Onward

 

The majority of the pictures above (minus the bottom two) are all from Ajo Historical Society Museum.  A wonderful place jammed packed with history about the area, including the copper mine… I took far more pictures then these, but the glare from the overhead lights did me no favors. So enjoy.  The handwoven coverlet above was in amazing condition despite the edges. A well loved treasure.  The bottom pictures, Norm managed to tuck himself between the travasak and the comforter to get warm one morning.  The sunset was from my rig in Why.

To carry on the story from the last posting…the inverter was installed without issue, even tested it out with my hair dryer. Then I could not use it. Why? My delightful (not!) house batteries decided to really die. Deader then a door nail. So I managed to get 2 new AGM batteries and installed in a timely manner.  So with all this work done, I prepared to leave for Quartzsite (herein referred to as Q, as my spell checker doesn’t want to spell it correctly).

My arrival to Q was so uneventful, no traffic, not even a mini road jam… pulled into the Lazy Daze gathering spot and was shocked to see I was #3.  In all the years I’ve been coming, I have never seen so few people here.  A few more stragglers have arrived, we are now 9, no 8 as one has left.  Roger, the coordinator of this bunch, was a no-show. We thought his wife needed back surgery, but in reality they got tickets to Washington, DC for January 20th. Free tickets they claim… I bet.   Apparently word passed quickly that Roger would not make it, nonetheless…we, who are here, are enjoying meeting the new folks as well as our fellow friends. Its a quiet bunch, very low keyed, laid back kind of people. We see each other at happy hour and around the bonfire, but not rest of the time. Very different from past gatherings.  One of the new folks, went para-gliding over us yesterday…sure looked like fun.

The big tent, here at the Q, has been delayed opening for some reason, but it hasn’t stopped the zillion little flea markets around it from opening. I needed a cheater (to get a 2 prong plug to work with a 3 prong), but there was no way I was willing to wade thru those shops. So went to the Dollar Store…the line was weaving thru the rows at the store. Ridiculous!  So in the long run, it would not matter where I went. But found the adapter, so all is well.  Also found a RV parts store… found a new screen door handle. So got that replaced. Let’s see…. am hoping all the repairs are officially done now.

Why

Why is an un-incorporated town, which consists of one gas station, one RV park, one community center and one restaurant.  If you blinked on your way to the Organ Pipe Monument, you missed the town.  It is the place where two highways meet – 85 & 86. If you had a triangle and Why was on one spoke of the triangle, the other two (equal distance from Why) are Phoenix and Tucson.  That sums up the town.

I am outside of the town, in what I refer as glorified boondocking campground. One must have solar to stay here. Running generators is frowned upon, they suggest you go into Why for full hookups if you need that much electricity. Love that!  This is high desert camping, we are surrounded on 3 sides with mountains, cactus, creosote is the normal landscape. You see organ pipe goods on surrounding hills. Wild burros, coyotes are frequent visitors. Lots of hiking, bike riding, etc. So why do I call if glorified boondocking? There are 4 dump stations, 4 shower houses, clubhouse with computer room, craft & office), laundry with clothes line available.  There are spigots of water available all over the park, but if you want one on your lot, you need to pay for a year to get it.  Whoa!  There’s no way I’d be here in the summer time… the cost for the year includes a shed you can add as well.  How much? $550.00 per year. Or a monthly rate is $130 or a daily rate of $9 a day.  Being self-contained – this is an awesome place to park it for the winter.  Tons of solar panels galore and people do more here then in other campgrounds I’ve been at.

Grocery store is found in Ajo and they build up stock for all the RVer’s that play down here for the winter.  The store also has an ACE Hardware store attached to it.  Nice feature. So rarely need to go to the cities for anything, which is even nicer. There a great organic grass fed hamburger joint in Ajo…the best tasting burgers I’ve had in eons.  I’ve not eaten at the restaurant in Why, will have to try that out sometime.

