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.
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!
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!?
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!)
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.
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.
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While we were on the road this year, I made an appointment with Brian Boone to have our solar power system upgraded when we got back to Arizona.
We set the appointment for November 18th in Quartzsite. Brian worked for Discount Solar for ten years installing new systems before going out on his own.
Brian and his wife Sue are full-time RV’ers themselves and travel the country posting their upcoming locations on their Facebook page so other RV’ers can make appointments when it works for both.
Since our RV Park at Casa Grande is only 3 hours from Q, it was an easy drive for the day and a half it would take for the install. Brian was able to make arrangements with a local church to allow us to use their parking lot for the duration.
After arriving Sunday afternoon in Q, we had dinner at the famous Quartzsite Yacht Club where they had Karaoke and it was a blast!
I ordered all the equipment for the install from Continuous Resources back in October and had it delivered to me at our RV park in plenty of time to load up in the Saturn to take along with us to the install site. By doing it this way Brian doesn’t have to carry any bulky, heavy, and high priced inventory. He does however, carry a wide variety of cables, connectors, and hardware needed to complete the installation.
The next morning Brian and crew showed up about 8:30, set up their work station and got right to work.
Since Brian is having a little trouble with his knees lately he solicited the help of his friend Devin to do some of the work that would require kneeling and squatting.
We installed (six) 200 watt Hightec RCL-M200w solar panels on the roof, two Blue Sky 3024i controllers, two power disconnects, fuse, and a Magnum 2000 watt full sine wave inverter. Both the inverter and the solar controller(s) have remote monitoring and control panels wall mounted in the kitchen. We mounted these on the wall because we didn’t have any cabinet conveniently located that we could mount them into.
Although the job was finished Tuesday about noon in time for us to make it back to Casa Grande, we decided to stay a 3rd night because a bad wind and rain storm was headed our way. By early afternoon the temperature dropped about 25 degrees and the wind went from “still” to 20-30 mph gusts.
So we spent another night at the church and then headed on home on Wednesday.
During one of our days off duty at The Big Tent RV Show, we took a road trip up to (and across) Parker Dam, Lake Havasu, and Bullhead City.
We started the trip taking State Route 95 straight north out of Quartzsite and crossing the state line at the town of Parker. On up 95 a few miles we crossed the Parker Dam back into Arizona. Thank goodness as gasoline in California is about $2 per gallon higher than in Arizona!
Our friends and co-workers Paul & Chris went with us and we enjoyed the day together. Driving as far as we did gave us a lot of time to talk and catch up on each others travels.
Parker Dam crosses the Colorado River and was built in 1942. You can see some of the Art Deco architecture in the design of the dam.
(taken from Nat Park Service web site) ” What you see is not what you get at Parker Dam, known as “the deepest dam in the world.” Engineers, digging for bedrock on which to build, had to excavate so far beneath the bed of the Colorado River that 73 percent of Parker Dam’s 320-foot structural height is not visible. Its reservoir, Lake Havasu, is a different matter. Its deep blue water stretches for 45 miles behind the dam, creating an oasis in the Arizona desert. Gracing the shore at Lake Havasu City is the historic London Bridge, reconstructed brick by brick in 1971 and adding to the city’s claim as “Arizona’s playground.”
Click on any of the images below to open a larger view
We continued on up (the Arizona side) State Route 95 and made a quick stop at the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. Kathy and I had stopped here a couple years ago and wanted to give Paul & Chris a chance to see it as well. The Refuge is huge, but the part that’s easiest to see is a small peninsula into the river. The peninsula has shade shelters with benches so you can use your binoculars to see all the water fowl that lives in the habitat. The nightfall pictures below are from our stop on the way back home from Lake Havasu and Bullhead City.
Click on any of the images below to open a larger view.
Our next stop was Lake Havasu City. We kept this portion of the trip short, we just visited the London Bridge, grabbed a bite to eat at a local cafe and then back on the road. (Thanks Paul & Chris for buying our lunch!)
This is THE original London Bridge, moved to Lake Havasu City from London back in 1968 by Robert McCulloch. Find out all the details of the moving of the bridge at this link. It doesn’t cost anything to park in the lot and walk along the water’s edge. It must cost the store operators an arm and a leg in rent to have a storefront at the foot of the bridge. There is a small island on the far side of the bridge where there are residential units, restaurants, and more shopping.
Next stop on the trip … Bullhead City. We purposely made the drive on up the road to Bullhead City to have a brief visit with Rob & Michelle. Kathy and I met Rob & Michelle when we were workamping at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park in Michigan in summer of ’18. We spent the day with them in the Tucson area a month or so ago and wanted to stop in and say “Hi” and introduced them to Paul & Chris — you never know when they might have the opportunity to cross paths again.
Unfortunately, I FORGOT to get ANY pictures of Rob & Michelle or their beautiful RV site looking toward Spirit Mountain on this trip! So here’s one I stole off Michelle’s Facebook page..
Thanks for riding along … we look forward to spending time with you again soon!
We just returned to our winter home at Rover’s Roost SKP RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ after spending a “mostly” wonderful 10 days or so at Quartzsite.
What’s Quartzsite you ask? Quartzsite is a small town in the western Arizona desert, only about 15 miles or so from Blythe, California. Quartzsite (during the summer) is a sleepy little town of about 3000 people. But WATCH OUT! Because when winter arrives, the town and surrounding desert lands explode with RV’ers and Van Campers and all sorts of folks from all over the country.
