Just a Little Burp With The Car (and the computer)

While we were in Montana we took the opportunity to drive over to the far west end of Fort Peck Reservoir to see if we could spot (and or hear) the male elk bugling. This is the time of year for mating and Ranger Sue told us there was a pretty big herd over that way. The lake is 135 miles long and we were camping at the far east end while the elk herd was spotted at the far west end.

Lake has 1500 miles of shoreline and is over 135 miles from east to west

During our ride, the exhaust system on the car blew out and it was LOUD! I think we scared all the elk into hiding.

I knew there was no place near Fort Peck to get it fixed and that it would be best until we made it down to Rapid City next week. We would be towing it more than driving it over the next few days so we were good with that plan.

I looked online and found Chad and Exhaust Pros in Rapid City. He had loads of good reviews.

We pulled the coach in his drive (towing the car) and Chad came right out, crawled under the car, and assured me it was an easy fix.

He told me to unhook the car, he’d pull it into the hoist, and he’d have us out of there in an hour.

Turns out it was a flexible coupling that connects the manifold to the exhaust pipe that failed and Chad quickly cut out the old one and welded in the new one.

What impressed me about Exhaust Pros is that exhaust work is the ONLY work they do. Unlike the national chains that advertise “Exhaust/Brakes/Alignment” and may or may not have the right part for your vehicle, Chad carries all the commonly needed exhaust parts and BENDS HIS OWN PIPE, he doesn’t have to order a bunch of different pipes for a myriad of car models. Bending his own pipe means that he can effect a repair much more quickly not having to rely on Napa or AutoZone or another supplier to bring him the needed pipe.

(Video) Chad welding in the new coupling

He got the car down off the hoist and started it up. The noise was a LOT BETTER, but still there was a problem. Back down on the ground to take a look, Chad found that both of the mufflers are rusted and have very small pinhole leaks in them. It was up to me whether to just go ahead and drive it or have more work done.

We decided to go ahead and have two new mufflers installed but that would have to be done another day as it would take him more time to get it done and he’d need to get back to serving his customers who have appointments set up.

We reached out to our friends David and Sue who are working at Custer State Park. We were planning on getting together with them anyway to discuss our travel plans back to Rover’s Roost in Arizona. The four of us will travel together once they are done with their Custer gig October 1st.

It turned out that they had Thursday off work so we set a date for them to pick us up at the muffler shop on Thursday and we’d have lunch together and talk about our travel plans while the repair is being completed. I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER! (Thank you David and Sue!)

We got back to the shop in time to pick up the car and Kathy and I made a bee-line for Best Buy where I had to buy a new computer as my 15 year-old Dell laptop finally gave up the ghost.

We got the computer and we back on the road to Hot Springs before 3:30

Next blog post – Hot Springs South Dakota and Angostura Recreation Area (and see who we bumped into there!)

Thanks for riding along and we welcome your comments below. See you next time!

Herb & Kathy

Montana and South to Medora and Beyond

After Spearfish South Dakota and then our trip up to Fort Peck Montana to visit Ranger Scott and Ranger Sue, we came back down U.S. 85 into Medora North Dakota for a night. We had been to Teddy Roosevelt National Park a couple years ago, so we didn’t take the time to drive through the park and all we did was walk to dinner from the campground and then did a little sightseeing as we walked through town on our way back to the campground.

Kathy’s Strawberry Jalepino Margarita
Food prices seem high out here ($14 for a burger?)
Our after dinner walk in downtown Medora ND
More downtown Medora

The next day we continued on down 85 for another nights stay in Spearfish on our way to Hot Springs. Besides, we needed to check in at the Spearfish post office to see if our General Delivery package had arrived yet.

This time instead of staying at a campground, we decided to take advantage of our Harvest Hosts membership once again. We reached out to McGuigan Farm Experience on the HH web site and they accepted our request to stay within just a couple hours.

Our host Nancy greeted us at the drive and welcomed us with a big smile and a little conversation. She showed us where we could park. It was a nice big hard packed grassy field that allowed us to pull straight in with our toad attached and was large enough we could just circle around in the morning to leave without ever having to unhook the toad.

