Monday, December 18, 2023

It's all good


In my last post, I described the problems I had with Minnie when I got home from the Mogollon Rim. The flat tire, the empty gas tank, and the electrical systems down were very concerning. I ignored the problems for a few weeks, but the next time Dale was in town, he went out and did a little problem solving.

He got underneath Minnie and inspected the gas tank as much as he could, and didn't find any holes or even what looked like a leak. Then he tackled the electrical issues, starting with the solar charge controller. He thought that was a logical place to start, so he pulled it out of the bin where it is mounted and checked it over. He found what looked like some shorted wires and followed them to a burned out fuse on the coach. We could not find a replacement in town, so I ordered one from Amazon. After it arrived and he put it in, the electrical system came right back up, and the gas gauge read half full! Hallelujah! 

He also discovered there was a big slash in my tire, so we were pretty sure I had had a blow out. Since it was one of my dual tires, I slowly and carefully drove to Discount Tire, and they replaced the blown tire, which was still under warranty.

He's a little concerned about what caused the fuse to blow, so he hasn't re-hooked up the charge controller yet until he checks it out to make sure it's in good working order. (He had knee replacement surgery the day after putting in the fuse, so hasn't had the time to get back to my little problems. 😉) Once we verify that's okay, I should be good to go. If I have to replace that, it's only a few hundred dollars. A tow to an RV service bay to repair (or replace) a leaking gas tank and check out the electrical system could have ended up costing thousands. I love having brothers who are not only good mechanics, but also willing to help out their little sister. I'm blessed!

I have a big Mediterranean cruise coming up this spring so I probably won't be taking any camping trips before then, so Minnie is sitting in the side yard for now. She doesn't mind though. 😏

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Eventful end to Summer 2023 camp trip

The second week in our campsite on the Rim, I discovered mouse droppings in Minnie. I got out my electric rodent zapper and caught one the next morning. Just in case he wasn't a solo RVer, I reset the zapper. Since I found more droppings in multiple locations, Dale brought over his zapper and I set both of them, moving them around each day. Meanwhile, Dale & I went on a hunt for small openings where they might be getting in. We stuffed steel wool in three different holes we found, though not being certain any of them were open to the outside. Over the next few days, I caught three more mice, then I had a quiet night with no activity and no mice in the traps, so thought I might have gotten them all. On Tuesday evening, as I sat reading in my recliner, I heard the zapper on the engine console go off. Sure enough, there was a mouse in it. I tossed it out the front door and re-baited and reset the trap. Fifteen minutes later, I heard it go off again. After the third one an hour later, I knew there was some super highway into my rig that the whole mountain mouse community had discovered. I crawled in bed with my covers up to my chin, but didn't sleep well. Each time I heard the zapper, I would get up & toss the dead mouse out the door and reset the trap. By morning, there was a pile of five mice plus another one scratching in my oven, and I decided to pack up and head home.

No, not this mouse. This mouse would have been welcome!

I pulled up in front of my house at noon. After unhitching the Fit, Minnie wouldn't start. I tried jumping it with the Fit, but got nothing. Daryl was out and about and I called to ask him to stop by on his way home to double check my jumper cable connections. He started to reconnect them, but told me to first try the key one more time. Sure enough, Minnie started right up. I pulled it around and up the driveway into the back yard, when Daryl noticed one of my back (dual) tires was flat. I remembered either hitting a bump or pothole, or something hitting me as I came through Mesa. Just then, I noticed my gas gauge was also reading empty. It had been over half full just a few miles out of Mesa. I was then very concerned something had put a hole in my gas tank.

All of my electrical system seems to be down. and my brothers suggested the empty gas gauge might be a result of that instead of really empty. Now I'm thinking I might have had a blowout on the tire, and the electrical outage is a separate issue, possibly related to mice chewing wires. I sure hope that's the case or it could be a big expense, not to mention the complication of getting it into a shop to be repaired. It would likely have to be towed. Since I don't have any camping trips planned in the next few months, I'll wait until it's a bit cooler to start making some calls.

Meanwhile, I slept soundly last night in my cool block house, and I'm glad to be home. It was a fun camping trip (up until that last night!) but I'll be ready to hit the road again as soon as Minnie is healed up.

