Monday, October 31, 2011

A good day with lots of show stoppers!

Today was to be a day of relaxation for us while we did a few little things.  It was true but it seems that everything was a challenge.  For starters, we were slow getting out and heading for the border town to buy our bi-annual supply of vanilla.  We passed the first filling station because the gas price was too high.  The next one was on the wrong side of the busy road.  Finally, as we were leaving Deming, we found a station and the gas was even higher.OUCH,  but we filled up.  Yep, a mile down the road was another station 20 cents cheaper.  We were about half way to Columbus when Sandy suddenly said, "We forgot our passports!"  That is a real show stopper if you are crossing the border, as we were.

So it was back to Deming where we had lunch before trying it again.  Yes, we dug out the passports and headed south.  For the rest of that activity, all went well and we were back in about 90 minutes (30 miles south, 10 minutes to walk to The Pink Store and get 7 liters of real vanilla and 30 miles back to Deming. (Some of the vanilla is for friends.)  Then there was a quick stop at Walmart before we went to the motorhome.

Back at the motorhome, we dug into a problem that was bothering us for the last couple of days.  I thought our friendly SHURFLO water pump was getting air and refusing to pump again.  Finally we figured out that the problem was the presure switch in the SHURFLO pump was not turning the pump on to pump water when the pressure dropped.  The problem would only manifest itself if the pump sat there for a little while under full pressure before being asked it to pump again.

Eventually we figured out that by turning the pump off and back on, the pump would restart on its own.  Needless to say, I was very exasperated.  We fought that problem last winter with one of our many pumps and the current pump was given to me (new pump) by the Shurflo technician at the Winnebago National Rally at Forest City in July.  It has worked flawlessly since then.  It was not used while at Casa Grande and now that we need it, we have our problem again.

I want to call the service technician who gave it to me, but I can't find his calling card.  So tomorrow we call Winnebago and find out his name.  There is a pressure adjustment on the pump, but I'm trying to be a good user and not twiddling with everything until the expert says to.  At least now we can make it pump on demand.

Tomorrow we are going to call and maybe stop at one of two major RV stores in Las Cruces in hopes of getting a "three-way ball valve" to replace the leaky one in the rig.   The real challenge is to find  one that is a direct replacement.  Perhaps I could order it from Winnebago, but where do we have it shipped ?   We're on the road again.   Another challenge of this life style.

The old Farmer's Advice:  It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Deming, NM again

We left the casino early this morning, like at 7:30 AM.  For some reason neither one of us could sleep long, so we were both up by 6 AM.   The good news of that is that traffic was light on the road and no wind.

Right now, it is way past our bed time.  I just realized as we were getting ready for bed that I hadn't kicked out a blog and I try to do that, especially when we've moved.  We're at the Escapee's Dream Catcher RV park here in Deming, NM, which is a typical RV park.  But for now, it is only half full, so lots of empty spaces around us and I'm not complaining.  We like it that way.  We're here for two nights.

Tonight when Sandy wanted to wash the dishes, we couldn't get water out of the faucet.  It seemed that our old problem of a leaky valve down by the water pump was leaking air again into the inlet side of the pump and then the pump can't get enough prime to really pump water.   The valve is a switch for adding anti-freeze to the system should we want to winterize it the motorhome.  We don't use it that way ourselves.  We use the inlet to draw water in from the barrel on the farm while parked their.  Anyway, we'll try to find a replacement tomorrow after we return from Mexico.  Then of course, there is the problem of crawling inside of the basement to change it out.

This afternoon, we went to the park ice cream social in the club house at 4 PM.  I love the ice cream, but it sure ruins any need for dinner.  And the ice cream servings are not small.  So Sandy took a nap and I guess I may have also dropped off some.

I was reading my book  on Napoleon Bonaparte and I'm in the area where he came back from his first expulsion.  He returned to France, reclaimed his position, created an army of  200,000 or 300,000 men and proceeded to go attack the British in Belgium.  He was badly beaten again and ended up getting thrown out of France for good and exiled to a distant island.   Sandy and I  visited the battlefield outside of Brussels several years ago, thus my interest in the details.

Monday we go to a Mexico border town to get some Mexican vanilla, which Sandy loves to use in the kitchen.  The locals here say that it is a safe town and that they go often.  So if we don't make it back, you know what happened.  Hopefully, we'll be back soon enough so that I can get the part I need to fix the air leak in our water system.

(It is not a problem, just another opportunity to learn what is in the system and how it goes together.)

The Old Farmer's Advice:   Don't corner something that you know is meaner than you!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dinner at the Desert Diamond Casino, Green Valley, (Tuscon), AZ

True to our planning, we left the park this morning.  What a great feeling that the shed is done and we're on the road again.  Okay, it was only a 76 mile jaunt, but we're moving.   Tonight we had dinner in the casino (paying our parking fee) with my cousin Larry Siems and his wife Carol.   We've done this often, since they moved here a few years ago.

We're actually boondocking in the casino parking lot with about 20 other RVs.   It is quiet, other than the constant road noise from the interstate nearby.  I guess that will put us to sleep tonight.  It could be worse, such as a train every 30 minutes, or big trucks starting and stopping.  Tonight, all I  hear are cars, cars and more cars.

Since it was a short drive this morning, we took a long nap this afternoon during the heat of the day.  It was to get up to 85 or so today.   We made it okay.

Paul:  I responded to your comment with another comment this morning.

