2015/01/22 (R) Sister Marilyn
The temperature dropped into the low 40’s last night in the wake of the cold front that brought strong winds to Quartzsite yesterday. We were up at 6:30 AM to give us time to eat breakfast and enjoy our coffee before Linda left at 8 AM for the Phoenix airport to pick up her sister. Marilyn was scheduled to arrive at 11 AM MST and the airport is a 2 to 2-1/2 hour drive from Quartzsite but Linda wanted to take her time getting there and be in the cell phone lot before the flight got in. The plan was to go to lunch and then drive back to Q so she was going to be gone most of the day.
I had turned off the diesel burner on the Aqua-Hot last night so this morning I turned on the three electric toe-kick heaters and the Broan cube heater to take the chill off of the interior. With the coffee pot also turned on we were drawing 26 A at 115 VAC on leg 1 and 15 A at 118 VAC on leg 2. That was more current than we were able to draw before Jim L. changed the shorepower connection from 30 A (120VAC) to 50 A (240VAC) and the first time we have had reasonable voltage levels since we arrived here.
I rode over to the RV show with Butch at 9 AM to look at tire pressure monitoring systems and we both ended up buying TireTraker TPM Systems from Darryl Lawrence. We have both done business with Darryl in the past and trust him as a vendor. I also bought three products from the Carnu-B booth.
Back at the coach I checked the coolant level in the Aqua-Hot expansion reservoir. It was right at the maximum cold level so there was nothing else to do for the moment. I needed to redo the overflow hose, but not today. I then used two of the Carnu-B products on the driver-side side window and surrounding painted body surfaces. It removed the hard water stains and polished everything up very nicely. I then did a test patch on the front of Butch and Fonda’s bus and it appeared to clean the stainless steel nicely. They later cleaned an adjacent patch with straight food-grade vinegar and it seemed to work just as well although it did not provide a wax finish.
While I was fiddling with the Aqua-Hot and the cleaning/waxing process Butch started reading the manual for the TT-TPMS and found information that indicated the system did not work the way we thought it did and needed it to. The manual more than implied that the sensors were activated by motion and stated that readings would appear “… within 20 minutes of starting to drive.” Say what?! We both want to use the system to check our tire pressures BEFORE we start to drive, as would most RVers.
Although there are things we do not like about our current Pressure Pro TPM systems they certainly give us the current pressure in the tires without having to drive the vehicle. They also allow us to monitor just the bus, just the car, or both. Most systems do this, including the TireTraker, but the Truck Systems Technology (TST) does not. That was Butch’s first choice system until he found that out.
At 12:45 PM I rode over to the Quartzsite Senior Center with Butch and Fonda for a 1 PM meet and greet with Chuck Woodbury of RV Travel and the Geeks On Tour. It ran until 4 PM but we were anxious to get back to the RV Show tent and talk to Darryl. We took our TT-TPMS units with us with the intent of returning them but Darryl assured us that they do work the way we need them to so we decided to keep them for another day or so to test them.
Fonda had not been to the RV Show yet so we walked the entire tent. I spent a little time talking to the guy at John Carrillo Hydronic Heating. He had a brand new, never been fired, Webasto DBW2010 burner (with the controller) for $1,800 (cash). I have seen them online for $3,300, so I knew that was a good price. I wish I needed one, but we already have a spare. He also had a new combustion chamber for $200 and I may go back and get one of those. They wanted $450 for an ignition coil, which I also need, but I can get one from Sure Marine Service for $303. We spent a long time looking at flag poles at the Flag Pole Buddy booth and Butch bought a 22′ model with an extra set of mounts.
Linda was texting me her status on a regular basis and by the time we got back to camp she and Marilyn were already there and relaxing on the porch of Joe and Connie’s park model trailer. We sat outside until the sun kissed the tops of the southwestern mountains and then moved inside to escape the chill. While we were sitting in the coach visiting and cooking Butch installed one of the TT-TPMS sensors on the driver-side front tire of their Suburban, programmed it into the monitor, noted the readings, and went for a test drive. He noted the readings when they got back and plans to check it again in the morning before moving the car. That will be the real test.