Two weeks on the Mogollon Rim

After exhausting our 14 day camping limit in the White Mountains, we moved back down to the Rim campground and back into the same space we had occupied two weeks earlier. I positioned my Minnie so I'd get afternoon shade this time instead of the bright sun shining in my front door. 


Dale had an eye appointment on Monday the 31st, and we drove down to Mesa together in my Fit. We stopped at Daryl's to pick up some Amazon deliveries, then I dropped Dale at the doctor's office. While he was getting his injection, I filled up our one gallon water jugs, did a load of laundry, and took a nice long shower at home. After picking up Dale from his appointment, we turned back north and chugged back up the mountain. We made a quick stop at the Safeway in Payson (we had to take turns going in to shop so we could leave the car AC running for Hanna), then back out to our camp.

One of the Amazon items we picked up while in town was this little portable propane fire pit. We love to make S'mores in the evenings, but the Stage 1 fire restrictions in the forests prohibited us making a campfire. This little pit is far from a real log burning campfire, but it did provide warmth and ambience, and worked surprisingly well at roasting marshmallows and hot dogs. We managed to make our way through several packs of graham crackers, half a bag of large marshmallows, and dozens of chocolate bars.😂 Plus we had chili dogs two nights.

What do you think it means that one of us skewers our dogs vertically and the other one crosswise?

Chili cheese dog!

One day we heard helicopters flying overhead, but couldn't see any evidence of a fire. So we got in the car and drove up toward Willow Springs Lake. We still didn't see any smoke, but there was evidence of some firefighter activity to the northwest, so we stood there watching for a few minutes. Soon we heard a helicopter coming over the trees, and this happened while we watched.


Since there was nothing more to see, we headed back to our camp, and then noticed a couple forest service fire trucks in the parking lot of the Mogollon Rim Visitor's Center, so we pulled in beside them to ask where the fire was. They said it was just a few miles away on the reservation. We asked about potential fire danger to our campground area, and they said it seemed unlikely. We drove back to our campsite more relaxed.

 Another day, we drove up to Rim 9350 dispersed campground where we stayed a couple years ago. The roads were a little better than before, and about a third of the campsites were filled. The most disappointing thing we saw was many of the trees had been cut down, and many more were marked for removal. We pulled into our favorite site to walk around, and saw that the majority of the trees were destined for the lumber mill. In speaking to a docent in the Visitor's Center a couple days later, she told us the lumber had been sold. While we can understand managing the forest, especially during drought and high fire season, cutting over half the trees in one campground seemed extreme.

Most of the trees in this site will be cut down.

You can see the orange ring designating removal
We had a lot of thunderstorms both in the White Mountains and
on the Rim. Hanna never used to be bothered by thunder, but as she has grown older, she's gotten more and more nervous of the big booms. During one evening storm we heard a big crack, and she ran over under the chair. 

For the most part, we stayed close to camp and just enjoyed the cooler weather and quiet days. Hanna and I walked up and down the dirt road a couple times a day, and took note of the constant in and out of campers. With 50 spaces in Rim 171 Campground, there seemed to be plenty of room for everyone.

Lazy days of summer

Week two in the White Mountains

We took a few outings in our second week in the White Mountains. We drove down to Big Lake one day. I remembered little about the area from our family camp trips in the 1960s, but the name Rainbow Campground pinged my memory as where we stayed when we went there. It's a large campgound, and was about 1/3 full. Nothing else about it seemed familiar. We drove over to the marina, and walked around the dock and little camp store. Dale bought us both an ice cream treat.

Another day we drove down to Hawley Lake. The road to the lake was in terrible shape, and so were the campground roads. We stopped in to the little store/cafe on the lake front and asked about campground rates: $9/night for primitive sites, and $26 for full hookups. When we came back to Carnero Lake, we saw a little rainstorm over on the hill.

It did hit our campsite later.

On our way past Sunrise, we popped up the hill to the Lodge, which we had missed on our first drive through. It is being totally remodeled and was closed, of course. If we make it back up to the area in another year, we'll stop in to see what it looks like.

Our time limit was coming to an end in the high country, and it was time to head down the mountain.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Escaping the heat

Week one of my summer 2023 flee from the Valley of the Sun is in the books, and boy am I glad to be out of that oven. With record temperatures hitting 116° for several days in a row, and nary a drop of rain on the horizon, my home sweet home is sizzling. So I loaded up my Minnie and hit the road north to higher elevations and lower temperatures.

