Thursday, October 31, 2019

Day 76 - Tucson, AZ

Back on Monday I mentioned that thorns punctured my rear tire. I removed the tire and tube and there must’ve been 40-50 in each tire. Late afternoon yesterday, the neighbor mentioned that he was running into town to the hardware store. I tagged along and picked up two tubes as well as a couple of patch kits from the bicycle shop next door to the hardware store. I had also ordered tubes on Amazon but their projected delivery date is in the beginning of December. BTW, the tubes from the local bike shop we’re about the same price as the ones from Amazon…

The grill/cantina here on the fairgrounds was open so I stopped by for lunch. Ordered the fish and chips as a change from what I’ve been making in the RV. Nothing fancy but deep fried something was a nice change. I rode around the fairgrounds a bit more just to make sure that the tire didn’t go flat again. There are a lot of RVs arriving today. I hear that it’s some sort of rally. It’s been pretty windy all day and I brought the living room slide in last night. 20mph with gusts to 30mph according to Weather Underground. But the wind now is already a lot less than it was last night.

At the other side of the fairgrounds, there were horses & riders practicing jumping under direction of a trainer. This was also the location of the coffee place advertised on signs around the fairgrounds.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Day 75 - Tucson, AZ

Enough procrastinating. I ordered the Progressive Industries EMS (surge protector plus more) back in July. I’ve been carrying it around in one of the storage bays for the last couple of months. It’s well past the time to install it. This is the compartment where the electric spool for the 50 amp cable is located. To install the EMS, I had to remove the spool, cut the cable, and install the EMS between the spool and the automatic transfer switch which is the black box near the top of the next picture. I was a little wary of installing it today as Bridget has the car in Los Angeles. In case I needed something, I couldn't just run out and pick it up. There were no issues.

The 6 AWG wires were very stiff and the 14” thick rubber cover made it very difficult to work in the limited space. The weather here in Tucson was perfect for this sort of project as it was 58°F with scattered high clouds when I started. The install took about two hours and it was all of 62°F by the time I was finished. I wanted to install this when I knew that we wouldn’t need the A/C or other power hungry device. Also, it had to be an RV park that didn’t care if I worked on the RV. For now, I simply mounted the remote display next to the EMS as I’m not sure of a suitable route to an inside wall. But that’s another project. The EMS works (I’ll call that a win!). When shore power is detected, the power is tested for voltage (too high or low), frequency, and proper grounding. If all of these check out, power is allowed to pass into the coach.

The EMS I installed in the 5th wheel disconnected power several times. The first time was when it detected an improperly wired shore power outlet and another time for low voltage. These devices can save you a lot of $ in burned-out electronics.

Another task completed today was washing the outside of the coach. It was nice and shiny when I picked it up in GA but that was quite a few miles ago. Washing your RV is not generally allowed but here at the Fairgrounds, it’s not prohibited. But it’s not specifically allowed either. But, the two RVs next to me were being washed so I jumped in as well. I did half of it yesterday and the remaining half today. Since the windshield was just worked on, I didn't wash the front. But Bridget did that on Sunday while in Casa Grande. The dirt was most notable on the shiny aluminum wheels. They look shiny again.

Since it’s been 24 hours since the windshield repair, I stored and redeployed the leveling jacks and the slides. This RV park was already pretty level but the leveling jacks make it more stable. Important since my clothes were pretty dirty from installing the EMS. They are now in the washer. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Day 74 - Tucson, AZ

This was last nights sunset from the RV park. There were cars racing around the track and this morning there was an airplane doing some aerobatics (is that the right term) but overall it’s pretty quiet. I removed the rear tube from the bicycle wheel and stopped counting at 10 punctures from thorns. I just ordered a couple of inner tubes from Amazon but they won’t be delivered until the end of the month. Maybe Bridget will be able to bring them back when she goes home for a bit in December.

The mobile RV glass repair place showed up around 11:45 and after positioning their work platform, started to loosen the windshield from the rubber. The process is to remove the glass, glue the rubber to the fiberglass cap, then re-install the glass.

