Giving Back to Our Hosts

NOTE: This post was started about a week earlier but I ran out of data on my Mexican (Telcel) phone and so I no longer had a hot spot for wifi to my computer, so I’m finishing up this post while we are back at Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande Arizona where my Visible phone service and hot spot (with no data cap) is working great.

Now, back to the story …

Yes, we’re really enjoying our visit to the Baja with our new Escapee friends. Although we’ve been members of the club about 5 years now, there’s no way you can get to know everybody as there are currently (I think) over 50,000 members nationwide.

The main entrance to La Jolla Beach Camp

To find out more about Chapter 8, visit their web site at this link. And here is the link to the Chapter 8 Facebook page.

And although Chapter 8 has been coming to Mexico for 37 years, the people that travel with them change from year to year. Some have been coming for years while others (like us) have made this their first trip with the chapter and very likely the first trip to Mexico. They don’t always travel to this side of the Baja. Sometimes it’s San Felipe, Rocky Pointe, or even Mexico City.

We’ve been given the opportunity to give back to the communities in which we stay. At our stay at the zoo in Guadalupe Valley we were offered reduced camping fees and free admittance to the zoo (even when they were closed to the public) and in return we helped the keepers in the care and feeding of the animals and their habitats.

We learned that the zoo was founded by Mr. Jiminez and his wife Perla as a service to the forgotten and abandoned animals and the children of the community. They wanted a place that all families could come and enjoy wholesome family time together not only to learn a little about the wildlife kingdom but also to enjoy some recreation together.

The Jiminez family also owned the Jersey Dairy and for many years the dairy supported the zoo financially. Recently the dairy was sold to another corporation and the zoo is now a stand-alone non-profit zoo. It still has Perla (Mrs.) Jiminez as Director and the family is still involved in the management and operation, but the funding is FAR below where it was just a few years ago.

As a result they are struggling to feed and care for the animals. A lot of their “residents” are brought to the zoo by the government that has confiscated these illegally owned animals at ports of entry. Although the government delivers the animals to the zoo to be cared for, they provide NO financial assistance for their care and can come and remove these same animals at any time. That’s a real frustration for the keepers.

We (Chapter 8) members will also help the zoo by ordering items from their Amazon Wish List and some of us brought items down and hand delivered these things to the keepers while we were there. The keepers here are much like our teachers back in the states in that they buy a lot of their own supplies to care for their “flock”. Many of the 13 employees at the zoo are single and are so attached that they think of the animals in their care as their “family”.

In case you are interested in seeing what sorts of things the keepers need – and maybe you’re even moved to help as well, you can check out the Amazon Wish List link here.

When we arrived here at La Jolla Beach Camp, our hosts the Pabloff Family introduced us to the need at a local “Grandparents House” about 10 miles away from our camp. Our Wagon-master and Charity Committee had previously arranged to have us form a work party and provide them with about 200 man hours work to insulate one of their new living units.

When we arrived on site we were introduced to the husband and wife team, Angelica and Nicholas (both pastors) who started this mission along with the help of Justin who’s family is doing mission work both at this home and another one a few miles down the road.

We arrive at the site about 10am and greet some of the residents who were waiting to meet us outside.
Justin gives us an overview of the home and the history of the Pastors and their work

It’s really a pretty remarkable story. Mrs. Pastor fourteen years ago found an old woman sitting on her front lawn. The lady looked to be alone and unfortunate so Angelica invited her into her home for lunch. They chatted and got to know each other. At the end of the lunch, Angelica told the lady she was welcome to return for lunch again the next day. The lady thanked her and asked if she could possibly bring a friend …. and so the beginning.

One friend led to another and another and another. Pretty soon Angelica was feeding 20 homeless old people on buckets and tree stumps in her front yard.

In Mexico there is very little money for programs like we have in the states and further these people that Angelica was meeting were mostly forgotten. They have no family that will admit to being related to them, they have little or no education, they have no way to travel, and they have not the knowledge or experience of how to ask for help. They are typically migrant farm workers who historically have lived the nomadic lifestyle traveling from farm to farm working in the fields and living on what little meager existence they can eek out with the wages their farmer pays.