Dale was camped in FR171 dispersed campground northeast of Payson, where we spent a rainy week last September. I drove up to join him there, and settled into site 13, across the yard from him. It was a pretty sunny site because Dale needs open skies for his Starlink and 12 solar panels. I was able to find a bit more shade, but still suffered through warm afternoons. There was a little too much wind to put out my brand new awning, so the sun shone directly on my front door. 

After four days there and daily temps climbing into the high 80s, we packed up and headed east to higher elevations in the White Mountains. We were in search of even cooler weather, and we found it. We had to go up to 9280 feet elevation, but there it was! Neither Dale nor I have been to the White Mountains since our childhood, but we both remember Dad liked to camp and fish at Big Lake. We looked for free dispersed camping areas around there, and decided to check out Carnero Lake, about 25 miles north of Big Lake. We figured we could set up near there, then scout out the neighboring forest and see if we found campsites we liked better. 

We have been in a nice spot along FS117 since last Monday and it is suiting us very well. We found a site alongside a meadow with trees on two sides, so Dale parked near the open area, and I tucked into a little grove of pines. The temperatures were in the high 60s when we got here. 

We had rain for the next four afternoons and evenings, so we had to retreat inside each day. It finally let up by Friday, and the sun came out and stayed out. We made a trip into Springerville one day to break up the routine, and had lunch at a wonderful pizza place (Dale’s treat!) and then drove by an auto salvage sculpture yard that I found on my Roadside America app. 

Yesterday, we drove down to Sunrise Lake and ski resort area and drove through a couple campgrounds. From there, we made our way over to Greer, and drove the main road through town. Hard to call it a town, since it’s mostly just cabins, lodges, RV parks, and restaurants. No stores, no gas stations, nor any other businesses. We plan to drive down to Big Lake in a day or two and check out the campgrounds there. We likely won’t stay in a developed campground at the lake, but we like to drive through them and look for amenities. (I will need to dump in a week or so.) 

We gained some neighbors over the weekend, as the working folks escaped the heat for a few days. The mother & father just across from our site came over the first evening to chat for a few minutes. Both Dale & I took note of their handguns on their hips, and politely chatted with them. We have no idea why they need to display their guns in a campground, especially as they had two little girls with them, but we tried to be good neighbors and mind our own business. Hopefully they will be gone today.  

The high altitude is keeping us both a little short of breath, and Dale has suffered with daily headaches. But the nice temperatures and quiet nights make it worthwhile. Hanna and I are enjoying walks each morning and evening either up the road or through the woods. 

We think we will stay here another week until our 14 day limit is up, then maybe head a little closer to the Valley, with upcoming doctor appts in mind. 

Minnie Updates

My Minnie took an adventure without me in June!

A few months ago, Heather announced their family was planning to rent an RV and take a summer vacation to a couple national parks. I immediately asked if they would be interested in taking my Minnie and Fit, if the calendar worked out. It just sits in my side yard for many months each year, and there was no reason they couldn’t take it. In the next few weeks, we worked out the timing for a short overnight trial run, for both training purposes and also for them to make sure it would suit their needs (size-wise mainly since they would be camping with 4 people.) We drove up to Usery Pass campground just north of Mesa, and I took them through setup, hookup, and dumping processes, and then I drove the Fit back home, leaving them for the overnight experience. They agreed it was a valuable trial and training run, and they eagerly began planning their trip. 

They left home on June 10, and visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, then Bryce National Park and Zion National Park, all locations I have been to and love. They returned home on the 16th and declared they think they want to get an RV in their empty nest or retirement years. So I think that means they enjoyed it!

While they were gone, they had to deal with the inconvenience of a couple broken items that I hadn’t gotten around to fixing this year. When they got home, I figured it was time to get them done. The Balches had given me some money to put toward a new awning, so I got that ordered first thing. It was installed on July 5, the day before I was planning to leave for the White Mountains, so perfect timing! 

