2014/12/21 (N) Winter Solstice
Linda was reading an interesting tidbit online this morning about the winter solstice, which occurs today in the northern hemisphere. It usually occurs on the 21st, like today, but occasionally slips into the 22nd. While it is the day of the year with the least hours of sunlight (between sun up to sun down) it is not the day with the latest sunrise (which occurred a couple of weeks ago) or the earliest sunset (which does not occur for a couple of more weeks). Why is that? Axial tilt, elliptical orbits, and a “day” that is not exactly 24 hours. Science is fun.
Today was a stay-at-home / stay-in-town day for us. Linda vacuumed the coach and mopped the floor tiles. She says she likes to do this once a week to keep the cat hair under control. By “likes” I think she means “needs.” She also decided to do the laundry. When we are at our house the laundry is usually my chore but for some reason, to which I am not privy, she takes over this chore when we are living in the RV, at least initially. The same thing happened last year at Williston Crossings RV Resort, although we eventually both did laundry until I was able to win back my rightful chore. So far again this year it has been her self-selected task here at Quartzsite and I have not gone out of my way to reclaim my rightful place as master of the laundry.
What I did instead of laundry was spend the morning finishing our 2014 Year-in-Review holiday letter. Linda proof read it and then I converted it to PDF and did a final check of the layout to make sure the text and photos had not shifted or been clipped. I copied it to a flash drive so we can take it someplace in Blythe tomorrow and have it printed.
The other day I noticed that the manifold pressure sensor (turbo boost) on Butch and Fonda’s 6v92 was mounted vertically on the front passenger side of the ECM. I could not see exactly how it was mounted, however, so today I finally looked it up in the DD 92 Series manual. I did not attempt to reattach our sensor module today but I was curious to see what would be involved. I also continued to interact with other Prevost owners on the Prevost Community forum regarding the turbo boost issues and the dashboard gauge, which does not have the correct scale for our engine. That thread has led to a dialogue about the SilverLeaf systems, including the VMSpc that we have, and an alternative system from RV Tech Tools that uses an iPad app named “RV Dash” and a wireless (WiFi) interface named “CANpod” from Cubix Labs.
With our various chores done we had a light lunch of chickpea salad on a bed of mixed greens and then went for a long walk. The walk took us down Washington Ave. and then over to Kitsap Ave. to see a gorgeous Adobe house that Linda had discovered on a previous walk. That led us to the backside of the west-central “vendor” (flea market) area on the north side of Main St. We are not collectors, and we are not into antiques, guns, rocks, jewelry, or junk, so we saw very little that interested us. We did see a few pieces of Pyrex, which our daughter and son-in-law were collecting at one time, and I am always on the lookout for a good deal on a tool I can’t live without, but mostly we saw endless quantities of stuff that we could not fathom anyone buying.
We crossed Main Street and visited the Tyson’s Well Stagecoach Stop Museum. The grounds and building were open, admission was free, and it was unattended. There were items for sale and if we had wanted something we would have put the money in the collection box. That’s small town.
We headed east on Main Street and crossed back to the north side using the crosswalk at AZ-95 (Central Ave.). We then continued east and stopped at the Road Runner Market. We were pleased to find that they had a small but good selection of fresh produce. On our way out the door the florist gave Linda a red and white carnation. We will definitely be doing some of our local grocery shopping there. We knew there was a restaurant/bakery on the far east end of Main Street so we kept on walking. Sweet Darlene’s looked like a nice local place for a home-cooked style meal, but did not have anything on the menu we could eat. The bakery turned out to be a small display case with pies and sweet rolls, but they did not make their own bread, so we won’t have any reason to come back.
By this time it was getting to be late afternoon, the cloud layer had thickened, and it was getting a bit chilly so we headed back towards Central Avenue. We counted laundromats along the way, and passed at least four before getting back to our coach. Not that we need a laundromat—we have a laundry where we are staying—but with all of the boondockers in and around Q it is a matter of some curiosity to us how/where they take care of things like this. By the time we got back to our coach we had walked just over five miles.
Sunset over the Dome Rock Mountains due west of our encampment.
By 5:15 PM the sun had slipped just below the mountains to our southwest and the sky started to glow pink for 360 degrees around us. The sunset went on for over 30 minutes, the pinks deepening to reds. And then, just like that, the color was gone and darkness enveloped the valley.