Angelica knew there must be some public assistance available for these poor souls. She took one of them into a government office and introduced her as her grandmother. The agreed that Grandma qualified for a pension of $25 every other month. She then took another and introduced him as Grandfather. Then another and then another. You know what happened next … by the 5th time they knew something was up. She told the government agents the truth. They told Angelica that they were going to make a surprise visit to see for themselves.

When they arrived and saw what she was doing – unfortunately they couldn’t help financially with anything more than the $25 per person every other month. But the COULD provide her with a building close by where she could prepare and serve the meals. Soon after and still today, she and her volunteer helpers are serving meals to about 200 forgotten souls on a daily basis.

But she knew there was still more to be done. These people needed homes. They were living under sheets of cardboard under trees. The more fortunate ones had acquired plastic tarps to live under and were begging on the streets. These are sick and aged people in their 70’s and 80’s who could no longer do manual labor.

That’s where our new friend Miguel Pabloff comes in. Mike helped them obtain the land on which to start a small community of nice clean stick-built homes for these people. All the work and all the materials have been donated. Angelica and her husband Nickolas receive no government funding except the $25 previously mentioned.

We will be insulating the orange building. The purple and green buildings are completed and occupied with 5 residents in each building – each with their own room

Currently there are 15 residents and the Pastors do all the cooking, cleaning, bathing, activities and more. The do get volunteer help as well. The day we were there two student nurses came to check on all the residents and will be coming weekly for the next six months while they are still in school. Other volunteers come (unsolicited) from churches and neighborhoods in the area to help because they’ve heard of the unselfish work that Nicholas and Angelica are doing and want to help.

One of the 5 resident rooms in each of the finished buildings. Each resident has a bed, a chair, a toilet, sink, a small table, and a clothes closet

Although the resident rooms are very plain, we were told that to these folks, it’s a castle. Most of them had been living on the streets.

The rooms are spartan and very clean. There is one very large shower (to accommodate a wheelchair) in each building. When the residents want community or meals, they need to get over to the community dining room. Some are ambulatory with the help of canes or walkers while others need to be pushed along in wheelchairs.

The dining hall / community room where we ate beef quesadillas for lunch
The new kitchen under construction – currently Angelica prepares ALL the meals for the 15 residents and her own family on-site in her home

Remember, clicking on any of the thumbnail photo will open a larger picture so you can see more detail.

Our own Malcolm Russ entertained the residents with his violin and beautiful singing voice

The pictures in the gallery below show tables filled with donation items (food and clothing) for the Grandparents home and also to distribute to some of the less fortunate out in the country.

We collected (from ourselves) the donations and then on Saturday night we had an auction where we got lubed up with $2 Margaritas beforehand and then bid on items given by ourselves to our “other” selves. We raised about $4000 in the auction. This is just part of the monies that Chapter 8 will be giving back to four different Service Projects (charities) here in Baja California before we leave.

Thanks for riding along … More to come in our next post.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Movin’ On South

I’ve lost track of what day it is … easy to do when you’re retired and don’t have to worry about a schedule to keep. We have a Wagon Master (and a Tail Gunner) and because we’ve broken down into four traveling groups – we just listen to our group leader to tell us when it’s time to attend a gathering or to load up and head out. Kinda’ like school children listening to the headmaster!

In any event, we are now a little further down the Baja Penninsula to a great little camp on the beach (Pacific Ocean side). It’s called La Jolla (LaHoya) Beach Camp and it’s just south of Ensanada.

