Off to the West…

But I wasn’t going far…just a few miles north and west. Only 67 miles, so just over an hour of travel. Reason for the move was that I wanted to get to a RV park with a lower rate, and one in Brenda, Arizona seemed to fit the bill. It is 3 Dreamers RV Park, which is a Passport American park, allowing the use of that card year round. Most of the parks in the Phoenix valley are fairly expensive, and the few that are PPA parks have far more restrictions on PPA. Usually only allowing a few days stay at the reduced rate. That’s what the park where I was staying rule was. Three days max at the PPA rate. And, they have one of those annoying PPU (pay per use) WiFi systems. I knew I might be in this area another month and wasn’t about to pay $40 JUST for WiFi when it’s free just about everywhere else. I did go ahead and pay their outrageous $15 for 3 days though.

I was fairly productive while at the Tonopah park though, for instance, found that the hydraulic oil tank for the jacks and slides was 1+ qts low of oil. Dumped a quart of oil in the tank to be safe. Also found that my passenger side rear jack was ‘sticky’ and wouldn’t always retract quickly or smoothly. Of course oil level only applies when you’re extending the jacks as the oil pushes the jacks down to raise the RV, but the springs pull them back up. Also did some online checking and found that my RV has the old style jack springs with a known issue of being too weak so that contributed to the slow rise time of 3 of the jacks, not sure that applied to the passenger side rear one though.

Anyway, my 3 days passed, and I got back on the road…and around 45 minutes later, took this exit. Turned out it passes several very large and stinky cattle concentration camps. Stunk to high thin atmosphere.

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Another trip…

Grab yourself a large cup of your favorite beverage, this one has over 100 pictures from an arboretum to enjoy…

Nearly four weeks passed before I got my Winnebago back on the road. During those weeks, I did all sorts of stuff you’d associate with moving out of one RV into another. So much stuff to move. Certainly easier than moving out of a old house into another, but still, lots to do. Had a continuous yard sale on the picnic table between the sites where my RV’s were, but really didn’t sell too much. While doing all that, had to get the old Bounder all presentable for sale. Cleaning really took a lot of time but it’s easy work so I don’t regret having to do it. I was really excited about getting the Journey on the road again for another road test but I had a little argument with Progressive Insurance. I wanted to have insurance on both rigs for 2-3 weeks so called them up and trusted the salesman to give me a deal because I now had two rigs covered, but only one driver. Sounds like a good deal for them doesn’t it? But when I checked online, incognito, it turned out they were charging me $260 freakin’ bucks more than if I’d bought insurance for the Journey without mentioning I was already insuring the Bounder.

So I called them up all indignant like and got nowhere. They would not budge, or give me a discount. OK, screw them. I cancelled the insurance on the Journey and only used the Bounder to go shopping. So the Journey sat without being driven for nearly four weeks. It ended up costing me $60 extra over what I paid for those 3 weeks where it was covered. They have an admin charge if you cancel. And though I’d paid with a CC, they only refund by check, taking 2-3 weeks to do so. Seems as though they like to punish people for cancelling. A-holes.

What I did was wait those 4 weeks, until my Bounder sold, then cancelled it’s insurance, went online and re-bought insurance for the Journey. Saved $200. And yes, they do have the best price for RV insurance so I stayed with them. I did research online and using Progressive saves me over $300 per year.

By March 29th, the day I either had to leave the RV park or pay for another week, the Bounder had been sold, I had the Journey insured and ready to travel, I had purchased all the RV’ing accessories I needed, and it was time to get back to being a full time RV’er. My first stop was going to be a Passport America RV park out in Tonopah off US I-10. About 70 miles due west of Mesa. Hmm. That’s not far enough. OK, I’ll head back up to that arboretum I’d passed on the first trip I took (see last posting) and visit that for a few hours before heading out to Tonopah. Why stay in the Phoenix area? Well, I could not find the Bounders title so I had to reorder it, have it sent to my brothers house, have him ship it to me, then get together with the new owner and sign it over. This can’t be done by mail, has to be in person, so…I had to stay nearby.

