Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Where did the grass go??

Another day for the record books: one hundred and something... some ridiculously hot temperature.  The only time Izzy could get some "fresh air" (well, hot, fresh air) was around sunrise and after sunset... just too darn hot out there for her little paws on the gravel.

Yeah, gravel.  Nothing grassy around here.  Typical, even in a nice RV park, for Arizona.  Izzy goes out, looks around, walks a bit, shakes her head, and is ready to go back inside.

We did a lot of running/shopping today.  Not running as in: jogging.  Driving with the air conditioner all the way up.  ;-)  This evening, we went to the family favorite pizza place here: Oregano's.  An early treat for Dan's birthday (in two days).

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Grandkitties...

Stephanie was surprised that I haven't featured the Grandkitties in the blog, since we have been here.  Allow me to correct that.

We had supper with Steph and Dan at their house this evening.  When we came in, Tasha (the new kid) was lounging in the chair...

She is a Siberian Forest Cat - a large breed.  She is just coming up on one year old... still a baby, but she is already much bigger than their other cat, Torrie.  And, she will be growing for the next several years, according to the breeder.

Look at that precious face...

Joan got out the "red dot toy" for both cats to play with...

Torrie is on the left; you can see how much bigger Tasha is already.  But, Torrie is the alpha female.  Look at the difference in their tails!  Izzy has a "glorious tail," but Tasha's is absolutely HUGE!

Just like Izzy, they are family... we always give them plenty of attention.

Dinner and conversation was nice.  Yeah, we give Steph and Dan plenty of attention, too.  ;-)  It is always a treat to be here with them.

On the way home, we were treated to another view of the rising moon...

A few wispy clouds add some difference from last night.


As in:  "Wild thing... you move me."

If you said, "The Troggs, 1966," you get 100 bonus points.

We moved to a different RV park today.  No, not because of the noisy neighbors, this was our plan.  We stayed 5 nights at the other RV park because we could get a good Passport America rate.  The park we are now in is where we often stay when visiting Steph and Dan; it is closer and a lot more convenient.  I'm just not crazy about giving the crabby ol' management any of my money, even though it is less expensive.

Well, they did have someone at the front desk who was, according to Joan, "A very pleasant young lady."

One in a row.

As we pulled in, it was over 90% empty in the front sites...

Joan went in to register, I waited in the motorhome.  I usually do the registering, but it is best if I stay away from the front desk here.  ;-)

We drove separately from Pueblo El Mirage, only a half hour or so away.  It is 102º here, early afternoon - I had the generator running and the coach air conditioning on along with the dash air.  Nice and cool inside.  Joan drove ahead of me to lead us to our site in "the North 40."  Well, that's what we call it.  These are sites for over-nighters and short stay folks.  We are usually in a site up front, but they don't allow cargo trailers there.  We specifically asked for this pull-through area, and just didn't say anything about our trailer.  It isn't like we are going to offend anyone around us with our nice-looking FeatherLite cargo trailer - there are about 80 sites in this area, and with our motorhome in its site, a grand total of 3 RVs here...

We took our time getting set up - not because of a lack of schedule, but because it is hot... did I mention: 102º??

Look to the far right in that photo - there is one RV back there.  The other is a bit further than that one.  Well, it should be quiet here.  ;-)

One one stay here several years ago, this area was about 20% occupied.  The crappy woman at the front desk put RVs on either side of us... with barking dogs.  The sites are long, but narrow.  With the slides out in our HitchHiker, we could reach out the window and shake hands with the people next door.  LOL  Yes, the crabby lady could have put plenty of space between each RV... pretty sure that wasn't an accident.  On the bright side, I doubt that will be any issue on this stay.

And, for the record... you make everything groovy.  (Another Wild Thing reference.)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Blood Moon...

What a marvelous night for a moon-dance (to quote the philosopher Van Morrison).

Last night, I took a "preview" shot of the nearly full moon...

But, the real show was this evening: a Super Moon and a lunar eclipse.  We knew we were going to miss the first part of the eclipse, because of how far west we are.  Still it was interesting viewing - coming up between the trees...

As the minutes ticked by, more of the moon went into the shadow...

And, the reason it is called "a blood moon"...

In full eclipse, the Earth is throwing its shadow on the moon, so there is very little reflected light, making it appear to nearly disappear; just a bit of the reddish color showing.

As the moon moves out of the Earth's shadow, the lights starts coming back...

These were all hand-held images (didn't bring a tripod), so there were some slow shutter speeds to capture any given shot.  An interesting evening, sitting outside, watching it all unfold.

