Note: This post covers the last six days of 2014. It is long and there are no pictures. Sorry. 🙁
2014/12/26 (F) Cool Letters
When we woke up at 7 AM the temperature was 41 degrees F but by 8:30 it had dropped to 35. According to the Weather Channel app on our iPads we have a freeze warning posted for the overnight hours tonight (Saturday 0000-0800). The 12-day forecast is for an extended period of cooler temperatures with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s, including a few nights near freezing, but that is normal for Q at this time of year. Desert regions are not always hot and actually experience an extreme range of temperatures. The forecast back home has lows dropping into the teens with one night forecast at 13 degrees F. Burrrrr.
Connie was apparently tracking the weather in Q as well, even though she and Joe are back in Nevada for most of the winter, as she called to ask me to turn the water off at the street if the temps got down to freezing. The city water system here has supply pipes that come straight up out of the ground near the street, turn horizontal, go through a valve, then through a pressure regulator or small meter (not sure which or both), go through another valve, and then turn 90 degrees and go back down into the ground. Joe and Connie keep all of this covered under a wooden box and we have noticed other properties doing the same thing, but not all. Although the temperatures here can/do drop below freezing in December and January it is never for more than a few hours just before sunrise.
Presumably the city water lines are deep enough to avoid ever having freezing problems, but I do not know how deeply the pipes are buried on Joe and Connie’s property. The main thing at risk are the stand pipes that come up out of the ground at each RV site and any hoses that are attached to them. I discussed all of this with Butch as it seemed to me that it would have to get below freezing and stay there for quite some time before we would have any problems. It also seemed to me that if we were going to turn the main water supply off we should open a faucet on each of the supply risers so the water would have somewhere to go as it expanded. (Water expands as it cools, reaching a maximum volume at around 34 degrees F. As it changes state from liquid to solid it actually contracts slightly in volume.) To be really safe we would need to drain all of the flexible hoses. That struck both of us as unnecessary.
The aisle lights did not work again last night. It’s always something with a RV and you have to be psychologically prepared for that or the lifestyle will drive you crazy. This problem has occurred before and the usual reason is that the (3-way?) switch by the dinette gets toggled and renders the push switch in the bedroom inoperative but that was not the case this time. One of the three wires that go to that switch was only attached by a few strands and broke when I checked it. None of the connectors are in good shape so repairing those connections moved to the top of my bus project list today. I did not get to this today, I only moved it to the top of my list.
While I made our morning coffee Linda put together an Amazon order. Amazon Prime has worked well for us and Butch has already successfully received a UPS shipment here, so it was easier to order a bag of Science Diet cat food for delivery to our bus than to deal with the limited hours and selection of the local veterinarian or drive to one of the larger surrounding cities in the hope that a pet supply store that might stock the specific formulation we feed our cats. She also ordered two bottles of Hach SofChek water hardness test strips and some additional silicon utensils.
Linda had our holiday letters stuffed and addressed on Christmas Eve, but not in time to get to the post office before it closed at noon, so she went today, bought stamps, and sent them on their way. Hopefully they will arrive by New Year’s Eve while folks are still in the holiday spirit.
Sometime during the morning we got a visit from missionaries of the (local) Jehovah’s Witnesses cult. Our conversation did not last long. After they left I was pondering this day after Christmas visit and it occurred to me that perhaps they do an inventory of Quartzsite and the surrounding BLM camping areas so they know when someone knew has pulled into town. I guess saving souls can be a lot of work.
Linda was doing the dishes and the Black & Decker SpaceMaker coffee carafe broke. She checked online and was going to order a generic replacement but decided she should check the model of our unit. When we lifted it up to look for the model number we discovered water on the shelf underneath it. Ugh. Suddenly we were no longer looking for a carafe but a new coffee maker. We removed the cabinet door, latch, and lower front retaining bar and pulled the unit out. I then removed the shelf, wiped it off, and took it outside to dry in the sun. There are definite advantages to being someplace with bright sunshine and low humidity.
