coming with no dash lights appearing.....we were home by 5:30 pm without event.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Moving, trail blazing, and football.......

6:43 am - Tuesday - January 14th - Ramona, CA - 38° F, 93% humidity, wind - CALM......clear, chilly skies.......forecast high for today is 62° F.

Since late November I have been waiting on the CONEX rental company to come pick up the CONEX storage unit up in the storage area so I could move my trailer to that spot, and be able to plug it in when I'm up there working on something.  For some reason, the rental company has never shown up to haul their CONEX unit away.  As recently as last week they said they would be here that Wednesday, but they never appeared.   On Sunday Dave dropped by the Newell to let me know that the tear drop trailer parked next to the CONEX had been picked up by the owners, and they would probably not be bringing it back, and did I want to move my trailer into that spot, which is directly in front of the electrical outlet.....I, of course, replied "YES!".  So about mid morning Monday I retrieved the Kubota front loader, and using the hitch attachment Rich bought for just this purpose, moved the trailer with TLE's help.....it is now plugged in for the first time since April 28 of last year......







.....I mentioned in yesterday's post that I was going to check to see if after the work I did cleaning up the negative terminal post in the high voltage fuse box the alternator was now charging the battery when the engine was running.  Instead of using my code reader's live data feature I simply used my multi meter to check the battery with the engine off, and then on, and the verdict is in......the battery is now receiving a proper charge of 14.4 volts....when the engine is off the battery sits at 12.5 volts....not perfect, but very good.  The main thing is the alternator charge is reaching the battery now.  Of course this was only a temporary fix as the new high voltage fuse box will be arriving in a few days.

Once all that was done I retrieved my Haibike and headed up the hill to work on the single track trail again.  I took pictures this time of the work I had done a few days ago.....



......there is this one very technical stretch about 100 yards into the trail that has several tight turns, almost all off camber, and up to a few days ago, a lot of big rocks, as well as blind corners.   This stretch is about 40-50 yards long, but before the work it was almost impossible to clear it without stalling out at some point.  My goal was to trim the brush back on the blind corners so one could see what was coming, and set up properly to clear the next section.  I put banks in the turns to remove the off camber nature of the them, then moved a few large rocks....


 That brush on the left as you enter the corner is now 
trimmed back so you can see what is coming

I put in a small dirt ramp to aid getting over 
that big boulder near my bike

......further on down the trail (about 300 yards) I straightened out a couple of turns, moved a few more rocks, and clipped some more brush back.  My intent had been to return to the top of the trail to ride it with the improvements, but after a couple of hours of trail blazing work I was out of energy, so left that for another day and headed back to the Newell to clean up and take a nap before the NCAA Championship game between the Clemson Tigers and LSU Tigers came on at 5 pm, knowing full well that the name of the winning team would be the Tigers.....:-)

The game was all that it was billed to be.  It began with Clemson dominating LSU in the first 20 minutes up 17-7, but then the game turned, and suddenly LSU was up 28-17 by half time.  It got as close as 28-25 in the 3rd quarter, but LSU pulled away winning easily 42-25, and it wasn't really that close.

TLE delivered big time on dinner......she doesn't do this dish a lot as there is a lot of preparation, but on this day she made her special Chicken Marsala......


......OMG, it was her best effort to date.....right up there with restaurant quality!

The NCAA Championship game was not over until well after 9 pm, meaning it was over 4 hours long, but we enjoyed every single minute of it.  Within minutes of the end of the game I was in bed slipping off to dreamland once again.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Another day, another diagnosis........

7:09 am - Monday - January 13th - Ramona, CA - 33° F, 92% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the northeast.....clear, blue, chilly skies with the forecast high of 62° F.

On Friday when we were down in Poway at COSCTO picking up my prescriptions we decided to fuel up the VW at their fuel station where premium sells for $3.49/gallon....about as good as it gets in SoCal.  As we were waiting in line two dash lights came on....ABS, and anti slip.  Within seconds the little red battery symbol appeared, then the airbag light, and then the parking brake light....suddenly the car began to idle roughly......just as we pulled even with the pump the car died........hmmmm?  While TLE pumped the gas I opened the hood to see if I could see anything obvious was wrong.....nothing obvious, of course.  

Okay, a little background at this point is necessary......this same thing had happened a couple of months ago as we were driving through downtown Ramona.  I pulled over then, even though the car still seemed to be running fine, turned it off hoping that would reset things, but then it would not restart...it would not even turn over....not even that dreaded 'clicking' sound the starter makes when the battery has died.  Since the engine would not even turn over, just as Friday, I thought the battery had died.  We were about half a block from the local Napa auto parts place so I began to attempt to remove the battery, but realized I did not appear to have the right metric socket (#10)......the Napa store was about to close in 10 minutes so I just reattached the positive cable to the battery thinking I might have to call a tow truck.  When I got back in the car the dash lights had disappeared, and the car started immediately.  I wrote it off to a 'gremlin' in the electrical system, and drove home.

