Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lazy-Stay-At-Home Day

We spent a relaxing day at home in the coach. Doug restored the Wii to working condition, so we golfed for a bit. And that was the highlight of the day. Tomorrow, we move about seven miles down the road to another Resorts of Distinction park. It's the St David Western Horizons park. There is still a lot to see and do in this area and we can be as busy as we choose. (or not)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Musty Books

We visited the Benson Arizona Visitor Center today. What a way to learn about the area! The volunteers are always so nice and helpful and the brochures are plentiful. Doug was interested in places to get more information about his rockhounding. And I was finding everything I wanted to know about the tourist traps. (I love 'em!)

After leaving the visitor center, we headed for a rock shop in town. It was just a small place and 90% of their rocks and minerals were from Mexico. We enjoyed looking at the various displays, but Doug was looking for books to help identify the rocks that he has collected and the lady had none available.

Doug remembered seeing a rock shop in St David which is only about six miles away. So, off we went. But before we could barely get out of Benson, we passed another small shop. Pulling a u-turn, we went back to check it out. This one was much larger and well stocked. The owner, Lars, was quite knowledgeable and friendly. He had lots of advice and hints, but no books. However, he recommended a used book store in Benson where he quite often picked up books on geology and rock collecting.

Back we went to Benson where we found the Musty Books store. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It's not a large shop, but there were books everywhere! Some were on shelves, in boxes, stacked in piles here and there and you never knew what you might find. The owner directed Doug to the back where most of the reference and geology books were and I just wandered and browsed to my heart's content. Doug found several books that he wanted and a map that shows areas to find gems, minerals and gold. Score!!!

We returned to the coach to finish some chores and enjoy the sunshine. We both spent the evening with our noses in books. Doug, dreaming of finding riches and me just dreaming. Rough life!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Domestic Duties

After such a busy day in Bisbee, I wanted to catch up on some domestic business. It has been getting very cold at night here. Even dipping below freezing in the early morning hours. But, when the temperature finally hit 70, I opened the windows and doors and started laundry. I paid some bills, made some phone calls and updated the blog. Thank you to all of our dear readers.

Our pal Doug M. drove up to see if my Doug could come out to play. So, the two of them headed for the town of St David to do some rockhounding. Doug M had found desert rose rocks in that area before and wanted to show Doug where they were. But, after a couple of hours, they had to admit that they were skunked. My Doug did come home with some neat looking rocks though and spent several hours cleaning, sorting and wondering what they might be. It might be time for some rockhounding classes.

Having a few hours of me-time was quite pleasant. With this life style, you must enjoy spending lots and lots of time with your spouse or partner. But, it's also important to have opportunities for space and solitude. I sat in the warm sunshine and read a new (to me) book and relished the quiet. How nice to daydream and drift with no interruptions.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bisbee and the Queen Mine

The only thing better than getting out and sightseeing is doing it with friends!

We met our pals Doug and Diane M. at the junction of highways 80 and 90 then followed them to Bisbee.

This picturesque, little town was founded in 1880 and is perched precariously on the hillsides surrounding the Copper Queen Mine. The old west mining camp proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world and had a population of 20,000 people. It has since evolved into an artist colony and retirement community of about 6,000 residents.

After a quick stop at the visitor center, we headed for the Queen Mine where we had reservations for the tour. After over 100 years of production, this famous copper mine finally closed in 1975.

The first part of the tour includes the necessary equipment to journey deep into the mine. We donned hard hats, slickers and mining lanterns (with heavy battery packs) and posed for Diane to capture us in our finery. A more charming group would be hard to find!

We then proceeded outside where the mine train awaited us.

See our intrepid photographer Diane, taking the last shot of us before we venture into the mine........... possibly forever.

The tour was a blast. Our guide rang the bell and off we went into the tunnel. Our first stop was at the stairway to a stope. A stope is a good size room where ore is extracted. Joe, the guide, worked in this mine for many years and had lots of stories to tell.