For dinner Linda made a nice green salad and a lovely mushroom kale risotto with Arborio rice. We then went to the apartment so I could light the pilot flame on the wall-mounted propane heater. I visited for a bit and then went back to the coach and Linda followed a bit later. We were both tired and turned in early.
2015/01/23 (F) Q Mountain
We were up by 7:30 AM and Marilyn eventually arose and joined us for coffee and toast. The only bread we had was a package of whole wheat pitas, but they toasted just fine and were very good with orange marmalade. I am not, however, thrilled with the Soy Delicious Almond milk coffee creamer. It is not as ‘creamy’ as Silk soy creamer and it tends to separate into tiny bubbles in the coffee. I do, however, like the Almond milk that we sometimes buy, especially on granola type cereals.
Butch called just after breakfast to let me know that the TireTraker TPMS works the way Darryl said it does. That was welcome news as we both like the system, including the small sensors and the rechargeable monitor, and we both like Darryl. He and Fonda had things to do today so I borrowed his hose crimper pliers before they left.
Linda and Marilyn left shortly after Butch and Fonda and drove to Blythe, California to do some grocery shopping and sight-seeing. That left me with some alone time to concentrate on getting some things done that I have needed to work on for a week, such as categorizing FMCA seminars, and have just not found (made) the time. I value and enjoy my work with the FMCA National Education Committee but we have a significant personal investment in our presence here in Quartzsite, and although we will likely return here again in the years to come that is not guaranteed, and this could turn out to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The FMCA work took about an hour to complete and e-mail too Jim A., with who has been the lead person on this.
I also needed to make a minor change to the Aqua-Hot expansion tank plumbing and turn the burner back on. I removed the overflow hose, shortened it, re-routed it, and re-connected it to the drain tube on the tank. I also tried to tighten the clamp on the middle zone pump hose. I noted that the coolant level was at the ‘minimum cold’ mark on the expansion tank. I will check everything again tomorrow.
With the Aqua-Hot project done I decided to replace the old Sentry turbo boost gauge with the new VDO gauge. I removed the dashboard cover, disconnected the lightbulb connectors, removed the retaining bracket, and pulled the gauge out the front of the dashboard. I removed the lightbulb socket to give me better access to the main air fitting and undid that, completely freeing the unit from the dashboard. I pulled the light socket out of the new gauge to give me more room to put the air fitting on and to check the bulb type. It was a miniature glass wedge base 12VDC 3W and will need to be replaced with a 24V, 3W bulb. I then slipped the gauge into the dashboard from the front and secured it with the supplied bracket on the back side. Linda and Marilyn returned at this point so I quit working on the gauge, put the cover back on the dashboard, and helped bring in the groceries. I will have to get the 24V bulb and also rewire the leads to match the harness connectors.
We had a light lunch and then drove down to the market area and wandered through the big tent RV show. We got new Ballisti-Tech screen protectors for our Samsung Galaxy S III smartphones. We also strolled through a small part of the Tyson Wells and Prospectors Panorama areas. When we left the RV show we headed south on US-95 to the BLM Roadrunner STVA so Marilyn could see the Quartzfest RVs in the desert. We found Lou and Val Petkus at their 5th wheel and visited briefly before heading back to town. The light was good and the sun was still high enough that I made an impromptu decision to climb Q Mountain and try to get pictures of the RVs spread across the desert around Quartzsite.
I got my pictures, and got off the mountain before it got dark, but missed the best color, which we saw while driving back to camp to close up the rig before going to dinner. The Geeks were out viewing and photographing the sunset before walking to the Grubstake restaurant for dinner so and we chatted with them briefly and then drove to Crazy Jerry’s for our evening meal. The very thin crust mushroom, onion, and tomato no-cheese pizza was excellent and the French fries were also good. When we got back to our coach Linda prepared some fresh strawberries for desert.
