Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Stuff all over the State, Some Downtime for Repairs

 Leaving Parker and heading for the Mojave Desert, our stretch goal was Bakersfield for the night. The plan was to visit a Sound Bath along the way; we thought it might be a silly, quirky and kitchy little stop, apparently people take it seriously though...  it’s booked solid until late February. Oh well, we’ll catch one the next time around.

Oranges trying to get in the drivers side window

Just West of Needles I noticed the driver’s side trailer tire looked wonky. All the tire gauges read well, albeit running a little warmer than usual but all the same I decided to have it checked out. We found a truck repair in Barstow called In and Out Truck Repair, they said they would look at it but then continued to work right around us without so much as a nod hello. After about 20 minutes of that I gave up and found Koch Mobile Repair, we met at the Barstow Loves truck stop and John repacked the trailer bearings which were rather dry and loose enough to allow some slop but otherwise undamaged. A few minutes later we were rolling again. The trailer tire wobble was much improved but still there. I didn’t want to alarm Mom so I simply dialed down the speed a little bit and tried to be subtle about obsessively checking on it at every opportunity. We made it uneventfully over the Tehachapi Pass to Bakersfield and found the most adorable little RV park hidden among the orange groves at the foot of the mountains. At checkin they handed us a bag and invited us to pick all the oranges we wanted.

Mom picking oranges for breakfast

Oddly enough, at the exact moment we were settling in with our orange bounty Lance was many miles away with nomadic friends in Napa discussing their favorite RV parks and the same park came up: Orange Grove RV Park. Apparently in the Spring the scent of orange blossoms is intoxicating.

The next day we rolled on to the parking spot I’d prepaid in Loomis close to my folks. The whole time Mom and I have been on this rescue-Loretta-from-Albuquerque mission, Lance has been meeting with surgeons and planning the strategy for the 13th and hopefully last surgery. We knew this was going to be a long pause and we have been accumulating a lengthy project list, and it wasn’t a mistake that Loretta and the trailer will be close to Dad’s toolbox and helpful family; so Loretta, the trailer, and Lance can all get in some healing together.

As usual we broke our list down and prioritized it.
Loretta project #1: fix the cracked kitchen vent to prevent leaks. We first noticed the vent leak way back in August's Syracuse squall, caught up with the the replacement vent delivery in Denver and have been driving around with it ever since waiting for the right repair window. We expected the simple remove and replace project to take an hour but it took 3 hours (that rooftop sealant takes persistence and patience to remove properly), now she can safely shuffle around the shop yard without taking on rainwater damage. Loretta Project 2: find a repair shop that will coordinate with the insurance company and get the bumper repairs rolling.

Trailer project #1: fix the tire situation. The wobbly tire is wearing weirdly. Newly greased bearings are healthy and happy, axle and springs appear undamaged... final diagnosis: the rim is bent. Time for new rims and tires. Of course nobody sells them both together, so it took some running around to get it all sorted but now the trailer is good to roll again.

Lance putting the new wheels on the trailer

We got a good repair shop recommendation in Sacramento, and they were willing to take on both Loretta and the trailer jacknife-repair project, so we left them both at Dr. George's RV Repair. They had hardly rolled in the shop door before our Allstate rep showed up and started writing checks. Huzzah.

We've been considering some modifications to the boat rack, so we'll be tackling that project while we wait.

I feel a bit like George Carlin in that skit about Stuff. Stuff over here, stuff over there, little bags to transport the stuff I really need, stuff being stored elsewhere. Our stuff is spread all across the state of California right now.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Wild, Wild West

Historic Cochise County Courthouse in Tombstone AZ

After leaving Roswell we continued South to Carlsbad Caverns which has long been on Mom's bucket list. The wind was really kicking up as we climbed the hill and parked on the mountaintop.

Typically there are thousands of bats in the caverns, and the Thing To Do is to wait for them at sundown at the cavern exit. But these bats don't like the cold, so most of them migrate to warmer climes as the weather cools, the few remaining hardy critters that are left hibernate deep in the caverns. All the same, it was an excellent tour. We chose to skip the flashlights and camera flash and enjoy the ambient LED lighting as laid out by the rangers, which was haunting and magical. We were very grateful for the elevator as the Big Room is almost 1000' down - a very long and steep hike.

