Friday, March 26, 2010

It has been a WINDY day

What a difference a day makes in the weather. Yesterday, it was moderate and sunny. Today it would have been sunny except for the dust in the air. At noon they said we had continuous winds to 44 mph and gusts to about 60 mph. Folks, that is a real wind. So we didn't do anything outside today. Even walking to the club house into the wind was real work.

The larger magnets I ordered came in via UPS and I'm very pleased. However, we have already been pinched by them. The safety sheet that came in the box said to always wear gloves when handling the magnets; I didn't and have paid the price. The magnets are 1 inch in diameter and 3/8 of an inch thick. Yes, they have lots of attraction force. However, we didn't try them on the sunscreen because of the severe wind. Maybe tomorrow.

I noticed that one of my readers thought we were going to Nebraska (NE) to see the Trinity test site. What I meant to say is that it is about a hundred miles northeast (NE) of here. We will head out on Thursday or Friday, tour the site on Saturday and then pick a route into the frigid Midwest. I sure hope it warms up soon.

Perhaps it is time to quite writing and watch the basketball games One of my problems is that the local station seems to switch between the Northern Iowa and Michigan game and the Purdue and Duke game. I'm sure glad I'm not involved with either one other than I'm pulling for Northern Iowa.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Boondocking near Safford, AZ

We've been here on the desert on BLM ground near Safford for a week now. In a nutshell, it has been pretty quiet. We had some rain yesterday or last night and we had one day of blowing winds. But nothing that we couldn't live with.

Yesterday was a very interesting day in our motorhome. Three months ago, we bought some sunscreen material so that Sandy could sew a front window cover for the motorhome. We've been carrying it on the dash for 3 months and yesterday, I decided it was time that we get serious about sewing it together.

Little did I realize how interesting it would be working on it, I am a "close enough" person, while Sandy wants it letter perfect, down to the sixteenth of an inch or so. It reminded me of years ago when I listened to my dad and a neighbor discuss another neighbor's team of horses.(I think one of them had borrowed the team at one time.) Anyway, that team of horses just really didn't fit together. They started at different times, they had a different gait (step length), and a few other short comings. I didn't think much about it at the time and only later learned that a good team of horses just seemed to work well together in many ways.

Well, we were able to get one panel nearly done, which is progress. But there were some little things that drove this engineer nuts. To check that the panel was square, I wanted to measure the diagonal length each way. Nope, that was unacceptable. We had to use the old carpenter's square and extend it across the 5 foot length. It was "close enough", which surprised me.

To hold the screen on to the windshield, we had purchased some disk magnets. (One of the vendors at a recent rally was selling sunscreens made that way.) The biggest problem we had with the magnets was holding on to them. On the outside, it wasn't bad, as they were inside the screen material seam. The matching magnet on the inside sometimes had a mind of its own. We nearly lost one magnet when it to jumped off of the window when I was holding it and up about 2 inches to latch onto part of the steel framing. Eventually, we did recover it with the help of 10 other magnets, some copper wire and a kitchen knife to spring it loose.

We only did one panel and we didn't finish it either. The magnets held it on last night and even today in our light wind, it stayed put. Last night I ordered some more magnets, bigger around and twice as thick. One thing we know for certain is that we don't want any fingers or skin between two magnets when they get close enough to hook up.

There are about 20 rigs here in our little corner of the desert. While it is close to the highway, it is not well known. So no traffic from other users.

Tomorrow, it is back to civilization. We are going to spend a week in an RV park in Deming, NM., then the tentative plan is to head NE to the site of the first Atomic bomb testing. The army opens the area up twice a year. Tourist have 6 hours to drive in, view the area and get out. They assure us that we won't glow afterward.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

It is Tax time

It is tax time

We decided that today is the day to really get serious about finishing out taxes. What a pain. Actually it was pretty decent for me, as we delegated much of the effort to Sandy. For the last 3 or 4 years, she has expressed a degree of frustration that she doesn't understand the details of all of the numbers. So we know what the best way to learn is? Of course, let her do it. So that is exactly what we did (or let her do with our help.)

For starters, we have printed out a complete listing of our Quicken records that apply to our taxes. One got-ya was that the font I used was a shade too large and it placed one column on another page. A bit of a pain, but we can live with it. As we paw through the Quicken records, it has also become very obvious to Sandy that the Quicken output is exactly what goes in. One item that drove us nuts for a moment (big moment) was that she had created a few duplicate sub-categories with slightly different headings. Eventually, I think we have it sorted out and the Quicken entries moved around to where they ought to be.