We reboarded the train and continued 1500 feet into the dark, bowels of the mine. Doug (the other Doug, also known as Al) was our front man on the train. Since we each had miners lanterns, we were able to watch the walls that were sparkly and veined with remaining minerals.

This was our final stop on the tour. Here they showed us the procedure for blasting the walls of ore and answered questions. We saw the original porta potty and elevators to the other six levels. As well as some of the equipment that was used for drilling and excavating.

After the very cool, 47 degree tour, we made our way to the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum in town. Doug and Diane posed near one of the ore trains in front of the museum, then treated us to the displays inside. The curators don't allow photographs inside but the galleries were fantastic.

The main floor showed vignettes of life in the early mining days as well as actual artifacts used by the miners and townspeople. Upstairs were displays of gems and minerals from the surrounding areas. The colors, shapes, sizes and varieties left us open jawed.

By now, we were starving but several of the restaurants and cafes we chose to try were already closed for the day. So, we ended up with a delightful lunch at The Bisbee Grille. The two Dougs tried buffalo burgers and we girls (I use the term lightly) stuck with more traditional fare.

We each headed separate directions home with fond memories and lots of pictures. Thanks Doug and Diane for a fun day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where Does the Day Go?

Problem solved!! We were up bright and early this morning to take the coach to RV City and have our power problem diagnosed. We arrived at the service shop at 8:50 and the shop opened at 9:00. Within minutes, the paperwork was done and the tech was inside our basement with his power meters and tools.

He checked the power going into the transfer switch and the power coming out of the transfer switch. It looked great. They tried the coach on shore power and they tried it on the generator. Everything was working to perfection. Hmmmmmm.....

After the diagnosis was finished, Doug asked about a dripping water strainer that we have been having a small problem with. The tech suggested having a new extreme water strainer installed on the water line and promptly proceeded to do so. By 9:25 the basement was closed and the job was finished. It was determined that the power problem must be with the rv park power.

With trepidation, Doug went back to the office to pay the bill. Whaaaatttt???? We were charged $22.95 for the water strainer part and that was it. They had done the diagnosis for free. There is still customer service in the USA. And let me tell you, we not only would recommend this place to anyone, but we have already distributed business cards for them. So, if you are in the Sierra Vista, Benson, Tombstone or Huachuca City area and have an rv problem........check out RV City. You'll be glad you did. Super efficient, nice people.

Our trip back to Valley Vista was uneventful and we stopped at the office to let them know that the coach had checked out. Perhaps they had a problem with the power at the post in our site. The managers are so nice here and immediately dispatched someone to check it out. Before we were completely in our site, a little golf cart pulled up with a maintenance guy.

He checked all of the power and showed us that it was just as it should be. Now, we were really stumped. Then, just for kicks, he and Doug decided to check the brand new 30 amp pigtail. (For those not oriented with rving, our coach uses 50 amp power. But not every park offers 50 amp power. Some older parks only have 30 amp. You can't plug a 50 amp cord into a 30 amp socket. So an adapter is required to cut back the amount of power being supplied to the coach. This adapter is called a pigtail and one end plugs into the 50 amp cord from the coach. The other end plugs into the 30 amp socket at the post. Voila! 30 amp power to a 50 amp rv.)

The brand new, never used, fresh out of the package, shiny, yellow pigtail is not wired correctly. The maintenance guy remarked that most of these are made in China and quite often are not wired properly. So, once we plugged our old, dull, black, worn pigtail into the cord and post, we have power!!!!

Two wasted days, an unplanned excursion to the service shop and untold frustration just because someone in China wasn't paying attention to their job. And it never occurred to us that the problem was in a new product. Live and learn........

We finished getting the coach settled back into our site and opened the slides. We stood back and congratulated ourselves for not letting this little adventure get our goat. While we were patting each other on the back, we watched the bedroom slide creep slowly back into the coach. Wait a minute! It's not supposed to do that! We flew inside and I kept the wall from closing entirely and crushing our fire extinguisher by pushing on it with my feet while Doug started the hydraulic system and reopened the slide. He brought it in and out a couple of times to test it. Then slid it out again and watched it carefully. Nothing. It behaved just as it should. Maybe we have a ghost.

