Tag Archives: KOFA NWR

2015/02/06 (F) KOFA NWR Palm Canyon


Palm Canyon Road entrance to KOFA NWR.

Palm Canyon Road entrance to KOFA NWR.

I slept in until 8 AM, got up, put on my sweats, and made a pot of coffee.  While that was brewing I turned the TT-400C TPMS monitor on and then adjusted the pressures in the four car tires and checked the passenger side steer tire on the bus.  Based on the temperatures it was reporting the monitor appeared to not be picking up the six rear tires on the bus so I plugged the PressurePro repeater in.  It is mounted in the passenger side rear corner bedroom cabinet and Darryl Lawrence said it should work fine with the TT-400C monitor.  Consumer TPM Systems all operate on the same frequency of 433.92 MHz and the repeater just receives, amplifies, and retransmits signals on that frequency.  The sensors have a unique digital identity and send out an encoded digital signal; that’s how the receiver/monitors know which signals to display and ignore the rest.

Linda in the parking lot at the mouth of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

Linda in the parking lot at the mouth of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.



After a breakfast of juice and cinnamon raisin oatmeal Linda went for a walk while the air temperature was still cool.  I stayed at the coach and dumped the holding tanks, made up our mixture of a bottle of PineSol with an equal amount of water and a cup of Calgon bath beads.  Shake until dissolved and add ~60% to the black tank (via the toilet) and the other 40% to the gray tank via the bathroom and kitchen sinks, including the In-Sink-Erator.





The beginnng of the Palm Canyon trail, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The beginnng of the Palm Canyon trail, KOFA NWR, AZ.



With my chores done I recorded the dump in our notebook and then added the information to our Water Usage spreadsheet.  According to the spreadsheet and our notebook it had been 19 days since we last emptied the waste tanks.  I knew that wasn’t possible as we normally dump every 9 to 10 days when we are in normal water usage mode, and Marilyn was here for the first half of that interval.  Clearly we had forgotten to record a dump 9 or 10 days ago.



The north wall farther into Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall farther into Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.




I finished working on some additional draft items for the survey the FMCA National Education Committee wants to send out.  I sent them to the committee chair (Gaye) and the member whose items I was revising.  We have another phone meeting on Monday and I wanted to get these items out to the committee by tomorrow so the members have time to look at them.








I got an e-mail from Gary at BCM last night advising the editor that I was doing an article on Quartzsite for the February 2015 issue and would have it done by the end of next week.  I e-mailed him back last night and then wrote it this morning and e-mailed it to him and Mike, the editor, for review.  Although I am no longer employed, I sometimes still work better against a deadline.

Deeper into Palm Canyon approaching the 1/2 mile mark.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Deeper into Palm Canyon approaching the 1/2 mile mark. KOFA NWR, AZ.

After cleaning and waxing the bus and spending a lot of time sitting in front of our computers we wanted to get away from camp and do some sight-seeing.  The repair we had done yesterday to the passenger side rear tire on our car seemed to be holding so at 2PM we headed for the King OF Arizona (KOFA) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Palm Canyon area about 20 miles south of town.

A lone palm backlit high up on the south wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

A lone palm backlit high up on the south wall of Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

This seemed like a good spot to stop and let Linda take my picture for a change.  Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

This seemed like a good spot to stop and let Linda take my picture for a change. Palm Canyon, KOFA NWR, AZ.

Palm Canyon is an enormous slot in the Kofa Mountains.  The canyon is aligned ENE to WSW opening to the WSW so we figured the best light would be in the mid-to-late afternoon.  To get there we drove south out of Quartzsite on US-95 about 19 miles to Palm Canyon Road and then east for seven miles on a good gravel roadway.  Good is relative, of course; it took as long to drive the 7 miles as it did the 19.  The trailhead is at the end of the road, which is the beginning of the canyon.  There are also several areas just off the parking/turnaround designated for tent camping, and it would be a spectacular place to pitch a tent.  The last mile or so of the road climbs more than you realize until you get to the parking area and are treated to a sweeping view of part of the La Paz Valley that stretches for over 100 miles from Parker on the north end to somewhere north of Yuma on the south end.


Looking WSW back out of Palm Canyon at the La Paz Valley.  The trail climbs it goes deeper into the canyon.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Looking WSW back out of Palm Canyon at the La Paz Valley. The trail climbs it goes deeper into the canyon. KOFA NWR, AZ.


There they are!  The fan palms of Palm Canyon high up in a shaded crevice on the south wall of the canyon.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

There they are! The fan palms of Palm Canyon high up in a shaded crevice on the south wall of the canyon. KOFA NWR, AZ.

The trail is a 1/2 mile hike into the canyon near the floor but to the south of, and above, the central drainage wash.  The canyon is named for the California Fan Palm trees that grow there; the only naturally occurring Palm trees in Arizona.  There is lots of other vegetation in the canyon, however, and the palms are a bit elusive.  About a half mile in there is a small wooden sign with an arrow pointing up to the left at a 45 degree angle.  All the sign had on it was the word “PALMS.”  And there they were, way up in a narrow crevice.  Mind you, some of the trees in this main grove have trunks that are 20 inches in diameter, but the canyon is a big place and the trees are far away from where we were standing.  The only wildlife we saw up close were small lizards about 3″ long, 6″ with their tails.  We heard and then saw a bird soaring high above the southern edge of the canyon but could not tell what it was.


Delicate colors on the north wall of Palm Canyon in the late afternoon sun.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Delicate colors on the north wall of Palm Canyon in the late afternoon sun. KOFA NWR, AZ.


The light was nice hiking in and got better and better as we hiked out.  The trail climbs quite a bit from the parking area, but not steeply in any one place.  We took our time and I took a lot of photographs.  By the time we got back in our car the sun had slipped behind the Dome Rock Mountain Range that defines the western edge of the La Paz Valley.  We had nice colors in every direction but without any clouds we did have a particularly photogenic sunset.  By the time we got back to US-95 it was approaching 6:20 PM and we needed our headlights even through the glow along the crest of the mountains continued almost all the way back to town.

Looking back into Palm Canyon as we hike out.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

Looking back into Palm Canyon as we hike out. KOFA NWR, AZ.




Linda made a green salad with fresh tomatoes and blueberries, dried fruit, and nuts and dressed it with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette.  She heated up a couple of tortillas and used them to make a quesadilla-like thing with Daiya (vegan) cheese, tomato slices, and jalapeño pepper slices.  We had a small glass of Franzia Refreshing White wine with dinner and had red grapes for desert.



