This blog is posted when we travel overseas taking a break from our Fulltime RV Life.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Having fun

No, we were not celebrating New Years Eve, it is just a normal early morning shopping trip to WalMart. Walking down one of the aisles in the hardware section Linda noticed these ears laying on a shelf and just had to put them on. It was only as I was posting this photo I noticed the sign above her head. To think, there was a time in history when an individual exhibiting this weird behavior would have been locked up for sure. Just thinking out loud here, but maybe that wasn't such a bad idea.

I call this preventive maintenance. I probably washed the Explorer at least once during the course of the year, but if I hadn't, and I know Linda would know whether or not I had. The result being if I hadn't, I'd never hear the end of how I hadn't washed the Explorer even once in all of 2011. This was making sure it didn't happen, and an additional benefit was that the Explorer looked very nice afterwards. Good Bob. Smart Bob.

This isn't what it might appear to be. Actually it is the only margarita we had along with a plate of guacamole for New Years Eve, not the third or fourth as our demeanor might suggest. The big smiles come from what had transpired during the preceding minute or so. It began with the fact that I hadn't made margarita's for a long time, so I wasn't sure how they would turn out, then Linda took her her first sip.

Next thing I know she is grabbing me and saying "Come here, come here" while pulling me right up next to her. I hadn't shaved since the morning, plus I'd forgot to put on after shave, and I sure hadn't put any magic love drops in her margarita, so just exactly what was going on here? It turned out she merely wanted a photo of us celebrating New Years Eve, even if it was only 7:15. So much for any of those thoughts caroming around inside my one track mind.

The smiles are a result of what happened next. It seemed Linda wanted the photo to include our Margarita's, so she raised her camera up high and took a photo, which turned out to be just of our heads. More photo's and more photos followed, and no matter where she held the camera, those margarita's just would not show up in the resulting photo. Finally she got to laughing so hard at herself, I took the camera and with one click, got the photo she wanted. And now you know the rest of the story.

It was 10 o'clock here when we watched the New Year celebration in New York City, and soon after that it was time for us old people to call it a year. Sure we have resolutions that will no doubt be broken, but one thing we absolutely know: Life is not a dress rehearsal. Don't be afraid to laugh, love and retire early.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Oops

With John and Judy leaving this morning it was a time for saying goodbye, but also a time for exchanging books. It was after they were gone that Linda said to me, "You know that Bill Bryson book?"
"Yes, it was really good" I replied.
"Well, you're going to laugh at me just as you did reading that book."
I was puzzled by her comment, and started to say something when she continued, "I thought those were coffee stains on the front where I'd spilled coffee on it. I was trying to scrub them off when I realized it was a design on the cover." I laughed with her and told her that was really funny. You can bet it was another of those times when I sure wasn't going to tell her what I was thinking.

A few days ago we added the replacement ghost shrimp to the aquarium in hopes of controlling an algae outbreak on the leaves of the two plants. Those shrimp may not be perfect eating machines, but they are certainly beginning to clean things up. Besides, we are both getting a lot of fun out of just watching them with their 5 pairs of jointed walking legs, 5 pairs of swimming legs (swimmerets), 3 pairs of maxillae (feeding appendages)and two pairs of segmented sensory antennae. Before we got this aquarium I thought shrimp were only good for eating, which tells you how much attention I paid in biology class.

Look close and you will see this isn't the normal way to unhitch a 5th wheel, as the front section of the 5th wheel is resting on the bed of the pickup. It worked out great as the Pickleball courts were nearby, there was a foursome playing, and there were two chairs positioned so we could watch the action on the court and also the action around the RV. There were three guys working to overcome the problem, and from what we picked up, it sounded like the 5th wheel had not been chocked, causing the oops. It really didn't take them more than 20 to 30 minutes to fix everything. Except for some bent trim on the pickup. And you thought you were having a bad day.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Friends

It's not really what it appears to be, though it sure looks like it. I'd talked to Don at All Seasons the other day about our refrigerator problem, and he said he would be out our way in a couple of days and would stop by. Turned to he was already working on a coach a few spots from us, and stopped in on a trip to that coach. He took a quick look, asked a couple of questions, and in the end we ended up with some free advice. Need to connect to a direct 12 volt source when it goes out, like the coach battery to eliminate the cause being RF interference, if it still doesn't work the board is the cause, and we should get a Dinosaur Board to replace it. We can do that ourselves, just be careful when installing it. The frig has worked like a charm since we arrived, so we will take that advice and try to stay out of cold weather for now.

