Saturday, September 10, 2022

Mouse!

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...

 



Monday, July 25, 2022

New Power Source

 I just realized I never wrote about my new power generating system. I'm not sure how I missed writing about that, because it is a very big improvement that my brother Dale installed for me.

I've complained countless times about my coach batteries; how often I have to replace them, how they don't hold charge, having to monitor the level throughout the day and night, and running the generator to re-charge whenever I'm camped without hookups. I've been wanting to get a Lithium Ion battery for a while, and decided it was time to bite that bullet. Also, as I mentioned in my October 2021 post, I had tried out one of Dale's single solar panels while camping with him and saw how well it delivered enough charge for my daily needs, so I put a solar panel on my Christmas list.

Dale was in town in February for a couple weeks, and I took advantage of that visit to get some help installing my system. I had the new battery and solar panel, and Dale had an old charge controller he was willing to pass on to me since he had recently upgraded his system to the "Tim Taylor Tool Time More Power Argh Argh Argh" set up. So with all the parts I needed, we (HE) got to work. 

It was a little more involved than we had expected since the new battery would not fit in the space under the step where the two lead acid batteries were. We ended up having to put it inside behind the chair, but that necessitated drilling holes through the floor and the wall of the old battery space to run the cables to the coach hookups. In the end, it all went together okay, and it's not really in the way behind the chair. Plus it's easy to reach the disconnect switch there. I disconnect the battery when it's stored for several months to avoid discharging the battery.

The basket of Hanna's toys sits nicely on top

After he got all the connections made to the coach, Trimetric gauge, and the charge controller, we set up the solar panel and checked it out. It worked perfectly! The panel was facing the early afternoon sun and charged the battery full by the end of the day. In fact, I had to run a little fan for several hours the next day to take some of the charge back off the battery before disconnecting it for storage. 

I think the next thing that is going to take more money out of my wallet is a replacement awning, as mine is peeling pretty badly. I did buy a repair kit, but I don't have high hopes it will do a very good job. And I need a tall ladder to work on it, so I'm not sure when I will get to that. But it's not terribly urgent.

I'm anxious to get back out camping. We've had another hot summer, so the cool mountain forests sound lovely. I've had such a busy year with one thing or another on my schedule that I haven't had a spare two weeks to string together a trip up north, but I hope I can rectify that soon.

Let me not forget to say "Thanks a lot, Dale"!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

New AC

I mentioned in my last post that when Dale and I were camping near Rye, AZ, it was warm enough one afternoon for me to turn on my AC, only to discover it was putting out warm air. Since RV air conditioner units notoriously do not allow adding Freon, I figured I was in for a replacement. The fact my unit is 17 years old, although has many fewer hours on it than that age implies, I wasn't too unhappy over the fact it had worn out.

I hate taking Minnie out of my back yard to drive it to a service center, leave it for an unknown length of time, get a ride home and back, then bring Minnie back home and put it back in the yard. When a Google search turned up a mobile RV service company with excellent Google score and reviews, I decided to call him.

Juan from 4 Points RV Service came out later that week, checked out the AC, confirmed it was the compressor and that the whole unit would need to be replaced. I had been checking on Amazon for ACs and asked him if he would install one that I bought myself. He said he would, but I would only get the Amazon 1 year warranty, and if I got one from him, he would give me a 2 year warranty. He quoted me a price on the new unit and it was very much in line with Amazon's pricing, and he had one in town. Winner! 

He scheduled the replacement for one week later, arrived with the new unit and carried it up the ladder to my roof. After doing the installation, we checked out the temperature of the air coming out of the vents and it registered a chilly 55°. I'm really happy to have things in working order again, and very happy to have found a qualified mobile service to do future repairs for me. It sure was nice not to have to get Minnie out of the back yard.

I'm planning to get out camping with Dale in a few weeks in northern Arizona. With the exorbitant cost of gas right now ($6.00/gal!!) I won't be going very far this summer. Hopefully next year, the prices will be more reasonable and I'll take a longer camping trip. I've really missed being able to RV travel around the country.


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Repairs ... again!