Before we left for our hike I had unplugged the power supply from my ASUS notebook computer to let it cool off.  It seems to me that it runs hot.  I plugged it in when we got back and had a notification on the screen that the computer needed to be restarted to complete the installation of updates.


The only wildlife we saw up close in Palm Canyon.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

The only wildlife we saw up close in Palm Canyon. KOFA NWR, AZ.


The north wall at the entrance to Palm Canyon in the glow of sunset.  KOFA NWR, AZ.

The north wall at the entrance to Palm Canyon in the glow of sunset. KOFA NWR, AZ.

I decided to check my e-mail first and had a couple from Gary, so I called him after we finished dinner and we chatted for about an hour.  It sounds like the article I sent him this morning on Quartzsite 2015 won’t run until the March issue, so that will give me a little more time to select and process photos, experience more things here, and possibly extend the article a bit.  In the meantime Gary is going to have Stacy proofread all of the articles that are ready plus the one I just sent.



My ASUS laptop keyboard appears to be functioning correctly again so I was reluctant to restart my computer, but the message said it would restart in one day on its own anyway.  I guess there’s no time like the present to find out if the machine has a problem.  It finished whatever it was it needed to do, powered down, and restarted without a hitch.  I then copied all of the photos from our canyon hike to the computer and NAS and started looking at them.  I processed a few and then went to bed.


2015/01/27-31 (T-S) Q 2015 W5

2015/01/27 (T) Ahhh, Mexico

We packed quite a bit into today.  After having toast and coffee for breakfast we drove to Yuma through heavy cloud cover and fog.  It made for an interesting and beautiful drive, but we did not pull off the road to take pictures.  There is often a tension between the need to get somewhere and the desire to stop and take photographs.  Today the destination took precedence.

When we got to Yuma we drove around looking for the Main Street that led to the heart of downtown and Yuma Territorial Prison.  This was only the second time we had been in Yuma and the first time I had driven here and I did not quite remember how the streets ran, which is unusual for me.  Yuma is not that big of a town and I was able to get oriented fairly easily with the help of the GPS map.  I missed a turn, however, and we ended up driving over the single lane bridge on the Ocean to Ocean Highway.  We stopped at a Casino just short of the California border, turned around, and went back over the bridge.  Being single lane the traffic is controlled by stop lights on each end.

Main cell block, 1875 Yuma Territorial Prison.  Yuma, AZ.

Main cell block, 1875 Yuma Territorial Prison. Yuma, AZ.

I made the correct turns this time and got us to the parking lot for the 1875 Yuma Territorial Prison State Park.  Very little of the original prison remains, but there is enough of it to give a feeling for what it was like.  The small museum does a good job of telling the story, but a tour guide (from Canada) helped fill in details and answer questions.  Although part of the Arizona State Parks system, it is operated by a local organization staffed by volunteers.

The prison and the Quartermaster State Park are the two main tourist attractions in Yuma.  Beyond those two things it is the closest city to Quartzsite with a good selection of major retailers.  Yuma is also home to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and the U. S. Army Yuma Proving Grounds are just 20 miles north of town.  But the thing that interested us is that Yuma is the wintertime lettuce bowl of North America.  The flat topography and rich soil, watered by an extensive irrigation system fed by the Colorado River and worked by Mexican laborers, spreads as far as the eye can see and supports a vast crop of a large variety of leafy green vegetables.

From the prison I drove west on I-8, almost immediately crossing the Colorado River into the extreme southeast corner of California.  Eight miles later we exited onto CA-186 and headed south through the Quechan Indian Reservation to the U.S./Mexican border crossing at Los Algodones.  We parked in the Indian owned/operated lot and walked across the border into Mexico; our first ever visit to our southern neighbor.  We found it interesting that no one checked us on entry.

Los Algodones is an interesting and unusual little town.  It exists because of tourists from north of the border and has been developed to serve some specific needs of those visitors.  It has the highest concentration (and number) of dentists and optical shops of any place on earth and quite a few pharmacies too.  Many American and Canadian RVers come to this area during the winter months not only for the warm, dry climate, but for annual dental work, eye exams, glasses, and both prescription and over-the-counter drugs.  The vast majority of them park on the U. S. side and walk across the border.

We walked the streets of Los Algodones for an hour or more and finally settled at the Pueblo Viejo restaurant for lunch.  Linda and Marilyn had bean burritos and bottled mineral water.  I made the riskier choice and had a green salad and deep fried peppers.  The peppers were thinly sliced jalapeños mixed with sliced onions.  Linda and Marilyn had some too, but between the three of us we did not finish them; too hot.  At least they were authentic!  Puerto Viejo was the #2 rated restaurant on Trip Advisor and everything we read said the town was safe, including the food.  (The #1 rated restaurant was a sushi bar.)

The restaurant was just across the street from the port of entry so we walked over there and got in line behind a couple of hundred other people.  It took 30 – 40 minutes to reach the customs agent, but the sidewalk was shaded by an overhanging sunscreen and lined with benches so it was comfortable enough.  When it was finally our turn we each cleared customs in less than a minute and were finally back the U.S.A.  We got to use our credit card size passport cards for the first time.

We drove back to Yuma and found the major outdoor shopping mall where I stopped at Best Buy to look for a lens hood and cap for my Sony alpha kit/zoom lens (DT 3.5-5.6/18-70mm) but they did not have any compatible products.

The drive home up US-95 was very different than the drive down.  The clouds and fog were gone and we had a clear view of the mountains to either side of the valley.  Once we were north of the U. S. Army Proving Grounds the land to the east of the highway was part of the KOFA a National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest in the country at over 650,000 acres.  (KOFA stands for “King OF Arizona, a large mine that once operated in this area.)  Between the Proving Grounds and the BLM land south of Quartzsite there are four roads that lead east into the refuge.  Overnight camping is permitted within 100 feet of the roads unless otherwise posted, but we saw very little evidence of anyone out there.  It is, however, a large, remote, area without any services so it only appeals to a certain kind of boondocker, such as those seeking solitude and a semi-wilderness experience.  I say “semi-” because if you can drive there in a 40′ motor home, or a pickup truck pulling a 35′ 5th wheel trailer, it is not wilderness by definition.