And off we go for another RV trip east of Mesa on AZ-60 towards Global. Not that far this time, just up to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and then due east to Tonopah. It was all cloudy most of the trip up into the hills.

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A trip!

I bought the Winnebago Journey RV on my birthday, February 5th, and picked it up on Monday Feb. 8th. On that day, I drove my old RV over to their lot and parked out in the back. The service tech gave me the tour on how to do things in my newer RV, most of which I soon forgot, but I had the foresight to make a video recording. After that tour was over, moved the newer RV over next to my old one and moved as much of my stuff as I could, but I had to get both rigs off their lot before 5 pm. The only really heavy thing, my tool box, I was able to get help from the tech lifting it out and over to the newer RV.

After I got as much moved as I could with the few hours I had, then drove over to the RV park I was staying at. Along the way stopping at the Fry’s grocery store to do my bi-weekly shopping. Because the road outside the RV park has no left turn into it, had to take the long route. Instead of just 100 feet from the dealer, had to drive 2 miles the roundabout way. Hah! Needed the experience anyway. Then had to go get the old RV and bring it over to the RV park too. Lucky for me, there was an empty RV site right next door. It was very nice of the RV park to let me do that without charge. However, if they did rent the space, I had to get out of there real quick and park over  at the overflow space a long walk away.

There was something I needed to do, before I sold the Bounder. Had to drive down to Mexico from Mesa and turn in the RV TIP (Temporary Import Tag). Can’t do that anywhere nearby except at 21 kilometers south of the Nogales border crossing. The day after I picked up my newer RV, had to drive the old one on a round trip of 400 miles. Lucky the weather was fine. Not too hot until near the end of the return trip and no rain.

Figured it out and knew with 1/2 tank of diesel, I could make it down and back without needing to stop for fuel. Trip down was boring, crossed the border, headed down to KM21, had them scrape off the old sticker, got my receipt and headed back north. And of course, had to pay Mexican tolls. Far too many toll booths in Mexico. For tourists. The locals get very inexpensive passes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince the RV was virtually empty, (it didn’t take very long the day before to move nearly everything), breezed through customs and soon back on the great roads in the Tucson corridor.

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Finally…a newer RV…

Like I mentioned several times over the last several months, I have been looking for a newer RV. I have a budget of around $58K which comes after months of thought about what I would be doing for the rest of my limited life. I know those of you under 50 probably can’t image it yet, but there will come a time when you realize you don’t have that many years left. I’m thinking that I probably have 10 years left of which I perhaps could travel in an RV for 8 years. Now this is all guess work of course, but hell, seems reasonable.

So because I also want to leave some of my limited funds to my kids, I didn’t want to completely decimate my retirement funds, so that  budget figure was a target. I’d been saving so I had around $24K in my savings account and only had to withdraw $34K from my IRA funds to reach the $58K target. I’d been looking for a newer RV casually for 3-4 years, and seriously for over a year and I’ll tell ya, it’s boring as hell. Hours spent online researching. I pretty much knew what I wanted…when I saw it. My limited criterion was my newer rig would be diesel pusher, with 1 or 2 slides for extra room. Reasonable miles, a genset, a patio awning with the metal cover when closed, slides, and a half way decent bathroom. I was convinced I’d find that somewhere, sometime, but it was turning out to be tough. And I didn’t really want to have to fly somewhere to inspect something I’d found online.

And then, I came up here to Mesa, Arizona to look at the Coachmen Country Coach that I found on Craigslist and mentioned in my last posting. It didn’t work out, and as I traveled the 3 miles from where that coach was to my pre-selected RV park to spend the night, I was struck by the number and size of the RV dealers near to where the RV park was. I went ahead and paid for a week here at the park because it seemed like a great idea to browse around to at least get a feel of what type RV was available in my price range. I did have a list of preferred brands.

