2015/03/01 (N) Clean Flying
I had coffee and toast for breakfast. That finished the sourdough bread, which lasted two weeks, and the strawberry preserves, which had been around a lot longer than that.
I spent most of the rest of the morning cleaning the inside of the coach, specifically the tile floor, and putting things away so that there was someplace for two people to sit. The floor and kitchen counter looked better than they have most of the time Linda has been away.
Heavy rain over the mountains and desert east of Quartzsite and south of Plomosa Road.
I left a little after 11 AM to drive to Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Linda’s flight was scheduled in at 2:35 PM MST but was delayed on departure with a revised ETA of 2:56 PM. The weather was overcast with intermittent rain; something we have not seen much of since we arrived here in early-mid December. It is approximately a two hour trip from Quartzsite to the airport so that left me two hours to take care of two shopping errands. That seemed like plenty of time but I had not calculated in the time required to deal with Sunday noon traffic at a major shopping location. I needed cat food and had an address for a PetSmart. I also needed a GE water filter and had an address for a Home Depot.
As I approached the Dysart Road exit on I-10 I saw a Home Depot. It was not the one I had programmed in my GPS, but it was right there. Little did I know that the area around that exit was a massive shopping complex that felt like square miles of retail stores. The Home Depot did not have the GE housing or filter element I was looking for, even though I bought it at a Home Depot in Logansport, IN. I no sooner got on the highway when I saw the sign for a PetSmart on the north side of I-10. I took the next exit and doubled back. In retrospect I should have taken W McDowell Road and snuck in (and out) the back way but I had no way of knowing that in advance. They had the Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and Skin cat food and I bought a 20# bag. There was a Lowe’s on the same (north) side of I-10 on the west side of Dysart Road so I went there looking for the GE water filter but they also did not have it.
Although I still had plenty of time to get to the airport the delays associated with dense shopping traffic and finding stores led me to abandon my quest for a new water filter. I didn’t really need it anyway as the filter in question fits in a GE inline housing under the kitchen sink and provides the final filtering for our drinking and cooking water. It’s a 1 micron cartridge that filters for at least five different classes of things and costs $35 – $40 as I recall. I think it is supposed to be good for six months of ‘normal’ use. Our filter has been installed for about four to five months, and has not had that much water run through it, so it should be good for quite a while yet.
I got to the west cell phone lot at 2:38 PM, about the time Linda’s flight was originally scheduled to arrive. I knew it was delayed because she texted me when she boarded. I checked the status on my smartphone and it showed the flight arriving at 3:10 PM. It was a bit latter than that when Linda texted that they had landed. She called me from the terminal at 3:30 PM and I headed for Terminal 3, Door 5. I missed the pull-off and then missed the turn-around, ending up six miles east of the airport before I could exit and head back. I called Linda to let her know but she saw me drive by and knew I was out there somewhere trying to get turned around. Fortunately the airport was easy to get back to and this time I pulled in to the correct place, looped around, and picked her up. Another loop-around and we were headed back to I-10 West.
The first serious weather we had was on our last full day in Q.
Linda picked up a bug yesterday, perhaps just a cold, but she was obviously tired and not feeling well. She dozed off and on the whole trip back to Q. The weather had lifted a bit, with the sun occasionally peeking through the clouds, but closed in the farther west we traveled and we encountered light but steady rain for the last 60 miles. The skies were especially dark, and the rain heavier, as we cleared the last mountain range and made the long descent into the La Paz Valley and took exit 19 into the east end of Quartzsite. I stopped at the Road Runner Market for a bag of salad greens, sandwich bread, and bananas and then headed to our coach.
It was cool in the coach so I made some hot tea. I fixed a big salad for dinner after which we were not hungry enough to have soup. Linda went to bed early while I checked e-mail and then worked on my blog post for the third week of January. I took a lot of photos that week and did not have enough time left to make selections, process them, and upload the post. I won’t have time to work on it tomorrow but I will try to finish it on Wednesday and upload it.
