Friday, November 27, 2009

Thar She Blows

It was perfectly calm in Laveen, but apparently the breeze picked up out at Pioneer Park in North Phoenix.  And of course, you guessed it - We left the awning out when we moved into Tom's house, waiting for the electrician and insurance adjustor.  I haven't seen it yet, but there apparently is a nice rip in the awning over the doorway, and some damage to the extender thingees.

Have to wonder, is there a place to put a note on the insurance claim that we are new at this stuff, or will they think we are perpetrating insurance fraud?  Nope, we are just learning through our mistakes.

Funny this is, I'm a practicing psychic and got the hit to check the awning the other day, and didn't follow through on it.  What a dope!

Living and learning and carrying on.

Playing The Waiting Game

Here I sit at Kim's brother's house, a week and one day after the electronics incident.   Why do these things happen around long weekends/holidays?

We did get an electrician out to confirm that the problem was indeed with a short in the water heater.  We have filed a claim with the extended warrenty insurer, and are waiting to hear back about how to proceed. 

We went ahead and ordered a new converter, so Kim is out at the park installing that, assisted by his dad and his youngest brother.  I'm playing the waiting game at Tom's house - which is a pretty nice place to be.  I'm having a love/hate relationship with Farkle, and probably drinking too much coffee in between snacking on Thanksgiving left-overs.

Allegedly, once the converter is installed, we can recharge the batteries.  I forget what the batteries run - the lights I guess.  We can heat water using propane, and I believe the refrigerator is okay to use with electric (and if not, propane is available). 

Keeping my fingers crossed that we can move back out to our 'home' later today.  And with any luck, the insurance adjustors are working today, so we do not have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to hear about the other things that we damaged in the incident.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Smoking Electronics - The Rest Of The Story

One cross threaded water connection causes major damage.

As they say down south, 's@#t happens'. Last Thursday evening as we were preparing dinner, our UPS (uninterruptable power supply)that we have our laptops plugged into, beeped a couple of times which usually indicates we lost power. It stopped beeping but I went out to the power pedestal to double check and our surge protector was still showing everything was good. About 15 minutes later, the UPS started beeping again and I went over to it to see what was going on and saw smoke coming out of it. I immediately unplugged it and as I turned around I saw more smoke coming from the cabinet where the DVD player is. I opened the cabinet and smoke was roiling out of the DVD player. I quickly unplugged it and the other equipment plugged into the same outlet. I went to the breaker panel to turn off the circuit breakers for those outlets and more smoke is coming from the converter. At this point I ran outside and turned off the power at the pedestal. The trailer has a 12 vdc system that powers several lights, water pump, furnace fan and a few other essentials so we weren't totally in the dark.

With the smell of burnt electronics hanging in the air, we decided it would be best to head into Laveen and spend the night at my brother's house. So after assuring ourselves that nothing was still burning, we packed up some clothes and neccessary items, told our neighbor and the park office what had happened and left for Laveen.

The next day, after calling around, I was recommended to a local rv repair business and after contacting them I had an appointment for later that day. He showed up around noon. He switched modes of transportation from his truck to a pair of crutches. He had recently broken his foot.

Between the two of us we checked circuit breakers, wiring, appliances, etc. and at that time couldn't find the what had causes all the trouble. Using an outlet tester, a device with 3 lights on it that indicates any problems with the wiring depending on which combination of bulbs light, and a multimeter we checked the power coming into the trailer and going through the breaker panel and out to the different outlets and appliances.

At one point we were seeing 240 vac in the breaker box were there should only have been 120 vac. That would have fried the electronics all right, but where is it coming from?

Using the process of elimination, we started turning breakers off or on in different
combinations and determined the circuit labeled 'water heater' was the culprit. Looking at the water heater, I discovered the wiring was all wet and found that the source of the water was a cross threaded connection on the water heater inlet that is right above the wiring box. It probably hadn't been leaking at first but since we put about 1,800 miles on it in the past two weeks all that vibration and jarring down
the highway must have loosened it enough to let out the occasional drip.

The wires being shorted out were feeding 120 vac back through the ground wire and, without going into more detail on how, adding to the 120 vac already at the breaker panel and giving us the 240 vac. After disconnecting the wiring to the water heater all the voltage readings are back to normal. But in the meantime the TV, DVD, Satellite receiver, UPS, HP printer, converter, refer control circuit board and water heater have all bit the dust all because someone cross threaded the water inlet connection to the water heater.

It wasn't me, this time I'm innocent.

The RV Honeymoon Is Over

I suppose it was not realistic that we could just not have a single problem ever with a rig.  Well, we had the whole thermostat issue, where the heat wanted to set itself at 94, but that was nothing compared to what happened the other night.  Thursday night, we were sitting in our recliners, watching TV, minding our own business, when the lamp on the wall started flickering and the UPS (uninterrupted power supply) to our computers started beeping.  The UPS will beep anytime power is cut, no matter how briefly.  It gives you 15 minutes to shut down your computer(s) and not lose any data.  Usually it happens when we've overloaded the kitchen breaker - like the space heater, the tea kettle, and the hair dryer.  Or when we lose power because of weather, etc.  Nothing was going on that night.  We re-set the power supply, and took a look at the other rigs around us.  They all  had power.   Must be gremlins.