About 20 miles south of Q we turned off onto the KOFA NWR road leading to the Palm Canyon trailhead.  The canyon is a huge crevice in the 5,000 foot tall mountain and is home to the only indigenous Palm trees in Arizona.  The trailhead was another seven (7) miles in from the highway and the trail into the canyon was a half mile hike from there, so we will come back another time earlier in the day and do that.  The sun was getting lower in the western sky and the top of the very large mountain to our east was obscured by clouds so the situation was setting up for the possibility of good photographs.  We drove in about 3 miles (at 10 – 15 MPH) and then pulled off the road at a good vantage point to take photos.  We were rewarded for our decision as the sun bathed the mountains in glorious, warm light.

Although the road was generally good gravel and clearly defined we wanted to leave the refuge and get back to the coach while it was still daylight.  As often happens the sunset lingered and the colors deepened as we drove.  One of the challenges with shooting sunsets is that if you hang in there until it is over, you have to pack up your gear and extract yourself from the location in the dark.  Unless, of course, you are backpacking and have already pitched your tent right there.  The same goes for sunrise photography, only in reverse.

Back at the coach we had various snacks for dinner.  Butch brought the mail over and we chatted for a few minutes.  I worked on several e-mails from Gary at BCM, and Bob from our FMCA Freethinkers chapter.  I transferred photos from my camera to my computer and backed them up to the NAS.  I then used MS-ICE to create a couple of panoramas from today’s trip and used FIV to post-process them along with a photo of the mountain at sunset.  By the time I was done it had been a very long, but interesting, productive, and satisfying day.

View looking north from the 1875 Yuma Terriorial Prison State Park, Yuma, AZ.

View looking north from the 1875 Yuma Terriorial Prison State Park, Yuma, AZ.

2014/01/28 (W) Boomerville

After a light breakfast Linda and Marilyn drove to the local Farmers Market and also spent a little time looking around Desert Gardens.  Linda bought some asparagus and a Romanesco brocciflower, which is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.  It grows in a fractal manor based on a Fibonacci number sequence which makes it visually very interesting.

While they were gone I worked on survey items for the FMCA NEC member education survey and suggested a minor change to the seminar categorization spreadsheet that Jim A. had prepared.  I had planned to work on my blog posts for the third week of October (2014) but did not get to those before lunch.

After lunch Linda and I drove out to the BLM Scaddam 14-day area east of town and found the site where Boomerville was set up all last week.  Most of the rigs had pulled out.  Many of them were also geocachers and moved to the Roadrunner area south of town.  We were looking for Bill Stewart and Lynn Pearlmutter from our FMCA Freethinkers chapter and finally spotted their Tiffin Phaeton.  We sat and chatted for over an hour and then headed back to camp where Marilyn had been re-treating in our absence.  I think it has been a good visit for her.

I worked on consolidating seven blog posts from the third week of October while Linda started preparing dinner.  For Marilyn’s final dinner meal (dare I say ‘last supper’) Linda made her mock stroganoff.  No, she did make Marilyn mock her stroganoff, she made a vegan version of stroganoff and served it over white rice, the way I like it.   She also steamed the Romanesco brocciflower.  The taste and texture was mostly cauliflower-like so I seasoned my pieces with a little white vinegar, which is the way I like my cauliflower.

While the ladies played Scrabble online I worked on the blog post and got the pictures selected and edited.  I was up very late again but I got it posted before I went to bed.  I was also having trouble logging in to RVillage using the Google Chrome browser.  I tried Firefox and got in without difficulty and was able to navigate the site.  Remembering that Butch had a similar problem a couple of weeks ago with a different website, I cleared the browsing history (cache) for the last week and tried again.  That resolved the problem, at least for now.  RVillage support had indicated that they were having login issues with the site, so my browser may have cached a bad page.  I primarily use Chrome to browse, so the bad page had probably not been cached in Firefox.

I spent some time on e-mails dealing with an issue we have in our FMCA Freethinkers chapter.  I updated Piriform CCleaner on my computer and ran it.  I then opened Piriform Defraggler, checked for updates, and started it.  It said the remaining time was “> 1 day” so I let it run and went to bed.

Although it was late I worked on the draft of my blog post for yesterday as I had only had time to outline it on my iPad.  I then worked on this post.  Even though I am still way behind in uploading posts to our WordPress website I have to write them each day or I lose the details.  It also takes a fair amount of time, and if I get behind I risk not being able to catch up.  I don’t have to do this at all, of course, but it’s something I want to do and enjoy doing.  I just don’t like being so far behind.

One of the many covered sidewalk market areas in Los Algodones, Mexico.

One of the many covered sidewalk market areas in Los Algodones, Mexico.

2015/01/29 (R) The Flying Nun

We have had an excellent visit with Marilyn since she arrived on the 22nd with a nice mix of local activities, distant sight-seeing, and quiet time at home to visit and allow her to read, rest, and contemplate.  She flew back to St. Louis, Missouri this afternoon but before she left Linda made vegan blueberry pancakes for brunch.

Marilyn’s flight home was at 4 PM MST from the Phoenix airport, which is over 130 miles east of Quartzsite, so they left at noon to get her there in plenty of time.  I stayed home to work and decided to reconcile the financial statements for our FMCA Freethinkers chapter with the copies of the bank statements I received yesterday from the Treasurer, who lives in Chico, California.  While I was at it I updated my financial statements and dues analysis worksheets and the master roster.  Linda called at 2:30 PM to say she was starting back to Q but that traffic was very heavy and she might not be back until after 5 PM.  That proved to be a very accurate estimate.

We had an early dinner that that consisted of a large salad and an equally large glass of Sangria.  I continued to work after dinner dealing with e-mails and then editing together the blog posts for October 23 through 29 into a single post.  I got the post compiled but it was too late (I was too tired) to select and process photos, much less upload the whole thing to WordPress, so I went to bed.

2015/01/30 (F) Regen Aggravation

Rain was forecast for last night and into today and that forecast turned out to be accurate.  It started raining around 11 PM and rained through the night and into mid-late morning.  The precipitation rate was never very high but the rain was persistent.  Even after it quit raining heavy clouds filled the valley and obscured the mountain tops in all directions.  There was a lower chance of showers for this evening after which the system is then supposed to start clearing out.

Marilyn does care for breakfast cereals or things that look, taste, or feel like milk, so we tended to have toast for breakfast while she was here (except when we had vegan cinnamon rolls and vegan blueberry pancakes).  This morning we returned to our normal breakfast of granola, fruit juice, and coffee.  After breakfast we both had work to do and set both of our laptops up on the dinette table.