Superstition Mountain rises up in front of us, and as the sun sets it turns red. Temperatures in the 70's and scenery like this, what's not to like about the Phoenix area. Maybe that is the problem, as all day RVs were pulling into the park, the traffic on the roads was increasing, and the snowbirds continued to flock to where it is warm.

In the late after our friends John and Judy stopped to spend the night as they were passing through the Phoenix area. We had a great visit, not having seen them since late summer, getting caught up on the latest happenings and future plans. There is something very special about RV friends, maybe it is the long periods of time between visits. Maybe it is the common Life we live. Whatever it is, we are always better for having spent time with friends like this. What a Life we live.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More Warm weather

What a beautiful day, and the beautiful woman in the photo only serves to make it more so, proving I truly am one lucky man. Canyon Vistas is a fairly large place, with around 600 sites, and Linda was anxious to know just what the distance around the perimeter of the park was. So before we left the coach to head out, she showed me she was wearing her pedometer. Some time later, after circumnavigating the place, it was determined we had walked one and an eighth miles. I suspect if we walked every street in the park it would be approaching two miles, though something tells me that an expedition such as that is unlikely to happen if Linda was to be part of it. Glad she has some common sense to make up for me.

We are in a little appendage of the park known as the short term area. There are 37 sites, five of which are occupied. We like this park because it is only 15 minutes or so to some major shopping, yet it is on the very outside edge of Phoenix metro area, plus it is Passport America park. We are planning on staying here through the weekend, since the PA rate is good for a week, then move to another park, likely in Apache Junction. Needless to say, we are really enjoying the warm Arizona weather.

In the afternoon we drove into Mesa for something that will give Linda as much pleasure as it will me. It was to get a checkup with Jeff at Zounds, and the result was that my hearing had deteriorated some more, so a reprogramming of my hearing aids was in order. I simply could not believe the difference when the reprogramming was complete. It is interesting how we don't notice a lose of hearing if it occurs slowly over a period of time, but make it sudden and we are very aware.

In late December 2008, when I first got my hearing aids after a lifetime of not being able to hear, I penned the following. I think it is just as appropriate today. Check Johnny Nash in year 1972 if the tune doesn't come to you.

I can hear clearly now, the pain is gone,
I can hear all the sounds comin' my way
Gone is the silence that led me astray
It's gonna be a loud, loud, loud, loud Wonderful day.
Yes, it will be a loud, loud, loud, loud Wonderful day.

Oh yes, I can hear it now, the pain is gone
And all the lost meanings have disappeared
Hearin' the low sounds I'd missed before
It's gonna be a loud loud, loud, loud, loud Wonderful day.

Hear all around, there's nothin' but real sounds
Even 'round my head, nothin' but real sounds.

I can hear clearly now, the pain is gone,
I can hear all the sounds comin' my way
Gone is the silence that led me astray
It's gonna be a loud, loud, loud, loud Wonderful day.
It's gonna be a real real, real real Wonderful day.
Oh yes, Today's a real, loud, loud, loud Wonderful day.

On the way back to the coach we stopped at the Bashas' grocery store just across Hwy 60 from the park for a few things, among them was salsa. Not just any salsa, but a salsa we could add to a dish that would be cooked down. Shouldn't be hard you think, but think again. Read the label on a jar of salsa and look at the sodium content, i.e. salt, and multiply the amount in two tablespoons by the number of tablespoons in the jar. When that puppy gets cooked down there are going to be cattle heading in from miles around to swipe their tongue on the salt lick you just created.

