Category Archives: Arizona

How an RV 50 Amp Circuit Works

Lately I’ve been seeing questions about the electrical power supply in RVs. Specifically, in one Facebook RV group, someone asked how large a generator should they buy for their travel trailer. The answers given by some people were confusing or downright incorrect. I’ll take a minute to try to explain how this works as simply as I can.

Recreational vehicles typically are wired for a 30 amp or 50 amp power supply. This is where the confusion begins. It seems like a 50 amp power supply would be capable of supplying 20 amps more than the 30 amp power supply. It doesn’t work that way. The 30 amp power supply uses a three-prong plug – a hot lead, a neutral and a ground. All current flows through one hot lead. A 50 amp power supply uses a four-prong lead – two hot leads (L1 and L2), a neutral and a ground. Each hot lead – L1 and L2 – can provide up to 50 amps of current.

An RV wired for 50 amp service has the power outlets and electrical consumers split into two separate circuits. Each circuit has the capability of providing up to 50 amps of current. For example, L1 might provide power to the front air conditioning unit, the microwave/convection oven and half of the wall outlets. L2 might provide power for the rear air conditioning unit, the converter/battery charger and the rest of the wall outlets. A 30 amp coach has all of the consumers and outlets on one power supply circuit. So, we can see that the 50 amp service can really supply up to 100 amps while the 30 amp service is limited to 30 amps.

Back to the question – how much power do I need from a generator? To answer this, we have to understand a few terms. First is voltage. Voltage is electromotive force – think of it as the pressure creating the flow of electricity. Amps describe current – it tells us how much current is flowing through the circuit. Watts describe power – the rate of electrical transfer. We need to understand watts because that’s how electrical consumers are rated and it’s also how generators are rated. The formula is simple – watts = volts X amps.

In a coach wired for 50 amp service we can use the formula to see that when the coach is plugged in to a 50 amp service, we have 120 volts times 50 amps = 6,000 watts on L1 and 6,000 watts on L2 – 12,000 total watts ( sometimes listed as 12kW). Does this mean I need a 12kW generator? That would be expensive.

Looking at the information regarding typical appliance loads in my Onan generator manual, I see the following:

Appliance                                               Load (watts)

Air conditioner                                       1400 – 2000

Battery charger/converter                     300 – 2000

Microwave/convection oven                  1,000 – 1500

Electric hair dryer                                     1000 -1500

Television                                                    200 -600

Coffee maker                                              550 – 750

As you can see, anything with a heating element will require quite a bit of power. Also, large electric motors like the one in an air conditioner also requires a lot of power. The power requirement drops after start-up. In other words, the maximum power requirement for an electric motor comes when the motor is first activated, then drops as the  motor RPM stabilizes. Likewise, a heating element draws the highest amount of current at start-up and the power requirement drops as it heats up. Our Dometic Penguin II air conditioners have a delay built in on start-up and both units never start at the same time – there’s a few seconds of delay before the second unit kicks in.

Our coach is wired for 50 amp service, but our generator is a 7.5kW Onan Quiet Diesel. It provides about 30 amps of current on each circuit. So L1 can provide enough power to supply about 3,600 watts of electrical consumers. Likewise L2 can provide 3,600 watts. With the circuits on the coach split, I see that this should be adequate. The only issue I have is if I want to run the front air conditioner, the microwave/convection oven and the coffee maker at the same time, I may overload the circuit and trip the breaker on the generator. So, if we’re cooking breakfast and making coffee, I don’t run the front air conditioner at the same time. If we need AC, I can run the rear air conditioner as it’s wired to L2.

On shore power, we have more than enough power – 12,000 watts total – to run everything without concern. I hope this makes sense and my simplified explanation helps someone understand the power requirements and how to choose generator size.

We’re continuing to enjoy great weather here in Mesa. We really like Viewpoint Golf and RV Resort. I’m hitting the pickleball courts four or five times a week and Donna has been playing more and she’s really stepping her game up. That’s all for now.

 

Bachelor Days in Mesa

I haven’t posted in a week – that’s a long layoff for me. The thing is, I just haven’t had anything exciting to add. Donna was away from Thursday morning, January 4th through Wednesday evening January 10th. While she was away, I settled into a fairly boring routine – I wasn’t bored, it just wasn’t anything to write about.

