Monthly Archives: September 2014

Cheeseburger in Paradise

It was a fun-filled weekend. Saturday morning kicked off with a delivery from FedEx while I was posting to the blog. The Sea Eagle 370 Pro inflatable kayak that Donna ordered arrived! After breakfast, I opened the package, read the manual and assembled the kayak.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro inflatable kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Pro inflatable kayak

It was fairly easy to assemble although the instruction manual wasn’t very clear. It’s much heavier than I expected. The package showed a shipping weight of 60 pounds.

Donna and I each took an end and hauled it down to the beach. We set out for a maiden voyage across De Anza Cove. We started out a little shaky. I think I was digging too deep with the paddles to start. It’s better to start with shallow strokes. Once we got our speed up, the kayak was stabilized and we paddled easily in unison. We made a short run, maybe half an hour, because my back was still sore.

We loaded the kayak in the trailer, which is parked in the security lot, close to the beach. We left it inflated so we can continue to use it with having to pump it up. The foot pump that came with it is efficient – it’s not that hard to inflate – but it does take a some time and effort.

Around 3pm, I walked over to Campland while Donna stayed back in the coach. She was preparing appetizers and waiting for her sister, Linda, to arrive. Linda was delayed as she had to wait for a package to be delivered at her place. On Friday, Linda’s Chevy Equinox broke down. It has some kind of drivetrain fault and had to be towed to the dealer. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious (expensive) and she can get it back today. Linda got a ride to Mission Bay with Über taxi.

The walk to Campland took about 20 minutes. To get there, you have to make a loop to get over the Rose Creek pedestrian bridge. Due to the Parrot Head event, Campland was charging $20 per car to enter. Foot traffic was charged $5 per person.

Mission Bay RV Resort seen from Campland beach across Rose inlet

Mission Bay RV Resort seen from Campland beach across Rose inlet

I found Bud and Mona’s site and they were there in their RV. Bud was loading his truck with chairs and coolers. They had set up a canopy on the grass near the bandstand. I followed Bud to the stage area on his bicycle. When I pulled up at the grass park, I saw Erin Kerfoot standing by the curb. Erin is a friend from my high school days. Her site was next to the band area, a stone’s throw from the beach. She is a member of the San Diego Parrot Heads and was involved in organizing this event. It was great to see her again.

Donna sent me a text telling me she and Linda were on their way. I sent her directions to our location. Once they arrived, the party quickly ramped up. We had a table full of snacks under the canopy and the margaritas were flowing. Various bands played all afternoon and into the night. Bud grilled a pile of burgers and we enjoyed our cheeseburgers in paradise.

We always enjoy live music

We always enjoy live music

The event was a fund raiser for the Wounded Warrior House organization. They had silent auctions, clothing sales and a beer garden. Everyone was having a good time.

Parrot Head tiki bar

Parrot Head tiki bar

We had all the fun we could stand and headed home around 8pm. It was a long afternoon of music, food and libation with friends. Before we left, Bud adjusted my back by lifting me and giving it a good crack. It really helped.

Linda was staying the night with us. I thought I should put the cover over the entry stair well. I didn’t want Linda to stumble down the steps if she got up in the unfamiliar coach in the night. The stairwell cover is a two-piece hinged wooden slab. It locks into place next to the stair well when it’s not used to cover the steps. As I was extending it, it slipped from my grip and slammed down on my big toe. The flesh on the left side of my toe was torn away from my toe nail. Ouch!

You don't want see what's under the band-aid

You don’t want see what’s under the band-aid

On Sunday morning we hauled the kayak down to the boat launch. Donna and Linda went out to cruise the bay. They paddled across the cove and around the point all the way to the beach at Campland. Mona has a stand-up paddle board and she and Donna talked the night before about enjoying time on the water together. Mona was moving a little slow on Sunday morning and didn’t make it though.

Donna and Linda paddling out the cove

Donna and Linda paddling out the cove

I kicked back and watched NFL football. Just before halftime of the first game, Donna sent a text telling me they were back at the boat launch. I rode the scooter to the trailer, instead of hobbling on my wounded toe. We loaded the boat in the trailer, then I scootered back.

When I arrived at our site, my daughter, Shauna was there. She joined me inside the coach and we talked while we watched the Chicago Bears collapse in the second half and lose to the Green Bay Packers.

Shauna gave her car keys to Donna so Donna could drive Linda home and pick up a few groceries while she was out. By the time Donna returned, I was into the Chargers game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars started this year’s third pick in the draft, Blake Bortles, at quarterback. I think this guy is the real deal. Jacksonville started strong, but faded as the Chargers put up 23 unanswered points to win, 33-14.

Donna manned the grill last evening and cooked shrimp which she served over steamed bok choy with fresh ginger. It was delicious.

Grilled shrimp over bok choy with ginger

Grilled shrimp over bok choy with ginger

My activities will be limited for a few days. Smashing your toe is no fun.




After sitting at the table and writing Thursday morning’s post, my back felt stiff when I stood up. It loosened up as I prepared for a bike ride. I pulled my mountain bike from the trailer, put the front wheel back on and pumped up the tires.