There were at least 30 different salsa's in this stretch of shelving, most of which had as much salt as a salt shaker. Fortunately Paul Newman came to the rescue as always, with natural ingredients, a low sodium content, and a reasonable price. I don't care whether it's made in New York City, Connecticut, Nigeria or who knows where, it is really good stuff. I always figure that if one salsa company bases their advertising on the fact another company's salsa is made in New York City, it must be because their salsa tastes so bad they can't claim it tastes better so they knock where their competitor is located. And you thought Life was as simple as just going to the store and picking up a jar of non-New York City salsa.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Warm weather

The box of Christmas presents was at the post office this morning, and as quick as we could, we packed up and headed to warmer weather. Our destination being Canyon Vistas in Gold Canyon, AZ, a park we have stayed at several times in the past, and where the weather is warmer. As always, the Border Patrol checkpoint on Hwy 11 a few miles north of town was our first stop, and with no traffic, the agents asked a number of questions about the fulltime lifestyle. As I've said before, I don't envy their job, standing along a lonely stretch of highway on a cold, windy day, but they have an important job to do.

Linda always gets nervous when she sees signs like this. I think it has something to with that incident in Mississippi this spring with the MotoSat. And of course our route was taking us under that bridge. Looking over at her, I could see Linda was very tightly holding her seat securely in place, something only someone as brainy as she is would think to do at times like this, as most anyone else would be going on about whether we would fit under the bridge or not. Awesome Linda.

Having cleared the bridge by at least a foot, we took to the open country for the remainder of the drive to the Phoenix area. We could have traveled the Interstate most of the way, but since we prefer the other type of roads, we only took I-10 from Deming to Lordsburg where we exited to US 70 on the east side of town. There was a Flying J at the bottom of the ramp and we filled at the convenient RV pumps instead of the trucks pumps. Every time we do this it takes far longer, the pumps not having the big nozzles, and the credit limit set too low so that we have to reinsert the credit card. If we need to go inside to give them the card it makes a lot more sense to use the truck pumps, plus there is never a canopy over the RV pumps like there is over the truck pumps. Some people never learn, and I seem to be one of them.

US 70 is a good road, with the worst stretch being the first few miles west of Lordsburg, then it is open country, a town or two, and very little traffic. At Globe we turned onto US 60 for the last portion of the drive, and also a beautiful descent down a canyon. Then the haze of the Phoenix area appeared in front of us, and it wasn't long before were pulling into a park we have stayed at several times in the past. Warm weather, at last warm weather was where we were at.

Once we were settled, the Norcold working just as it should, dinner over with the dishes washed, dried and put away, Linda announced it was time, an announcement that certainly got my attention. Next thing I know she's out the door of the coach, but only for a few seconds, returning with that box she had worked so hard to get at the Columbus post office. Soon the presents were spread out beside her on the couch, and she was saying, "Who's first." Knowing how much fun she has opening presents, I said, "You, then you, then you."

Didn't take her long to begin using one of those presents, an OXO microfiber double duster. In fact I wasn't sure that she was going to stop, as all I heard was "Wow, look at this", and other observations as to how efficient it was at picking up dust. Dust is the nemesis of our existence, especially since we have the windows open whenever we can. Long ago she gave up the battle of the dust, but now I can see she has a new, more powerful weapon to battle that evil. Thanks Jenny!!!

The gifts displayed, but the best gift of all was the new throw that will have Justin, Lindsey and Abby sitting on our couch with us.

Life, meant to be lived.
To experience the connection of family.
The joy of living.
The wonder of love.
The adventure we call Life goes on and on.

Monday, December 26, 2011

After Christmas Specials

When you are in Columbus, New Mexico on the day after Christmas, the day all the big box stores advertise their super special sales, what do you do when there are no stores? You go down to Palomas and enjoy the wonders of The Pink Store. It is the place to go when you are are here, great food, great people, great shopping and great services. Park in a nice lot on the American side, walk across, one block down on the left side of the main street. Enjoy margarita's and lunch, buy a few things, walk back across the border and five minutes later you are home. Life is good.