We spent a long time researching a replacement. The particular model/style of SpaceMaker we have has not been made for years (of course), was only available used (naturally), and only for exorbitant prices (can you believe $300?) on Ebay. To add insult to injury all of the reviews were negative, noting in particular that the unit tends to develop leaks. Ya think? We looked instead for something we could install, or at least store, in the same cabinet cubby as the old one. Most of the countertop models were too tall and most of the built-ins and under cabinet models were too big, and very expensive. We ended up ordering a simple Proctor-Silex non-programmable countertop unit without a clock for under $20 on Amazon Prime so the price included the shipping. The reviews were good and it will store in the corner cabinet with room to spare for coffee canisters, freeing up space in the pantry for other things. We will have to take it out and set it on the counter to use it, but that’s OK.
As noted in a previous post, there are quite a few houses and RVs around town with Over-The-Air (OTA) TV antennas on top of 20-30 foot poles and pointed approximately NNE. There is one antenna in particular that we have seen a lot, a high-gain (directional) rotatable unit, and there are several vendors selling it as part of a kit. The unit has an integrated amplifier and rotor and includes the rotor controller and power supply, plus 50 feet of coax and control cables. All of the vendors are selling this kit for $70. That’s a lot of stuff for that price, which suggests something about its quality (not good). Another vendor is selling the poles and fittings that all of the other vendors use to build their “booths” (tents). They have a huge assortment of connectors and will cut the sections to length if asked. Getting the antenna 20-30 feet in the air would cost about $35. We have been pondering whether it is worth it to us to spend this money as our bus-mounted antennas have always worked in the past and this is the first place we have been where they will not pick up even a trace of a signal. We do not have an OTA TV antenna set up at home and it occurred to me that buying one here made more sense if it could be used back at the house. I spent quite some time online researching long-range DTV antennas but did not come to any conclusions.
I needed a break from working at my computer and drove over to K & B Tools to see if they had shorter poles. In the 1″ diameter they had 10′ and 8′. The 8′ length would work well for us. Three sections with two connectors would get an antenna 20-25 feet up depending on the mounting and we can store 8′ lengths in the front bay of the bus or in the car for transport. We would use a base section with a flange by the driver side mirror, put a couple of long spikes through the base to keep it from moving sideways, slip the bottom pole section in it, and bungee cord the next section to the mirror support arm after wrapping it with something to keep it from scratching the paint. Before making a purchase, however, I decided to do some more online research.
The unit being sold by several vendors is the Vortex HD from SewellDirect.com so I checked their website. The unit is discontinued and they are selling the same kit online for $25. That means the unit is of even cheaper construction than I originally thought and the $70 asking price suddenly seemed very excessive. Many of the online reviews confirmed that this was not a serious antenna. Another vendor had the Vortex and two competing units all for the same $70 price and I have concluded that they are all equally junk.
One of the websites I spent some time at was AntennasDirect.com. They appeared to have some serious antennas, with prices to match. One of the challenges in this situation is that it appears we need to pull in OTA TV signals from a very long way away here in Q (70+ miles), whereas at home the distances are more like 40 miles. Here in Q all of the signals appear to be coming from the same direction (although no one can explain why) so a high-gain, highly directional antenna is ideal and does not need to be rotated once it is aimed. At home the TV signals potentially come from 270 degrees and the correct solution is an antenna with a broader reception pattern combined with an accurate and repeatable rotor. If we do not need the rotor in Q we can forego that expense and technical complication until we get home.
One of the websites directed me to www.antennaweb.org. This site is sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). You enter your ZIP code, and optionally your address, and it tells you what TV stations you might be able to receive and what direction the towers are from your location. I put in the ZIP code for Quartzsite and it indicated five stations (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and Independent), all 11 miles away at 234.8 degrees. There are towers on top of a mountain in direction but they do not look like TV towers. The direction was also surprising as it is almost 180 degrees opposite to where everyone has their antennas pointed.
As we know from our ham radio hobby RF waves can do strange things. At the frequencies used for OTA Digital TV (DTV), however, things are “line-of-sight.” The local speculation is that there are “repeaters” to the NNE but if that was the case I would expect the website to indicate that as the signal direction. Another possible explanation is that the signals are coming over the mountains to the SW and bouncing off of the more distant mountains to the NE. I would expect some multi-path distortion in this case, as the signals scatter off the mountains and arrive at the antenna from different directions, but if the antenna is sufficiently directional it might eliminate this problem.