The day after I arrived and settled in, rode my bike east on the street and just a block away, visited the lot of a consignment dealer that just happened to have on display a couple of the brands I was interested in. I toured 3-4 RVs in my price range and was thinking how great it was that my first try at visiting a consignment dealer and they had some RVs I’d be comfortable living in. One of them was a ’02 Winnebago Journey. I was immediately struck by how it fit exactly what I was looking for. But it was a little old. I was looking for a ’06 or so. But it was really nice looking. Only had 70,000 miles too. Didn’t look like it had much use or abuse at all. But, I didn’t put any money down on it. I went home and over the next few hours, did my research. Soon discovered that that particular Journey had a good reputation, that it was their top of the line model, had a well respected Fleetwood custom chassis, and on and on.

So the next day, I rode over there with my checkbook in hand, and arrived just as they were selling it to a younger couple. The husband had visited the day before, and brought his wife this time for her approval. Damnit. Sold. But, I hung in there, 3 days later that deal fell through. And after a road trip, a roof inspection, extending and retracting the slides a few times, and a few more walk throughs,  I paid cash for my 2nd, and probably my last, RV.

And here it is while being prepped for delivery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALookie there, even has the basement cabinets that move out with the slide.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Added some posts…

For those of you who follow my RV Repair posts, I’ve added two new posts:

Day & Night Shades…

Engine work…

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Back to the States…

I still had half a month already paid up at Kiki’s, and for the last several weeks I’d been doing what I always do, spending hours and hours online searching for a newer RV. I do this several times a month when the fancy strikes me or I don’t have any chores. As you can imagine, it’s not all that fun so I’ll spend a day searching, give up, then not search for a couple days, then back at it for a day.

Then came the day I saw on Craigslist what I thought would be a perfect 2nd, and possibly my last RV. A 2006 Coachmen Cross Country diesel, 2 slides, with only 55,000 miles. And at only $58,000. Right at average book according to NADA. Not overpriced like most RVs I’d found the last 2 years. And only six hours away in Mesa, just east and outside of Phoenix.

I mentioned I was looking for a newer coach to the neighbors here at Kiki’s and low and behold, my neighbor had a Coachmen, and wanted to sell. Only asking $35,000. OK, I did a short tour, listened to the slides go in and out, etc. and judged it good enough for a road trip in a couple days. And then the neighbor decided he’d not asked enough for it and the price was jacked up to $50K. The book was only $37K to begin with so he’d gotten greedy. I was already considering the Coachmen CC brand and the one up in Mesa started to look even better.

Here’s the 2004 Coachmen I was looking at, at Kiki’s. Didn’t look all that bad. At least on the outside. The guy’s single so as you can imagine, it was messy inside. Grungy even here and there as well. Engine was nice and clean though.

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FIRE! And other things…

I’ve added a RV repair section for my New2Me Winnebago. A story about the shower is the first posting. Check it out!

Next to my palapa the RV space was usually empty. Then one afternoon a guy and his grown son set up camp. They were touring Baja on their motorcycles and carried tents for sleeping. They also carried backpackers camp stoves. The afternoon they arrived, they had just enough daylight to get all their camp set up with their sleeping quarters upstairs on the upper balcony and their kitchen setup on the picnic table in the lower section. Since it was dark by then, I settled in, had dinner, then did some internet surfing. And then there was the flickering evidence of a fire outside my RV…over in their section. So I get up and look out my front door window and damn, there’s a 6 foot high flame going from their small camp stove up to the ceiling (which is the floor of their sleeping quarters) in their space. So I’m watching them, there’s a 45 year old man and his 25 year old son dancing around trying to put it out, and I think, “Yeah, they’ve got it under control”. And I go back to surfing the internet. Around 5 minutes later, “BOOM“. And my RV rocks back and forth from the concussion. The 15 mph gusting winds of a few days before were unable to do that. So I run outside, and the fire is out of control. The older guy got the fuel explosion full in the face, burned off his eyelashes and eyebrows and gave him a pretty bad burn on the face.  Turned out they were new to propane gas camp stoves and had not tightened the gas tank onto the stove tight enough. It had started to leak, then caught fire, then overheated enough to explode. All the while the dad trying to contain it. The young guy had removed himself earlier and suffered no burns. They were surrounded by billions of tons of sand. Why didn’t they just bury it? It had blown itself out and when the tank exploded, that was the end of the fuel. So when I came back out, situation was under control. Burst open is probably a more accurate description than exploded.