This PM we put Quicken aside and went for a walk on the desert. This area is not bad for walking, but you have to watch your steps, otherwise, one just might meet up with a cactus or twist an ankle on a rock.

With our Taxes nearly done, I made a comment to Sandy that our next project needs to be the wind screen for the front window. (We purchased the material about 3 months ago and the needed magnets last week.) Sadly, I didn't detect any real enthusiasm for the project. Her first reaction was that we needed to be plugged in to run the sewing machine. I reminded her that we had plenty of solar power. We hope to get that project started soon, perhaps by ??.

Supposedly, we hit 82 degrees yesterday and today was slightly cooler. We can handle that.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back on the Desert, Safford, AZ

We gave up on building a shed on our lot in Casa Grande. We did explore the idea of finding a smaller shed that would fit on the pad. But in the end, it appears that the lot will rent with or without a shed. So the logical thing to do is not do the shed now. We also decided to list it for rent and saying that we were only looking for a seasonal renter and if we don't have a seasonal renter by August 1, then we'll entertain a renter for a shorter period of time.

We left our neat parking space along the road this morning and headed north to Globe, AZ and then southeast to Safford, AZ to join a group of Escapee Boondockers at a Rendezvous. We arrived just in time for dinner, an Irish Corn beef and cabbage plus deserts. It was a great way to meet a lot of folks. Afterward, we played a game of bean bag baseball. We lost!

Afterward, we visited with some of the members around the fire ring before Gene became chilled and headed in. As we were getting ready for bed, I noticed that the battery use meter indicated that we had really have been very light electric users tonight. Of course, it was also an early bedtime reading. In short, there is power left to run the TV, had I wanted to.

Incidentally, we heard back from the tech support people about our problem. They said it sounds like we need a line amp to bring the signal up. Okay, they didn't explain why the standard digital converter works fine on the line. We then called the store where we bought the TV and they tell us that we have 90 days to try it. Also, we can return it to any SAM's Club store. So one less thing to worry about right now. We will give it a good test.

My complaints: Poor sensitivity; No channel quality selection to help zero in the rotating antenna, and a slow tuner response time. Otherwise, it works great.

It is late; I'm tired; Enough for tonight.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reconsidering our Shed Decision

Okay, yesterday we decided that a shed was out of the question after realizing the impact of the transformer on its location. So today we talked with the prospective renter who said, "No shed? We have to have a shed!" So the deal fell through.

Back at our motorhome, we emailed another party that the lot was available. The response we got was very simple, "We found another lot with a shed and took it for the next season." So now Sandy and I are wondering if we really made the right decision to not have a shed. It appears that a shed is especially desirable if one wants to get "full season" renters. As the first couple said (and I don't disagree with them) we're so used to putting the bikes and chairs and other stuff in the shed, we couldn't do without it.

Tomorrow we take the tape measure and make some very precise measurements about a shed placement. What if we went with a smaller shed? Before this is over, it is probably another trip into town to Home Depot to see what shed sizes are available and how soon we can get one. They stock some sizes, but not all of them.

In the meantime, we're enjoying ourselves outside of the park. Tonight, I decided that there ought to be more TV channels than our new TV was finding. So we hooked up the old TV and the converter box. Yes, there are more channels there and the new TV is not finding them. So now what do we do? I guess we call the factory first. If we're still not happy, we have to decide if we want to return the TV to SAM's Club. We bought it in Yuma 10 days ago and I'm hoping that we could return it to a SAM's Club here in the Phoenix area if need be (there are 8 SAMS Club's there.) We like the size and small amount of power to needs. We don't like the slow channel updating and the lack of a signal strength option to align the antenna. More frustrations!!!!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back at Sunscape RV Resort

We left the truck-stop at Gila Bend this morning early. It has been a while since we stayed in a truck stop and the good lord willing, it will be a long time before we do it again. The engine noise from the idling trucks was too much. (The trucks were at least 100 yards away.)

On our way, we stopped at the Flying J south of here in Eloy to top off our fuel tank. Perhaps I should say, "fill it". it was nearly 500 plus miles. The Flying J has a separate series of pumps for RVs, and we try to avoid using them unless we can see that there is no line. There was a line, so we pulled into the automotive area and used the pumps on the outside. All went well and we were filled. Upon leaving, we ducked into the car parking lot and was nearly trapped by another RV.