My plan for today had been to work on my Exterior Makeover article for Bus Conversion Magazine and I finally got started on that late in the afternoon. I finalized my selection of photos (I think) and split them up into those that will go in line with the article, print and digital, and those that will appear in the extra section of the digital edition. I had just begun post-processing them when Linda started preparing dinner. I have been wanting some pasta and tonight I finally got my wish. She made a whole wheat linguine with mushrooms, onions, garlic, kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and asparagus. What a treat.
I stopped over at Butch and Fonda’s bus to let them know about the www.antennaweb.org website. Butch was watching an archived webcast that Technomadia did a few months ago with Nina Fusing, of the WheelingIt blog, on health care options for full-time RVers. He had also installed Echolink software on his laptop but it was failing the Internet Connection test for UDP (User Datagram Protocol) ports. The error messages indicated that it was probably a firewall- and/or router-related problem. He had both so I tried opening UDP ports for forwarding in both places but it did not fix the problem. I have never played with Echolink or UDP ports, so I was trying to figure out what to do in real time. More research will obviously be needed.
I continued working after dinner processing photos for my article. I received my draft of the Zena Power Generating System article back from Gary with corrections made by Stacy, his new administrative assistant. I accepted them, made an additional correction, and returned it. They are trying very hard to get the December 2014 issue out on December 31st and my Zena article will be one of the four in that issue.
2014/12/27 (S) Cool Temps
By 6:30 this morning our various weather apps were reporting that the temperature in Q was 31 degrees F. At 7:00 I turned the thermostats up and climbed back in bed (electric heating pad). I had not shut the main water supply off at the street last night so at 7:30 I got up, put on my “sweats,” grabbed a jacket, and went outside to tend to the water. I cracked opened a faucet at each standpipe, ran water through hoses, and ran water through the hot and cold lines for both sinks in the apartment. I shut everything off and went back inside where it was comfortably warm.
By the time I came back in Linda was up and making coffee. How was that possible? We have a single serving coffee funnel that sits on top of a mug. It’s designed for cone filters but she simply folded one of our flat bottom filters and made it fit. She ground up some beans, boiled some water in the microwave oven, poured it over the grounds, and let it drip. I did not think we would have morning coffee in the coach again until the new coffee maker arrived next week so it was a nice treat.
I finished yesterday’s blog post while I enjoyed my brew. I was busy enough yesterday that by the time I went to bed and tried to finish it there was too much to write and I was too tired to write it. Linda developed a headache overnight and spent much of the day medicated and resting. She does not get these very often anymore but when she does they put her out of commission for a day or so. I then spent most of the day processing the photos for my next BCM article.
I took a break after lunch and worked with Butch setting up his laptop to work with Echolink ham radio software. The software use TCP and UDP ports and requires firewalls and routers to be configured to provide port forwarding. His laptop OS is Windows Vista, which has the Windows Firewall. I was not familiar with UDP ports, had never set up port forwarding, and had never worked with Vista, so I was feeling my way as I went. Their computers are connected to the Internet one of two ways, MiFi or WiFi, although the WiFi is sometimes connected through the MiFi. Their MiFi is a Verizon Jetpack (Novatel 5510L), just like ours, so I (sort of) knew my way around that device. Their WiFi setup consists of two WiFi repeater/routers; the WiFiRanger Mobile and the WiFiRanger Go2. We also have a WiFiRanger Mobile, so I also knew my way around that device (sort of) but I had never worked with the WFR Go2. We got the Echolink software to test successfully through the WFR gear using the WiFi signal at our campsite but we could not get it to test successfully through the MiFi.
In the early evening Butch called and said he was having Internet connection issues. I went to their bus and worked four a couple of hours trying to sort out what was going on. I was able to get him back online but saw some strange behaviors that we could not explain and were not able to resolve. He has Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal Blog set as his Firefox home page and it kept redirecting to the website’s home page. I tried opening it in Internet Explorer 9 and it opened without difficulty. Website’s do not always react the same way with different browsers, but he had been on Nick’s blog earlier in the day using Firefox. I will have to look at it again tomorrow.
When I got back to our coach Linda was starting to prepare dinner. It felt very cold outside even though the weather apps said it was 41 degrees F. I decided to turn off the water supply at the street and opened some of the faucets to relieve the pressure in the pipes and let some of the water out. Dinner was leftovers from our Christmas Day meal and everything was very good the second time around.