We had the place to ourselves

After we got settled in, Nancy took us on a tour of the farm. Although it’s been in Mike’s family for generations and had been a working dairy farm for the vast majority of that time, they now rely on income from grain production and leasing out some of the land. They have recently started the McGuigan Farm Experience project to offer both school groups and the general public alike the opportunity to visit a real farm with real animals so that folks might learn about what a farmer really does and where that food on the table comes from.

Nancy excused herself and left us to relax the rest of the evening and relaxing it was! It was SO dark and SO quiet! We had a wonderful nights sleep with the windows wide open and enjoyed a gentle breeze rolling over the hayfields that lulled us to sleep.

As we prepared to depart in the morning, I noticed some water on the hardpack under the fresh water tank compartment. Further inspection revealed that now the FRESH water tank fill hose had a small leak. I figured it wasn’t hard to fix, (tighten a hose clamp), but this old body just doesn’t want to twist, turn, and stretch like this project would require.

Thankfully, we were at Spearfish which is just down the road from Belle Fourche which is the home of my new best (RV repairman) friend Jim and Progress RV.

We didn’t even call ahead. We left the farm and drove on up the ten minutes to see Jim in hopes he would drop whatever he was doing and come on over and take care of us. And he did just that!

Next stop … Hot Springs South Dakota. But first – the car goes in the shop for some unexpected repairs. More on that in my next post.

Thanks for riding along. You can leave any comments below.

Herb & Kathy

What? No Power In The RV?

It was about 8:30 at night, we were watching one of our favorite Netflix pix on TV and “poof” out went the 110v to the coach. All the 12 volt circuits were still working. I looked out the window, didn’t see any lights on at the neighboring camp site – guess the whole campground must be out.

What to do? Go to bed – what else? Since we’ve got a couple hundred amp hours worth of battery I could’ve turned on the inverter and finished the show, but what the heck.

In the morning I saw that the gentleman cleaning the bath house had arrived and took a walk down to see if he knew anything about the power outage. He knew nothing about it and further … the lights in the bath house were lit!

OK now it’s time for me to get to work and investigate the problem. Always start with the easiest (or most obvious likely) suspect component first.

  • Check the park power pedestal. Turn the 50 amp circuit breaker on and off to reset it if needed.
  • Follow the power cord to the EMS (electrical management system) and check to see that the digital display (or LED’s) are reading correctly with no errors.
  • Check the 110v circuit breakers inside the coach (my Square D panel is at the foot of the bed). Turn off and back on each breaker to assure it is reset.
  • Locate the converter/inverter/charger and check to make sure the circuit breakers have not tripped here.

So at this point we’ve checked all the easy suspected problem areas without having to remove any panels or take out our voltmeter to do any further checking. Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty.

So at this point we know the pedestal power is good because the Progressive Industries EMS is showing adequate voltage on each of the two legs with no error codes.

We know that the 110v circuit breakers at the foot of the bed are all switched ON and we know that the GFCI circuit breaker (in our case in our bathroom at the wash basin) has not tripped.

Our next step is to remove the cover on the inverter that will allow us to gain access to the terminal strip where I can take a couple quick voltage checks. The terminal strip has (6) screw terminals. Three are for the input Line 1, Line 2 and neutral and the other three are for the output Line 1, Line 2 and neutral. A quick check with the AC voltmeter (that every RV’er should have in their tool bag) shows no input to the inverter.

So what is between the EMS and the inverter?

On our coach (and most others) we find an automatic power transfer switch. The purpose of the Transfer Switch is to feed 110v power to the coach from EITHER the shore power pedestal OR the onboard diesel generator. There is a circuit board inside the enclosure that has three terminal strips, two large relays, along with time delay circuitry to make sure that the incoming power from either the shore power or the generator is up to adequate voltage before energizing the appropriate relay. Only one source is allowed to feed the coach at a time.

Once I took the cover off the Transfer Switch, the answer to my problem was obvious. One of the relays had a burnt wire coming off it and connecting to the circuit board. Evidently the screw attaching the wire had worked loose (It’s a 20 year old rig after all) which caused an increase in current draw and subsequent heat that ultimately burned the insulation off the wire and also burned through the circuit board.

Unfortunately, we are camping over an hour south of Rapid City SD where there is MAYBE an RV shop that might have a transfer switch in stock but it’s very likely a different brand or newer model that may not have the same physical characteristics as the Intellitec model that we have. I decided I’d look online to see if I could even FIND the Intellitec and lo and behold, they still do make it! This would make replacement a LOT easier, same wire lengths, same screw holes, etc.

