Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Day 38, 39, 40 - Bullhead City, AZ - RPI

Monday (38) - Windy as of last night. By this morning, the gusts were down to 54 mph. We went ahead and brought in all of the slides and things quieted down significantly after that. The noise was from the really worn out slide toppers flapping. We plan on replacing the fabric this winter.

This is the view from the campground towards the Colorado River and Laughlin, NV. The large casinos are across the river on the Nevada side. The wind is from the north so it was blowing straight towards you while standing in this location. 

By 6pm the wind seems to have died down. 

Tuesday (39) - The sites here are pretty nice and it looks like we may need to extend our stay. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I like this rv park. Nice location, nice scenery, and I like the pool and jacuzzi. 

Now the reason for the extension is, guess what, that Caterpillar C7 engine again. The water pump is leaking from the front seal or from the weep hole. Either way, the water pump will need to be replaced. I am waiting for a call back from a mobile diesel repair shop in Laughlin, NV. They are looking to see about scheduling a time for the repair. It sort of depends on parts availability. This is a picture looking up from under the engine. The block is at the bottom of the picture.

This is a photo of the weep hole just behind and under the pulley. This engine uses a separate v-belt for just the water pump. A serpentine belt is used for the other accessories. This is not an unusual problem for the smaller Cat engines according to YouTube (AdeptApe, author of some incredibly useful videos). There is even a video on replacing the water pump on this series of engines. I had even considered having the water pump replace proactively last year when we were in Tucson having the rest of the cooling system worked on. 20/20 hindsight says I should've…

My Wednesday(30)
 - It turns out that this RV park has a second pool and jacuzzi. It’s near the entrance building which also has a small store and deli. 

The last shop I called that had mobile mechanics, mentioned that they could do the job but are based out of Las Vegas so there would be about some significant travel time. I found another business that had a mechanic out of Kingman, AZ. We’ll see how they do. Since we wanted the job done quickly, Bridget is driving into Henderson, NV, to pick up the part. This means a second trip to get our core deposit back. 

She mentioned bumper-to-bumper traffic near the casinos in Laughlin due to a Trump rally but called back later that traffic had cleared up and she should be able to make it to the CAT shop before it closes. 

In the short video you can see that the water pump bearings and seals are shot. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Day 36, 37 - Pahrump, NV and Bullhead City, AZ - RPI

Saturday (36) - Today being the weekend, we did not go anywhere. Avoid potential crowds. We were originally planning on driving today but opted for an additional day. We are using the one year RPI membership that was included with our TT membership. This is the first time we used it. The stays aren’t free but the cost is modest compared to the normal daily rate. 

Tomorrow, we head south into NW Arizona to another RPI park. 

Today’s tasks were just checking things on the RV. I had gotten a low coolant message once when the engine was cold and on a slight slope starboard. The coolant level sensor is on the port side of the overflow tank. I picked up a gallon of the CAT approved coolant while at the glass shop so I added half a gallon. The oil level is still above the”full” mark and shows no evidence of water. The inside right rear tire is slightly less than the other rear tires so I’ll try to get a better match. The other rear tires are at 103 psi at today’s 81°F.

And, sent in my absentee ballot today. Alaska doesn’t make it easy. Apply for an email absentee ballot no more than 15 days before the election. Apply early and your request will be discarded. Fill out the online form, print it out, sign it, scan it back in and send via email or fax. A couple of days later they send a link to an online ballot. Vote, then print out the completed ballot, a ballot cover, the verification page (to sign and provide identifying info), and the envelope. Assemble the whole package being careful to fold on the lines. Tape the envelope only in the labeled places, add postage, and mail.

Phew! Time to sit in the pool...

Sunday (37) - A three hour drive to another RPI park in Bullhead City, AZ. I must admit, this is a nice place. The deserted pool is open and two large spas are open. This may be the first since February. The site is just a large gravel pad but it’s flat with plenty of room for the car next to or in front of the RV. It was hectic driving through Las Vegas on a weekend but we survived. 

We are here for several days before heading to an Encore Park east of Mesa. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Day 35 - Death Valley

We headed into Death Valley National Park today. Our first stop was the partially open visitor center. The only part open was fee collection and the bookstore. They have their priorities in the right place. We then headed south to Badwater. The last time I was here this was just a wide spot on the road with a sign. Now there is a nice parking lot with concrete and wooden walkways. This is the lowest point in North America.

If you look closely on the rocks overlooking the parking lot, you can spot the sign showing sea level. There were quite a few people here and there is a wide trail out into the valley where you are allowed to walk. I don't remember that being the case 40+ years ago.

Our next stop was the Natural Bridge. I forgot my phone in the car so no pictures of the bridge or the trail. Below show the great view of the valley looking southwest from the parking lot. The road to the trailhead was pretty rough for the Prius and is about the limit of its off-road capability.

The next stop heading north was the Devil's Golf Course. Named because of the very rough landscape. By this time it was around 92°F so the car was left running for the A/C. Yes, we are spoiled…

We then drove on the Artist Drive and stopped at Artist's Pallette named because of the colors on the hills. The one that stands out as "unusual" was the greenish-blue. It is caused by chloride and not copper. The one-way road is pretty spectacular and worth the detour.

The next stop was Zabriskie Point. After the earlier hikes, this short, paved trail seemed unusually steep. But the view was worth it. I think it would look even more spectacular near sunset and the shallow angle of the light would create some good shadows. 

Our last stop before heading back was Dante's View. This is a 14 mile (each way) road to the ridge overlooking Badwater Basin and is over 5000' elevation. The view was pretty spectacular though the smoke from the fires did make it a little hazy.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Day 34 - Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

This morning we headed out to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge about an hour west of town. There are numerous springs in the area and until the mid-80s there was a push to develop the area. The plans seemed overly ambitious as there didn’t seem to be that much water in the area.

This is one of the springs and is the home to an endangered species of fish. Very small, maybe a couple of inches long and could be seen in this little pool. 

This cave entrance called “Devils Hole” goes down almost 500’ and is the home of the pupfish. The entrances are covered with cages with video cameras to keep people out. Even though there are numerous signs posted “No Swimming”, there are numerous comments on Yelp on how refreshing it was to swim in the pools. 

This is the view from one of the cave entrances. It is a pretty desolate area with only a handful of other visitors. 

Predictably, the visitor center was closed but the boardwalk behind it was open. It was a nice mile loop with numerous signs, shelters, and benches along the way.

BTW, I took the case off of the phone since the camera lens cover looked scratched up. The clarity of the photos improved. It may be time for a new phone case. Without a case, the phone feels really slippery.