We were there with Lew and Helen who have an RV lot in Columbus and had found the Daily Journal. We had a great time visiting, great food and fun shopping afterward, picking up a few Mexican specialties and having a great time. If our box is at the Post Office tomorrow we will be off to the Phoenix area. If not, we know the secret to the Notcold Norcold, so another day in Columbus is no problem. Sometimes Life doesn't go exactly as we would wish. But without a bump or two along the way, just think how boring it would be.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas Day

It was a cold morning, the overnight low being in the mid teens, with the thermometer showing 18 when I first looked at it this morning. Later, after it had warmed up considerably, Linda came out announcing it was so cold in the bathroom there was ice on the window frame, and she had a photo to prove it. Just so everyone will know what she exposed herself to during her early morning duties, here it is. At least she didn't have to have me come back and pour water on the toilet seat to get her unfrozen. Now that would really have been an experience and a half, none of which could ever be talked about.

If I talk about her, I'd better balance it out by pointing out that as far as I was concerned, it was also cold. But where there's a will, there's a way, and a few minutes in front of our heater does wonders. I usually don't heat my clothes, just my razor, but since it was Christmas, I though I would treat myself. Actually it wasn't bad at all in the front half of the coach, as it was 54, then once Linda got up, she turned on the furnace and soon I was taking off clothes rather than putting them on. As I was to later learn the reason for all this was the timer on her electric blanket had turned it off and she had gotten cold. Poor baby.

Success! No coffee was dumped all over the counter this morning, and to have a record the number so she can find it again, it was ??? It turns out that she was so proud of not spilling any coffee and wanting that photo taken, that she didn't write the number down. So as I was writing this, I asked her what it was so I could record it here, and she didn't remember it!!! This is where years of marriage come to the fore, and I said nothing, but I bet you can imagine what I was thinking about my blond wife.

Neither the amaryllis nor the Christmas cactus was in bloom, but it sure looks like we're going to see something by New Years. Besides we do have snow on the ground, and even if it is just in a few shaded places around the cactus and sotol, it's a white Christmas.

Now that we know the secret to the Notcold Norcold, it is just a matter of going out in the morning, placing the hair drier in the right spot, turning it on, waiting a half hour, then reconnecting the 12 volt power wire. A couple of clicks, and the green light is on, meaning our Notcold is a Nowcold. Besides, our neighbor is having his water line freeze every night, so it could be worse. Our solution to that is to not connect the water, but use our fresh water tank and water pump instead.

Christmas cookies, real, genuine homemade on Christmas Day persimmon Christmas cookies. Linda was so cheerful, a big smile constantly on her face as she mixed and baked them, that I didn't have the heart to do any quality control testing. Later I commented, "You are so happy when you bake cookies, I can tell you really love to bake." She smiled and said, "Or maybe I just like to eat cookie dough."

This was the photo Linda took of her cookies, and as usual she has zoomed in as close as possible. I took one look at it and decided it looked more like what cookies look like after they have been internally processed and deposited by the cookie monster. When I told what it it looked like, she said, "It does, doesn't it." Once we both stopped laughing, I thought just how amazing it is, the number of ways we can show love to those that mean so much to us.

Our Christmas Dinner was grilled marinated spilt chicken halves, the free range kind from Shipshewana. We hadn't gilled on the charcoal grill since our time in the Upper Peninsula, so this was a real treat. As before we used our large stainless steel bowl to cover them for the last 20 minutes or so after turning them, making them finger licking good as the juicy meat just fell off the bone.

Last year we spent Christmas in California with our kids and grandkids, this year we talked to them on the phone. But just like last year, it was a time spent with family, though just not in the same way. We both thought about them getting together, fixing the same dishes Mom always fixed. Connections, traditions, and the passing of time. Nothing stays the same, nothing is forever. During our time on earth let us actually live our lives, after all Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The good, the bad, and the great

It was a good morning today, as we were greeted with snow and sunshine this morning. While it looked similar to yesterday, fortunately it was not causing any of the problems with travel that yesterdays storm had brought. Also the temperatures had only dipped into the upper 20's, and the sun quickly melted much of the snow.