I rode past Campland through Crown Point. I made this ride several times when we were here last year. At that time, I didn’t have the mountain bike – I always rode my road bike. The mountain bike is more comfortable for me, but it’s a lot slower. As I got closer to Mission Boulevard, going slow was fine. I had to share the path with skaters, runners and walkers.

View south across Mission Bay from Crown Point Shores - downtown skyline in the center, Sea World needle on the right

View south across Mission Bay from Crown Point Shores – downtown skyline in the center, Sea World needle on the right

Going slow was also good on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. I rode to Crystal Pier. I wanted to ride out on the pier, but bicycles are prohibited on this pier. Last year I rode out on the Ocean Beach Pier and I thought I could do the same on Crystal Pier. Oh, well. I turned around and rode south to Belmont Park at Mission Beach.

I made a stop there for rolled tacos with guacamole. I love being in a place where there are good taco stands just about everywhere. I felt my back tightening up again as I resumed my ride home. After I dropped my bike off at the trailer, my lower back was sore. I was out on the bike for nearly two hours.

The humidity has been unusually high in San Diego. The hurricane and tropical storms off Baja, California have affected the climate here. I was sweating profusely and looked forward to a long shower. After I showered and sat for a few minutes, my lower back was so tight, I could barely stand up straight.

Donna spent the afternoon out and about with her sister, Linda. Linda took a job in San Diego and moved here from Vermont in August. They went to lunch, then Linda took Donna to T’s Hair of San Diego to have her hair cut. Donna got the tour of Linda’s place on Shelter Island before they returned to Mission Bay RV Resort.

Donna fixed her favorite burger recipe – green chile turkey burgers with extra-sharp cheddar cheese. She served them with French-cut jicama on the side with guacamole and fresh baby greens. I think it was a little out of the ordinary for Linda, but it was delicious.

Green chile turkey burger with jicama

Green chile turkey burger with jicama

I tried to make myself comfortable in the Euro recliner and watched the NFL Thursday night game.

Yesterday, my back was still sore and very stiff. The day was humid again. Donna and I went for a walk along Mission Bay. Walking seems to loosen up my back, but it remains sore. Later, we rode the scooter up Clairemont Drive to Keil’s grocery store to pick up a few things. After I dropped Donna off at our coach, I went to Pacific Beach to gas up the scooter.

I also stopped at Campland, an RV park across Rose Creek next to Mission Bay RV Resort. We have friends staying there this weekend. Bud and Mona, our friends we met here last year are there. Erin Kerfoot, a friend from my high school days is also there. They’re all there for a Parrot Head of San Diego event this weekend.

Parrot Heads are fans of Jimmy Buffet. The first club formed in 1989 and today there are more than 200 chapters. The organization provides a social network for fans of Jimmy Buffet and also contributes to charitable organizations. The Saturday event at Campland will benefit the Wounded Warrior Homes organization.

I couldn’t find Bud and Mona’s site or Erin’s. Campland is packed and it’s a zoo over there. When I returned to our park, I saw a large group on the west end of the park. Parrot Heads had overflowed into the Mission Bay RV Resort. Later, I took a walk near the Parrot Head gathering and shot a fiery sunset photo. A few clouds and the high humidity made quite a display.

Fiery sunset Friday evening

Fiery sunset Friday evening

The weather is cooler with less humidity today. The high should top out in the low 70s. Donna and I will walk to Margaritaville, I mean Campland this afternoon to meet up with our Parrot Head friends. Maybe an afternoon of Jimmy Buffet and margaritas will loosen up my back.

Going Home

My last post ended with a phone call Tuesday morning from Giant RV in Murrieta telling me they had found a motor for our HWH pump and would have it that afternoon. Tom, from Giant RV, told me he would have it around 3pm. Kathy, from West Wind RV, juggled their schedule and would send Mike over Wednesday morning to install the new motor.

I mapped out a route to Giant RV, avoiding I-15. Although our scooter is capable of 75mph, I don’t like riding it that fast. I also don’t like having cars blow by me on the interstate. The route I mapped out had 50-55 mph speed limits which meant most cars were going 60-65 mph. It was 25 miles from Jojoba Hills to Giant RV.

I left Jojoba Hills around 2:30pm. I estimated 45 minutes for the 25-mile ride with traffic. I wanted to get the part and be on my way home before rush hour. My ETA was good, I arrived at Giant RV at 3:15pm.

I told the girl at the parts counter that I was there to pick up an HWH motor they had for me. She said, “Oh, Tom was just talking about that. I think he went on lunch break. Let me see if I can find him.” This didn’t sound good.

She came back with Tom. He told me he didn’t have the part. The manager of their store in Colton neglected to put it on the transfer list, so their driver didn’t pick it up. He said he would get it tomorrow.

I stayed calm as I explained my situation to him. Without the part, we couldn’t move and West Wind had re-arranged their schedule based on me having the part. He said, “Give me a minute and I’ll see what we can do.”

A few minutes later, he told me he was going to Colton to get the part. I would have to sit tight until he returned. It was 3:30pm. I wasn’t familiar with Colton, so I asked how far away it was. He said it was 45 miles!