The Old Farmer's Advice:  Forgive your enemies.  It messes up their heads.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday night, we're ready to roll

Here it is Friday night and we're ready to roll.  In fact, I've been goofing off for a day or two.  But better that way verses being late.    Just now I realized that I've been so busy that I have forgotten to fill our water tank with fresh water.  (I did empty the holding tanks yesterday afternoon.)

While here in the park, I have read two books that I had a hard time putting down.   Two years ago, I read the book by Steven Ambrose called "The Band of Brothers".  It is the WW2 history of Easy Company of  (I forget the details.)  I really enjoyed it.  In the park library are two more books related to the Band of Brothers.  The first one was by Dick Winters (Major) who went from being a Lt. with a squad to being the battalion commander.  Lt. Winters was a "People Person" who earned the respect of his men and ended up being Battalion commander after the airplane with the command staff  was shot down and all hands aboard were lost on D-Day. Lt Winters knew what the mission was and made it happen.  Dick Winters wrote his book after Steven Ambrose returned all of the notes that Ambrose had gathered in order to write his book.

Dick Winters looked at the notes and realized that a lot of what he thought was important was left out, so Dick Winters wrote what was really a biography of his military career. It obviously was written showing the trials and tribulations of a leader placed in an extremely difficult position.  

The second book was written by two GI's in the company.  It is written from their prospective as two GI's who were often called to do the impossible.  Both books were easy  reading for me.

As we hit the road tomorrow, I  have a thick book about Napoleon Bonaparte that I haven't finished yet.  It is an interesting work detailing the ups and downs of Napoleon's career.  The one problem I have is that it was written by a Frenchman, who often left quotes in French verses giving the English version.

The reason we came here this fall was to get a shed onto our lot, one way or another.  Three years ago, the local committee rejected my request because it was too close to a power transformer.   Well, nothing moved. However, we have new members on the committee and after they looked at the permit request and the rules on the transformer, they said, "It looks okay to us."  So we bought a metal shed from Home Depot and last week, we assembled it.    This week, we had a load of gravel delivered and leveled and later we had the anchors installed for our shed.

With all of that done, we're ready to leave.  (And the really good news is that the lot is rented for the rest of the season.)

The Old Farmer's Advice:  Meanness don't just happen overnight.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Winding down our stay

Believe it or not, but we're on our last days here at Sunscape.  The gravel is leveled, the bills are paid and the shed has been hosed out.   If we're not careful, we'll be ready to leave tomorrow, rain or shine.   On the road again.

Today has been a fantastic day so far temperature wise.  Inside the motorhome, it is 80 degrees, with only the vent fan running on low.  It is delightful.  I understand that in 2 or 3 days, another heat wave will roll in. We should be long gone by then.

Sandy was even outside this morning with the scrub brush and bucket, washing the windshield of the motorhome.  She has a real adversion to spots on the windows or on my glasses.

Since we've not done much, there isn't much to write about.  So we'll sign off for now.

Old Farmer's Advice:  Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Cotton Tour that wasn't

We were up early so that we could  go on a cotton tour.   We found the tour starting point, only to learn that the cotton plants were too green to harvest. (When the mechanical cotton picker rubs on the green leaves, it picks up a green residue which then rubs onto the white cotton.  The stained cotton is thus graded poorer verses a pure white cotton fiber.)  Thus, no cotton tour today.

Perhaps I need to tell you about the Visitor's Center where the Cotton Tour was to begin.  It is located adjacent to a small town that has a divided 4 lane highway for main street (with lots of pot holes).  Very few of the streets are paved.  In other words, there isn't much money in the town.

With no Cotton Tour, we were leaving the building and noticed a fellow out on the sidewalk talking like he knew much of the local background.   So we decided to stick around and listen for a while. When there was a break and he had been talking about irrigation, I asked him how deep the water table was or is?   It turns out that when the first farmers showed up in the area, the water table was down about 40 feet.  However, today the water table is typically down 800 feet.  (To pump water from 800 feet down costs lots of money, thus we see lots of abandoned irrigation fields.)

As we listened, he started to tell us about the schools that were on the visitor center grounds.  There were two schools on the grounds, one school for the Anglos and Hispanics  and the other school for the blacks.  Each school had their own privy, the white kids had indoor facilities while the black kids had to use an outdoor privy.  What was interesting was that the class schedule was such that recess was at the same time so that all of the kids could play together.

In the white kids school, there were showers in both bathrooms The standard morning was for the kids to be inspected by the school nurse for cleanliness.  If she felt that a kid was dirty,  she sent them to the showers.   (His comment was that most of the homes had very little water, and the kids bathed in the irrigation ditch.)  The black kids school was about the size of a  country school and made out of wood.   The white kids school was made out of brick and concrete and was about twice the black school size.  Both schools were built in the late 30s.

Our speaker was a local volunteer who enjoyed telling everyone what it was like way back when.  (He had lived in the area all of his life.)  The two schools were being refurbished and would be used as the town museum.  So the Visitor's Center was actually a mobile home on the museum grounds.

Back at the RV park, we did a few things and waited for 10 tons of gravel to be delivered for our lot.  In Iowa, the gravel would be very wet, but not so here in Arizona.  When he dumped the gravel, there was a big cloud of dust created.   I tried to water it down and finally gave up.  Later in the week, the maintenance man is bringing the tractor and bucket to spread the gravel out.  It would take me a month or longer to do it with a wheel barrow.  Isn't technology great?

The Old Farmer's Advice:  A bumblebee is considerably faster than an International Tractor.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Is it Wrapping up or Winding down our stay at Casa Grande ?

This was a great day for us.  What we wanted to get done happened, so we're pleased.  For starters, we stopped at the Walgreen's drug store to get a vitamin B twelve shot and  there was a minor hiccup, but in the end, we succeeded.