About 10:30 Linda headed off to the post office, a three minute drive, to see if the box of presents had arrived. Or at least I thought she had left, but as I sat at my computer I caught a glimpse of a wildly waving arm. Looking up, I saw a snowball heading directly for me and I instinctively ducked. It splatted against the window in direct line with where my face had been a split second ago. Then I watched in wonder as she reached down, scooped up some more snow and fired another one right at where my head was now located. As she raised both arms over head in triumph and walked towards the car I realized that all that softball talent our granddaughters have sure hadn't come from me.

Time now for the bad. The package was not at the post office. The postmaster told her there was a truck with mail on it coming down from Deming, and that it should arrive just before he closed at noon. He suggested Linda call at 11:55 and he would let her know if it had arrived, then wait for her if it had. Unfortunately, when she called, the truck had not arrived, but the postmaster told her it would be in around 12:30 and if her package was on it, he would call so she could come get it. Hanging up, she turned to me and said, "That's why we get our mail at small post offices. They are the best." All I could do was smile as I thought back to prior discussions on this subject when she was always wanting the mail sent to large town post offices to make sure it was there when we arrived, only to be disappointed time and again. And each of those times I had lobbied for small town post offices. What's that saying about old grizzly's and new tricks?

Just after one o'clock Linda's phone rang, and it was the postmaster. He was calling to let her know the box had not come in, but there would be another delivery for Tuesday morning, as they would be closed on Monday for the Christmas holiday. Or if we wanted to move on, he could forward the box to where we would going. Not every post office is as bad as the one in Alamagordo.

All the while the Norcold was continuing to be a Notcold, but therein was the clue to a possible solution. I was sure it was a temperature related problem, because the only times it had quit running were when the temperatures had dropped below freezing overnight, whether at Manassass, Fort Payne, or here. If that was the problem then when the temperature climbed back above freezing today it should come back on like it did in Manassass and Fort Payne. It had simply been too cold yesterday for it come back on, never getting above freezing, but today the temperatures were predicted to be in the low 30's.

There seemed to be two problems here, both related. The control board was cutting out whenever the temperature fell to a certain point, and lately, maybe because the temperature was so low for so long, the 5 amp fuse was blowing, meaning it wouldn't start back up when the temperature rose during the day. The solution to the fuse was to replace it, the solution to the temperature problem was to generate some heat. Note the work light and hair drier. The hair drier on low puts out a gentle stream of warm air, the trouble light also generates heat. Then by placing a piece of clear plastic over the top 3/4 of the opening it would help hold the heat in, but allow the necessary ventilation for the refrigerator to work properly. That is, if it should start working.

It hadn't started working, and finally it came time to move the contents of the refrigerator down to the "refrigerator bay", the temperature in there being 34 degrees. After digging all these boxes out, and Linda trying to empty them, it was time to open the frig and empty it out. Imagine our surprise when Linda not so calmly yelled out, "The green light, the green light, the refrigerator is working." Now we knew, the problem really was related to the outside temperature, and it confirmed what we have always known. The coach, really, really, really does not like cold weather.

So now we know we can stay here until Tuesday, even with a nighttime notcold Norcold. Actually it is amazing how well the refrigerator holds the cold if you don't open it. Eighteen hours of no cooling and everything in both freezers was still frozen solid. We could leave for the Phoenix area, warm weather and a frig that works 24 hours a day, but why? We like this park, we don't like the hustle and bustle of the Phoenix area. Sure the weather is warmer up there, but we couldn't possibly get anyone to fix the problem until Tuesday at the earliest anyway. We figure the extended warranty will cover the cost of the repair, so even though we could order a new board ourselves, it really wouldn't be worth it.

