Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Day 72, Tuesday, December 31, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 23

December Soler Panel Outpu
A bit warmer over night, but still cool during the day, at least for Quartzsite. Today's high was 59°F. There was mixed sun & clouds, enough sun so I managed to refill the batteries by 2:30.

A relaxing day in the trailer most of the day. I did go for a long walk up the large wash this morning, but quit before too long - walking on the fine gravel is tough.

I thought about making a trip to Parker to do some needed shopping & because I'm bored, but decided it can wait until Thursday. I spent the day reading forums, and posting a report in a thread on lithium batteries on my solar experiences here at Quartzsite for the last 21 days. Since I don't have much else to write about, I'll stick a copy here:

For anyone interested, I can give some user data on a combination of 480 watts of solar & a pair of 100 amp hour Battleborn lithium batteries here at Quartzsite, AZ. The data was collected by the Victron bluetooth readouts for both the solar controller & the battery monitor. While it is obviously conditioned on the solar conditions, which, of course, are variable, it might give users some "real world" idea of what they can expect from a system. I consider myself a "heavy" user of power - typically 50 amp hours per day. I usually make a pot of coffee, often microwave breakfast or dinner, use an electric toaster, and set the furnace at 60°F (it has been cooler than usual this winter)

I have 2 160 watt rooftop panels tilted for the correct angle for Phoenix, AZ for mid January. The trailer is aimed a bit west of due south. I also have a 160 watt portable panel that I shift 2-3 times a day to "follow" the sun. Batteries are charged through a Victron 100/30 MPPT solar controller. Since lithium batteries stay in the bulk mode until 95% filled, and only spend a few minutes in the absorption mode, unlike lead acid batteries, the full output of the panels is available at the batteries until they are filled.

While so far this winter I have not depleted the batteries to the point where I had to run a generator, after a 3 day stretch without enough sun to put the controller into the float mode, and being down 54 amp hours, I ran a small propane generator for 4 hours to bring the batteries back to full (and do a monthly generator run). This was probably not necessary, although the prediction was for another 3 days of heavy clouds. The lithium batteries can be safely drawn down to 10%, so I could have gone without the generator, but I needed to run it anyway, and I tend to be a bit conservative.

This has been the coolest & most cloud covered winter I've stayed at the Q over the last 4 years so the results would probably be better under more usual conditions. This is for December 9 - December 31. (21 days). Today (the 31st) is obviously not finished, but as of 11:00 AM I'm putting 91 watts into the trailer, had a peak of 195 watts, and collected a total of 250 watt hours (it is cloudy). Still down 49 amp hours for the day (I did not reach float yesterday).

Peak solar wattage - 423 watts. Minimum solar wattage - 42 watts. Peak KW hours collected - 1.49KWh. Lowest watt hours collected - 140 watt hours. # of days the controller never received enough sun to get out of the bulk mode - 7.

# of days the batteries reached full - 15. Largest discharge - -72 amp hours.

The image above is the December solar output. White = Bulk, Gray = Absorption & Light Blue = Float.

I spent the rest of the day reading. Current book is Fleishman is in Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. A strange tale of life after divorce.

Dinner was another chicken leg & thigh and coleslaw plus some steamed vegetables.

Until Next Time -

Monday, December 30, 2019

Day 71, Monday, December 30, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 22

I walked to the 76 station, along with my neighbor for coffee. After that it was a quick breakfast & some on line reading. I decided it would be a good day to call Spectrum (my internet supplier back at the stick & bricks) to drop a 10 channel TV over internet package. It is only $29.99 per month, but I don't watch TV, and my son, who picked out the channels found he is only watching one of them, and his new TV gets a whole bunch of free channels.


So, I first tried on line. No way to drop a portion of your service from the web page. Tried Chat - you cannot drop any part of your service through Chat (Of course you can easily add services using either the web page or chat). So, I called. They had a number of options, including one for dropping service, so I chose that. "Your wait time is between 22 & 28 minutes." 30 minutes later I reached a customer service representative. Guess what? The service rep can't drop a service but needs to transfer you to someone who can - remember, this is the rep I reached choosing the menu tittled - "Drop Services".

Another 25 minute wait (I do wish I had started all this before I read my on line forums) to reach a young lady who's primary answer to everything was "Cool Beans". During the 3-4 times I said I wanted to drop the "TV Services" package from my internet (and she did ask why - I told her I didn't watch TV) she kept trying to sell me a Cable TV package. After I finally convinced her that I didn't want the cable package with 200 channels + Home Box Office & Showtime, she gave up and tried to sell me a cell phone package. It took many "NO's!" but after another 15 minutes, I think the package is dropped. They sent me a confirming email, but I won't believe it until I get my next bill.

It appears that Spectrum has one of the poorest customer service ratings in the industry, and I now understand why.

By the time I got done it was noon, and I headed to the Laundromat to do a couple of loads. Very busy, but I didn't have to wait for a pair of dryers. Most of those of us sitting around were complaining about the cold - even in the laundromat with 30 gas fired dryers cranking away it was freezing. I was planning to remove my sweatshirt & toss it in the wash, but it stayed on. While waiting for my dryers I took a shower, then sat in a somewhat warm corner. When I went to check to see if the dryers were done someone was standing up against the doors of my set (I had a top & bottom dryer in the same row) keeping warm!

So, I'm now back at the trailer with the clothes put away and still, at 3:00 in the afternoon, burning propane to keep the trailer at 60°F. It is also cloudy - I only managed to put 380 watt hours back into the trailer by 3:00, although I didn't use all that much last night so I'm up to 90% on the batteries.

Dinner was a chicken leg & thigh and coleslaw.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Day 70, Sunday, December 29, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 21

I'm getting tired of these cold nights (and days) this year at Quartzsite. 30°F last night, 48°F at noon, and a high of 56°F. At least the 25 MPH winds of yesterday are gone. I did sit outside for a bit during the afternoon, calling my son & Don & Anne back east. It is raining in Oswego, so things could be worse. Then again, Anne let me know it was 72°F in South Carolina where they are visiting their daughter, so it could be better.

I didn't do much else during the day. I walked over to photograph the progress on the Big Tent, but there is little difference from the last picture.

My current book is an actual book by a SiFi author I've never read - Connie Willis' Doomsday Book, a Hugo & Nebula Award winner.

Around 4:00 I headed to Silly Al's for a pizza for dinner. They make a Vegetable Deluxe that, among the generous supply of toppings, includes cashews. I would never have thought that cashews on a pizza made any kind of sense, but they do. Silly Al's is usually very noisy, so I ordered take out, however it was pretty quiet today. Gee, two restaurant meals in a row - I'd better get back in the groove of desert camping!

Until Next Time -

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Day 69, Saturday, December 28, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 20

I took a long morning walk around the campground, but didn't go for coffee at the 76 station. Cold at 38°F at 8:30 AM, but lots of sun. The solar panels finally got to put back three days worth of usage - 1.42KWh into the trailer & batteries, which started the day down 72 amp hours. They were full by 2:30.

I spent most of the day as usual, reading both on line & my Kindle. Current book is A Beginner's Guide to Free Fall by Andy Abramowitz. At first, not my type of book, but it grows on you.

I did fire up the water heater to do dishes since I made lots of dirty ones making bacon & pancakes for breakfast. As usual, when there is a wind blowing against the water heater it sets off the CO detectors in the trailer. I've done everything I can think of to seal the outside from the inside, but is is still a problem, particularly today since it is still cool out & opening up the trailer to let out the CO sure cools it down quickly.

That was about it for the day.

Dinner was a trip to the new Chinese restaurant. While they have a very limited menu, what was available was good. You got to fill a Styrofoam container with Sesame Chicken, vegetables, fried rice & a spring roll plus some additions I couldn't name for $10.00. Two kinds of soup. Eat in or take out - If you ate in, you could keep going back, then fill the container to go home. I just went back to the trailer with a full container, but there were a bunch of folks that were chowing down.

Until Next Time -

Friday, December 27, 2019

Day 68, Friday, December 27, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 19

A Different Kind of RV
I went for coffee this morning with my neighbor. We chatted about some of the similar things in both our jobs before retiring; things like the NEC requiring the shift from welding cable for 120V power connections to SC Entertainment cable. Stuff that few can appreciate! He worked in the generator industry supplying carnivals & fairs.

