Saturday, September 20, 2014

Packing it in...

Well, packing.

We are hitting the road tomorrow.  South Texas is calling us home.  Time to move from a dry heat to a wet heat.  ;-)  The scoots are strapped down in the trailer; stuff is packed around them.  Spending time with Steph and Dan has been great, but we are ready for our own place again.

See you down the road.

Friday, September 19, 2014

This is the best place in the world for this...

We stopped at another RV dealer yesterday.  Just looking, getting ideas.  The salesman was a former New Yorker, who was totally enamored with life in the desert... I was about to melt, going in and out of some RVs they had on the lot, he had obviously acclimated a lone time ago.

When I asked about one particular used RV, he said what you see in the title of this post.  He said, "Look around us - you are right in the middle of Sun City, Sun City West, Sun City Grand... just a few blocks away is the biggest storage lot in the country.  There are so many people here who buy things and don't use them.  You can find whatever you want in an RV.  Somebody dies or can't drive anymore, it becomes your good fortune!"

Well, that is one way to look at it.

Then he went on to tell me about the Miata he bought a couple weeks ago: "This thing is like brand new - it was garage kept.  The top doesn't have any wear on it.  There is only one little ping by the door... where the guy bumped it with his oxygen bottle!"

Not sure why that struck me as funny.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A swing and a miss...

Nothing to do with baseball.

This rain event kinda fizzled out.  Of course, I almost hate to write those words, knowing Mother Nature's twisted sense of humor.  The brunt of it was supposed to hit today - it looks like the storm track turned more east than northeast... the southern part of Arizona, much of New Mexico, and west Texas are going to get the heavy rain.

It is hard to keep up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Batten down the hatches?

The weather weasels, Jim Cantore included, said today would be "strong storms moving in by noon..."

I took my scooter out to pick up some breakfast around 9:00 - it was overcast, but pleasant.  We sent some e-mails and made some calls, trying to arrange an RV site for this winter - no one is around.

When noon rolled around, we looked to the south and east, and it didn't look bad out... we decided that maybe this system was going to move east of us; we went out for a light lunch.  When we got to the restaurant, we could see an ugly cell to the east of us; it didn't look like it was moving towards us.

By the time we were about half way through our sandwich, the first gust hit - dirt was blowing sideways, from the east to the west... followed quickly by a pounding downpour.  Fortunately for us, we weren't on a schedule.  At best, we were considering some indoor shopping, in anticipation of some rain.  We enjoyed a sundae, and ... the rain stopped.  The parking lot was wet, but no rain falling when we walked to the car.

I suggested a stop at a nearby Guitar Center before going north a bit to Cabela's.  Joan pointed out an airplane heading right towards the worst of the cell to the east.  We watched the airline as we drove, glad to be down here and not up there.  As we turned into the parking lot of shopping center where Guitar Center is located, the sky opened up again - REALLY pouring...

Joan suggested that going from the guitar to the store in this pounding rain probably wasn't a good idea, no matter how close we could park.

Got that right.

It was pounding so hard that the wipers couldn't keep up with it when we weren't moving...

We waited for the rain to let up a little bit, decided to can any plan of going anywhere but back to the house, and made our way to the Interstate...

Water was standing on the Interstate - apparently, whoever the road engineer was didn't put a lot of thought into water drainage in this spot.  The going was relatively slow, but in about 5 miles, we drove out of it... dry roads... just gusty wind blowing the dust ahead of it... that's going to make for some mud when the rain catches up to it.  ;-)

Back to the house, put the car in the garage and settled in for the afternoon.  Joan asked if I wanted to watch anything on the DVR that Steph had recorded for us.  "How about 'All Is Lost,' the Robert Redford movie?" (where everything bad happens to him on his sailboat in the middle of the ocean)

We are at the part where his boat has capsized, rolled, and been dismasted.  A storm is raging.  He put out the life-raft.  Yep, there goes the boat... glub, glub, glub.

On the bright side, it is nice and dry in the house.  ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This can't be good...

There are some people you just don't want to see in your neighborhood.

Oh, you may be thinking, "But, Jim, you can get along with anybody."