2015/03/02 (M) Our Last Full Day In Q
Today was our last full day in Quartzsite, Arizona unless something prevents our departure tomorrow morning. After our usual breakfast of coffee, juice, and granola we filled out our mail forwarding form for the P. O. Box, signed our tax returns, and got them ready to nail. We left around 9:15 MST for the post office. There was a line so we decided to come back later and headed for the UPS Customer Service Center in Blythe, California. The center is only open for will call pick up from 9 to 10 AM PST Monday through Friday. We pulled into the parking lot at 8:57 PST and were second in line behind a couple from Alberta, Canada. I retrieved my package and then had a nice chat with the other couple in the parking lot.
We stopped at Albertson’s for cat litter and a few other sundry items and then headed back to Q. We stopped at the RV Lifestyles store to buy a repair kit or replacement for the fresh water tank blade valve. They had both 2″ and 1.5″ and I did not know which one I needed so I left empty-handed. By then it was after 11 AM MST and we avoid the Post Office between 11AM and 1 PM as those are the hours for General Delivery pickup. I stopped at the Union 76 station just behind the post office and topped off the tank before heading back to our motorcoach.
Another view of the storm.
We spent the next four hours straightening up the interior of the bus. Linda sorted through all of the brochures and guides we had picked up and designated most of them as trash. I consolidated bus parts in cardboard boxes and put them in the car. I cleaned out the storage space under the bed and we pulled out the air pump for our old Select Comfort air mattress. The pump went in a big bag and we took it over to Butch and Fonda along with some literature on things to do in/around Yuma. I reorganized the space under the bed which created room for us to store things.
At 3:15 PM we drove back to the Post Office. There was a line but it was short and was moving along. We turned in our mail forwarding form, put postage on a letter to the FMCA Freethinkers chapter treasurer, Dan Fregin, and mailed our federal and state tax returns certified mail with electronic tracking.
Back at camp Linda put a load of laundry in the washing machine. Fonda had taken Butch to pick up a “desert bug.” He found a 1969 VW bug for sale that had been modified to be an ATV. Butch drove it to Bouse with Fonda following him and we made the trip a short time later. We got to see the dune buggy and the park where they will be the working next season as the managers.
On the drive back to Q we drove through some heavy rain and pulled over at one point on Plomosa Road to take pictures. We stopped again on AZ-95 to photograph brilliant white RVs against the very dark storm clouds and then finished our return trip to Q. Linda and Fonda had left a few items on the clothesline to dry when the rains came through so she put them in the dryer. The laundry was done by 6 PM and we headed over to Crazy Jerry’s for our last meal together for a while.
I got a call from Lou Petkus. He had just found out that they are supposed to be at the fairgrounds on Wednesday rather than Friday. He wanted us to check our e-ticket which Linda did back at the bus. We were definitely setup for Friday entry which means we will not be able to enter and park together.
On the drive back we scouted out places to hook up the car and decided the ARCO station on the east end of town looked like out best bet. I had e-mails from Stacy indicating that she had finished proof-reading two more of my articles. I retrieved them from our Dropbox and did the final editing on them while Linda streamed the last episode of Downton Abbey for the season on her iPad using our Verizon MiFi. She went to bed to nurse her cold and I uploaded the final versions of the two articles and also updated/uploaded my article tracking spreadsheet. I then headed off to bed too.
2015/03/02 (T) Farewell Q
We arrived in Quartzsite, Arizona on December 12, 2014 with Butch and Fonda Williams and got our buses parked at the Liebherr-Brockner lot on the north central end of town. Our bus remained in that spot for 80 full days and was there for all or part of 82 days. We were up at 7 AM to have a cup of coffee and some granola early enough to have time to digest it before we hit the road.
After breakfast I dumped the holding tanks, flushed out the drain hose, and stowed it away. We were down to 1/2 tank of fresh water so I topped it up. I then disconnected the water softener and all of the hoses and filter housings that go with it and stowed those away.
And another view of the storm.