Less then an hour later, boom, it happens again, accompanied by a big pop.  Next thing we know, there is smoke coming out of the dvd player and the UPS.  We quickly unplugged the computers and the dvd player.  Kim flipped the main electrical breaker so we were just on battery power.  Now smoke is coming out from the converter box and the water heater.  WTF!  I'm outta here! 

We called Kim's brother Tom and invited ourselves to spend the night.  We told our neighbor Gary what had happened, and left a note for the management.  We packed up a bag, grabbed out computers, unplugged everything and headed to Laveen.

Friday morning, Kim called Pioneer Park for a referral to a local repair person.  He was not an electrician, but he and Kim did do some checking of 'stuff' and concurred that an electrician was needed.

Saturday, Kim and his dad, Warren, went back out to the park and did some more tinkering.  Long story short, we think the hot water tank was leaking and caused a short, and that 's where I quit understanding what Kim was talking about.  Something to do with 110 and 240 and batteries and grounds.  I'll let Kim do the detailed explanation.

As I write this, it's Sunday morning.  We are still at Tom's.  Hopefully we will get an electrician out to the rig tomorrow to fix it.  Very thankful for our extended warranty.  I'm crossing my fingers that it will cover the electronics that are now toast (dvd, flat screen tv, UPS) not to mention the converter panel, the refrigerator and the water heater. 

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pioneer Park in North Phoenix

After visiting a number of parks in the Phoenix area, we decided to take a spot at Pioneer Park for two months.  Kim's parents had lived here in their own motor home and then in a park model for a number of years, so we were familiar with the park.  It is a 55+ park, and so we are some of the youngsters here.  We picked a site so that when we backed in, our main living room windows looked out onto the desert.  The recliners we have are swivels, so we can turn and look out at the view, or we can turn and look in at the TV.

We do have neighbors on both sides, but we just close the side shades and leave the back ones open.

And we finally have the awning out!

Our view, looking toward Anthem.

And the view toward the northwest.

We have fun watching the quail, the roadrunners, and the bunnies each day.  Still waiting to see (or hear) a coyote or the havalenas.

I think we will like it here at Pioneer.  There is an indoor/covered pool, hot tub, card room, pool/billards room (with at least 4 decent tables), a big rec hall and lounge.  There are 2 laundry rooms with regular size washer and dryers and also commercial size.

There is shopping within 5 miles, going north to Anthem, or south to Happy Valley.

We will be here for 2 months, which hopefully will give us time to do some exploring.  I want to get back up to Sedona, over to Cottonwood, Prescott, Wickenburg, Superstition Mountain, and down to Tuscon.  I'm giving Kim a week or so to get settled before I start in on, "Let's go here" today....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kim and The Satellite TV Dish - Who Will Win?

Not a 'Complete Idiot' yet - but I'm working on it.

So as you know, if you've been following Betsy's posts, we've been traveling from Snohomish, WA to Phoenix, AZ. So far we've gotten by with hooking up to the various camp ground's tv cable outlet. Well, now that we've gotten to the Phoenix area and are stayin in one spot for the next week it was time to drag out and set up the satellite tv dish. The satellite receiver has a built in application with two bar graphs and an audible signal that runs on the tv screen to help you aim the dish for maximum signal strength. So I'm all set up, the tripod is leveled and locked in place,the dish is aimed in the general direction (145 deg south) and I'm slowly moving the dish right to left trying to locate the signal. After several attempts with no luck I remember we are now much further south and the dish probably has to be re-aimed higher. I fired up the old computer and Googled 'directv aiming dish' and found a web site were you can enter your zip code and get the proper coordinates for that area. Sure enough, I need to aim about 10 deg higher. I make that
adjustment and...what!! still not a hint of a signal.

As I'm sitting at my computer, scratching myhead, I look up and notice that although I had run the dish cables through the window I neglected to connect them to the dish receiver. Once I had the cables connected it only took another minute to tune in the dish and, voila! tv!

I'm not sure if continuing to work at becoming a 'complete idiot' is better than finally becoming one and not have to keep making dumb mistakes. I'm sure I'll never know.

The Reader's Digest Condensed Version of the Past Week - Buckeye, AZ

On checking out of the Colorado River Oasis in Ehrenberg, I learned that the nice spots on the river with the grass are saved for the Western Horizon members.  Even though we have affiliate agreements through ROD and RPI, unless the park was empty, we would not be able to enjoy those spots.  I even asked if there was a premium payment we could use to, but apparently not. 

Still, I would consider staying there again for convenience sake, but I would check out the site first for the sewer plug and the cement pad.

On to Laveen, Arizona, to spend the night at Kim's brother's house.  We had a family get together that night.  Kim's folks, his youngest brother David, sister Cathy, Tom and his partner Ken were all there.  Ken barbequed some wonderful pork chops, Cathy made potato salad and asparagus.  And we stuffed outselves.  Then on to pinochele.  We play by Mingo family rules, which means cheating is possible.  Code talk across the table, substituting a club for a spade in a slug, etc.  One must keep his or her eyes peeled!  And the best part of the evening (okay - second best - family comes first) was a long luxurious soak in the garden tub!  It was heaven.

