Monthly Archives: March 2016

Directing the Dolphin

I finally got started on a couple of easy projects yesterday after a couple of hours on the pickleball court in the morning. We had much cooler weather – the high temperature for the day was 67 degrees. That’s a drop of more than 20 degrees from the weekend. It stayed overcast and windy all afternoon and a few raindrops fell – not enough to wet the pavement though.

I went to Ace Hardware to pick up some 3/16″ rivets with long 1/2″ shanks. I wrote about my rivet repair in this post.  The rivets I used for that repair were a little short and didn’t hold well enough. I needed to replace them again. The longer shanks on the rivets I used this time should hold up fine.

I planned on buying some carabiner clips to secure the doors on the cabinets I installed in the trailer. The doors are set up for padlocks but I didn’t want to hassle with locks every time I wanted something in the cabinet. I thought a carabiner would work if I could find the right size. Donna had a different idea. She’s been working with Procter & Gamble’s PR firm. They sent her a package that included Tide PODS and a few gifts. One of the gifts is from a company called Munchkin – they make baby products. The product Donna received is a latch to secure cabinets, drawers and anything you wouldn’t want a toddler getting into. They’re called Munchkin Xtra Guard multi-use latches.

Munchkin Xtra Guard latch

Munchkin Xtra Guard latch

Donna received four latches – I used two on the cabinet doors and it looks like they’ll work perfectly. They’re easy to install – they have an adhesive backing that sticks to the door surface.

Xtra Guard latch on the trailer cabinet

Xtra Guard latch on the trailer cabinet

There’s a button on the top and bottom of the pads – holding these buttons in releases the latch. They should keep the doors closed while we roll down the road but it will still be easy to access the cabinets.

Latch released

Latch released

I decided to order two more of the Suncast cabinets to install in the trailer. I like the way they’re built and it will make it easier to store and access stuff.

I took a few measurements and installed D-rings to secure the Traeger wood pellet grill/smoker in the trailer. That was the extent of my projects for the day. Today I’ll add a few more D-rings to secure the ladders and a few other things.

Last week, I stopped at Seńor Taco and had the daily special – fish taco with rice, beans and soft drink for $5. Donna and I like fish tacos – we always have them when we’re in San Diego. Good fish tacos obviously need to be made with a good fish filet. Then it’s the sauce that makes them special. The Seńor Taco fish tacos are good.

Fish taco plate at Seńor Taco

Fish taco plate at Seńor Taco

On Monday afternoon, I rode the Spyder to the Sprouts store at Higley and Southern. Donna sent me there with a small shopping list. I bought two fresh tilapia filets, a lime, a jalapeńo pepper and an avocado. Donna already had the corn tortillas, cabbage and cilantro. She made blackened Baja fish tacos.

Donna's homemade fish taco plate

Donna’s homemade fish taco plate

She seasoned and pan fried the fish filets in a cast iron skillet. Her sauce was made from yogurt, jalapeńo pepper, lime juice and cilantro. Very tasty and we each had two big tacos for a total cost of about seven bucks!

Last night, Donna made a spring minestrone soup with chicken meatballs. The meatballs were made with ground chicken, panko bread crumbs, minced scallions and garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Another tasty treat. We had leftovers for lunch and it was even better the second time around.

Spring minestrone

Spring minestrone with chicken meatballs

This morning when I rode my bicycle home from pickleball, I found a motorhome blocking our street. It was a 34-foot National Dolphin. I carefully went around the front of it where there was about three feet of clearance. Once I went around it, I saw a woman sitting on the steps in the doorway of the coach smoking a cigarette. I stopped and she said, “I’m wedged in here.”

I looked back and saw what she meant. Apparently she was pulling out of her site and turning left. She didn’t account for the swingout of the rear and the last basement door on the right rear was hard against a palm tree.

After looking at it, I told her she needed to crank the steering wheel full left and slowly back up. She was afraid of causing more damage. I told her it will scrape at first, then swing away from the tree. She did as I said and was able to reverse back into her site. Then I had her go forward and angle to the right to pull into an empty site across the street from her. Once she pulled halfway into the site, I had her reverse again and crank the wheel to the left. I guided her back then told her to stop, crank the wheel right and come forward. She was in the street now heading in the opposite direction of the way she first tried to go. It didn’t matter – it’s a short street and either direction will take you to the park exit. With a wave and a thanks, she was on her way.