I started most of my days on the pickleball court. Then I would come home, make lunch, feed the cat and clean her litter box. Then do dishes and sweep the floor. With my domestic chores done, I’d read for a while before heading out for happy hour with the guys at Lucky Lou’s. On Monday, I hit happy hour at Red, White and Brew and caught up with my favorite bartender there, Kasondra.

We had a cold front move into the area on Tuesday afternoon. With it came wind and rain Tuesday night. I covered the Spyder in anticipation of rain. When I looked outside before going to bed, I noticed the cover for the Spyder was gone! The wind had carried it away. I went out with a flashlight and found the cover on the next street to the north of us. I covered the Spyder again and made sure I had it secured with the bungee hooks.

Meanwhile Donna spent the weekend with her brother and his family in North Miami, Florida. It wasn’t too warm there – the east coast was having a cold snap that extended all the way down to south Florida. Mark had rented a house for a month there and hosted a party on Saturday for their Miami friends. On Sunday, Mark rented a pontoon boat for the day and they traveled south on the Intracoastal Waterway and to the Miami River.

After the weekend, Donna went up to Boca Raton to visit her friend, Lynne Ogren. She spent the night in Boca Raton then moved down to Fort Lauderdale to visit her friend, Karen Dayan, who also lives in Boca Raton, but had a rented a room at the W Hotel. She had a good time visiting her friends and hanging out.

View of the Intracoastal Waterway from Donna’s room at the W in Fort Lauderdale.

Another view of the ICW and the Atlantic Ocean on the left

On Wednesday morning, I went to the pickleball courts which were very wet – it had rained most of the night. I pushed the water off of the court with a roller made for drying the court for about half an hour, then rain drops started falling again and I gave up. I played Thursday morning with Donna and this morning I played with the 3.0-3.5 group. I’m prepping for a tournament tomorrow and I felt like I played well today. Hopefully it’ll carry over to tomorrow’s tournament.

Rain clouds just before sunset

Thursday evening I went to Lucky Lou’s for happy hour. Donna walked there and arrived around 4:30pm to join me. She wanted to make the four-mile walk to get her exercise before she had a beer. We got take-out from the Thai food place next door to Lou’s and brought it home for dinner.

The mornings have been a bit chilly – upper 40s to low 50s. The afternoons have been nice with temperatures in the low 70s after the cold front passed. This weekend we should see mid to upper 70s and no rain in the forecast for the coming week.

Donna asked me to share this article with you that she wrote on behalf of The Home Depot for KOA about choosing the right RV grill. It was published just this week. Enjoy!

Snow Birds

We have a variety of birds visiting our site at Viewpoint Golf and RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona. Snowbirds aren’t just people from the north wintering here – a lot of real birds also come to the southwest for the nice winter weather. We set up a hummingbird feeder with a suction cup on our living room window. It soon attracted a number of hummingbirds that visit throughout the day.

Before long we noticed other birds also came to the feeder. I’m guessing they’re attracted to the smell of the sweet nectar. We had finches perching on the feeder and I even saw a woodpecker – I’m pretty sure it was a gila woodpecker – drinking the nectar from the feeder. This prompted Donna to suggest setting up our finch feeder.

The finch feeder is a wooden tube with a mesh sock hanging from the bottom. I filled it with nyger seed. Nyger is also spelled niger and sometimes it’s called thistle. It doesn’t come from a thistle plant though, it’s the seed of the African yellow daisy. It’s grown in Africa and parts of India and is also used in local cuisine there. The name niger comes from it’s origin in Nigeria. In 1998 the wild bird food industry trademarked the name nyger. It’s a favorite food for finches and other birds feed on it too. Finches can live on it exclusively and the high fat and protein content help them get through cold winter nights.

Finch feeder

Now we have finches and sparrows in the orange tree on our site flitting back and forth from the feeder and tree. Some of nyger seed falls to the ground and in the late afternoon quail come to our site and pick at it. It’s fun to watch the birds.

Wednesday evening our friends Joel and Lana picked us for happy hour and dinner at The Hub Grill and Bar down on Baseline Road at Sossaman – a few miles from here. The food is good and they have a wide variety of beers on tap. We came here once before with our friends, Hans and Lisa. I had the pot roast sandwich – it’s a mid-western take on a French dip. It has sliced pot roast beef on a hoagie roll with mozarella and is served with a bowl of brown gravy for dipping instead of aus jus. It was tasty and I brought half of it home.