After 3 loads of laundry, and Tom taking us to the Whole Foods Store in Tempe, we headed out to Buckeye, AZ (about 30 miles west) for a week at the Leafe Verde Resort.  Nice check in reception, with an escort to our site, and help getting lined up.  The park is basically a parking lot.  Back in sites around the perimeter are occupied mostly by permenant residents, it appears.  There is an assortment of park models, motor homes, 5th wheels and trailers.  All the other sites are pull throughs.  There is one aisle that is devoted to over nights only.  Honestly, that is the worst thing I can say about this park.  There are a few trees.  You can hear some of the freeway noise from I-10 (east of Phoenix, just before Goodyear).  But really, it was a nice stay.

The park is very, very clean and well cared for.  The staff friendly.  The one big compliment I have is that they do not cram everyone in side by side.  We spent a week there, and had 2 open spots on either side of us, with permanent residents in the next spots over.  So it went occupied, open, open, us, open, open, occupied.  That appeared to be the rule of thumb, unless you requested a specific spot or were travelling with other rigs.

There is a nice pool and hot tub.  We didn't use them, but they appeared very clean.  We checked out the showers and restrooms.  Again, very clean, with liquid soap provided in the showers.  My only thought would be that if your rig didn't have a head, you'd want to be parked near the office, as that is where the restrooms and showers were.  You would not want to be 10 rows away, and have to run for the restroom in the morning.  There is a lounge with a fairly nice pool table, and tables for cards with a small book exchange.  Nice clean washing machines and dryers - which I noticed they wipe out and clean daily (another plus).  They offer larger events, including weekly yoga, at the 'barn'.  And there is a small hair salon on site as well.  There was one small fenced dog run, and then at the back of the park, there is a gate that opens out onto an acre or more of free run area but it is not fenced.

There are lots of services within a mile of the park, including a Super WalMart, a Frys grocery store, Lowes, Staples, fast food, nail salons, a Cracker Barrel and a chinese restaurant.  The little community of Verrado with a quaint shopping area is just a few miles down I-10 toward Phoenix.

Look at that blue sky!  And all the space around us.

We finally got the picnic table cloth and the lawn chairs out.

This was our view to the north.  Fighter jets did do manuevers over the area occasionally and we fun to watch.  I wish I could have captured one of the pretty sunrises we were able to enjoy that week.

All in all, it was a nice stay.  We considered staying there for another 30 days, but instead opted to move out to Pioneer Park in North Phoenix, just south of Anthem.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Laughlin to Ehrenberg, Arizona

We let Roundabout Rhonda (GPS) have a day off.  We knew the route she wanted to take, and it wasn't the one we wanted to do, so we reverted to (if you can believe it) a regular map!  We liked taking Arizona Hwy 95 to Needles, and then hopping on I-10 for a few miles.  Note that when you first get on I-10 going eastbound from Needles, the highway is very much in need of resurfacing.  However, it was only a few miles, and the pavement improved. 

Our drive today took us through Lake Havasu City, which prompted the discussion of is it Hava-Sue or Hava-Saw?  The city is much bigger than I had realized.  Population over 41,000.  The shopping centers, including a Super Wal-Mart, Staples, Home Depot, Lowes, Safeway, and all the requisite fast food places one could imagine, were fairly new...and if not new, well maintained.  I was surprised that at the number of homes we could see from the highway that were without grass.  With all the water from the 45 mile long Lake, I would have expected to see more green.  Pulling out the AAA travel guide, I did some 'research'.

Lake Havasu City was originally an Army Air Corps landing strip, presumably for bringing in supplies while they were building the Parker Dam, the land was purchased in 1963 by Robert P McCulloch Sr, and developed as a planned retirement and recreational community.  The city's claim to fame came when Mr McCulloch bought The London Bridge.  (Side commentary - either he was a genius or a kook - who buys a broken down bridge and transports it from London to Arizona?).

So back to the lawn question - the water from the lake supplies water to Arizona, Los Angeles and other cities in between.  If I had to guess, I'd say that the water is more valuable to sell, and therefore the cost to maintain a green lawn is probably higher than someone on a fixed income (ie a retiree) would want to pay.

Coming from the north, the London Bridge is on the far side of town.  You can see part of it from the highway (still Arizona Hwy 95), but we might have missed it had I not been looking right at the London Bridge Parking sign (which is definitely in need of updating).

Anyway, it looked like a nice pleasant and clean community, and we will come back here to camp at some point.  There are plenty of camp sites along the river between Lake Havasu and Parker.   It's a pretty drive along the river here.  We stopped in Parker at the Blue Water Resort and Casino.  It's a nice little casino.  I only saw 2 table games open, and the rest was slot machines.  We played a 25¢ Wheel of Fortune Machine.  I should have stopped after my first 'spin' of 100 coins and walked away, but alas, I didn't, and we once again contributed to the economy, this time of the Colorado River Indian Tribe.