Our route from Potrero Pack (California) to La Jolla Beach (Baja California)
Our (25) rigs parked up on the bluff looking north over All Saints Bay @ La Jolla Beach
Kathy’s out for her first stroll on the beach

Once we got everyone parked and they all got settled, we walked across the street to the neighborhood social hall where we were treated to a superb welcome dinner presented by our host family the Pavloffs. We were offered vegetarian Mexican Lasagna, veggie kabobs and/or meat meals that included seasoned beef tacos, beans, rice, salad and Flan for desert along with unlimited servings of local wine, Mexican rice drink (Horchata) and Hibisucus Tea

We listened to a short history of the Pabloff family and their impact on the area of Punta Banda. The Pabloff family over the years has been very good to the general Ensenada area and the Punta Banda Peninsula in particular. Read more about the genealogy and their connection to Russia by following this link.

Alejandro Pabloff and his wife (both entered New York from Russia in the 1920’s) then came to Baja California from Los Angles in the 1940’s and bought land here and ultimately developed not only a beach front campground but also a large community for ex-pats.

They had seven sons – we met Miguel (Mike) and Esteban (Steve) and each has taken an active role in the family business. Mike runs the camp, Steve runs the farm and others manage or work in the auto repair shop, the market, the salon, or any of the other businesses the family owns. They also employ probably hundreds of local nationals to perform both skilled labor and manual day labor at any of their locations throughout the peninsula. They keep everybody busy and productive and those that can’t work get help (food and housing) from the family.

There is also a huge (hundreds of homes) hillside community of U.S. citizens who lease land from the Pavloffs and build their homes (seasonal or year-round) here. You have to be a Mexican citizen to own land here but you can lease land here and own your home.

There is a homeowners association here who’s purpose is to join together to enrich not only their own lives but those locals in the area as well. The social hall, the library, the thrift store, and the theater are for the benefit of everyone.

We were treated to dinner in the social hall, we visited the thrift shop and library this morning, and we’ll be having our benefit auction and enjoying a performance by the Folklorio Dancers in the Gertrude Pearlman Theater on Saturday.

Sometime today we’re going to help move all the auction items that we brought over to the theater for the auction Saturday afternoon.

Maybe I should explain a little more about Chapter 8 and why we are all here on this trip. I’ll copy this info from the Chapter 8 web site that you are invited to visit and find out more for yourself.

(From the web site) The purpose of Chapter 8 is to:

  • Introduce Escapees Chapter 8 Mexican Connection members to RV travel in Mexico, its scenery, traditions, food, culture and folklore.
  • Travel South of the border and give back more than the enriching experiences we gain, through charity donations and business patronization.
  • Enable Chapter 8 members to feel comfortable to return to Mexico for future rallies as well as their own road trip adventures.

This is the 37th year that the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 “Mexican Connection” group has been coming to Mexico and I’m not sure how many of those years have included giving back to the communities that they have visited, but it’s probably at least a dozen or so.

This year we/they have designated four local groups as our Service Projects and all the travelers have brought down donations of food, clothing, bedding, toys, and more to share with these previously identified groups. In addition, we have brought with us (or purchased locally) items for our “in house” auction that will take place on Saturday where we will bid on each other’s donations in order to raise cash funds to be given to these very needy groups.

More to come as we continue to enjoy our stay in Baja California with our new friends.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day 4 – More Zoo & Wine

This might be getting a bit repetitive, but it’s not getting old for us! This is so wonderful being able to get such a close-up interaction with the zoo animals and their caregivers.

Today we spent time with the Yellow Parrots, Pumas, Spider Monkeys, and Macaws. We helped to feed them and helped to clean their habitat — things that the keepers do every day. We also gave them enrichment toys – things that help to keep them curious and stimulated – not just bored & locked in a cage.

See the cart that Arturo (picture above) is pulling along the trail as we walk from exhibit to exhibit? They use carts (usually pulled by bicycles) to move tools and supplies around the zoo as they need them. In the states we would have the luxury of being supplied with motorized carts/trucks of some sort.

One of the groundskeepers emptying the trash receptacles in the morning

Arturo got one of the staff here at the zoo to take our wheel off and get the flat tire fixed and reinstalled. Service on-the-spot and only $300 pesos ($15 US) – Hooray!

Our flat tire got fixed by one of the staff

Later in the day we got to share some time with a new (3 month old) lion cub “Carlotta”. She’s very playful so she had to be watched very closely by both Stephanie and Antonio (keepers) because the wooden fence isn’t that tall and she can jump easily and quickly.