We were aiming for a 10 AM departure so around 9:30 AM Jim L. read the electric meter and calculated our final bill. Linda added in the loads of laundry and wrote a check to cover our obligations. I shut off the power, disconnected the shorepower cord, and stowed it away. I connected the chassis batteries, turned on the air supply valve for the engine accessories, and turned on the air valves for the auxiliary air system accessories. I also checked the oil level in the engine and it was at the ‘full’ mark.
Butch and Fonda were also supposed to leave today for Yuma but when they checked on their reservation they were told the rains yesterday had softened the ground and they should wait a day before coming down. Larry and Sandy had not returned from Yuma yet, but Butch/Fonda, Jim/Barb, and Jim L. were all gathered to wish us farewell and safe travels. Jim L. was also there to help me get the bus out of the lot with damaging anything.
The engine fired right up, I switched it into high idle, switched the Level Low system to ride height mode, and lifted the tag axle. Once the air pressure was fully up (~130 PSI) I dropped the engine back to low idle and got out to do a walk around, checking the suspension height and securing the bay doors. Linda did her own walk around to verify everything was closed and locked. At that point there was nothing left to do but pull out. Jim L. suggested I back up while swinging the noise gently to the passenger side to get a better angle going forward. I was going to back up a short distance anyway to release the brakes in case they had frozen while sitting. The humidity has generally been quite low here and the brakes were fine.
I cut the steer wheels hard to the right (PS) and pulled forward aiming for the gap between the concrete patio pad on the left and the Palo Verde tree and light pole on the right. Jim L. spotted me on the DS while Linda kept an eye on the PS and I made it through with plenty of room to spare. Once clear of those obstacles I pulled up to the left and straightened out. I then backed between the park model trailer on the PS and the cactus garden on the driver side with Linda watching the rear of the bus and the street and Jim watching the front and sides. I backed into the street and then pulled forward so I was not blocking any driveways. I shut the engine off and then guided Linda has she pulled the car up behind the bus. Hooking up the car usually takes 15 to 20 minutes or a bit longer if we gave not done it for a while.
We were ready to go for real at 10:35 AM, had one last round of “farewell for now, see you down the road” and finally pulled away at 10:40 AM.
Looking east from AZ-95 at part of the Plomosa Road BLM STVA with heavy storm clouds in the distance.
I had some concern about the turn from southbound Lollipop Lane onto eastbound Kenoyer with the car attached but Jim assured me it would be fine and it was. We turned south on Central Ave (AZ-95) to Main Street (BL-10) then east to Riggles Road and south over I-10 to the eastbound entrance ramp. I got on the accelerator and the bus responded nicely coming up to speed as I merged onto the freeway. Leaving Q to the east or west involves long, steady climbs of 700 feet and I wanted the speed, RPMs, and turbo boost up going into the grade.
All of my gauges indicated that everything on the bus was running well except I wasn’t sure the air dryer was purging. When the air pressure in the system reaches the maximum set point the governor actuates the unloader valves, stopping any additional compression, and sends a pneumatic signal to the dryer to open the purge valve and release any water it has removed from the compressed air. The brief puff of air sounds a little bit like a “sneeze” and is often referred to as such. I always listen for the “sneeze” when the chassis first airs up but did not recall hearing it. As we were driving, however, the pressure in the auxiliary air system cycled between ~100 and 130 PSI, indicating that the air compressor and governor were doing their main jobs. Later, as we were getting ready to pull out of a rest stop, I heard the air dryer sneeze so I finally had confirmation that everything appeared to be working correctly.
The other thing that surprised me was that I never saw over 15 PSI on the turbo boost gauge. The old gauge only went to 15 PSI but the needle would routinely go past that to the limit of its movement. I had gathered from the POG and PC forums that 22 to 25 PSI was more like what I should see when asking for maximum power.
The drive over I-10 was nice as the recent rain had changed the appearance of the desert. Just before coming to the western edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area we took AZ-85 south. As we did we could see rain to the southeast and wondered if we might encounter some of it. The run down AZ-85 was flat but there were interesting mountains on either side of us. We eventually reached I-8 and got on going east. Much of the drive across I-8 was through the Sonoran Desert National Monument but we could not locate a headquarters for it on any of our maps. We also drove through rain and started to get a glimpse of the desert in spring.