The parts manager from Murrieta happened to be in a meeting at the Colton store. Tom phoned ahead and apprised him of the situation. The manager was not planning to return to the Murrieta store, but he took the part and met Tom halfway. I had the part in hand a little before 5pm. Tom really went out of his way to correct their mistake and I was very grateful.

Kathy called me later that evening to confirm our appointment and to make sure I had the part. We were all set.

On Wednesday morning, Mike installed the new motor. He showed me a couple of tricks to get the old motor out and the new one in. There aren’t any manuals for removing and replacing parts of an HWH hydraulic unit. Now I know how to do it correctly and will tackle the job myself if I ever have to. I plan to have the old motor rebuilt so I’ll have a spare on hand if needed.

With the new motor, the HWH unit seems quieter and the slides seem to move a little faster. I had nothing to compare to before, so I didn’t know the old unit was noisy. That would’ve been my only indication that something was going wrong with the motor. Other than that, it failed without warning.

We pulled out of Jojoba Hills just past noon. As we drove down highway 79, Donna snapped a photo of a roadside sculpture. There’s an artist community in that area and we suspect they are responsible for the beautiful metal sculptures on this section of highway. She took a photo through the windshield of wild horses jumping across the highway.

Wild horses jumping across highway 79 near Temecula

Wild horses jumping across highway 79 near Temecula

Less than two hours later, we checked in at Mission Bay RV Resort. I dropped our trailer across from the security shack and we set up in site 114. The security supervisor recognized us and welcomed us back. Donna said to me, “I wonder if he’ll notice we have a new coach.” I said, “He sees so many rigs come in and out of here, I doubt if he’ll notice we have a different coach.” Later, the security supervisor asked me if we had a new rig. He remembered our old coach! I feel like I’ve come home again.

We like to mix it up and stay in a variety of locations. Sometimes it’s nice to be boondocking in a secluded area without noise and starry skies at night. And sometimes we like staying in an RV park in a quiet, rural area or in an urban setting where we can explore and go bicycling.

For me, San Diego is home base. I have many connections here. My youngest daughter is at Cal Western School of Law, my step-dad lives in Menifee, and Donna has two sisters here. I have many good friends here. And there are many places that bring back memories. Plus we love being able to ride our bikes right out of the park on trails that take us to the beaches.

After I set up, I showered and rode the scooter over to my favorite watering hole, Offshore Grill and Tavern. Meanwhile, Donna’s sister, Linda, came over to visit. I had a couple of IPAs and a poke (po-key) plate at Offshore and caught up with some of the old crowd there. I picked up a football pool sheet and plan to donate to the pool.

Poke plate

Poke plate

On the way back, I was struck by all of the activity in Mission Bay Park. There were various exercise groups on the grass. There were families picnicking. Volleyball games were going on. And of course, people were out on the water.

Family picnic and volleyball in the park

Family picnic and volleyball in the park

When I returned, Donna and Linda had gone out to eat at  the Pacific Beach Fish Shop. Later, my daughter, Shauna, stopped by to visit. Life is good. It was a great day.

I’m looking forward to getting on my bicycle and taking a ride to Pacific Beach today. Although the temperature is a little higher than usual, it’s much more comfortable than the heat we’ve been in for the past few weeks. Today we should see abundant sunshine and a high of 81 degrees.

Bad Motor for Sure

Coach – Net served me well yesterday. They contacted a mobile RV service, West Wind, located nearby in Murrieta. Kathy from West Wind called me and said she would send Mike out to our site between 3pm and 4pm.

Mike arrived at a quarter past three. I told him what happened and the tests I performed. He re-checked some of the diagnostic steps and said he thought I had a bad motor on the HWH pump. Then he connected an external battery directly to the motor, bypassing the motorhome circuitry. The motor didn’t run. This doesn’t ensure that we don’t have any other issues, but it confirms the diagnosis of a faulty motor. From the tests I performed earlier, I don’t see any other problems in the system.

The next step was to locate a replacement part. Mike found the part number for the assembly and told me of a couple of possible sources for the motor from nearby RV dealers. I called around, but no one had the motor in stock. I looked online at the HWH site and found the correct part number for the motor to fit my assembly. I did more online searches, but didn’t come up with anything.

I called Paul Maddox, the HWH technician who helped me with the jack solenoid. He’s in Arizona. He said he knew someone who had the motor I needed, but he would have to drive 10 miles to pick it up, then drive another 30 miles to get to a FedEx outlet to ship it. He said I should try to get it from HWH as they could ship overnight. It wouldn’t take any longer to get it from them. He told me the retail price of the motor was $284, and I shouldn’t pay any more than that – he said he’d heard of unscrupulous outfits charging as much as $500 for the part.

I looked on eBay and saw couple of replacement motors priced from $298 to $399. No deals – and I don’t know who the actual manufacturer was. The HWH part is made by Monarch.

Ebay photo of the replacement motor

eBay photo of the replacement motor

I called Mike at West Wind and told him I couldn’t get the motor. He said he would get it from HWH and call me in the morning to confirm.

Mike called me this morning at 9:15 and said the motor was on its way and would be at his shop tomorrow. He told me the cost of the part was $284 plus shipping. We made an appointment for Thursday morning to have it installed.