The population in the winter goes from about 3000 up to 300,000 or more as folks show up to attend one or more of the many shows that take place. You have the Big Tent RV Show, Gem show, Rock Show, Jewelry Show, and on-going Flea Market(s) over the winter months.
The show officially started on Saturday January 19th although we arrived early on Tuesday the 15th to an area in the desert about 6 miles north of Quartzsite known as “Boomerville”. Boomerville is an unofficial area off the north side of Plamosa Road where about 500-600 Escapee (baby boomers) meet each year at Q to renew old friendships.
It was a crappy cold and rainy day and our good friends Paul and Chris arrived from Yuma with a flat tire on their motorhome.
Thankfully, Paul & Chris had subscribed to the Escapee Roadside Assistance program and the repairman (with a trailer full of tools) was out to the site within about an hour or so.
While the repairmen were working on replacing the tire, the rest of us gathered in Walter & Rebecca’s rig. We had all met for the first time in Livingston, TX back in December of 2017 and it was great to spend time together again.
The following morning we (the 5 couples working together in the club booth) moved on down the road to the site of the “Big Tent” where we would be working over the next 10 days or so.
The parking area filled up quickly with vendor’s rigs. There were nearly 500 vendor booths inside the tent along with dozens more outside selling everything from new and used RV’s to generators, cell phones, satellite TV systems, RV park spaces, accessories, personal health and beauty aids, leather goods, jewelry, and TONS more.
We were fortunate to have 5 couples working the booth and we all had a great time getting to know one another. We had at least 3 pot luck dinners.
Robyn and Larry live in New Mexico and will be retiring and transitioning to full time RV life in May while Dennis and Connie from the Cincinnati area along with Rob and Laura from Indianapolis and Kathy and me (from Ohio) are full timers. Paul and Chris still live on the family farm in Iowa during the summers and travel extensively during the winters. Our fearless leaders Jim and Lisa are both retired but working again for the club as leaders of the RV Show Teams and of the club Head Out Programs (Caravans/Cruises/Bus Tours). Believe me, with their hectic schedule, they are FAR from being retired!
Click on any of the images in the gallery below to see a larger view
As we’ve said before … traveling the country and seeing all the beautiful landscape is rewarding enough, but the big reward is meeting all the new folks and developing such great new friendships. We so look forward to our next opportunity to meet up on down the road.
We worked the booth selling new memberships, we walked the tent looking at all the many vendors had to offer, we spent too much money buying “stuff” (which we can talk about later), and we had a great time over numerous dinners laughing and sharing stories.
All in all, it was a GREAT trip and a wonderful experience. Only the first day was a bummer due to the bad weather and Paul & Chris’ flat tire.
If you’re an Escapee RV Club member and you’d like to work one of the RV shows across the country, reach out to Lisa (you know who she is). If you’re an RV’er and you’re NOT an Escapee … come on along and join us! Here’s the link – it’s a great RV club … and so much more. It’ll be the best $39.95 you’ve spent in a LONG time! (psss – tell ’em Herb n Kathy sent you)
Thanks for following along on the ride .. more to come about our other adventures later and we look forward to meeting up with you somewhere along the way!
While we were at the big RV show in Quartzsite, we wanted to see some of the sights in the area.
We learned that you can’t make a visit to Quartzsite, AZ without making a stop to see Paul Winer (the naked bookseller). Here’s a video that I found on YouTube of the store and Paul playing the piano.
Paul has been living in the desert and had this book store for nearly 25 years. It used to be in a tent, but in just the last few years, he’s moved in to a building on E. Main Street.
Paul has nearly 200,000 volumes, most of them used, and he knows where every book is. No matter what you might be looking for, no matter how obscure the subject matter, Paul can very likely find it for you in his collection.
Paul also allows authors to sell their signed copies of their latest releases. The day we were at the store, there were three authors set up on the front porch.
Here’s a slide show of some pictures I took inside the store and one of Kathy getting her Reader’s Oasis bookmark autographed by Paul – a keepsake she’ll be happy to show you when we see you!
There were two reasons for our trip to Quartzsite, AZ this past week. The first was because we were so close (3+ hours) drive time from there we just HAD to see what everyone has been going to see and do for so many years, (The big Vacation, Sports, and RV Show).
Then I found out that this week was also the 20th annual Amateur Radio Convention known as “Quartzfest“. Being a ham radio operator since the late ’60’s, (My call is WB8BHK) I thought it would be fun to hang out with some like-minded people. We were all camping in the same area … on BLM land about 6 miles south of Quartzsite in an area known as “Road Runner”. Quartzsite is just above Yuma on this map.
Camping in the desert there is free for up to 14 days. Of course, you need to be totally self-contained (fresh water/waste tanks/batteries/generator/solar) since you are in the desert with no utilities or hookups. When we showed up on Sunday, the registration desk showed we were rig #239 … by the time we left on Thursday there were just under 600 rigs/hams registered!
The purpose of the Quartzfest Convention is to provide a time for education (through seminars and forums), sharing of ideas, display and demonstration of radios and antenna projects, and of course — to have fun.
The Sonoran desert treated us well while we were there, although Monday was VERY windy. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were beautiful sunny days with low winds and temps in the 50’s to 60’s.
The pictures in the slide show below illustrate just some of what we saw surrounding us in the desert. Some of the interesting RV rigs with all kinds of antennas. Check out the pix of the guy in his electric recumbant bicycle, he was zipping around all week silently. Take a look at Mark’s company web site here.
Check out this short video of our trip to Quartzfest 2017
We’ll have subsequent posts of our day trip to Lake Havasu and Parker Dam along with a post about the Big RV show at Quartzsite.
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