We came home early. Donna had already packed for her trip to Florida but had to be up early for her flight. She was heading to Miami to meet up with her brother and his family. He rented a place in Miami to celebrate his birthday and get away from the cold weather in Philadelphia for a month. It turns out Donna had to pack some cool weather clothing – they’re having unseasonably cold weather there, but it should warm up over the weekend. Meanwhile, we’re having great weather here in Mesa.

I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night and Donna was up at 4:30am. I got out of bed to see her off – I’ll be fending for myself for the next six days. I didn’t take much advantage of the nice weather on Thursday – I mostly read and napped, then met the guys for a happy hour beer at Lucky Lou’s. The temperature reached 77 degrees.

This morning I played pickleball for a couple of hours and I’m looking forward to another day of abundant sunshine and mid-70s temperatures.

Goodbye 2017

Happy New Year first of all! Donna and I spent a quiet New Year’s Eve mostly binge watching early season reruns of Breaking Bad. Today is the first day of 2018. As we look forward to the year ahead, it’s always nice to reflect on the past year.

2017 was an eventful year filled with many good times for us. We started the year in San Diego, then moved to Arizona where we spent a month at RV Renovators getting the wall on our coach repaired. We stayed in Mesa, Arizona at Viewpoint until mid-April, then returned to San Diego for a month.

Our travels took us north through California. We stayed at the Escapees Park of the Sierras at Coarsegold where we met new friends and fellow pickleball enthusiasts, Joe and Melinda. Then we moved to Sacramento where Donna found excellent bike trails and I reminisced about my elementary school days there. We also found a fantastic boondocking spot at Lake Shastina.

We continued north to moochdock in my daughter, Alana’s, driveway in Arlington, Washington. We were there for our granddaughter, Lainey’s, graduation from high school. Heading east from there we stopped in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where we were able to hook up with my high school buddy, Gary Stemple and spend a day on the lake.

We moved on to South Dakota where Donna had to get a replacement driver’s license – she lost hers somewhere in San Diego. Next up was one of our big events for the year – the Register Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). It was a bucket list item for Donna and we spent a fun-filled week with our friends Jeff and Deb Spencer and also their friends Geoff, Tom and Fred.

Next up was the total eclipse of the sun in Nebraska. Our next major event was crewing for the Hearts A’Fire hot air balloon owned by our friends Brad and Jessica Rice. It was our third straight year at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

These are just a few of the highlights. In 2017, the states we visited were California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. If you ever want to look up a post about a certain area, you can search for posts by state by clicking on the state name in the categories on the sidebar of this page.

Saturday night Donna prepared green curry shrimp and vegetables over brown basmati rice for dinner served with a side of grilled baby bok choy. On New Year’s Eve she topped that by making a bowl of her famous split pea soup served with a portobello mushroom stuffed with crab meat.

Saturday’s green curry shrimp

New Year’s Eve plates with a glass of wine

I often mention our meals because it illustrates the fact that we’re not camping out. This is our lifestyle and we don’t eat out often or roast hot dogs over a campfire. We mostly dine on nutritious, delicious meals that Donna prepares in the galley of our motorhome.

The last day of 2017 was cloudy here at Viewpoint RV & Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona. The temperature only reached 71 degrees but it felt chillier. Today we have abundant sunshine and it feels nice. The high should reach the mid 70s and the nice weather is forecast to continue for coming week. We don’t know where 2018 will take us, but I’m sure we’re in for more good times and great places.

Runaway Spyder

We’ve settled in at Viewpoint RV & Golf Resort after our first week here in Mesa, Arizona. Viewpoint is an age-qualified community catering to people 55 and older. It covers nearly a square mile with most sites occupied by park model modular homes. There are 331 RV sites with full hook-ups for motorhomes or trailers. There are more than 1,000 sites total.

Our spacious site 5245 after sunrise

The park boasts of 75,000 square feet of recreation space and the residents tend to be very active. There are two golf courses – an 18-hole championship course and a nine-hole executive course – plus a pro shop. There’s a softball field. They have 10 tennis courts and five pickleball courts. There are four heated swimming pools and seven spas. There are two fitness centers and a woodshop. Also onsite are a restaurant and bar, hair and nail salon and a massage therapist. They have a number of clubs including a hiking club that Donna likes to go out with.