We had lunch at the buffet, opting for the salad bar which included tossed salad and all the standard extras, coleslaw which was wonderful, cucumber salad, potato salad and macaroni salad, plus fruit and cottage cheese, bread/crackers, soup (a very delicious beef vegetable), dessert bar and drink, for $5.95.  The casino is small, but quite clean, with friendly employees.  There is also a movie theatre in the complex, and although I can't be certain, it looked like there were 4-6 screens.  They do have an ampitheater as well.  Three Dog Night is scheduled to be there on November 21st.

Next stop, Quartsite for fuel.  Finally, we paid less than $3 a gallon for diesel.  The sign said $2.83 on the Shell reader board, but it was actually down to $2.75.  We drove through town just to get a feel for it.  We will be returning in January or February for the big rock and mineral show.  There's not much there.  Population is around 3,400, but swells into the hundreds of thousands during January and February.

                                     (Photo credit

An interesting little note, there is a Memorial to a man named Hadji Ali (from the Middle East - the AAA Guide refers to him as an Arab man) who came to Arizona in 1856 with a herd of camels at the Army's request.  The camels were never used successfully in the area because they caused the horses, mules and cattle to stampede. 

Quartzsite to Ehrenberg is a short drive, about 20 miles.  We are staying at the Colorado River Oasis, in spot #20, a pull through.  The sites are all gravel, but there are cement patio pads with full hook ups.  Because we were just staying the night, we didn't want to unhook.  The electric and water hook ups are at the front of the pad, and we did not have enough extra electrical cord to plug in without unhooking.  So instead, we pulled in backwards, and ran the water hose and the electric cord under the trailer.  We did not hook up to the sewer.  (A side note, the sewer hook up did not have a solid cap, and it was a little smelly.  There was a slotted cap, like a drain filter, and we put a plastic bag on top of slotted cap and covered it with some rocks to deal with the stench).

Again, it's a clean park with nice swimming pool, hot tub, laundry and rec center.  I'd rate it 3 out of 5 stars.  Nothing special, but quiet and clean with friendly hosts.

Most of the sites are pull throughs on the gravel, but there were about 20 back in spaces right on the river, with a grass lawn between river/beach and camp site.  We stayed here on our Resorts of Distinction membership, so it was free for the night.  If we could reserve one of the waterfront sites, we'd come back again for sure!

Picnic tables by the Colorado River

The grassy area in front of the primo sites (picnic table shot above is to the right of this shot)

Today, we are off to Laveen.  No camping tonight.  We are spending the night at Kim's brother Tom's house, and visiting with their folks, sister Cathy, and brother David.  And I have a scheduled date for a luxurious sea salt bath in Tom's garden tub!  Tuesday, we are off to Buckeye, AZ for a week stay to see if we like the area.  Rumor has it that Buckeye is a bit like West Seattle, only warmer LOL.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Day Off In Laughlin

Yesterday, we spent a quiet morning just catching up on correspondence and reading.  We finally emerged from the 5th wheel around 11am, and took a drive over to Bullhead City.  We bought a few things at Safeway, and then drove over to the Avi Casino,  There may be a way to get there from the Nevada side, but we drove through Bullhead City and then back over the Colorado River.  We drove through the RV Park just to get an idea. 

They have are gravel, instead of cement pads, but with full hook ups.  The Fall Marketplace Extravaganza going on.  There were booths with jewelry, pet goodies, artwork, etc.  I saw a few geodes I liked, but they were too heavy to carry around in a 5th wheel.  We did a walk about through the casino.  It was full, but a little too smokey to stay. 

We headed back to Laughlin, and had lunch at the Aquarius, and then made our contribution to the economy over the next 1-2 hours.  The Aquarius looks to be the newest casino or at least most recently refurbished,  It was clean and fresh looking with high ceilings, and good air cleaners.  We weren't too aware of the cigarette smoke.

We went outside to enjoy the River Walk.  I was a little disappointed.  It has deteriorated since we were here 20 years ago.  I was looking forward to seeing all the little hummingbirds feeding on the shrubbery that lines the walk.  It must be the wrong time of year for the hummingbirds as there were none to be seen.  Just alot of flies.

Of note, there is a Preferred Outlet Mall (previously known as Horizon Outlet Mall) across from the Aquarius.  We didn't go explore, but I will the next time we are here.

Today, we are off to Ehrenberg.  Out last stop on the way to Phoenix (Laveen).  It will be good to anchor down for a bit, take out the lawn chairs, and eat off the regular plates.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bakersfield, CA to Laughlin, NV - yawn.....

We left Bakersfield yesterday for a relatively easy drive to Laughlin, NV, about 240 miles.  It's drives like this that bring up conversations about how amazing it is to think about the early settlers coming west, and even the initial stringing of power and phone lines across the desert, as well as the railroad tracks and how they created the tunnels with what today would be considered primative tools.

Coming through the Tehachapi Pass, we saw one of the largest wind farms in the world.  The turbines are operated by a dozen private companies, and collectively produce about 800 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to meet the residential needs of 350,000 people every year.   It was pretty cool.  I couldn't get any pictures because of course that was the time the batteries decided to quit.