Keeper Carlos talked to us about the 4 different types of reptiles and introduced us to a few of the residents of the habitat he manages. Some were so uncomfortable they left the room or refused to come in to begin with, but most of us stayed and enjoyed Carlos’ informative presentation.

Late afternoon we all carpooled to L.A. Cetto Winery. We got a great tour of the operation led by our tour guide Adrian. He shared with us that this winery was started in 1928 here in Guadalupe Valley and it is the largest winery in all of Mexico. They manage and harvest about 3000 acres, having about 250 seasonal employees in the fields. The grapes are all hand picked and they produce over 1 million cases of wine annually. The (2) rooms of stainless steel fermenting tanks hold over 3 million liters of wine at a time. After fermentation the wine is transferred to the oak barrels where it stays for just a few and up to 65 years!

After the tour we all went up to the outdoor patio for the wine tasting and Tapas made by our own crew. Our caravan leader Ed Dennis graduated in culinary art from a Paris school years ago so he asked for volunteers from our group that could help him prepare our afternoon feast – It was fabulous!

There’s more to come …. we’re all heading out to a local Mexican restaurant tonight and tomorrow morning we will all say goodbye to our new friends at Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe Valley and head further south on the Baja Penninsula to La Jolla Beach Campground.

C’Mon Along!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day Three

Day three (Saturday February 15th) started out another beautiful sunny wonderful day in paradise. After breakfast in the coach – Kathy with her oatmeal and me with my scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onion, and a little potato mixed in – we headed on over with the others to the pavilion in the center of the zoo. Here we met with zoo biologists and keepers where we divided into four groups of 12 and then headed out for our “up close and personal” tours of the Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe.

Our tour group leaders (biologists, keepers, veterinarian, director)

This zoo was started dozens of years ago by the owner of the Jersey Dairy Company. He and his family created, managed, and funded the zoo. In recent times, this man passed away and as a result just this year the zoo no longer gets any funding from him or his family. The zoo is now a not-for-profit organization and relies on admission prices and donations to stay afloat. It became very clear to us during our tours that the employees of the zoo (11 employees total) are working here because of their love for the animals. This .. in many ways is their family.

The Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 “Mexican Connection” came here last year and again this year to not only be entertained but also to help out both physically and financially through our admission fees and our auction that will be held here later this week.

Antonio – Our tour guide for the day – 32 year old Zoo Biologist

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

Antonio led us on a very informative tour and it became clear very quickly that he and his co-workers care very much for the animals. Nearly all of the animals here arrived from the government. Many have been confiscated at ports of entry or have owned by individuals as family pets and then have been abandoned or given up when they became too big and no longer manageable (or affordable) to keep as pets.

The government has no means to care for them so they come here to Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe. Although the government gives them to the zoo to take care of for an undetermined time (during investigation and litigation) they do not give the zoo any funds to care for the animals. In some cases, the zoo may take care of these animals for years but the government can always come back and take them away.

Other animals are given to the zoo as gifts – which was the case with the 40+ peacocks that they have. These were a gift from a priest.

One of three swimming pools

The “Zoo” is much more than a place to see animals. The Guadalupe Valley is generally an area of very poor families. When the zoo was started, the owners wanted it to be a place where local families could come and learn, play, eat, and enjoy family time together.

In fact, up until very recently all it cost for admission for a whole family was a Jersey Dairy Milk bottle cap. The children could provide a day of fun for the whole family just by saving their bottle cap from their milk at school and presenting it at the front gate to the zoo.

There are three swimming pools, a pond with paddle boats and lots of shaded picnic tables. Families are encouraged to bring their picnic baskets and enjoy the day together.

After our tour of the zoo we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Some went into town right away while others took care of chores at home. We evidently picked up a nail or screw as we got close to the zoo on Friday because by the time we pulled in to our parking spot our “toad” had a flat tire.