I finished up my photo editing a little before 10 PM and backed up my files to the NAS. We turned the three thermostats on and set them for ~15 degrees C (~59 degrees F). We put the extra blanket on the bed and I turned my electric heater pad up to 4. The forecast low for tonight was in the low 30’s and it was already 36 when we turned in for the night.
2014/12/28 (N) Cooler Yet
Our cats snuggled in with us more than usual last night. They like the extra blanket and the heater pads as much as I do. At sunup the air temperature was reported as 28 degrees F, a few degrees lower than the last forecast we saw before we turned in last night. If it seems that we are preoccupied with the weather it is because we are in closer contact with it when RVing than we are when we are at our house. In the motorcoach we have to more actively manage our utilities to ensure they work properly and to maintain our comfort.
We had tea instead of coffee this morning. Until about 15 years I did not drink coffee and enjoyed morning, afternoon, and evening tea. Hot, of course; I have never been a big fan of iced tea and I have never developed a taste for iced coffee, unless it was a Starbucks Frappuccino (in my pre-vegan days).
Linda was finally feeling better and went for a long walk this morning. Before she left I noticed that there wasn’t any water coming out of the bird fountain so she unplugged it and helped me partially disassemble it so I could clean it. I ended up taking it completely apart, which was fun given that it was made of large slabs of granite, in order to get to the pump so I could clean it. I was surprised to find a small gecko-like lizard inside the pedestal base. Butch helped me reassemble and level the unit, allowing the reservoir to hold more water, and we got the outlet tube (fountain) tightened up so the water once again squirts about four inches above the tube. It needs to be filled every day or two. I have not determined if the water is being consumed by birds (there are a lot of doves and Gambrels Quail here) or evaporating (low humidity and sunshine). It is probably a bit of both.
I worked on my article most of the day, inserting photos into the Word doc and writing captions. I took a break mid-afternoon and rode into town with Butch. We found the LED vendor where the hams (amateur radio operators) hang out but the booth was closed. We wandered around looking at flea market junk and I found a set of four ratcheting tie down straps, 25mm wide by 15 feet long, for $5. I had seen similar straps at another vendor for $14, so I bought the $5 set. We stopped at Dorothy and Toto’s Ice Cream Parlor on west Main Street and bought some excellent kettle corn.
Back at the coach I continued working on my article but was having trouble keeping my eyes open so I took a nap. Linda had started making dinner about the time I got up when a white SUV pulled in that we had not seen before. A reddish-chocolate-brown dog appeared and took off after some of the rabbits followed by a man with a leash. We figured Jim and Barbara, the owners of the third motorhome at our camp, had arrived so we put our shoes on and went out to meet them. Jim got Roho on leash and Barbara appeared shortly thereafter, followed by Butch and then Fonda. It was dusk and cooling off quickly, so the conversation was short before everyone returned to their motorhomes. Before going in I turned the water off at the street and opened one of the faucets on our standpipe to relieve the pressure and let some of the water out.
For dinner Linda made skillet black beans with potatoes and tortillas. Besides the title ingredients it had onions, garlic, poblano pepper, and salsa. I added a little Tabasco Chipotle sauce to mine. We each had a glass of sangria, which was refreshing with this hearty dish. After dinner I finished working on my article and I uploaded it to the BCM folder in my Dropbox. I sent an e-mail to the publisher, editor, and new administrative assistant. I then started uploading the photo files and went to bed.
2014/12/29 (M) Cool Cruiser Redux
We had English Breakfast Tea to start our day, followed by store bought (bulk) granola for breakfast. We have run out of Linda’s homemade granola and I really miss it. The stuff we buy at the store just doesn’t taste like much of anything by comparison. After breakfast I started working on my next article for BCM. Actually, it was an article I wrote back in February of this year but had not quite finished. Besides the text I had already selected the photos but, as often happens, I had not finished the process of putting them in order, sorting them into print edition and digital edition extra section, post-processing them, and inserting thumbnail versions into the Word document. So that’s what I started working on this morning.