That was close...

Steph and Dan are fans of the Phoenix Mercury, the WNBA team; they are season ticket holders.  Today was a playoff game vs the Minnesota Lynx.  For our benefit, they didn't go for their regular seats, but found very reasonable seats for the four of us.

The pre-game hoopla...

The first quarter didn't go well for the Mercury, with their score lagging behind the Lynx.  By the second quarter, they picked up some steam...

At half time, it was all tied up.

The lead went back and forth through the rest of the game.  Both teams were "in it"...

In the last few seconds of the 4th quarter, it was all tied up...

A foul with 1.5 seconds left, gave the Lynx two free throws...

Yeah, the Mercury lost by one... a tough ending for their season.  They were the league Champions last year, so it was tough for the Mercury fans who were hoping for another Championship.

We "drowned our sorrows" with a fine meal at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  Well, it was Diet Coke, but we stuffed our bellies.

Well, that doesn't happen very often...

The park we are currently in is a 55+ park.  I used to think that was "discriminatory"... these days, I think it is a really good idea.  ;-)

Most of the time, these parks get very quiet after 8:30 or so.  Compare that to a State Park or other campground where there might be screaming children and rowdy drunks with big bonfires... well, you get the idea.

The RV next to us must have been having a few friends over last night.  And by "a few friends," I mean there was a whole lot of drinking, hooting, and hollering.  With the air conditioner running (drowning out the noise), I didn't think much of it... well, other than the fact that they didn't invite us.

We were in bed at 10:00.  They weren't.  Not at 11:00 or midnight, either.  We agreed that they weren't "bothering" us, just found it unusual.  This morning, when I took Izzy for a "let's get out before it is too hot for your little paws to walk on the gravel" morning walk (before 7:00), I found a few cans that had been discarded in our site.  Now, that is very unusual for RVer types.  I didn't want anyone to think that we are pigs, so I picked up the cans and threw them back over into their site.

Pretty quiet over there this morning.  Time to test out the outdoor speakers on the Winnebago... you know, just a monthly test to make sure all the equipment is working.  ;-)  Just kidding.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Starting to show...

No, I'm not pregnant, but thanks for asking.

I posted a photo a couple days ago, showing all the empty sites around us; there were three empty sites on one side, and 5 on the other.  All but one of those is now full.  There are hundreds of other back-in sites ("non-premium," I guess?) that aren't occupied.  Interesting that these would fill first.

This is a popular resort.  If you haven't made your winter reservations by now, odds are you aren't going to get a spot for any kind of lengthy (month or more) stay.  When I was checking in, the lady at the front desk told me that she was booking someone for a stay in March, and only had one other site available at that time.

March is the most popular month here, I think: spring training season for baseball, and several major golf tournaments in the area.  Late September... not so much.  But, with all the rigs that have pulled in during the last day or two, there must be some draw.  Big finish to the "Annual Sweating Festival"??  ;-)

Little Izzy wanted to go outside this morning.  "OK, let me get dressed."

Yes, it was already warm when we went out at 7:30.  With the morning sun still low in the sky, you could find shade.  It didn't take Iz long to figure out shade is better.  We walked down the road a bit, over to the wash behind us, but she was happy to get back in the shade of the motorhome... and then inside to the air conditioning.

This is her "thank you face"...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Of course, it doesn't fit...

Another hot day: the weasels are calling for 102º as a high.  Yesterday was the 100th day this year with local temps over 100º.

For the past four months, we have run some heat (propane or electric) almost every night.  Rarely needed air conditioning.  Yeah, it is an adjustment.  It isn't just the heat, it is the change of routine and the noise.  The routine: we do a lot of "outside living."  We were outside this morning - for a trip to the pool and the laundry.  I got a bit more pool time than Joan, since she was handling laundry duties.  When we first got to the pool, there was a grand total of 3 other people in it.  By the time Joan went back to check the laundry, it was down to one other guy and me.  He was swimming laps.  Seriously.  I was splashing about like a kid.  And taking an occasional minute or three in the hot tub, before going back to the pool.  Finally, just me...

Not a lot of people here, yet.

The routine affects Izzy, too: she is used to regular walks outside.  She doesn't understand that early morning or after the sun goes down is the only time for a furry kid to be outside in the sun and the heat.

And in the meantime, we have all the shades down on the motorhome.  The Aspect has tinted dual pane windows; MCD duo shades (with sunscreen and black-out shades)... the sun laughs at that.  So, no open feeling inside the motorhome... we do leave one small bedroom shade up so Izzy can look out.  The nice, bright interior feels a bit like a cave.