The winds continued to grow in strength while we were touring the caverns, and we were getting slapped around on the highway so we nestled into the Guadalupe Mountains State Park and called it an early night. The site was only $8 but had no hookups so Mom got her first boondocking experience.

Red Sunrise at the Guadalupe Mountains Campground

The next morning's sunrise was stunning and red (you know the saying: red sky at night sailor's delight, red sky at morning sailor take warning) so we packed up and rolled quickly to get ahead of the wind. We got as far as Willcox which put us within reach of Tombstone, AZ.

The Guadalupe Mountains were once an ancient seabed. On the other side of this mountain was beautiful white sand which looked very beachy.

Tombstone is the home of the OK Corral shootout. Basically this gang of cowboys was runnin' their mouths and the local sheriff family of Earps didn't like it much, and it all culminated in a shootout with three cowboys dead and some injured Earps. The re-enactment was worth the $10 entrance fee. The rest of the town is as original as possible considering it's burned to the ground three times and was left abandoned for quite some time. In its heyday the town ran on silver, bordellos, and whiskey and when the silver mines flooded beyond hope most everyone simply left, the population overnight went from 10,000+ to less than 200 folks.

Earps patrolling the main drag in Tombstone

As I was wrestling Loretta out of her parking spot in Tombstone I jacknifed the trailer, causing damage to both the trailer and Loretta's bumper. Rrrrgh. This was followed by a sleepless night turning it over again and again in my head, thinking of all the woulda, coulda, shoulda, and what if moments that would have resulted in less damage. So here's what I've learned:
  1. If in doubt, get out and look.
  2. Ignore advice from strangers standing around - they don't have all the facts and they don't know what you/your rig need.
  3. Get out and look again.

The next day we continued on through Quartzsite to the Blue Water Casino in Parker, AZ and settled on the Colorado River (if you're an Angeleno this region is simply called The River as if there was no other river in the world). This location hosts an outdoor bar at the marina, an outdoor theater, a multi-level pool with slides, and a wakeboard island where a zipline-type contraption propels you and your wakeboard over the ramps. All was quiet in the off season but I'll bet it's a hoppin' place in the summertime.

The pool playground at the Blue Water Casino Resort

There's ugly weather ahead and ugly weather behind, so we'll wait here for a moment before launching across the Mojave Desert.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Springing Loretta / Roswell, New Mexico

The mechanics were finally ready to release Loretta, it was time to fly to Albuquerque and pick her up. Lance couldn't go - he's meeting a new foot surgeon - so my Mom volunteered to ride shotgun.

The International UFO Museum & Research Center was $5 well spent

While waiting in the Cummins guest lounge for the final paperwork to be drawn up, we anxiously watched the weather news - a big storm was bearing down on Albuquerque and promising epic snow. We fidgeted with our luggage and passed worried looks to one another, the other folks in the waiting room looked like they were wilting, they'd been there long enough to lose faith. Their dog lay farting and snoring on the floor at their feet while they recounted their long tale of repair shop woe. When I couldn't stand the wait any longer I went hunting down the necessary paperwork to wrap things up so we could flee.

Shortly thereafter we were rolling with haste, up the mountain and away from the approaching wall of black storm clouds as quickly as possible, wallet still whimpering from Loretta's 7-page long repair bill.
Destination: Roswell, New Mexico.

We escaped the snow but the wind followed us down the mountain.
Mom's hanging on for dear life while gale force winds blow through town.

This town has embraced all things alien. The street lamps have painted eyes on them, currently decorated for Christmas with little red bow ties and Santa hats. Many storefronts hosted chainsaw carvings of aliens, and even the City Hall has green tiles on its domed roof.

Roswell City Hall

 The winds are predicted to start slowing down soon, we'll make a short jump to Carlsbad Caverns tomorrow, and start making our way West as good weather windows appear.

Meeting the alien from the Day the Earth Stood Still.
It was rather creepy.