For dinner Linda made a simple green salad with raisins and peanuts. She then heated up some vegan re-fried beans, pan-grilled a package of fajita vegetables she got from Connie before they left, and then heated two tortillas. We each made a tasty roll up, adding some salsa and vegan sour cream. She washed some black seedless grapes and set them out for desert. They were very refreshing after the somewhat heavier and spicy main course.
2024/12/22 (M) Compressed
We had planned on driving to Blythe, California today but those plans changed fairly early in the morning. Butch got an update that his air-compressor was on a UPS truck in Blythe and scheduled for delivery today. I had promised to help him with the installation and provide a few tools he did not have with him so we decided to stick around camp. We were also waiting for Connie’s realtor, Carolyn, to come by and pick up two yellow Post Office slips.
Linda took her morning walk after breakfast while I downloaded the October and November issues of Bus Conversion Magazine in both standard- and high-definition. I was really glad to finally see these issues. The October issue included my article on our T. F. Hudgins Spinner II Centrifugal By-pass Oil Cleaner project. That was my one remaining article waiting to be published. I have at least a half dozen in process, at least that many more for which I have taken photos (and written blog posts), and a very long list of future projects, so it’s time to get the next batch of articles ready to submit.
When Linda got back I drove to the print/copy/fax/pack/ship/etc. store on east Main Street to see if they could print our holiday letter. They had plain 8.5×14 white paper, and the photos looked OK, but it was going to cost $4 per letter ($2/side) so I paid for the one copy and left. They suggested that I try Weeks Printing in Blythe (20 miles west) or Staples in Lake Havasu City (70+ miles north). Since we will likely head to Blythe tomorrow we will check out Weeks first.
As long as I was out I stopped at Barry’s Breads and bought a couple of fresh “rolls” which were really small loaves of bread. Barry runs a little seasonal bakery out of a temporary vendor stand on the northeast corner of Central Avenue (US-95) and Kuehn Street. Most of his products have butter or cream cheese as ingredients—his Danish pastries are as big around as a dinner plate—but he does make just plain bread and everything is made fresh daily. Back in camp Linda called Weeks Printing and they quoted $1.25 for each 2-sided letter. Much better. We will check them out when we make it to Blythe; probably tomorrow.
For lunch Linda made a batch of her scrumptious chickpea salad/spread and served it on one of the rolls I bought at Barry’s. After a week of cloudy skies, cool temperatures, and a little rain we finally had a day with clear, sunny skies and the high temperature up into the 70s. Butch decided to remove his defective air-compressor and there wasn’t anything we could do to help (or stop him) so we decided to clean some more of our coach exterior. I wanted to work from the top down, which meant starting with the roof. That, in turn, meant getting out the Little Giant convertible extension/step ladder and setting it up as a 14 foot extension ladder. In this configuration it extends beyond the top edge of the roof at the front, making it safer for me to get up on the lower roof area from the driver’s side.
Rinsing down the roof of the coach (photo by Linda).
The roof was very dirty and it appeared that we might have more than just embedded dirt to deal with. The roof has a sprayed-on ceramic-infused white coating with a surface akin to medium grit sandpaper. It reflects sunlight and provides a nice nap for walking on, but also traps dirt. The last time the roof was cleaned was in early April, just before we left Williston Crossings RV Resort. I had been on the roof subsequent to that, in our pull-through driveway at home, using it as a platform for trimming tree limbs. I do not recall it being unusually dirty at that time, but I was focused on other things. If it had been, I probably would have washed it, but maybe not; I was focused on other things.
I used a little bit of Dawn dish soap in several gallons of water and our soft, long handle, brush to try and scrub it clean and then rinsed it with softened water. It was better by the time I was done but far from 100% clean. I also scrubbed all of the metal awning covers and then hosed them off and rinsed the awning fabric. When I was done on the roof I sprayed off all four sides of the bus, but even with the softened water it left spots and streaks. Another unfortunate side effect of this work is that it frightened our male cat, Jasper, who ended up hiding behind the steering column in an attempt to escape the sights and sounds of a ‘monster’ on the roof.