Fast forward back to Friday at COSCTO.....I figured if I disconnected the positive cable from the battery for a few minutes and then reconnected it the same thing would happen.......NOT.  So TLE has finished pumping the gas and there is a long line of vehicles behind us.....I suggested we push the Beetle off to the side, and figure out what to do next. Just as we get the car out of the way the next gentleman in line who was in a Toyota PU asked if I had jumper cables, to which I replied "YES!"......he pulled up next to me as I retrieved the cables.  We both quickly connected them, and then I attempted to start the car.....it started, and all the lights disappeared once again.  We thanked him and drove home without incident.  I'm thinking all the way home "What on earth is wrong with the car?".   We get home, and I turn the car off, then turn it back on.......perfect, or so I thought.

Fast forward to Sunday.  We needed to do a 'big' shopping so we headed down to the Stater Brothers in Ramona about 10 am.  Because I was still uncertain what was going on with the car I decided to head to AutoZone first and buy one of those portable jump start battery packs just in case something unfortunate happens again before I figure out what is wrong.  AutoZone sells one made by Duralast (an AutoZone brand) that provides a 1,000 watt (100 amp) jump start, and also provides a high pressure air pump.....cool.  I bought it, and then we headed back to Staters......all this time the VW is operating normally.....no dash lights....no nothing.....just purrrring like a kitten.

We park in front of the Goodwill, both finding something without which we could not live, and then head over to Staters to do our 'big' shopping.  By 11:30 am we were driving home through downtown Ramona when those darn ABS/anti slip lights come on again.....having learned our lesson when this happened the first time a couple of months ago, we did not stop, or turn off the VW.....we just headed straight home.   Within a couple blocks the battery light came on again, then the airbag light, and then the brake light......just as we were passing under the security gate at RORVR the car began that rough idle thing it did at COSTCO so I knew we were on borrowed time......just as we came to a stop in front of the Newell the car died.....well, that certainly was fortuitous.....:-)

We carried our purchases inside, and then I plugged in the new Duralast jump start pack to get it charged.  By this time I was zeroing in on the alternator being the issue......the battery is obviously discharging while driving which means it is not getting charged by the alternator.  I decided to sit down and look at some videos on Youtube about this issue.  One video suggests checking the fusible links in the high voltage fuse box which sits atop the battery case.  If any of those fuses had blown that could be causing the issue.  So, armed with this new information I did just that, and guess what I found......


.....it's hard to see now, but the black negative cable on the left was showing severe oxidation, and the nut which affixes it to the post was totally rusted out, and the plastic to the left was completely melted......


....on the high voltage fuse box lid (above) you can see burn marks, and residue from the extreme heat produced at that terminal.  Suddenly a light goes on in my head....if the negative connection is compromised, as it obviously was, the charge being sent by the alternator to the battery is not getting there consistently due to the increased resistance at that negative cable connection.....doh!  Well, like I have said previously, start with the simple stuff first......the cost is about the same to replace the alternator (much harder to get at), or the high voltage fuse box (much easier to access and replace), so I quickly ordered a brand new version of the later, which will arrive later in the week.....problem solved.....I hope....fingers crossed!

In the interim I disconnected the negative cable from the box, cleaned it, the bolt, nut, and fusible link free of the corrosion, and reinstalled them, then attached my batter charger to recharge the battery.  Prior to discovering and cleaning that one negative terminal I had attached the charger, but the battery would not charge.  Once it was cleaned, the battery began to charge, and this morning (Monday) it is now fully charged once again.......

The green charged light is now glowing brightly this morning

........this morning (Monday) I will attach my Foxwell code reader, which provides 'live' statistics while the car is running so I can see if the battery is charging, or discharging.  

So, what else happened Sunday?  Well, besides the Beetle shenanigans, not much.....there were two NFL divisional playoff games being played Sunday featuring the Houston Texans vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in the early game, and the Seattle Seahawks vs. the Green Bay Packers.  The first game began much like the Saturday game between the Titans and Ravens, with the underdog getting out to a big early lead (24-0 at one point), but then the Chiefs suddenly turned things around and outscored the hapless Texans 51-7 to win going away 51-31....WOW!  The nightcap was the only close game of the weekend with the Packers hanging on to win 28-23....a game much more to my liking.