The rest of our day was very productive. We washed windows inside and out, vacuumed, dusted, scrubbed floors and toilets. Doug cleaned most of the outside of the coach and we feel sparkly and clean. I prepared a one pot supper followed by some tv and well deserved rest.

Tomorrow, we will meet up with our friends Doug and Diane for some sightseeing and fun. Enough with the problems already.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Doug spent the morning fiddling with the power and still had no luck. After reading several forums on the internet, we narrowed the problem down to the transfer switch in the basement. So, Doug turned off all power to to the coach and removed the box.

We drove to the closest rv parts store but they didn't have the one we needed. So, our next stop was 25 miles away in Huachuca City at RV City. They didn't have our transfer switch in stock and offered to order one for us. We spoke with the very knowledgeable shop manager and came to the conclusion that perhaps we should have the problem diagnosed instead of just ordering the $200 part. They offered to send someone out on a service call for $75. But it was just as easy to take to the coach to them. So, tomorrow morning, we will drive the motorhome to RV City.

The post office was our next stop and then back to the coach. Doug replace the transfer switch box in the basement and we put stuff away for travel mode.

I did get some pictures of the park. The park is built on a small hill with a little bit of a slope. This is looking down our row towards the valley and mountains.

And here we are. We drove onto blocks on the driver side in order to be level. There is enough slope that the automatic jack leveling system refused to cooperate. But, we are prepared!

We still haven't done any sightseeing in this area and there is so much that we have on our list. I don't want to spend our whole week here fighting the power problem. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where's the Power?

We woke to sunshine this morning and it's a beautiful day to hit the highway. We left Countryside RV Resort mid morning and retraced our way south on highway 79. The view from the motorhome was quite different than the view from the car when we drove this road yesterday. The miles and miles of cacti were incredibly green.

We passed the Tom Mix Monument but didn't see it in time to stop. Turning and parking a 40' coach with a tow car can be a challenge sometimes. So, we just kept going. We'll catch it next time now that we know it is there.

There was a ton of traffic in the suburbs approaching Tucson, but it couldn't compare with the mess in Tucson. We followed our gps directions faithfully to merge onto I-10. Unfortunately, there is massive construction happening in Tucson and we drove through miles of town in extremely heavy traffic before we found an open on ramp to the freeway. There was a collective sigh of relief to be on the correct road.

We zipped on down the freeway and found the TTT truck stop. Diesel was $2.19 a gallon which was reasonable and it was a full service place. After filling the tank (85 gallons), the attendant hauled a ladder to the front of the coach and washed the windshields. Wowwwww!

A few exits later, we pulled off again and filled the propane tank. Doug likes to be prepared for anything.

We finally arrived at Valley Vista RV Park. It's not much to look at and the sites aren't very level. But the people are sure friendly. Doug got us leveled and then plugged in the power cord. Uh power. He checked the box. Power there. But when he plugs it into the coach, nothing happens. He poked around and crawled inside and checked everything he could find. Nada.

So, we are camping off of the batteries tonight. Since the inverter was repaired a couple weeks ago, we will have no problem. And, it's a good thing we filled the propane tank because it is supposed to be cold tonight and we can run the propane furnace.

Tomorrow brings a whole new set of challenges in repairing the power. I guess our sightseeing will be on hold for a day or two.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Forest of Cacti

Finally....something to blog about. We took a ride this afternoon south on Hwy 79 to Florence. There was a nice view of the prison and a warning to not pick up hitchhikers. Florence appears to be a sleepy little town with a nice visitor center.

This slightly run-down house was built in the late 1893's by the Pinal County Sheriff. It still has it's original walls, ceiling and clapboard siding on two sides. It has served as the visitor center since 1997 and was manned by a charming lady by the name of Donna. She loaded us up with brochures for just about everything in Arizona and sent us on our way.