Then we headed down the freeway to a sand and gravel place to buy a  load of gravel to put on our lot in the park.  We were there at 10:30 AM this morning and probably we could have had the gravel on our lot by noon. I think you can say that business is kind of slow.  They will bring the gravel out after lunch tomorrow (Tuesday).

From the gravel pit, we headed to downtown Casa Grande for more stops, all of which were successful.  As Sandy said when we left Casa Grande, "To think we had 6 stops on our schedule and all were successful.  That is 6 fewer stops we won't have to make later in the week.

Our plan is to  leave here on Saturday and it looks like it will work out.   We're probably leaving just as the weather turns much cooler (highs only in the 70s.)

Per the old Farmer:  Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday, our day of rest

We really made this our day of rest.  We were not even in the shed except to get our bicycle out for a ride around the park.  I think I also took a nap this afternoon in the chair.

We've got our list of things to get done in the next week.  Bearing some show stopper, we should have it done by Saturday.  The catch is that so much of it depends upon someone else.    So there is always some question of will we get the service we're expecting.

When we leave here, our first stop is at a Casino on the south of Tuscon along I-19.   It is convenient to the highway, has a good restaurant and free parking for our RV.  We'll spend one night here and have dinner with Larry and Carol Siems, a cousin.  Our next stop is Deming, NM.  We'll spend two nights there so that we can make a drive south to Columbus, NM and walk across the border to get some Mexican Vanilla.  Then it is on to Dallas and visiting a friend from our time visiting south Texas.  That is enough planning for now.

The temperature here in Casa Grande hit 93 degrees today again.  By Wednesday,  they are saying it should break, with the high in the lower 80s.  We're ready forit.

An old Farmer's Advice:  Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Life of Leasure

One would think that with the shed construction complete and no other big projects on the way for the lot in Casa Grande, we'd be relaxing.   Well, perhaps some day, but not now. I guess it is like having extra space in the RV; if you have the space, you just have to fill it.  In this case, I gave myself a week to wrap up any remaining details. and the list keeps growing.

Monday I get a vitamin B12 shot; Then we go visit a gravel dealer to order some crushed stone for the lot parking area.  Tuesday we join a park tour to see how cotton is harvested and processed.  Wednesday,  the fellow from the maintenance shop  is going to drill 6 holes in the shed pad to anchor the shed.   Hopefully, the gravel we want will be delivered. Thursday will be the day to have the park tractor level the gravel.  Friday is the day to wrap up what we missed earlier.  Saturday we'll think about leaving, assuming that nothing breaks or bends in the mean time.

A whirl wind went through the middle of our RV and I had to re-stack my flat file system.  In the process, I came across the handout that I picked up at a classmates funeral.  Gerald was a real country boy and enjoyed life to the fullest.  One page of the handout was a saying from the "Old Farmers Almanac"   So you'll see a line per posting for a while.

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull strong.


Friday, October 21, 2011

The SHED is finished, and are we happy!

We spent a couple of hours this morning putting on the finishing touches to our storage shed.  What a relief to have it done!  Perhaps the most frustrating part was that we could only put in 3 or 4 hours of work each day before the heat drove us into cooler surroundings.

The one remaining issue is the need to anchor the shed to the concrete pad.  We have made arrangements for the park maintenance department to drill the needed holes.   They have a drill that is both a hammer and a drill.  It is also a real workhorse verses the little drill I have.

Since the shed is finished and we have some time on our hands,  we are getting a load of gravel to spread on the lot parking area.  We need it for two reasons.  The original gravel is a pea gravel and does not pack down.  Thus it is like walking on (or in) dry sand.  The other reason is that it is a very thin layer and during a heavy rain, past renters have told me that the parking area is a big sloppy mess.  At least a good layer of coarse gravel will provide a solid surface to walk on, rain or shine.

With the shed done, we have started thinking about traveling, perhaps in a week or two.  If for nothing else, we would love to find a cooler climate. I'm tired of these temperatures!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Progress on the shed is slow, but study

We were up before 5:30 AM and out working   on the shed by 7:30 AM.   Actually I could have been out sooner, but I like to watch 30 to 60 minutes of GMA.

Today's task was to install the ridge covers on the roof.  It is not really a difficult task if you could reach where you wanted to go.   But some of the holes are about 4 feet inward and my arms are just a bit short.  But by standing near the top of the step ladder with Sandy holding the ladder, we could reach the screws.  The problem was that I also wanted/needed Sandy inside of the shed holding a wrench on the nut so that it would tighten up.  So those will have to wait until I can find a helper.

It sure is a good feeling to think that tomorrow is really clean up on the shed.   The  last major task is to get a masonry drill to drill into the floor to anchor the shed to the concrete.   In the afternoon, we hung the doors onto the shed.  So tonight, we cleaned up the stuff outside of the shed and put it where it is out of site.

After I gave up working on our shed, I went across the street to visit with a neighbor who is building a shed made out of pre-cut lumber.    It will be interesting to compare sheds 10 or 15 years from now.

We are happy that things are moving along nicely.   We are beginning to plan our trip east when we stop near Dallas so that we can take the Honda back to Iowa.   Tentatively, we want to be in Iowa at least a week before Thanksgiving.   So when you take out our travel time to Dallas from here plus time to have dinner with a cousin in Tuscon, we don't have much time left.   It won't be long  until we can sing out the opening line of  "On the Road Again".  