We would like to get the body clean but there’s no point doing anything until I get the roof finished (Linda does not climb ladders and she does not get on the roof of the bus.) At a minimum I am going to have to use a stiff scrub brush and a stronger solution of Dawn dish soap, or perhaps a commercial cleaner that can treat mold/mildew along with just plain dirt. We will then have to do the vertical surfaces in small sections, scrubbing, rinsing, and drying as we go. We have a sprayer for our hose that has a small bottle for additives and one of the reasons I bought it was to try using a dishwasher rinse aid, like Jet Dry, to see if it would eliminate spotting. To-date, however, I have not tried that.
The old Bendix Tu-Flo 700 air-compressor out of Butch & Fonda’s MC-9. The governor is the silver thing on the left. The open port on top is the air discharge where the unloader valves are located.
Once Butch had the old air-compressor out of their bus he turned the input shaft and noted that the pistons were not pumping air. This confirmed that something had failed internally and ordering a replacement was the right thing to do. There wasn’t much else to do so we all sat around in the warm sun and waited for the UPS truck to show up, which it finally did around 3:45 PM. We (me, Linda, and Fonda) suggested that Butch wait until tomorrow to start installing it, but we knew that was not going to happen. The compressor was a significant road failure that had bugged him since it happened and he was anxious to get it fixed.
The new (re-built) Bendix Tu-Flo 700 air-compressor with the old spline and new port plugs.
The Bendix Tu-Flo 700 he received is designed specifically for mounting on Detroit Diesel 92 series 2-stroke engines but has more ports on it than are typically used in this application. Making sure to match the configuration of the old compressor, Butch installed new plugs in the unneeded ports. He then removed the fittings from the old unit one at a time and installed them in the new one, being careful to line them up exactly the same way. I helped by holding the compressor on a work table while Butch tightened the pipe threads. This was the easy part of the project as we were standing at a tall bench with plenty of room to work and good light.
The new air-compressor with fittings. Note the alignment marks for orienting the fittings correctly. The spline is in the upper left of the photo.
The hard part was getting the air-compressor re-installed. Butch eventually got it onto two of the four mounting studs, which then took the weight. We discovered a clearance issue with one of the port plugs and he had to pull the compressor back out. He removed a plug from the old compressor, which did not stick out as far, and reused it in the new compressor. With the compressor back on the studs it now lined up better but the spline would not engage the drive gear on the end of the engine camshaft. He put a wrench on the crankshaft pulley nut and turned the engine slightly by standing on the end of it while I jiggled the air-compressor.
The “governor” mounted on the new compressor.
The spline eventually engaged the engine gear and the air-compressor gear enough that Butch was able to fully seat the flange and insert/tighten the four mounting studs, lock washers, and nuts. Per the instructions, he reconnected all of the lines except for the air discharge and called it a night. The coolant goes back in tomorrow and Butch will then start the main engine to make sure the compressor works, check for leaks, and let any contaminants get blown out the discharge fitting. If everything looks good he will attach the discharge line, which connects the outlet port of the air-compressor to the coach air system, and air up the bus.
The new air-compressor (blue) mounted on the rear of the DD6V92TA engine block (towards the front of the bus) in Butch and Fonda’s MCI MC-9B NJT.
At least we were successful in convincing Butch to wait until tomorrow to put the coolant back in the engine. By the time we finished working, put our tools away, and got cleaned up it was 7:30 PM and had been dark for two hours. Linda reheated the leftover fajita fixings and we had open-faced tortillas with Fritos corn chips, salsa, black grapes, and Sangria. We were both tired so we relaxed for a while after dinner and then went to bed.
2024/12/23 (T) Blythe, CA
We got a call from Connie right after breakfast letting us know that the two packages Carolyn picked up yesterday were for us and Butch. We needed to pick them up before 11AM as Carolyn had an appointment at that time. Linda was headed out for her morning walk anyway so she walked to Rock Reality, near the post office and uptown drugs, to get the packages from Carolyn. (Carolyn is Joe and Connie’s realtor.) She dropped off the two P. O. Box – Mail Pickup Notice cards at the post office while she was there.
Our package was from Madeline (Brendan and Shawna), to be opened on Christmas Day. Butch’s package was the unloader valve kits for our Bendix Tu-Flo 700 air-compressors. He ordered them while we were in Forest City, Arkansas for delivery to Amarillo, Texas but they did not arrive in time so his friend forwarded them to our Quartzsite location.