Challenge is, by the time I get it ordered (today is Sunday of course) and the supplier ships it to us here in Hot Springs, we will be gone as we are leaving on Friday.

I decided my best course of action is to manually re-wire the connections (removing the generator from the circuit) and then order the new transfer switch to arrive at our park in Arizona sometime after we get there November 1st.

I removed the four wires from each of the terminals for the SHORE POWER and COACH and connected (using split bolts) the red to red, white to white, black to black, and ground to ground.

I then carefully taped all exposed metal connections with electrical tape to make sure there were no accidental shorts.

This didn’t happen all of a sudden. I blame myself for not catching it earlier. Kathy and I have both noticed over the last month or so that occasionally while watching TV, the screen flickers for an instant. The screen actually goes black momentarily. It’s not enough to reset the clock on the microwave, but it does flicker.

Also, about a month ago when I was in the basement compartment where the power comes in to the coach, I noticed a slight hum from the transfer switch box. I figured it was one of the relays humming and I know that relays will do that from time to time. I should have taken the cover off to investigate further at that time.

About a year ago I DID have the cover off and I checked all the screws on the circuit board terminal strip(s) where the wires come in to the board. I tightened them as needed. What I did NOT check however were the screws on the relays. Perhaps if I had checked and tightened them back then, this problem would not have occured.

Oh well …. live and learn, eh? Just thought I’d share with you one of the recent problems we’ve had and my troubleshooting approach to get to the answer.

Thanks for riding along – see you down the road.

Herb and Kathy

Motorhome dead …

We left Dale Hollow on Thursday July 1st and headed to Lexington Kentucky Camping World. We had made arrangements ahead of time to buy and install a new Sleep Number bed there because it’s priced at $300 below the price at the Sleep Number store. Further, if we ordered it from Sleep Number direct online, there would be no way to get rid of our old mattress.

Alex at Camping World of Georgetown (north side of Lexington) was great. He had the boxes ready and waiting for us. He and I pulled our old mattress out of the coach and got it into his dumpster and he and another young fella brought the two large boxes into the coach for us. Then it was our job to figure out how it went together.

Not a lot of room to work – See how Kathy’s a little flustered?

It had been raining all the way up to Lex from Dale Hollow and was still raining hard at Camping World. We just parked in the lot, fired up the diesel generator, turned both a/c units on high, and dug into the instructions. It took us about two hours to get everything hooked up and inflated since we had to read the instructions and we didn’t have much room to unpack things in the confines of the coach. But now that we are “experienced professionals” we can install yours in likely less than an hour!

Our plan was to move the coach down the street to Cracker Barrel where there is RV parking. We’d have our dinner there, spend the night, have a good breakfast before heading on up to Ohio.

As we pulled down the Camping World driveway to head around the corner to Cracker Barrel, the coach lurched and slammed to an immediate stop. It was as if we hit a brick wall! But I was able to put it in neutral and re-start the coach. It idled fine and we were able to make it the two blocks to Cracker Barrel.

In the Cracker Barrel parking lot for the night w/ all the other RV’ers

HAH! The best made plans ….

We went on into CB for a Comfort Food dinner as we were feeling kind of nervous about what was to come in the morning.

We stayed the night comfortably although I was thinking all sorts of terrible things about transmission (expensive) and engine (super expensive) problems that could be diagnosed.

I needed to do some research on what the problem was and try to figure out what the next step should be in the morning. I went to my favorite source of information for all things technical related to RV’s. It’s www.irv2.com. irv2.com is an owners forum that has a whole host of sub-forums that are specifically focused on; brands and types of RV’s, areas of interest (i.e. appliances, heating/cooling, solar, body/paint, technology, drive trains, engine types/brands, and transmissions)

I decided that this seemed to be a transmission problem because the shifter panel (It’s an Allison 3000 electronic transmission) showed a flashing “X” instead of “D” or “N”.

Within the Allison transmission sub-forum I found where an owner had posted that the transmission needs a good clean 12.6 volts to the TCU (Transmission Control Unit (Computer)) in order to operate. When the coach would shudder to a halt, all the warning lights on the dash would light up like a Christmas tree. They blink erratically along with the warning buzzers and chimes sounding erratically. It acted like a dead battery problem although I was always able to restart the engine.

