Monday, March 30, 2015

Things that pop by day

The past ten days has been one to remember.

First - my license plate for the Motorhome finally arrived!

I did not mention but the RV dealership had really screwed things up when processing
our out of state registration.   Now I don't want to sound like a know it all....
but I gave them instructions on what to do and how to do it - which they completely
ignored and as a result for the past month we have been driving around in a sort
of legal haze as to whether or not we were street legal.

After calling the state each day for a month and being told it was still going to
be 3 weeks or longer to get license plates I was quite frustrated.

In a last desperate effort I sent an email to the NC governors office with no real hope
that it would have any effect but surprisingly the next morning I had a phone call
from someone who listened to my story.

Less than 3 hours later she called me back and told me that she was holding my plates
in her hand and where would I like them to be overnighted too.
Yes Overnighted!

Friday morning I had my plates in my hand.
We were finally legal!


So - to celebrate we decided to head to the Las Vegas Strip and take in the sights.
We took this picture in front of the Mirage Hotel.  My company was going to start
a National Convention in this hotel the next day.


Another oasis in the desert.


We strolled the streets of Venice (in the Venetian Hotel)



For the past month or so - my knee has been bothering me.
I even went to an Urgent Care Center when we were at Rons in Placerville.
I've figured it was an old high school skiing injury - torn cartilage - finally coming back
to haunt me.

Well after limping all around Las Vegas - I was getting back into the truck to head home,
and I heard and felt a sharp pop/crack in my knee.
The pain was excruciating.

After 5 minutes or so of "yell and cuss therapy", 
I was finally able to drive home but upon arrival was unable to get out of the truck 
and put weight on my leg.

Kate brought my computer out to the truck and I started to look
for Orthopedic Doctors who could see me NOW.

Eventually we found one - I drove there and they had someone wheel me into the building.
This is me leaving 2 hrs later.


Appointments were made for an MRI which I had on Thursday,
and then a follow up with the Doctor on Monday (tomorrow)


36 hrs later we moved across town from our Luxury Motorcoach Resort
to the Las Vegas RV Resort.   Yes I drove the bus.

I spent most of the week just sitting and hobbling around a bit - each day I could
walk a tad better but the knee is still messed up.

On thursday our company convention ended
so my Boss Jay and his wife Leigh came to visit and I took them to the airport.
It was a nice visit - I always enjoy spending time with them.


You might recall - we were here in Las Vegas in the first place so that I could fly to
NY for business...   Well I had to cancel that trip.  I would never have been able to
make it thru the connecting airports.

 Jim & Kristi arrived at the park here last Sunday and on Friday
they packed me into the car and we took a drive to the Valley of Fire State Park.


The park is a beautiful jewell just 45 miles or so north of Las Vegas.


We drove the shore road north along Lake Mead instead of taking I-15.
Good call Jim.

We had a nice picnic lunch and were visited by these ferocious carnivores.
We did not have the Doodles with us to protect us from them.


The colors in the park are quite amazing.






Saturday morning I had to do a little maintenance on the coach.
My transfer switch has been acting up and I knew it was only a matter of time
till it left me stranded.

(the transfer switch is an electrical device that routes 
power from either shore power
or the generator)

If the switch died I'd have no shore power, my generator would not be able to
power the coach and I'd have no way to recharge batteries other than running the engine.

So rather than replacing it with a similar simple switch, I got one with larger
65 amp contacts as well as multi tiered protection (surge, high/low voltage, etc)

The install was simple other than it being done in the sun and was hot hot hot!

Here it is wired in and ready to close up.


Once done, I turned the shore breaker on and smooth as silk - we electrified.

Jim & Kristi's week here was winding down.  With my knee uncertainty
I did not know when we might be able to leave town so instead of traveling together
with us they were going to head home for a month.

So last night we had a good bye dinner and more importantly a
21st birthday bash for Kristi.

We went to a Brazilian Steak house.
If you have never been - and you like meat - you need to try it.
 Basically they had 16 different types of barbecued meats.   
They were barbecued on skewers and the
"gauchos" would walk around and carve off slices from the skewers right to your plate.

Our host took us on a tour of the kitchen where we saw the meats cooking.
Beef, Lamb, Pork, and Chicken.  Numerous types of each.


The birthday girl and her cake.



After dinner we did the Vegas thing by taking a night cruise of the strip.


This is an iconic old sign in front of the Frontier Casino in Old Town.
The hand used to move up and down while the cowboy said Howdy Partner.
Now it doesn't move or talk.