The temperature high today was only 95 in Phoenix and supposedly it will only get up to 90 tomorrow.  We're ready  for some cooler days!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The building program continues

We were at it again today and all went well.  Progress is slow, but we're not in a race nor is there a deadline looming before us.  Actually there is a deadline, but it is a month away.  I should be done by this weekend.

Assembling the doors and overhead beams went ahead without any problems.  Raising the beams to the roof top height was a challenge, but we solved it with a coat hanger.  We picked up a coat hanger at the laundry and cut two wires to make hooks to hold the beams.   Thus with only one step ladder and only one ladder climber, we could raise the beam up and hook the wire before working on the other end.  It worked very well.

We finished the beams by noon and decided to go ahead and assemble the doors.  It is a great feeling to have the doors ready to attach to the shed.  But that will have to wait for another day.

Today we also purchased a remote garage door opener to use as a gate opener to get into the park.  We have a card that we lay on the gate input and the input recognizes the card and we're in.  However, it is very inconvenient to use unless you have arms that are about 6 feet long.  The remote has two buttons so we can supposedly program the second button for our park in Florida.  But looking at the instructions makes me wonder how?  It is not very clear!

It was only 95 in Phoenix today and cooler tomorrow.  By Saturday, the temperatures here are to be in the high 80s, and will that be a blessing.  No one will complain.

Life has been good to us.


Assembling the shed, a puzzle

I intended to write this last night, but fell asleep.  So we'll do it this morning.  But Sandy got up just after I did.  I had expected that I would have had an hour to kill before breakfast.  So we need to be moving on to the shed activities.

At least I don't have to drive to work.   Watching TV and the traffic tie-ups in Phoenix just make me thankful I don't have to traverse those highways.

The assembly of the shed progressed well yesterday.  We were able to install all four sides minus the door.   The winds (or breeze) held off until we had all of the panels in place.  In the afternoon, we put in a few more screws in the base area.  Today, we start the roof area.  We're not in a hurry, so don't expect miracles

Off to the salt mines.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slow progress, working only in part of the AM

We said in the Friday night posting that construction has started.  That was right, we opened the box of parts and peaked in.  Okay, a big jig saw puzzle.

Saturday we got into the nitty-gritty and started putting parts together.  Sandy has been a big help, as she reads the instructions and tells me what to do.  When we quit Saturday morning, we had all of the sub-assemblies done and we were ready to start mounting stuff to the base frame.  But the instructions said quit until you can finish the next N steps in one day.  As a partially completed shed, it is very susceptible to wind.  We can't have that.

Monday morning, bright and early, we start putting the outside skin on, then the bracing to hold it together.  For the initial assembly, the only thing holding stuff up-right is the metal skin.

Monday promises to be another great day, with the thermometer only getting to 99.   So we'll see how long we last.  Putting the assemblies together wasn't too bad, but I was able to work in the shade all morning.  Assembling the shed is going to be in the sunlight with all of its radiant glory.  We'll see how tough we are.

Today was Sunday, so there was no work done today.  The real challenge will be the need to do productive work while my sinuses are apparently reacting to something around here.  At times, my nose runs like a water faucet and tonight, I have a mild sinus headache.   Ah, the life of a busy man.  But we shall keep going.

My gut feeling is that this ought to be a one week job.  Next week-end, you can see how good my bidding effort is.  Once the shed is done, we plan to add some gravel to the parking area.  It is okay now, but we understand when they have had some rainy days, the water kind of sits on the lot and walking is hazardous (or sloppy).  The lot is covered with a pea gravel that has no firmness to it.  We want a more course rock so that when it packs in, it won't move under your feet.

Enough for now


Friday, October 14, 2011

Construction has started,

Today we did two remarkable things for us.  Our first task was to visit Lowe's and see what they had for 8 by 10 foot sheds.  We got a simple answer:  They didn't handle the one we wanted.  So our only option was to go to Home Depot for our shed.

The other remarkable thing we did was "eat out" for lunch or dinner at noon.  We made sure we were at the Golden Corral before  11 AM so that the breakfast menu was available.  Why you ask?  Well, they had a special, steak and eggs.   So I had a very nice piece of meat, grilled to the way I like it. It was delicious.  Yes, I probably made a pig of myself, but it was all good stuff.  Of course we topped it off with a final dish of ice cream and a piece of fudge.  Yes, we had enough.  We made up for it tonight, we had a small dish of pea salad.

After our noon dinner, we went to Home Depot and purchased the shed we wanted for our lot.  The clerk tried to tell me that I couldn't carry it in our Honda CR-V, but I argued and she finally agreed.  (I didn't want to spend another 80 dollars and wait a week for it to get here.  Or I could have ordered it online with Home Depot and had it delivered to the lot, with no shipping charge.)   We folded the seats in back and rearranged the stuff I carry in the rear and the stockroom forklift operator helped me slide it into the Honda.   We picked up some twine from them and tied it in and then drove very modestly back to our park.

Tonight, we have the box opened and it is really nothing more than a big jig saw puzzle, with instructions where all of the pieces go.  It ought to be a piece of cake, but we shall see.  Just as with a regular puzzle, we started to lay some of the pieces out on the patio so that we can identify what we have.  Perhaps I  can get Sandy to read the instructions while I do the assembly work.  For me to read the instructions -and follow them would be a near first!

While we were out shopping, we left the motorhome closed with no air conditioning on and it felt like it when we returned.  It was about 108 inside, so Sandy turned on the air conditioning and then bailed out and went into the next door activity center library and read.  Everyone was happy.