She was alone and driving a motorhome into or out of a tight space without guidance isn’t easy. Although her coach was only 34 feet long, the National Dolphin is gas powered and the chassis has a lot of rear overhang. The longer the distance from the rear axle to the rear of the coach, the greater the amount of swingout.

We should see a high temperature of about 70 degrees today with partly cloudy skies and a gentle breeze. Very comfortable. This evening we plan to meet up with my friend from high school, Andy King, and his wife Donna for sushi.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Unusual Easter Dinner

Ozark the cat has been enjoying her time here at Towerpoint RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona (map). She spends most of her day sitting by a window or on the door steps watching birds outside. Sometimes she even sounds like a bird – she’ll make a trilling sound deep in her throat that sounds like a bird I hear in the palm trees at times. I haven’t been able to identify the bird. Ozark also craves attention. She’ll walk up to our feet and flop down, wanting to have her belly rubbed. She rolls from side to side as I rub her belly and pet her.

Ozark the cat sitting in the galley

Ozark the cat sitting in the galley

It was a warm day on Sunday. Although the temperature only reached the mid 80s, it warmed up quickly in the morning and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Without much of breeze, it felt hotter. I stayed inside most of the day and read with the air conditioners on. I wanted to stay out of the sun as the burn on my right calf is still healing and it’s sensitive.

Burn on my hairy calf

Burn on my hairy calf

Donna decided to make her usual St. Patrick’s day meal on Easter Sunday since we didn’t have it on St. Patrick’s Day. She saw a recipe that claimed corned beef was a traditional Irish Easter meal. I did some research and found this wasn’t true. In fact, beef wasn’t readily available a century ago in Ireland. Corned beef is an Irish-American tradition. The corned beef in America was a cheap meat and substituted for the salt pork that was more common in Ireland. It’s origin is attributed to Jewish communities in the early twentieth century.

Donna prepared traditional Irish-American boiled corned beef with cabbage and carrots. She served mashed potatoes on the side and homemade Irish soda bread – my favorite.

Our Easter corned beef and cabbage plate

Our Easter corned beef and cabbage plate

I saw on Facebook that our RV friends, Brett and Cheri Miller, had the same idea – Cheri prepared corned beef for them on Sunday as well. We’re making our own traditions out here on the road!

As we left the coach to play pickleball this morning, our neighbors were preparing to leave. I saw two coaches pull out from our street. Almost all of the Canadian visitors and many of the snowbirds will leave by the end of the week. I hope enough people are still in the park to get some pickleball action next week!

Our route to the pickleball courts takes us past a second-generation type 2 VW camper (T2 from 1967 to 1979). I remember back in the early ’70s thinking these were large vehicles. Today it looks small compared to all of the large SUVs we’re used to seeing. A VW T2 camper had a wheelbase of 94.5 inches and an overall length of of 177 inches. By comparison, a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a wheelbase of 114.8 inches and an overall length of 190 inches.

Early 70s VW type 2 camper

Early ’70s VW type 2 camper

We have another warm day ahead but it’s also windy today. That might make it seem cooler. Tonight a cold front will move in. We should be down to the mid 40s overnight and tomorrow’s high is expected to be 70 degrees. Last night the temperature never dropped below 55. Our new Leesa mattress is surprisingly comfortable in warm weather. That was one of the things I wondered about foam mattresses.

Today I’ll head out to Ace Hardware to pick up a few supplies so I can get some projects done. Other than that, I’ll probably just read another book.

Hot Car Show

Saturday morning Donna rode the Spyder to meet her friend, Stevie Ann Rinehart, for breakfast in Scottsdale. She went to Merci – a French bistro that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Stevie Ann was the first person Donna met when she came to Arizona in 2002. It’s been two years since they were able to get together. They enjoyed the breakfast and the chance to visit.

When Donna came home around noon, I took the Spyder and rode to Mesa Community College (MCC) on Power Road. They were having a car show there and a few of my friends had cars in the show. It wasn’t as large a turnout as I expected – probably because there was also a car show at Falcon Field where they were having an open house and planes flying in formation overhead, including WWII warplanes. The MCC show was free though while the Falcon Field show charged admission.

I walked through and looked at the cars – a few were really nice. I talked to my friend, John Huff – he had his ’30 Ford he calls Lucy at the show. I also talked to Wayne – he had his ’63 Nova on display.

Lucy - John Huff's Ford

Lucy – John Huff’s Ford

I posted pictures and descriptions of Wayne’s outrageous Nova before. This time I shot a photo showing the plumbing from the dual fuel pumps to the big Holley four-barrel carburetor and the two-stage nitrous injection system. The workmanship is immaculate throughout this car.