It's a misconception to think if you own an RV, it's going to be a free, or even economical, means of travel. They cost money, a lot can go wrong, and repairs and maintenance can be expensive. I've sure had my share of those expenses. Part of the problem is the amount of time it sits in storage in the Arizona heat, part of it is my inexperience or ignorance, part is general wear and tear, and part is just plain bad luck. 

Take for instance when I took it into Walmart to have the oil changed. You might say it was my fault for not warning the pit crew that the end was long with a short wheel base, and to be careful when pulling it out of the bay so they didn't turn too sharp and bang up the back corner. Or you might say it was just bad luck. But yes, they did bang up the back corner, so then I had matching banged up back corners. We won't dwell on who banged up the opposite side earlier. Let's just move along. 

Fortunately, Walmart paid to repair the damage they had done, and it was probably cheaper to have both corners fixed at once, so I saved a little on my portion of the bill, too. I ordered the parts online and took it into Arizona RV Service to do the install and body work. 

I also had a "clunking" noise in the back end that I wanted diagnosed and repaired. The downside was it took eight weeks for them to diagnose a damaged bushing in the slide, order the parts for it and complete all the service! Luckily, I didn't have any big trips planned, other than wishing I could spend a few weeks in the New Mexico State Parks with Dale. 

I finally got it back in late August only to discover that my coach batteries were on their last legs. I decided it is probably time to buy a Lithium Ion battery and end all this battery trouble. At some point, I will add a solar panel to complete the worry free power delivery system.

After getting back from my September trip to Boise for Megan's wedding, I made a snap decision to load up my rig and drive up to the Mogollon Rim and join Dale for a week or so of cooler weather and getting re-acclimated to RVing. He was camped in a large spot on the rim near Woods Canyon, and I set up beside him. It commenced raining shortly after I got there, and continued for 2 1/2 more days until we finally packed up and drove down to a dispersed site near Rye. 

Mud puddles!

 It was much warmer there, possibly even a little too warm each afternoon. That lead to me turning on my A/C one day, only to discover it wasn't putting out any cool air. Richard says RV air conditioners are not built to add freon, and I likely need to replace it. Another big expense! ...sigh...
While we were in Rye, Dale set up his extra solar panel and small charge controller on my batteries, and it worked beautifully, delivering plenty of power to keep my dying batteries charged. It was enough to make me decide I'll be investing in a solar panel of my own the same time I replace the battery with a Li-Ion one. 

After another week in the Rye area making S'mores and chasing cows out of our campsite, I made my way back down the mountain and put Minnie back in the side yard. RVing is not free, but they say travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer.


Ran out of chocolate bars, so tried peanut butter. Not bad!



Thursday, August 13, 2020

RVing (or NOT) in the age of Coronavirus

I had planned on taking my RV up the Pacific coast this year, but Covid-19 has squashed all desire to get out and deal with unfamiliar places. With so much of the country shut down, including many state and national parks and campgrounds as well as private RV parks, it just seemed like too much effort to try to find a safe and enjoyable way to travel and sight see this year. 

So Minnie has been sitting in my side yard since last October, and there she will stay until this pandemic subsides. I even let the license expire and reduced the insurance coverage to bare minimum, just to cover anything that my homeowners policy would not.

Every month on the first day, I get an iPhone reminder to check my generator and battery. I go out and start up the gennie and the engine. While those run, I check the batteries and add water if necessary. Then I roll Minnie forward or backward a few feet to change the position of the tires. They only have a couple thousand miles on them and I don't want them getting flat spots. Luckily, my side yard is well shaded throughout the day, so they don't get much direct sun, which could dry them out and damage them. The last thing I do is run some water into the black tank. All my tanks are nearly empty, but adding a couple gallons of water to the black tank each month keeps it from smelling. After tending to Minnie, I take my Fit out for a 4-5 mile drive around the block and put it back in the garage. I keep battery tenders on Minnie's batteries so they don't go dead. Last year Dale installed a battery disconnect switch on my Fit, so I just turn that one off. These steps keep my whole RV rig in shape while in storage.

I'm hoping that I can get back to my plan of making a trip up the coast early next year. I've been reading some blogs of other RVers and mentally bookmarking several campgrounds and places of interest that I want to visit.