One  downer for yesterday was that we went to the evening potluck dinner.  A retired pastor that we know joined us at our table, but otherwise, to most people, it was as if we didn't exist.  Not a good sign for a group that wants to be friendly and have others move into the park.

All in all, it was a good day today.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things go our way, Hurrah

Today was a real "red letter" day in our books.   But first the bad stuff, "It was HOT again, and more heat tomorrow!"   I suggested to Sandy that since the Activity Center had good air conditioning, we ought to just grab our computers and go into the library, which we did in the afternoon.  At this time of the year, hardly anyone is around and it is comfortable.  (The motorhome is air conditioned, but I hate to run it because of the noise!)

The really good news occurred in the afternoon.   We met with the Architecture committee about our planned storage shed, which had been rejected 2 years ago.  The bottom line was that the electrical power supplier had asked that the park keep all improvements away from the power transformers by 3 feet in the front and 5 feet to the right and left.   The request did not specify a circle or a clear area.   So after some discussion, it was agreed that the building location plan was in compliance.   For a while,  they were thinking of asking the power suppliers for clarification but then decided to make the decision.  So we get a shed as planned.

Our other big success was to find a bicycle for me to use here.   Sandy spotted it last night on her walk so after the building permit was resolved, I  went looking for it.  It was available and I qualified as new owner to him.  (Any one would  qualify, it was free.)   So I road it home, happy as a lark.  It may not be the fanciest bike in town, but it will work for me.

Our plan had been to make a bee line into town and buy a metal storage shed tomorrow.  However,  we then remember that we have a pot luck dinner to attend tomorrow night, so we're waiting a day to buy our shed.   The conflict was that I had suggested that we eat out at the Golden Corral at noon for dinner after we bought the shed.   But our dietary specialist says that one dinner a day is enough, not two.   So tomorrow we'll round up some tools we need to drill holes in concrete and other stuff.  We buy the shed on Friday and eat out.  (Unlike some couples, eating out is a special occasion for us.  I prefer to eat in most of the time.)

I told Sandy that if the storage shed goes together as easy as it did for our neighbor 3 years ago, we should be able to have it installed and finished by  next weekend.  That would mean that we could leave here if we wanted to and head for Florida.  Maybe we should say, "Not so fast."

I would  say that things are looking up!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No complaints, but it is getting warm here

We didn't exactly over work ourselves here today.   For starters, it was cold out.  I even put on my jacket when I  went out.  But it didn't take long to realize that it was warming up fast.  We ditched the jacket and later even switched to Bermudas.

We  are extremely low on propane in the motorhome and we've been wanting to get it filled at the tank here in the park.  Monday was a no go when the operator didn't show up.   So the office manager left him a message on his answering machine.   I heard nothing back. This noon, we picked up our cell phone only to realize that there was a voice message for us.  It told us that the propane operator would be at the tank at 9 AM today, 3 hours ago.  Scratch that one.   Supposedly, the operator would be there between 3 and 4 today (daily times), so we were there waiting.  Sorry, but no operator appeared.   At least we have not moved the motorhome each time.

This afternoon, we sat in the shade of the RV and made some notes for future travels. It is hard to believe that  we probably will be traveling in about 7  weeks when our renter shows up.  I guess we brought it on ourselves.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting into the park routine

We arrived on Saturday, rested on Sunday after church and Monday was a work day!   We met with the park manager about the shed  that I want to build on our lot and I think he understands our desires (and frustrations).

Of course, it all depends upon the rules and he didn't remember if it is a "park" rule or an imposed rule from the local electrical power supplier.  The minor problem we have is that two years ago,  they gave us permission to pour a patio and a shed base on the lot, supposedly in accordance with the rules.   When we returned 2 months later to install the shed, they denied our building permit because it was too close to the power transformer box.   The transformer is between our lot and a neighbors  and 20 feet from the  Activity Center.   It is about 20 feet to the activity center building,  so there is no question about getting heavy equipment in to replace the transformer.

The manager brought the local committee chairman around to look the area over and both seemed to agree that placing the shed on the current poured concrete base would not restrict the power company, should they need to replace the transformer.   But the chairman did not have the rule books with him, so again, we don't know exactly what is required.  If need be, I will go to the power company asking for a waiver.  Otherwise, it is probably a $500 bill to add a 2 foot section to the already poured concrete floor.  Oh, the joys of working with city hall (and they are fellow park members.)

We did a lot of walking today and it felt good.   Sandy and I even went out for a long walk around the park perimeter after dinner  (I cheated and cut the last leg short.).  While walking, we welcomed another couple that came in this afternoon.  While visiting with her, she learned where we were parked and said, "Oh, we've talked before.  We tried to rent your lot 2 years ago."   She also said that the absence of a shed was the killer to the deal.

While all of this was going on, Sandy was having an email conversation with a fellow that wanted to rent our lot in the park starting in December.  And before the afternoon was over, the lot was rented.   So we now have about 6 or 7 weeks to make it all  happen before we get booted from our own lot.  But that is a good feeling, since we wanted to rent it.   Two years ago on the 23 of December, a fellow came to our door and asked if we were really serious about renting the lot, with immediate availability?  We said yes.  He said that he was currently in the park on a park owned lot.  He had tried to extend his stay there, but the park had already rented the lot to another party starting tomorrow.  So he needed a new place to stay starting on the 24th of December.  We said we'd be gone by noon on the 24th.  In the end, everyone was happy!