Here are some shots of scenes along the way.  It was a long drive with not much to see.  There were no animals to comment on - no cows, no horses, no sheep, nary a bird to see.  I wonder who owns much of that land.  With both Edwards Air Force Base and 29 Palms nearby, maybe it is all government land.

Roundabout Rhonda (the GPS) wanted us to take US Hwy 95 up to Laughlin, but based on a suggestion from Kim's folks, we elected to go through Needles, and then come up Arizona 95.  It was a nice drive, some lovely Colorado Radio views and back in agriculture areas, so some farm crops on which to speculate.  We are staying at the Riverside RV Park, across from Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort.  Although the park address is the same as the resort, the park is across the street.  You don't see the 'turn here' sign until you are almost up on it, so be in the right lane.  The registration office is at the end of the first driveway, and around the corner.  There are about 4 pull through spaces for registration.  Registration was quick with a friendly attendant.  We were assigned a back in site on level 3.  Yup, back in.  Our first experience.  Lucky to say, there were no cross words exchanged.  Kim and I did have to clarify what was meant by 'when the back tire hits here....'  Is the back tire, the back of the last tire, the front of the last tire, the front of the first tire....We got that figured out, and with a few adjustments, Kim back us in perfectly.

Cement pads with sandy gravel around the pad.  Technically, it is 2 sites, but if the park is not full, you can use the gravel area to park the car/truck, and set up chairs or tables.  There are no picnic tables with this site.  We did have full hook with 30 amp service.  For our rig, the utility hook ups could be a bit better placed, more toward the center of the pad.  We had to back to the end to get the living room slide out.  So the area to the left of the door is actually another side, without cement pad.  You can see the blue space identifier there.  I'm praying the spot stays empty for the duration of our stay. 

This is the view from outside our door.

We went over to the casino for dinner.  Had the Friday night seafood buffet.  It was passable, keeping in mind Kim was a commercial fisherman and we are seafood picky.  We played some video keno in the non-smoking section.  The Riverside does have a fairly good sized nonsmoking gaming area with a large selection of machines, and a few live games.  Only roulette and blackjack were open, however, for the hour we were there.  Kim lost his $20, but I won it back for him by hitting 5 out of 6 on a Power Ball Keno machine with the last number drawn being one of mine, thus quadrupling the prize.  We played a few games of live keno, and made a $9 contribution to the Riverside's profit. 

It is an easy walk back to the park, using the overpass and cutting through the parking garage.  Considering it was a Friday night, and essentially we are right on Casino Drive, it was very quiet and we slept soundly through the night.  BTW, cable hook up is clear (and free), and our Verizon Wireless card is working great.

Today, we are off to explore the other casinos, walk the strip and stop at a grocery store for some bottled water.  The water at the site has a definite minerally taste to it.

I looked up my lucky numbers on my numerology program, and we are set for the day.  Temperature is to be about 80 degrees with a light breeze.  Can't complain, that's for sure!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Red Bluff to Bakersfield

This was a 400 mile day, so we left Red Bluff early, at 7:00am.  We drove to Williams for breakfast and ate at Granzella's, exit 577 (turn right and go about 4 blocks).  There is RV parking in the lot across the street from the restaurant, and behind the gift shop.  Great food.  Nice little deli with olive tasting.  We did not stop in the gift shop.  It was a beautiful day with the sun shining brightly, right in our eyes.  Note to self, make sure baseball cap is in the truck before leaving.  It saves a quick stop at the rest stop to retrieve cap from rig.

I know I have said this again, but there should be a law that the crops growing next to the side of the road be labelled.  I know we saw olives, almonds, pistachios, tangerines and other stuff.  We also saw many acres of unfarmed land.  There were signs along the way stating it was a "Congress Created Dustbowl".  I did a very little searching on the subject and apparently the Delta Smelt, a small fish, has been placed on the endangered species list, and thus water from the local rivers and aquaducts has been severely limited to the local farmers.  I have no opinion on this topic as I know very little of the facts.  It was just sad to see all this land going unused.  Last time we drove this section of I-5 was in 1990, on our way to Mobile, Alabama.  It was filled with a variety of crops being grown, which is when I first thought that crops should be labeled.  (Note - I'm not implying I was the first to come up with this thought - just that this was the first time it occurred to me that it would be nice to know what was growing where.)

Anyway, we continued on down the freeway, looking for a rest stop to pull into for a lunch break.  Many of the rest stops are closed along I-5 southbound.  I'm not sure if there were under repair or if it was due to budget cuts (like the rest stops in Arizona).  We stopped at the rest stop at mile marker 386.  There was a warning sign about rattlesnakes, so chicken that I am, I ran from the truck back to the rig, making as much noise as I could (stomping my feet, etc) to use the head, and make lunch.  Then I insisted on eating inside, even though it was quite pleasant outside.  (FYI, I've since learned that rattlesnakes are basically deaf, but they can and do pick up the vibrations created by people walking - on in my case running - nearby.  And of course, there were no snakes to be seen in the parking lot anyway.)