Linda got a package yesterday from the bakery via UPS with work papers related to the 12th accounting period of the 2014 fiscal year.  This was also the first accounting period in which the bakery was running only on the new software.  Linda did the software configuration and conversion in September, October, and November of 2014 and the 12th accounting period corresponds approximately to the month of November.

My “work” was completing my blog post for October 23 – 29, 2014.  I selected 10 photographs for the post that were representative of the work described in the narrative, visually interesting, and technically OK.  I uploaded the text to WordPress and then uploaded, captioned, and inserted each image.  I got finished about the same time Linda got tired of staring at numbers and made pocket pita sandwiches for lunch. She went for a long walk afterwards and I turned my attention to our fresh water system.

I knew we were below 1/3rd of a tank of fresh water based on the monitor in the house systems panel.  I checked after lunch and we were at ~1/6th of a tank (~20 gallons).  The last time I filled the tank I checked the hardness afterwards and it was higher (3.0 grains per gallon, or gpg) than it had been.  After the last regeneration (recharge) it measured 1.5 gpg and continued to give that reading after each of the next few fill ups.  (It should have measured 0 gpg but I was not able to get it recharged to that extent.)   We have been keeping a log of the dates, gallons, and hardness but I had not yet analyzed the data so I added 100 gallons to the tank.  Afterwards I checked the hardness of the water coming out of the softener and it measured 25 gpg, which is the low end of the very hard water range.  Oops.

Although Los Algodones, Mexico was crowded and bustling with tourists from north of the border there were many quiet places like this.

Although Los Algodones, Mexico was crowded and bustling with tourists from north of the border there were many quiet places like this.

I did not want to leave that water in the tank and run it through our plumbing and fixtures, but I had to regenerate the water softener before I could do anything else.  I removed the filter from the housing on the input of the water softener.  It was brown all the way through from the outer surface to the inside, so it needed to be replaced even though I had just installed it when I did the last regeneration.  Quartzsite city water is safe to drink but in addition to being very hard it has a lot of sediment in it.  Butch also thinks it is over-chlorinated and Jim L., who qualifies as a local, just doesn’t think it tastes good.  The water we drink and cook with in the coach goes through three filters and a softener before it reaches our lips so we do not have any issues with it.

I put the special recharge tube into the filter housing and filled the bottom half of the housing around the outside of the tube with solar salt.  I then poured half of a container of Morton table salt (non-iodized) on top of the solar salt.  I aligned the center tube with the center of the head and threaded the housing onto the head.  I ran water through the filter housing and then through the softener until I got a strong salty taste out of the softener.  The instructions that came with the unit say to run water through the filter housing and out the softener until the saltiness is gone, but it gives no indication of how strong or weak the flow should be or how long it should take.

[When salt (NaCl) dissolves in water (H2O) sodium ions become available.  The special media in a water softener has an affinity for dissolved ions.  Recharging the softener dislodges the calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) ions from the media and replaces them with sodium (Na) ions as a result of the supersaturated saltwater brine.  During normal operation the sodium (Na) ions in the softener are exchanged for the calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) ions in the water.  “Soft” water is not demineralized water, but the sodium (Na) ions do not cause the scale and build up in plumbing systems that the harder calcium and magnesium ions do.]

This is where we ate lunch in Los Algodones, Mexico.

This is where we ate lunch in Los Algodones, Mexico.

When the water coming out of the softener was very salty I reduced the flow to a small amount and let run.  I lost track of exact time, but I eventually shut the flow off, shut off the incoming water, and unscrewed the housing.  It still had salt in it; not as much as when I started, but too much to be done.

[It takes a certain quantity of salt to produce enough sodium ions (Na) to completely recharge a softener of some given capacity.  Softeners do not treat a certain number of gallons of water before needing to be regenerated; they remove a certain number of grains of hardness based on the design.  The harder the water coming in the fewer gallons that can be processed.  Softer water in, more gallons processed.  When you understand the science involved, it is really quite simple.]

I stirred the salt in an attempt to dissolve it and put the housing and tube back on the head and ran more water through it.  One of the problems with this arrangement is that I am starting with very hard water while trying to regenerate a water softener, but there is no easy way around that.  The other problems is that I do not have a sediment filter ahead of the softener.  If particulates are allowed to enter the softener and accumulate they will reduce and eventually destroy the effectiveness of the ion exchange media.  This is a design flaw that is easily remedied by adding another filter housing between the sediment filter and the inlet of the softener.  I will probably rig up something like this when I redo the water bay and use a clear housing so I can see when the salt is gone.  Assuming, of course, that I do not replace the entire system with one like Butch’s.

After fooling around with this for a while I tested the water coming out of the softener and it was still up around 15 gpg.  It appeared that nothing I had done for the last two hours had made any difference.  I removed the housing yet again and added an entire 26 oz. container of Morton non-iodized table salt.  I ran the water until it came out of the softener very salty and then shut it off.

I set the timer on my phone for one hour and drove down to the Tyson Wells market area on Kuehn Street to buy a T40 GAC (granulated activated carbon) filter from the Water Filter guy.  While I was down there I stopped and bought a loaf of Barry’s Basic Bread.  When I got back to the coach I ran the water for 30 seconds, shut it off, and set my timer for 20 minutes. I repeated this cycle for another hour and then set an outlet valve on the softener to emit a slow stream and let it continue to run.  I periodically tasted the water coming out and eventually it did not have any saltiness.  I checked it with a test strip, my third of the day, and it finally tested at 1.5 gpg.  Evening was approaching and I once again found myself in the position of having to finish this process in the dark, so I abandoned any hope of getting it fully recharged to zero (0) gpg, if the unit is even capable of that.

I opened the drain valve on the fresh water tank part way and let the entire 120 gallons drain out.  I did not like wasting that water, but I did not want it in our system.  I also do not like the amount of time and water it seems to take to regenerate our softener, but it’s what we have for now.  At least we are parked on gravel so all of the salty water can just soak in without harming anything.  In an RV resort with landscaping we would have to be careful not to discharge the brine onto the grass or plants.  The salt water is also not great for septic systems, but in sticks-n-bricks homes it usually ends up in one of those two places.

I installed a new 5 micron melt-blown polypropylene sediment filter in the pre-softener housing and screwed it back on to the head.  I let filtered water run through the softener and onto the ground to flush any remaining brine out of the tank.  While that process was taking place I turned my attention to the post-softener filter.