I’m not a golfer, so the activity I mainly participate in is pickleball, of course! Pickleball is a great sport and Donna and I find places to play most of the time throughout the country. In San Diego, we play on indoor courts set up on hardwood basketball courts. The indoor game is played with a softer ball with a thinner wall construction than the outdoor balls. They all weigh about the same – between 0.8 ounces and 0.9 ounces.

Here at Viewpoint, we play on outdoor courts. We’ve joined the pickleball club and play frequently – five days a week for me – with the 3.0-3.5 group. The level of play is quite high and many of the players in 3.0-3.5 group would actually qualify as 4.0 level players.

In San Diego, the style of play on the indoor courts involved a lot of hard hits and slamming the ball. Although lob shots were possible, you have to be aware of the ceiling as hitting the ceiling with the ball is deemed out of bounds. Many players there hit hard shots, low and fast from the baseline.

Here at Viewpoint, the game is played mostly with a more advanced style. In higher level pickleball, you’ll see the point set up with a deep serve. The ball must bounce on the court in the proper area before the serve can be returned. The return of serve must bounce anywhere on the court before it can be hit with the third shot. These rules apply both indoors and outdoors. Higher level players will hit a drop shot on the third shot. The idea is to drop the ball in the non-volley zone. This is an area covering the first seven feet beyond the net – players refer to it as the kitchen. If you enter this zone, you cannot hit a volley – that is, you must let the ball bounce before you can hit, no striking the ball in the air before it bounces.

This rule keeps players from standing at the net and swatting the ball. The way we play here, many times a successful third shop drop is followed with a dink. A dink is when you hit the ball softly – just enough to clear the 36-inch high net and drop it into your opponents’ kitchen. A series of dinks will follow as each player tries to hit a certain angle or spot that will create an opening or one of the players will hit the ball too high or beyond the kitchen and the opposing player will pounce with a hard winner.

This is a very satisfying way to play. It requires more control and skill than just trying to hit winners from the baseline or slamming the ball back and forth. If my explanation doesn’t make sense, check out championship pickleball on YouTube. You’ll see what I mean as this is how championship level pickleball is played.

Sunset reflecting off the Superstition Mountains east of Viewpoint

Last evening Donna and I went to Lucky Lou’s for a happy hour beer with the guys. When we came home I parked the Spyder in front of the trailer. This morning it was on the gravel next to the trailer! I pulled it back onto the concrete – I didn’t release the parking brake to move it. I was sure I had set the brake the night before. I checked it and the brake was set, it just wasn’t set hard enough! A neighbor came over and said the Spyder had rolled into the street so he pushed back into the site on the gravel next to the trailer. Mystery solved. I’ll have to double check the parking brake from now on.

True to the forecast, the weather warmed up as the week wore on. Yesterday we had a high of 79 degrees. The mornings are cool though with overnight lows in the 40s. Today we should see upper 70s with clear blue skies.

The Cat and the Hummingbird

Before we left San Diego, our friend, Sini, gave us a hummingbird feeder. This feeder attaches to window glass with a suction cup. We used it at Mission Bay RV Resort and have it set up again here at Viewpoint RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona. I attached it high on the living room window right next to Ozark the cat’s window perch.

Ozark loves napping in the window and now she has entertainment there as well. At first the hummingbirds were a bit skittish and Ozark would try to reach them. She would make little cat sounds and paw at the glass or lunge forward. She soon learned that she cannot get to the hummingbirds. The glass has a solar film that reflects like a one-way mirror. Most of the time the hummingbirds can’t see Ozark, but when they do, it doesn’t really matter. They’ve also learned that Ozark can’t get to them.

Ozark and a hummingbird eyeing each other

I’d almost forgotten how spectacular the desert sunsets can be in Arizona. With a few high, thin clouds, the sunsets are fiery and colorful. On Christmas Eve, I shot a photo of the sunset here at Viewpoint.

Arizona sunset

Donna baked brownies on Christmas Eve. One batch was chocolate gingerbread brownies and another batch was almond butter (gluten-free) brownies. On Christmas morning, we went to the pickleball courts and worked on a few drills, then some players came along and we played several games. Pickleball is played at a high level here and we had a lot of fun.

Then Donna prepared asparagus spears wrapped with prosciutto and boursin herb cheese as appetizers. We were invited to spend Christmas afternoon and dinner with our friends, Howard and Sara Graff. Sara’s brother, Stanley, was also visiting from Denver. Donna brought the appetizers and brownies.

The Graff’s Christmas tree – if you knew Sara you would understand the elf legs sticking out!