Next stop was for diesel at Harris Ranch, exit 334.  I'd been watching the price of diesel since we last got fuel, after crossing the California border.  At that time, I commented on what I though was a higher cost for diesel.  Coming down through the San Joquin Valley, I noticed the prices dropping to less than the cost of regular gas.  Woo Hoo!  It had been costing us about $100 to fill the tank.  Saving $15-20 in fuel would have been nice.  Not so at the Harris Ranch Shell station.  We paid $3.349 per gallon.  We get back on the freeway, and see a sign advertising diesel at $2.88 at the very next exit, Jayne Avenue.  It must be a new station because it was not listed in the 2009 Next Exit book.  Drat!  Hopefully just mentioning this will help someone else save a few bucks on fuel.  BTW, we have been using Shell because we have a Shell Gas Saver card.  It is supposed to work as a debit card, and in using it, you save 5 cents per gallon of fuel until the end of 2009.  We've found that at some stations it works, and at others it doesn't.  We are going to call Shell and find out why that is.  It could be the amount of fuel we are using.  It could be a trigger if you fill up more than once in a day.  It could be the station's equipment.  We aren't sure.  Unfortunately, it didn't work at Harris Ranch and we paid full price.

We love our GPS, and wonder how we ever did without it, but sometimes the route 'she' picks is not always the most convenient.  I call 'her' Roundabout Rhonda.  She had us take the Stockdale Highway exit, and then turn down a 2 lane road that parelleled the freeway.  The road surface was actually better, and the speed was the same - 55 mph.  (Note, if you are pulling a trailer, your maximum allowable speed on I-5 in California is 55.  Cars have speed limits anywhere from 55 - 70 mph, depending on the section of the road.  Anyway, Rhonda took us in what I thought was a very weird route, but we did arrive at Bakersfield RV Resort, safe and sound.

Another very nice resort - boy can I pick 'em!  Easy check in, and a valet guide to our site.  Another pull through site, with grass between the spaces.  There are a minimal number of picnic tables spread around the resort.  Our site, #120, did not have one. 

The hook ups could be a little more toward the middle of the space.  We had to pull quite a bit forward to put out our slides, and not hit anything.  In doing so, it was a stretch for the sewer line and water hose.  Water may be on a timer as the pressure dropped suddenly during my shower.  Kim went over to the showers by the pool, and didn't have a problem.  The shower stalls are all private.  You have a locking door with a dressing area, and a regular shower with glass doors (rather than curtains).

The resort has a great restaurant and bar.  It was dark after we finished setting up, and after the 400 mile drive, we treated ourselves to dinner out.  We split orders of coconut shrimp, coleslaw and stuffed mushrooms.  If you don't want to come to the restaurant for dinner - they will deliver to your site!

This resort offers free cable and wifi so we watched a little TV after dinner before going to bed.  Although there is a major road outside the resort, we slept soundly.  We did hear a train early in the morning - maybe 5am or so, but we were already awake so it wasn't an issue for us.

This resort is pretty much as described on their website,  We paid $70 for two nights, using a Good Sam discount.

I've been surprised at how well we are doing on our first major trip.  In fact, I was a bit suspicious because things were going so well.  I should know better.  All of a sudden, all the sensors on our gray water and black water tanks are reading full.  We know this can't be so because we just emptied them yesterday.  The battery reads charged, so there must be a short somewhere.  Hopefully, it is something simple as Kim doesn't want to address it until we are in Phoenix.  In the meantime, we will empty the tanks (especially the kitchen and shower) each day, just to be sure.

We stayed an extra day here in Bakersfield, and were able to accomplish a few errands.  Roundabout Rhonda took us to Trader Joe's for some groceries, and to Wal-Mart for a spring tension shower rod to use to hang up wet swim suits.  It was a little too cool to swim today, but we are planning ahead. 

We also drove out to see the California Living Museum.  

"California's Premier Native Zoo and Garden

Founded in 1980 and opened to the public in 1983, CALM displays and interprets native California animals, plants, fossils, and artifacts to teach a respect for all living things through education, recreation, conservation, and research."
I wanted to go to make some peace with the rattlesnakes.  We had a nice chat, and with the safety glass between us, I was comfortable.  I enjoyed especially the pelican exhibit, the roadrunner, and the fox exhibit.
We got back to the rig about 3:00pm and having been doing some computer work - our Verizon wireless card works very well here - and just taking it easy...watched a few early episodes of Gray's Anatomy, and then fixed dinner.
When we checked in, we were given a coupon for a breakfast deal - buy one, get the second at 50% off - so we plan to enjoy the restaurant one more time tomorrow morning.  They open at 7am, and then we head off to Laughlin for a few days. Tonight, we will catch the new CSI episode, and then I will flip a coin about whether to watch Project Runway or The Mentalist....probably The Mentalist as I can catch reruns of the PR episode tomorrow.  Now, you'll have to excuse me, I've got the gambling books out - I need to refresh my memory on playing 3 card poker and pai gow.