This is the upper corner that popped off. It appears that the opening for the windshield was cut too large during manufacturing. Not much material for the gasket. They are going to glue the gasket to the fiberglass before installing the glass. Apparently, that’s not the norm for a “floating” windshield.

Both the windshield channel and the fiberglass channel are filled with a butyl rubber sealant and the windshield is worked back in place. It now needs to sit for 24 hours until the sealant hardens. So slides in and front jacks lowered just enough to touch the ground. They worked on it for over 3 hours straight. Hope the fix works…

They told me to avoid anything that torques the RV. Or go very slowly. Superglass of Tucson came out to the Fairgrounds and did the repair. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Day 73 - Tucson, AZ

Slight change of plans due to the corner of the windshield popping out. We are at the Pima County Fairgrounds RV Park at a full hook-up space. We were planning on maybe four days but five days were the same cost as a week. So, we are here for the week. As you can see, there aren’t many other RVs here but it is Monday.

I got hold of a mobile RV glass place and they are pretty sure that they can get out here tomorrow. The process is to remove the windshield and reset it. Hopefully, the rubber gasket isn’t damaged. Update tomorrow.

I think these are referred to as “goat heads” but they are everywhere. And one of them got the rear tire on the e-bike. I’m pretty sure I brought tire tools and a patch kit but I’m not positive.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Day 71, 72 - Casa Grande, AZ - TT

No real exploring or touristy activities yesterday or today. A quick trip to Tractor Supply and Walmart to look for a folding camp chair plus some running around on the e-bike. The forecast is for windy conditions on today (Sunday) so the awning was put away and I went ahead and started packing things up. And, we pulled in the living room slide due to the wind as that slide topper shows a lot of wear.

A new problem surfaced today, the upper passenger corner of the windshield popped out. I’ve read that this is not unusual with long diesel pushers with four point levelers. The body twists. I also read that it also happens with uneven road surfaces e.g. boondocking. There is a mobile RV glass business in Quartzite. I left a message with them.

Boondocking challenged is what I call this.  This picture was taken from the rear of the coach. You can see how low the exhaust crossover pipe and the transmission cooler lines are. Granted, this picture is with the air bags deflated. When actually running down the road things are a several inches higher. But things do seem to be hanging low and vulnerable. Especially the transmission cooling lines.

I originally took the picture as I thought there was a problem with the jacks. Since one looked like it was leaning a bit more. It turns out the they are designed to pivot side to side and tend to push outwards at the bottom to provide a more stable platform.

We need to be back in the Phoenix area in December so we may end up at this RV park again if they still have space.

No picture but dinner was at Culver’s. Butter burger on a pretzel roll with cheese curds on the side. Delicious. We also changed our destination and go to Tucson. Probably stay at the Pima county fairgrounds so we can get the windshield fixed. There are several mobile RV windshield repair businesses. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Day 70 - Casa Grande, AZ - TT

No excursions planned for today. Here are the air hoses so I can use the air supply on the coach. I started the engine and ran the pressure up to 125psi and tried it out on the front tire. It worked just fine and builds up pressure much faster than the 12v compressor. Especially if I run the engine at a fast idle. BTW, fast idle is as easy as turning on cruise control, raising the engine rpm to above 1100rpm, and pressing the cruise control “Set” button. It will hold that rpm until you do anything else such as touch the brake or accelerator.

I also picked up a PEX crimp tool, bands, and couplers so I could remove an auxiliary water filter under the kitchen sink. I don’t think the filter element been changed in a while and it really restricted the cold water pressure. The tool (from Home Depot) worked great. Cutting and splicing the hoses together took only about a minute.

Today has been windy and much cooler. 8mph with gusts to 20mph. So we went to the other pool which has a hot tub. It’s more “resort-ish” with palm trees and flowers. Plus the hot tub. I’m not going to complain...

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Day 69 - Music Instrument Museum

Today we visited MIM aka the Music Instrument Museum located north of Phoenix and Scottsdale. They had instruments from all over the world accompanied by videos of performances. This is just a fraction of the guitar gallery near the entrance. You are supplied with an audio receiver and headphones to hear the audio soundtracks accompanying each display.