We have a filter housing built into the water bay of the coach.  Water enters the coach through a garden hose connection then (presumably) passes through a check valve before going through the filter.  From there it runs throughout the coach to all of the fixtures and the Aqua-Hot.  One of the fixtures is the fill valve for the fresh water tank.  When the onboard 12VDC water pump is used it simply takes water out of the fresh water tank and pressurizes the entire system the same way the shore line does.  The pump has a check valve to prevent the pressure from an external connection from forcing water backwards through the pump.

The filter housing is hidden behind a beauty panel that makes it awkward to access and service but I managed to get the housing loose and to remove it without spilling too much water.  The installed filter was just a pleated sediment cartridge but it was basically clean so either sediment was not getting this far or was small enough to pass through.  I installed the T40 GAC cartridge and put the housing back on the head.  I then turned off the water coming into the softener and connected the output to the hose from the fresh water inlet on the coach.  The directions said to flush out the T40 with at least five gallons of tap water before using the water so I filled the kitchen sink half full while running off of the shore line.

I started this process at 1 PM.  It was now 6PM and I was finally ready to fill the fresh water tank.  The T40 filter cartridge does not have a micron rating but it was a rather snug fit in the housing and the design looks like it could constrain flow rates.  I opened the fill valve for the fresh water tank and set my phone timer to 40 minutes.

While the tank was filling I started putting the dump and fill data we have been logging into a spreadsheet.  Our softener tank is the same size as Butch and Fonda’s, which is labeled as having a 10,000 grain capacity.  Our data indicated that the last 100 gallons we added took our total from 515 to 615 gallons.  We knew we had obviously run too much water through the softener based on the first hardness test today, but this data was confirming that we had, at most, a 10,000 grain capacity tank.  Given the 25 gpg city water coming out of the tap we will need to regenerate the softener somewhere between 400 and 500 gallons.  Given the aggravation involved in trying to recharge our unit I doubt that it will be a long-term solution for us.  It simply should not take that much time to do something so simple, especially when it has to be done so often.

At the end of 40 minutes the fresh water tank was 3/4s full so I set the timer for another 10 minutes.  With the current filter setup the flow rate into the tank appears to be about 2.5 gallons per minute.  The Shur-Flo 4048 pump has a 4 GPM maximum flow rate, so that is another reason we run off the tank rather than the shore line.

By the time the tank was full it was too late to actually cook dinner so Linda heated up an Amy’s Barley Vegetable soup and put out some crackers and peanut butter; easy but delicious.

I worked on this blog post after dinner, spent a little more time with my water usage spreadsheet, dealt with some critical e-mail, and went to bed way too late.  But then, I did not have to be up by any certain time and I can take a nap tomorrow if needed.

Palm Canyon at sunset.  KOFA National Wildlife Refuge about 20 miles south of Quartzsite, AZ.

Palm Canyon at sunset. KOFA National Wildlife Refuge about 20 miles south of Quartzsite, AZ.

2015/01/31 (S) January LTT

The last day of January dawned under cloudy skies.  We are well past the midpoint of our first winter in Quartzsite and continuing to enjoy our time here.  The “Big Tent” RV Show has been over for a week and the BLM STVAs (free, 14-day limit) have thinned out as the visitors who were here for two weeks surrounding the ‘show’ have moved on.  There are still lots of RVs in the BLM LTVAs (fee-based, up to 180 days) but those are longer-term visitors who, like us, are here for ‘the season.’  The commercial RV Parks in town still have healthy occupancy, but the ‘vacancy’ signs are out once again.  There are still plenty of vendors set up in the various markets along Kuehn Street and the flea markets along west Main Street are still operating.  There is still traffic but not the parade of RVs and gridlock of the previous couple of weeks.  There is still lots of activity but the frenzy appears to be over.  Experienced visitors have told us that we will notice a gradual slow down as we move through February into March.  We will also notice a general warming of temperatures.

A small bird of prey has been active around our campsite for the last few weeks, probably longer, and was finally successful in catching something to eat this morning; at least this was the first time that were aware of it.  It took a small bird down by the seed block that attracts various birds and rabbits to our ‘front yard’ and sat where we could see it while it ate.  WE identified it as an American Kestrel (Sparrow Hawk) and the small bird it caught was indeed a sparrow.  The American Kestrel ranges from 4 to 10 ounces in weight and has a wingspan up to 24 inches with the larger birds being the mature females.  It is the only Kestrel native to North America and is the first one we have had a good look at in the wild.  It normally eats large insects, small mammals, and lizards, but will take smaller birds if it can, thus the name.  They also have the unusual ability to hover given a very slight amount of wind.

We planned to stick around camp this weekend and work on various tasks so after breakfast Linda started a load of laundry.  I like laundry day because I get to stay in my sweat clothes while my regular ones get laundered.  Between loads Linda continued working on accounting for Butch and Fonda and for the bakery.  I prepared a 4-day and a 7-day consolidated blog post and then worked on reformatting and expanding some more survey items for the FMCA national education committee.  I received a draft report/recommendation from Jim A. for the seminar classification work we have been doing so I went through it, made minor corrections, and added several comments for his consideration.

Linda can only sit for so long so around 2 PM she made mock deli meat sandwiches for lunch with vegan cheese slices, lettuce, vegan mayo, and honey mustard on Barry’s Basic Bread.  She then went for a long walk while I continued to work at computer-based tasks.  She made it to the market area at Kuehn Street and Central Avenue and bought another loaf of Barry’s Basic Bread as we worked our way through the one we bought yesterday fairly quickly.

Butch installed his new TireTraker TPMS sensors yesterday.  (I still need to install ours.)  In the process he discovered that his Chevy Suburban spare tire only had 14 PSI of air pressure in it.  Worse yet the valve stem on his bus spare was too damaged to get the sensor on.  But the real problem was that one of the two attachments for the front bus bumper broke off.  Four bolts had rusted through and snapped.  This morning he looked at what would be involved it drilling out the pieces that were stuck in the threaded holes and decided that was not a job he could do on the road.  He bought some metal strap and fashioned two loops around the front of the bumper and behind the mounting plate and bolted the ends of each to draw them in tight.  When he was done the bumper closed and opened just fine and aligned well with the body when closed.  I joked that this might be another “Long-Term Temporary” repair, or “LTT” for short, and suggested that we should coin the phrase.