Newsflash!  I just got a callback from Giant RV in Murrieta. They were one of the dealers I spoke to yesterday. They located a motor and can have it by 3pm today! I called Mike and he was able to cancel the order from HWH. Giant RV will sell me the motor for $276 plus $22 tax. This is surely less expensive than overnight shipping from HWH. I’ll ride the scooter over to Murrieta this afternoon and pick up the part. Mike juggled his schedule and will try to be here by noon tomorrow to install it.

I made one final test. I powered up the HWH system and had Donna hold the generator retract switch. With voltage delivered to the motor, I tapped on the motor housing with a hammer. It ran for a few seconds every time I whacked it and we got the generator slide in. This is the old Chevy starter motor trick. It confirmed the circuit is good, the motor is bad.

Today I want to tidy up some of the wiring I inspected and repair the hook-and-loop fasteners on the front panels, a project I’ve been meaning to get to. I’ll arrange a late checkout from Jojoba Hills. We may not be a day late after all, but I’ll be several hundred dollars short!

Calling Coach-Net

I wonder what will happen next! We have more trouble. After I serviced the generator on Saturday, I left the generator slide open. I was more concerned with cleaning myself up and also allowing the fuel smell to dissipate.

Yesterday, I turned on the HWH hydraulic system and pushed the rocker switch to retract the generator. Nothing happened. No sound, no pump running, no movement of the generator slide. I tried the living room slide switch. Same result, no go.

I started checking ground connections. I looked up front to see if there were any connectors I might have accidentally bumped while I was working on the generator. There isn’t anything associated with the HWH pump up there. I cleaned ground connections anyway.

At that point, it was time to tune in the Charger game.  I was happy to see them win a tough match in Buffalo, but all the while, I was thinking about the HWH problem. I looked up information on the Internet during the Broncos versus Seahawks game. I posted a question on the Alpine Coach forum asking where I would find the HWH control box. One of the members replied, telling me it was behind the front console. I decided to wait until Monday morning to start taking things apart.

This morning I dove into the project.

There's an HWH control box in there somewhere

There’s an HWH control box in there somewhere.

Aha - there it is

Aha – there it is!

I poked around and finally located the control box. I examined connectors. I found the ground lug loose on the control box. I tightened it, thinking I had found the problem. Nope, still no action from the pump.

I broke out my Fluke Digital Multimeter and began the tedious troubleshooting procedure at the hydraulic pump. I started by testing the master relay. This was difficult as the master relay is hidden behind the pump motor. I had to use a mirror to locate the terminals and hook up the meter by feel. I found proper voltage on the terminals there. I checked all of the connectors at the relays and the motor. I re-checked continuity through the grounds. I had Donna operate the switch. I could hear the relay click. I think I have a bad motor.

That’s when I threw my hands up in the air and called Coach – Net. We’re members of their RV Roadside Assistance program. I explained the issue to the customer service girl. She said she would have a technician call me back shortly. An hour later, I called them again. The technician assigned to handle the call, Leonard, said he was just about to call me. He was doing research on the HWH system. I told him I had the HWH troubleshooting guide and told him the tests I’d performed. He said I had already done everything he wanted me to check. The next step was to find a qualified technician in the area who could come out to assist me.

As I was typing this, I got a call from an RV service outfit in Murrieta. Coach – Net had contacted them. I went over the issue with them on the phone. They will call me back to tell me when they can have someone here to help me. Coach – Net pays for the travel time and standard service call. I’ll have to pay for any parts and additional labor to install them.

Stay tuned.


Simple Maintenance – Right!

We had some relief from the heat on Friday. The early morning cloud cover burned off, but it didn’t get too hot until late afternoon when the temperature hit the mid-80s.

I wanted to perform scheduled maintenance on the scooter and generator while I have the opportunity here at Jojoba Hills RV Resort. When we get to Mission Bay, they won’t allow me to do mechanical work there.

On Friday morning, I changed the engine oil and filter on the scooter. I also drained and refilled the gearbox with 75-90 gear oil. The Kymco maintenance schedule calls for these lubricants to be changed every 3,000 miles. We just turned over 6,000 miles, so it was due. Next week, when we’re in San Diego, I’ll have to find an air filter element for it – it’s time to change that too.

After I cleaned up, I took the scooter out for a test run, then I rode it to Temecula. I stopped at Best Buy and picked up another ink cartridge for the printer. The one we bought on Wednesday didn’t work. I forgot to bring the bad cartridge to see if they would exchange it, so I paid for another cartridge.

After Best Buy, I had a quick lunch at Subway. They had the six-inch sweet onion-teriyaki chicken sub on sale for three bucks. From there I rode to WalMart where I bought a few grocery items that Donna needed and three quarts of oil for the generator. I already had new filters for the generator on hand, but I didn’t have any oil for it. We have 544 hours on the generator now. The last oil change was at 400 hours. Onan calls for oil and filter changes every 150 hours. At 500 hours, I should have changed the fuel filter and air filter. This would be Saturday’s task.

After I returned, I kicked back and read while Donna was working at her laptop. We planned to go to a happy hour get-together at the pool around 4:30pm. Donna whipped up a plate of hors d’oeuvres and I put a few cans of beer in a small cooler and we walked down to the pool. There was a small gathering around a few tables that were pushed together. We were invited to take a seat and join them.