Since I’ve been here this year… I have added two new solar panels.  I really thought I needed to get new AGM batteries…could not hold a charge for love nor money.  Well, the solar folks around here proved me wrong. After doing all the required testing (took 4 full days around the clock) and them adding an extra battery charger to my batteries, full sunshine and the generator running 3 hours in morning and 3 hours in the evening – my batteries finally got fully discharged. That term still confuses me – didn’t they just charge all this?  Anyway, once this was accomplished…another 2-3 days of testing and sure enough, I need more panels to make the batteries work better.  Now since this hasn’t been happening since I bought the rig… the batteries are definitely showing signs of being tired. The lifetime for AGM batteries is 5-6 years, I’m on the cusp of needing to deal with them anyhow, but… I’m using this time to test thoroughly on the cloudy days, partly cloudy days, full sun days.  So I got the new solar panels right before Christmas and its night and day difference. I stand corrected, glad they made me go thru those detailed tests (they drove me nuts! – no comment from the peanut galleries now!!!).  So I still have the 2 panels on my roof, that don’t tilt up. And the 2 new panels, they made me a PVC stand to support them to set at an angle on the ground. They fold up and I can move them easily enough.

This next week, I’m getting a Xantrex 2000 inverter installed too. I’m excited about that…  Its going to be fun to see what I can run on that. So much that I wanted or like to use, I have left in WA in storage, as I can’t use without running a generator and I hate to run my generator – noise pollution is a major taboo.  So with the inverter, this will change, life will get…what? I don’t know, guess I will find out.

A follow up note on protecting my tow car. A friend of mine, when I visited her in Sutherlin, OR before I came south, said “Melinda, having a car is a fun thing to have, but if you have to struggle, you aren’t having fun”.   She pointed out she had 2 mud flaps on her rig. One set immediately behind the rear tires, the other about 1/2 way out to the rear bumper.  I can’t get mud flaps right behind my tires, as my tanks are in the way.  But I do have the mud flap 1/2 between rear tires and the rear bumper.  So I started paying attention to fellow RVer’s as I came south… almost all of them, have no protection on the car or between the rig and the vehicle. None!!!  No damage to the tow either. All but 2 had two mud flaps on the rig. I managed to talk with one of the 2 about towing with only one mud flap. They have been doing it for 14 years – zero problem! In fact, they had tried the Protect-a-Tow and had the same issues that I encountered. So from Phoenix, I took off my $400 cover, and towed to Why. Zero problems. Was it a waste  of money to have gotten the full hood/window cover?  Yes and no. I will use it when I next go to AK, because I don’t have 2 mud flaps.  But its now being stored in my car.  I won’t put it on again, in fact, I can’t put it on by myself. I don’t have the hand strength needed to put it on.  Oh the things we learn…

I’m alive

And kicking…  I have had about a half a dozen followers comment that I have not been doing my job of keeping up the blog. Well… no I haven’t.  Been busy, but that’s a lousy excuse.  The big reason is I don’t have much in the way of photos, just don’t think about taking a photo when I’m out doing things.  So will try again for this winter to keep it up.

For starters, I had a wonderful time in September with the Lazy Daze group, got entertained everyday by the ukulele folks, that now play at most of the gatherings. Mighty fine entertainment. Good to see old friends and make some new ones.  The buck seen thru the railing…was begging for apples, but I was sad to see several feed the wildlife. Not a good thing to do. I had to walk away, even tho I tried to stop them. Just cause they eat your apples off of your trees at home, does not mean you should give them apples. Too frustrating to witness.   PLEASE DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE!!!