Looking at everything that has happened over the past few days we can only conclude that it is Christmas Eve and Life is Great. What more could we ask for.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A cold, snowy day

This is what greeted us this morning, a beautiful snowy landscape. The storm had come through during the night and we were actually on the southern edge of it. Interstate 10 across much of New Mexico was closed due to snow and ice, but we weren't going anywhere, so it was of no consequence to us. That meant we had time to enjoy the snow covered Sotol outside the coach.

Then we discovered we weren't the only ones looking at that Sotol. Out in the expanse of snow Linda caught sight of a jack rabbit wandering around, and as she reached for her camera, it started making a rabbit line to our Sotol. She caught it in mid hop just before it ducked under cover. It must have been a case of any port in a storm because that rabbit stayed safely tucked under the Sotol until I later ventured outside, at which time he took off like the proverbial scared rabbit.

What a beautiful sight, at least when you look at someone's blog and see a scene like this. It hasn't been very many times that we were the ones in this scene, but we pretty much remember every time it was. My favorite had to be a few years ago in Moab when we woke up to 5 or six inches of snow, then drove into Arches National Park to see a winter wonderland. It's OK to do it on occasion, we just don't want to make a habit of it.

Not good, but at least she didn't spill any on the floor. I asked her, "What happened?" and the reply was "You don't what to know." My first thought was to say I at least knew she had spilled the coffee, but then I thought better of it and kept my mouth shut. Good Bob. Later she volunteered that she was weighing it when it spilled. Seems she bought a pound of already ground Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and she needed to know how much of it to put in the coffee maker when she starts using it. I'll just say that just goes to prove how smart she is and leave out anything about her being a klutz. P.S. She didn't write down what the weight of the coffee was what with spilling it, and now she doesn't remember what it was. I may have to re-evaluate the smart portion of that above sentence.

In the afternoon the MotoSat stopped working, and a check outside revealed the cause, snow on the dish. It's mounted in the center of the roof and climbing the ladder revealed a snow and ice covered expanse which not even the foolhardy would cross. That lead to a little brainstorming as to how best to dislodge that snow, with this being the result.

I thought it was a pretty good idea. I wasn't sure what Linda thought because she was laughing so hard it was difficult to see her face. It took at least ten snowballs before I even hit the dish, not because my aim was that bad, or at least in my mind it wasn't. No, the problem was the wind was blowing my throws off their planned trajectory. Eventually I hit the dish twice, and both times the only thing that happened was another blob of snow stuck to the dish. Back to the drawing board.

Linda proposed stowing the dish and redeploying it. Unfortunately that did nothing to dislodge any of the snow. I was standing outside looking at the dish when it came to me that I could probably reach the dish with our broom if I stood on the ladder. Guess what? It worked like a charm and a little later Linda had us back online.

We did have another problem during the day, one that I have saved for last. When I got up this morning shortly after 4 AM, it was just above freezing and the refrigerator was working. Then around 6:30 I noticed it was off. The outside temperature was also down to 28 with a wind chill of 15. It never got above 31 all day and the refrigerator never came back on. Nothing we could do with the roads being closed. I have to hope that it is a temperature related problem and with highs in the upper 30's tomorrow, it will come back on. At least we don't need to worry about getting ice for it. We can just put things down in the bay where it is in the upper 20's.

Wonder what tomorrow will bring? Whatever it is, it is most likely not to be boring. As for us, we are awaiting a package at the Post Office, and if it doesn't come tomorrow, we will just take advantage of the refrigerator temperatures nature is providing, put everything down below and spend the weekend here. It the package comes we may head off to the warm weather in Phoenix, hoping that temporarily solves the reoccuring cold weather Notcold Norcold problem. Like I said during a phone call with our son when he asked how we could keep smiling through all this. "What good does getting upset do."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When it rains, it pours, and not always is it water

No, it's not what it seems though we were doing something else to the refrigerator. Now that it is working like it should we were getting water in the produce keeper. Checking, the tray below the fins, we could see it was full of water, meaning the drain tube was not draining. Linda got a pin, and when I used it to clean the black thing at the end of the tube, water immediately started dripping out. I put it back into the little black pan by the burner tube, and checking it a while later found the pan almost full. Using a rag to sop up the water it was soon empty, a task that need to be repeated once again.