Upon reaching our old RV park, Sunscape RV Resort, we parked outside along the south fence line and walked in. We found a couple of vacant lots and made some phone calls. In the end, we decided to remain in the area we were. As we left, we talked to one of the lot owners along the fence if it was okay if we parked outside of his lot. It was no problem for him and he even offered to give us a power cord to use.

There is a Park issue about parking outside of the park along the south road fence. It seems that some of the members feel it is wrong and have complained to the board of Directors. The directors are now checking to see if the road bank is governed by the county or the park. The real issue is that folks that own a lot in the park interior have to pay to store their RV during the winter. Residents along the south fence line have stored their RVs free of charge outside of the fence.

We returned to the park supposedly to pick up our building permit and build a shed on our lot. The permit was approved with one little stipulation: That is that the shed must be at least 5 feet from the power company transformer sitting on the lot corner. To meet the 5 foot distance, we would have to move the shed about 3 or 4 feet inward. We did some preliminary measuring and decided that perhaps a shed shouldn't be done this year. Actually, we could have rented our lot 3 or 4 times, so even with a shed, it doesn't appear to make any difference in the rent-ability of the lot. So why build it?

With that decision made, we relaxed. We'll spend 2 or 3 days here (free parking) visiting friends before moving on to a Boondockers Rendezvous about 200 miles east of here. The weather is beautiful.


Friday, March 12, 2010

The Rally is Over, We're East-bound

The Gypsy Journal Rally ended yesterday, rolls and coffee this morning and we pulled out at 10 AM, more or less. Before we hit the road, we drove the Saturn over to the Arizona Flea Market (2 miles) and visited a shop that had some magnets. The purpose of the magnets is to hold a sun screen in front of the windshield while we're parked. One of the vendors was selling ready made sunscreens and advertised, "No drilling or holes in your RV." We looked and they have small round magnets in the four corners. So we have 24 small round magnets to install in the sunscreen that Sandy will sew for us.

That chore done, we hit the road. Traffic was a little hectic initially, but shortly it thinned out and we had good driving. Out target stop was a wide spot in the road called Gila Bend. There isn't much here, but a large truck stop, free parking and a free dump station. The other reason was that I needed to do a little rework on my black tank drain valve. (Not a nice job.)

So we arrived at noon, had lunch, dumped and filled with fresh water. We then parked the motorhome on a sloping part of the lot so that any liquids left in the tank would run to the other end. We were working on the sunny side and shortly we had the valves out and disassembled. We used the bottle of Lime-Away that Sandy bought plus the good old putty knife to soften and remove lots of lime.

In case you don't remember, we replaced the seals 4 weeks ago and did not have the cleaner to clean the valves then. It took a while for the lime to slowly soften and we finally had a clean surface So a little silicon lubricant and back together they went. Now they work very smoothly. Our next task is to start using some additive in the tank to dissolve or keep the lime in suspension. (The gray water tank was very clean, probably from the dish water soap and bath soap.)

Tomorrow morning it is on to our RV park in Casa Grande for a few days. We have a building permit to build a shed on our lot, so we will be busy for the next week. Nothing fancy, just a small pre-cut shed about 8 by 10 feet. The floor is already poured so the big task will be drilling the anchors into the concrete.

Today's temperature must have been close to 75 degrees. It sure makes an old farmer start thinking that it might be time to till the fields! So we're headed east slowly!!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

We're at the Gypsy Journal Rally, Yuma, AZ

Today was a much different southwest day, it rained, almost an inch here in Yuma. But guess what, we drove on grass and parked and left no tracks. We're at the Yuma Co. Fairgrounds and the soil looks to be very high in sand. Where we're parked has grass, only about an inch tall and kind of thin. It also looks like it has not been mowed in a long time, no need to mow it, it hasn't grown.

Last time we talked about the new TV we bought. We love it. We could go into lots of details, but suffice it to say, it is great. Now I can surf and watch TV at the same time without killing my batteries.

The Yuma Co Fairgrounds is across the road from a Marine Corp Air Station, where they train on several different airplanes, one of them being the near vertical take-off and landing Harrier. The approach pattern brings the planes right over where we're parked. The ability to land or takeoff vertically is because they deflect the jet engine exhaust downward. The amount of racket it makes is indescribable. Shall we just say that when we're with people, all conversation stops.

