Monday, January 20, 2020

Day 72 - Deming, NM - HH

A very windy drive today to Deming, NM, with gusts to 30+ mph. Mostly from the east so headwinds and crosswinds for most of the drive combined with a slight uphill grade. Average gas mileage today, according to the newly discovered built-in trip computer, was only 5.9 mpg. Once we passed the continental divide, the winds started to die down and are almost non-existent here in Deming. We were enjoying the sun while it was out as rain is in the forecast for tomorrow.

We are dry camping in the parking lot of the D.H. Lescombes Winery through their affiliation with Harvest Hosts. It’s a pretty big parking lot with room for a lot of vehicles as they have live music on some weekends. Since it’s Monday, the lot is pretty empty. On the left is the view to the southwest from the parking lot. This was also one of the few places that wanted to see our HH membership card and they made a copy of it. The bistro here onsite is open until 7pm and I must admit that their Italian sandwich sounds pretty tasty.

This is where we are parked. Currently, there are 5 other RVs here in the parking lot. Which is more than any other Harvest Hosts we’ve stayed at. Not that it’s crowded or anything. We went in and did a tasting a left with a couple of bottles. A sweet plum wine and a Hatch Green Chile wine which is actually made with green chiles. Both were pretty tasty and you can definitely smell the chiles.

Note, the links are referral links and you can get 15% off your membership and we get a kickback if you use the link.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Day 69, 70, 71 - Benson, AZ - TT

Friday (69) - Today was an absolutely beautiful day with clear skies and just a light breeze. I dunked around with a few things on the RV. Since the maintenance staff let me borrow their 10’ step ladder to take a look at the door awning. A few months back, it was left out on a windy evening and a couple of springs popped out. The purpose of the springs is to keep the arms up against the fabric so it clears the door. Apparently, there are a few parts missing as the springs won’t stay in place when the awning is brought in.

I also looked for parts to fix the 12vdc air compressor. The brass fitting is not a standard NPT but a metric brass fitting. M8x1.00 which wasn’t carried by either Ace Hardware or Tractor Supply. I used the Dremel to cut the clamp off and will just cut the hose and clamp it on. We’ll see if it holds up to 120psi, which is the required pressure for the front tires. The rear are 110psi. When leaving Needles, I aired up a couple of low tires using the onboard air compressor.

Not really related to Benson, but I thought it was interesting that Apple had the watch face show sunrise colors at local sunrise.

Saturday (70) - Another beautiful day. It almost hit freezing last night so I did disconnect from water and sewer just in case. It’s supposed to be a little colder tonight. This morning, I tested the electric heater in the wet bay (the compartment with the water and sewer connection) and I’m not sure it works. I’ll test it out later today.

The cactus was right next to the pool gate. It looks like the yellow is the new growth. Other than that, it’s been a slow day.

I had picked up a larger plastic container sold specifically for use with sous vide devices. The lid is hinged to simplify adding or removing the bags without shutting the device off and the lid minimizes evaporation. The 12 quart container is over double the size of the previous container that I picked up in Quartzsite. Today, it was used to reheat leftover rib roast from Christmas. Straight from the freezer to the water. No thawing needed.

Sunday (71) - Yet another beautiful day with a forecasted high of 70°F. I took apart the electric heater in the wet bay and found out that it runs on 12VDC. It’s only 50watts so maybe I didn’t give it enough time to heat up. The heating elements look like a bunch of resisters. I’ll try it out tonight though it isn’t supposed to get even to freezing.

I went to Walmart this morning to pick up groceries and an oil additive specifically for diesel engines with HEUI injection systems. The Cat C7 being one of them. We’ll see if it helps at all with the smoke. Tomorrow’s drive is only a couple of hours to Deming, NM. A new state for the RV. The last time I was here was for an Internet2 Joint Tech meeting where I helped lead a couple of workshops. It’s been a while.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Day 68 - Benson, AZ - TT

Today was a short travel day that ended up feeling longer. After leaving the BLM boondocking area, we stopped for some diesel as we were under ¼ tank and I don’t like to run low. Personality quirk. I didn’t want to fill up at that station as I wanted to try out the TSD fuel discount program. Just west of Benson is a Love’s truck stop that is part of their program and the diesel price listed on the sign was $3.229 per gallon. The discounted price was $2.609 per gallon. TSD charges an fee of 10% of the discount so on this transaction it would be $4.50 so the net savings would be $40.48 or about 18%. That seems worth the trouble. The other benefit is I don’t need to prepay like I usually do when using the truck lanes. I’ll take a 60¢/gal discount.