Butch and Fonda used most of the morning to put the coolant back into the engine. Our buses, which still have their over-the-road heating systems, hold a lot of coolant. Ours requires 34 gallons. The buses are not identical, but I suspect theirs requires at least 30 gallons. And it is very important that the cooling system is filled to capacity and has had all of the air purged out of it. It’s a big, messy job.
They got as much in as they could by standing on a ladder and pouring it through a funnel into the filler tube for the surge tank. The radiators on the MCI MC-9 are located above the engine, one on each side wall at the rear of the bus, and the surge tank is located above them, so the filler tube is approximately 9 feet from the ground. Butch started the engine to warm it up enough for the thermostat to open and to circulate the coolant and opened a couple of bleeder valves to let air out. He also checked the outlet fitting on the new air-compressor to verify that it was pumping air. It was (hurray!), so he shut the engine off, attached the air line to the outlet fitting, and started it back up. The chassis air system (suspension and brakes) came up to pressure and the air-dryer “sneezed” (momentarily opened its purge valve) so the system was fully operational.
We planned to go to Blythe, California today and Butch and Fonda wanted to go too, so he shut off the engine and they cleaned up their campsite. We were sitting in our coach when the winds came up rather strong. Linda checked the weather and the winds were out of the north at 20 MPH and forecast at 22-25 MPH until 6 PM. That was strong enough for us to retract our awnings, close our roof vents, collapse our folding chairs, and stow our patio mat. Butch and Fonda also retracted their patio awning and stored all of their outdoor equipment and furniture. We had the old patio awning on our Itasca Sunrise torn off by strong (thunderstorm) winds while we were away from the motorhome and have been extra careful about awnings and wind ever since.
With all of that done we headed to Blythe in their Chevy Suburban. From 879 feet ASL in Q we climbed to about 1200 feet ASL over the low mountain range that separates the two valleys, and then descended to 240 feet ASL as we crossed the Colorado River and entered California. A few miles later we took the 7th Street exit and we were there. The 20 mile drive was only five more miles than the trip we made from Williston Crossings RV Resort to the Publix grocery store (at the southwest corner of Gainesville, Florida) last winter, so it did not feel like a long way to go for groceries. At home we have supermarkets about five miles away in three different directions. Butch and Fonda typically drive into Logansport for their groceries, a distance of 12 miles, so we are all used to traveling some distance to purchase our food.
The Smart & Final Extra and the Albertson’s were on the NW and SE corners of 7th and Hobsonway, just north of I-10, making them especially convenient for us, so this is where we will likely shop every other week or so. But our first destination was a few blocks farther west on S. Main St. where we found Weeks Printing. They were eventually able to access our flash drive and open the PDF of our holiday letter. They had a high quality paper in 8.5”x14” size, and were able to print our letter 2-sided on a good quality color laser printer for a very reasonable price of $1.25 per letter ($0.625 per side). They did not take credit cards so we paid cash, but it saved us a 73 mile trip (one way) to Staples in Lake Havasu City.
Self-portrait of the blogger. I am merely a reflection of my former self.
At the Smart & Final Extra we bought fresh produce, soy milk, and some bulk, canned, and packaged items. They did not carry the Silk brand soy coffee creamer that I like, and there were a few items Butch and Fonda needed that the store did not have, so we drove across the street to Albertson’s and got those items. I stayed in the car with the groceries, but I already knew that the Albertson’s would be a nice store based on our experience with the chain in Sheridan, Wyoming during summer 2013. With our shopping done we returned to Quartzsite.
I carried the groceries from the car to the bus and Linda stored them, discovering that she had an empty tub available in the cabinet above the refrigerator. By the time she was done it was approaching 4 PM so she prepared chickpea salad sandwiches as a quick, light lunch and then announced that we should go for a walk before it got dark. She let me chose the route so we crossed Central Avenue (AZ-95) and walked to the city park, which has a very nice baseball field with lights and the only grass we have seen in Quartzsite. There was also a skateboard facility, a football field, and two F4 Phantom jets (minus the engines and other equipment). The Quartzsite Metal Detecting Club (QMDC) has a practice field adjacent to the park. The park is located near the following municipal facilities: Community Center and Library, County Court, Police Station, and Post Office Annex (where most of the P. O. Boxes are located). The Fire Department is a little farther north on Tyson Wells Street just east of Central Avenue.