Here’s what their setup looked like with the son at the table the next morning, with my RV in the background. Dad was still sleeping upstairs because the pain kept him awake most of the night. He never went for treatment that I know of.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There’s the stoves. The one on the right is the one that blew. You can make out where the table was damaged from the spilled and flaming fuel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Flea Market Visit…

Last time, with nothing to do, I had talked Steve into giving me a ride outside of San Felipe a few miles. We visited some of the American and Canadian enclaves just  north of town, where they would let us in, and scoped out (from a distance) those that wouldn’t. The largest enclave was one where they wouldn’t let us inside the main gate.

And on the way back to the RV park, Steve invited me to accompany him the following Saturday to the flea market they have on one of the private developed properties. The whole place is fenced and there’s a gate with two guards. They just sort of waved us in after asking if we were going to the flea market. This particular property is across the highway from all the oceanside ‘resort’ developments we’d visited a couple days before. Unlike some of the others, this one has a clubhouse, tennis courts, swimming pool, etc. There’s scant few actual homes built here though. Looks like they got caught by the ’08 downturn.

Anyway, here’s a few pictures of the flea market. Did find that the produce here was better than at either store in town where I’d been shopping.

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Sailing, sort of…

Last time, we had gotten the boat to the harbor and in the water. Though we didn’t sail because there wasn’t any wind. Three days later there was a nice fresh breeze so Steve and I headed off to the harbor.

Took an hour or so to get everything ready to sail, and the whole time we’re fighting fairly heavy swells and a 14 kt brisk wind.

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Let’s go boating…

I had become friends with several RV’ers here in San Felipe, and it turned out that my new friend had a boat. I was all enthused about the possiblility of getting to sail a bit here in Mexico so offered what little expertize I had to assist. Steve, the owner, already had a plan, but welcomed the help. First he had to run up north and visit family for a while, afterwards, he and I could try to get his boat in the water.

After he got back, things went quickly. He and I drove over to the Yacht club’s man made harbor and scoped it out, he rented a space for his boat, and hired a mechanic to work on the bearings on the trailer. But he discovered that the antenna he’d just installed was missing.

I had seen it from my upper story palapa during the time he was gone visiting his family up near Stockton, so we knew it was up there at one time, but had no idea where it had run off too. He’d installed it a few weeks before after he’d bought a newer ship to shore radio. Required a new antenna. He’d strung new coax and thought he’d gotten everything tight the way it was suppose to be but, apparently, he’d only finger tightened the lock nut. We’d had a minor windstorm while he was away that I mentioned in my last blog post and the mast (it was on top of the mast) was up, it had whipped back and forth enough that the antenna was thrown out of it’s connector and ended up on the ground. Near his boat, on his rental property.

His neighbor spotted it one day, and took it with him to whack dogs that attack when you’re riding your bike somewhere. And one did attack. He attempted to whack it, and the antenna was lost, slipping out of his hand during the attack. So, no antenna. Steve and I went downtown looking around and I suggested a stainless steel rod. We couldn’t find that, but Steve found a brass rod that would do the trick so later that day, we lowered the mast, and installed the antenna. The mast had to be lowered anyway to get the boat out of the RV park since there were some electrical wires crossing the entrance/exit.

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