Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reunited! and it feels so good.... and so intensely stressful at the same time

We drove almost 1600 miles on our Utah getaway and back to L.A. with no incidents until we tried to back the trailer up the driveway at the house.  Then... disaster struck.  I was doing the backing and Lance had the walkie talkie at the back and was watching the hitch at the deep part of the gutter, concerned about it bottoming out on the driveway.  He was so focused on the ground he didn't notice that the ladder had connected with the trailer and kept telling me to "comeonback". Ugh.  The total damage:
Ladder bent pretty badly, torn in two places

Hole in trailer from ladder puncture
Yeah we manged to punch a hole in the trailer and bend the ladder until it broke in two places.  Sigh.  Another project.  It can wait, we have a house to wrap up and less than three weeks to handle it. The really irritating thing is that I was watching both the mirrors and the camera and at no point did it seem like it was anywhere near jack-knifing.  So lesson learned: RV's don't back trailers the same way trucks back boats.  Let's hope it's not too expensive of a lesson.  

It sort of set in motion this day of bickering.  I find it interesting how we snapped right back into the high-pressure intensity of house projects and a timeline, when just a day ago we had been completely at harmony on the road.  

Time to power through this.  Escrow is scheduled loosely to close on July 17th, today is June 29th so lots to do still.  We scheduled the goodbye party this weekend, and a friend and I will handle the garage sale next weekend while Lance takes our keepsakes and heirloom furniture up to Northern CA in a uHaul, and then the final deep cabinet purge, last rounds of donation runs and big trash day.  

On the upside, look who was waiting for us on the driveway...

Stewie was waiting for us
And he will not be left behind next time.  He's making sure of it by hanging out all over, in and on the bus.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What works, and what doesn't.

Sunrise over Escalante
We left La Mirada June 10th for 18 days of Utah fun.  This is the longest shakedown yet, and the last, as the house sold the first weekend it was on the market. First, what works: the bus.  Mechanically it hasn't missed a beat, there was a little scare with the starting battery the day we left, but other than that, perfect.  When moving between Escalante and Moab, UT we towed our motorcycle trailer over a 9600 ft pass, there was copious black smoke at the top but we made it with flying colors. Bring on the Rockies! Air conditioning! We haven't been under 100 degrees once since the 10th.  As long as we have a 50 amp service we can run fore and aft ac, no problem maintaining 70 degrees.  The cooking area is cramped, and while my in-laws were with us it was difficult to cook for 4 people.  I'm 6' 2" and the overhead cabinets... aren't. I may have to start wearing a helmet while I cook.  The motorcycle trailer balances well behind the bus and I can load the bikes by myself.  The camera gear is kind of a mixed bag, the 360 camera works well with a little vibration problem, I may have to move it to a helmet mount, ugh.  The 4k camera is way too heavy for the mount but takes such nice video I may recruit Shawna to ride on the back and shoot, or find a professional vibration reducing mount.  More on that later.  Not so good: the pets.  As it stands Stewie was AWOL on the day of departure, as tomcats often are. He has since reappeared  and is being watched by the neighbors.  Starfish just had her 12th birthday and is adapting pretty well except for a little carsickness. Our dog Chloe is also doing well, however she is stuck to staying within walking distance of the bus as we have no car, I'm worried should we ever need a vet in a hurry.  I've been thinking about modifying a pet crate to attach to my luggage rack.  We have way more storage than we need, and can probably lighten the load a bit as we find out what we really use.  Shawna's workstation continues to be a problem, she is working from the dinette, fairly uncomfortable after a short period of time. Internet hasn't been much of a problem, however forget Sprint, at least in southern Utah. The park in Escalante had excellent WiFi early in the morning or late at night.  The park in Moab has terrible WiFi all the time, but we are able to tether to our phones on ATT's network. We purchased a WeBoost DriveX OTR that I will install when we get back to the house.  The bikes are running well, I had an idling issue (possibly some bad gas) that seems to have worked itself out.  We leave for La Mirada Tuesday with about 20 days 'til the close of escrow; busy-busy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Utah - beautiful, hot, and very, very red

So... Utah.  Oh. My. God.