After visiting with Jim and Chris on Wednesday we decided that we would join the Quartzsite Yacht Club, which claims to have the largest membership of any yacht club in the country (world?, universe?) at over 7,500., although we later heard that it was more than 9,000. Membership is $30 which gets you a hat, T-shirt, membership card and certificate. Apparently the membership is good at other (real) yacht clubs that honor reciprocal arrangements. We had planned to join today but did not fit it in. It may be Sunday or even a day next week at this point.
I spent some time transferring photos from my camera to my laptop computer and our NAS unit. I processed three panoramas and three individual images taken on Q Mountain, checked my e-mail, and went to bed.
2015/01/24 (S) Lake Havasu City
We were up at 7:15 AM and I brewed a pot of coffee while Linda showered. I took my turn and also trimmed up my beard a bit. Marilyn came over around 8:25 AM and we all had coffee followed by breakfast. Linda and I had granola while Marilyn had toast and jam. She is not that found of breakfast and does not care for milk or milk substitutes.
I removed some of the parts boxes from the back of the Element to eliminate the rattling just in case we decided to drive in to the Desert Bar on the way back from Lake Havasu City (LHC). We left around 9:15 AM and headed up AZ-95 towards Parker. It was a cool morning with clear skies and the sun lit up the mountains to the west and north. When we got to Parker we decided to cross the Colorado River into California and take the Parker Dam Road 17 miles up to Parker Dam, drive across back into Arizona, re-connect with AZ-95, and continue north to LHC.
We knew that the stretch of the River from the dam downstream to Parker had quite a few RV Parks, campgrounds, and mobile home communities because we caught glimpses of some of them from AZ-95, or saw signs for them, the last time we were in LHC. The drive from Parker to LHC is very scenic but you do not have a view of the river most of the time. Much of the drive from Parker to the dam on the California side, however, was close to water level so we were able to see the resorts on both sides of the river. We had also heard that there were wild burros along the California route and indeed there were. We saw five total, two of them just before the dam. They appear to be docile animals, but they are wild, and you are not allowed to feed or harass them.
Once we got to LHC we followed the signs for the London Bridge and found the parking lot and visitor center. We watched a video on the history of the London Bridge, which was actually the second most recent in a long succession of bridges across the River Thames dating back before Roman Times. The Bridge was purchased, disassembled, moved, and reconstructed in LHC. It was placed at the entrance to a peninsula and then a channel was dug out under it and connected to the Colorado River on either end, turning the peninsula into an island. There is an “English Village” at the base of the bridge on the mainland side, which was not very special, but a wonderful pedestrian path winds along the channel all the way down to Rotary Park. The air was cool and the wind was very strong, but the sun was very warm and we had a lovely stroll.
After walking the path we drove over the bridge and around the island, stopping at one of the reproduction 1/8 scale lighthouses. The LHC Lighthouse Association has erected some two dozen scale replicas of U. S. Lighthouses. The ones on the island are all replicas of lighthouses from the Great Lakes while the ones on the Arizona shore are east coast replicas and the ones on the California shore are west coast replicas. While we were driving Linda researched places we might be able to eat lunch and settled on The Black Bear Diner. She and Marilyn had garden burgers with French fries and I had the Sweet Garden Harvest Salad. All of the food was very good, and I was particularly pleased with the salad, which had raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, fresh strawberries, and shredded coconut with a honey Dijon dressing.
The restaurant was in a corner of the parking lot for the Albertson’s grocery store so we went in looking for regular Silk soy creamer. They did not have any so we started back to Quartzsite and stopped at the Basha’s market on the south end of town. They had the Silk Vanilla Soy Creamer, not the regular, but I got some anyway. They also had a nice selection of Daiya cheeses and vegan sausages. We picked up some sourdough bread and preserves on our way to the checkout. Of all the food stores we have been in Basha’s was the nicest so far.