Fuel system plumbing on Wayne's 540 cubic inch Nova

Fuel system plumbing on Wayne’s 540 cubic inch Nova

Another guy I know, Ray, had his Hennessey Camaro there. Hennessy is an aftermarket performance car builder in Texas. Ray’s Hennessey is a HPE600. It features a supercharged LS3 V8 with 376 cubic inches of displacement producing 602 horsepower.

Ray's Hennessey Camaro

Ray’s Hennessey Camaro

Supercharged Hennessey LS3 motor

Hennessey LS3 engine with Magnussen TVS2300 supercharger

Hennessey plate under the hood

Hennessey plate under the hood

This really clean 1956 Chevy Bel Air caught my eye. That was the year I was born. It featured a swiveling driver’s seat – it swiveled 90 degrees making it easy to enter or exit.

1956 Chevy Bel AIr

1956 Chevy Bel AIr

I also liked this 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra roadster replica.

1965 Shelby 427 Cobra replica

1965 Shelby 427 Cobra replica

The unshaded parking lot was hot. Cars left the show before the 3pm closing time. John was one of them. After grabbing a fish taco plate at Seńor Taco, I met John and Mike Hall at Lucky Lou’s for a cold one. Since it was only 2:30pm, I went for a cold Bud Light – it was too early to drink my usual IPA.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing and reading. Donna went grocery shopping then prepared balsamic chicken breasts with peppers and onions over spinach tagliatelle nests. It was delicious.

Balsalmic chicken breasts with peppers and onions over spinach taglia telle

Balsalmic chicken breasts with peppers and onions over spinach tagliatelle nests

After dinner we watched a couple of episodes of Sons of Anarchy, but couldn’t get into it.

This morning, Donna went out for a 30 mile bicycle ride. I hung out and finished the book I was reading. I planned to go to the hardware store for a few things I need to continue working on some projects but they’re closed for Easter Sunday.

Donna usually makes a traditional Irish dinner of corned beef, cabbage and soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day. That didn’t work out this year, so she’s making it today for our Easter dinner. I’ll tell you about it later.

Today is another warm day – the temperature should be near 90 degrees. We’ll have the same tomorrow before this heat spell breaks.

Stop, Drop and Roll

I’ve been a little sore the past couple of mornings. On Wednesday morning during my first pickleball game of the day, my opponent hit a lob over my head. I turned around to run to the back of the court to return the ball. Somehow my feet got tangled together and I was going down! I pulled my arms in and rolled as I hit the pavement. It worked pretty well – I didn’t bang my head or lose any skin. I feel it in my neck in the mornings though – I guess the fall really jolted it. My teammate said the roll was an awesome move and he was sure it prevented me from being injured.

This reminded me of something that happened about five years ago. Donna and I visited Greece and Turkey – we had a great trip. While we were on the Greek island of Naxos, we walked down the road along the beach to a restaurant we’d heard about. The restaurant was on a point where the highway forked. The sidewalk was raised a couple of feet above the roadway near the entrance to the restaurant.

We had an early dinner and the place was nearly empty when we arrived. We saw raki on the drink menu and decided to try it as an aperitif. Raki is a popular drink in Turkey – it’s similar to ouzo found on the Greek mainland and has an anisette flavor. Our waitress was enthusiastic about raki and told me they had several different brands on hand. After our meal, the waitress joined us with three glasses of raki – she drank one with us. Then she appeared with another brand of raki for us to sample. The raki is very easy to drink and doesn’t seem very high in alcohol.

It was dark out when we were ready to leave and the restaurant had filled with parties at most of the patio tables. After I stepped out the front door and turned to my right, I looked back at Donna said “Watch your step.” The raki was much stronger than I thought – later I found out it was 90 proof. I was a little wobbly. The next thing I knew my left foot was off the high sidewalk. My foot hung in the air for second as I realized I was about to fall into the street. Rather than falling to the pavement a couple of feet below me, I reacted by pushing off hard with my right leg. I tucked my chin in and launched into a forward roll.

My momentum coupled with the height of the sidewalk above the street allowed me to do a complete flip in the air and land in the street on my feet. I continued to walk along like I did it on purpose. People dining on the patio witnessed this feat and gave me a round of applause. Donna stood on the sidewalk dumbfounded. We laughed so hard as we walked home from there without further incident.