Yesterday we received some really bad news, news that we had expected, just not so soon.  It sure hurts to lose a high school buddy that has helped us more than once.   We had driven him to chemo treatments several times this summer and realized that he was not gaining ground.   We considered returning to Iowa, but the funeral is soon, so we decided that we'd wait until we head for Florida in December and make a route detour via Iowa.   Presently,  his widow has several family members close by, so other than an eyeball contact, we'd have little time with her.  Never-the-less, it is a reminder about our own mortality.  In the meantime, we shall live life to the fullest!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sunscape RV Resort, we made it

We were up early because it was COLD last night at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.   So we had breakfast and then went touring at some nearby Indian ruins.  (You can not walk up the volcano cinder cone, but you see cinders everywhere one goes.)  Supposedly, the Indians abandoned the area and then came back a few  years later when the volcano eruptions had died out.  It must have been a frightening site to see the eruptions and also see some lava flowing out of the ground.

It eventually was close to 11 AM when we finally pulled stakes and hit the road for Casa Grande (south of Phoenix) and our lot in Sunscape Park.  Traffic was not bad in our direction until we reached Phoenix.  However, Sandy did a marvelous job of keeping me on track and in the right lanes as we went through the heart of Phoenix and came out on the south side on Interstate 10.  It was then a cake walk to Casa Grande and the park.  As Sandy said, "The GPS paid for itself today as we traveled through Phoenix."  So if you don't have one yet, consider getting one, especially if you are going to travel to some unfamiliar areas.  (Get it soon enough so that you know how it works.)

We parked outside of the park, unhooked and checked in with the office before driving through the gate.  It is an automatic gate and I had Sandy stand in front of it so that it didn't close on me.   Our lot looked mighty good as we arrived.  It didn't take long to back into position, turn the motor off, hit the level button and give a sigh of relief.  We made it again.

Tomorrow is a day of rest and we shall make it that.  It will be church in the morning, pick up a few groceries and head back to the park.  It is amazing how warm and welcoming a familiar surrounding can be!   We've been on the road for about 18 days and it is time to park it for a little while.

Plus I'm going to like the local temperatures for the upcoming week, lows in the upper 60s and the highs in the 80s, maybe 90.   Maybe we came just a bit too soon.


Sunset Crater, few miles, long day

(Written Friday night, but posted on Saturday, no internet here.)

We were short on miles today, but we didn't get into the park too early.  For starters, we emptied the tanks and refilled the water tank and the way everyone lays out the dump and fresh water connections, it can be a long time waiting.  First we wouldn't dump because another user was in there.  Then when he finished, he pulled forward to fill his water tank and held us up some more.  Finally, we emptied and filled and were on our way -- almost.

Of course, our direction was east, up the hill and through the tunnel again.  At the tunnel, we had to wait until traffic cleared from the east until we could proceed going east.  Of course, we drove in the middle, straddling the center lines.  And we made it with no dents or scratches on the top side.

Our next hold up was 20 miles down the road when we fueled up.  Of course, we passed the most economical station first, so we did a loop and went back a quarter of a mile to fill.  We filled using a slow pump for about 50 gallons.  Finally, we were ready to hit the road!

All went well the rest of the morning.  At noon, we spotted a Visitor's Center, so of course we had to pull in and see what we could learn. It was a visitor's center for an obscure National Monument.  We visited with the off duty volunteer a bit before wandering inside where the lone volunteer at the desk was tied up with three others.  We listened a little bit and decided that they were going to take much longer than we were willing to wait, so we left...

Down the 15 miles was a another  Visitor's Center for the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area to the east of the road.  As we were walking into the building, a fellow arrived with a government coat on.  I may have insulted him by asking if he was a volunteer.  No, he was the chief naturalist.  What a salesman he was.  He gave us a description of all of the dinosaurs on display.  He claimed that they have found hundreds of dinosaur fossils in the last 10 years and currently have 21 recovery teams working on  the ground.

Back in our rig, we proceeded on down the road to the Glen Canyon Dam Visitors Center.  (More time killed.) We read some of the displays and finally decided that we needed to move on down the road.  We first crossed the bridge and skirted Page, AZ and then headed south.  It seemed like we got an early start after lunch, but when we finally arrived at our current site, it was 5 PM.  To help us out, we went from Utah (on MDT) to Arizona which is on MST, so our day is an hour longer (and we needed it.)

As we drive the road into the monument, we saw two rangers in cars just parked like they were looking for someone.  Shortly thereafter, a fellow in a red sports car decided he could write his own rules and passed us on the yellow line.  And shortly thereafter, the ranger appeared behind me with his lights flashing.  We pulled over, but he was really wanting the red sports car and disappeared on down the road.

A quick check at the visitor's center gave us the weather forecast  (+26 tonight) and clear. but there is no alternative campground close by at a much lower elevation.  So we found a site in the NF campground across the road and have made ourselves comfortable.  A big downer is that after we were set up, we realized that there is no Verizon signal, so no telephone and no internet for us tonight.  I guess we'll have to talk to each other tonight directly.

We may stay here another night or we may just hump it on south to our lot in Casa Grande (Sunscape RV Resort park). I think we're both ready to park the rig for a while.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zion National Park, day 5

Okay, I've lost track of how many days we've been here.  I guess that is okay, as we have no deadlines right now.  Tomorrow we leave for warmer climates I hope, but fear that it will be cooler.  We're heading south 200 miles, but upwards about 2000 feet I think.   We'll tell you tomorrow.

What did we do today?  NOT Much.  For some reason, we were just plain lazy.   We did ride the shuttle up the canyon only so we could ride it back down the canyon.  It was at least an opportunity to get some fresh air.