Not long into our trip Linda used my phone to text Curtis and give him our ETA. He called back and asked if we could delay our arrival until 3:30 PM as he had a meeting at 2 PM. Linda found a rest stop on I-8 not too far from I-10 so we pulled in there, had lunch, and took naps. It turned out to be a picnic area with no facilities but that was OK with us; we are self-contained and it was a lovely day to sit and enjoy the scenery.
The final leg of our trip took 45 minutes. Linda texted Curtis when we exited I-10 at Sunland Gin Road and he texted back that the gate was open. Although wide enough for the bus we decided to unhook the toad before going in. We were going to have to unhook the car anyway as we will have to back up to get turned around when we leave. Curtis came out to greet us, closed the gate behind us and directed us into a parking spot. He let Augie out so he could greet us and run around, which he loves to do. Augie is a small, six year old, white dog who is full of energy but has spent most of his life living in a bus. Having the enormous yard of the house Curtis is renting to run in is very exciting for Augie and he takes full advantage of it.
Rainbow colors refract from the rain near the center of this scene. AZ-95 looking NE over the Plomosa Rd BLM STVA.
Forrest & Mary Clark were already here in their Foretravel U295 so it was good to see them again. When we crossed paths with them at the RoVers Roost SKP Co-op they were waiting to have solar panels and a charge controller installed. Forrest said they did not run their generator once while boondocking for five weeks near Quartzsite so their system appears to be correctly sized and working properly. Randy & Marianne (Boondockers Welcome founders) pulled in about 20 minutes after us. After greetings and introductions Curtis gave us a tour of what is currently serving as the World Headquarters of RVillage.
The house is hexagonal and sits on a bump out into the northeast corner of a man-made lake. The house was originally a bar/restaurant, with the bar on the main floor and the restaurant seating on the second level, which was not enclosed except for railings. The property is extensive because it was once a parking lot. When the restaurant was closed in the early 1990s the owner converted it to a house, enclosing the upper level and dividing it to make bedrooms. He retained a portion of it as an outside deck that most of the bedrooms open onto. Back on the main floor the central bar was converted to a residential kitchen surrounded by an open floor plan with a generous outside deck. The building still has a functioning walk-in refrigerator that Curtis uses as a pantry. It is an extraordinary property and the driveway could accommodate eight buses as long as the neighbors did not complain.
Exciting things are always going on behind the scenes with RVillage so one of the perks of crossing paths with Curtis is hearing about them or even getting a sneak peak at some of them. It is also an opportunity to see the “back end” of the site which has the tools Curtis and his team use to develop and manage the system.
After tours and demos we all stood around on the lawn chatting and enjoying the view and the cool evening air. Too soon the air was chilly. Forrest and Mary returned to their motorhome to have dinner while Linda and I did the same thing. Randy and Marianne had business to discuss with Curtis and hung out with him on the deck a while longer. They may have gone out to dinner but we did not see them leave or return.
I had turned our generator on to bring the batteries up to charge and so Linda could cook dinner. She made a green salad and red beans and rice, which went well with the Franzia Fruity Red Sangria. After dinner we got our technology set up and got online. Linda is still recovering from the cold she picked up just before flying back to Arizona so she went to bed early. I checked e-mail and saw that Stacy had proofread another article so I made the final edits to it and uploaded it to the READY folder in my Dropbox BCM Articles folder. Since we are boondocking I shut off most of the unessential electrical loads and then shut down the generator for the night.
Travel days are exciting but also a bit stressful, especially when we have been sitting in one place for a long time, be that at home or away. But it felt good to be on the road again and to have landed in such a lovely place for the night. It’s harder on the cats, who do not like it when the engine is running and the bus is moving, but they came out of their travel (hiding) spots as soon as we were parked and were fascinated by the change of scenery. We were both tired but it was a good kind of tired.