On Thursday afternoon, I made a stop at Lucky Lou’s. Donna has been saving fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. I brought a bag of scraps to give to Mike and Jodi Hall – they have at least four desert tortoises in their yard. The tortoises love citrus and vegetables. While I was there, I saw Wayne pull up in his ’63 Nova. I posted about this hot rod before. I took a few pictures of it in the parking lot. It’s hard to believe something like this is driven on the street.

Wayne's '63 Nova

Wayne’s ’63 Nova

Look at the size of those rear tires

Look at the size of those rear tires

Super clean installation of the dash panel

Super clean installation of the dash panel

I didn’t stay at Lou’s for very long. I wanted to get back to Towerpoint RV Resort for their annual end-of-season dinner. They had tables set up around the pools and bar areas. They set up for a crowd of 1,000 people. Towerpoint (Cal Am) provided free sloppy joes with coleslaw and chips and 25-cent drinks (soft drinks or beer). The 25-cent drinks were a fundraiser for the park’s charitable volunteer group called Squires.

Some of the crowd by the pool area

Some of the crowd by the pool area

More of the dinner crowd

More of the dinner crowd

They had a bandstand and live music. The band was very good – they played a mix of classic rock and country music. Donna hoop danced to the music and had a blast. She was invited to come to the sock hop put on by the pickleball group next year – the organizer is planning to have a hula hoop contest.

Live music

Live music

I wore myself out Friday morning. Donna and I played in the open social session at the pickleball courts from 8am to 10am. Then I signed up for the 3.5-level round robin. This had me playing until noon.

I spent the afternoon relaxing with a book. At 5:30pm, we went to the Roma Cafe Ristorante on Main Street east of Power Road (map). We had a reservation to meet up with our nomadic friends, Brett and Cheri Miller. It’s been a year since our paths last crossed. We enjoyed a leisurely meal and caught up with each other over the next two and a half hours. It was a good time with good food and we plan to get together again in a couple of weeks. Roma Cafe serves a very laid back, European-like dinner. No rush – take your time and enjoy. It’s family-operated and they make you feel at home.

Blurry self-shot photo - me, Donna, Brett and Cheri

Blurry self-shot photo – me, Donna, Brett and Cheri

This morning, Donna took off to Scottsdale on the Spyder to meet up with her friend, Stevie-Ann Rineheart, for breakfast. I’m lazing about taking a break from pickleball and reading a book. The warmer than usual weather returned – we can expect highs near 90 degrees for the next few days before we get back to more seasonable mid-70s.

Trailer Project – Part Two

After Donna proofread my post yesterday, she headed out on the Spyder to meet her friend Julia in Scottsdale. It was about a 20-mile ride each way. It was Donna’s first time riding the Spyder on the freeway – she took the loop 202 to the 101 to Old Town Scottsdale. They had lunch and visited at Arcadia Farms Cafe on east 1st Avenue. Donna thought very highly of the restaurant – food, service, ambiance. What more can you ask for?

When she came home, she told me she felt a vibration in the footpegs at ~5,100 rpm at 70 mph. Donna is pretty sensitive to these things and always tells me to see if I think there’s a problem.

I spent the afternoon working on the trailer while Donna was away. I wanted to get the SteepGrade bike rack installation figured out and finalized. I don’t have any affiliation with this company – Donna found them online and although not inexpensive, it looked like a good fit for us. With our new 8.5-foot wide trailer, I have room to secure the bicycles on the floor across the trailer. A little work with a tape measure had me visualizing how it could work.

I like to balance the load in the trailer as much as possible. This means some heavy stuff needs to be in front of the axles to offset weight behind the axles. Side-to-side weight is also a consideration. I think I have it pretty well sussed-out at this point. We have three bicycles – two road bikes and my mountain bike. They will travel just ahead of the axles cross-ways in the trailer. There’s enough room for me to walk past the bikes on the right side of the trailer to access the rear portion when needed. The SteepGrade racks mount the front fork with the wheel removed. The wheel is then fastened to a holder that fits over the top tube of the bike. This makes for a compact arrangement of the bikes. I needed to add some D-rings to the trailer to attach the tie-downs for the bikes.

D-rings and tape measure - measure twice

D-rings and tape measure – measure twice

I used one-inch self-drilling screws to attach the D-rings to the steel wall studs in the trailer.

This is how they'll ride

This is how they’ll ride

I think I’ll put a furniture pad over the bike in the center to prevent damage if they should move about as we travel down the road.


I wouldn’t want them to contact each other

This photo shows how the system works.