Late morning I took a break from the photo work and pulled the cover off of the dashboard to check the turbo boost gauge. It was, indeed, a mechanical gauge with a very small nylon tube coming out the back of it. I opened the Prevost CatBase Viewer and looked up the part, thinking I might order one today. The specified part was a VDO gauge, 1/8-27 NPT, but did not give the mounting hole size, the, range, or the sweep degrees. Both 24V and 12V bulbs were listed. I think we need 24V. What I found interesting was that the gauge for the VIP (conversion shell) was shown as “dummy,” which meant the unit was originally shipped with a filler plate rather than an actual gauge. The turbo boost gauge in our coach is functional but is the wrong gauge for our engine. It’s a Sentry vacuum/boost gauge. The vacuum side is useless on our turbocharged engine and the boost side only goes to 15 PSI, which is not high enough.
VDO makes two turbo boost gauges that should work as replacements. Both are 2-1/16 (52mm) size, 0 – 30 PSI, 270 degree sweep, mechanical units. They come with 12V bulbs but those are easily changed. The differences are in the faceplate markings and the mounting systems. The Cockpit Series gauge is marked in 1 PSI increments, which I prefer, but uses the traditional rear U-bracket to hold the instrument in the dashboard. The Vision Series gauge, which is what our new speedometer is, has 2 PSI increments but mounts using a collar that threads onto the body of the instrument from the back side of the dashboard. I was going to call Prevost and order a gauge but both gauges are available from PartDeal.com, which is run by ISSPRO. ISSPRO sells their own line of gauges in addition to VDO and other brands. I was chatting with Butch and he mentioned that they were closed for the holidays and would reopen on January 2nd, so I did not order a gauge today.
We left around noon and drove to the vendor area at Central Avenue and Kuehn Street. We parked the car and wandered around checking out vendors who were not set up or open the last couple of times we were here. While we were strolling I got a call from Frank Morrison. Frank was at the Arcadia Bus Rally in Arcadia, Florida and wanted to know if we were there. I photographed Frank’s bus, the Cool Cruiser, at last year’s rally and the article was the cover story in the June 2014 issue of Bus Conversion Magazine. Frank said that in the welcome bag each attendee received there was a second bag from BCM and in that bag was the June 2014 issue. Cool. I wrote two other articles for BCM as a result of that rally. The February 2014 issue was on the rally itself and the April 2014 issue featured the Iron Horse, an Eagle bus conversion. Both articles ran in the cover/centerfold position.
For lunch we had chickpea salad on sourdough bread with dark greens and were surprised to see a Trek motorhome backing in to the property. Jim and Barb obviously knew the people and helped them get parked. Once they were in their site we went out and introduced ourselves, as did Butch and Fonda. Jack and Maria were only here for the night. They had been camped at the BLM Pyramid Lake LTVA, about 60 miles south of Quartzsite, but developed issues with their solar charger and a squealing/screeching noise when they start their engine. They had appointments first thing in the morning to have these problems addressed and were planning on heading back to the desert tomorrow. Barb mentioned that she had talked to Joe and Connie and Joe said we did not have to turn the water off at night. One less chore is good by me.
Linda went for another power walk while I worked on my article. I want to get my “almost finished” articles done and off to the magazine so I can work on some new pieces. It’s easier on me and them if I can keep the pipeline flowing and stay ahead of them.
For dinner we had soy riblets with barbecue sauce, macaroni and cheese (gluten and dairy free), and fresh sautéed green beans. The riblets were tasty, as always, and the green beans were excellent, but the mac & cheese was not good eats. It was the second of two boxes we bought somewhere and Linda even added some things to try to improve them but it didn’t help. We won’t be buying this product again.
Having spent a portion of the day processing photos I did not feel like doing more of that after dinner. I played a few puzzles on my iPad while Linda played word games on hers with Karen and Ron. We were in bed by a little after 9 PM and I went right to sleep.
2014/12/30 (T) Trash Day
Tuesday is trash day. The collection truck comes at noon so the trash can has to be to the curb by 11AM. I happened to glance outside as we were sitting down to enjoy our mourning tea and it was already at the curb. Jim or Barb are responsible for this when they are here, along with maintaining the apartment and laundry room, and one of them had obviously taken it out.