Bummer

But not to worry – I’m sure there’s a tire shop in town somewhere and we don’t need to drive anywhere anytime soon – there are others here that we can carpool with to any of the local attractions.

Although Guadalupe Valley is very poor, it is rich with vineyards and wineries. But these vineyards and wineries are not owned by local people nor do they employ local people. You’d think that the local economy would be lifted by these wineries, but they are owned and operated by companies from Tijuana or Mexico City and they bring in their employees from out of the area. Go figure.

We finished off the day with a visit to Baron Balche’ Winery where we had a tour, a wine tasting, and dinner. What a wonderful cap to a fantastic day!

Be sure to click on the thumbnail pictures above so you can see more of the detail. You can see in one of the pictures the rough rock walls encompassing the cellars.

Each of the large stainless steel tanks hold 7500 liters of wine – there were about 40 of these huge tanks. There were HUNDREDS of White Oak barrels. The barrels come from French Oak or American White Oak and there are two sizes of barrels – either 300 or 600 liters.

There is NO heat or A/C in the cellars – they are literally dug out of a whole in the ground. It’s a constant 55 degrees and very humid – water drips down the walls so they have fans blowing to keep the air moving so mildew doesn’t form.

It’s been another busy educational, fun, and rewarding day. Now off to bed because “Tomorrow’s Another Day”

Thanks for riding along – we hope you can make it with us to Day 4!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day Two

We (Group 1) left Potrero Park at 7:30 a.m. Our group is the Parking Group so we need to head out before any of the other groups so we can be in place at the next location far enough ahead so we can be set up and ready to Park all the other rigs coming in behind us. There are 3 other groups consisting of 5 or 6 rigs each.

Since we all have our FMM cards already, we COULD have been swept right through the border crossing. But Kathy and I weren’t so lucky.

The official stopped us, checked our registrations, looked in a couple cabinets, and then greeted us with “Happy Valentine’s Day”

We moved on through the gates and all 6 rigs in Group One stayed in touch on our CB radios as we traveled the next 50 or so miles down to Zoologico Parque del Nino in Guadalupe Baja California Mexico.

Once we arrived, our fearless Group One (parking group) leaders Jim and Connie gave us our instructions along with our bright orange safety vests and flags. We we’re now official parking team members!

Our official uniforms

We then spent the next couple hours greeting and parking rigs as each subsequent group rolled in.

We we’re the first rig in so we got the prime spot in the corner closest to the wolves and the lion!

Right up front closest to the action

After we got all the rigs parked, we all wandered over to Ed & Kassandra’s (Our Trip Leaders) rig to pick up our new Baja jackets and get an update on the schedule for the coming days. Ed talked a little about the history of the Baja Jacket and his design for the logo embroidered onto the front.

Right after the afternoon meeting we moved on into the zoo where we were gifted with a beautiful Valentines Dinner prepared by the park owners daughter who is also a recently graduated chef! The meal was a delicious dish of Mexican Lasagna with green salad and refried beans served with fresh sangria or a unique cucumber/lemon drink and topped off with Red Velvet cupcakes.

And another special treat of the night was a gift from Malcolm Russ – one of our own who, as it turns out is a retired professional musician and vocalist who has played in national orchestras as well as smaller venues all over the country. He took requests, while also giving us some great love songs to bring the evening to a close.

Day three brings us a personal guided tour of the zoo with a close-up look at the animals with led by one of the two zoo biologists.

Stand by for more!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day One

Our first day in Mexico was without our RV’s. Our caravan of 27 rigs has been divided into four smaller groups to make the trip(s) more manageable.

Kathy and I are the second rig in Group 2. Today the mission for each group is to drive our cars 20 minutes to the border crossing of Tecate. We carpooled and parked our cars in a public lot ($5 U.S.) and walked across. We stayed in our smaller groups of 8-10 people as we toured the town.

Our walk across the border after getting our FMM cards

Each group’s mission was to check in with Mexican authorities and get our FMM cards, exchange our dollars for pesos, enjoy breakfast at an open air cafe, visit Tecate Brewery (free beer), visit a Wonderful bakery, and anything else we wanted as long as we were back to Potrero Bark by 3pm or so.