I stopped by one of the more unusual RVs in the campground for a photo yesterday. I've seen tiny houses on trailers (BLM does not allow anything that doesn't have wheels), a large, live in boat on a trailer, but this is the first limo camper I've seen anywhere. They do have a small cargo trailer, but I suspect they sleep in the limo.

A cloudy cool day. A bit of sunshine crept through around 2:30, but the rest of the day was producing less than 80 watts from the solar panels. I did manage to bring the batteries back to 80%, so I'll skip running the generator, at least for today. I spent the day reading, including two terrible books. While I have discovered some very good authors & reads using Amazon's Prime Unlimited, and it is well worth the $10.00 per month they charge, there sure is a lot of junk out there. Hard to tell from the titles, or even the reviews, although I'm always suspicious of reviews from individuals or even other authors. Real organizations such as the NY Times or Kirkus Reviews tend to be more honest. The most recent book was Gregg Olsen's If You Tell, non-fiction about a family abused by the mother. Stephen King couldn't write anything more gruesome.

That was pretty much it for the day.

Dinner was a trip to the Friday All-You-Can-Eat Cod fish fry at Sweet Darlene's. I usually arrive around 3:45, and they start serving at 4:00. I got tied up trying to put one of the puzzles my kids sent back together and didn't leave the trailer until 4:00. What a difference! Instead of getting a seat as I walked in the door, I had a 25 minute wait. Very crowded! There is a 4:00 rush, although by the time I left around 5:00, there was still a line at the door waiting for seats. Puzzle & Sweet Darlene's photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Day 67, Thursday, December 26, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 18

Quartzsite Sunrise

A cool, dreary day. Heavy clouds, off & on rain, and is is still only 54°F at 12:30. The solar panels are putting out a whopping 14 watts. We did have a pretty sunrise. I try to avoid being awake for them, but the days are getting longer, and I was up with the sun this morning (I did go back to bed).

Later this morning I walked around the camping area with my camera to take a couple photos of some of the washes. For those back east that don't have washes, they are dry stream beds that flood during rain, sometimes even when the rain is many miles away. When they are in a slot canyon, they can be very dangerous since there is no where to go when they fill with water, which often starts as a 2'-3' high wall of water, rocks, trees & brush. Here at Quartzsite they often look like an attractive place to set up, but if there are heavy rains, they become rivers. The instructions for setting up in the LTVAs prohibits setting up in a wash. Here are photos of a couple different ones around the BLM campground. Wash & tent photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

If we get enough rain to fill any of them I'll try to get photos, but I do hate wandering around in the rain.

On the way back to the trailer I stopped at the overlook of the Big Tent area. The main poles are not up yet, but part of the tent, or maybe the sides are stretched out along the field & look ready to go.

Back at the trailer I spent the day inside reading, both on line & my Kindle - latest book is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. An interesting SiFi that delves into multi player on line games. Too cold & rainy to sit outside, even though there is little wind. My weather app warns of flash floods, but it is going to have to rain a lot harder for that to happen. Still, a lousy day.

Now, at 3:30 it is down to 50°F outside and raining. The furnace has been kicking on & off all afternoon. I was planning to head to a restaurant for dinner, possibly the new Chinese restaurant or to Silly Al's for a pizza, but with the lousy weather, decided to stay in & bake a Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu & a salad. My weather app shows the clouds breaking tomorrow, although not much warmer. I'd love to see a bit of sun! I can see a bit of clearing to the southwest, but along with the partial clearing came 27MPH winds. We still have heavy clouds over Quartzsite. I have a weather radar app that shows the rain will go on for at least a couple more hours.

So, as said, dinner was a Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu & a salad.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Day 66, Wednesday, December 25, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 17

Merry Christmas to all!

A quiet and warm (45°F) night and lots of sunshine all day. The batteries were full by noon. I took a walk around the campground, ate breakfast, then did some reading inside. While there was plenty of sun, there was also enough wind to make outside uncomfortable.

I Skyped my daughter, son-in-law and grandkids at Oceanside (visiting Brian's mom), and watched them open some of the presents I sent them. We chatted for a bit, and said Merry Christmas. While the internet has been lousy all week, for some reason it held up OK this morning.

Around 11:45 I headed to Sweet Darlene's for their Christmas Turkey Dinner. The choice was turkey or ham, and while I prefer turkey, it wasn't up to a Vermilye turkey dinner. Barely OK, but the tiny trailer oven is not he place for roasting a turkey & all the fixings.

After getting back to the trailer I Facetimed with Don & Anne, and called my brother David & son Kyle.

Not much else for the day. I opened the presents from the kids, and they included 2 of those "interesting" puzzle games. They are rated 1-6 with 6 being the most difficult, and for some crazy reason, they keep sending me 5's & 6's. I hope I manage to solve them before seeing them in April!

Dinner was cheese & crackers since I had a big lunch.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Day 65, Tuesday, December 24, 2019 - La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 16

With the limited sun yesterday & the day before as well as heavy clouds this morning, I decided to dig out the portable solar panel & propane generator. I added the panel, and while is was still fairly early in the day, I was getting a whopping 68 watts out of 480 watts worth of panels. No problem, just add the generator & I should be pumping 35 amps out of the converter. The generator fired up fine, but the converter decided to stay in the float mode at 13.2V, which didn't put anything into the batteries.

I pulled the cover looking for anything wrong, but since it worked fine back in Oswego, I didn't think I had a wiring problem. Everything looked good. I tried calling Progressive Dynamics, but they won't be back until Thursday because of the Christmas holidays. The PD lithium converter has a Charge Wizard button, but the manual states it isn't used in the lithium version of the converter. I tried pushing it anyway, and the converter immediately switched to the bulk mode, cranking out 32 amps. I'm not sure why, but during the early afternoon the sun came out & the combination of the solar & the converter was pumping 45 amps into the batteries. Good, because they started the day down 70 amp hours.

By 2:30, I was able to shut down the generator and, since the clouds thinned, let the solar finish off the batteries to full. During the clear periods, the solar panels were cranking out as much as 405 watts. Even after dinner there was enough sun to put back the 4 amp hours it took to cook the burrito in the microwave. A big advantage of the portable panel is it can easily be aimed directly at the sun any time of day. I would never see 250 watts at 4:15 PM from just the rooftop panels. It is also good that from now on the days are getting longer so more time with sun on the panels.

So. other than getting electricity back into the batteries, not much happening for the day. I did some reading, even sitting outside. Only 58°F, but in the sun it felt fine as long as the wind stayed away.

Dinner was an Amy's Non Dairy Burrito, a rice pudding along with a couple of Royal Dansk Butter Cookies - the ones that come in the blue tin can (I'm addicted to them, but only pick them up at Christmas time, although now they seem to be available year round) for dessert, and a glass of Thousand Islands Gew├╝rztraminer white wine. I can't pronounce it, but I really like the wine. Too bad it is my last bottle. I suspect it would be hard to find any of the Thousand Islands wine here in the southwest. As to the Burrito, I usually get her bean & cheese burritos, but grabbed this one by mistake. Like most of the Amy's products, very good.

Until Next Time -

Monday, December 23, 2019

Day 64, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 15

A busy day. It started with the usual walk for coffee, but with a companion - the guy with the 5000 watt solar trailer was heading that way so we talked all the way there & back. After breakfast I drove to Quiet Times to pick up the package my daughter & grandkids sent. I have a pile of presents sitting in the back of the trailer.

After that I sat inside waiting for Amazon to notify me that my Kindle arrived in the Blythe Rite Aid. It arrived around 1:30, so I grabbed my shopping list & headed west. Lots of traffic on I 10; the checkpoint at the California border was just waving people through. No problems picking up my packages. They don't have an Amazon Locker but use the check out counter to deliver the packages. The next stop was next door at Albertson's. I prefer Safeway, but other than being more expensive (probably because it is in California) it had everything I was looking for. I even remembered to bring my own bags so I didn't have to pay a dime for each.