The weather here the last two days has been a little bit miserable.  Some mist at times, other times it has rained.  We did go to the Visitor's Center to see what information we could get on some parks south of here.  Nothing exception that caused us to pull stakes and move on.   I was hoping that there would be an overwhelming reason that when we leave, that we should take the long route.  But no such luck.  The long route is mostly in the low country, i.e. no mountains.  The shorter route is via the road we came in on, i.e. via the tunnel, stay in the middle and watch your driving.  Plus it is up hill for a few miles.

Our solar continues to keep us in power.   We finally ran our Honda 2000i generator out of gas this morning. Roughly speaking, that was about 10 hours of use on one gallon of gas.   Yesterday we had picked up another gallon, so we're good to go for our stay in Arizona.  (Sunday night we reach our park in Casa Grande where we'll have full hookups and wall to wall sunshine when the clouds cooperate.)

So enough for now.  Time for the sack.  Tomorrow is a big moving day, 220 miles down the road.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Visiting the Grand Canyon NP, but staying at Zion NP.

Today we drove from Zion to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  It is about a 120 miles, good roads and moderate hills.  The weather was cool (really cold for us) and with almost no sunshine.  But it was a pleasant drive otherwise.

Upon arriving at the north rim, we proceeded to the visitor's center (our standard policy).  It is small, with a few items of educational value.  As I read some of them, I tuned into one of the Ranger's behind the counter explaining something to another visitor.  Later I went to her to inquire if she had ever kept track of how often she went through her spiel?    She admitted she had never thought of it that way, but also,  she defended the practice saying that her customers would never tolerate a recording (which I agree with her on.)  But it is nearly the same for each visitor.

We then went to the Lodge, which is built on the very edge of the canyon wall.  As you walk into the lobby and look south through the viewing windows, it is a big empty valley.   There is nothing in the foreground.    We went out a side door intending to take a short walk.   At one point,  Sandy turned to me and said, "What a big hole!"  I reminded her that perhaps it should more properly be called "a Big Ditch".

It is hard to describe.  It is awesome   The space between the two walls is tremendous plus the depth of a mile is further mind boggling.   Our quarter of a mile walk ended about half way through.  It was windy and very cold plus to be honest about it, I became chicken!   That walking on the edge of space is just not my cup of tea.  So we returned to the lodge and listened to a ranger's talk until she finished.

By then I knew I was in trouble.   We were to drive out to a point called Cape Royal, about 20 miles out on a ridge projecting into the canyon.  Of course, the road goes up and down plus from one peninsula wall to the other.  I drove (slowly) and we made it, but there was no way you were going to get me to go on the eighth of a mile walk into never never land.  The observation point is on a stone pillar connected by a stone  slab to the base ridge.  (It looks very much like the Crazy Horse monument in SD, if you built a viewing platform on top of the horse's head and you had a walk way the length of his arm.)   It probably has been there for thousands of years and even today has a guard rail around the top, but forget it.  I may gamble like all farmers with my crops, but I'm not about to gamble with my life.  Why push my luck?

Perhaps the message here ought to be to our daughters (the rest of you ), do those things while you're young and adventurous.  I had always wanted to hike across the canyon.   Then when my hips bothered me, it was to ride the mules across. It never happened, not because  of money but we just didn't have enough time.  There were too many other challenges (or opportunities) in life that got into the way.  Until today when we do have the time, but no guts!  (I think at one time there was also an age limit, which we also now exceed.)

We had a pleasant drive back to Zion NP, with Sandy doing some  of the driving.  How nice it is to be in our motorhome, with the heater on and able to surf some.   It was cloudy and rainy all day here and our solar panels did not recharge our batteries one little bit.  So we ran our generator from 6 to 8 (generator hours) and I think fully recharged our batteries.  So we're good to surf as long as we want to this evening.   It continues to rain (heavily) out, so perhaps we'll see how fast the runoff really is on this rocky landscape.   We are parked well away from the Virgin River and on higher ground, so I don't think we have much to worry about.   But we do have plenty of food, so even if we get blocked in (missing bridges)  for a few days, we'll survive.  Okay, so the meals might not meet the proper mix of foods, but  if one is hungry, anything will work (except liver!)

It is about 45 degrees out and the rain continues to play on the roof top.  At least we don't hear any other noises.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Zion National Park, Day 3

This place continues to amaze us by the number of people here.  I  guess it is normal according to one of the rangers at the Visitor's Center.  His opinion is that it is too warm for many in the summer, so they all show up for the months of September and October.  We won't be around later, but I guess if we'd have been 2 weeks later, the traffic would have been more sane!

Today we road the shuttle up the valley to a location where we could hike into a side valley to see some pools of water and lots of water just dripping out of the sandstone.  We learned that the trail quickly climbs upward.   It is not a steep climb, but enough that it works the leg muscles.   But we hung in and finished the hike.

The first half of the hike was on concrete or asphalt, usually 6 feet wide.  The last half was anything but smooth.  It included loose sand, big rocks, uneven steps and one small patch of water.   But we made it and neither one of us fell.  There were lots of people on the first half, so it was almost like walking on a busy city sidewalk.

We finished the hike a little after noon and came back to the motorhome for a well earned rest after a short lunch.  Once recovered from the hike, the big decision was "What are we doing tomorrow?"  Are we going to  leave here and go to the Grand Canyon? or What?   More knowledgeable people of the area tell us that the south rim of the Grand Canyon is a tourist zoo now.  Sandy had looked up the camping opportunities and they are full in the park.  In the end, we decided to drive to the North Rim area of the park  as a day trip.   Sandy has never been there and I was there for about an hour or two on my way to a ROTC summer camp in Las Vegas, many years ago!  Supposedly, it is pretty laid back  and no one is in a hurry.