By the time we got to Parker I was getting tired so I pulled into the casino parking lot. I switched places with Linda and she drove the rest of the way to Q. Back at camp she and Marilyn went to the apartment and started assembling a 500 piece puzzle on the dining table. As I do on any day that I have taken a lot of pictures I transferred them from my camera to my computer and backed them up to the NAS unit. I used the Microsoft Image Composite Editor to create two panoramic images of the California mountains just south of LHC.
None of us were hungry enough to warrant fixing dinner so we snacked on hummus and chips (vegan junk food). Marilyn went back to the apartment at 9 PM and we went to bed shortly thereafter. A long day of fresh air and sunshine had once again worn us out.
2025/01/25 (N) Visitors
Today was basically a stay at home day. Marilyn is officially “on retreat” and spent part of the day by herself reading and contemplating. I made coffee for breakfast, as usual, and Linda made her amazing vegan cinnamon rolls for brunch. They were brunch because they take hours to make and she did not feel like getting up early enough to have them ready by breakfast and we did not expect her to.
Butch dropped Fonda at church and then came back to get me on his way to the Big Tent RV Show. Today was the last day of the show so I bought a 2″ wide roll of rescue tape and got three smaller rolls in the deal. I bought more of the Carnu-B wax but the vendor was out of the Metal Shine cleaner. That’s the risk one takes waiting until the end of a rally or show. I also bought two small LEDs that looked like the might work in our spotter/downlights. We then stopped by Mac McCoy’s booth to chat. He was busy with customers but Charles Martin was there so we chatted with him instead.
We got back to camp just after 11 AM as Linda was putting the finishing touches on the cinnamon rolls and Marilyn joined us for brunch. I tried one of the new LED bulbs but it would not fit in our fixtures. I dealt with some e-mail and thought about spending the rest of the day writing but decided to work outside instead. My outside task today was cleaning some of the bus windows using the Carnu-B Metal Shine to remove hard water stains.
Chris and Jim of Geeks On Tour did their weekly live broadcast from their rig and then started making preparations to leave. We had two cinnamon rolls left so Linda took them over as a going away gift. Charles and Connie Martin dropped in and a short time later Mara and her friend Michael arrived. Marilyn came over followed by Butch and Fonda so we circled the chairs and had quite a gabfest.
Eventually everyone left and I returned to my window cleaning while Linda and her sister started preparing dinner. Linda made her wonderful warm Farro dish with kale and dried cranberries while Marilyn made a shredded Brussels sprout dish with pistachios and dried cranberries. Both dishes were excellent and the use of dried cranberries in each one tied them together nicely.
Linda and Marilyn went to the apartment to watch Downton Abbey but the satellite receiver was not activated so they worked on the jigsaw puzzle instead. I stayed in the coach and took a call from Lou Petkus who had questions about RVillage. I then consolidated my blog posts from the first seven days of October (2014) into a single post, selected five photos to go with it, and uploaded it to our WordPress site, the first post I have done since September 30, 2014. If I do one consolidated post each evening I should be caught up to our arrival in Quartzite on December 12, 2014 in about two weeks. After that I may go back to daily posts or continue to consolidate three or four days at a time. I would like to be caught up and making current/daily posts by the time we pull out of here on March 1st.
2015/01/26 (M) A Plethora of Jims
We had toast and jam (strawberry preserves and orange marmalade) for breakfast along with our usual coffee and juice. Jim A. called just after breakfast to update me on work we are doing for FMCA HQ. Jim G. (& Chris) pulled out yesterday. Jim B. (& Barb) are here for the winter. Jim L. (The brother of owner Joe L.) manages this place and stops by almost every day. I think we have met several other Jims along the way. When we meet someone new I just assume their name is Jim until I learn otherwise. This winter has truly seen a plethora of Jims.