While we had a brief (less than 10 minutes) burst of sunshine, the rest of the day was heavy clouds. Most of the day the solar panels were producing less than 25 watts, so I'm going into the evening at 79% full on the batteries. If there isn't some sunshine tomorrow, I may have to dig out the generator. I hate to get under 50% even though the batteries will go as low as 10% without problems.

Dinner was a pot roast sandwich & a bowl of leftover vegetables.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Day 63, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 14

Only down to the 40's overnight. I went for a walk (not for coffee) this morning at 45°F, and wore a coat - without the sun my photo vest wasn't warm enough to be comfortable. I am still amazed how powerful the sun is, even early in the day. With fairly heavy clouds, 45°F feels like it!

After breakfast I did some reading, eventually sticking my head outside the trailer to discover it was warmer out than it. The Escape is well insulated for a fiberglass trailer, and while it warms up quickly in the sun, with clouds, it holds the overnight cool.

It got up to 70° by 2:30, so I spent some time outside reading, and making phone calls to friends back in the frozen east. Two new RVs moved into the neighborhood - a trailer that was here last year, and some friends of theirs in a Class C motorhome.

I made a run to Dorthy and Toto's Ice Cream Shoppe and Kettle Corn for a bag of kettle corn. I love the stuff, and the kettle corn available back east is not the same stuff as here in the southwest. I also took an empty propane tank for a refill - the last one lasted 11 days, reflecting the cold nights last week.

On the way back I checked with the Quartzsite General Store for a roast. While they didn't have anything that looked good for dry roasting, they did have some nice pot roasts (chuck roast). The butcher cut me a 1.3 pound chunk and it is on the stove with potatoes, carrots, onions & tomatoes as I type. I started it outside on the butane stove, but the wind kicked up around 4:00 and kept blowing out the low flame so I had to move inside.

There was never enough sun for the solar controller to kick into the absorption stage, let alone floating, so I'm still down 92% and -18 amp hours by dinner time. Let's hope there is more sun tomorrow to fill the batteries back up. Still, even now I have 162 amp hours available, so no real problems.

So, dinner was pot roast & vegetables.

Until Next Time -

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Day 62, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 13

The Start of the Big Tent

After a walk to the 76 station for coffee, I used the toaster oven to warm up a couple of biscuits for breakfast. A warm day - it hit 70°F by late afternoon. I did lots of sitting outside reading, then made a trip to the grocery store for a roast for dinner. No luck at either store - there was a couple of chuck roasts that I could have pot roasted, but they were a bit too fatty for me. I picked up a New York Steak that I'll grill for dinner.

They are starting the set up for the Big Tent. It is a tent the size of a couple football fields that used to sell RV stuff. ow, it is about 80% typical State Fair junk & 20% RV related. It is still quite a show, attracting well over 100,000 visitors during mid January. No tent yet, but the doorway support posts are in & the fake grass mats are going down.

After that it was back to sitting outside & reading, enjoying the warm weather. Fairly heavy high clouds, but the solar panels had the batteries back to full by noon. Amazon let me know my new Kindle would be in at the Rite Aid in Blythe on Monday, so I'll probably head there Monday afternoon.

Dinner was the NY Strip, mashed potatoes & mixed Asian vegetables. Unfortunately, the steak was from the wrong store (I stopped there second) and it was tough.

Until Next Time -

Friday, December 20, 2019

Day 61, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 12

I decided to make biscuits for breakfast. It is a silly meal since there is only one of me & the smallest recipe I have makes a dozen, It also make for lots of cleanup, and since I do my best to limit water usage to avoid too many trips to La Posa South & the dump/water fill stations, not all that practical. Plus, it is either me or my recipe, but they never come out as the fluffy biscuits I get at a decent restaurant.

Around noon I went to get a haircut, do laundry & a shower. Amazon sent me a notice that one of my orders was delivered to Quiet Times, so the fiddling with the address so no PO Box number showed seems to work. It was delivered to the post office, so it cost $5.00 to pick up. I do wish there was a way to force Amazon to use UPS since it would be cheaper, at least at Quiet Times. It was 50 aluminum drip trays for the Weber Grill. I suspect it will be a long time before I run out!

After that I did some on line & an actual book reading - finished John Grisham's The Chamber, an older (1994) novel that I somehow missed. I know I didn't read it, but it seems like the story was done in one of his newer novels.

Around 3:45 I headed to Sweet Darlene's for the Friday All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry. It starts at 4:00 & I like to get there early before they run out of baked potatoes. I'm stuffed!

Until Next Time -

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Day 60, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 11

Another cool (29°F) night, but since I walked to the 76 station for coffee rather than make a pot here at the trailer, I was only down to 74% after breakfast. Lots of sun today. Although it never warmed up beyond 62°F, if felt warmer because of the sun. I spent the day reading. I took the garbage to the dumpsters around 2:00 & met the owner of the Casita. She is almost full timing, from the East & exploring the West. Plans to spend the summer checking out the west coast. We chatted for a while & I discovered one of her mother's favorite parks is my favorite state park - Ricketts Glen in PA.

I checked with Amazon, and half my order that was shipped to Rite Aid in Blythe is in. I hope the rest of it is in by the end of the month so I can pick up both on one trip. They will send the first item back on January 1st if I don't pick it up.

Back at the trailer, since the batteries were full by 3:00, I decided to cook a microwave dinner. 6 minutes on high dropped the batteries by 6%, but they were back to full by 4:15. The solar panels peaked at 271 watts, and by the end of the day, put 1.22KWH into the trailer.

My early dinner was an Eating Well Chicken & Wild Rice Stroganoff with Brussels Sprouts, one of my favorites. They prove that it is possible to make excellent microwave chicken, something that most of the other quick meal suppliers can't.

I'll snack on crackers & cheese later.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Day 59, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 10

The Solar Panels Are Tilted

Happy 12th birthday to my granddaughter Valerie!

The coldest night since I arrived at Quartzsite. 29°F by morning. Lots of furnace time, in fact after breakfast I was down to 73% (54 amp hours) on the batteries. Since I can safely go down to 10%, no major problem, but I like to fill them up each day, and with my calculations for today's clouds, I decided tilting the solar panels would be a good idea. It took around half an hour with two loops of the trailer on my folding step ladder and made a big difference. The average peak solar here has been around 175 watts before tilting, 306 watts (from 2 160 watt panels) after tilting, and that is with partial clouds.

Not much else going on today. I spent much of the morning & early afternoon reading. Still too cool to sit outside in the partial cloudy skies & 11 MPH average wind. Around 2:00 I Skyped my granddaughter to wish her a happy birthday. Only a fair connection. I don't know what has happened to the Quartzsite cell service, but it is much worse than last year. While there were a few times it was slow, until the week of the Big Tent show it worked fine. This year I haven't seen either Verizon or AT&T faster than 4Mbps down, and most of the time under 2Mbps. Upload speeds are faster and quite usable at 10 - 12Mbps. Since there aren't all that many RVs here yet, I don't think it is overloading, but who knows.

Verizon & AT&T also behave differently. While Verizon often tests out as a faster connection, when using it for a constant connection such as Skype or internet radio, it inevitably drops the signal long enough to require reconnecting. This afternoon Verizon dropped my Skype connection to my granddaughter. AT&T tends to be a bit slower, but once connected, holds the connection, rarely dropping out.

Dinner was the last of the meatloaf. There is still quite a bit left, but I'm done with it!

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Day 58, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 9

Still cool, with overnight temperatures in the 30's, highs in the high 50's, but a little less wind. I did my walk for coffee this morning and wished I had thought to wear gloves. After breakfast, I did my usual journal & forum reading waiting for it to warm up outside. While it never got warm, I did spend some time sitting outside, using the trailer to block the wind. Lots of sun so as long as there wasn't any wind, it was OK to be out.

I finished The Feather Thief, by Kirk Wallace Johnson. I don't read all that much non fiction, but this is quite a book. All about fly tiers. While I have tied a few flies and even caught a fish with ones I made, I never realized that making salmon ties was far more than a hobby. An interesting book, even for fiction readers.

I started the last back dated Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novel (Top Secret Twenty-One) after finishing The Feather Thief. Eventually, I moved inside.