Linda made a new dish for dinner, Savory Orange Roasted Tofu and Asparagus.  As the name indicates, it consisted of tofu cubes roasted in a mixture of miso, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil to which asparagus was added while roasting continued.  A sauce is made from miso, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and orange zest and mixed in to the roasted ingredients just before serving.  She also made Farro with a little oil, salt, and pepper and served it as a side.  It may be the first time we have had Farro all by itself rather than as an ingredient in a dish.  It really is a wonderful grain.  Clementine orange sections and Franzia Fruity Red Sangria completed the meal.

A Romanesco Boccliflower.

A Romanesco Boccliflower.

Towards the end of dinner I had a call from Neal Sunderland wanting to know if we knew of anyplace in Q where he and Nora could get prime rib (of beef) for dinner.  An odd request to make of a vegan, perhaps, but we only just met during the Eagles International bus rally and he did not remember how we eat.  Linda got on an iPad and did her best to find out what was in town.  The problem with Q is that a lot of the restaurants close at 8 PM, or sooner if they run out of food.  They were already driving when Neal called and he spotted a sign at the Stagecoach Restaurant on Main Street (B-10) for a prime rib special so they pulled in to the parking lot.  I heard the hostess in the background tell Neal that they were out of the special.  They had 37 of them available for dinner and they were all sold.  Yeah, Q is like that.

I have been reading up on the WordPress.com Jetpack: Site Administration feature.  It sounds very cool as it would allow me to manage multiple WordPress websites via my WordPress.com account.  This includes self-hosted sites, which all four of mine are, plus WordPress.com hosted sites.  I have the Jetpack installed on all four Websites but I have never activated the Site Management feature, which must be done from within the admin panel.  I decided to activate it tonight on the FMCA Freethinkers website, hosted by iPower.com.  The activation failed and took down the /WP-admin/control panel.  The site is still there (structure/functionality/content) but I cannot get to the dashboard to do anything.  I sent a support request to iPower and cc:d Bob Pelc, the President of the FMCA Freethinkers, who is the owner of the clubs iPower account.  I also sent a support request to Jetpack and an e-mail to Larry (K8UT) seeking his thoughts on the situation.  This was not how I wanted to end my day but there was little more I could do late on a Saturday evening, so I went to bed.


2014/12/17-20 (W-S) Second Winter Birthday

2014/12/17 (W) Clammy Q

The first rain came last night at 11 PM as forecast.  It then rained off and on through noon today and we had little pools of standing water in low-lying areas, an unusual site here in Quartzsite.  The cloud cover remained complete into the early afternoon, keeping the coach slightly chilly, but we just dressed accordingly.

Linda went for a morning walk and then spent part of the morning making broccoli, cauliflower, carrot soup.  She served some for lunch along with vegan grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches (on sourdough bread) and fresh grapes.  She went for another walk after lunch.  Butch and Fonda left around 9 AM for her women’s bible study group and did not return until 2:30 PM.

Kuehn Street market area looking west towards Central Avenue (US-95).  Quartzsite, AZ.

Kuehn Street market area looking west towards Central Avenue (US-95). Quartzsite, AZ.

I spent the morning and the early part of the afternoon researching products for testing water hardness, checking-in to a few social media websites, updating our calendar, and continuing to clean up my e-mail accounts.  Getting all of my accounts cleaned up is going to take weeks as I can only spend so many hours a day on this task before I need to do something else.  Mid-afternoon I got our sewer hose out and connected it.  I unscrewed the pressure gauge on our Valterra water pressure regulator, which has been stuck on 60 PSI for quite some time, and took it with me to Big Market to make sure the threads were the same before I bought a replacement.

When I got back I put a couple of wraps of Teflon tape around the threads, screwed it in by hand, and snugged it down with a pair of adjustable pliers.  I turned on the water supply and the gauge registered ~35 PSI with no leaks.  I adjusted the regulator pressure up to 45 PSI and called it good.  It is an inexpensive gauge, not liquid filled, but it will do for now.  I doubt that the old gauge can be repaired, but I will let Butch look at it before I throw it away.  When we eventually redo the water bay I plan to install better gauges as part of a coach-mounted plumbing system.  The reason to have one at the spigot, however, is to protect everything downstream from excessively high water pressure, including the hoses.

The name says it all.  Located in Tyson Wells near Prospectors Panorama and the "Big Tent".

The name says it all. Located in Tyson Wells near Prospectors Panorama and the “Big Tent”.

Linda was outside reading when I left to go to Big Market but thicker clouds moved in from the west and it got too chilly to sit outside comfortably.  We spent a quiet afternoon on the sofa with our cats and watched the skies darken as the afternoon advanced towards sunset.  By 4:30 PM it was raining lightly again and a beautiful mist hung over the mountains to the southwest and west.  Even though we are in the desert the humidity has been quite high on these cool, cloudy, rainy days.  The conditions have not been uncomfortable, just unexpected.

Connie returned home with Joe at 5:15 PM but we did get to meet him because of the rain.  He has been in a care facility in Blythe, California recovering from a scorpion sting so this was the first time he has been back in Q since we arrived.

Linda made a slightly fancier salad for dinner and served it along with the soup she made earlier in the day.  Both were delicious and the soup really hit the spot on a cool and unusually clammy day in Q.  Hot tea was also much appreciated.  After dinner we had a quiet evening at home.  Linda read while I worked at my computer.  The seating in the coach seems less comfortable this year compared to last winter, or at least we are more aware of it, and we finally went to bed when we could no longer sit comfortably.

Some of the vendor tents in the Tyson Wells market area on the south side of Kuehn Street.

Some of the vendor tents in the Tyson Wells market area on the south side of Kuehn Street.

2014/12/18 (R) Schmoo Is Two

Today was grand-daughter Madeline’s 2nd birthday.  It’s the first birthday where she is aware that it is a special day and the specialness has something to do with her.  Of course at her age every day is a special day and has something to do with her, but this one is more specialer.

I shut my computer off last night before I went to bed.  I don’t always do that, but I do occasionally.  It’s a habit leftover from my Windows XP Pro days when I’ll-behaved programs that did not conform to Microsoft’s programming rules would fail to release memory and eventually the machine would run out and stop working correctly.  The fix was to do a full power off shutdown and restart it.  When I started it this morning it installed updates, although it did not indicate last night that there were any to install.

One of the things I did yesterday morning was get us registered as staff for the Escapees RV Club Escapade rally in March.  After leaving messages on Monday and Tuesday for Kim, as instructed in an e-mail I received, Tamika (who answers the phone) indicated that she could handle the registration.  I then got online and placed our Escapade clothing order.  Hopefully it gets shipped to the rally venue, and not to our house in Michigan, as again the website did not match the instructions we received.  I was glad to have these taken care of and checked off of my list as I find it a bit frustrating (irritating?) when I decide to do something and then cannot get it done.  Just because we are retired does not mean we have nothing to do or all the time in the world to not do it.