Thanks again to irv2, I found the Allison diagnostic routine and trouble codes published online. The procedure produced a Code 35 which told me that the TCU had a “power interuption”. This further confirmed my suspicion that the problem was most likely a loose or corroded connection somewhere between the battery box and the TCU.

In the morning I made a couple phone calls and talked with Freightliner in Lexington and they told me that there was an Allison dealer just up the road about 4 miles from where we were parked at Cracker Barrel. I called them (Clarke Power Services), talked with Steve in their Service Department and told him we’d try to limp up to see him.

Turned out we couldn’t make it more than just out of the Cracker Barrel parking lot and just started to turn the corner into State Route 60 when we crapped out again.

I called our Escapees RV Club Roadside Assistance Service and they sent out Roberts Heavy Duty Towing to take us down the road to Clarke Power Service.

Although we had to wait a couple hours for the tow truck to arrive, the time spent wasn’t a total loss. We used this time to move some things we’d need over the next week or so from the coach into the car. We had to copmpletely empty the fridge and freezer into our cooler and cold bags. We had to pack a few clothes, all our meds, important papers, cell phone chargers. Being that we didn’t really KNOW how long we would be homeless made the “take with” list a little difficult to determine. We used the rest of the time, walking back into Cracker Barrel for breakfast!

CB’s yummy Breakfast Scramble with ham, bacon, & taters

We had a pleasant surpise while we were eating breakfast. The waitress came up to our table (as we were finishing eating) to tell us that our meals were paid for. Turns out, when Kathy went to the ladies room earlier, another customer commented on her Glacier National Park shirt. The lady said they used to live out that way. As they talked, Kathy told her about the mechanical problems we were having and that we’re waiting on the tow truck. They told the waitress that they wanted to pay our bill and then they left so we didn’t get an opportunity to thank them so we’re doing it here – Thank You so much!

WOW – Fast Service!

Steve from Clarke Power Services emailed me this morning to let me know the coach is fixed. The technician found a junction box mounted along the frame that had worked loose and the wires inside were corroded and loose as well. He repaired the junction and placed the wiring into a new box and tested. All is well in the world.

We’ll head on down to pick it up and get it back here to Ohio. My hip replacement surgery is scheduled for July 22nd and the doc says it’ll be a couple weeks long recovery until I’ll be able to drive the coach at which time we will be heading west to Oregon to join our Escapees RV Club friends for a 10 day long rally along the Oregon coast.

So long for now, thanks for reading and riding along. Take care,

Herb & Kathy

Really? Unlimited Streaming for only $25/mo ???

Yes that’s right … truly unlimited streaming for just $25 a month. It CAN happen and Kathy and I have been taking advantage of this great value for a full year now. And you can too.

And when I say $25 per month I mean TOTAL cost. No additional taxes, fees, or hidden charges. And there’s no contract either – quit the service whenever you want.

The service is called Visible and it’s owned by and operates on the Verizon 4G network. Wherever you can get Verizon service you can get a Visible signal. NOTE: This statement is accurate for the U.S. only – Visible service does not work in Mexico or Canada.

There’s no special phone or hotspot to buy – you may well be able to use what you already have, just swap out the SIM card with the new one. If for some reason your phone is not compatible with the Visible service, don’t despair as they have plenty of varied inventory on their web site at competitive prices.

Don’t have a hotspot? We bought our ZTE model R2 Android phone from Visible for $19. Although this is actually a cell phone, we use it exclusively in hotspot mode 24/7. It just stays plugged in setting on a table next to our TV. It connects to the TV and our other digital devices in the coach via it’s own built-in wifi.

Looks like their least expensive phone now is priced at $59

We have no indoor or outdoor TV antenna, no cable, no satellite dish. The Visible hotspot is our ONLY television and internet provider.

With Visible you get unlimited data and no throttling of data speeds. There are two caveats however.

  1. When you are using a device in Hotspot mode (providing internet data to TV or other devices) the speed is throttled down to 5mb/second. We have found however that this is NOT a problem. We can still stream every day whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, You Tube, You TubeTV, PBS, CBS, or any other streaming service we’ve tried. Occasionally there are a few seconds of buffering in the very beginning of any stream, but once this goes away, the rest of the show or movie is fine.