The weather forecast for the next several days is for a severe winter storm, with temperatures plummeting into the low teens and daytime highs below or at freezing. The last time we turned on the heater for the wet bay, the small 12 volt DC heater that keeps our water lines from freezing, the pilot lights hadn't come on, but I ascribed that to the fact the pilot lights were probably burned out, something that happens with regularity in these Monaco made coaches.

However we didn't want to take any chances, so I removed the heater so we could test it and confirm that it was still working. I couldn't do it in the bay because it wasn't cold enough outside for the heater to come on, so with some stretching of muscles that weren't used to being stretched, as well as some disconnecting of electrical connections by feel, out it came.

Easy to test once out, I got out the jump start battery from the Explorer and hooked it up. Nada, Zip, Nothing. Looking at the charge of the jump battery it was good, but down, so maybe that was the problem. While I set about recharging the battery, Linda got on the Internet and found out the heater had a thermal fuse that is often the culprit when the heater stops working.

Not good, because a quick test showed there was no continuity across the fuse. This was not something that going to get fixed today, and besides there was another key component of the system that could also be out, which was the snap disc thermostat. OK, so the heater wasn't going to be working for sure, but just as certainly, it was going to be getting downright cold over the next couple of days.

Back to an old standby I remembered from growing up in a house with a coal furnace. On nights when it was going to get really, really cold, we had lights aimed at all the critical points in the plumbing down in the basement. It worked then, unless the temperature fell far below zero, so why wouldn't the same idea work now. All we needed to do was to keep the pipes and tanks from freezing, not make the bay livable, so we put the work light in the bay.

I thought we were done good when Linda pointed out that we had no way of knowing what the temperature in the bay actually was. That was easy to solve, take the outside remote thermometer we have mounted in the front of the coach and put it in the compartment. Now we have the weather station to tell us what the outside temperature is, and the remote to tell us what the bay temperature is.

I will say that brilliant blond that I was fortunate enough to marry is not one to leave things to chance. It isn't supposed to get that cold tonight, tomorrow night is the cold one, but she was preparing anyway. Sometime during the night the snow is supposed to move in, so there should be a world of white greeting us in the morning.

What can we say. Life is not perfect, the fulltime Life is not some idyllic, always in the sun with every moment great fun, voyage from day to day. Or at least it isn't for us and the people we know. But considering the alternative, what's not to love about this Life we fulltimers live. Besides. things that break can be fixed, but a life never lived is gone forever.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There are days, and then there are days

Yes, it's what it looks like. This is definitely not good. Think of the car along the road, the hood up and some poor unfortunate person peering under that hood, as if looking at it could solve what ever the problem is. One thing for sure, our refrigerator wasn't working, but then again, that was nothing new.

Backing up a bit, she who sleeps past dawn was heard to be moving about in the back, I ground her coffee beans and started to brew a pot. Thinking good thoughts, I proceeded to begin fixing breakfast only to brought up short when I opened the refrigerator to find it dark inside. A glance at the controls confirmed it was once again not working, a not so surprising event given the way it has performed the past few months, but still it was, shall I say, disconcerting.

Eager to share the news with her royal highness, I opened the sliding door and approaching her as she perch on the throne, blurted out, "The frig isn't working again." I have no recollection of what she said in response, or of the next few minutes for that matter, as she calmly proceeded to put her herself together. Having been down this road more times than we would like to admit, her first step was to open the door and let more cold air out of the frig. Guess it was a case of seeing is believing, because she was shortly telling me that I was right, it wasn't working because the green light on the panel as well as the inside light was out. Like I say, I married a very smart woman.

The next step was to head outside and check to see if the red light on the safety module was on, hoping it was like bad and we could bypass it and get the frig back up and running. While it may appear the red light is on, it most definitely wasn't, indicating we were facing a far more serious problem, or at least it was something readily apparent.