We are back at the Encore RV park just south of Benson, AZ, again for a couple of days. The light rain and driving through Tucson traffic added to the “long day” feeling even though it wasn’t that bad. Unloading the car and setting up in the rain isn’t that much fun but this is the first time it’s happened so I shouldn’t really be complaining. At least it isn’t snowing!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Day 67 - Boondocking With Dom

We were originally headed to Benson, AZ, but we decided to meet up with Dom aka He checked with Picacho Peak State Park and they had space for us. But he thought that there may be enough room in the BLM site where he had been staying. There was but it’s a pretty tight fit for our coach. The site was level enough that we could put out the slides. He said that he had forgotten how large this RV was.

It is always nice to visit with Dom.

Tomorrow morning, we will continue on to Benson. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Day 66 - Packing Up

Tuesday (66) - Another nice day. The pool is warm today and it’s almost too warm for the jacuzzi. Since we wanted to get an early-ish start tomorrow, I went ahead and emptied the tanks and packed up the sewer hose. I’ll put the rest of the outdoor stuff away this afternoon and maybe even load up the car.

For my own peace of mind, I started up the engine and let it build up air pressure. Not much smoke at all this time. Did the injector cleaner really help? I guess time will tell. It still runs a little rough when first started but it started up just fine. Maybe the intake grid heater isn’t working or maybe I shouldn’t look for problems.

I accidentally hit “post” before I was ready so here it is. I may add more later today.

Later today - It must be time to move on. The jacuzzi wasn’t working this evening...

Monday, January 13, 2020

Day 65 - Forgot How To Count

Sunny and warmish at the pool today. The forecast for tomorrow is 70°F. That must mean it’s time for us to head out. Last year when we were here, the temperature finally went above 70°F the day before we left. BTW, this watch face showed up after one of the recent updates. It shows local sunrise and sunset on the main face for your location.

The air hose on my 12VDC compressor bit the dust today. I’m thinking of trying to find appropriate fittings to just install a quick release air fitting and just use the air hose setup for the coach. It worked fine when I added air to the Prius tires (35psi) but when I hooked it up to the coach (110psi) it started to leak from a crack in the hose. Oh well, cheap compressor purchased from Camping World a few years back.

I finally checked the engine oil, it’s just a little below the full mark. And no evidence of diesel in the oil. That’s good. I put my e-bike into the storage bay and was surprised that it fit upright. I had assumed that I had tried before to put it in upright. It has about an inch of clearance. Maybe I had tried it with the seat installed. Until now, I just laid it on it’s side inside of the storage compartment and was concerned about bending something.

While sitting here, I was looking at the title of this post and thought that I must have messed up by a few days in the number of days somewhere. I was planning on being back in Fairbanks at around 85-86 days and according to my numbering, it was 91. Something was wrong. It turns out that at after day 55, I typed 60 instead of 56. So I just needed to edit the last half dozen posts. It had me wondering if I had forgotten how to count. So this is really day 64 unless you count the travel day.

6:30 pm, still nice

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Day 61, 62, 63, 64 - Hmmm, No Pictures

Thursday (61) - Another breezy day but still 104°F warmer than home. We’ve been here for 3½ weeks and we start heading east in just under a week. I think we are both looking forward to getting on the road again. I started to work on the curtains and put the header tape on the first panel to see how it looks. I then thought about doing at least two panels at a time as each panel is only 30” wide. It also turns out that, ideally, the length will vary depending on where the panel will hang. I’m glad that I didn’t cut and hem the all of the panels right off the bat like I was originally thinking.

Friday (62) - The wind is back today. 21 mph out of the north. Lows are getting into the upper 30s but highs are into the mid-60s (°F). This is winter in the southwest. I’m beginning to see a lot of posts from Quartzsite. The upcoming RV show and the gem show are starting to attract a lot of people. We will need to drive through there next week when we start to head east but have no plans to stop there. Since we won’t be able to fill the propane before we leave, I’ll probably rely on it less for heat for the next few days as I’d like to have at least 3/16th of a tank while traveling.