The pictures below show our hotspot data usage over the last three months. You can see that we average approximately 170 gigabytes of data per month.

Caveat #2. When using a device in hotspot mode, there can only be one external device connected at a time. To get around this limit we purchased a small $39 Wi-Fi extender/repeater/router. Here’s the link to that particular router we bought. Connect this little router to your new hotspot and then connect multiple digital devices (TV, computer, tablet, etc.) to the router.

How does the $25/month price work? By utilizing what Visible calls “Party Pay”. When you sign up as a new customer the standard price is $40/month and you get a $15 credit as a new customer first month credit bringing your first bill down to $25. From then on it’s $40 unless you take advantage of their Party Pay program by inviting others to join Visible. For each other person that joins your “party”, you each get $5 off your monthly bill. Get 3 folks to join your party and your bill (and each of theirs) is now down to $25/month.

Here’s the link to Visible’s Party Pay web page so you can see for yourself how it works.

And getting others to join your party is easy-peasy because there are Facebook groups and other sites where Visible users post the link to their party inviting others to join. Kathy and I now have three Visible devices with three “guests” in each party so we pay a grand total of $75 per month for 3 devices that provide cell phone service and unlimited data streaming. Pretty good, eh?

I’ve found that if, for any reason someone decides to drop out of one of my parties, I get an email from Visible. I then re-post the link to my party on the Party Pay Facebook group and within minutes I have a new member bringing that monthly bill back down to $25/month!

So what’s the downside? There are no Visible stores and you can’t get any Visible service by contacting Verizon either by phone or going into a Verizon store. You can only communicate with Visible Customer Service online either using their app or on their Facebook page.

Before switching to Visible, we were paying Verizon about $180 per month for service on our three devices (2 Android cell phones and a Verizon hotspot) with a data cap of 25GB/month before they cut the transfer speed to virtually nothing. It was nearly impossible to even check our GMail without severe buffering making us wait what seemed to be forever.

By the way, there’s nothing in this for me. We are not paid to promote Visible service nor do we receive any compensation for new customers other than our Party Pay groups I’ve already talked about. I’m sharing this because I know the service works and just trying to save you some money.

I’m curious … what are you paying for cell service and do you think you might save money by switching to Visible?

Let me know if you have any questions – always glad to help others save money and make life a little easier.

Additional Discounts on TSD Fuel Program Announced

I recently wrote a post telling you about the TSD Logistics Diesel Fuel Savings program. If you missed that post you can read about it here.

Just received some good news from TSD – “We have some great news. TA/Petro has come back to us with some great rates. They will likely be the lowest price out of all of our vendors.”

They are also continuing to work with other fuel vendors to add more opportunities for us to save on diesel fuel at the truck pumps.

We have also added Kwik Trip and Kwik Star to our discount program with 10 cents off per gallon. We are reaching out to others now to see if we can increase to some of the smaller chains. Our current discount network is TA, Petro, Loves, Road Ranger, SAAP Brothers, Ambest, Kwik Trip and Kwik Star.”

I’m going to type up this list of fuel vendors and keep it within arms reach from the driving position so I can be on the lookout for these suppliers.

If they are not already there, all of these suppliers will soon be merged into the TSD/EFS app that we use to find the best price in our area.

The EFS (Electronic Fuel Systems) app is showing that the Loves along I-71 at Bellville, OH has the lowest price on diesel near me.

Here’s a clip of the Loves web site this morning showing their current pump price on diesel at $2.42/gallon.

Not a bad savings, ($.77 per gallon) eh?

If you haven’t already started using the TSD Logistics RV Fuel Savings Card, I encourage you to take advantage of the savings and the ease of use. Yes, they do charge a nominal fee (10% of the SAVINGS you get) but it’s well worth it.

If you have any questions, feel free to write me here in the comments section below or connect with me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/herbnkathyrv and I’ll be glad to share my experiences with you.

I know right now very few of us are traveling the way we were a few months ago but “this too shall pass” and while you’re sitting still now is a good time to take a few minutes to sign up for the program. Besides, right now you know where you’re going to be over the next few weeks … so they’ll have a good address to send you the EFS card.

And when the time comes … safe travels to you.