I needed to buy a cheap cell phone for Mexico as my service provider does not include Mexico coverage. A couple of folks in our group found a pharmacy to get some much needed aids (drugs) to help with their ailments.

Along the way some of us felt the need to get some ice cream too! I should’ve got a picture of that .. sorry.

The Mexican people are very friendly and smile and wave. A smile back with a “Hola” or “Buenos Dias” goes a long way way toward making new friends in a strange country.

One funny experience we had was our interaction with the border crossing official. After he reviews and processes your passport and FMM card (and collects your $31), he then graciously offers to sell you either honey or hot sauce and he’s sure to tell you the hot sauce is “good on your eggs in the morning!”

Back to Potrero Park for an afternoon info meeting, Happy Hour, dump our tanks in preparation for tomorrow mornings trip across the border, and finish off the night with a nice campfire.

More tomorrow as we drive south and enter the “Zoologico Parque del Nino Jersey” (zoo) at Guadalupe which will be our home for the next few days.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Stopover at Potrero

We drove yesterday from the SKP Park in Yuma (where we spent Sunday night) on over West to Potrero County Park.

It was mostly a great drive, with a little rain and a LOT of wind .. it was definitely a two-handed drive! The scenery was fantastic, along westbound I-8 (I wish I had pulled over to take a picture) there were miles and miles of huge, smooth boulders as far as the eye could see. It’s so fascinating to see all the different types of landscape we see as we travel.

These were large hills (or small mountains) made of millions of huge (larger than a truck / some larger than a commercial building) smooth-surfaced stones mounded on top of one another.

The colors ranged from white to sand to deep browns and reds. No jagged edges here like so many other geologic formations we’ve seen, just big rocks smoothed over millions of years by what force? Did they all actually used to be in a huge ancient riverbed whose cool running water smoothed them?

Once we got off I-8, we traveled about 25 miles west to Potrero County Park where we met up with about 20 or so of our fellow Escapees who are going to be our travel partners to Mexico over the next couple weeks.

Our home at Potrero for a couple nights

Last night we had a Happy Hour at the park shelter where those of us that are here early could get together and share some munchies and get to know one another. Seems about half the group so far are returning travelers while the others like us are “Newbies” to the Mexican Connection trip.

Our social time on our first night at the staging location at Potrero County park

Today the group leaders and some of the board members are headed across the border to Tecate just to make sure all is in order for our excursion there tomorrow. While we are in Tecate tomorrow we’ll get our Mexico FMM card, exchange some U.S. dollars for pesos, and visit a local bakery and brewery.

Can’t wait!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

On Our Way To Mexico

It’s Saturday Feb 8th and we left Rovers Roost this morning and made our way 3 hours West to Quartzsite (AZ). We came over here because our new lithium batteries weren’t acting the way I thought they should.

Brian Boone installed our solar panels, controllers and inverter. We could have bought the batteries through him when he installed all the other, but it just wasn’t in the budget at the time.

But when we went to the Big Tent RV Show last month, the sale price on these batteries was just too good to pass up, so we bought 2 and I installed them myself. They market them as “Drop in replacements” … We’ll, not exactly the case.

When we spent 10 days in the desert at the big show, we were still using our Trojan T-105 Deep Cycle Lead Acid batteries. The solar and the batteries played well together and we never once had to fire up the generator.

But once we got back to the Roost and I swapped in the new lithiums, things always seemed a little screwy. I was constantly watching the volts, the amps, the capacity (in percent) and the amp hours from full. And the math just wasn’t adding up!

Time for some professional help. I called Brian for help. He and Sue are still dry camping in Q, so we drove out here to have him take a look. What Battle Born doesn’t tell you is that there are more than a couple settings that need to be changed when converting from lead acid to lithium batteries.

Brian made the changes and all seems to be working well now. I’ll monitor things tonight and in the morning and let him know before we head outta town.