Sara and Stanley tag-teamed in the kitchen and prepared a complicated recipe for chicken paprikas, also known as paprikash. Chicken paprikash is a Hungarian meal. The chicken is simmered for an extended period of time to infuse paprika and other spices. It’s served with boiled egg noodles that are like small dumplings and a thick, creamy sauce. Although Donna had paprikash before, it was a new dish for me and it was delicious. The egg noodle dumplings reminded me of of a German version called spätzle that I had several years ago in Munich.

Chicken paprikash

We visited for several hours and talked about a wide range of subjects. We also sampled a couple of Scotch whiskys that I hadn’t tried before. One was Bruichladdich Laddie – an Isley (say eye-luh) single malt Scotch that paradoxically is unpeated. Most Isley Scotch is heavily peated and has a very smoky flavor. In fact, another Bruichladdich offering called Octomore is considered the most heavily peated malt. Laddie is a very smooth Scotch Whisky.

The other Scotch I tried was Talisker Storm. This is a no-age statement bottling that comes from the Isle of Skye – I think Talisker is the only distillery on Skye. This was a flavorful and complex whiskey. I picked up a hint of sea salt – I wouldn’t call it briny, but it has a hint of saltiness that permeates the cask while aging by the sea. A great drink in my opinion.

Before we knew it, it was going on 6pm and we said our goodbyes until next time. It was a nice way to relax on Christmas day.

We had plenty of action on the pickleball courts again this morning. The mornings have been cold – the overnight temperature dropped to the low 40s. We expect to see close to 70 degrees this afternoon with a warming trend for the rest of the week. We might have high 70s by Friday. I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas regardless of weather wherever you are.

Winter Solstice

Our friend Sini left Mission Bay RV Resort on Monday and flew from San Diego to Seattle to spend Christmas with friends and family. She left the keys for her Saturn Vue with us so we could use her car – we had a plan for her to retrieve her keys when she returned. The car was a big help when I started packing our gear on Tuesday. I was able to load our chairs, ladder, Weber Q grill and a few odds and ends, then drive over to the lot where our cargo trailer was stored. Thanks, Sini!

On Tuesday evening, I rode the Spyder over to Offshore Tavern and Grill and Donna walked up to meet me for a final happy hour and taco Tuesday dinner. We said our farewells to the guys and to Leann, the bartender. We’ll be back in September – I’ve booked three months beginning September 25th.

I only had a few things left to pack on Wednesday morning. Donna went to her early morning boot camp for her final workout. Once again, our neighbor from Louisiana, Larry, loaded the Traeger smoker grill into his van and we drove it over to the trailer. Pulling the Traeger on its small plastic wheels is a chore, driving it over in the van was nice. Thanks, Larry! And thanks, Brenda (Larry’s wife) for the yummy homemade pralines!

I checked all of our tire pressures and added air all the way around. The trailer tires needed air as well. It’s common for tires to lose a pound or two of pressure per month and we’d been sitting for two months. Plus the ambient temperature was cooler which also affects the air pressure in the tires. I’m a real stickler on proper tire pressures. Underinflation is the number one cause of tire failure and a blowout is no joke.

Over the past eight months or so, when we’re packing up, Ozark the cat senses something is up. Before we know it she’ll hide behind the sofa and remain there until we reach our destination. I don’t know if being stationary for two months relieved her travel anxiety, but she didn’t hide. She ended up riding quietly in her crate.

We pulled out of our site at 11:30 am and hitched the trailer. Over by the boat dock at the overflow lot, an osprey perched on a lamp post watched us. Ospreys are sometimes called fish hawks as fish is their main source of food. They excel at plucking fish from a body of water and are often seen around Mission Bay.

Osprey on a lamp post

We were rolling down the road shortly before noon, making the familiar drive out I-8 east. We made the usual stop east of Laguna summit at the Buckman Springs rest area for lunch. Donna made ham sandwiches and we sat outdoors at a picnic table to enjoy a little sunshine with our lunch.

It was an uneventful drive to the Imperial Dunes where we exited I-8 at Ogilby Road. Road construction is ongoing on I-8 and the westbound ramps for Ogilby are closed, but the exit and entry ramps on the eastbound side are open.

We missed the turnoff for our usual spot in the desert, but it didn’t matter. We turned off on the east side of Ogilby at the next obvious trail into the desert – it’s BLM land and dispersed camping is allowed in this area for up to 14 days. I was ready for a break from driving and we were set up in no time – not much to it when we’re boondocking. We had a nice, level spot and I didn’t even put the jacks down. I just popped out the slides and got comfortable.