We met John Macon, a Jojoba member since 2010. He filled us in on some of the history of the place. He also scheduled a tour of the park for us to take with him on Saturday afternoon. Taking visitors on tours of the park is one of John’s specialties.

View across the pool at Happy Hour

View across the pool at happy hour

We finished the night off watching a movie – Rudy, the story of a kid who dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame. He didn’t have the size or talent, but he never gave up.

This morning, servicing the Onan Quiet Diesel generator was my main task for the day. Our generator is mounted on sliding rails that are hydraulically operated. I switched on the HWH hydraulics and opened the generator compartment, expecting a fairly easy job ahead.

7.5kW Onan Quiet Diesel generator

7.5kW Onan Quiet Diesel generator

Underneath the generator, there’s a door on the bottom panel to access the oil filter and fuel filter. I ran into a problem right from the start. The latches to open the door were jammed. I couldn’t get them to budge. I figured there was debris caught in the sliding latches behind the door. I decided to unbolt the hinge and see if I could get the door free. That was my next problem. The hinges were fastened with T30 torx head fasteners. I used to have every size of torx bit imaginable, but those Dirty Rotten Thieves took them when they stole my trailer. The biggest torx bit I had was a T20.

I jumped on the scooter and made the 15-mile ride to Temecula where I found torx bits at O’Reilly Auto Parts. I also bought a new strap wrench there. This time I remembered to bring the bad printer cartridge and receipt. I stopped at Best Buy to return it. I told the customer service girl that I bought the cartridge a couple of days ago and it didn’t work. I also said I bought another cartridge yesterday that works fine, confirming the first cartridge is defective.

She told me that printer cartridges are generally not a returnable item. They have no way of knowing if I used up all of the ink in it or not and had no way to test it. I showed her the test page from our printer with no black ink. She asked if I had the receipt from the second cartridge. I didn’t bring it with me. She asked how I paid. I paid with a Visa card. She looked up the transaction and said since I came back and bought another cartridge, she would make an exception and refund the cost of the first one. She said I should call the store immediately if I get another bad cartridge in the future or I wouldn’t be able to return it. Good to know. This is the second time we’ve had a bad ink cartridge.

I stopped at Ralph’s grocery store and bought a case of bottled water. I strapped it on the back of the scooter and headed back.

I crawled back underneath the generator and removed the access door. Then I loosened the oil filter. The filter is tucked up in a cramped space. I wanted to be sure I could get it off before I drained the oil. Then I decided to tackle the fuel filter.

I started by loosening the fuel supply fitting on the old fuel filter. Fuel began dripping from the line into a catch pan I had placed underneath. I expected a few ounces of fuel to drip. Once the dripping started, I saw my error. I should have removed the other filter fitting for the fuel line going to the engine first. I had to reach past a dripping line to access the other fitting. I started to remove the other fitting. It was very difficult because I couldn’t see it. With diesel fuel dripping down, I couldn’t get my head into position to see what I was doing.

When I started to loosen the second fitting, more fuel started dripping. It was running down my arm. I took a break and thought the fuel would stop dripping soon. After a few minutes, more than a pint of fuel was in the catch pan and it didn’t show any sign of slowing down. I came to the conclusion that changing the fuel filter was not a task for me. I’ll wait and have it done the next time we have the coach in for service.

I crawled back underneath to re-secure the fittings. I still had the same problem with fuel dripping and running down my arm while I tried to tighten the fittings by feel. I had fuel running down my arm for 15 minutes before I could get the unions tightened. That’s when I realized the fuel wasn’t running down to my elbow and dripping into the pan like I thought. It was running all the way to my shoulder and my shirt was soaked with fuel. Ugh!

I cleaned up a bit, then got on with the oil and filter change. I hadn’t paid much attention to the oil drain plug until now. That’s when I saw the drain plug looked like a pipe fitting with a square lug. There’s no room to get an open-ended wrench in there. I don’t have any square sockets.

I thought about it and came up with an idea. The square lug was 3/8″ across. I put a 1/4″ socket on my ratchet wrench, then put a 1/4″ hex driver into the socket. This left the square 3/8″ drive opening on the back of the driver. The 3/8″ drive opening fit perfectly on the drain plug and I removed it easily. The picture below is labelled – click on it to enlarge and you can see how I did it.

Driver set up to remove square drive plug

Driver set up to remove square drive plug

Tool assembled

Tool assembled

While the oil drained, I replaced the air filter. This was the only part of the job that went exactly as planned without a glitch.

I cleaned the latches on the  access door. I couldn’t see any reason for them to jam. They seemed to work once I had the door off. After I screwed it back onto the hinges, it worked fine.

After I filled the engine with oil and did a test run for leaks, I poured the waste oil from the pan into the empty oil containers. I’ll recycle the oil later. I dumped my tools onto a rag in the trailer and cleaned myself. I’ll clean up the tools and put them away later. I took off the fuel-soaked shirt before I entered the coach and took a long, hot shower. This was supposed to be a fairly easy job!

I relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. Donna cancelled our tour of the park since the generator job took so long. I wasn’t up for a tour after I finished.