The clown at Circus Circus gives me the creeps...
It reminds me of the Clown from Steven Kings novel  "IT"


Well its Sunday.
Jim & Kristi hit the road this morning.
Tomorrow morning I see the doc and figure out what the plan will be.

I'm pretty sure that I am going to need arthroscopic surgery on the knee.
The doc agreed with my diagnosis last week and the MRI is to confirm it.

So if right - the questions will be when and where.

The doc here is actually one of the best in the country but I don't want to spend
a long time here if the recuperation time will be lengthy.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We are in limbo right now - hopefully tomorrow we'll have a plan.

Bottom line - It's all good!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rubbing Elbows

I'm learning not to say: "It doesn't get any better than this"
Because it can...  and does!

On Sunday we packed up, left Picacho Peak State Park,
and drove 6 hrs up to Las Vegas.

Along the way, Kate did some beading while we motored down North on US 93.



It's a testament to just how sweet the ride in the bus is, that Kate can do this
fine work underway.

30 Miles South of Las Vegas US 93 crosses the new bridge that bypasses the old
route over Hoover Dam.   You cannot see the dam from cars and our old truck,
but the bus is high enough that you can get a glimpse of the dam 200' lower.


Our destination was the Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort where we will spend 1 of our
two weeks here in Vegas.

The resort is Class A Motorhomes only.
It is lots that are privately owned and leased by the owners.
Our lot is one of the simpler (and less expensive) sites.


The Resort is AMAZING!
It is a tropical oasis in the middle of the desert.

When you enter thru the gate you are transformed out of the desert
and into a lush green wonderland.
The scents of flowers and the sounds of birds fill the air.

Many of the sites are custom designed for long term residency and
living the good life.

Just back the bus in - your Tiki bar, ovens, grills, big screen TV's etc await!


There are 5 pools on the 47 acre property.
One large pool is centrally located by the clubhouse (below) and 4 
smaller ones are strategically 
located near the 4 corners of the resort.


This owner combined two sites into his playground.


There are numerous side streets giving the resort a more intimate and
"home-town" feel about it.


Corner lots tend to be a bit larger.
Some of the lots, like the one below even opted for custom finishing to
the driveway.   Some are done in Granite or Marble.


The pool just up the street from our site.
(one of the 4 smaller ones)


Ok...  I could get used to this.


Lots currently for sale in here range from about $120k to the mid $300k range.

Here are a few pictures of the outbuildings located inside of one of the developed sites.




Seeing this place sure gives me some ideas...
Kate and I have long talked about buying a piece of land somewhere and
setting it up as a winter (or summer) destination for the RV.

A nice plot of land, some nice landscaping, the right accessories, and
a second pad with hookups for visitors and we are all set for some fun and relaxation.

We are here till Sunday at which point we move to another Resort 
here in town for another week.   

In the interim we plan to try and catch some exhibits and see some of the sights.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Spring is Springing & A Battery Makeover

A lot of people that I talk to think of the desert as a barren wasteland.
Just dirt, rock, and cactus.
Barren and unchanging - season to season.

Nothing could be further from the truth however.

The desert wildflowers are beginning to bloom.   The show will increase
as the days and weeks roll by but we are getting some of the early peeks
at the colors to come.

This Prickly Pear Cactus is showing off its spring finery.


I'm not certain as to the names of the two bushes below, but they
were blooming all over Lake Pleasant Regional Park just
North of Phoenix for the last 3 days.



While in Lake Pleasant, we were invited down for a Sonoran Hot Dog lunch
with 4 other couples that we know from our Montana Group.
 
They are spending a couple of months in Phoenix to Golf and attend 
Spring Baseball Training games by
one or more of the 15 teams that are here.

What's a Sonoran Hot Dog you ask??
So did I.

How about:
Big juicy hot dogs, wrapped in bacon, covered with cheese, and then
all sorts of toppings - onions, guacamole, salsa, chili, beans, salads, etc.

It was great visiting with all of them - unfortunately I forgot to bring the
camera so no pictures.

Thanks for a great lunch and afternoon!
Kate and I had a wonderful time.  
We owe you guys a lunch!

While at Lk Pleasant I also broke out the radiant grill
to cook up a couple of beauties.

Marcel - this steak's for you!


Our site at the Lake as the sun casts the final rays of the day.