Making do with what you have. These instruments were made from stuff that would probably have ended up in a landfill. This was in the Latin America section of the museum. Pretty amazing museum.

Notice Bridget behind the harmonica display...

We then met fellow Fairbanks snowbirds MikeP and his wife Pat for dinner in Mesa. I know Mike from the KL7KC radio club. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Day 68 - Chandler, AZ

Harbor Freight was almost right across the street from the entrance of the RV park. The rig has a quick release compressed air fitting in the propane compartment but the hose wasn't found in any of the compartments. There are two possible air fittings referred to as industrial and automotive. Both are available at Harbor Freight so I picked up one of each, a 25’ coiled hose, and an air chuck. My first guess (industrial) turned out to be right. Now I’ll go back and pick up some additional hose and fittings so I can reach all of the tires. I also needed a small saw as the right rear mud flap catches on the SnapPad and tries to push it off. Trimming the lower corner of the mud flap resolved that.

We headed towards to Phoenix Premium Outlets near Chandler, AZ, as Bridget was looking for some hot weather clothes. It’s 91°F today but it doesn’t feel that hot. “It’s a dry heat” they say.  I ended getting some stuff at the outlet mall. Including a small none-stick frying pan that works on an induction cooktop. I've been looking for one for a while. Given these temperatures, the induction cooktop will be getting more use.

On the way back from Chandler, we stopped at Harbor Freight and I picked up 50’ of non-coiled air hose, quick release fittings, and an air chuck with a pressure gauge. So with 65’ of air line, I should be able to reach any tire on the coach, tow dolly or Prius. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Day 67 - Casa Grande, AZ - TT

Today is another warm day at 88°F in mid-afternoon. I rode the e-bike around some this morning then we ran some errands. One of the stops was Tractor Supply. We just needed a few things but it was still nice to wander around the store.

In unusual bit of advanced planning, I picked up an RV parking spot for the 2020 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The tickets went on sale at 9:00 am MST and were completely sold out in forty minutes. So, I guess I know where we’ll be next October. $50/night for a dry camping parking spot. But, once we are parked, we don’t need to drive anywhere for the time we are there. It’s going to be really crowded...

Monday, October 21, 2019

Day 66 - Casa Grande, AZ - TT

We are at another Thousand Trails RV park. This one is south of Phoenix/Mesa in Casa Grande. It’s a really nice park. Not a parking lot and the sites are reasonable size as well as somewhat level. There are a couple of nice swimming pools. But only one with a hot tub. It is 83°F right now and the forecast is for a low of 50°F. I can deal with that.

To us, it seems to get dark really early and there isn’t the long dusk (and dawn) like there is in Alaska.

We are staying here for a week then we’ll try boondocking for a week. Maybe Quartzite or Organ Pipe National Monument. Lots of options around here. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Day 65 - Black Canyon City, AZ - HH

We are ~150 miles south of Cameron, AZ, dry camping at a Harvest Host location. In this case, an apparently very popular café and we are parked in their “event” lot. We are running the generator as it is 85°F but also keeping most of the slides in to reduce the space that we need to cool. They mentioned to Bridget that if we wanted dinner tonight (Sunday) then we needed to make a reservation. I think she made a reservation for dessert. I can see I-17 from where we are parked and it is bumper to bumper heading into Phoenix. This will be the first time I can try out the battery monitor.

To get here, we went through Flagstaff and there were some long, steep grades. The engine water temperature climbed to 228°F. There is definitely a problem with the cooling system. I did check the coolant level while we were in Las Vegas and the level was fine but the coolant looked questionable i.e. dirty. I did verify that the hydraulic cooling fan was functioning. And I just kept downshifting to keep the temperature under 230°F. I’m debating whether to fix it this winter when it would be expensive and inconvenient or wait until next May/June. The expense is from needing to stay in a hotel while the rig is in the shop.