We took a few minutes to drive through the town and the only thing of interest was the old courthouse building. The steeple towers over the town and catches your eye instantly with clocks on all four sides.

We headed south again towards Tucson and drove through an incredible area with hundreds of saguaros, staghorn, prickly pear and barrel cacti. Of course, we took every side road that Doug could find and when we were off the highway, it seemed like we were totally surrounded.

Some of the barrel cacti had yellow fruit on them that the birds had obviously been enjoying. In all of the places we have been in Arizona, I have never seen so many plants. And, with the rain we have had in the last few days, the desert is as green as can be.

We drove many miles through this kind of scenery and finally turned around. The day was getting late and we will be following this road to Tucson tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another Quick Note

Still sniffling and snuffling. A little overcast, a little rain. Haircuts and groceries. Boring!!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Colds, Water and Rain

Sure wish I had something exciting and thrilling to blog about today. But the truth is we both woke up with terrible colds.....hacking, sneezing and feeling rotten. Fortunately, we didn't have to do anything other than wander up to the office and register and run to the store for milk.

Although, I had a call from my son with an interesting conundrum. What happens when your home owners association doesn't pay the water bill for five months? Then locks the office doors and doesn't answer the phones when the water is cut off? The city water department doesn't care....they just want their $60,000. And the lawyers don't care.....they want a $175 fee upfront to even speak with you. Now what???? You call the local tv station and gather the other home owners.

Voila! The city agrees to turn the water back on until an agreement can be reached. What a mess. Mick had to cut short his work trip to rush back to Phoenix and deal with this mess. It's been a long day for him.

We had a little rain again in the night. The day was overcast but still warm and the rain held off until dark. I'm sure you feel sorry for us. lol

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Productive and Loooooong Day

After getting a good night's sleep behind Al's RV, we were up early and ready for the work to begin on our jacks. Our appointment was for 8 o clock and it was 8:25 before we saw anybody come near us. Okayyyy.

Tim was the young mechanic that checked out the system and copied down part numbers of the jack and solenoid. They didn't have the parts in stock and resulted in a call to HWH who manufactures the hydraulic jack system. After waiting almost another hour for HWH to return the call with the correct parts numbers, the shop manager was able to locate the parts at La Mesa RV on the other side of Phoenix.

We wanted the work done as soon as possible and hopped in the car to drive to Mesa to collect the parts ourselves. (And save a little money.) It turns outs that La Mesa RV is right next door to Camping World. What good rver can pass up a Camping World store? We managed to get out of there with only three items and went next door to La Mesa RV. They had the parts waiting and we thought we would be on the road in minutes. Wrong! The debit card was flagged to call for authorization. This was odd. It's been working fine, there's plenty of money and why now?

After waiting on hold with Bank of America forever, the clerk ran the card a second time and it cleared. We grabbed our parts and drove the hour back to Al's RV. We got back just in time for their lunch break. Murphy's law!

The guys finished up another coach they were working on and finally started on ours about 2pm. First they replaced a bent jack then the non working solenoid for another jack. The guys did a nice job and were great about answering questions and letting us watch the repairs. In a pinch, we could probably do the repairs ourself now.

Once the jacks were tested, it was decided to wait awhile and see if they would remain where they should. So I killed some time on the computer and Doug killed some time in the parts store. (big mistake)

Finally, at 4:30 we tried to pay the bill and again Bank of America raised her ugly head. This time it took almost 30 minutes to get through to a customer rep who informed us that we needed to contact them and let them know we were taking a trip. Doug explained that our lifestyle includes lots of traveling and trips, but she didn't or couldn't understand. She told us we would need to contact the bank each time we changed states or they won't authorize the funds release. This is to protect us I guess, but what a pain in the ...

Now, it's 5 pm and we are finally back on the freeway with an hour and a half drive to the rv park, in rush hour traffic. Doug is an amazing driver. He managed to maneuver the coach across five lanes of heavy, crabby, slow traffic into the HOV lane and we buzzed right through Phoenix to Apache Junction.