Jim and Barb let me know they were headed to Blythe, California to go grocery shopping and offered to pick up anything we might need. Butch and Fonda also left but Larry and Sandy did not, which was unusual for them. Linda and Marilyn wanted to walk around Tyson Wells so I drove them down to Kuehn Street and Central Avenue, stopping at the Post Office on the way. I stopped on the way back at Herb’s Hardware store to get some 000 steel wool and then topped off my fuel tank at the Union 76 station.
Back at our coach I started assembling my blog posts from October 8 through 15 into a single post and selecting photos to go with it. I do not like to sit and do this kind of work for long stretches of time so I got out my cleaning supplies and worked on the outside of some of the bus windows. I tried using straight vinegar to clean them followed by rubbing with the steel wool, and tried it in the opposite order. I decided to stick with steel wool first figuring the vinegar would help clean it off. I did not apply wax to the outsides of the windows as I want them as clean as possible before I wax them. Rain was forecast for today and it eventually started so I moved indoors and cleaned the insides of several windows on the passenger side of the coach. These were clean enough that I used the Carnu-B spay wax that I bought yesterday on them. The rain let up so I moved back outside and worked on the upper windshields. I got both of them steel wooled and wiped down with vinegar and got a coat of wax on the driver side glass before it started drizzling again. I put my supplies away again and headed back inside. Linda called and asked to be retrieved so I drove back down to Kuehn and Central to pick them up.
Linda put out some hummus, chips, and grapes for lunch and we heated up the leftover Farro dish and divided it up between us. Marilyn went back to the apartment to take a nap and Linda laid down to read and snooze while I continued working on e-mails and blog posts. Gary Hatt, publisher of Bus Conversion Magazine, sent me several photos of himself standing in front of his Eagle. I selected the one I thought would work best to go with his “Publisher’s Letter” in the January 2015 issue, post-processed it several different ways, and sent it back with an explanation of what did and why. I also got the blog post for the second seven days of October completed and uploaded before dinner.
As the afternoon progressed the rain settled in. Although not heavy, like a thunderstorm, it was steady well into the evening. Jim and Barb returned and Marilyn eventually came back over to the coach. That got Linda out of bed and working on dinner. She made a dish that has become a standard; pasta with onions, garlic, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes lightly sautéed in olive oil. Instead of wheat noodles, however, she used “zoodles.” Zoodles are long slender pieces of zucchini made with a hand operated SpiraLife spiral slicer. They get added to the sauté just before serving and are simply heated rather than cooked. We had a green salad with Ken’s Steak House Asian Sesame dressing, dried cranberries and pistachios. We had slices of a sourdough baguette with pepper spiced olive oil for dipping and Linda and I had a glass of Franzia sangria. Fresh strawberries for desert completed a nice meal.
Marilyn helped with the dishes after which she and Linda checked on the developing storm out east and then played Scrabble and other games while I stayed out of their way and worked on this post. Hey, it’s a small kitchen.
The rain stopped at 7:38 PM but started again in earnest around 8:30 PM. It was still raining at 9:15 PM when Marilyn went back to the apartment and the forecast said we could have rain overnight until 5 AM tomorrow. We have had very little rain here this winter so I am sure this is welcomed. It will be interesting to see if the precipitation triggers any sort of desert bloom tomorrow on our drive to Yuma or perhaps the following day.
Linda’s iPad battery was down to about 10% at 9:45 PM so she retired to the bedroom, where the charger is located, and continued to read for a bit longer. I am usually very sleepy an hour after dinner but get my second wind a couple of hours after that. I had an e-mail from Gary at Bus Conversion Magazine regarding the use of soft water in the Webasto-based Aqua-Hot in his Eagle and sent him a reply. I then went through the article on Butch’s main engine air-compressor failure, finalized all of the changes, and uploaded it to our Dropbox along with the photo files. I updated my BCM Article Status Sheet and uploaded it to the BCM folder in our Dropbox. I then e-mailed Gary and editor Mike Sullivan to let them know that the new material was ready and available. By the time I finished it was going on midnight.