Jack and Maria pulled out around 8:30 AM with Maria driving their Trek and Jack following in their SUV. We figured we had seen the last if them and did not even get to say ‘goodbye’ so we were surprised when they returned an hour later and backed their motorhome back into their spot and leveled it. They left in their car fairly soon thereafter and did not return until later in the day.
Linda went for her usual morning walk and I continued working on my Habitat For Humanity article for Bus Conversion Magazine. Around 11:15 AM my Bluetooth mouse signaled that its battery was critically low and needed to be recharged. I plugged it in and figured that was a good time to take a break and do something else. Butch was outside with his tool bay open and Jim was out there with Roho so I went out and chatted for a while. I needed to repair the connections on the front switch that controls the aisle lights so I borrowed Butch’s VOM, wire stripper, and terminal crimper and got three 1/4″ female crimp connectors from him. I have all of these tools and supplies, but his were more convenient.
Being a 3-way circuit the switch has three wires. It’s a double-pole double-throw switch so it had a second set of unused contacts. I used the VOM to determine if the unused set of contacts worked as expected. They did, so I removed the old connectors, one at a time, cut the wire loose from the connector, cut about an inch off of the end, crimped the new connector onto the wire, and pushed the connector onto the corresponding unused terminal. I tested the circuit and I was able to turn it on and off from both switches. (The other switch is in the control panel in the bedroom by my side of the bed).
My recollection is that the 3-way circuit feature did not work prior to this. That could have been because the wire that broke off the other day was only attached by a few strands, or because of a failure in the switch on that set of contacts, or both. The plastic insulated housings on the old connectors were very brittle and showed signs of heat damage, which could have occurred as the result of a very marginal connection. When I tried to pull them off of the switch terminals they shattered. I was also unable to pull the metal connectors off of the lugs and had to pry them open and then pry them off. The first 1/2 inch of each wire was also discolored and brittle, indicating heat damage. I did not bother to check the other set of switch contacts for correct function as the lugs also showed signs of heat damage and I do not plan to use them again. In fact, I plan to replace the switch if/when I happen to find one or get around to ordering one. The whole repair, including borrowing and returning tools, took less time to do than it took me to describe the work in this post.
Linda confirmed that our Fedex delivery was scheduled for today. We have been rationing the cats’ food the last 48 hours and they are confused as to why. They do not usually finish the dry kibble in their bowls but insist on having fresh kibble added each morning and evening. To accommodate this expectation we have been adding very small quantities of fresh kibble to their bowls. I don’t think cats can count, but they can definitely tell the difference between serving sizes of kibble and are not pleased at our puny offerings.
Jack and Maria returned sometime during the afternoon. I saw them pull in but did not note the time. We had sandwiches for lunch and then went for a walk. We headed southwest from our campsite and worked our way over to Moon Mountain Avenue. Our destination was the Salvation Army Store but we stopped to look at things along the way. We checked out the Mountain Quail Cafe, but the only thing on their menu we could eat was the side salad. Too bad, it looked like a cozy, comfortable place and the sign said they featured ‘home cooking.’ Well, not our home, of course. ‘Home cooking’ is usually code for “everything is cooked in butter, we make liberal use of eggs and dairy, and treat bacon as a condiment.”
Moon Mountain Avenue between Main Street and Quail Trail seems to mostly be developments rather than individual lots. We stopped at one place that had a lot for sale at the corner of Moon Mountain and the entrance road. All of the lots were separated on three sides by the exact same low brick wall construction that we have seen all over town. Some of the lots had the brick wall with a gate across the front. As we were studying this lot the man across the street pulled out and drove over to see if we had any questions. We really didn’t, but he answered them anyway.
It turned out that most of the developments on Moon Mountain Avenue were co-ops. The price on this particular lot ($49,900) did not buy you a deed but rather a fractional ownership of the co-op with a lease for the perpetual use of that particular lot. The price also included compensation to the current leaseholder for improvements to the lot, and whatever appreciation in value the market would bear. You were free to sell your ownership share along with the leasehold for your lot, or will it to your children. (This co-op, like many of the RV Parks in town, was a 55+ community, so it would be a long time before our “kids” could use it if they were interested, which I doubt.) The annual maintenance fees for this co-op were $56/month ($672/year) and included water, sewer, property taxes, and association dues; everything except electricity. Each site had its own billable electric meter. The only added expense would be property taxes for improvements, such as a park model trailer or RV port.