Saving $ on Diesel Fuel (New Program)

As we travel around the country in our diesel motorhome, we’re always looking for savings on fuel. I’ve used the Gas Buddy app to find stations and their pricing, but it seems I most often gravitate to the highway exit stations like Loves, Flying J, and others because of the convenience being right off the exit ramp and knowing I’ll always have plenty of room to navigate in and around the pump islands.

Although Gas Buddy might show a good price on a station in town, I don’t know how the roads and/or traffic might be getting off the freeway and down to the station, and I have no idea how large the lot is or how many pumps they have. When you’re driving a motorhome pulling a Toad (that means you can’t back up) you want to know you can get in and out easily.

Pilot/Flying J has offered discounts to RV’ers that carry the Good Sam (Camping World) Preferred Customer card. This gives gasoline customers five cents per gallon and diesel customers eight cents per gallon discount. This card works in the RV lanes and not in the truck lanes.

But now we have an even better alternative. A commercial trucking company called TSD Logistics out of Texarkana, Texas is now offering it’s negotiated pricing with some of the more popular truck fuel stops to RV’ers who purchase diesel fuel.

Large trucking companies negotiate fuel prices with suppliers based on annual volume. In order to get the best discount possible, TSD saw that by opening their program to RV’ers their total annual volume would increase thereby getting them a better price in future negotiations.

For the RV’er the process is simple. Go to the TSD site and register for an account. There’s no fee for signing up. Once you receive your TSD / EFS debit card in the mail just pull in to any Loves, Petro, T/A (Truckstops of America) and some others. Pull up to THE TRUCK PUMPS. You’ll use your new TSD / EFS card and follow the prompts on the pump screen. It’ll ask you a few questions and then you’ll be able to use the big-boy hose and fill that big diesel tank much more quickly than at the regular or RV pumps.

I blocked the account number for obvious reasons

The TSD/EFS debit card will be attached to your checking account. I recommend that you set up a new checking account just for this purpose. I use ALLY online bank because it’s an interest bearing account and there’s no cost to set up or maintain the account.

With the ALLY app on my phone I can easily transfer funds from our household account to the ALLY account at any time. The pictures below show the ticket from the Loves station in Bushnell Florida along with the screenshot from the EFS app showing my actual cost and savings.

Note pump price of $2.68 per gallon
We paid $1.853 per gallon vs. the pump price of $2.689 / gallon

On our most recent 4000+ mile trip from Arizona through Florida and on up to Ohio, we paid $765 for 391 gallons of diesel fuel and saved $255 off the pump price for an average per gallon price of $1.95 per gallon.

If you’re interested in signing up for the diesel fuel program, check out the web site at https://www.tsdlogistics.com/services/fuel-program/ and if you have any questions about it you can reach out to me in the comment section below or send me an email direct to herbsells@gmail.com

Oh, and by the way … you’ll see on the TSD site that you can get $25 from TSD by referring any of your friends to the program. So if and when you sign up, please indicate that you were referred by Herb Baldwin.

Thanks!

Only a Couple Hiccups

We’ll, after a few 400+ mile days we finally made it to our destination of Holt, Florida. We left Casa Grande AZ Monday about noon after my medical appointment and wanted to get to Holt by Friday morning since my friend Dave has every other Friday off work.

We got settled in to a great little State Park just west of Holt, Florida and only about 25 miles from Dave and Robyn’s house.

Our site at Blackwater River State Park

Once we got settled in we drove on over to Crestview and spent the rest of the day with our good friends who we hadn’t seen in just about two years.

Dave and I left the girls at the house and ran over to the local hardware to get some cable and clamps to replace one of the broken safety cables on our tow bar. I must’ve not connected it fully when we left Arizona and it dragged on the highway 1700 miles and just chewed off the end. Imagine that!

So we started back to the house and something just didn’t feel right. It felt as though the car was sluggish. I had to give it more gas to go and it didn’t want to coast when I took my foot off the accelerator. I suspected one of the brake calipers had locked up .. unfortunately I was correct.

But Dave knew a shop just down the street and we drove it right over.

Our little Saturn up on the rack

Within an hour he had the rotor and all the front brake pads replaced. Great service!

We went back and picked up the girls and went to a great little fresh seafood restaurant right around the corner from their house. We had eaten here two years ago with Dave and Robyn and got free meals from a total stranger that night. We were kinda hoping for the same this year,😁 but it didn’t work that way. But nonetheless we had great meals with great friends.