The sun was getting near the tops of the mountains to our southwest so we headed pack to our coach and settled in for the evening. For dinner Linda made a barley risotto with garlic, shallots, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, vegetable both, and seasonings. While she was cooking I got a call from my dad and got him caught up on our whereabouts and activities. The risotto was excellent and we each enjoyed a glass of sangria with our meal.
I don’t know if we are just relaxed, or really tired after a hard summer and fall, but we have both been going to bed earlier and waking up later than usual. Or perhaps it is just the effect of fresh air and sunshine. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to be able to just sleep when that is what we feel like doing and get up when we are read.
We have an excellent Verizon signal here in Q. Linda often likes to pace up and down Lollipop Lane while talking on the phone. If you lived on Lollipop Lane you would too.
2014/12/24 (W) Christmas Eve
It’s Christmas Eve and we woke to a temperature of 37 degrees, clear skies, light winds, and no snow. The forecast high for today was 66, with no snow. Do I miss snow at the holidays? Not really. At one time (high school) I considered myself something of a “romantic” in the sense that I liked the classical music of the romantic era, but I am not particularly nostalgia. If I was, we would own a restored 1957 Chevy; red, of course. No, we had snow at home before we left and as a harbinger of things to come we took it as a sign that our departure was overdue. Christmas in the desert will be a new experience for us, but so far it looks very agreeable. We will miss being with family, of course, but we are not alone here and technology keeps all of us much more connected than it once did.
Having been to Blythe yesterday we did not have any last minute shopping to do today. The desert was there yesterday and will be there tomorrow (I presume) so we did not have to see it today. With the holidays upon us I did not feel like working on bus projects. Linda started addressing the envelopes for our Year-In-Review Holiday Letter and then worked on food preparations for tomorrow’s dinner with Butch and Fonda. It seemed like a good day for me to finally start catching up on some things that I have not had time for in a while. For instance, I need to work on articles for Bus Conversions Magazine, update our bus project list/status, update our website, upload some blog posts (OK, a LOT of blog posts), and catch up on the blogs I follow using the Feedly app on my iPad. I am way behind on all of these tasks and starting to feel some pressure about it, albeit self-imposed. I do not have to do any of these things if I don’t want to, of course, but they are activities that I enjoy and want to do. Still, being way behind takes some of the fun out of it and makes it a bit more like work. I won’t get caught up in one day or one week or even one month; it will take many weeks of persistent effort.
After checking e-mail, I settled in to work on my article about the exterior renovation of our motorcoach. Michele Henry of Phoenix Paint helped me finish the article in early October but I still needed to select and caption all of the photos. While I worked on that Linda walked to the Road Runner Market and managed to snag the last 3-pack of yeast. When she got back she made her orange cranberry relish for tomorrow’s dinner.
We took a break for lunch and then Linda headed out for her daily power walk. When she got back she continued addressing envelopes for our holiday letter. Just as I was feeling like I needed a break, Butch knocked on the door to let me know he was working on a small project that might interest me. He had already burped the coolant lines that supply heat to the living area of their bus when driving and gotten the last of the coolant into the system. His new project was getting an alternator driven tachometer connected and calibrated.
It turned out that he needed positive DC power to the tachometer in addition to the ground and RPM signal. He was able to temporarily pick up 24VDC from the positive terminal of the starter, found a convenient ground point, and picked up the rotational speed from the stator terminal on the back of the alternator. With the engine running at low idle he measured the RPM of the main crankshaft pulley using an optical sensor instrument. It was just over 600 RPMs so he adjusted the tach via a set screw on the rear to match the reading. He kicked it into high idle and measured the rotational speed as 950 RPM. That is what the tach displayed within the precision of the markings. He already has a signal wire run from the engine compartment to the cockpit but needs to mount the tachometer in a separate bullet housing, connect the wire on both ends, and provide positive and negative (ground) DC to the instrument. He decided not to take on that project today.
(Note: RPM is universally understood to be an abbreviation for “Revolutions Per Minute” but that is not necessarily correct. An object such as the pulley on the end of an engine crankshaft rotates about its own axis, just as the earth does, and has angular velocity which is properly measured in rotations per some unit of time or angular displacement per some unit of time. The abbreviation is, of course, still RPM. In the case of the pulley, however, Butch put a small piece of white tape on the face of the pulley at the outside edge to act as a target for his optical sensor. If we consider the piece of tape as a separate object then it does, indeed, revolve around the center axis of the pulley, just as the earth revolves around the sun. Viewed thus way, revolutions per minute is technically correct. As with many things in physics, it depends on your frame of reference. So much for today’s physics lesson.)