And, the noise... we spent the summer in a quiet setting.  Oh, occasionally you'd hear an airplane fly over or a car out on the road, but mostly it was the sound of the birds.  In this heat, you have the constant sound of the air conditioner running... and it really is pretty constant - it just doesn't shut off much, except in the middle of the night.  So, you have to turn the TV up. Which adds to the cacophony.

What does that have to do with the fit?  Thanks for asking.  Yesterday, we stopped at the Winnebago dealer (different outlet of the same company where we bought the Aspect) to get a piece for the screen door... the latch that keeps the screen door came apart.  Well, a little spring in the latch broke... apparently making the whole thing non-functional.  You would think you could buy just another spring.  You would be mistaken.  You would think the part would be covered under warranty... and you would be right, providing you are willing to go through the service department, take the coach to them, wait for several weeks 'till they can get at it, then get the very minor part replaced.

I asked the parts lady, "How much is the replacement latch?"

She said, "Twelve to fifteen dollars."  For that little amount, I'll just buy it and not have to deal with service.  That was the plan.  The reality: I got there, and the part was actually $29.99.  Yes, twice what she quoted me over the phone.

I said, "Can't I just give you the old part, so you can see it is broken, and you give me the new one under warranty?"

"No, a service writer has to approve it."  I went to a service writer and told him, "I just need an RO (repair order) number to replace this part - and you won't have to replace it, I will."

It took him about 30 seconds to generate a number.  "Thank you very much."  Back to parts and Mindy, and she handed me the part... "I just need you to sign the repair order."  Of course, that took longer to get printed than the rest of the process.  But, I had the part, and the price was right.

Got back to the coach and... no, it wasn't the exact replacement.  Holes didn't line up correctly.  The job that should take 15 minutes would run into a bunch of time if it needs to be re-engineered.  So, back to the dealer again today.  An explanation to another parts guy (Mindy was at lunch), and I had the correct striker plate.  I checked a couple Aspects on the lot to make absolutely sure.

Back home, yes it fits; yes the screen door works again.  Not a brilliant design.  And, with the outside air temp currently at 104º, we aren't going to be using the screen door any time soon.  But, it works.  :-)


As you know, we have been on an island, with limited shopping.  Being in the big city, we have many options.  For groceries.  For clothing.  Restaurants.  And, as the saying goes: when the going gets hot, the hot go shopping in air conditioned comfort.  Yes, the motorhome is air conditioned.  No, it isn't the same as... oh, if you read the above, you know.  But, Cabela's is nicely air conditioned, and reasonably quiet.  I could use a couple hot weather shirts.  'Cause, it's hot here.  And, they are promoting all their "winter wear."  It makes me even hotter to look at sweaters and jackets, but you have to walk past that stuff to get to "last season's stuff."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A few laps...

We are staying at an upscale RV resort... very quiet this time of year.  The winter visitors haven't shown up, yet.  This is a place where you can buy the lot, or take your chances renting.  They also have park homes, manufactured homes, and stick-built homes on lots.

We are at the bottom of the status scale, staying here only 5 nights.  ;-)

That became apparent when we went to the pool this morning.  It was 76º when we got up around sunrise.  Joan proposed breakfast out, then back for some pool time before we clean up for the day.  Good plan.

Breakfast was great, and we were back to the motorhome around 8:00.  Slide into swimsuits and headed for the pool.  There were about a half dozen ladies in the pool, who obviously all knew each other.  They either live here year 'round or are the early arrivers.  The "designated greeter" came over to say, "Hi."  Well, she wanted to know if we were new here ("No, it has been a couple years since we stayed here.") and how long we are staying ("Just 5 days this time.").

OK, it was determined that there was no point in them engaging us further.  ;-)

We did a few laps of the pool, then a few minutes in the hot tub.  This is a gorgeous pool area: built in tables along one side of the pool, a sloping entry on one side, lots of lounge chairs, several cabanas; the hot tub will hold 30 comfortably... and it was plenty warm.

When we got back to the coach, we hung towels and swimsuits on our awning bars - that should keep away any neighbors, even though it will only take a few minutes for things to dry here.  Speaking of warm, we forgot to turn on the water heater when we got back.  (Let me digress for a moment: some RVs have the ability to use electric or propane for the water heater... you use electric when you're plugged in, propane when you aren't.  Some have electric only, or propane only.  It's nice to conserve your propane when on electric that is already in the price of the site.  OK, back to the subject...)  Joan was able to use hot water only when she showered.  By the time she was done, I had to turn the hot water almost completely off... the water coming in from the cold controller is still plenty warm here.