Back on the Chimacum front… I was so darn busy getting the VA claim paperwork in, that not much else was being done. Got it all turned in on October 1st and truly thought I could just sit back and wait for the results. NOT!  Spent all of October, trying to get one more evaluation that the American Legion team wanted me to pursue. No results.  So on the 8th of November, I headed south.  Somewhere between Reno and Hwy 58 on Highway 395, the calls started coming in. I do not answer the phone when I’m driving, I pull over when I can to see what’s up.  Well, the non-VA examiners that started this process in 2015 was calling to tell me I had an appointment in Bremerton within 2 days. There was no way in hell I could make that appointment, find a place to park my rig, get some cat sitters, fly back up in that timeline. Absolutely nuts.  Well…their little threat, if I did not show up for that appointment, I would lose my rights to file a claim with the VA.  Stress factor climbed quickly.  Disregard I was trying to stay ahead of a winter storm, nothing was open on Hwy 395 after November 1st (I forgot that). Egads!

So what’s this girl to do… I had to contact my team at American Legion in Seattle, to help on this.  Dozens of phone calls, tons of time sitting on hold, frustrated, I just wanted to keep moving down the road. Finally some results. Guess what, they have a place in Phoenix (Scottsdale actually) for me to do the examine. They told me I had to do this in less than 2 weeks. Now I knew this was workable, just give me a date! That was more phone calls…As it turns out, its not until the 5th of December. Egads!  So all my plans got shuffled around, some delayed, some canceled, other goodies added…typical, isn’t it?

By the time I got close to my destination, I knew I could not go on. I was one exhausted puppy… a complete zombie the first day, semi human the next and I realized I just couldn’t wrap my brain going anyway for awhile. So I parked.

It has been nice, if not downright refreshing to have all this alone time. Nothing I had to do, no responsibilities, just kick back and enjoy my boys, listen to good music. Life is good, really good.

 

Work continues

The above images show some of the damage to my car windshield from using the Protect-A-Tow.  The window is spotless clean after they fixed 4 major chips.  What you now see is a bunch of white spots.  Those are the obvious dings, to run your hand over the windshield one would feel a mass of pitted glass.   I should have replaced the whole windshield and I may still do so.  Am trying to find a more safe and suitable solution to protect my car when towing. Or towing will cease and desist.

I can’t remember what I wrote last, so this may be a repeat.  I have replaced my Dometic freezer door and added a fan to the back of the unit.  It is night and day different from the previous life with this freezer.  I have in fact, for the first time, been able to turn the level of cold down to 2.  Major improvement.

I had gaskets replaced around the bottom of my side door. Am still looking to find the foam-like gasket that surrounds the frame of the screen door.  I had a luxury item done – had someone else wash and wax my rig – pure unadulterated delight!!!  And a few other little tidbits to maintain my rig.

In between working on the rig, the bikes – I’ve made trips to Seattle – learning the lay of the land without wanting to.  I have a short trip coming up – which I am looking forward to then and only then I hope I can slow down, relax before I head south for the winter.

 

Mini Update

No images to share, but wanted to give a brief update. I have been hibernating due to the heat. We, who are from the north, find the heat intolerable.  Nonetheless, I have been busy.  It took me awhile to unload my rig. Had to delivery all of Irene’s stuff back to her and all the stuff of my friend Cheri that I brought down for her.

I went up to Alaska with one bike and came back with two bikes. The new-to-me bike had to get into Ben’s Bikes in Sequim for a major overhaul.  Just got that back. My platform bike rack holder that secures the bikes on its platform, literally rubbed the paint off of both bikes. On my older bike, it rubbed the casing off of the brake wire, but the brake is still intact.  Not at all sure how I will overcome that situation, but will eventually figure it out.

Sitting around a table a while back relating my story… I learned I just joined the ranks of all the other crazy stuff RVer’s get into. A ton of laughter of the shared stories.  I still said I don’t want to repeat what I did…

Today, I went to Eric’s RV in Sequim to be evaluated on adding an awning to the driver’s side of my rig to shade my refrigerator vent.  Well, Eric suggested we evaluate the fridge first and what needs to be done will be cheaper then putting an awning up and it is finally addressing the problem I have had from day one with this RV. Wow!  So I need to replace the freezer door. Dometic – if you need to replace the gaskets then the whole door needs to be replaced. Most ridiculous thing… but we are also going to add a fan on the external side.  I should have a much better working fridge by the middle of this week. Once all done, I do not need to shade the vent. If I was camping in 90-100ºF weather, then they suggest shade. I will move before that happens..