It was dark by the time we arrived at the Countryside RV Resort, but the night camp host was waiting for us and escorted us to our site. Doug backed the coach into a very snug spot situated between a lamp post and a very large tree. We set everything up and sat down to relax when we heard the sound of a few raindrops. Then a few more.

It rained off and on all night long but was almost welcomed. The dusty air smelled fresh and clean and the colors of everything look brighter.

So ends a long, frustrating day. Another happy ending with no pictures. Oops!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have been gently reminded that twice this week I have missed posting a blog. My humble apologies. I could make excuses, but I don't have any good ones. So, I'll reward you with a beautiful sunset picture.

Today was moving day. We have been parked in the desert for a full week and we are down to only a quarter tank of fresh water and our grey and black tanks are getting full. The laundry basket is overflowing too. So, the desert is no longer an option.

After a quick trip to Blythe to dispose of the recyclables that were collected at the rally, we packed up the coach and headed east on I-10. It was only a few hours to our next destination. And here we are in the parking lot of Al's RV & Marine in Glendale, CA.

It wasn't our first choice for a rv park but we are having some work done on the hydraulic jacks at 8 am in the morning and we were invited to spend the night in their parking lot behind the building. I know, it's a pretty nice rv park! The shop guys dragged a 30 amp cord out of the shop, so we have electricity and we are away from the street. It's quite private.

This is the view out of our door. There are several other businesses around us.

And this is the view from the front window. Not too scenic, but it will do for one night.

Tomorrow, after the repairs, we may decide that this is the most expensive rv park that we have ever paid for!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Quiet Day

After our busy day on the trail yesterday, we took advantage of a relaxing, hang around the coach day. Doug fiddled with a couple of things he wanted to do on the coach and then tried panning for gold. (no luck) I read a book that I had just picked up in the book exchange while sitting out in the sun.

At 4pm, the Alpine Coach Association sponsored an italian dinner for us. So, once again, we ate until stuffed. That was followed by a drawing and we won a nice bottle of wine. Doug doesn't drink wine. I guess I will have to do it myself.

Another spectacular sunset and a little tv completed our evening

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Desert Bar

Today's rally schedule read....trip to The Desert Bar. That sounded like fun. The majority of the group were to meet at 10:30 for a drive to Parker and then out a dirt road to the bar for lunch. A group of adventurous souls met at 9:00 and took their 4 wheel drive vehicles way past Parker and drove through the desert and mountains on an off-road vehicle ride. Guess which group we were in!

If you guessed the 4 wheel group you were right. Doug can't resist a challenge. So, bright and early, we left Quartzsite and drove to a staging area just past Buckskin State Park. At that point we all reduced the pressure in our tires to prevent damage from the numerous and large rocks in our path ahead.

And off we went. The day was gorgeous and everyone was excited about the trip. We went uphill quickly on a decent road.

The road was narrow but everyone kept pace with no problem.

Until we came to the place where the lower clearance vehicles couldn't get through. So, the group split in two. The real off road vehicles went down into the canyon where the path got rough.

While the rest of us continued to climb to the top of the hill where we could look down on the tough guys.

We continued on assuming that we would join the other group in a short distance. That's when things got interesting. The road disappeared and in it's place was what appeared to be a very rocky river bed. (Bad picture...but you can get an idea of what we were driving on.)

The road again smoothed out except for the washouts. In several places we almost high centered the jeep and had to stop to rebuild the road so the cars behind us could get through with no damage.

What a beautiful drive through the mountains and valleys. Doug didn't dare take his eyes off the road most of the time, but we moved slowly and enjoyed the views.

We also stopped often to remove dangerous rocks from our path. The guys all took turns guiding each other through rough patches.

Finally, the two groups merged just before this old mine site. We took a short break before continuing on to The Desert Bar.

We were assured that we were almost to lunch, but the road ahead seemed to stretch out forever.