This morning we hit the road and headed down to Mesa where I had
an appointment to have 6 new batteries installed.
It's an easy job that I could have done myself but the batteries are 90lbs each
and they did not charge much so I sat back and let them do it.

We installed 6 Lifeline GPL-6CT batteries.
6v 300ah each gives us a 900ah bank at 12v.


The batteries just barely make it into the battery compartment.


But make it they did.


Step 1   Install Battery Monitor...  done!
Step 2  New Larger AGM Battery Bank....    Done!
Step 3   Add Solar Panels to the Roof...   Next on the list.

Then I will be done.

After the batteries we moved an hour south to Picacho Peak State Park.
We have passed by here at least a dozen times and always wanted to stay and
check it out.   So here we are.

Each time we pass thru I play Pat Metheny - Last Train Home.
Lindsay knows why.


The park has several hiking trails including one to the top of the peak for 
the more adventurous.

Our site has electric which is necessary for the A/C right now as the temps are unseasonably
warm in the high 80's and low 90's.    Time to head for higher elevation.

Our view with Picacho Peak in the background.


Sunday we will depart and head 5 hrs north west to Las Vegas where we
will spend two weeks.
I have to fly to NY for business and you can fly direct to ANYWHERE from Las Vegas
so it is a good place to hang out.

Jim & Kristi,  returning from Mexico, will hook back up with us there later in our visit 
and hopefully keep Kate out of trouble while I'm gone.

Monday, March 9, 2015

DoodleCamp and Beyond

Time flies when you are having fun....
and that has just been what we are doing.

Life in the Bus is Grand!

Continuing our trek southward we crossed the Siskyou Mountains
and eventually were greeted with Mt Shasta in the windshield.

It seems that with the super large windshield in the Bus...
the views are even more impressive!


We spent a couple of nights in Red Bluff, Ca.  I'm still waiting for my new NC
plates and registration for the bus so I got a California trip permit from DMV so that
we could continue to be legal as me motored onward.

Eventually our path brought us back to DoodleCamp - Ron & Maxines house,
where the Doodles spent Christmas while we were in Europe.

You might recall that Ron is a car aficionado and expert restorer and has this
beautiful 1955 Chevy that he restored from a  dirty pile of scrap.

He took me for a ride in it to Folsom one day.

Here is the view from the front seat.


We met Kate and Maxine for Breakfast in Folsom.
One of the best breakfasts in memory!


Like many towns in the foothills of the Sierras, Folsom dates back to the 1800's and the downtown
area preserves a lot of the old charm.   Here is the hotel and on the left an old gas station.



Ron gave Kate a ride back home in the 55.
But first - a photo.


We spent a week at DoodleCamp.   Time always goes fast when we visit.
We are treated like royalty - they are such great hosts.

 Soon it was time to move on - even though my NC plates still did not arrive.
Another stop at California DMV for a second trip permit and we were ready to roll.

We stopped at the TruckTub in Stockton to give the party bus a wash.

For those of you who wonder what a Bus/Truck wash looks like...
Ladders, sprayers, mop extensions...
And lots of workers scurrying about.


After a hand wash....
A hand dry!


We left the TruckTub clean and spiffy.
The Bus and the Toad were spotless.

Our destination was the Orange Grove in Bakersfield and along the way
the flowering cherry trees (and pollinating bees) created
an insect storm that did a job on my freshly cleaned front.

Not to worry, I broke out a brush and bucket upon arrival 
and soon the bus was looking top notch again.

We picked a bunch more of the delicious navel oranges while in Bakersfield,
and spent Saturday doing some grocery shopping.

Today we headed over the Tehachapi Mountains
 to Lake Havasu State Park in Arizona.

Crossing the Tehachapis from the San Joaquin Valley you leave behind the
green of farm country and in a few short miles find yourself deposited into
the Mojave Desert and hundreds of miles of desert as you head east into Arizona.

Arriving at Havasu, we are parked just as the sun is setting over the lake.


We have just two days here and then Tues-Thurs at Lake Pleasant in Peoria, Az.

Next Friday we have an appointment with a battery dealer in Mesa to pick up
6 big Lifeline AGM Batteries for the house bank.
They are 90 lbs each!  540 lbs of batteries!

These batteries will give us 900 amp hrs of house capacity and is the
next step in our march to making the Bus off Grid Capable without the generator.

Just like the Montana - we want the Party Bus to be a go anywhere RV
powered by the sun.

The final step after the batteries will be a solar install which I will probably do
when we are parked at home this summer.

Home...  remember that place??