Here we were, once again pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which is where we like to be unless things like this happen. We had several options, we could head east to Las Cruces, or west to Tucson. The other option was to see if we could diagnose and fix it ourselves.

First things first, and having been down this road before, that meant testing for power. After confirming we had 12 volts going into the module, it was off to the Internet, where everything was pointing to a problem with the control board in one way or another, whether the board or one of the two fuses on it. There I stand, looking at the mass of wires, etc. in that tiny opening while thinking that I really don't want to drive all those miles to get it fixed.

That was when Linda piped up with, "Why don't you call Murphy?" She was right, I knew none of this was his doing, after all he'd just installed the safety module, but he had said we should call him if we had any problems. A brief conversation, and I was testing the DC voltage at the blue wire coming out of the module, and then the AC at its outlet.

Both were good, and I called back, hearing that the problem was either a fuse or the control board itself. I listened as Murphy explained that there would probably be three screws to remove, before I could pull off the cover of the control board to be able to check the fuses. He mentioned disconnecting the various wires, and the fact the igniter wire, the orange one on the right side as he pointed out, should be pulled off very carefully as the terminal extended far out from the board and pulling on it wrong could rip it off the control board. Then the call was over and we were on our own.

Some things are easier said than done, and this was definitely one of them. The heck with seeing the three screws which were nowhere in sight, it was hard to even see the cover itself, which is black, rectangular in shape, and has a white label on it. It's what has the white line drawn around it.

This was really not looking like something I could do, but by reaching in, moving wires, etc. to the side, I was finally able to located the three screws, all of which seemed to be in non-accessible locations. At least I could give it a try, and eventually I was able to loosen the most readily accessible screw a few turns. The problem was, the temperature was 34, my fingers were so cold I cold barely feel the tools, and there was no way I could get the socket on the other two screw heads.

With that I gave up, telling Linda we were going to have to take it into the shop, and I was going inside to get warm. I don't know what happened, but as Linda told me, as I got to the front of the coach, I stopped and said, "The RV techs have to be able to take the cover off." Then I turned around and headed back. As I got up on the stool, Linda said, "I'm your helper." There was no longer any doubt about getting that hidden cover off, and I began by disconnecting and removing everything that was preventing me from reaching those screws. All the while Linda was great, handing me any tool I needed, getting labels ready so we could mark all the wires, and making a diagram of where each connected. I know I often embarrass her by bragging about her in the Daily Journal, but dog gone it, she's that awesome and far more.

I wanted the problem to be a blown fuse, did I ever want it to blown fuse. But unfortunately it was easy to see the 8 amp, AC fuse was till good, then I pulled the 5 amp DC fuse and tested it. Bad! Was this the problem? The mind in this situation is a dangerous thing, and I wondered if maybe the tester was bad.

Good! The new fuse tested good and maybe, just maybe, we had found the problem.

Sometimes I wonder why I buy all those extra fuses, switches, pilot lights, connectors, wires, latches, etc., etc., and it is times like this that confirm the wisdom of those two boxes of parts we carry. Call me superstitious, but I was not going to put the cover back on before making sure the new fuse solved the problem. Something had to cause that fuse to blow, and maybe it would just blow again when I hooked everything back up.

After plugging all the electrical connections back in, we looked at what the situation was, and it was time to call Murphy again. Hint, look at the smile on my face. I let him know the frig was once again working, and thanked him for helping us out. He's a really great person besides being a great RV tech. Murphy is a mobile RV tech who covers the San Antonio and surrounding area to the west. Murphy owns and operates MATTHEWS RV REPAIR, check out his website here.

In the end we decided to just leave the control board cover off for a few days, just in case. Something tells me our problems are now behind us, but I don't doubt for an instant that there are more adventures waiting somewhere down the road. As for us, we will stay put here at Pancho Villa State Park for Christmas, waiting for the snow that is predicted, going down to The Pink Store, and being thankful we can live the Life we do with each at the others side.