This building houses (L-2-R) the laundry room, the apartment, and a small workshop at our compound.
As long as I was outside I borrowed Butch’s metal detector and went in search of a couple of tie downs that Joe told us were buried somewhere near the outer edge of our patio awning. I knew they were lined up with a reference mark on one of the concrete patio slabs and it did not take long to locate and uncover them. We put a couple of medium-sized rocks on top of them so we could relocate them easily.
We got several multimedia messages from our son today with pictures of our grand-daughter at our daughter’s house helping make cookies. Brendan, Shawna, and Madeline are spending the night and Katie is joining them tomorrow. Butch and Fonda will spend most of the day at the local church Fonda selected, including a carry-in (pot luck) luncheon, but will have dinner with us around 6:30 PM.
I finally returned to our coach and worked on my article about the Zena power generating system I installed to charge our house batteries while driving. Again, the article was mostly finished a long time ago, but I could not submit it until I completed the installation, got the system operational, and took a few more photos. All of that happened in October and November but I was too busy with other projects and preparations to pull it all together at that time. I had a couple of e-mails today from Gary, the publisher of Bus Conversion Magazine, indicating that the December 2014 issue might not be out until early January 2015, and wondering if I might have a finished article they could use.
For dinner Linda made a salad of dark mixed greens with raisins, nuts, and pear slices drizzled with raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing followed by pan-seared tofu slices with caramelized onions and bar-b-que sauce served open-faced on hamburger buns. We split a Sam Adams Pumpkin Spice Ale. I am not a big fan of ales or pumpkin but beer seemed like the right beverage for this dish. It was OK, but I would have enjoyed a Yingling or Shiner Bock more.
I made good progress on both articles today. I got an e-mail from Mike, the editor of BCM, wondering if I had a finished article. The ZENA article was close enough that I decided to finish it and upload it to our Dropbox before going to bed. I e-mailed Mike back to let him known it was there and offered to finish the other one by the end of the weekend.
Earlier in the day I updated our personal WordPress site to the just released version 4.1 and updated several plug-ins and themes. My last task before turning in for the night was to replicate the update process on the other three sites I manage. By the time I got to bed it was Christmas Day.
2014/12/25 (R) Christmas in Q
The wind came up strongly overnight and we were awakened by the rattling of the vent fan domes. From our north facing bedroom window we could see flags and the tops of trees blowing briskly in the wind. We could also hear and see the awnings on the south/passenger side of the coach flapping. Linda checked the weather channel app on her iPad and it reported winds at 20 MPH. We were not expecting winds that strong until the daytime and they were strong enough for us to be concerned about our awnings. By that point we were wide awake so we put on our sweatpants and shirts, slipped on some shoes, found a set of keys, got the step-stool out of the front bay and the awning rod out of the folding chair bay, retracted the two awnings, returned the rod and step-stool to their respective storage compartments, and finally went back to bed.
Linda got up at 6:30 AM in order to start making cinnamon rolls from scratch. I usually get up first and make a pot of coffee but I was up past midnight working, so I slept in for another hour. The yeast she bought yesterday wasn’t cooperating so we turned on one of the Broan ceramic cube heaters to try and create a warmer and more consistent environment to get the dough to rise.
We borrowed Butch and Fonda’s Verizon MiFi (unlimited data plan) so we could Facetime with our children and their families, who were gathered at our daughter and son-in-law’s house. We got to watch all of them open the presents we left for them when we were there on Thanksgiving and they got to watch us open the gifts they sent with us or shipped to us here in Quartzsite.
Brendan, Shawna, and Madeline (son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughter) sent a 2015 Shutterfly Calendar with photographs of all the different family members placed on the dates for birthdays, anniversaries, and such. We do not need much at this point in our lives, but a collection of photographs that also reminds us of the people and dates that are most important to us is something we appreciate and treasure. Meghan and Chris (daughter and son-in-law) bought us each a genuine Tilley hat. I have known about these hats for a while but never bought one. Given our outdoor oriented RV lifestyle, these were excellent gifts.