I doubt I will ever see a more beautiful landscape.

Lance on the North end of La Sal Loop Road - you may recognize this scene, they shoot a lot of Western films here

Something about the way the red rocks have a different personality depending on the time of day and the way the light hits them. And no rock outcropping looks like any other. And they seem to have faces and shapes hidden in them.

Something about the way everyone is so friendly.

First we stayed in Escalante.  Lance and I arrived a day before my folks, who trailered their Goldwing and stayed in a cabin on the same property.  The wind hammered us from the side all the way from LA - it felt like a 50 knot wind at least, and so we used that first day or so to recover, and do a little dirt exploring on the bikes.  The wind was bad still and we got sandblasted so it was a very short ride.

The route from Escalante to Moab had a couple of options: the Google Map direct way was up 12 over Hogback Ridge, a ridgetop road where the earth drops away on both sides of the road for thousands of feet (we shot some video - you won't believe it - we'll share the Youtube link as soon as we figure out how to do all that).  Oh, there's also a couple spots with grades up to 14%.  We could have gone the long, freeway way.  We went the direct route.  Not sorry.

The bus handled the elevation like a champ, although we got quite slow on occasion, and we did find some more crazy crosswinds, but it was totally worth it to see the beautiful canyons along the way.

Now we know our bus can handle big inclines, and heat, and long steep declines (engine brakes are a very good thing).  Now we can choose to work the Rockies into our plans if we want to do so.

We found that we cannot run both air conditioners on the 30 amp service we were given in Moab, and for some reason our site is the only one that gets full sun all day, every day.  The temperatures are expected to continue to exceed 100 degrees for the duration of our stay, so we broke camp and moved to a different site, one with a 50amp service and some shade.  Much better.

This morning when dumping the gray tank I noticed some small leaks in the hose, the same brand-new hose we installed right before leaving home.  We can use the shorter one but since we don't know what's causing the leaks so fast we are likely to run into the same problem if we can't identify the source, perhaps there's something sharp poking the hose when it's stuffed away (subsequent investigation found this to indeed be the problem, the sharp edge was smoothed and the faulty hose was removed).  And the jacks just won't settle in the deep gravel. Frustrating.  Newbie problems probably. I think I will walk the dog around the compound and see what I can see.  Surely someone's figured this jack thing out, just need to find me a guru...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Offer accepted, house sold

Today we accepted the best offer for our home.
We are proceeding into escrow.

We worked all of this out with the real estate agent while on vacation in Utah, all it took was a phone, a laptop, and a really good real estate agent.  It's strange... it seems like I should feel something but all I feel is annoyance that I have to come back to settle the furniture, tools, etc.

This RV has been a lot more maintenance out the gate than we were expecting and the learning curve has been huge.  The drive out here to Utah was fraught with crazy scary winds and terrifying dropoffs. 

By all accounts I should be sad, or at least feeling something about this house I put so much energy, time and money into over the years.  Instead, all I want do do is keep moving on in my RV, even with its warts and all.  I know we will work through them together.  Hey, a small win, but I got the shampoo dispenser to cooperate this morning finally.  The hydraulic jacks continue to vex us.

The one consolation to our return to L.A., we will throw an epic party to say goodbye to all our SoCal friends and family, and will be reunited with Stewie.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Oh where, oh where has my little Stew gone?

Well, people are starting to arrive in throngs for the open house.  We are all loaded up and the real estate agent is clearly hard at work guiding a bunch of strangers around our home while we watch from the RV across the street, every now and then trolling the neighborhood and calling out for our wandering cat.  We were supposed to be gone before sunrise, it's now almost noon. Stewie is a no-show.

We need to get rolling without him.  I am inconsolable.

A popular stop along I-15 that is dog-friendly and
allows boondocking.  Where else can you get a great
 hamburger, milkshake, enjoy some bee-bop tunes
with the dog, and see dinosaurs on the lawn?

Update: at 9pm the neighbor sent us a photo of a Stewie sighting in the front yard.  He is alive and well, and will be fed and monitored while we are in Utah.  Whew.

We have found that casinos tend to be boondocker friendly