And then we arrived. Three hours after leaving the highway, we found The Desert Bar! It was built in 1983 on the land of an old mining camp. It is only open on weekends and was absolutely mobbed. After a bite of lunch and some loud music from the band, we decided to head back to the coach. This time, we took the easy road home. It was five miles on a level, dirt road and five miles on the highway to Parker. We stopped to air up the tires to their proper levels and continued down the highway to Quartzsite.

We took care of our recycling duties upon arrival. Then cleaned up and prepared for the evenings entertainment.

A huge screen was set up amongst the coaches and we all brought our chairs, popcorn and jackets for the viewing of the movie "The Long, Long Trailer" with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. We were told that this was followed by the film "RV" starring Robin Williams, but we were so exhausted we gave up after the first show.

All in all, a pretty spectacular day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Food , Glorious Food

Sorry I missed yesterday's post. We have been busssssyyyyy!

There was a delicious catered mexican lunch followed by a gearhead meeting. All of the technical people answered questions regarding problems with the coaches. A lot was accomplished and everyone seemed happy with the results. Doug purchased some Koni shocks to put on the coach and discovered that the windshield is trying to dislodge itself. We already have a crack and now we will have to have the windshield replaced as soon as possible.

The busy day was followed by a great campfire. Everyone brings wood with them (there's not much in the desert) from home and what an interesting collection. We have white oak, avocado wood and plain ordinary logs. The smells are quite interesting.

The evening was topped off with the space shuttle crossing the sky. It was easy to see but only lasted for a few minutes.

Today was just as crazy. We were up early for the games of magnetic darts. I'm not much of a game person, but I tried. I made it to the second elimination and then lost. As soon as we were both eliminated, we jumped in the car to go to Quartzsite. The car was gassed and a few things purchased and we returned in time for the geocache group.

We had the opportunity to geocache at Celias Rainbow Garden. It is part of a 40 acre town park that is dedicated to a young girl that passed at a very early age.

It has become an interesting memorial park for many people. And some of the memorials are very creative.

The cache itself was a four part hunt. We started with a set of latitude and longitude numbers and when we found the cache there was a reference to another set of numbers. This led to a third set of numbers and finally a box of treasures. We signed the log book but left the treasures today.

We were in a hurry to get back to the coach since there was a potluck dinner and I had nothing prepared yet. (shame on me) I whipped up a mexican rice casserole while Doug played with his new gold mining machine. (No gold yet)

Again, the tables were groaning under the dishes that had been prepared. We ate and ate and now we need to get out and walk. These rallies are dangerous for weight watchers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Alpine Coaches Everywhere!

Doug stepped out the door this morning and discovered rocks! Rose quartz to be exact. He immediately started scouring the area and even had several others picking them up.

After bagging all of the quartz, we walked to the registration tent and received our packets of information for the rally. Looks like we are going to be busy.

But today, we took a ride south on 95 to where my parents made their winter home. The area has changed dramatically, but we found the place with no problem and introduced ourselves to the new owners. Fantastic people. Not only did they welcome us to look around, they invited us inside and let us take pictures of everything. They never actually met my folks yet are so very much like them that it's scary.

I was very touched to see that they have changed very little. The wallpaper in the kitchen is the same, the paneling is the same and I was a little teary to see the kids tiny handprints in the patio cement. Jack and Caroline are fantastic people and we were delighted to meet them.

After taking a ton of pictures, we started back to town. And, if you know Doug, you know we didn't take the paved road. Nope, we had to go through the desert. And no hill was too high for him. It's hard to tell in the picture, but this one is almost straight up!

Looking back at the road was pretty cool. But as the day was getting late, we turned around to get back to the coach.

We made it back to our group just in time for the happy hour hor d'oeuvres. I whipped up a couple plates of nachos as our contribution and we ate like royalty. The tables were loaded with food and went on forever. It's a happy group when they are eating.

Everyone gathered with their chairs to eat and catch up with friends they may not have seen in months. And, there are still coaches pulling in to join us.