I mentioned that we are on a "premium pull-through site."  Here's what that gets you... cable TV, wifi, a concrete patio, permanent picnic table with bench seats, all the usual utility hookups, and a double length RV site (made by combining two regular length back-to-back sites, to accommodate big rigs).  Frankly our little Winnebago doesn't need all that length - we liked the idea of a pull-through site so we could easily unload the scoots without disconnecting the trailer.  Oh, and this resort allows cargo trailers that are "approved by the management."  We have had ours here a couple years ago, with the HitchHiker; we came in "pre-approved."  ;-)

Normally at this park, they ask you what direction you'd like to face with your rig.  It does make a difference; the way most of the sites line up, you either have sunshine or shade on your patio, depending on the direction you face.  We are facing west, which means the afternoon sun pounds in the windshield... thank goodness for the white cover we have for that.

Also, they normally "line up" the RVs: the guy who escorts you to your site lines up on the rigs on either side of you so that the front of each vehicle is the same distance from the street.  We "negotiated" on this... to best line up for utilities, we have to be back further than their "magic distance."  I said, "We are only going to be here 5 days, and we have no neighbors on either side - how about we just position it where it will be convenient for our stay?"

Since there is no standard positioning of utilities on RVs or RV sites, we simply try to position ourselves so it is easy.  This is not the only RV park that does this - all three that we frequent here do the same "arrangement."  This park is my favorite one to stay in here, but it is the one that takes the longest to get to and from Steph and Dan's place.  In a few days, we will move closer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

OMG - it is SO HOT!!!

That is something our daughter says to us when we talk to her (in Phoenix).  Yeah, it's the desert - it's hot; we get that.

We rolled into Arizona today... OH MY GOD - IT IS SO HOT!!!!  Well, the thermometer in the motorhome said the outside air temp was 96º... that is because it doesn't go up to ONE HUNDRED NINETY-SIX degrees.

When ever we would stop, Joan and I would have a sweating contest... yeah, I am kicking her butt.  She does, however, look better in a wet t-shirt than I do... but, I digress.

Here's how you know you are in Arizona: the roads...

They wind through the desert, without much in the way of life on either side.  Well, there is life - we stopped for a bit in a rest area, to get Izzy some lunch...

There was a sign in the rest area that said: "Warning - dangerous snakes and insects in the area!"  So, we have that going for us.

They must have had some moisture, because it wasn't mostly brown, as you'd expect in late September.  Cacti...

Joshua Trees...

A coyote ran across the road in front of us; no, I didn't get a photo.  His tongue was hanging out, and I would imagine that asphalt was damn hot.  Poor critter.

We are down for the next 5 nights in a very nice resort.  We got an e-mail from them... Joan checked, and they take Passport America until October 1st.  For up to 5 nights.  Such a deal.  The park is mostly empty right now (that's why they take PA this time of year).  We are on a "premium site"... we have more gravel than the standard sites.  It is a new part of the resort that they are working on... they are still moving gravel around.  The premium sites are pull-through and wider than the standard sites.  Not a big deal, since the next closest RV is 4 sites away.  ;-)

Steph and Dan have to work late, so we won't head over to visit them until dusk... it may be down to 172º by then.  On the bright side, one of us will get to drive the car back to our site, and it has air conditioning!

Speaking of air conditioning, while we were getting set up on the site, we didn't turn off the dash air conditioner until we had the coach plugged in, the roof a/c on.  Then, we went about getting the jacks down and the utilities set up.  I am pretty sure the air conditioner is going to get a real workout while we're here; good thing I was able to get it fixed before we left the San Juans.

I did call the dealer here in Phoenix about another part we need to replace... I think they are booked with service appointments until 2018 right now.  Really?  That many people want to use RVs in this heat?  Maybe they are headed north into the mountains?  It got into the 30s at night while we were in Bryce Canyon.  I don't know if I mentioned this, but this heat is a bit of a shock to the system.



Izzy cornered a fly in the motorhome... caught it mid-air and put it in her mouth (her paws have amazing dexterity).  You could see the look of "What do I do now?" as she moved her head back and forth.  Then "chomp... chew, chew, chew."

Ewwww - fly breath.


On edit: got to see my kid, son-in-law and grand-cats tonight - sure missed 'em.  They are both teachers and up to their eyeballs with teacher conferences through tomorrow.  So, tonight was just a "preview" for some upcoming together time.  And that's why we're here... in the (hot) big city.  :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On the rocks...