Inside the Rig

For those of you that asked, here are some inside shots.  The door is about 1/3 back from the end of the overhang (front of the 5th wheel that hangs over the bed of the truck).

Entering the door and turning left to go up the stairs toward the bedroom at the front of the trailer.

The queen bed and the 'dresser' with 4 drawers and 3 cupboards (Middle cupboard houses the bedroom TV).  Two full closets are to the right of the bed, and have mirrored doors (unable to get a picture without having a picture of me taking a picture of the closets).

After you come up the stairs, but before you reach the bedroom, the bathroom is on the left.  Here is the 2 storage cabinets.  If we had them, the washer and dryer would fit in one of the cabinets.  I wanted the storage space instead of the washer and dryer.  To the left of the storage is the shower.  And to the left of shower is the vanity.  I did not take a picture of the toliet, which is to the right of the cabinets, with a towel rack and a upper cabinet.  You can use your imagination.

Back down the stairs, we have a cabinet and 4 drawers and the refrigerator/freezer, and kitchen.

To the left of the galley/kitchen, we have the pantry, and the cabinets that hold the audio/video equipment including the wireless printer.  The flat screen TV is mounted on a cabinet door.

(This view is from my recliner)

To the right of the TV, is the dining table, which doubles as Kim's work/computer station.

Across from the dining area is Betsy's desk, which in this picture is unusually cleaned off.

And our relaxing areas - the recliners which face the TV, but also swivel so we can look out the back window whenever there is a worthy view.

I hope you enjoyed our little home tour.  To give you a size idea, the rig is 33' long and has about 334 sq feet of living space with the slides out.  The dining table and my desk are in the living room slides.  The bed is part of the other slide, and when it is in, the bottom of the bed butts up to the dresser.

At some point, I may give tours of the 'basement'.  LOL - this is what we call the storage area underneath the rig, where we store stuff - like tools, leveling blocks, tire chocks, hoses, electrical cords, and assorted stuff.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 3 - California Here We Come

After a great night in Canyonville, we depared at 9am for Red Bluff, CA.  Very foggy in the morning, and made the drive from Canyonville to Ashland a little scary for me....not that I was doing the driving, but still.  At some points, we could not see a truck length in front of us.  After crossing the border into California, we stopped by the rest area at the Klamath River for a picnic lunch.  Blue skies and warmer weather - probably in the low 70s.  Warning, however, the picnic benches are made of marble or marble like material, and our behinders got quite chilled.  Good Verizon cell service, so I put in a call to our daughter in Snohomish with good reception.

Kim by the Klamath River at the Rest Stop just over the border into California

We had a beautiful view of Mt Shasta on the drive.  These pictures were taken from inside the truck while we were driving.

We stopped for fuel outside of Redding and were surprised to find that the cost of diesel was higher than regular gas.  Diesel has been less expensive in Washington and Oregon.

We arrived in Red Bluff about 3pm.  Another 5 star resort here at Durango RV Resort.  Easy access off I-5 (or as they say in California 'the' 5). You can see the freeway from the resort, but the traffic noise was not bad at all.  You can hear it if you pay attention.  There must a train track near by, because we heard the whistles at about 8pm and then again around 4:30am.  Re the early morning whistle - I was already awake so I heard it.  It's not loud, and I think I would have slept through it had I not already been up prepping for an early start.   Beautiful grassy lots with cement pads.  Nice big pool and smaller sized jacuzzi.  We were in a pull through space #116.  They have a nice club house with TV, books, games and a computer station.  Restrooms were immaculate.  I did not get a chance to check out the showers.  Maybe before we head out this morning.

There is a nice pathway down to a walk along the Sacramento River. 

Across the street, is the backside of a strip mall, so there is no heavy traffic.  In the strip mall is a large grocery store, a few restaurants, a Hallmark store, a beauty salon and manicure salon.  Gas/diesel is available nearby as well.

The resort is exactly as described on their website,

Today, we are off to Bakersfield where we will be spending 2 nights.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 2 - Canyonville, OR at 7 Feathers RV Resort

Yesterday was an easy drive from Salem to Canyonville.  I planned it that way to have time to explore this lovely resort.  I understand the owners interviewed RVers to see what they wanted in a resort.  This park is off the freeway, about 1/4 - 1/2 mile and is very, very quiet.  We had a warm and friendly welcome, and there is a valet that drives you to your site, and guides you in. 

The sites are large, with grassy areas in between, and nice picnic tables.  We arrived about noon yesterday and it was warm enough to eat outside in the sunshine (I'd guess in the upper 60s).   Our spot, #61, was great.

We walked the perimeter of the park. Lots of nice trees and a walkway along the creek.  Watch out for poison oak, though.

There was one area behind the fitness center that had a strong sewer smell. Could have been that someone just dumped their tank, but I read a similar complaint on early.

One thing I have to mention is the restrooms and showers.  They were individualized - meaning each restroom was a private room with a shower and lockable door.  Very nice.  Large laundry with tables for folding clothes.  $1.25 to wash, $1 to dry.  We swam in the indoor pool and enjoyed the hot tub.  Next time we come back, we will try out the fitness room which included treadmills, stairsteppers, a recumbant bicycle, universal gym and other equipment I couldn't identify.  There was a TV to watch while exercising as well.  There is a gift shop in the office, and a meeting area in the clubhouse.