TLE had me grill shrimp again for dinner to which she added a salad, and some more Malbec to chase same.  The shrimp turned out very well once again!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

A diagnosis......

8:48 am - Sunday - January 12th - Ramona, CA - 36° F, 92% humidity, wind - CALM......skies are clear and blue if not slightly chilly.....forecast high for today is 62° F.

Once again the VW was entirely covered in frost......third day in a row!  It has been down in the low to mid 30's every night for the past week, and the inside temp gets down to 54 before I remotely turn on our fireplace, which stops it from getting any lower.  I wasn't too long ago that I was happy when the interior got down to the low 70's at night with all the windows open.

After posting my daily missive I got to work again on our Jello travel itinerary for our Alaska trip this summer.  As you must know if you have been reading my blog for any period of time I use the word 'Jello' as everything except for Glenn and Laureen's appointment at A.M. Solar on April 19th, our reservations in Seward, AK and for Denali National Park is subject to change at any given time......in essence our plans are written in Jello.

When it was warm enough I headed out to take an MTB ride on the RORVR fire roads.  My goal was to get in a good ride, and then spend time working on a single track trail Rich built about 9 months ago.  TLE and I have hiked it a couple of times, and I have ridden it once on my new Haibike.  Most of it is pretty rideable, but there are a few sections where large rocks, or off camber turns cause one to come to a complete stop at times.  My goal was to work on those sections.  I forgot to take my phone with me, so there are no pictures, but I will take some later and post them.  At any rate, I tackled the first difficult section, and after an hour, or so of work I was able to move back up the trail and clear that section without stopping.  There are a couple other sections I'll work on over the next few weeks, and post updates when I do.

I was home just before 1 pm......the first Divisional NFL playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the San Francisco 49ers was slated to begin at 1:30 pm.  I took a shower then settled in to watch the first quarter.  At the end of the first quarter it was tied 7-7, so I decided to return to a long postponed project.....figure out what is wrong with our Splendide combo washer/dryer.  A few months ago it stopped going into the spin cycle, and would not drain, so we could not dry the clothes either, and the door would not unlock so we could get the clothes out.  TLE found a solution online showing how to open it manually, but you had to take the top off the unit to get at the switch.  I successfully got the door open, and we mopped the water out of the drum, but I did not feel like pulling the whole unit out of its closet to do a deep dive into what was wrong at the time.  One of the RORVR laundries is right across the street from us, so we decided to just utilize that until I got the Spendide fixed.  Well, it's been a few months, and it is time to get back to fixing the Splendide.  While I was riding TLE had pulled everything out of the pantry so I could get to work after my shower.  Within a few minutes of removing the lid I think I found the problem, or at least one problem......


.....see that red circle in the upper corner of the back panel on the Splendide?  It appeared to me that one of the wires looked a little melty, and there appeared to be some burn marks on the white plastic plug.......


.....now a little closer....see the enlarged insulation on the blue wire, and the burned spot on the plastic just below it?


Yup, something is going on for sure.  The plastic on the white plastic plug is burnt, and the plastic on the black plastic thing (I don't know what it is) is melted......


.....and this brown wire it definitely toast......could our problem be that simple?  I took a picture of the label on the black plastic thing which shows the manufacturer and part number.  I'll call Splendide on Monday to find out what that is, and how much it will cost to replace that, plus the wiring harness.  If it really is that simple, and I don't know, it's something I can get at pretty easily without removing the unit from its closet.  It is possible some other problem caused the pieces to overheat and melt.  Once I had a diagnosis, or at least a partial one, I put it all back together along with the shelving so TLE could put away all the food stuffs she had removed from the pantry.

The rest of the day was pretty routine......the Vikings vs. 49ers ended up being a one sided affair with the 49ers winning handily 27-10, it wasn't really that close.  The 49ers dominated the second half with the outcome really not in doubt.  The second game between the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens was also another one sided affair score wise, but it was really closer than the score would indicate.  The Ravens finished the regular season with a league leading record of 14 wins and just two losses, and were the number one seed in the AFC.  The Titans were the number six seed, and had to wind their Wild Card game last week to advance.  Unexpectedly the Titans, with the help of 3 Raven turnovers, won the game 24-12.......a totally unexpected upset of Biblical proportions.

To top off the day TLE had me grill another filet mignon to which she added mashed potatoes and salad......


.....the filet was amazing!  I know, I keep saying that, but each time I grill one of these I edge a little closer to perfection, and each time I think I have achieved perfection I outdo myself with my latest effort.....I felt like I was sitting in a fine dinning restaurant eating a $35 Filet Mignon!  TLE opened a bottle of Malbec to accompany my latest masterpiece.

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