The set up on my Specialized Crave mountain bike

The set up on my Specialized Crave mountain bike

I also installed tie-down points for the rear of the Spyder. The front wheels will be fastened to the flush-mount rings that came with the Interstate car hauler trailer.

Meanwhile I’d treated the burn on my right leg – see yesterday’s post – with 100% aloe vera gel. It seems to be helping. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into any kind of a big deal.

I rode the Spyder to Red, White and Brew after Donna came home. I made a pass at 5,100 rpm at 70 mph to check out the vibration she felt. The Spyder is powered by a Rotax 998cc 60-degree V-twin engine. This layout is inherently unbalanced. The narrow 60-degree layout makes for a compact front-to-rear dimension – which is good for a motorcycle. Rotax compensates for the imbalance by employing counter-balance shafts in the engine. However, counter-balance shafts can’t eliminate all vibrations at all engine speeds. There will always be certain engine speeds that result in vibration. In my opinion, the foot peg vibration Donna felt at 5,100 rpm is a normal result of the inherent imbalance of a 60-degree V-twin engine.

Donna prepared turmeric chicken thighs for dinner. This is a dish she’s prepared before. This time she felt like the spice was missing its usual kick. The chicken was still tasty – just not the same as before. After thinking about it, she realized that she’s had that bottle of spice for 3-4 years – time for some fresh spice! In the future she’ll buy turmeric in smaller quantities.

3_23dnrplTimeric chicken with rice and asparagus

Turmeric chicken with rice and asparagus

Today we’ll have another typical March day in central Arizona with temperatures reaching 80 degrees. After pickleball, I’ll continue work on the trailer. I have a couple of other projects that I need to attend to before we leave here.

Ouch, That Hurts

I failed to mention in my last post that Sunday marked the beginning of the Formula 1 and Moto GP racing seasons. The Formula 1 race was in Australia and I recorded it. Fernando Alonso had a frightening crash – it didn’t look survivable but he walked away from it. It proves the safety of the current car design. The Moto GP race was a night race in Qatar. It was an entertaining race, I’m looking forward to the season. Moto GP is being televised on a channel called beIn Sports. I had to upgrade my DISH network programming to get this channel. It looks like we’re in for better coverage than we had on Fox in previous years.

Tuesday was a laid back day. After pickleball, I did exactly that – I laid back and read a book. You can choose to do that when you’re retired. At 3pm, Donna rode the Spyder to her piano lesson. When she came back, I took the Spyder to the Elks Lodge to follow up once again. The guy there told me that my best bet would be to come between 9am and noon to talk to the secretary directly.

After I left the Elks Lodge, I stopped at Lucky Lou’s. I found Mike Hall and a couple of the guys there. We sat together for a couple of brews and talked. On the way out, I saw a Harley parked next to the Spyder. What caught my eye was the front wheel. This bike had a huge front wheel. I’ve never seen a motorcycle with a 26-inch rim before.

Look at the diameter of that front wheel

Look at the diameter of that front wheel



Donna prepared shrimp skewers which I cooked on the Weber Q. She served them with a delicious baby squash medley with feta cheese and kalamata olive bread.

Shrimp skewers hot off the grill

Shrimp skewers hot off the grill

I had a little trouble grilling the shrimp. The Weber Q ran out of propane a couple of minutes after I put the shrimp on. It was windy out and it took a few minutes to get the grill back up to temperature after I replaced the propane bottle. They came out fine though.

Shrimp skewer with baby squash assortment and kalamata olive bread

Shrimp skewer with baby squash assortment and kalamata olive bread

The wind had the palms swaying as I shot a photo of the sunset.


Palm trees swaying at sunset at Towerpoint RV Resort

This morning Donna and I played pickleball from 8am to 10am. I took a quick shower and rode the Spyder over to the Elks Lodge. I met the secretary and went over my story of applying for membership a month ago and also our plan to leave the area in April. It turned out my application had been mis-filed. He looked it over and said I should count on being at the orientation on April 18th and the induction on April 19th. So I guess we’ll be extending our stay here in Mesa, Arizona.

When I came home, I backed the Spyder into our site as usual. The wind had moved our awning mat. I grabbed it and pulled it back into place. As I did so my leg hit the end of the hot exhaust pipe on the Spyder. It burned my leg and it’s painful. Hopefully it won’t be too bad. I cooled it immediately but it still hurts. I’ll have to get started on my trailer project anyway while we have cooler weather.