Dinner was another meatloaf sandwich. Even though I made the smallest meatloaf I know how to make (a pound) it goes a long way when only one person is eating it. At home, when my son Kyle is sharing the meal, a 2 pound meatloaf is gone after 3 days. I still have half of this one left. I suspect I will get tired of it & toss it before I finish it.

Until Next Time -

Monday, December 16, 2019

Day 57, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 8

A very cool night. While 38°F doesn't sound cold for much of the US & Canada this time of year, here in Quartzsite, it is a bit chilly. The wind doesn't help - the average today is 15MPH.

I decided to eat breakfast at the Bad Boy Cafe, a small restaurant about 1/2 way to the 76 gas station. About the worst coffee in town, but the food is OK, and plentiful. I had French Toast - 3 pieces of thick toast & two pieces of bacon for $9.50.

After getting back to the trailer, I spent the day inside. Too cool & windy to sit outside. I started updating some of the yearly spreadsheets I keep, getting them ready for 2020. Also did some reading on line & on my Kindle. I ordered a new Kindle - the charging connector on my current one is starting to fail. I discovered that Amazon won't ship a Kindle to an address that includes a PO Box. Since a PO Box is part of the address used by Quiet Times, the local mailer for Quartzsite, I was stuck. I had things shipped here last year using the same address, so I'm not sure what changed.

I hate to try to fake the PO Box since Quiet Times is pretty insistent on using the exact address they give out. You need the PO Box because Amazon & others use the USPS for the "last mile" for many orders. That doesn't work in Quartzsite because there is no mail delivery to addresses, only PO Boxes. If a package is sent through the USPS, someone from Quiet Times has to go to the Post Office to pick it up from the PO Box. UPS & FedEx deliver to the Quiet Times building. The whole thing is confusing, but General Delivery at the Quartzsite Post Office is worse - short hours & long lines, long enough that some days you don't get to the window before they close at 12:00.

I then discovered that there is an Amazon Locker at the Blythe Rite Aid, so I had it shipped there. By the time it gets here I'll want to pick up the collection that is growing on my shopping list & there is an Albertson there. No Walmart, but so far there is nothing on the list that needs one.

That was about it for the day.

Dinner was left over meatloaf on a flour tortilla, a salad, and the last of the applesauce.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Day 56, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 7

A little cooler overnight, but a clear morning & day. Lots of wind - a peak of 17MPH, and enough of it throughout the day that the mountains in the distance almost disappeared. When you can't see them, you know you will be chewing grit during the evening.

I spent the day reading - current book is The Disappeared (A Joe Pickett Novel) by C. J. Box. I read all the Joe Pickett series, but somehow I missed this one. At least it was old enough that I didn't need to put it on the "hold" list at the library.

Since it is Sunday, I decided to make a somewhat fancier than normal dinner. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes & mixed vegetables with a glass of Silk & Spice wine.

Until Next Time -

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Day 55, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 6

Not Quite What I Wanted

A warm night - the furnace didn't come on until close to 6:00AM. I walked to the 76 gas station for coffee, then, after breakfast & reading a few forums & journals, sat outside enjoying a beautiful day. It hit 79°F by late afternoon, at least by my weather station.

We may or may not have an interesting sunset. There are a bunch of small scattered clouds that often turn into a great sunset. I'll have to wait another for a bit to find out. While the color improved, many of the clouds evaporated as time went on.  Photos just a couple minutes apart at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Bubba Burger, chips, and a peach fruit bowl.

Until Next Time -

Friday, December 13, 2019

Day 54, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 5

A Hummingbird

At the Escape forum, we have a thread called "Out My Back Window", so I took a sunset photo last night.

Rather than walk for coffee this morning, I drove, since I needed to get a tank of propane. $2.30 per gallon at the 76 station. A 20 pound tank takes around 4.6 gallons.

After breakfast I took a walk around the LTVA. I met a neighbor in a Class B van and saw another fiberglass trailer (a Casita) down by the dumpsters. I also took a photo of the 4000 watt trailer I mentioned in yesterday's journal. Note that he has a Chevy Volt parked next to the motorhome that is plugged into it.

After lunch I sat outside reading, then grabbed my camera with an 80 - 400mm zoom lens & tried to catch a few hummingbirds at the feeder. A beasutiful, clear day with temperatures in the 70's. My batteries were topped off by 2:00, even after microwaving breakfast.

Another hummingbird photo as well as the Silent Power trailer trailer are at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was the all you can eat Friday Fish Fry at Sweet Darlene's. I'm glad it could happen. I went on the internet to find an address to sent to someone for Sweet Darlene's, and it said they were permanently closed. I suspect it was just for the summer, like many Quartzsite businesses, but since Paul the Naked Bookseller passed away last year, I was hoping the same didn't happen with Darlene. She is alive & well running the service window & collecting the cash. Still the best fish dinner in town - all you can eat, baked potato, very good coleslaw & tartar sauce.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Day 53, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 4

A Very Hazy Moonrise
While the full moon is tonight, last night's looked full, with lots of haze, although it cleared up a bit a little later - a better moon image at today's LakeshoreImages page.

A little cooler than last night, but much warmer than upstate NY. During my morning walk I met the guy with the 4000 watt trailer. Called Silent Power, it has 15 solar panels, and 20 kilowatts of batteries. The trailer is a bit larger than my Escape. He runs everything & anything in the Class A RV he pulls it with, using more than 2 KWs per night, and close to 5KW per day. An interesting rig that lets him stay anywhere, and run his 40' motorhome as if it is plugged into a 50 amp service.

After breakfast I headed to the laundromat to do two loads of clothes & a shower. No changes from last year - $8.00 for a shower (including a towel, washcloth, soap & shampoo).

After putting away the laundry, I sat outside & read. Eventually, it cooled off enough that I moved in, but went back out to cook dinner, which was a couple of steak tacos made with yesterday's left over New York Strip.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Day 52, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 3

Not a bad night - the low was 46°F while today's high was 67°F. I did my first walk to the 76 gas station for coffee. Same price as last year - $1.20 for my 24 oz mug. It does seem like the walk is getting longer each year!

By the way, for those of you that have not followed my journal before, once I get to Quartzsite things get kind of dull. There isn't a lot to do in Quartzsite, although I do try to get away from the campsite every day.

After breakfast & reading some on line forums & journals, I set up some of the campsite stuff. My plastic 9' X 12' ground cloth is out in front of the door, the weather station on its pole as is the glow ball, I put out a hummingbird feeder which was immediately found by the bees, and an hour later, a hummingbird (a Ruby Throated). I have another humming bird hanging crook that has a hummingbird lighted wind chime.

I still didn't tilt the solar panels. They are keeping up with my usage - They produced 740 watt hours yesterday & 850 watt hours today (or about 56 & 63 amp hours). Part of that goes back into the batteries, and part runs the trailer during daylight hours. I may tilt them anyway, but I want to go for a week or so to be able to compare flat vs tilted panels with the lithium batteries. Tilting made a big difference with my former lead acid batteries, but because the lithium charge so fast, even if I start out down 45 - 50 amp hours, I find them fully charged by 4:00 or so with just the 320 watts on the roof. That may change with a string of cloudy weather.

Around 3:30 I headed to the Dollar Store for a couple of Christmas cards for the granddaughters. Not a lot of choice, but that's Quartzsite I stopped at the Quartzsite General Store for a NY Strip Steak & some cookies, There are 2 grocery stores in Quartzsite; the Roadrunner Market & the General Store. I prefer the General Store for meat, while the Roadrunner Market usually has better produce. On the way back to the campsite I dropped the cards off at the Post Office. Busy as usual.

While I cooked the whole thing, dinner was 1/2 the NY Strip Steak & a salad - I'll make tacos out of the other half tomorrow.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Day 51, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ, Day 2

An interesting day. I have had a lower back ache for the last couple of weeks, so I headed to the La Paz Medical Center here in Quartzsite. They suggested that I go to Parker & the urgent care facility at the hospital since they didn't have the test equipment I might need. So, I arrived around 10:30AM. The initial "log in" took 5 minutes, but I didn't get out of the facility around 4:00. They determined that I'm probably having a muscle spasm & prescribed a muscle relaxer.