This evening we watched one plane land that seemed to be much slower than most of them. As I watched it, you could see the airplane rock for and aft as the winds near the ground affected it. Remember, a helicopter has the rotor on top, lifting it. In the Harrier's case, the airplane is riding in on a jet of air being spewed out the center bottom. The airplane is literally being balanced on the jet of air, with some support from the wings. Today was one day early for the rally, so we'll have plenty of opportunity to watch them tomorrow. I'm sure that by the weekend, we'll have seen and heard enough of them, that we'll be happy to get out of here.

We were parked for the last 6 days at the local casino on a gravel lot. When they predicted rain for last night, I was a bit concerned, as the gravel surface has a few soft spots in it where the soil seems to be very loose sand and not a mixture of sand and gravel. So when it started raining this morning, we hurried along and left before there was any standing water. We talked to some folks that left much later and because of the standing water, they observed one RV getting stuck when they failed to noticed the soft ground under the large pond.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We've got TV

We've got TV

Okay, we did it yesterday morning. We went to SAM's Club here in Yuma and after measuring the power consumption of both the 19 inch model and the 23 inch model, we opt'd to go with the 23 inch unit, a Vizio. We then spent yesterday afternoon hooking it up. For now, it is suspended under the built in TV, but eventually it will replace the built in unit. Sooner, but probably not until we're back on the farm.

Also yesterday morning, we parted with more cash by ordering a “back up TV camera-monitor system” The hold up was that we have no address to get it delivered to us here at Yuma or elsewhere for the next several weeks. But a call to a UPS store confirmed that we can have it delivered to the local distribution center, marked for hold for pickup. We can do that. It turns out that the UPS center is right across the street at the fairgrounds where we'll be next week. So it can't get any more convenient than that.

Having accomplished those two big goals, today was “take it easy” day. We did enjoy watching GMA on ABC this morning for 30 minutes. I measured the power consumption of the TV and it is only 2.3 Amps of 12 volts. That is less power than each of my dual lamp florescent lights consume here in the motorhome. That is incredible! Am I happy? You bet I am. Tonight we watched the ABC world news, the first time in weeks.

Friends arrived unexpectedly this afternoon. They just returned from a rally into Mexico and we're really excited about how it went. Considering all of the problems with killings in Mexico, it is a joy to know that they have not bothered the tourist or RV traveler. Just for safety, all are advised to never park alone over night and to travel in groups if at all possible.

Tomorrow we go shopping for LED lamps at the local shop in the flea market that everyone talks about.


Monday, March 1, 2010

At the Casino, Winterhaven, CA

Here we are in the parking lot of casino of the Quechen Indians, on the edge of Yuma. Sandy told me this afternoon that we're no longer “boondocking it”, we're “dry camping” per one of her newsletters. Boondocking is when you're out in the wilds, dry camping is when we're in the parking lot of some location!.

There are two casinos here in the Yuma area, both on tribal lands. We stopped at the first one coming in this morning just to see what it was like. It is very nice, but the gravel lot for RV use is sloped, currently 50 rigs parked. We had lunch there and then came on into this casino. Tonight there are 80 rigs parked in their RV parking lot!

After we settled in and had a break, we went out for some serious shopping at SAM's club, about 2 miles away. Our trusty Garmin GPS tried to lose us by taking us to an old SAM's location. But I remembered enough about the online map so we drove along the main highway and found it.

What we were especially looking for was a modern LCD TV that works on 12 volts. Okay, they had two models, one 19 inches and one 23 inches. The 23 inch model is just a shade too small for the size of the opening where our current TV is. The problem is that the current TV still works, it just uses too much power to have on too much at night. Tonight we measured and it is consuming 120 watts, while the new LCD TV only uses about 40 watts. But I hate to spend money when I don't have to. If we buy the 23 inch unit, it will be the final TV, just a trifle small. We'll probably complain, but never spend the dollars to get a slightly bigger one. And if we buy the 19 inch unit, it also would. probably end up being our final unit. Again, I'd probably complain, but again too tight to ever replace it!

Our other item we wanted was a wireless backup tv system. (The old one in the motorhome died.) They didn't have any of the specific type we wanted, so we passed on that opportunity also. (Tonight back at the rig, online, we found the one we want via ebay and will order it tomorrow when we can figure out how UPS can find us in 10 days.)

So in the end, we came home without either, deciding to measure the opening again and think about it some more. (I just hate spending money on non-essentials!) Supposedly, we'll go spend our money in the morning. Do we buy the small one with the idea that we'll get a larger one sometime, or do we get the larger one and hope that someday we can get it integrated into the spot where the current TV is. Decisions, decisions.