Tomorrow the Chargers play in Buffalo, so they will be the early game at 10am. My plan is to kick back and enjoy some football!

Jojoba Hills Co-op

The days here in Jojoba Hills have blended together. Each day has been much like the last. The hot afternoons keep us inside our air-conditioned coach. On Wednesday morning, Donna and I rode the scooter 15 miles to the Ralph’s grocery store in Temecula.

While Donna shopped for groceries, I walked over to Best Buy and picked up a black ink cartridge for the printer. Then I took the scooter to the gas station and filled up. By the time I came back, Donna was in the checkout line. Once again, we managed to fit half a dozen bags of groceries under the seat, in the tote bag and in a backpack.

Yesterday, I explored the Jojoba Hills RV Resort. This is an Escapees Co-op. As Escapees members, we can stay here a maximum of 28 days in a calendar year as visitors. Most of the people here have bought a “share” in Jojoba Hills. Owning a share entitles you to have a site assigned to you. You don’t own any real property, but you have your own site. Judging by license plates, it appears that most of the shareholders are not permanent California residents.  They’re domiciled in tax- and RV-friendly states. That means they cannot be here year ’round. By the way, the park requires all RVs here to have valid, current license plates even though many of the rigs look like they haven’t been on the road for a long time.

The price of a share is set by the board of directors every year. We heard it was around $30,000. There’s a waiting list for shares. If you’re on the waiting list and a share becomes available, you pay the owner of that share the share price plus any improvements or assessments. Now you have your own site. Electricity and propane are not included, but the monthly maintenance fee of around $250 includes water, maintenance of common areas and access to all of the amenities (pool, clubhouse, tennis courts, workshops, etc). If you are going to be away from the park, you can make your site available for visitors. The money from the rental of the site goes to the co-op, not the shareholder. The incentive for doing this is free maintenance of your site while you’re away. The co-op maintains all of the sites available for rental.

It’s an interesting concept. We don’t have any intention of settling in one place at this time, but who knows what the future may hold.

The weather was cooler yesterday, but still quite warm with a high of 86. Last night felt humid and this morning we have a low ceiling and high humidity. Today is supposed to clear up and the temperature will reach the mid 80s again. This morning, I’ll change the oil and filter in the scooter. I want to take care of a few maintenance items while we’re here because the resort does not have any restrictions against working on vehicles. I also plan to wash the coach before we leave next Wednesday.

Low overcast this morning

Low overcast this morning

Surrounded by Storms

I allowed myself to become a victim of the weather yesterday. Other than walking to the recycling bins and taking the trash out, I shut myself in to avoid the intense sun and heat. The thermometer topped out at 104 degrees around 3pm. That’s 14 degrees above the average for this area in mid-September.

I could see large thunder clouds forming in the southwest. Donna was planning to get in some laps at the pool. I advised her to do it sooner,  rather than later as the clouds appeared to be coming our way.

Clouds moving in south of us

Clouds moving in south of us

Donna went to the pool around 4pm. While she was swimming, she heard thunder. She swam 20 lengths of the pool (1/4 mile) before she decided it was time to get out ahead of the storm. When she got home, I set up chairs outside and we watched the storm off in the distance.

Storm to the west of us

Storm to the west of us

It looked like heavy rain was falling in Temecula. The wind picked up and the air quickly cooled to 85 degrees. It felt good. The storm seemed to surround us, but we didn’t have any precipitation in the RV park.

Storm front north of us

Storm front north of us

Thunder rumbled, but we only saw one bolt of lightning. After we went back into the coach, we were rocked by a few wind gusts. This morning, I read that the wind in Aguanga was gusting to 35 mph.

South of here, in San Diego County, the storm blew trees down and caused damage. Although the drop in temperature felt good, we were lucky to have the storm skirt around us.

This morning’s weather is “severe clear.” We’ll have another hot day with the temperature reaching the mid to upper 90s. There’s a possibility of another thunderstorm late in the day.

Donna and I will scooter to Temecula and do some shopping this morning before it gets too hot.

No Escape from the Heat

After writing my post on Sunday, I tuned in the Patriots vs Vikings NFL game. At the half, I went outside and replaced the check valves in the HWH hydraulic pump. Meanwhile, Donna went for a walk and said she felt remarkably well after Saturday’s grueling bike race.

The new check valves didn’t make any difference. The right rear jack still won’t stay in the extended position. It slowly retracts itself. By the time I finished cleaning up, it was 11:45am. Donna and I drove to town and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Donna ordered seafood fajitas minus the tortillas (in keeping with her 21-Day Sugar Detox program) while I had enchiladas suiza. I would give the restaurant, Don Perico’s, a three on a scale of five. There wasn’t anything about the food or service that stood out, but it wasn’t bad either.

We made it back in time for the Chargers home opener against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s unseasonably warm in San Diego. The temperature on the field at Qualcomm Stadium was well over 100 degrees! The Chargers wisely chose to wear their white uniforms. It was an entertaining game. The Chargers beat the reigning Superbowl champs 30-21. It shouldn’t have been that close – the Seahawks were given a touchdown when their player clearly stepped out of bounds at the 21-yard line. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter though. A win is a win. While I was enjoying the game, Donna went to town and did some shopping like a good tourist.