Emerald Isle Seafood @ Crestview FL

Today they came to the campground and picked us up and we all visited a great little Arts & Music Festival in the river town of Milton west of Crestview heading toward Pensacola. We enjoyed the sunshine, the ice cream, and our time together.

They’re having a duck race on the river to raise money for some good cause (I don’t remember what)
Kathy thought they were cute .. she bought a Zebra Duck

Kathy bought a 🦆 for $5 .. she could win $1500! We won’t know until the race happens on July 4th. They have our phone number to call when we win.

After dinner, Dave and Robyn dropped us off back at the campground. We had just walked into the coach and taken our jackets off and there was a knock at the door. Kathy answered and the fella outside introduced himself as Dave Butzky who we went to high school with back in the early 70’s!!!!!

We invited them in and had a great time together. Thanks to Facebook (we have been FB Friends for about a year now) Dave saw that we were close by so they drive over for a visit!

Dave and Pam

Dave and Pam have been full-timing for about two years now and so we have a lot in common and enjoyed our time together. We look forward to the next time we can meet up!

Lots more to come. We’ll be in Florida for the next two weeks and there’s a lot more to see and do, so we’ll be sharing that as the days roll on.

See ya’ next time! Till then .. be good to yourself and those around you.

Made It Through The Gauntlet (Kind of)

On Wednesday morning three rigs left our other RV friends at La Jolla Beach Camp and headed back to the good ‘ol U.S.A. The rest of the group (24 rigs) were moving on the same day but heading south further into Baja California. Some were going over to the Sea of Cortez at San Felipe while another group was heading further south to Playa Santispac to camp on the water front and do some whale-watching.

One group actually went across Rt 3 to San Felipe and the other group down Rt 1

Thanks to those in the group that had experience crossing back over the border at Tecate, we made it to the wall just fine. Driving north from La Jolla Beach through Ensenada just after rush hour made the trip easier than leaving earlier, but still a lot of traffic, a lot of potholes, and very light painted lines showing separation of lines. You gotta keep both hands on the wheel!

While we waited in line to cross – all along the side of the road are vendors trying to sell you snacks, drinks, and trinkets. This is just one of them. Most just walk up and down the street trying to push their wares on you through the window.

After about 45 minutes we finally made it up to the U.S. Customs crossing inspection gate at Tecate. They came in our coach and looked in our fridge where they then took our eggs and a yellow pepper. They couldn’t tell where these were purchased and they don’t want Mexico meat, eggs, or veggies coming back across the border.

Then the 3 rigs drove on another 20 minutes back to Potrero County Park to camp for the night. We all went out to dinner together, said our goodbyes and heading to our respective destinations (ours to our lease lot at Casa Grande AZ) the next morning.

Ron & Liz (from FL), Liz’ brother Matt (from NY), Jim & Luanne (from OH), and us

We made it back safely (6 hour trip) from CA to AZ stopping once for fuel along the way. And that’s another story – I gotta tell you about how we saved $.78 / gallon with our new truckers fuel card! – but that will be for another post.

When we got back the first thing I wanted to do was wash the rig. Here’s where I found a torn tire – oh no!

Turns out when we left La Jolla Beach I cut a corner a little too close and there was a jagged rock that cut into our drivers side rear tire. The hole is about the size of a quarter (or $10 peso coin) and at it’s deepest is about 3/8″ deep. The “flap” is attached at one end.

I called my local (Coolidge AZ) tire /auto repair shop. He services a lot of Border Patrol and prison buses and I thought he would have a tire in stock. No luck. Loren asked me if I could see the steel belts – my answer was no. He suggested that I trim off the “flap” and not worry about it. He’s had enough experience with heavy truck and construction vehicle tires that I trust his judgement.

But instead of cutting the flap off, I decided to use my Rubber Contact Cement to glue the flap closed so that the wind from being on the road won’t rip the hole any larger.

So we’re back at Rover’s Roost for the weekend and leaving Monday morning to head to Florida. This will be about a 1700 mile trip and will take a week or more to get there. We’ll spend the 2nd and 3rd week of March visiting friends and family in Florida and then the 4th week we will drive up to North Carolina where we will be working in a small privately owned campground right near the Blue Ridge Parkway starting April 1st and going through July 4th.

’til next time … take care and thanks for riding along.

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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