Our camp site for the night at Road Runner BLM land a few miles south of Quartzsite

We’ve got the windows open, no fans on and a nice breeze moving through the coach. Kathy’s taking a little siesta on the couch right now as I write this. We’ve decided we’re going in to Silly Al’s for pizza tonight.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we’ll head on down SR 95 to Yuma where we will spend the night at the Escapees KOFA Co-Op park for the night, then Monday morning head West through El Centro CA to Potrero County Park

Potrero is where we will meet all the others going on the caravan to Mexico. There will be 27 rigs total. Kathy and I are on the parking team so we need to get into Potrero a day early so as to be able to be ready bright and early to greet and park the folks coming in.

We’ll spend a night or two at Potrero before we caravan into Mexico.

Much more on that later. I know our Visible phones won’t work in Mexico, so I’m going to try to buy a SIM card in Mexico. Not sure how pricey it’ll be, so it’s not clear on how many pictures I’ll be able to post.

But rest assured you’ll hear from us again. If not sooner, then later!

Adios for now!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Boomerville Winding Down

Kathy was a bit apprehensive about coming out to the desert and camping without hook-ups. We’ve dry camped from time to time in the past, but it’s been just a night or two.

This was going to be over a week! I worked to assure her it would be fine. We’ve been conserving our water usage, (we have a 54 gallon fresh water tank) and so far (it’s been a full week today) we haven’t run out or filled our gray or black tanks to the point we have to go into town to dump.

Our new solar installation is working great, we’ve not had to fire up the generator at all. We might be down to 12.3 volts or so when I get up in the morning, but by 10 am or so, were back up to over 13 volts .. even on the one cloudy day we had!

We’ve made one more upgrade to our coach by buying two Battle Born 12v 100ah batteries. These will replace the four Trojan 6v golf cart batteries we currently have. You learn about the advantages of lithium batteries here.

6 Battle Born 100 amphours lithium batteries

We’ve enjoyed our time here in the desert with about 200 other rigs and all of these folks at “Boomerville” are members of our Escapees RV club.

Sunrise today

There have been activities all week, almost hourly. We’ve been able to; attend and learn at various educational seminars, enjoy afternoon happy hours and pot luck meals, caravan to the Desert Bar, attend “The Big Tent” RV show here in Quartzsite, raise money for the Escapees RV Club C.A.R.E. center through auctions and buying delicious pancake breakfast, and tons more.

Our auction to benefit C.A.R.E.

Tomorrow (Friday) were going to pull out of Boomerville and move on up about 20 miles or so and spend a couple days with our friends Brian and Jeanette who are camping “in the boonies” with no one else around. We’ll head back to Rovers Roost no later than Sunday.

I’ll fill you in later on the Lithium battery upgrade along with our trip to Mexico with 26 other rigs.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Readying for our trip to Q

Q? For the benefit of those of you who are not RV’ers, Q stands for Quartzite, a small town in western Arizona. The town explodes in the winter with hundreds of thousands of RV’ers who choose to live in the desert for the winter. More on that later because I plan on writing to you while we are there so I can share the experience with you. In the meantime, follow this link to learn a little more about where we’re going.

Since we’ve been here at Rovers Roost since about mid October, we’ve been having fun with our neighbors, and doing a few little projects around here.

We thought that maybe we were having a temperature control problem with our fridge. We had an Indoor/Outdoor thermometer in there for years. This unit showed us the refrigerator temperature and the room temperature. One day I noticed it was up to 49 degrees – Yikes!

Problem was, we never knew if the fridge was ever actually in cooling mode or not. If the thermometer indicated 40 degrees, was the control circuit calling for cooling? These RV fridges don’t have a compressor, they rely on heated ammonia gas to provide the cooling and that process is nearly silent.

I wanted to know what the control board was saying … was it firing the gas solenoid or the electric heating element? Was it trying to cool at all?

Off to Amazon to order a couple little lights that I could install into the wall next to the fridge to tell me when it’s calling for “cool”.