We took the shuttle over to the 7 Feathers Casino for dinner and a little game time.  There was a fairly good sized non-smoking gaming area (behind glass doors) but no live gaming tables.  We played a little video keno for a bit.  Contributed $5 over the 2 hours we played.  If you visit, you are welcome to retrieve it and enjoy.  We enjoyed an $8 dinner special of rib eye steaks, baked potatoes and fresh mixed vegetables.  You could order a side salad for 99 cents, which we did.  Be sure to ask about the specials.  The waitresses don't always share that information.  (That tip came from the shuttle driver!) The live keno game moved very slowly.  I guess I should be thankful because our numbers were not coming up anyway.  Only got 2 games in over dinner.

The parking valet called the shuttle for us, and it arrived quickly.  He took us right to our rig.   We took a few moments to really enjoy the brilliant and beautiful full moon and a sky full of twinkling stars before hitting the rack.  Slept like a log!

We didn't set up the Direct TV dish, and can't comment on the cable TV because we are having cable issues on our end.  The resort does offer a good variety of channels and free wifi.  I used my Verizon wireless card and had good reception.

We used the Good Sam discount plus the Players Club discount from the casino, and our overnight came to $32.  We will definitely stay here again.

Thanks to Kim's Aunt Maria for telling us about the resort.

Next stop, Red Bluff, California.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day One - We Survived!

The survived part is mostly about saying good bye to family for six weeks, sans tears,  as we head out on our first big journey to Arizona.  For those of you that have been asking, here are a few pictures taken just before we left Snohomish, WA yesterday morning at 8:51am.  Kim's getting quite good at backing out of the driveway, and I'm glad to say we hit no curbs, no paper or mail boxes, and no plants along the driveway were injured in the backing out process.

Kim and Betsy with Truck and 5th Wheel getting ready to depart for Phoenix.

Betsy with grandpuppy, Sonny, before backing out of the driveway

Betsy goofing off with Sonny while Kim waits somewhat patiently off camera

We made a quick stop at Camping World in Fife, WA to pick up some water/sediment filters, tire covers, a book on cooking in foil on the barbeque, and a game of Farkle.  (My facebook friends all play Farkle, and I guess I should learn how too - Although it looks alot like Yatzee to me).  By the way, Camping World is Fife is not easy to find.  You can see if from the freeway, but getting to it is another thing.  The cross street is Willow.  After that, just turn in the driveway with all the RVs.  A sign would be a good thing.

Next stop was the Toutle River Safety Rest Area at mile post 55.  As far as rest stops go, this one was very nice.  Restrooms clean and plenty of stalls on the women's side.  Kim used the head in the rig, so I cannot report on the Men's Room.  Nice place to picnic - lots of well maintained grassy areas.  If you are travelling with them, there is lots of room for the kids to run.

The leaves are all changing color, and it was a sunny day, so our ride was beautiful.  It was surprised to see how built up the area was around Kelso, WA.  This is where my grandparents lived when I was young.  There was nothing there, but a small town, in my recollection.  Now there is a mall!  My how things change in 40 years - go figure!

Going through Portland on I-5 is always interesting.  There is the big bridge across the Columbia River when you enter Oregon from the Washington side, and then there are bridges all around over the various tributaries.  For me, it's nerve wracking in a regular car, but towing a 33' fiver (I'm learning the lingo here) made me nervous.  Good thing I wasn't driving.  Kim did fine, however.

We crossed the 45th Parallel - halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.  It just makes me stop and think at how big Canada really is.

We pulled into the Phoenix RV Park about 3:30pm.  It was about a mile from the freeway off ramp.  The store and office were closed on Sunday, but there is a check in box, and our paperwork and map to our site was right there.  We had space 97, a large pull through lot.  Nice level, cement pad.  We didn't even extend the stablizers for our one night stay.  This park is lovely, when you consider it is not out in the country.  Each site has a grassy area with picnic table and barbeque stand.  We did a walk around the place, and were very impressed.  There appears to be a lot of full timers here, and I can see why.  The place is immaculate.  The restrooms and showers were clean with good water pressure.  In the lounge, there was a fairly new pool table, which got a 2 thumbs up from Kim.  Also, exercise equipment (treadmill, stair stepper and universal gym) along with a large TV, and a few tables with jig saw puzzles.  I didn't notice any traffic noise until I woke up this morning early, and even then it wasn't really loud.  There is a big Safeway store next door and strip mall with a fabric/crafts store, a clothing and shoe store, a post office, a European foods store with deli (mostly Russian/Slavic from what I could tell) which had a nice selection of very large porcelain dolls, and a teriyaki/sushi bar.  If I had reason to be in Salem for any length of time, I would definitely considering staying here.

Site 97 at Phoenix RV Park in Salem, Oregon

Today, we have a short drive day, only 160 miles to Canyonville, OR and the 7 Feathers RV Resort and Casino.