View looking west of our coach and site in the late afternoon sun.

View looking west of our coach and site in the late afternoon sun.

Breakfast was homemade granola with fresh blueberries and bananas, spicy V8, and coffee.  Even though it was overcast and cool Linda went for her morning power walk.  Besides the exercise (10,000+ steps per day) she enjoys having the time to herself and it helps her get familiar with the layout of a new place.

We did not interact at all with Butch and Fonda yesterday.  Not that we needed to; by the time we pull out of Q in early March we will have been traveling/camping together for over three months.  Add to that the fact that I was living at their house for much of October and November working on our bus, and theirs, and I can understand why they might want some time to themselves.  They left early in the morning yesterday, so Fonda could attend a women’s bible study group, and did not return until mid-afternoon.  They looked at something in their engine bay, presumably the air-compressor, and then retreated to their coach and we did not see or hear them the rest of the day.

Joe was out this morning on his power chair picking up after their miniature schnauzer Otis so we went outside and introduced ourselves.  Butch came out soon after that, followed by Fonda and the dogs.  We all stood (or sat) around and had a nice long chat.  Connie eventually came out on her power chair with a basket of laundry.  I carried that over to the laundry room for her and after she loaded it in the washing machine she joined the conversation.

Joe wanted to run some errands and Butch offered to drive him around so we took our car and went on an ‘explore.’  We found the Post Office annex on Plymouth Avenue, which is just a couple of trailers with P. O. Boxes but no counter service.  I did not even notice a place to drop off outgoing mail.  Quartzsite has two ZIP codes and there is some confusion regarding which one to use when.  We do not expect to receive much mail while we are here, nor do we expect to receive a lot of UPS shipments, but we will probably need to receive a little bit of each and they need to be addressed correctly in order to get to us.  We may end up using General Delivery for mail, as the Quartzsite Post Office does not have rural delivery (they do not deliver mail to street addresses), whereas UPS does deliver to street addresses, but they have to be correct.  We plan to go to the main post office “downtown” tomorrow and clarify the situation.

Partial view of our winter compound looking north.  Our bus is to the left and Butch & Fonda's MC-9 is to the right.  Look carefully and you will see someone napping.  And why not.

Partial view of our winter compound looking north. Our bus is to the left and Butch & Fonda’s MC-9 is to the right. Look carefully and you will see someone napping. And why not.

We drove south on Riggles Avenue across I-10 at exit 19 to Kuehn Road and headed east in search of the location where the SKP gathering will be held.  Kuehn becomes Dome Rock Road (east and west) as you head out of town into the desert.  The 4-mile mark coincided with the end of the pavement and one of the BLM STVAs.  We turned south and drove another mile into the desert on a freshly graded dirt road before turning around.  The dirt road was actually better than the crumbling pavement, which is clearly not being maintained.  We then headed back to the area of Kuehn Street, to either side of AZ-95, where most of the seasonal vendors are (will be) located.

We had some Indian Fry Bread for lunch and it was both tasty and filling.  Linda had cinnamon and granulated sugar while I had honey and powdered sugar.  We walked the whole area and at least peaked in each tent while spending a bit more time with a few vendors.  We were going to walk past the Beef Jerky shop but the lady proprietor started chatting with us.  As it turned out she was a vegetarian and had a nice selection of non-animal products.  Which just goes to prove the old adage “you never know.”

Linda got a TXT message from our son letting us know that our grand-daughter was home from day care so we headed back to the coach.  We borrowed Butch and Fonda’s Verizon Jetpack MiFi and used it to Facetime with our son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughter.  (Their MiFi has an unlimited data plan; ours does not.)  We got to wish Madeline a happy birthday and watch her open her present from us.

View looking south on Lollipop Ln from the entrance to our compound.

View looking south on Lollipop Ln from the entrance to our compound.

When Linda returned the MiFi device on her way to her second walk of the day Butch let her know that Joe and Connie wanted the six of us to go out to dinner, so she planned her walk to be back in plenty of time.  Joe suggested we try the Main Street Eatery as they have a garden burger on the menu that he likes.  It turned out to have cheese mixed in with the patty so we did not get one but Linda had a brown rice and veggies dish and I had French fries with ketchup and Tabasco sauce.

In a reversal of our normal routine, I was tired and went to bed early while Linda stayed up reading and playing her online spelling games.

2014/12/19 (F) Hasta La Vista

When we were at the Walmart in Parker last weekend we looked for holiday cards but all they had was a limited selection of Christmas cards.  The last few years we have done a “year in review” letter with captioned photos and short blurbs about each month.  We did not bring a printer with us so Linda searched for places that could print this for us and found one in Blythe, California.

Quartzsite is in the Sonoran Desert and many of the properties have Sugauro Cactus.  Palo Verde and Greasewood bushes are also common with some smaller cactus, but no lawn grass.

Quartzsite is in the Sonoran Desert and many of the properties have Sagauro Cactus. Palo Verde and Greasewood bushes are also common with some smaller cactus, but no lawn grass.

Breakfast was spicy V8 juice, cinnamon raisin toast, sourdough toast with orange marmalade, and coffee.  At dinner last night at the Main Street Eatery the waitress/owner, Michelle, mentioned that a Smart & Final (Extra) store had opened in Blythe and she was excited to have one so close to Quartzsite.  Blythe is only 20 miles away; about half the distance to Parker and a quarter of the distance to Yuma.  Although it is a non-membership warehouse store she said they also have a lot of good quality fresh produce.  We were prepared for Quartzsite to be challenging for us food wise, but so far it has been OK and is looking up.

Linda went for her morning walk and while she was out I strolled down to Herb’s Hardware in search of a piece of plastic pipe with an appropriate inside diameter for fabricating the insert I need for recharging our water softener.  Although Big Market is a good place for this kind of general purpose hardware I went to Herb’s because it is on Central Avenue (AZ-95) not far from where we are staying.  It was small but well-stocked.  I did not find exactly what I needed, of course, but I found something that might work.  It was worth $2.50 to find out.  The problem is that I am looking for a part that does not exist so I have to repurpose/fabricate something using whatever tools I have with me, can borrow from Butch, or buy in town.