On Monday morning, we prepared to hit the road. Things were a little out of sequence as I had to get the coach ready to roll, then hit the dump station to dump and flush the tanks on the way out of Mountain View RV Park. While I was doing that, Donna drove the rental car back to Enterprise in town. The Enterprise guy gave Donna a ride to the Tractor Supply store where we planned to meet. We checked out the parking lot there when we picked up the rental car. It would be an easy entry and exit in the motorhome and it’s right next to highway CA58, which was our route away from Tehachapi. From Tehachapi, CA58 east is mostly a downhill run.

We drove east and made a stop at a rest area near Boron. It felt good to get out and stretch our legs. I didn’t know when we would see another rest area. Our route would take us south on US395 then on to I-15 and I-215. I didn’t recall any rest areas along that stretch.

We stopped at the Pilot/Flying J truck stop at the junction of US395. I have a Pilot/Flying J – Good Sam RV fuel card. With this credit card, I get a discount of six cents per gallon off the cash price. This saves 11 to 15 cents per gallon off the normal credit price. I also can pump all the fuel I need in one go. At most stations, a Visa card will only allow you to pump $100 of fuel. Then you have to go inside and pre-pay at the counter if you want more fuel. Another benefit at the Pilot/Flying J stations is that the truck pumps have high-flow nozzles. And they have two pumps – a master pump on the driver’s side and a slave pump on the right side. Our Alpine Coach has two filler necks, one on each side. With two high-flow nozzles, I can top up our 100-gallon tank in a few minutes.

US395 south took us through Adelanto and Victorville with many stoplights. I-15 south climbed to the Cajon Summit at an elevation of 4,190 feet above sea level. It was very hot – the outside temperature was in the high 90s. I’m happy to report that our coolant temperature and automatic transmission fluid temperature never exceeded 205 degrees on the climb. Coming down into the San Bernadino Valley, we rode the Jake brake as we traversed miles of 6% downgrade.

Clarke Hockwald (whatsnewell) wrote a post about driving in metro areas that I totally agree with. As we travel around in our RV, we tend to spend much of the time driving through rural or semi-rural areas with no worry of having to avoid rush hours. Driving through scenic countryside is enjoyable. When we know we’ll be driving through a high-density metro area, there’s a certain tension that builds. Parts of I-15 are five lanes wide. Trucks coming down the hill into San Bernadino stay in the right two lanes and keep their speed down. Cars use what ever lane they feel like, some of them zooming downhill at 80+ miles per hour. The speed differential creates some hairy moments as car drivers don’t obey the rules of the road. They pass on the right, some of them weaving their way back and forth through the lanes. We saw a couple of cars panic braking as they came upon slower traffic.

We made our way through the worst of it without incident. I wanted to get to Temecula by 2pm, as I knew the traffic volume increases dramatically by 3pm. Our destination was Jojoba Hills SKP Resort, about 18 miles east of downtown Temecula. SKP parks are operated by the Escapees RV Club. We’re Escapees members. Jojoba Hills is a private park for members only. The official address shows us in Aguanga, California. Aguanga comprises a post office and a small general store.

We arrived a little past 2pm. The woman in the office drove us around in a golf cart and showed us four different sites we could choose from. We chose site 646. It has a nice view to the south and was long enough for us to pull through without dropping the trailer. We have full hook-ups with 50-amp electric service. The park is located on a hillside with the sites terraced along paved interior roads. Our site is fairly level. The sites are gravel with a concrete pad for chairs and tables. We booked nine nights here at a discounted rate of $126 – that’s $14 per night! Nice!

Last evening's view from our doorstep

Last evening’s view from our doorstep

Last evening, while I tuned in the Monday Night Football game, Donna went to the pool. The swimming pool is 65′ long. Donna said it was great for swimming laps. She swam a quarter mile last night and set a goal to swim a full mile before we leave here.

Today, the heat wave in southern California will continue. The forecast high for today is over 100 degrees! We should have relief in a few days when the forecast calls for highs around 80 degrees. Meanwhile, we can make good use of the pool.

Wrong Way!

Friday’s post took me over an hour to prepare. It takes time to resize and optimize photos, then write, proofread, have Donna proofread and finally publish. By the time I posted, the morning was getting away from me.

I mounted the new Continental GP4000 IIs rear tire on Donna’s bike – twice! I had to do it twice because of a moment of brain fade. These tires are directional – they’re designed to roll one way. I found the arrow on the sidewall showing the direction it should roll, but I had the orientation of the wheel wrong. I installed the tire, pumped it up, then saw my mistake. So, I took it off and did it over again. By the time I removed her aero bars (they aren’t allowed in mass start races) and cleaned and lubed the chain, it was 11:30am.

We had an appointment to pick up a rental car at Enterprise at noon. I didn’t get to the HWH check valve project. We picked up the car, had lunch back at home, then headed out to do some sightseeing.