This picture was taken last night at the RV park in Cameron, AZ. Un-filtered and unedited. It really was spectacular.

BTW, the pie was okay. Made at the restaurant but not comparable to Hilltop north of Fairbanks. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Day 64 - Grand Canyon National Park

We drove into the park again from the RV park in Cameron, AZ. This time we drove all the way into the visitor's center. We left the car there and used the shuttle bus system for the rest of our exploring. It wasn't crowded though the Village area was kind of crowded. The viewpoints and trails were not. In most cases, there were just a handful of people at each one.

We started walking the Rim Trail at Maricopa Point with intermediate stops at Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, and The Abyss. In some areas the trail was paved but most of it was nice gravel. Occasionally the trail would get lost as it had multiple branches. But generally, all branches led to the same point. At one point, near The Abyss, the trail narrowed down to just a 6" wide ledge with a steep dropoff.

It was a very pleasant hike and the temperature was just about ideal at around 65°F. And just like Antelope Canyon, the tendency was to take way too many pictures. So this is just a sampling.

By mid-afternoon, the clouds came it which resulted in pretty flat lighting. Also, the haze increased as the day went on. We arrived back in Cameron around 5pm. Tomorrow, we head further south.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Day 63 - Cameron, AZ

A short driving day. Only 89 miles to Cameron, AZ, which is kind of near the east entrance to the Grand Canyon. There was is a large gift shop here. The RV park is $30 and we are staying here for two nights. A lot of so-so ratings for the campground but I think that people are expecting a resort. It’s just a campground with gravel pads with full hookups. There is some traffic noise but it is only about an hours drive to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

The picture is just a shot of the garden where I can get wi-fi. Verizon is almost non-existent at the campground which is just across the street.

We did go to the Watchman Tower which is just inside the east entrance to the Grand Canyon. Crowds were light but still a lot of people taking selfies with the view behind them. What’s the attraction of selfies?

Tomorrow, we are thinking of hiking the rim trail near the Village and the Visitors Center. And maybe take the tram to the western most point.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Day 62 - Page, AZ

The first adventure was Lower Antelope Canyon. I've wanted to see this place ever since I first heard about it. Which was only a few years ago. But until recently, I wasn't sure where it was. Martha and Renee found the tour and booked it for our group. We met there at 8:30 and our group of ten were assigned to Daniel. He was an excellent tour guide and not only explained the features but also stopped periodically to take group pictures within the canyon.

 The slot canyon is about 80' at its deepest point and is pretty narrow at times. There are a number of steel stairs and ladders to negotiate the canyon but it wasn't difficult walking.

What was unusual is that the pictures are much more vibrant than the canyon looked in real life. But the canyon is truly spectacular and well worth the cost of the tour.

We were in the canyon for about an hour and a half and they supplied us with a bottle of water at the end. There is a prohibition on bags of any kind. And it was because tourists were bringing in the ashes of deceased relatives and scattering them within the canyon.

Here is a shot of Dom and Martha emerging from the slot canyon.

We then drove down a little further south to the Horseshoe Bend overlook a few miles south on Hwy 89. It was about a ¾ mile walk out to the overlook from the parking lot. There were hundreds of people at the overlook. Pretty crowded. Antelope Canyon was also pretty crowded and reservations are needed to visit the site. It is on Native American land so you can't just drive out and visit it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Day 61 - Page, AZ

We drove ~150 miles today to Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell. Really nice view from our campsite (second picture). And the only sites available were at the full hookup loop which happened to be the ones nearest the lake. We headed down to the resort and marina in the early afternoon. According to the website, the level of the lake is 88’ down from full.

We are glamping here with Dom, Martha, John (Martha’s cousin) and Renee. Really nice RV park. It looks brand new. It’s almost 80°F right now and the forecast has a low of 51°F. Just about ideal. We spent the afternoon in the sun working on Dom’s trailer lights and at the resort bar.

Now we are resting until sunset which is at 5:48 PST. n.b. Arizona is one of the few enlightened states that dumped daylight time. Then we are heading into Page for dinner.