After we were done with our Facetime session Linda took the cinnamon rolls over to the apartment to bake since it has a range with an oven. She will finish cooking dinner there later and the four of us will eat there this evening as it has a table that will seat four people.
The apartment bedroom.
In spite of early indications to the contrary the cinnamon rolls rose and baked just fine. The dough used flour, salt, vegan butter, yeast, and flax meal with water (egg substitute) and a little sugar. The filling was made with brown sugar, vegan butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup. The topping was a glaze of sugar, water, and vanilla with raisins and chopped walnuts. Linda took two of them over to Butch and Fonda and we had some for breakfast still warm from the oven. It’s a good thing that these are as much work to make as they are or I might want them for breakfast every day. 🙂
Linda had a call and TXT message from her sister (Marilyn) and sent a reply. She was on her way to her housemate’s family gathering and they agreed they would talk later today. She also sent merry Christmas TXT messages to her sister-in-law, Mary, and good friend, Diane. At noon our time (1 PM CST, UTC-6) I called my sister to wish her a happy holiday. Her daughter, grand-daughter, and future son-in-law had already been there in the morning as Ryan had to work that afternoon.
I made a second pot of coffee, which is unusual for us, but we planned to spend the day lounging around the coach cooking (Linda) and working on the computer (me). Linda cleaned up the breakfast cookware, poured another cup of coffee, and started working on the chocolate cake for tonight’s dessert. With the cake prepared and in the apartment oven she turned her attention to making the candied yams. Once those were done the only thing left to do was bake the Tofurkey, roast the asparagus, and heat the gravy. It was a lot work for her but it was spread out over two days and she enjoyed, and did it, willingly. We could have gone out for dinner if she wanted, even though we would not have found much we could eat, but I am glad she preferred to cook.
Once I wrapped up the conversation with my sister I got back to work on the Outside Makeover (Exterior Renovation) article. Although I thought I was done writing I made a few more edits and selected additional photos. By 5 PM I had 74 photos selected and placed in sequence to match the flow of the article. I had also done as much of that work as I cared to for the day.
We were down to 1/4 tank of fresh water so I decided to refill it. About that same time Linda decided it was chilly enough in the apartment that she wanted the propane space heater turned on so I shut off the water and took care of that. The heater had a hose that went through the wall at floor level to the outside with a regulator and POL fitting on the end of it. I found a couple of 20 lb. propane tanks in the workshop and connected one of them to the regulator. It took a while but I eventually got the pilot flame to light and then got the heater to ignite. I then went back and finished filling our water tank.
The little apartment is very cute with three rooms: a bathroom on the east end, a bedroom on the west end, and a kitchen/dining/living room in the middle. It has a shower, a 4-burner electric range with an oven, a refrigerator/freezer, a small microwave oven, the aforementioned space heater, a small window air-conditioner, a small TV/monitor with a satellite receiver, two easy chairs, a small dining table with four chairs, and a queen sized bed. Marilyn is seriously considering coming for a visit the last week of January and if she does she will stay in the apartment and get to experience Quartzsite.
Linda starting to set the table in the apartment for Christmas dinner. No pictures of Butch & Fonda (they are camera shy).
We bought a bottle of Sternthaler Nurnberger Christkindles Gluhwein spiced red holiday wine at Central Market in Fort Worth, Texas to serve with our Christmas dinner. It is a mulled wine that is supposed to be gently heated before serving, but we found it quite agreeable straight from the refrigerator. About 20 minutes before dinner time we set it out on the counter to warm up slightly, the space heater doing a very effective job heating the small apartment even on its lowest setting.
Linda and Fonda both contributed dishes to the meal and Fonda made a couple of things that we could eat. They brought chicken and traditional mashed potatoes for themselves but also tried some of the Tofurkey roast. Linda made a vegan chocolate cake for dessert and whipped refrigerated coconut milk solids to use as a whipped cream substitute. Our daughter did this for the Thanksgiving meal and we really liked it.
We sat in the apartment for a long time after dinner and just talked until we were all tired. Linda and Fonda had already cleaned the dishes so we turned off the propane space heater and carried all of our stuff back to our coaches. Linda put the leftovers away while I did a final check of my e-mail for the night. I then shut my computer off and we headed to bed. Like so many things in our retirement RV lifestyle, this Christmas holiday was a new and good experience.