The two main drug stores in Parker are a CVS & Walmart. Since I'm registered with CVS, I decided that would be the best place. It was a zoo! I finally got my prescription at 6:00. The people waiting with me said that Walmart wasn't any better. Evidently, both stores are geared to the summer crowd & the large number of winter snowbirds overwhelms them.

I made a quick stop in the Safeway next to the CVS to pick up a sandwich to eat on the way home - the last meal I ate was breakfast.

So, dinner was a dry turkey & Havarti cheese sandwich eaten on the road back to Quartzsite.

Until Next Time -

Monday, December 9, 2019

Day 50, La Posa West LTVA, Quartzsite, AZ

First Quartzsite Sunset

A cool night & morning. I wore my gloves while hooking up the trailer. I left Dead Horse Ranch around 9:30AM, and drove down I 17 to the 303, and I 10 to Quartzsite. I arrived around 1:00, bought a full winter pass good until April, then dumped the trailer & filled the fresh water tank at La Posa South. While I would have saved $20.00 by purchasing 4 - $40.00 2 week passes, it is much easier to get one for the season rather than having to stop in the office every 2 weeks.

After that I picked out a piece of La Posa West. The back of the trailer is headed south so I can use the short arms to tilt the solar panels. While I made arms to allow side to side tilting, they put the panels way up in the air, and the wind shakes the trailer. I don't believe they would blow off, but given the choice, I'll go with the shorter arms. I didn't set the panels up today - I'll see how the new lithium batteries & MPPT solar controller do with the panels flat.

A big change in temperature - it is 70°F both in & out of the trailer. I do have to adjust to living off the batteries. Too many days with hookups that have bred bad habits!

Dinner was a Boomerang's Chicken & Mushroom pot pie, although it should be called mushroom & chicken - more mushrooms than chicken. Still not too bad. I also included some applesauce & the rest of the asparagus.

There was a bit of color to the sunset, so I took a photo.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Day 49, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ, Day 4

A warm night, with a low of 51°F, although it didn't warm up much during the day. Lots of fog, clouds, and off & on rain. A bunch of the fiberglass rally people managed to get hooked up & out of the park between rain bursts, but I'm staying until tomorrow.

During one of the breaks around 11:30, I headed for the campground showers. Three stalls, all too small, but with a drying room with 3 hooks, a bench, and, while the shower sprays at the drying area, there is a shower curtain & lip that keeps the shower water off the drying room floor. Plenty of hot water with an adjustable shower valve & medium pressure shower head. While the bathrooms are heated, just barely. You don't waste time getting dry. All in all, a solid B.

I spent the afternoon in the trailer reading. Just finished Powder Burn by Carl Hiassen & William D. Montalbano, and started Dispel Illusions by Mark Lawrence.

Dinner was going to be a grilled chicken thigh & asparagus, but with the rain off & on I didn't get out the grill, and decided to bake it in the oven. Of course, for the whole time the oven warmed up & the 45 minutes it cooked, it never rained. Still, it was good!

Until Next Time -

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Day 48, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ, Day 3

Trailer Tours
A short morning walk. Around 10:30 we drove to the corner of 10th st (a little past the the park entrance road) and main street to watch the Cottonwood Christmas Parade. That's us in the first photo. Lots of floats, fire engines, horses, but the promised pigs never showed. While I thought he was retired, Smoky the Bear did go by. I collected about a pound of candy, but missed out on the miniature garbage can handed out by Taylor Waste. A long parade - it ran from around 10:45 to 1:15.

Lots of parade photos at today's LakeshoreImages page or the Christmas Scamp Camp 2019 page.

After lunch, it was open house for trailer visits. We toured until close to 4:30, checking out the modifications & additions done to the different trailers.

Dinner was an Amy's Cheddar Cheese Burrito & a salad.

Until Next Time -

Friday, December 6, 2019

Day 47, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ, Day 2

A Clam With a Propane Fire
Last night after getting back from dinner & posting the page, I wandered over to Dave & Paula's Clam.  They had a warm propane fire ring going inside that kept things toasty.  Sat around and chatted until my 10:00 eye drops.

My morning walk was to the top of the hill that overlooks the campground. After breakfast I wandered around taking a few photos, which are at the Christmas Scamp Camp 2019 page. Eventually, 4 of us got our acts together (this is a gathering, not an organized gathering) and headed to the Tuzigoot Ruins. They have an indoor museum with artifacts & explanations of the ruins, then a walk around the structure.

Our next stop was at the Verde Canyon Railroad headquarters. They do a 1 hour, $45.00 "Magical Christmas Journey" through the canyon. We didn't take the ride, but checked out the gift shop.

After the railroad stop, since we were already in Clarkdale, AZ, we had a late lunch at Su Casa, the "best Mexican restaurant" in the valley. I don't know about everyone else's meal, but my fish tacos were excellent. Good chips & salsa, and plenty to eat, in fact, no need for dinner tonight!

Until Next Time -

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Day 46, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, AZ

Site 89

Another late start. I sat at the picnic table & trimmed my beard, then decided that a shower would be a good idea to get rid of itchy hairs. While it was warmer than the shower the other day, it was still colder than I'd like. By the way, we stayed at Lake Pleasant on our trip last year, but stayed at the Lake Pleasant Resort on the other side of the lake. The resort was far more expensive and no where as nice. On top of that, they charged Don & Anne an extra $10.00 per night because you could see the lake from their site. I was next door & didn't get charged extra.  There was no access to the lake from either site.

Some very pretty scenery along I 17 on the way to Cottonwood. I gained as much as 3500' on the drive, resulting in 11.7MPG for the trip. I'm in site 89, a level pull through with water & electric for 4 nights - $31.25 per night, $30.00 plus the $5.00 reservation fee. I'm here for the Christmas Scamp Camp Rally. It has been in Sedona in the past. While called Scamp Camp, it is open to all fiberglass trailers. So far there are a couple of Escapes, a Lil Snoozy, and a bunch of Scamps.

After setting up I walked around the campground, then sat in the sun and read. While the air is chilly, the sun is strong enough to make it comfortable until a cloud blocks it. My AccuWeather app says it will go down to 28°F tonight. Unless it drops below freezing early, I'll leave the water hooked up since most of the hose is on the ground and a couple of hours below freezing isn't going to be a problem.

Greg, the host for the rally just pulled in at 4:15. There are around 10 trailers already here, and many reserved sites where more will be arriving tomorrow.

A bunch of us went to Pizzeria Bocce in Cottonwood for dinner. Excellent pizzas & salads.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Day 45, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, AZ, Day 2

A warm night, at least compared to many on the trip. It was down to 58°F around 6:30AM, and is 70°F at 1:00PM.

During my morning walk around the campground I found another Escape 21 at the other end of the park. Later, they stopped by the trailer. A couple from Washington that are planning to attend the Quartzsite Fiberglass Rally at Dome Rock in February.

Most of the day was spent reading, both on line & on my Kindle. Current book is The Guardians, by John Grisham. I did check the cell coverage for AT&T & Verizon. AT&T was very erratic, ranging from 9.9Mbps to 23.3Mbps download, and 43.3Mbps up. Verizon was more consistent at 16.7Mbps down & 36.9Mbps up. I suspect the download speed variations is due to loading. There is a cell tower at the end of the campground that appears to include AT&T since the connection is showing -79dBm.

Since the nearest gas station on my route to Dead Horse Ranch State Park is 55 miles away & I'm at 1/4 tank, I decided to make a 23 mile run to Anthem for fuel. $2.99 per gallon, some of the most expensive of the trip. I'm sure I will drive by a station within 23 miles with cheaper gas; I'm taking on Don Guido's roll for pricing!

Dinner was a Smart One Cordon Bleu Panini Sandwich & Applesauce.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Day 44, Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria, AZ

Site 37

Another late start. Probably a good idea since I will be heading through Phoenix so waiting until rush hour is over is good. The drive wasn't too bad at 10:00 - 12:00, although there was still lots of traffic.

I set up in site 37 in the Roadrunner Campground at the Lake Pleasant Regional Park. It is run by Maricopa County. Two nights at $32.00 per night plus an $8.00 reservation fee for a total of $72.00. A covered picnic table, and the bathrooms with separate shower rooms is next door.