These little guys work great for the 12 volt gas solenoid. I just drilled a hole in the wall next to the fridge, connected one wire to pin 2 of J4 on the control board and the other wire to ground. I chose to use the blue colored light for gas since the gas flame is mostly blue.

I used this green 120 volt panel light for the 120 volt electric heating element. I hooked the two wires in parallel to the existing wires on J7 and J8 of the fridge control board. These wires go to the electric heating element in the boiler.

Then (also on Amazon) I bought a ” New and Improved” Indoor/Outdoor thermometer. This new one comes with one sensor inside the display (for the room temperature) and 3 additional sensors for remote locations. We put one in the freezer, the second in the fridge, and the third one outside. So now we can see at a glance all four temperatures (and humidity). The outside sensor is currently hanging on the rear grill of the coach because it’s in the shade. I don’t want to permanently install it on the coach, because then it’s apt to be in the direct sunlight more often than not. I wonder how long it will take for me to forget it’s hanging on the back by a paper clip and lose it as we zip down the freeway at 60+ mph!?

Indoor temp is 74.8, freezer is -1.7, fridge is 34.7 and outside is 39.8
Will I remember to take this off before we head down the road?

If you think you’d like one of these little gadgets for your rig/home, you can order it direct from our Amazon store by clicking on the link below.

Turns out after installing the new 4-station thermometer and installed the indicator lights, we now realize that the fridge controller is working just as it is supposed to. When the temp rises, the control turns on and a few hours later, the temp is back down to where it’s supposed to be.

These RV fridges don’t cool as quickly as a residential fridge with a compressor full of Freon, so we just have to be patient after loading it up with groceries from the store or putting in a new gallon of lemonade or freshly made liter of hot tea!

Although our storage shed on our lot was new a couple years ago (just before we got the lot) the original paint from Tuff-Sheds was pretty lame. It was spray painted before being assembled and the paint is “flat” and a thin coat. This front (with the window) wall faces south and gets super-heated sun rays all year long, especially in the 100+ degree summers.

I knew if we were to protect the wood siding from deteriorating, we need to put a good heavy coat of exterior paint on it (and probably re-paint regularly)

Kathy decided she wanted different colors so a few weeks ago I bought some Sherwin-Williams Weathershield Semi-Gloss Exterior paint and painted the trim the green color (per her instructions of course!)

Our shed trim painted – but still the original siding color

This week we went back to Lowes and bought the lighter color for the siding so I could at least get the southern facing wall painted before we leave for the season.

The shed south wall painted with the new lighter color

I’ll do the other three walls next winter when I have more time.

Today is Sunday and we’ll be heading to Q on Thursday so I still have some small remaining tasks left to do. Need to mount and secure the bikes on the bike rack, regenerate the water softener and fill our fresh water tank (54 gallon) with fresh softened water, take down my ham radio antennas, clean the windshield on the coach, put the chairs and tables in the basement, get our on-board propane tank filled before we leave the park, and bring the WAVE 6 Catalytic heater up from the basement for use when we are boondocking at Q.

This heater will keep us warm as the sun goes down and we won’t need to use any electricity to operate it. It just gives off a cozy warm radiant heat.

I’ve already got the CB antenna mounted on the car – did that last week. I’ve got things set up so I can move the CB radio from the coach to the car. I don’t normally use the CB, but it’s one of the requirements from the caravan leader for our trip to Mexico in February. I’ll install it back in the coach before heading to Q so we can monitor any freeway problems along the way.

And I found a small wooden shelf on our “trade table” at the clubhouse last week. People put their unwanted items on the table, others pick them up and put a few bucks in the bucket to help pay for some of the activities in the park.

I’m not sure what the previous owner used it for, but we want a wall mounted spice rack. I found some leftover oak, ripped it down to the right size on the table saw in the shop, and attached two strips to the front of the shelf. Primed it with exterior latex, spray painted it dark brown and am planning on installing it on the wall today. This will clean up our kitchen table.

I added 2 bars on the front to keep items “in” while we drive & sprayed it a dark brown
With the rack now on the wall, we have a lot more room on our dining table

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We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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