Almost anybody.  There is one guy I don't want to see anywhere around my home or where I may be.  That guy is Jim Cantore, from The Weather Channel.  Last time he was in our neighborhood (2008), Hurricane Dolly was pounding and drenching deep south Texas.  He stood there on the beach on South Padre Island, his windbreaker flapping in the wind, the look of anticipation in his eyes... hoping to show us all the damage that hurricane was inflicting.

Well, there is the chance of "coastal flooding" around our home in Texas right now.  Plenty of rain, some storm surge happening around high tide.  As long as it doesn't come over the sea walls in our canal, it isn't really an issue - we live on an island, the water has some place to go.

That said, Jim Cantore isn't there right now.  He is in Phoenix.  Same gleam in his eyes.  He was standing in a dry river bed... a river bed that wasn't dry last week, when there was a lot of flooding in this area.  Saying, "This river bed is dry right now, but it isn't going to stay that way..."

Hurricane Odile hammered Baja California in Mexico.  It is "down" to a tropical storm as it moves across the Sea of Cortez.  The wind is down from 135 mph to around 50 mph.  It is heading towards the Phoenix area.  Most of the wind will have dissipated by the time the center of the storm reaches this area, but they are calling for BIG amounts of rain... again.  Just last week, the Phoenix area was hit with flooding.  The weather weasels called that one "a 100 year storm"... looks like the area is in for another hit.  People in the area are bracing for this next rain event: many weren't prepared for "the Storm of the Century" last week, but there are many fire stations that are being used to hand out sandbags.

High winds in the southern part of the state have already damaged buildings and knocked a train off the tracks last night.

We saw some light rain while we were out and about today (checking out some more RVs).  Nothing serious yet, but it looks ominous to the south.  It gave us some crosswind to check out RV handling.

We also took the time to check out another RV resort - a little bit further away from the kids than where we stayed last year, but faster access since it is just a few blocks away from the new 303 Loop.  It is gated, and you can't just "drive through for a look"... a real estate broker on-site took us around.  The place is HUGE, but it seems like a different vibe from where we've stayed in the past - I think we are going to check into it before we head out of here.

That said, I'm thinking we won't be doing anything outdoors for the next two days.

Damn that Jim Cantore!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Two puddles melted on the pavement...

We decided today would be a "recon" day: time to look around at RVs.  We have something small in mind... finding the right combination of small, but comfortable is the key.  I was thinking we wanted something on a Sprinter chassis, like a Winnebago View or similar.  Looking at a couple today, the floorplans are close to what we have in mind.  Close.  We decided to expand our options... we looked at a Winnebago Trend: it is on a Dodge chassis.  Gas, not diesel.  It has a dinette and a small couch.

A bit smaller than the View, but it seemed to have decent amenities.  The salesman we started with introduced us to "the new guy."  The new guy's second day on the job.  When it was clear that we weren't going to take home something today, the original guy excused himself to help another customer and left us with the new guy.  The temperature was approaching 102º... more humidity today, so it felt like 187º  OK, hotter than that in an RV that has been sitting in the sun, closed up.

I thought it might be part of the sales strategy: as the customer approaches heat stroke, they are less inclined to resist.  We took the Trend for a short test drive.  It drove fine; the air conditioning worked fine.  When we came back and I looked at the hitch on the back, it was clear it wasn't meant to tow much.  We found out it is a V-6, and has barely 2,000 pounds of towing capacity.  Not enough.

We were about done for the day, but decided to take a look at some Class C motorhomes... wider bodies, so there is more room inside with a similar length.  I am thinking we could make something like that work, but we were too wiped from the heat to give one a road test.  Another time.

We were back to Steph and Dan's place by 2:00... not exactly a "full day," but it was as much as we could take.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

This is more like it...

"Honey, can you bring me a Mai-Tai?"

Joan made us a nice breakfast.  Steph and Dan are going to a Welcome/Congratulations party for the Phoenix Mercury, the new Champions of the WNBA (they have season tickets and are enthusiastic fans).  Joan and I got to do some pool time...

After our summer in the Pacific Northwest, I expect the pool to be chilly... I would be wrong.  It is a warm day in the Valley of the Sun (high is supposed to be around 100º), but the pool was refreshing.