When I got back to the coach I spent much of the rest of the day working on our holiday letter with breaks for food and a little socializing.  During an afternoon break Butch and I disassembled my old, non-functioning, water pressure gauge so I could see how it works.  For lunch Linda served the leftover fajita veggies and seitan over basmati rice, which was yummy.  For dinner she made a tomato, mushroom, onion ragu with a little broccoli thrown in and served it over half of a baked potato.  It was very satisfying on a cool evening.

'Q' is criss-crossed with "washes" (drainage ditches) that are usually dry and used by ATVs.  This is one of the smaller ones, but is big enough for a full-size SUV.  When the flash floods come (springtime) these washes fill and flow fast and a dangerous.

‘Q’ is criss-crossed with “washes” (drainage ditches) that are usually dry and used by ATVs. This is one of the smaller ones, but is big enough for a full-size SUV. When the flash floods come (springtime) these washes fill and flow fast and a dangerous.

Joe and Connie’s son, Dale, and other family members drove down from Nevada after work today and were expected to arrive sometime after midnight.  The plan was to pick up Joe and Connie, load their minivan into the “toter,” and head back; a nine hour trip each way.  Given that plan we did not get to meet Dale, et al, and said “farewell, see you later” to Joe and Connie before we all turned in for the evening.

2014/12/20 (S) Yuma, AZ

Yesterday Butch suggested we that we drive to Yuma today so that is what we did.  Quartzfest, the RV/ARO gathering, takes place the last full week of January at the BLM Road Runner STVA near mile marker 99 on US-95 south of Quartzsite.  We wanted to find that location and just see the desert south of town.  Joe had also suggested that we take the Old Yuma Road down to La Paz.  Linda had found the road on her iPad yesterday and what looked like a small community about four miles out, but the community was not named on the map.  From Kuehn and Central it looked to be a five mile hike, if we were inclined to walk it.

I tried logging in to the Prevost Community (PC) website last night but our login did not work.  I contacted the site administrators and had two e-mails waiting for me this morning with the info I needed.  I logged in and posted some information and a question about our turbo boost and dashboard gauge and searched the site for posts about the Level Low system.  I also checked the Prevost Owners Group (POG) website but there seemed to be more information on PC about older H3s and 92 series Detroit Diesel engines.

Map of the Yuma, AZ downtown / historic area.

Map of the Yuma, AZ downtown / historic area.

Connie called around 8:30 AM and asked me to take care of a couple of things at the site, which I did.  We left for Yuma at 10:15 AM and drove south on US-95 through 85 miles of mostly scrubby desert surrounded by mostly barren mountains until we got near Yuma.  Much of the drive was through BLM administered land and part of it was through the U. S. Army Yuma Proving Grounds.  The area around Yuma was unexpectedly green but we learned that the area grows more leafy greens during the winter months than anyplace else on the planet

By the time we got into town and got our bearings it was time for lunch.  We spotted a Golden Corral and Butch assured us they had a nice salad bar, and probably other things we could eat, so we went there.  We all ate too much, which is one of the reasons we rarely go to buffets of any kind, but the food was OK and we did have quite a variety to choose from.

Butch was feeling a bit sleepy after lunch so I drove us down to the Quartermasters Depot Historic Park on the Colorado River.  The other side of the river was California, the closest we have been on this trip, but we did not cross over the bridge.  We spent some time in the visitor information center reading about the depot and picking up literature for various area attractions and activities but did not pay the $4 per person admission and go in.  We then drove around to the parking lot for the Yuma Territorial Prison Historic Park but did not park the vehicle and get out.  Admission is $6 per person and we will come back another day (and leave earlier in the morning) so we have time to visit these and other sites.

Historic Quartermaster Depot State Park.  Note that the cover of the wagon says "AT" (Arizona Territory).

Historic Quartermaster Depot State Park. Note that the cover of the wagon says “AT” (Arizona Territory).

While we were driving back to Q we both got messages on our smartphones from our son with pictures and video of our grand-daughter Madeline’s birthday party.  All of her aunts and uncles and cousins were there and she was having a wonderful time.  While we would like to be present on such occasions there are choices to be made.  We have discussed celebrating Madeline’s “half birthday” each year on June 18th as we will likely be home at that time of year.

Scenic travels notwithstanding, chores still have to be done.  When we got back to camp I dumped the waste tanks, which were near full, and topped up the fresh water tank which was at approximately 40%.  The last time we dumped was a week ago Thursday at the SKP Dream Catcher RV Park in Deming, New Mexico so we went nine days without being conservative in our use of water.  We did top up the fresh water tank shortly after we arrived in Q with approximately 50 gallons of softened water and today I added approximately 75 gallons (60% of capacity).  Although it is not essential, I like to fill the fresh tank whenever I empty the waste tanks.  Our waste tank level gauges do not work but the fresh water tank gauge does, so it gives us an approximate idea of the state of the waste tanks.

As long as I was doing water chores I borrowed another Hach SofChek test strip from Butch and checked the hardness of the water coming out of the water softener.  It registered between 1.5 and 3 grains per gallon (gpg).  The water coming out of the spigot is testing at 25 gpg, the highest amount the test strips can register, so the softener now appears to be doing its job after having been recharged.  Linda recorded the details in the notepad we are using to log these things.

Butch did a minor upgrade on their ITR Oasis Combi hydronic heating system that should make a big difference in their comfort.  He cut out 15″ sections from the rigid metal supply and return fuel lines and replaced them with rubber fuel lines.  The rubber lines will isolate the unit, which is mounted to the floor of the bay, from the plywood ceiling of the bay to which the metal fuel lines are clamped coming back from the fuel tank.  The plywood ceiling is also the house subfloor and the pulsing of the fuel pump was being telegraphed throughout their coach.  The rubber lines greatly reduced the noise.

A view of the Quartermaster Depot SP.

A view of the Quartermaster Depot SP.

Linda called Brendan back and we got a chance to sing “happy birthday” to Madeline.  She also got to call her sister (Sister Marilyn) and chat for a bit.  Marilyn is considering flying down for a visit and staying in the guest apartment but we are unsure yet of the timing.  Speaking of flying, Linda booked her flight home and back yesterday.  She will fly home from Phoenix on February 17 to take care of various tax returns and bakery accounting details and fly back on March 1st.

We had a quiet evening at home.  Because we had such a big lunch we did not have dinner, as such, just a little hummus with some chips and a small glass of Leelanau Cellars Winter White wine.  Linda read and I worked on selecting/editing photos for our 2014 year in review holiday letter.