Not the marriage... unless you've heard something I haven't.  Yes, the way I like my adult beverage at the end of the day.  But this is about real rocks.

In the site we are in, there is a rock and dirt wall behind us; it runs along the Virgin River.  This morning, Izzy was intent on climbing up that wall, to show her "inner mountain lion."

This smells really good...

Yes, all Izzy, all the time.

When we were ready to pull out of the site, we did our usual light check.  A while back, the electrical cable that connects the motorhome to the cargo trailer drug on a steep dip... it chewed up the cable.  I taped it up and it worked... until this morning.

When it quit working, it blew a fuse in the coach.  I snipped the cable and re-spliced it; replaced the fuse.  We are good to go.  Well it wasn't all that fast - I had to stop at a TSC (Tractor Supply Company) and an auto parts store to get what we needed.  An hour and a half later, and we were good to go, after a by-the-side-of-the-road splicing.

Big change: we moved from cool temps (in the 30s at Bryce in the early morning) to the upper 90s... prepping us for our upcoming time in Phoenix.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Like a Virgin...


We left Bryce Canyon National Park today, heading for Zion National Park.  Finding an RV site at Bryce worked well for us... that same technique for Zion wasn't even close.  The park was packed; as in: bumper to bumper for much of the drive.

Heading into the park...

Beautiful natural features: cliffs, hoodoos, effects of erosion.  Different from Bryce, equally striking.  The crowd situation was different, too.  Zion is the 7th most visited National Park; it is considerably bigger than Bryce.  And, way more crowds.

We stopped at the entrance gate - yes, the Senior Pass got us in for free.  But, there is a $15 escort fee to take the motorhome through the mile long tunnel in the park... anything over 7' 10" wide has to pay that fee.  No, they don't actually provide an escort - they block traffic one way, let it pass, then block it the other way.  That photo above is the first tunnel - the short one.

Here's a small part of the line of traffic waiting for the long tunnel...

At 25 mph, that mile long tunnel takes a while...

We were given instructions: "Drive down the middle.  Turn on your lights - it is dark in there.  Take off your sunglasses."  Yep.

At the other end of the tunnel, you start the switchbacks that take you down a couple thousand feet...

Striking scenery every way you look...

The roads are narrow; much of it is a 20 mph speed limit.  Probably would not have been fun on the scoots, since the traffic was so heavy - it was a challenge in the motorhome, especially with people coming the other way driving over the center line!

There was no place to park the motorhome.  The campgrounds were all full before we got to the entrance gate.  This was going to be a "drive by" - and we were enjoying the sights...

Most of these images are courtesy of Joan, since I had my hands full at the wheel.

What about that "virgin" part, you ask?  Born again virgin?


The Virgin River runs through this area.  After passing by a few RV parks, Joan found us one a few miles away from the hub-bub: Zion River Resort, on the Virgin River.

I would call this an upscale RV resort, based mostly on the price.  Good think the Geezer Pass saved us a bunch of money the past couple days.  We pulled in, and I went to the registration desk to see if they have any sites left...

"We have one for something your size.  It is a back-in.  It is 44 feet long.  What is your over-all length?"

"43 feet.  I can handle the back in part.  Is it OK if I take a look at it?" I asked.

Joan and I walked down to the site.  Not level.  Most of their sites are nice concrete pads, pull-throughs.  This was gravel, and running downhill on one side.

I went back to the registration desk.  My friend, Becky, said, "I just had a cancellation while you were out.  The site is still gravel, but it is longer."

"I'll take it."

They offer an Escapees discount of 15%... still the most expensive site we've had in a very long while.  But, the temps are getting warmer as we head down in elevation.  A big change from the 8,500 foot elevation we were at last night.  No doubt, the price is based on the fact that they are close to Zion and everything we drove by was already full.  It's OK, they have a pool and hot tub... I may use it.

The site isn't long enough for us to get the ramp down on our trailer, so we are just going to hang out here at the resort.  We saw enough of Zion on our drive through.

The weather weasels have backed off on their previous rain predictions: still a good chance of rain, but they have taken the "high probability of severe flooding" out of the forecast.


The pool and hot tub at this resort gets two thumbs up from us.  Back at the motorhome, we sat outside, letting Izzy have some leash time...

When she chose to go inside, she still wanted to keep an eye on things; through the screen door...

The sky at sunset in the southwest can be unique; the view from the front of our motorhome...