After setting up I headed to Peoria Ford for an oil change & tire rotation. I asked to have the auto locks turned off on the doors, but while they thought they did it, they didn't. It is a pain because if I stop & leave the key in the truck, walk around to the passenger door, it won't open. There is a door lock box under settings, but it doesn't work.

By the time the oil change was finished, my prescription was ready. Peoria is a large city. Both the Walgreens & Ford were addressed in Peoria, but the two were 22 miles and 40 minutes apart. It was another 20 miles back to the campground.

I decided to take a shower before making dinner while there was still some heat left over from midday. No heat in the shower room, but other than that, not too bad. A lousy high pressure showerhead, and a 10 second push button, but plenty of hooks, a bench, shower curtain, and both the shower & drying area were large.

Dinner was a grilled chicken thigh & mixed vegetables.

Until Next Time -

Monday, December 2, 2019

Day 43, Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ

Superstition Mountains - 5:17

After I posted yesterday's page, I took a bunch of night time photos at Picacho Peak. The streaks in the lower part of the image are the automobile lights on I 10.

Another late start out of the campground since I only have to move 75 miles or so. A short drive on I 10, then AZ 87, 287, and US 60 to Apache Junction. I'm in site 44, a water & electric site for $40.00, $35.00 for the site & a $5.00 reservation fee. A medium walk to the bathrooms & showers.

Lost Dutchman is my favorite Arizona state park. The view of the Superstition Mountains from the campground is wonderful. After setting up the trailer (I didn't need to unhook to truck or level the trailer) I wandered around taking a few afternoon (poor light) photos, and hope for better lighting later in the day.

Back at the trailer I sat outside and read. Temperatures in the high 60's with a light wind and hazy clouds.

I went out just after dinner to catch the sunset light. It is amazing how short the color lasts. I added the time each image was shot to show how quick you need to be to catch it. Back at the trailer I added the images to today's post & sent it onto the webpage.  Photos from yesterday & today at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Barber Cordon Bleu and steamed mixed vegetables.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Day 42, Picacho Peak State Park, AZ, Day 2

A Sol Trailer
Some sharp eyed readers may have noticed that Day 40 did a rebirth, at least at the LakeshoreImages webpage. It seems that at least once per trip I manage to overwrite a page when making a new one. I did that yesterday, and had to rebuild Day 40. Let's hope it is only once on this trip!

A bit cool at 37°F last night, but clear skies this morning so it warmed up as long as you were out of the shade. A Sol moved into the space across from me. While not a true fiberglass egg (it has an aluminum frame with fiberglass sides & roof), with the panoramic front window, it looks a bit like the original Nest, now made & sold by Airstream. They left before I could visit & check the layout.

By the way, while the campground is along I 10 & a busy railroad, both are far enough away, at least from sites in the upper part of the campground, that the noise is not a problem. Others have complained, so I guess it depends on your sensitivity to noise. No train horns, but they do go by all night long.

I did some speed tests on the cell coverage. AT&T provides 35.1Mbps down & 10.5Mbps up. Verizon is all over the place. A couple of tries wouldn't even make a connection, but when it did, I got 48.3Mbps down & 20.6Mbps up. There is WiFi sold by Airbeam for $3.95 per night that I didn't try.

Dinner was a turkey Bubba Burger & applesauce.

Until Next Time -

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Day 41, Picacho Peak State Park, AZ

Site B24

While it rained off & on overnight, by morning there were clear blue skies. I hung around the campground until 10:30 since I only had to drive 55 miles or so. I'm in site B24, an electric only (as are all the sites at Picacho Peak) for two nights at $32.50 per night ($30.00 for the site & a $5.00 reservation fee. I appears to be a handicap site, although that wasn't indicated on the on line reservation form. The campground office doesn't seem to have a problem, although I feel a bit guilty using it.

After setting up I took a shower, then headed 14 miles west on I10 to Eloy to do laundry. Two loads at $4.50 per load for a double sized front loader, and $2.00 each for two dryers at he Family Maytag Laundromat. Clean, but the bathroom was sealed closed.

Back at the trailer I did a bit of reading, then paid some bills. That was about it for the day.

Dinner was a Chicken Pot Pie Hot Pocket.

Until Next Time -

Friday, November 29, 2019

Day 40, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 5

It is Raining!

A good day to sit inside the trailer. It rained much of the night & early morning hours, and at 11:00AM is still drizzling. We did have some nice color to last night's sunset. More photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I spent the morning, like most mornings, reading. I skipped a walk around the campground for the first time on the trip; I don't like walking in a cold rain. It is 46°F outside. Warm & toasty in the trailer with the cube heater blasting away.

I'm cutting it close on the fresh water tank. While the readout shows empty, looking at the tank shows about an inch of water in the bottom. I hope that is enough to get me through until tomorrow morning when I head to the dump & water fill stations, then on to Picacho Peak State Park. Picacho Peak has a notice on their web page that they are experiencing a water shortage & no filling of water tanks allowed. I'll put in at least 1/2 a tank when I leave Gilbert Ray.

Around 2:00PM it cleared up enough for a walk. Still cool at 50°F, but the sky is clearing, at least on the horizon to the west. Still lots of cloud cover. The folks in the other Escape 21 left around 1:00. My guess is the campground is about 1/4 full. Much better than trying to visit in February. They required check ins and waiting until a site emptied before you are allowed to drive past the registration building. I talked with one of the hosts and they confirmed that at least part of the campground will be moving to reservations starting in January.

Dinner was a microwaved Innovasian General Tso's Chicken Dinner.

Until Next Time -

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Day 39, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 4

Happy Thanksgiving!

So far, not much of a storm. A bit of rain overnight & in the morning, heavy clouds with little sun. While it hit 70°F during the afternoon, with the wind it didn't feel like it. I did a couple of walks around the campground, read some blogs, forums & journals, and finished Joe Hill's Full Throttle. Again, I don't often read short stories, but some of them were quite interesting. I started Bloody Genius, a Virgil Flowers novel by John Sandford, another library book on the Kindle.

I talked with my brother on Nantucket Island, my son in Oswego, and tried to reach Don & Anne, but no luck, at least with FaceTime. I'll try a straight phone call after dinner.

After my afternoon eye drops I started my Thanksgiving dinner. It is the last of my frozen "Thanksgiving in July" leftover turkey dinners. Kind of difficult to cook a full sized turkey in the trailer oven, although Safeway did have turkey thighs, my favorite part of a turkey. In any case, it will be turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, creamed onions, squash & cranberry sauce. Not as good as fresh, but OK. I could have waited until the usual evening meal time, but the tradition at the Vermilye's has always been an afternoon Thanksgiving dinner, so that is what I did.

I'll snack later.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Day 38, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 3

Gilbert Ray Cactus
A bit cooler than last night - I ran the electric heater turned down low to keep the trailer at around 62°F with an outside morning temperature of 48°F. I didn't do much (just like the last couple of days) other than sit around reading both the computer for forums & journals, and my Kindle. I took a couple of walks around the campground. While there are still RVs & tenters arriving, it doesn't appear that there are a huge number people staying for Thanksgiving. Lots of empty sites.

I hauled my D800 with a macro lens on one of the walks to photograph some of the cactus in the park. It is hard to believe that they grew naturally this varied in types & as close together, but they are beautiful. I won't try naming them, but here are some examples, all of which are growing within 50' of my trailer.  Check today's LakeshoreImages page for more.

As you can see, it is a heavily overcast day, with a high of 67°F. My weather app says we are going to get rain for the next two days with a flash flood watch. I tried sitting outside to read, but unless doing some activity such as walking, etc, it is a little cool for just sitting, particularly when the wind kicks up. I pulled & folder up my large 9' X 12' ground cloth and replaced it with a small 3' square rug.

Dinner was left over pizza & a fruit cup.

Until Next Time -

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Day 37, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ, Day 2

A fairly warm night. I didn't plug in the electric heater, and the furnace came on for the first time around 6:30AM. 48°F for the lowest overnight temperature. It was partially cloudy and took a bit to warm up; a high for the day of 70°F, although that was under the propane cover in the sun.