Saturday (63) - We started the day at 37°F but it’s not supposed to stay that way. When it had warmed up to 41°F, I turned on the heat pump and after a few minutes, it was producing warm air. Hmmm, it works better than I was led to believe.

Sunday (64) - Four days and haven’t taken a single picture. Maybe it is time to move on. We spent the morning in Bullhead City to pick up prescriptions and groceries. Using the Walgreens app, it has been very simple to refill prescriptions as we move around. Since we’ve been here for a month, it has been pretty simple to receive mail and Amazon packages. We won’t be fixed this long for a while. We have three two-week stays in Texas booked so far but no real plans after that beyond starting to work our way back west then north. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Day 60 - Not in Fairbanks

Looking at the Fairbanks weather, I’m glad to be somewhere a bit warmer. With today’s projected high of 68°F, we will be around 110°F warmer. Quite a difference. By mid-morning, it was around 60°F but it was sunny and calm. It was nice to sit outside while looking at FB posts from Fairbanks.

Maybe it’s time to test out the new sewing machine. There’s this nice desk-type area that I’m trying out with the sewing machine. It has power and decent lighting. There is a window behind the mirrors if you want a “view”. The sewing machine seems to do well. A pretty straightforward machine. The one feature I miss from my Bernina is the needle doesn’t stop in up position. I got used to that. Yesterday afternoon, I ordered some curtain header tape from Amazon. It came today in under 24 hours! And it’s not like we are in a major city. I’m impressed!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Day 57, 58, 59 -

Sunday (57) - Another sunny, calm day and my roll of Eternabond tape came in. Back up on the roof to seal the other vent. I also noticed that the Dicor sealant along the edge where the awning is attached has some minor cracks so I will pick up some Dicor tomorrow when we go into town.

Monday (58) - Windy again but almost 70°F. I’m sitting at the pool enjoying the warm-ish breeze. We picked up, of all things, a sewing machine from Walmart. I checked Amazon and it was only $4 cheaper. Joanne’s was $70 more. We also picked up some curtain panels. The idea is to make up some new curtains for the windshield. The original ones look pretty dingy with water stains along the bottom probably from condensation. The original drapes are pleated and the new panels aren’t. We’ll see how they look. I could get pleat tape and hooks on Amazon it needed.

I just got notified by Amazon that the SeeLevel II tank monitor was not available in the Amazon warehouse like they indicated on their site.The cancelled the order. I could order from another vendor but they can’t get it here by the time we leave this location. And, like many other vendors, they won’t ship to Alaska…

Tuesday (59) - Not much going on. High cirrus meant that we didn’t reach very far into the 60s (°F) today. But at least it isn’t very windy. Zipped into Fort Mojave for some thread but somehow the list expanded to more items (coffee, tension rods, etc.). Hard to go in for only one item... The curtain project is just waiting for curtain header tape. Amazon claims delivery tomorrow but I doubt it.

It’s 6:50 and I just got back from the jacuzzi (for the 2nd time today) and feel completely relaxed. It’s the best feature of this RV park. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Day 55, 56 -

Friday (55) -Yesterday afternoon, we rode the e-bikes down to Jack Smith Park which is a couple of subdivisions down-river from the RV park. The low water level was really evident compared to last year. The lower end of the boat ramp was on dry land by several feet. It was a  windy trip back.

Saturday (56) - It has been cold back home in Fairbanks the last couple of weeks. Not unusual but a good reminder of one reason we are opting to be in the RV in warmer temperatures. It may get cooler once the sun goes down but it’s still above freezing. And, I’m sitting outside without even a sweater typing this post.

Yesterday at the pool, someone was saying that they’ve been unable to ride their motorcycle due to the low temperatures and clouds. I was tempted to comment but managed to not say anything. There are a number of bikes here and rarely do I see them used. Sad...

I removed the main panel of the wet bay to get access to the black and grey tanks. I needed to measure their height since I plan to install a SeeLevel II tank monitor. The tank sensors are available in three sizes so I needed to know this height of the tanks. The black and grey tanks are both about 17” tall but only the upper 13” is flat enough to install the sensors. Since it is more important to know when they are full, the included 12” sensors are fine. The sensors are external to the tanks so they should be more accurate. The water tank is an “L” shape with the lower 10” or so the full width of the RV. Then it extends up for a total height of almost two feet. This tank requires two stacked sensors. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Day 54 - Still in Needles

This picture was actually taken on Tuesday when it was pretty windy. But it was warm. At least into the 60s (°F). I didn’t go anywhere since I was waiting for the propane truck. I was trying to see how reliable the gauge on the tank was. It read just under ⅛. The gauge is accurate as it took 21.3 gallons to fill it back to 80% (22.9 gallons).