We were glad we stopped and that this fellow was willing to share this information with us. We suspect that many of the similar looking areas around town are probably also co-ops or even developments with deeded lots. Every little thing we learn like this helps us develop a better understanding of Quartzsite. BTW: the Salvation Army store was closed. We have walked or driven by at various times on different days and have yet to find it open for business.
When we got back to camp Linda needed a few things for dinner and thought the Road Runner Market might have them. She grabbed Fonda and they took off in our car. Butch was working on his HF mobile ham radio antenna on the roof of their bus and Barb was scurrying around the property taking care of things. I was going to help Butch but got a phone call from Michele Henry of Phoenix Paint to discuss the spots on our roof and what to do about them. Once we were done talking I was able to lend Butch some assistance with the antenna project which involved the installation of bonding (grounding) straps between the antenna and the roof of the bus.
The FedEx truck showed up before Linda and Fonda got back so I opened the box and unpacked the contents. The kitties recognize Science Diet cat food bags and were very happy to see it. I was opening the new coffee maker when Linda returned. We got it unpacked and stored in the cubby where the old one was installed. She had started cleaning and rearranging drawers before our walk so she finished putting everything away or set aside things she had decided she did not need to have on board.
I’ve been needing a haircut for a while and prevailed on Linda to take care of it while we still had sunlight. After she was done I used the clippers to trim my beard and then put everything away. Linda checked our log book and according to our records the last time we dumped our holding tanks was on the 20th. We like them to be as full as possible before dumping, as they evacuate better but cannot let them overfill so we decided to dump them while it was still daylight. Better safe than sorry.
I got another Hach SofChek water hardness test strip from Butch and checked the output of our water softener. It measured 7 on a scale of 0 (soft) to 25 (very hard). A reading of 7 is considered ‘hard’ water but the softener was still working somewhat as the water coming straight out of the tap measured 25. We still had 1/3 tank of fresh water and I decided to add 1/6th of a tank, about 20 gallons, and bring it up to the 1/2 level. I will have to recharge the water softener tomorrow before adding any more water to our tank.
I was able to finish editing photos while Linda prepared dinner. She cut a large poblano pepper in half lengthwise and stuffed it with leftovers from two nights ago. She also made Mexican rice from scratch using Texmati rice, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, cumin, and vegetable broth. The peppers and rice were very good and went well with a glass of sangria.
Early this morning I thought I might finish my HFH article for BCM and be able to upload it this evening, but that did not happen. I still needed to insert the thumbnails into the Word document and write the captions. I was too tired to start that work, knowing how long that would take, so I played a few puzzle games and went to bed.
2014/12/31(W) Adios 2014
The polar outbreak that is gripping most of Canada and the U. S. A. has also made its presence felt here in Quartzsite. The overnight low was 35 and we had light rain. The high today won’t break 50, and the lows for the next two days are forecast to be in the upper 20s. Not that far from us (~180 miles) Joshua Tree NP had a rare dusting of snow and the forecast for Flagstaff is for as much as 16 inches of holiday whiteness. The temperature back home is in the teens, so we have no complaints about the weather in Q.
Linda went for a long morning walk and found the Salvation Army store open. Apparently their hours are 8 AM to 1 PM Monday through Friday and we had managed to always walk past outside that time frame. She picked up a few things from the Road Runner Market while she was out. By the time she got back at 1 PM I had just finished inserting photos into my Habitat For Humanity article and captioning them so I had her proofread it.
With the proofreading done we had a bite of lunch and then drove to Blythe, California to pick up some grocery items that are not available here in Q. We stopped first at the AutoZone store, in the northwest corner of the Albertson’s parking lot, and bought supplies for cleaning the bus. Now all we need is a nice warm day so we can get out early and work at it until we are done. We need to do the car, too.
We got a TXT message from our son while driving back to Q. It was a short video of grand-daughter Madeline climbing into her car seat all by herself. That led to an exchange of messages leading to the question from our daughter as to whether she could climb out by herself. That question will apparently be answered tomorrow. The growth from age one to age two is quite amazing.