Doing that on Wednesday also begs the question of "what are we doing for the rest of the week?"  Thursday is to have nasty weather around here, with wind and perhaps some snow.  It is to be no better on the south rim either.  (If you've been following the news, they had three major pileups today on the interstate south of Phoenix because of the blinding dust storms.)   That weather may also determine how fast we head south.   (Our tentative goal was to drive through Phoenix on Sunday.  But all is subject to change.)

For right  now, we're trying to relax and enjoy ourselves.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Zion National Park, Day 2

For some reason, arriving at this park was very tiring.  So tiring that we turned in early and slept like a log.  However, we were up at our regular time of 6 AM or so.  It was  time to have breakfast and do some surfing before walking to the Visitor Center to start the day's activities.

Our first order of business was to see if we could get on the 9 AM tour led by a ranger.  His answer was, "Well, normally no, but today we have lots of openings!"    So that occupied the AM part of the day and provided us much background on different aspects of the park.

In the PM, we road the bus again back to the "Narrows" and then hiked the trail to where there is longer a trail, only a long mile walk up the path.  It went well other than I'd swear that when we were here 48 years ago, we went up much further.  I think at that time, we were able to cross the river on stones and continue on to the other bank.  Eventually, the valley closes in with the walls being only about 10 to 15 feet apart and upwards about a thousand feet.  Knowledgeable people say don't even get near it on a day like today with possible showers.  With rain in the high country and no soil or vegetation to hold the moisture, flash flooding is a common occurrence

It sure felt great to get back to our motorhome tonight.  But tomorrow we'll do another walk of the interesting locations. We also learned today that there is a need for a small student sized backpack.  Since we can't take our car up the valley, but have to ride a bus, what we take is critical.  If you don't take it, you can't have it.  If you take it, you have so much loose stuff that it becomes difficult to handle.   A nice student sized pack would work just great.  Perhaps when we see our granddaughters in the following years, we can acquire one that no    longer meets their approval as a proper student backpack.

Our solar electric power system system didn't perform very well today because of the excessive number of clouds.  So tonight  we used our small Honda 2000i to bring the batteries back to full charge.  Isn't technology wonderful?

It has been a tiring day with all of the walking, so it will be early to bed  (and soon).


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zion National Park, we're here

Today was a very easy day driving wise.  Only about 80 plus miles and almost all easy valley  driving.  We came into the east entrance to Zion and had to pay the fee to come through the tunnel. (We're too tall to stay in our lane, so they charge us extra and stop all cars so that taller units can drive in the middle of the highway.)  The tunnel is a mile long and with a couple of S curves in it, plus no lights.  All you have are your headlights to light the way.

Once into the valley, we went straight to the campground and found us a resting place.  Our contact on the east had told us that the campground with electrical outlets was full, so we went to the other one.  We arrived at 12:30 and this campground posted the full sign at 1:30 PM.   In short, this place is crawling with people.  Probably three quarters of the sites are occupied by tents and they aren't using any generators.  So it is really very quiet for a campground of about 140 sites.

Sandy dug out her old journal on what we did 48 years ago when passing through herre.  Neither one of us remembered a thing about it, other than the walk into the narrows of the canyon.   So tomorrow, we'll see what we've forgotten over time.  One big change is that we can't drive up the canyon anymore.  Everyone has to use the free park shuttles, which are very nice buses.

It has been a long day; I'm tired;  So this is a shorter blog!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 2, Bryce Canyon N.P.

It was a great and interesting day here in Bryce Canyon NP.   Sandy found an old journal that was kept those many years ago.  In it were the names of some of the locations etc.    However, little seems to match what we remember.   (I guess they are permitted to make improvements over 50 years.)

We checked out all of the sites for viewing the valley.   No, we didn't take any valley walks.  The effort to  just walk from the car to the rim let us know that we were in no shape to descend on a trail over 500 feet to the valley floor.  (Of course, then you have to climb, walk or crawl back up the 500 foot decent.)

This place is a zoo for people with more tour buses then I would have guessed during prime season.   Most of the people are foreigners.  Even our Aussie friends sound like foreigners sometimes.  Today was much cooler than yesterday and we felt it.  It really felt nice to get back into the car after it had been sitting in the sun.

We have tested our Honda generator and it does the job, as we knew it would.  But one never knows after it has been sitting so long.  We used it this morning for about 30 minutes to do some of the bulk charge and then shut it down and left to do some  sight seeing.   Later we returned for 15 minutes and fired it up again.   At noon when we returned, the solar panels had finished the job in-spite of being parked in the trees.  I think that there was an hour or two when the sun could look down directly on our rig and the panels did their job.

We're amazed how few people here are running generators. Most of the motorhomes here are rental units, which I assume have a generator.  One thing that has changed from 50 years ago is that wood gathering for a fire is absolutely forbidden.  Even if it was permitted, I think there would be very little wood left after 50 years of gathering it by campers.  (It was permitted 50 years ago and we cooked over the wood fire.)

Tomorrow we'll head to Zion NP for a few days.  It  will be interesting to see again.  Where as Bryce has the viewers on a plateau looking down on the spires, at Zion, the viewers are on the river bank, looking up at the sandstone hills that nearly goes straight up.   The good news is that one campground has most of the sites electrified.  The bad news may be that they are only available by reservation.  (I assume that non-reserved sites are available to us who can't plan ahead!)  But there are few trees in the campground, so the solar should work  like a charm.

Life continues to be one big adventure.