I took a long walk around the campground before breakfast, then read some forums & journals. I have to admit I'm hooked on having the internet available. While I enjoy reading, when I'm in a place like Sunny Flats, where there is no internet or live radio other than XM Radio I feel like I'm missing out. I don't know why, but all of XM Radio feels "canned", maybe because they don't include Morning Edition or All Things Considered, two of my contacts with the outside world. In any case, I now have live radio & full internet availability.

I finished Christopher Stasheff's The Outbound Wizard, and have to say Anne McCaffrey & George A. A. Martin have nothing to worry about. I probably won't pick up any more of his books. I started Joe Hill's (Stephen King's son) Full Throttle, a collection of short stories. While I generally avoid short stories (I'm not sure why), this was a library book on the Kindle, so I'm giving it a try.

I met a couple from New York City that are traveling full time in a Class B van during one of my walks around the campground, and later, during the afternoon, another couple traveling in an Escape 21.  We chatted about the trailers for a bit. I noticed some hummingbirds while chatting with the NY couple, and set up my feeder when I got back to the trailer. It took about 5 minutes for one to find the feeder.

That was about it for the day.

Dinner was a couple of chicken tacos & steamed potatoes, made from a Instant Pot cooked chicken breast.

Until Next Time -

Monday, November 25, 2019

Day 36, Gilbert Ray County Park, Tucson, AZ

Site A56
Well, never suggest that I should predict the weather. Yes, it was a clear sky last night, and usually that makes for a cooler night, but it only went down to 38°F by morning. I packed up the trailer & was on the road by 8:30. One stop for gas, hitting Gilbert Ray around 12:15. I worried ( I do that a lot) that the campground would be full & I'd have to find a commercial campground in Tucson (not a difficult thing to do), but there were more empty sites than occupied. I drove around the A loop & settled on A56, an electric only (as are all the other sites other than tent sites, which are dry) for $20.00 per night. I'll be here through Thanksgiving, with a reservation for Picacho Peak State Park on the 30th.

A pretty site like most of them in the park. Closer to your neighbors than in some of the state parks, but not too bad. A bathroom (no showers) is a short walk from the site.

After setting up I headed to the local Safeway about 9 miles away. I drove over Gates Pass to get there - a narrow, steep section that isn't too bad - I towed the 21 through it last year. I bought far too many goodies, and filled the freezer as well as the refrigerator.

After putting the stuff away I had my first shower of the trip in the trailer. A "Navy" shower to conserve water. They do have water stations around the campground, but I'd have to hook up the truck to haul the trailer to a spigot.

After that it was a bit of reading outside in the 77°F sun. As soon as the sun ducked behind the skyline, the light breeze cooled things down enough that I went in to put on a flannel shirt.

Dinner was a Signature Select (Safeway brand) Garlic Chicken Alfredo Pizza.

Until Next Time -

Day 35, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 4

The Milky Way & Trailer
A bit warmer overnight at 32°F, but it took awhile to warm up due to morning cloud cover. By 1:00, clear blue skies & 70°F, at least under my sun drenched propane cover - I really need to find a better permanent location for the outside temperature sender. Don sets his up in the shade each stop. If I tried that I'd leave it behind within a week!. With the clear sky, I suspect it will be a cold night.

I took a few night photos with my latest lens, a Nikkor 6 - 15mm zoom fisheye. An unusual lens. At 6mm, it is a true full frame 180° fisheye. As you zoom it towards 15mm, it becomes a wide angle lens. I wanted it to be able to take full sky photos, as well as to have a fisheye. More distortion than a standard wide angle lens, but a useful addition to my collection. There were at least two campsites with campfires, so you can see them in the images.

During the afternoon, I wandered around the campground taking some photos with the lens at different focal lengths. All of the above images were taken with the fisheye.  See the additional images at today's LakeshoreImages page.

The campground emptied out to just me & my neighbor by 12:00. One Class A arrived during the afternoon. Unfortunately, the Class A is parked in a site that directly faces the direction in which I want to take photos. If he keeps his lights off, it may work, but I was hoping for empty sites.

I spent the afternoon reading, Finishing John Grisham's The Brethren, and starting Christopher Stasheff's The Outbound Wizard, a SiFi by an author I haven't read.

A few tent campers came in during the day, along with a couple in a clamshell trailer.

Dinner was a Barber Chicken Cordon Bleu & snap peas.

I went out after dinner for a few more star photos. Much clearer. The first image is shooting straight up with the fisheye at 6mm & 180°; the rest are at longer focal lengths.

Until Later -

Just a quick update - I arrived at Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson, and posted the last couple of day's journals. I'll post today's a little later.

Until Next Time -

Day 34, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 3

Cave Creek Road at 7500'
An even colder night, 29°F at 6:30AM. While the sun warmed things up, since Sunny Flats is in a valley surrounded by steep mountains, the amount of direct sunlight is limited. The sun doesn't directly hit my solar panels until around 10:00AM. Still, enough to fill the batteries from last night's 37 amp hour decline to full by 1:30. I love the charge rate of lithium batteries!

Around noon I got bored sitting around & drove to Rustler's Park. Quite a drive on a one lane dirt road (although one that was in very good shape - passenger vehicles had no problems with it). I did hit snow at 7500'. It wasn't deep where I stopped for the photo, but in the shade it was 4"-6" deep. I did manage to cover the newly washed truck with lots of very sticky mud.  More photos along Cave Creek Road at today's LakeshoreImages page.

After I returned to the campground, I sat outside in the 59°F sun and read. I finished Martin L. Shoemaker's The Last Dance, a readable SiFi; much better than most of the "junk" I've downloaded for free from Kindle & Amazon.

I decided to make lunch dinner, and grilled a chicken thigh. I really like the new Weber Q1000 grill. While it would have been nice to spend the $40.00 more or so for the Q2000 which has tables & a thermometer, I didn't want the tables, and have been able to do without the thermometer.

So, lunch was a chicken thigh & snap peas. I would have added the last of the salad, but unfortunately, it was too wilted to be consumable.

Dinner will be cheese & crackers.

Until Next Time - 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Day 33, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ, Day 2

The Stream Next to the Campground
A cool night at 39°F, although warmer than the predictions for Deming at 29°F. We are at 5200', so I expected cool nights. In fact, as I w3andered the campground, I took a photo of a nearby mountain not that much higher than here that is covered with snow.

The furnace worked like a champ. I set it a t 63°F while I was awake, and down to 61°F when I went to bed. Lots of fog in the valley during the morning, but lots of sun. I was down to 80% on the batteries after breakfast, with a prediction by the Victron Controller that I'd be back to full by around 3:00, assuming that the fog doesn't get heavier.

I took a couple of walks around the campground, met a few of the others staying here, most for only one night. Took a few more photos, then headed back to the trailer for some reading.

After lunch I made another loop around the campground. Found an interesting image and to avoid a overhead branch, took one step off the road, into a lightly covered pile of dog poop. Spent the next hour scraping, scrubbing, washing, and brushing the soles of my shoes - incidentally, the soles with the most complex pattern of any I own. At least it had warmed up enough (67°F) that sitting outside was comfortable. After cleaning up my shoes, I sat out & read for most of the afternoon. The batteries were back to full by 1:00.

I drove about 10 miles out of the campground until I found an AT&T signal & posted today & yesterday's pages.  Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page.

Dinner was a Lean Pockets Chicken & Broccoli sandwich.

Until Next Time -

Day 32, Sunny Flats Forest Service Campground, Portal, AZ

Site 13

I packed up and left Sunset RV Park around 9:00, stopping at Walmart for some supplies, and filled the gas tank wit 85 octane gas. That may be responsible for the poor mileage on the drive, although gaining 1000' could also have something to do with it. In any case, about 10.8 MPG for the trip.

It rained all of the drive, from just a drizzle to heavy pour-downs. I used my iPhone to take a hurried photo of a rainbow as I was leaving Deming. The rain mostly stopped as I reached Portal, the nearest "town" to the campground - it consists of one store/restaurant. It is 43°F at 12:00 & the furnace is working fine. Sure hope it warms up. I'm in site 13, with a clear view of the sky, which should help the solar if the sun comes out. a dry site for $5.00 per night with the senior pass discount. As you can see from the photos, a very pretty campground. We had our own campground rainbow. Not as impressive as the one outside Deming, but a much nicer location. Photos at today's LakeshoreImages page

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to keep warm, sitting in the trailer. While the heavy rain has stopped, there is lots of mist & it is too cold to sit around outside. Actually, at times the mist changes to steady rain. A good day to sit inside.