Hotter than Usual

The weekend heat wave lingered on through Monday. I skipped Saturday morning pickleball as I rested my weary legs from playing all week. If you’re wondering what pickleball is all about, check this YouTube video.

Donna arranged a meet-up for the local minimalist group. We had four attendees and we spent some time talking about the full-time RV lifestyle. We showed them our coach and talked about other approaches such as travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers and class B & C coaches. Donna also gave them a tour of the RV park and talked about different parks we stay in. We enjoy being ambassadors for the full-time traveler way of life.

Donna with visitors from the minimalist group

Donna with visitors from the minimalist group

After a lazy afternoon trying to stay cool in the 90-degree weather, we went out to Baja Joe’s Mexican restaurant to have drinks and dinner with our friends Howard and Sara Graff. Baja Joe’s specializes in Mexican seafood dishes. Donna and Sara split a plate of a dozen oysters and each had a couple of fish tacos as well. I went for the enchilada stuffed with shrimp and crab. Howard had a large burrito – I’m not sure what it was filled with. We enjoyed the meal and talked for two hours before we headed home on the Spyder. It was well after dark, but driving the Spyder at night isn’t a problem. It has good lighting and I’m not concerned about potholes or being seen by other drivers like I was on the scooter.

On Sunday, I passed on the pickleball games again as I rested my legs. Despite the heat, Donna went out for a 24-mile bike ride that included some hill climbing. I spent most of the day reading as I’ve deferred some of my projects until the weather cools a bit. We’ve had temperatures at least 15 degrees above average for this time of year. I managed to lay out the new bike racks in the trailer and it looks like it’ll work out really well. I still need to install D-rings to strap the bikes down.

Donna and I were ready to get back to pickleball Monday morning. We arrived on the courts later than usual – I got there around 9am and Donna came about half an hour later. We waited so we wouldn’t be worn out when the 3.0 level round robin began. Last week I was asked to run the 3.0 group play on Monday. We had eight players sign up and we took over two courts and played for nearly two hours once the round robin started at 10am. It was hot out and that was enough physical activity for the day.

Later that day, I went back to the Mesa Elks Lodge to follow up on my application for membership. Something isn’t right – they keep telling I’ll be contacted in a few days but I never hear from them. Once again, I was told the secretary would call me. I’ll go back this afternoon if I don’t hear from them.

Today’s weather is supposed to be cooler – windy with a high of 80 degrees. Tomorrow is supposed to be cool again. I’ll have to quit putting off my projects and get some things done – tomorrow that is.

Tiring Day

Friday started out like most days here at Towerpoint RV Resort – Donna and I walked to the pickleball courts at the Sports Complex. We arrived right at 8am and were surprised at the number of people already there. We partnered for a couple of games then split up as the groups mixed. Two hours later, it was time for the 3.5 level round robin.

The guy running the round robin format invited me to stay and play. I had already played at least half a dozen games, but I decided to stay. I was happy to hear that he considered me a 3.5 level player. I think I’m at that level most of the time, but I need to improve my consistency. A couple of other players who wanted to stay weren’t allowed into the mix because their level of play wasn’t proficient enough to be competitive.

The round robin had 16 players. Everyone is assigned a number, then the numbers are assigned to a court. With 16 players, we used all four courts. We would play six games and each game is played with a different partner. It was fun but by the end I was exhausted.

I came home just before noon and had a quick lunch and shower. I wanted to put the new front tires on the Spyder. When I bought the Spyder, I could see the tread on the front tires looked good but I also saw they were the original tires. They had Department of Transportation (DOT) date codes showing 0309 – this means they were manufactured calendar week three of 2009.

DOT code 0309

DOT code 0309

DOT codes are a federal requirement. The first two digits are the calendar week and the second two digits are the year. If you have tires with a three-digit date code, they were manufactured before 2000 and need immediate replacement! Most experts agree that tire failure rate rises exponentially when the tires reach seven years after the date of manufacture. They don’t need to be used for seven years – they age in storage as well as in use. This link contains a presentation on tire age at a National Transportation Safety Board symposium.

I rode the Spyder over to Mike Hall’s shop. Mike and Jodi are away for a long weekend in California. Mike left me the keys to his shop and also keys to his Jeep. I used a floor jack to raise the front of the Spyder and removed the wheels. With the wheels in the back of the Jeep, I locked everything up and drove away. I stopped at our site and loaded up the new tires I had delivered, then continued on down Main Street to Steve’s Cycle shop. They were busy so I had to wait for nearly an hour to get the tires mounted and balanced.