My pantry latch had broken last fall on my last trip to the Mogollon Rim, and it would fly open and slide out when driving if it was not tied closed.  I came up with the idea of a cupboard latch, and Daryl installed it for me.  It works great to keep the door closed and hold the pantry sliding shelf in place. The last thing was the water hookup valve, which sprang a leak while H&M were on their trip. I ordered a new valve that happened to come while Dale was in town for an appt, and he installed it for me. 

June/July is always when my licenses and insurance come due, and now those are also taken care of for another year. So that’s the current maintenance and repairs that were on my list. As Richard loves to frequently remind me, it’s always something, and owning an RV is not free.

Now it is time to head off on my next adventure. I really wanted to take an RV trip across the country to see Barb Heimel this year, but medical appointments and the high price of gas complicated those plans. So I decided to stick closer to home, and camp in the high country of Arizona this year and hope a longer trip will be more affordable next year. 

See you down the road. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022


I did another two week camping trip in my Minnie, driving up to the Rim area on August 21st to spend time with Dale. He had been in a dispersed camp just off Houston Mesa road north of Payson for a couple of weeks, so I joined him there. We set up my solar to give it a whirl. It was putting in amps, but since it had been unplugged for several months, we had no idea how far below 100% it was, but it was well below 14.4 volts. So we just let it charge for as many hours of sunshine as we had.

The ranger came around on Monday to read us the rules (stressing the14 day limit mostly), and we told her we were leaving on Tuesday to move up onto the Rim into the Sitgreaves forest. She seemed satisfied we were not homesteading there and complained to us about "homeless" people who plant their RVs in the forest and spend all their time making a mess.

Our camp near Houston Mesa

We saw blue skies in the early mornings
True to our word, we did move up to the Mogollon Rim on Tuesday morning (the 23rd), after a stop at the Walmart in Payson. Dale had previously camped in FR171 Rim campground just below Willow Springs Lake, so we went back there. His favorite site was taken, so after driving past all 48 other sites, we settled into space 16. The driveway entrances on the majority of the sites were in horrible muddy condition, and ours was no exception. In addition, our site was filled with large (and small) rocks. But it had the most important features, and that was a southern exposure for solar and a northern exposure for Starlink. Plus it was plenty large enough for us both to tuck back in away from the road.

Our rocky, wet campsite

Mogollon Rim view

Little white bear in the woods

All that rain brought dozens of mushrooms

The only outings we took was to drive up to Willow Springs Lake and into Heber one day, and into Payson another day. We didn't really need anything, but just did it for a change of scenery. Otherwise, we mostly babysat my solar panel, trying to get my new Lithium Ion battery up to float. It seemed my one solar panel was not going to cut it due to the fact we had so much rain and clouds every day. So midway through the first week, Dale disconnected one set of his own panels and brought them over and hooked them up to my battery. After about five more days, we finally got the battery up to 14.4V, where it settled back down to 13.4, which is technically floating. After that, it floated each day before noon.

We had discussed on What's App ordering a battery charger on Amazon and Richard & Dianna offered to bring it up. I decided not to invest in that right now, but we did invite R&D to come up for a weenie roast picnic lunch with us. They thought a drive up to the pines sounded like a nice (and safe healthy) outing, so came up on Tuesday, the 30th.

Willow Springs Lake
 Daryl & Gisele were driving up to a church family camp in Pinetop for the Labor Day weekend, and since their route came right by our campground, they stopped and chatted for a couple of hours.

One morning I was sitting in my recliner drinking coffee and heard a rustling near my stove. I put my ear over there and traced it to the oven. I opened the door and saw the cutest little gray and white mouse looking out at me from among my frying pans (which I store in there). As cute as he was, I didn't want him in my rig, and commenced efforts to extricate him. I set up an electric rat zapper, first under my sink beside the stove, then after a couple of days of no success, I moved it to the floor of the cab, where I had heard him scuffling about one night. Still no luck. With Dale's help (and me standing by) we removed the frying pans from the oven, but my little house guest was no longer among them. I placed the zapper in the oven for one night anyway. 

This effort lasted until I drove home on Sunday before Labor Day. After getting my rig emptied and prepped for storage, I figured he must have abandoned ship in all that time and activity, but JUST IN CASE, I set the zapper trap on the kitchen floor, went out, and locked the door. Sure enough, three days later, I found him in the trap. 

He never felt a thing. R.I.P.

Poor little guy...