First we drove to the Tehachapi Loop. This is a marvel of engineering. Generally, railroad gradients are aren’t steep. They are usually less than 2.5%. There are a few grades in the USA that exceed this, but the steel rolling stock of a train isn’t designed for climbing or descending a steep grade. In addition, trains are heavy and grades increase the power requirement to pull the load. On many grades, helper engines are employed. The steepest grade on any railroad route determines the power requirement. Higher power requires additional engines and fuel. This increases cost.

The freight train route from Bakersfield to Tehachapi Pass averages 2.2%. At one point, near Keene, the railroad track makes a loop. The helix-shaped railroad track is nearly three quarters of a mile long. Trains enter a tunnel, then roll around the loop passing over the tunnel. The train gains 77 feet of elevation through the loop. My camera didn’t have a wide enough angle to capture the entire loop.

Train on a portion of the loop

Train on a portion of the loop

Roadside sign with history of the loop

Roadside sign with history of the loop

Aerial file photo from

Aerial file photo from

We arrived in time to see a train pass through the loop. Trains more than 4,000 feet long cross over themselves. This route, linking the San Joaquin Valley with the Mojave, is one of the busiest railways in the USA.

From the Loop, we drove back to Tehachapi on Woodford-Tehachapi Road. Our goal was to drive the bicycle course Donna would race on Saturday. The course has a number of turns. For someone unfamiliar with the area, it can be confusing. I had to pull over and look at the map several times as we drove the 37-mile distance. At one intersection, the course crosses itself.

On Friday night, Donna prepared salmon with a rosemary-dijon sauce, forbidden rice, sauteed artichoke hearts and green beans for dinner.

Salmon with rosemary-dijon over forbidden rice

Salmon with rosemary-dijon sauce over forbidden rice

Saturday we were up before dawn. Donna ate breakfast and we had our coffees before we headed out at 6am. We found a place to park near the starting point of the race. I always like to arrive a little early and avoid having to scramble to the starting line.

Starting line for the bicycle race

Starting line for the bicycle race

I set Donna’s bike up and pumped up the tires. She had time to warm up before staging at the starting line.

Donna and other competitors at the staging area

Donna and other competitors at the staging area

After the race set off at 7am, I drove back to the RV park. At 8am, I walked over to the airport cafe for breakfast. We’d heard the cafe was excellent. I enjoyed the view, watching gliders towed down the runway and taking flight behind a Piper Pawnee piston-powered airplane. At least I think it’s a Piper Pawnee. There are at least three of them here. They were originally designed for agricultural use as crop dusters. They make a great tow platform.

Piper Pawnee

Piper Pawnee

Gliders on the flighline

Gliders on the flightline

The cafe wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. My breakfast croissant with egg, ham and cheese was mediocre. The service was slow and the coffee I ordered turned out to be a styrofoam cup of tea!

At 9am, I drove out of the RV park onto Highline Road. The bike race passes by the RV park as the riders head east on Highline. I drove west and saw a few of the race leaders on the road. I stopped at the intersection at Tucker Road and parked. I watched competitors come past. I was beginning to wonder how Donna was doing. I expected to see her before 9:30am. She came by at about 9:40am and looked fine. I drove east to Curry Road and parked again. I got out of the car to snap a photo. I had to run across Highline as Donna was approaching faster than I expected.

Donna hammering down Highline

Donna hammering down Highline

I drove downtown and waited for Donna to finish. She left it all out on the course – she was done in at the finish line. I brought a small cooler with recovery drink and snacks for her. After a little recovery time, Donna told me of a couple of mishaps during the race. There were three races running concurrently, one was 97 miles (GranFondo), one was 67 miles (MedioFondo) and one was 37 miles (PiccoloFondo). They all started together, then the racers took different routes. The course had arrows at some of the intersections. Yellow arrows marked the 37-mile course Donna was on.

Shortly after the start, some of the racers were confused by a large sign with a yellow arrow on the side of the road. The arrow seemed to indicate a turn. Racers made the turn and Donna followed, although she knew it didn’t seem right. Around the corner was a steep hill. Donna quickly geared own and threw her chain. She stopped to re-install the chain as everyone realized they made a wrong turn. The sign was for a yard sale.

Later, about three-quarters of the way through the race, Donna came to the intersection where the course crossed itself. There was a sign there with yellow arrows pointing both ways. It said “Right First Time – Left Second Time.” This was the first time she saw this sign. In the heat of the race, riding with her head down, she didn’t know she had already crossed this intersection. She went right and began a long climb. After about twenty minutes of climbing, she realized that she had already made this climb once. She was going the wrong way! She turned around and got back on track. This extra hill climb, the toughest hill on the course, killed her race time and average speed. She still finished well though.

The town had a big festival for the event in the town square. The race organizers provided coupons for lunch and drink for the competitors. We found a table in the shade, which we shared with a local couple, Lindsey and Bailey, who had also just finished the PiccoloFondo.

I went to one of the food vendors, Red House BBQ, and got a brisket plate for Donna. The portions were huge and the food was excellent. The plate came with a mac and cheese side (which I ate) and dolmas. The brisket portion was so big, we brought half of it home with us.

Other than a quick run to Albertson’s for groceries, we spent the rest of the day kicking back. This early morning race stuff is tiring.

Today, I need find time to change the HWH check valves. It’s an NFL football day though, so I may put it off. Tomorrow, we’ll head south to Temecula.