When we got back to our coach I carried in the groceries. While Linda put them away I added 30 gallons of water to our fresh water tank. I really wanted to recharge the water softener first, and bought a 40 pound bag of solar salt at Albertson’s for that purpose, but it was too late in the afternoon and too cold to start that process. I still need to fabricate the special perforated tube for the water filter housing, so it will take longer than a normal recharge.
We had some hot tea and cookies and relaxed for a while. Linda finished proofreading my HFH article and I then went through it one more time to make sure it was ready to upload. She also e-mailed Mara, one of the women who participated in the HFH build, to wish her a happy holiday and see what part of the country she was in at the moment.
Dinner was a simple, easy affair; a nice salad of fresh greens with other goodies mixed in and a couple of Asian noodle soup bowls. Sometimes Linda does not feel like cooking and we keep a certain amount of packaged convenience food on board for such occasions.
It has been our tradition since we started dating in high school to stay up and celebrate the coming of the New Year. We rang in three calendar changes while dating and have observed 42 more since getting married. Tonight was number 43. For all of that time we have rarely gone out on New Year’s Eve, preferring to stay close to home and off the streets. Besides, large, loud parties have never been our style, especially since I do not dance.
When we were dating, and in the early years of our marriage, we would spend the holidays in the St. Louis, Missouri area visiting family. My parents hosted a New Year’s Eve party that, in retrospect, was quite a large and well-attended event, and that is where we hung out, often joined by a few friends from our high school days. As we attained legal age a champagne toast became part of the tradition (although in the privacy and safety of my parents’ home we probably started this tradition a bit sooner).
As our children came into the picture we still traveled to St. Louis but when they got a bit older we started spending our holidays at home. Linda’s sister, Marilyn, started visiting us between Christmas and New Year’s and the tradition of assembling a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle on New Year’s Eve began. Linda usually did not cook a New Year’s Eve meal. Instead we had California Dip (made from Lipton’s Onion Soup mix) and chips, jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, smoked salmon, and other munchies that we nibbled on throughout the day. This was, of course, all pre-vegan. Starting around 11 PM we would turn the TV to one of the networks doing the countdown from Times Square in New York City. I think it was ABC as we usually watched Dick Clark. At 11:55 PM we would open a bottle of champagne and fill our glasses. When the ball dropped and the clock struck 12 we would toast the New Year.
Since our children became adults they have spent New Year’s Eve with their friends and families. Besides Marilyn we have had occasional guests at our house but more often it has been a quiet evening at home with just the two or three of us and we often went to bed shortly after the arrival of the New Year. The last two years have been unusual in that we moved to a different house in 2013 but have never celebrated New Year’s there. Given that we plan to do most of our extended RVing from mid-fall to mid-spring it may be quite (if ever) before we celebrate New Year’s at the new house.
For the 2013-to-2014 change we were at the Arcadia Bus Rally in Arcadia, Florida where we attended a party with 200 other people and a live band. We spent much of the evening outside where the volume was about right and the temperatures were pleasant. This year we are camped on private property in Quartzsite with three other couples, none of whom seemed interested in staying up until midnight, so we toasted the New Year in the privacy of our coach three times before going to bed. We are unable to receive OTA TV signals here, so we watched (listened to) the ball drop in Times Square on Linda’s iPad (at 10 PM MST) and shared a champagne toast. She then sent TXT messages to both of our children. At 11 PM MST we shared another champagne toast. I sent a TXT message to my sister and niece while Linda sent one to her sister, all of whom live near St. Louis, Missouri in the Central Time Zone. At our local midnight we shared our final toast and welcomed the New Year in the Mountain Time Zone. If we had been so inclined we could have driven to Blythe, California, returning temporarily to 2014, and celebrated the coming of the New Year in the Pacific Time Zone. But we didn’t. That kind of thing is more fun to “brag” about than it actually is to do.
Before turning in for the night I updated my article status spreadsheet and then uploaded it to the BCM folder in my Dropbox along with the HFH article and associated photos. I then e-mailed the team at BCM to let them know it was there and wished them a Happy New Year. I also e-mailed a link to a PDF version of the article to Steven Gullette, our team leader on the HFH build that was the main focus of the article, and wished him a Happy New Year as well. So endith another year. Adios 2014.