So we had a beautiful cooling yesterday & today – gots lots of cleaning done.  Next set of cooler days, I will start reloading my rig.  Got things to do, places to go. Have a great day!

The Story…

The story… that a few of my friends wanted me to share on this blog.  Sit down, grab a cup of tea, beer or what-have-you and read about my trip out of Alaska this time. You might want to grab a map to follow along.

I have driven the Alcan Highway to and fro for years. I love the trip, but will now say, not in the summer time.  I set out from Haines on a cool 50’s Friday morning, around 10-ish, after seeing friends. Headed up the gorgeous Haines Highway, it was clear and the mountains were just gorgeous. My tentative goal was to reach Teslin, but I stopped just south of Whitehorse. It was just too hot (92ºF) to push it. Acclimating to hotter temps doesn’t come easy for me. Left in the wee hours the next morning and had a steady day of driving, saw one female moose, more then a 5 porcupines as road kill – sad, as one included its baby. Made it to Rabid Grizzly Rest Area, just north of Dease Lake, where I normally stop. This time it was smack dab in the middle of major construction zone. Gravel and dust beyond dust everywhere, but I was just too tired to continued. It was 89ºF. It was still 89º when I laid down to attempt to sleep.  My non-RVing friends need to realize, I have no electricity when I am dry camping. I just have windows, vents open in a tin box. I do have a 12 volt Fantastic fan, that I parked right next to my boys – gave them a bag of ice to lay on or near to keep them cooler.  Must tell you, doing the night when I was still tossing and turning…I looked out at the sky and was blown away.  I haven’t seen dark in over 2 1/2 months and to see the sky in all its glory – multi milky-ways, constellations and the mighty aurora borealis… it just brought great peace to me, it was so incredibly beautiful. Alas, this place offered up a 40 degree spread in temps – it was 49ºF when I awoke to a heavy dewed morning. That heavy dew turned all that dust into a wet brown paste of dust on everything. Ah life on the Alcan.

Left in the wee hours again – in hopes of getting out of the construction zone before the worker-bees started and to have cooler temps for just a little while.  I pushed thru to Kitwanga, as I knew it had a good place to stay.  It is here, that I discovered a major blunder of mine.  I needed to re-run thru the cycle on my car. I didn’t need to unhitch, just run thru the cycle of the gears, etc. Well… I couldn’t. It was deader then a door nail. It, the car, was so dead, I couldn’t even open the back doors. Shit.  While getting the battery recharged, I discovered I had not engaged my disconnect switch that turns off the fuse – so  this would not happen. Duh! Felt downright foolish to discover that, as it is WRITTEN in capitals, bold print on the laminated instruction sheet I keep in the console. Oh good grief! That won’t happen again, let me tell you.  I stayed there for 2 nights. A good break in all this heat.

I next, normally, stop at Beaumont Provincial Park, just west of Vanderhoof. So many cars were going in and out of there, I changed my mine and kept going. I then pushed on to and thru Prince George. I stopped just south of Prince George at a campground I know has good shade… with electricity.  It was a long day and was glad to get the shade.

Left again early the next morning. Now I was most concerned by the forecast of 90-100’s degree temperatures south of Cache Creek. Its a long, long haul when its that hot.  Do I make it a long day of driving, or do I stop?  I decided to let the road dictate what I would do. As it turns out, it was in the 70’s and cloudy with spotty rain at Cache Creek. Wow! How can I be so lucky? But here is my opportunity to get thru the Fraser Canyon area in cooler temps.  Yes, the total trip for that day would be 7-8 hours long, but it would save me from dealing with that heat as I would have dry camped.  It was cloudy all the way down to Chilliwack and I arrived around 2:30 pm when the hot sun re-appeared.