We had neighbors for a couple of days around New Years Eve. They had brought this sheet metal fire pit, some wood and an axe but decided that they wanted a Solo fire pit instead. They were just going to put it out by the dumpster so I asked if we could have it. They threw in the axe and the firewood. The axe looks almost unused. Incredibly generous of them! I’m getting ready to make some kindling. All we need is some newspaper and cardboard.

We will be here in Needles for another couple of weeks before we start to head east towards Texas. It’s been a long time since I was in Texas and it was all work related. We will be taking advantage of our Thousand Trails membership and have already reserved well into March.

Another thing, after seeing several YouTube videos on the service, I signed up with TSD Logistics for a fuel card. They opened up their long distance trucking fuel program to RVers to increase their volume and get better discounts. They send you a fuel card and PIN that works at truck stops (truck lanes only) and TSD Logistics get charged for the fuel. They then debit you for the discounted price. They negotiate discounts with the different chains and you use an app to find the negotiated price so you can shop for the best deal. I was skeptical for a while but other RVers, including some that I have confidence in, are reporting significant fuel savings averaging around 65¢/gal. On 75 gallons per fill up, that adds up pretty quick. Other users on the FB group are reporting the best discounts are at Love’s and TA. I’m looking forward to not only the discount but not having to go into the store to pre-pay for the fuel.

Today was another windy day but we rode the bikes around a bit. The electric motor made the headwind less of an issue.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Day 53 - 2019 Review (Part 2)

Happy New Year!

July - The month started out with a camping trip to Eklutna Lake north of Anchorage. This was a camp out arranged by Gary and Stacy of Pau Hana Travels. Later in the month, we thought that we found an affordable used diesel pusher coach that checked off most of the boxes for us. It was at a dealer in GA so Bridget and I spent a few days north of Atlanta to check it out. Thank you Lori and Chris for your wonderful hospitality.

August - I drove the Prius down to Oregon with most of the stuff for the new-to-us RV. I then flew to Atlanta with the intent of picking up the 2005 Mandalay 40E. The dealer didn’t have it ready even though they had 5 weeks to get it checked out. Again, thank you to Chris and Lori for putting up with me. I would not recommend this RV dealer.

September - After a nine day delay, I headed west from northern Georgia to Corvallis, OR, where I had left the Prius and Bridget flew in with two dogs and a cat. We met up with friends Brad & Brandy, and Lynne & Jerry in Salem before we began our snowbird trip. After a few days in Sunriver, OR, where we met up with Ginny and Dave, we headed east and south through Idaho and Utah. There was snow in the forecast for Montana and Idaho.

October - After escaping the frosty weather and threats of an early snow, we stayed in southern Utah/Nevada/Northern Arizona. My son and Alyssa drove out all the way from MN to spend several days with us exploring the area. We went to Las Vegas for a couple of days before heading back to Utah to meet up with Dom & Martha, and John & Renee. We hiked in Zion before heading to Lake Powell. We went to Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon that everyone probably has on their bucket list. From there, we continued south to the Grand Canyon and finished off the month in Tucson.

November - We continued south from Tucson to Benson and stayed for a couple of weeks. I went back home for several appointments and picking up some things I forgot to pack. While in Benson, I arranged to have the cooling system on the coach worked in Tucson on as the engine would get close to overheating on just about any grade. Even the modest 2% grade from Tucson to Benson. After the repair, we headed west to Quartzsite to see how this new-to-us coach did boondocking. No more overheating!

December - After our boondocking “test” we headed to Casa Grande, AZ, for a couple of weeks then on to Needles, CA, where we are spending the holidays. This coach does fine for short dry camping stays but really prefers campgrounds and RV parks. Being 41½ feet, it likes level spaces and smooth roads. And even though the tanks are all much larger than those on the 5th wheel, they filled up twice as fast. Based on our “test” we probably won’t be adding significant solar and we decided to purchase a Thousand Trails membership.

That’s about it for the year in review. 294 blog posts in 2019...