The Spyder original equipment tires are Chinese made Kenda 165/65R14 tires. Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), the parent company of Can Am who makes the Spyder, markets these tires and tries to scare us into believing they are the only tire that should be used on these three-wheeled vehicles. They charge high prices for tires that perform below average.

The vehicle dynamics of the Can Am Spyder aren’t any different than that of an automobile. It certainly doesn’t require a motorcycle tire as the vehicle isn’t steered by leaning into a turn. The front wheels steer exactly as a car would and the double wishbone suspension is similar to many cars.

The tire size 165/65R14 is an odd size. Bridgestone makes a tire this size. So does Dunlop. The Bridgestones aren’t rated very high for traction and the Dunlop is over-priced in my opinion. The 175/65R14 size is more popular and has a number of tires to choose from. Many Can Am Spyder owners have replaced the original equipment with this size. The diameter of the tire is about half an inch larger – only about a 2% difference. It doesn’t affect the ABS or electronic vehicle stability program at all. I went with Kumho Solus TA11 tires.

The Spyder front fenders are fitted very close to the tire. I had to remove the mudguards and carefully get the new tires in place. It wasn’t easy.

Tight fitting front fenders

Tight fitting front fenders

The new tires have very positive reviews and seem to grip really well. Looking at the deep grooves in the tread, I think they’ll perform very well on wet roads.

Deep grooves to channel water and prevent aqua-planing

Deep grooves to channel water and prevent aqua-planing

By the time I finished mounting the tires and locking up the shop, it was past 3:30pm. I rode over to Red, White and Brew for a cold one. It was about 90 degrees out and a cold beer sounded really fine.

I came home just in time for Donna to remind me we were going to a pizza dinner at the tennis center. A member of the Alpine Coach Association organized the dinner for Alpine Coach owners at Towerpoint and in parks throughout the area. She had pizza delivered from Papa John’s and provided salad, paper plates and plastic utensils. You meet the nicest people with Alpine Coaches.

Alpine Coach pizza dinner

Alpine Coach pizza dinner

We sat and told each other stories of our travels and experiences with our Alpine Coaches. It was fun, but after about an hour and half, I needed to put my feet up. All the pickleball action in the morning and running around in the afternoon had me foot sore. My S Health app on my Samsung Galaxy recorded over 20,500 steps!

That's a lot of steps

That’s a lot of steps

The hot weather will continue – it’ll be another 90-degree day. That’s about 15 degrees above average for this time of year. We have a minimalist group meet-up that Donna organized later this morning. Other than that, today will be a rest and recuperation day.

Fuelish Thoughts

On Wednesday afternoon, Donna and I rode the Spyder to our CPA, George Montgomery’s place to prepare our tax return. We spent about 45 minutes going through things to be sure it was all clear. George is a former full-time RVer and knows what the lifestyle is all about and what deductions we’re entitled to.

After we left, we stopped at Sprouts at Higley and Southern Avenue to pick up a few items. We were in the store for maybe 15 minutes and it was hot out. When we left, I stowed the groceries in the front trunk – called the frunk on Spyder forums and fired up the Spyder. It didn’t seem happy – in fact, it seemed like it was only firing on one cylinder.

I pulled out of the parking lot onto Higley Road and stopped at the traffic light. The Spyder was running rough. I shifted to neutral and revved the engine, but it didn’t change anything. When the light turned green, I accelerated but the Spyder wasn’t so responsive. It was only hitting on one cylinder and the acceleration was sluggish. With the throttle wide open, I was thinking we had a fuel problem. To be precise, I was thinking we had a vapor lock situation in one of the fuel injectors.

Fuel refineries change their formulations seasonally. Fuel intended for use in the winter is more volatile with a higher concentration of light end components. This makes the fuel easier to ignite on a cold morning and the light end components don’t vaporize and pollute the air in cold temperatures like they would in high ambient temperatures. Summer blend fuel is less volatile and doesn’t vaporize as easily thus reducing air pollution.

Here in Arizona we have unseasonably hot weather. Average temperatures at this time of year show highs in the mid-70s and lows around 50 degrees. We’ve had highs in the mid to upper 80s. I don’t think the fuel refineries anticipated the hot weather.

Back to the Spyder issue. The high ambient temperature combined with a 15-minute heat soak was causing an issue. Heat soak occurs when a hot engine is shut down for a short period of time. During this time, the underhood – or under tupperware in the case of the Spyder – increases. That’s right- the engine coolant temperature and surrounding air temperature actually rises after the engine is shut down.