Chilliwack, a place I normally just drive thru to get to the border.  This time, I stopped to get gas. I turned the wrong way coming out of the gas station and… promptly got lost. Shit. For nearly 2 hours, I tried to find a place to turn around, to even stop and get unhitched to turn around, anything that would get me back to Highway 1. Streets were too narrow for a RV, little lone one pulling a car. I finally came across a day use only park, found one car and asked for help. I have to say, I am beyond tired at this time…but I really wanted to get across the border. So they (a family) had me follow them back out to the highway.  Got to Sumas border crossing, sat for about 20 minutes in the heat, so wishing to shut my eyes for a few minutes.

I picked up Highway 9 (a rural country road) to take me down to Highway 20 that would take me to Anacortes. There I would go onto Whidbey Island via Deception Pass.  I had already called and learned there was absolutely nothing available in RV parks, State Parks or even the military base for me for the night. So where do I go? I headed for the ferry terminal., thinking I could get across to Port Townsend sometime tonight. Alas…there last run was at 8 pm or something. Now what?  I went to the day use only area, right next to the terminal. I pulled in, thinking if I could just snooze for 20 minutes then figure out what to do.  I won’t write here what I said next, when I realized I could not turn around.

So it is on the dark side of dusk now.  I can’t turn around, I am now illegally parked in a day use only space.  So I set about unhitching my car. I could get one tow arm, but for the life of me I could not get the second one undone.  I tried everything everyone has told me on this unhitching business..I drove the car forward, backward – to try to release the tension. Turning the wheels, nothing worked.  So I decided to drive the rig up on a little rock strewn berm, in hopes of straightening out the car. That did not work, but I discovered I had not released the tension on that 2nd arm.  So glad no one was around in the dark to see me brow beat myself. 2nd arm popped off, moved the car. Went back to the RV…drumroll… I am royally stuck!!!

Come on Melinda!!!  You can get this rig off the berm. Silly girl!  I managed to rock her rear end into the gravel road. See image above. I could not open the side door of my rig and even more unnerving…when I got into the driver seat, the whole rig rolled very uncomfortably.  Now what?

Well, I start calling tow companies. No one in Coupevdlle or Oak Harbor would come to my rescue.  So next in line was from Freeland, somewhere south of me on the island.  They arrived within about 30 minutes. In the middle of all this… my credit card company called to tell me they suspected fraud on my credit card. Say what?  So while I am following the instructions of the tow driver on turning the wheels, I was answering security questions for the credit card. Egads!  It turns out my travel thru Canada was setting off the fraud system within the credit card company.  It is all ok now, but in the middle of my being unstuck?  Geez…  The tow guy was awesome tho, and he did not charge me the full rate. No damage whatsoever to the RV or to the car.  He said it was “an easy job”.  Damned if it felt easy.  But glad he left at 10:20 pm.  I closed up all and struggled to get into bed. Alarm went off at 7am.. I needed to get reservations for the ferry.

By the way, it was the world’s best place to awaken to a sunrise over wet lands on one side and the ocean on the other. The sounds…a beautiful, peaceful symphony played before my ears.  My soul needed that breath of fresh air.  But had to get moving, car re-hitched up and get to the ferry.  I was heading back to the SKP park.

And that is the story and I’m sticking to it.

 

Rafting trip

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The work is done and the play begins.  Now this is something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time.  My good friends Cheri and Joan, joined me on this spectacular day for a rafting trip.  Spectacular, as the forecast was for clouds, but no rain and we got sun. It was probably in the low 60’s, and just a beautiful day.  It was a common statement throughout the afternoon – we “wished it lasted longer”, we “wanted to continue”… just a great day.

So enjoy the images above.   We saw eagles, but no moose or bear. Lots of tracks and of course the log shown was definitely bear activity.  And the end of the tour, we were served smoked salmon with cream cheese, rice crackers, granola bars, tea/coffee/hot chocolate and bottles of water.

A fun, fun day!