I had to put that sign on it to stop people from interrupting my nap 
by ringing my doorbell and asking about it. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Paducah to Mesa

I won't say I made a beeline home from Paducah, but I did drive west with purpose. Once I make up my mind I'm ready to head home, I'm typically pretty anxious to get there. So I drove 200-300 miles a day, stopping before dinner time for overnight camps.

My first stop was Maumelle Park, an Army Corps of Engineering campground just outside Little Rock, AR. While there, I spotted this beautiful rig in the campground and my siblings and I had quite a discussion on What's App trying to determine its value. We decided it was between $2-3 million, and who knows what they were hauling in that trailer.

My rig is worth less than $2 million! ;-)
My next night was spent in a free and friendly spot in Whitewright, TX. Yep, I driveway surfed at Chris and Dayna's. I could not get level nor reach the 30A plug from Richard's usual spot, but my smaller rig fit great right next to the shed in front of their house. They provided a delicious dinner of ribs, beans and potato salad, and we enjoyed getting caught up on family gossip.
Night three was spent in Lake Colorado City State Park near Colorado City, TX. It was a nice, nearly empty park, and a very warm evening, so I was glad to have AC.
Lake Colorado
My fourth night found me in Van Horn, TX in funky little Oasis RV park adjacent to Main Street and an active railroad. I counted five trains that went by (blowing their horns) during the next sixteen hours, included one at 10:15 pm and finally 2:20 am before peace settled in.

My final stop before home was back at Rockhound State Park south of Deming, NM. This is where I had stayed my first two nights out and I liked the campground a lot. However, mid-October proved to be a much busier season than mid-September, and the campground was full when I arrived. I sat along the camp road trying to decide what to do for the night when a ranger drove by, stopped and told me I could take the last hookup spot in the group site, as long as I didn't mind close proximity to some neighbors. I was very happy not to have to drive on that afternoon, and my neighbors turned out to include a couple of cute kids who fell in love with Hanna.

I got an early start the next morning, and drove the final 330 miles. As we came into Mesa/Tempe, Hanna stirred from her napping place on the floor, and at Elliot and Dobson, she stood up. At Alma School, she jumped up on the passenger seat. When we turned into our neighborhood, she began to wiggle. And when we stopped in front of our house, she ran to the door begging to get out. She was a happy pup to be home, and so was I.

I kept all my gas receipts this time, and when I get around to it, I'll tally up my miles and costs to see if I'm still getting 7.75 mpg. For now, we are enjoying our lazy days and the beautiful Arizona fall weather.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nashville - Northern Terminus of the NTP

After leaving the mechanic shop on Wednesday morning, I drove the final fifty miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway. There were a few historical spots in those last miles that were interesting and worthwhile.








I found a site at Montgomery Ball State Park campground west of Nashville.

I drove into the city on Thursday to see some sights in the Country Music capital of the world. First stop, Country Music Hall of Fame. The senior price for admission to the museum was $23.95. You are allowed to take no-flash pictures of anything inside the museum, but unfortunately, almost everything is displayed behind glass with low lighting, which makes it very difficult to get any good shots without glare. Some of the best pieces are positioned in such a way that you cannot frame them nicely in a photo. Johnny Cash’s Black suit that he wore when performing at Folsom Prison was in a corner, and glare from other exhibits covered part of the shot.















From there, I walked over to the Ryman Auditorium. They also wanted $25 for admission. Since I only had 30 minutes left on my parking pass, I decided not to go inside, but instead walked back to my car. There was too much construction going on downtown and I figured it would be another $25 admission to the Grand Ole Opry, so instead of driving to it, I just headed back to camp. I’ll visit Nashville another time, maybe with Alice and Glenda, and we will take in more sights then.



Friday morning, I packed up camp and moved up to Kentucky Dam State Park where I got a space for two nights. On Saturday, I drove to Paducah to visit with my childhood friend. Denice has a progressive disease and is quite ill, but she invited me to come by. I visited with her by her bedside for about two hours. Her sister Sharion, who helps her husband care for her at home, was also there, and we all got caught up on family news.

Back at camp that evening, I made my plans to turn west and head home.