Until Next Time -

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Day 31, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 5

Rain off & on all night, but sun with clouds in the morning. I made my usual 8:00 call to Jim's RV, and he is still booked up for the rest of the week. We discussed the actions of the furnace, and pretty much agree that the problem is the control board. I was hoping just cleaning the sail switch would fix it, but the fact that the gas is lighting and running for a short time pretty much rules out a sail switch problem. I asked if he would have a better chance of working on the furnace if I pulled it and brought it in. He thought that was a great idea, so I had a morning project.

Escape provides a series of videos that include pulling a furnace, replacing the sail switch & circuit board, etc. The newer 21's have an outside furnace access door that makes repairs easy. Unfortunately, my 2017 requires pulling the furnace from the inside to get to the guts. In the video, Reace mentions that is some installations the back of the furnace catches on the edge of the plywood floor, making it impossible to remove the furnace without removing the outside exhaust. Another unfortunate - mine is one of the installations with the problem. I followed the instructions for removing the outside hardware, but is is a bear. Getting the exhaust pipe out of the furnace was "interesting".

In any case, it is out, and at Jim's, so I'm an "all electric" trailer for at least the next couple of days. I'm hoping he can get a Dinosaur board rather than the Dometic if the board is the problem since, although more expensive, it is more reliable.

Back at the trailer, I finished breakfast, changed the sheets & packed up the laundry.

The laundry is done, and so is the furnace. They called Dometic to find the availability of a replacement board, as well as checking with Dinosaur, but as they unbolted the board from the furnace, a 1 1/2" screw fell out from behind the board. How is didn't short the board & do damage is amazing, but after it was removed & the board put back in place, the furnace worked fine. Jim's only charged me 1/2 an hour labor ($52.50) for more than an hour on the phone with me, the suppliers, and the work on the furnace. While they are a busy RV repair shop, I recommend them if you are in the Deming area.

I didn't have any problems reinstalling the furnace, and it appears to be working fine. I'll run it tonight rather than the electric heater to be sure.

I checked with the owner of Sunset RV Park, letting him know I was leaving tomorrow, and rather than the 5 days I was here, he only charged for 4. That lowers the cost of the site to $14.40.

Dinner was a Lean Cuisine Orange Chicken Dinner.

Tomorrow the plan is to head to Sunny Flats, a Forest Service campground in the Coronado National Forest.  It is on the edge of a flood watch on Thursday, and the campground is evacuated it the prediction is for more than 1 1/2" of rain.  So, I may or may not get there.  In any case, if I do, there is no internet at the campground, so you may not hear from me for a couple of days.

Until Next Time -

Day 30, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 4

Another day without a fixed furnace. I didn't do much other than the usual reading, and some shopping. Rain started around dinner time & has been going off & on the rest of the day.

Dinner was an Amy's Burrito & a salad.

Until Next Time -

Monday, November 18, 2019

Day 29, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 3

Well I was hoping to announce that the furnace is fixed, but the trailer didn't even make it to Jim's RV Repair. They are short one worker, and today they were fully booked. Hopefully, it can go in tomorrow.

I did get the truck washed, at least managed remove one layer of dirt at a self wash carwash. The detailing car wash didn't work out. One was closed, and the other backed up all day.

A nice warm day with few clouds. I got out my hooded chair and sat out reading, eventually moving to the shade of the trailer.

Dinner was an Amy's Mushroom Risotto.

Until Next Time -

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Day 28, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM, Day 2

A quiet Sunday. I spent the morning & much of the afternoon reading, current book The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coats. A very good, well written read. I checked on car washes for the truck, but both of the ones the Google found were closed Sundays. I did talk with my son in Oswego - the snow blower works (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), and with Don & Anne in Binghamton where they are in the middle of a home project & snow blower repair. Maybe just not having a working furnace isn't so bad!

I headed for the showers a little after 3:00. I was hoping the room would warm up, but being concrete block construction, it held last night's 38°F well into the day. Showers rate between a B+ & an A-. They are a bit dark, and as mentioned, cool, but do have shower curtains, hooks, a bench that is shared between 3 showers, and a small drying area that is between the showers. Plenty of hot water and a basket for your stuff inside the shower.

I used the Instant Pot to pressure cook a couple of chicken thighs, & potatoes, and steamed broccoli on my butane stove (separately since the 22 minute pressure cooking time would destroy broccoli). I left out the beans this time since I had plenty of them with the Chili Relleno the other night.

Until Next Time -

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Day 27, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM

Site 44, Sunset RV Park, Deming, NM
While I loved the chili relleno at Chuy's, they did require a midnight gulp of Mylanta. Still worth it!

On the way to Deming, I stopped at a Camping World just north of El Paso. I checked with their service center & they didn't have anyone on for Saturday, and no open slots on Monday. Since I've had some pretty bad luck with repairs at Camping World, maybe that was good. In any case, they did have a Weber Q1000 grill which I bought. The rest of the drive west on I 10 was boring, but with the extra hour gained by moving into Mountain Time, a quick tri[p to Deming. I'd like to stay at my favorite New Mexico campground, but there were no open electric sites at City of Rocks, and without the furnace & being at 4500', it will be cold, at least at night. Right now it is in the low 70's, but once the sun goes down it cools quickly.

I stopped at the Sunset RV Park in Deming. I'm in site 44, a full hook up site for $19.00 per night. The owner sent me to the site & since I don't know how long I'll be here, just said go, and we will settle when I leave.

Jim's RV Service & Garage will open on Monday, and I'll check to see if they can service the furnace. I got good recommendations for them, both on line & from the campground owner.

After setting up I unpacked the grill and ran it to burn off any manufacturing oil, etc. I took the box & my old grill to the dumpster, and an hour later met the new owner of the old grill. I warned him about the things I didn't like about it, but he liked the price!

I made a quick trip to Walmart for some vegetables, including an ear of corn for dinner.

Dinner was a grilled Quorn vegetable chicken patty, and corn on the cob.

Until Next Time -

Friday, November 15, 2019

Day 26, Oasis RV Park, Van Horn, TX

View Along the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
Well, as you can see, I'm no longer in Big Bend. The furnace has died. It will still sometimes run for part of a cycle, but always times out well before reaching the temperature set at the thermostat. I believe that the sail switch has either failed, or there is lint caught in it. While this may not be the problem, pulling the furnace in a 2017 Escape 21 requires shutting down the propane since the furnace feed must be disconnected to get to the guts of the furnace. I definitely don't want to do this without hookups since it would also shut down the refrigerator.

So, reluctantly, I packed up the trailer and headed out. I hope to find either a mobile RV repair of a shop willing to take a drop in repair (usually difficult to find). Worst case, I'll pick a campground with full hookups & plan for a couple of days, long enough to pull the furnace. I'd prefer a repair person since it may require parts. All I could do myself is clean a dirty sail switch.

I'm at the Oasis RV Park in Van Horn, TX. It is on I 10 business, a level full hookup site for $27.00 with tax & Good Sam discount and lots of traffic & train noise. I wanted at least electric hook ups so I can run the electric heater since the prediction is for an overnight temperature of 34°F. It was down to 54°F when I got up this morning, and while I've done far worst when tent camping, I have eye drops that shouldn't get much below that temperature. The campground owner does RV repairs, but while he agrees that it is probably the sail switch, he doesn't have the replacement and is reluctant to pull the furnace without one. Ordering one would be a 4 - 5 day wait. There is an RV repair place just past El Paso that I may try, although Saturday might be a problem. In any case, I'm stuck with campgrounds that have at least electric hookups until the furnace is fixed.

I did take a walk on the Nature Trail next to the campground during the late afternoon. On the way out of the park on Rio Grande Village Drive I stopped to take a photo of the moon over a mountain.
That, more photos on the nature trail, and today's site photo at today's LakeshoreImages page.

I've stayed at the Oasis RV Park a number of times, and usually eat at Chuy's Mexican restaurant across the street, and will do that tonight.

Dinner was Chili Relleno with red sauce on the side. Excellent!

Until Next Time -