When we were leaving Sprouts, the engine temperature was high. I think the fuel in one of the injectors was boiling – causing a vapor lock situation. The engine wasn’t making much power. When we left the stoplight on Higley at Southern, I gave full throttle to accelerate away with a misfiring engine. After a couple of seconds, as we cleared the intersection, the fuel flowed through the injectors and the Spyder had full power. It took off like a rocket! Luckily Donna had her right arm around my waist as she was lowering her helmet face shield with her left hand or she might have fallen off the back!

Today I plan to replace the front tires on the Spyder – they have plenty of tread, but I’ll explain why I’m replacing them in my next post.

Trailer Project – Part One

In my last post, I said I expected a change from the routine here at Towerpoint RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona. I’ve been hitting the pickleball courts every morning then relaxing and reading in the afternoons before finding friends at the pub. Well, the parcels that I mentioned in my last post were delivered late, so Tuesday was a repeat of the previous days.

Donna bought a seven-pound whole chicken and we roasted it on the Traeger grill/smoker Tuesday evening. It took a little longer than the typical five-pound chicken but it came out great. We went with the usual rub of Sweet Rub O’Mine to spice the chicken. As always, the roasted chicken was great. I checked the internal temperature at 90 minutes since it was such a large bird and found it needed a little more time. When I checked it again 10 minutes later, I feared I’d overcooked it, but it was fine – juicy and tasty.

Another Traeger chicken - it's not burnt, the rib turns black with no burnt taste at all

Another Traeger chicken – it’s not burnt, the rub turns black with no burnt taste at all

Donna served it with steamed broccoli and fried sweet potato

Donna served the grilled chicken with steamed broccoli and roasted sweet potato

On Wednesday morning, we hit the pickleball courts early as the weather is heating up with a high pressure system stalled over the southwest. We expected temperatures to reach 90 degrees in the afternoon.

After several games, we came home around 10:30am and I set to work on my project for the day. I’d ordered cabinets to mount in our new 8.5 x 20′ car carrier trailer. My thinking is to reorganize the way we use the trailer. In our old 6 x 12′ cargo trailer, I had things stored in crates stacked on top of each other and hung bicycles from the ceiling. I’d like to organize it in a way that allows me to access and find things without unstacking crates and stepping over stuff on the trailer floor.

After pickleball Wednesday morning, I went to work in the trailer. The cabinets I received required some assembly.

Okay - cabinet in a box

Okay – cabinet in a box

Some assembly required

Some assembly required

The Suncast Wall Storage cabinets I ordered weren’t too difficult to assemble. I think they’ll make it easier for me to organize and access things I frequently use in the trailer.

Cabinet mounted

Cabinet mounted

Job done

Job done

I mounted two cabinets – one on each side at the forward end of the wheel wells. I think this is a well-balanced placement and I can add additional cabinets to the rear if I decide to do so. Of course the installation didn’t go without a hitch. I had 1-1/2 inch #10 self-drilling screws on hand. Wouldn’t you know it, they were a hair short of what I needed to tap into the steel upright wall studs to mount the cabinet to the trailer walls. So, as usual, the project meant a trip to the hardware store for 2″ self-tapping screws. I measured carefully to ensure the screws wouldn’t hit the outer trailer skin.

By the time I’d finished this, it was nearly 2pm. Donna, who had been busy working on her own projects, suddenly realized we had an appointment with our CPA George Montgomery to prepare our taxes at 2pm. She called George and we set our appointment back to 3pm. George is a former full-timer and understands the nomadic lifestyle as well as the tax implications.

Donna pan fried a wild Alaskan salmon filet for dinner and served it over an orzo salad with cherry tomatoes, spinach and feta cheese – so good.

Pan fried Alaskan salmon filet with

Pan fried Alaskan salmon filet with orzo salad

I had another delivery on Tuesday – new front tires for the Spyder – and two deliveries late Wednesday. At 8:15pm, UPS showed up with an order I placed with Amsoil for the Spyder and an order I placed online with Sears for a hydraulic floor jack. My old jack was stolen by those Dirty, Rotten Thieves and I need one to service the Spyder. It’ll also come in handy if we ever suffer a flat on the trailer down the road. I have a spare trailer tire, but without a jack, I would need roadside assistance.

It was a warm day yesterday with the temperature in the mid-80s. Today is supposed to be hot with the temperature reaching an unseasonably high of 90 degrees. I’m off to the pickleball courts before it gets too hot to play.


*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!