Quiet sunset in the desert

We remarked how quiet it was out in the desert. There were other RVs there, but no one was within a quarter mile of us. To the west, we saw only open desert out the windshield. I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep as I didn’t sleep well the night before.

It wasn’t to be though. Shortly after we retired for the night, the wind kicked up. We had howling gusts of wind that rocked the coach and had the slide toppers flapping. I slept fitfully. We wanted an early start Thursday morning, so I was a little short on sleep again.

We were only about 10 miles from the Arizona border. Once we crossed the border, we continued for another 12 miles to Fortuna Road. We stopped there so I could pick up water filter elements at Al’s RV Store. This shop is well-stocked and has just anything you might need for your RV. And the parking lot is big enough to park a big rig with easy entry and exit. From there, we crossed over I-8 to the Pilot-Flying J on the north side. I topped up the tank with 63 gallons of fuel at $2.70/gallon – about 75 cents less per gallon than diesel fuel costs in California!

We bypassed the usual shortcut through Maricopa and continued on I-8 until we hit I-10. I wanted to stop at the Blue Beacon truck wash in Eloy, near Casa Grande. The coach was badly in need of a wash, but it was too expensive to get a wash in San Diego. Mission Bay RV Resort doesn’t allow you to wash your coach. You need to hire a mobile detailer to get a wash job there and they charge exorbitant prices.

We pulled into Viewpoint RV Resort in Mesa, Arizona around 3:30 pm – we lost an hour when we crossed into Arizona. Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time year ’round. So at this time of year, it’s an hour later than Pacific Time. When everyone else changes to daylight time, Arizona is the same as Pacific Time.

Backing the trailer into our site took a few attempts. The narrow roads here make it tough, but we got it done without any problems. We’ll complete our set-up today. I need to wash the windshield cover before I put it on and then we can set up our mat, table and chairs. This will be home for the next three months.

The wind I mentioned in the desert was due to a cold front moving in from the north. It was chilly when we arrived – about 60 degrees. Overnight, the temperature dropped below freezing! Yesterday was the winter solstice – the shortest amount of daylight for the year. This morning it was only 49 degrees in the coach – we don’t run the heater at night. We have the heat pumps running now and our plans to play pickleball at 8 am were dashed – we play on outdoor courts here. Maybe we can play later or wait for warmer weather which should come over the weekend.

 

Errands and Detours

We left the Casa Grande Elks Lodge early Wednesday morning – we pulled out around 8:30am which is an early start for us. Our first stop was at Speedco where I had the coach motor oil and filter changed and the chassis greased. They also checked the tires and coolant – I knew these were okay – I checked our tires that morning and the coolant was flushed and filled with Fleetguard ES Compleat coolant in Albuquerque. Rather than get on the interstate, I took a shortcut down Trekell Road and intended to hit Sunland Gin Road. However, I forgot that I needed to turn on Jimmy Kerr Road to get to Sunland Gin and ended up out in the desert. So much for shortcuts.

Speedco used to do the service on our coach for under $200. Last year they raised their prices considerably and it cost me nearly $300. This year they raised the price again and I paid $330 – this includes a used oil analysis report that I always pay for. By the way, the report looked good with no worries.

It was nearly 11am by the time we hooked the trailer back up and pulled out of the Speedco lot. Originally I thought we would go to Yuma and I would get fuel before we crossed into California. However, our fuel gauge is unreliable and I wasn’t sure how much fuel we’d burned crossing the mountains plus we had lots of generator run time. So, we backtracked up I-10 to the Pilot/Flying J travel center before we headed west on I-8. We ate lunch in the Flying J parking lot after fueling.

We planned a fairly short day and wanted to run a few errands in Yuma. We made a stop on the way at Dateland (exit 67) to take a break and get a date shake. The travel center at Dateland used to be a gas station and a separate small building with a gift shop and milkshakes. They’ve upgraded it considerably over the past few years and it’s a nice stopping point in I-8 for refreshments and touristy stuff. We saw several Border Patrol vehicles along this stretch of freeway and a few Border Patrol officers stopped for lunch at Dateland. They had one of their rigs with two ATVs on a trailer out front – a Polaris four-seater and a smaller ATV.

Polaris four-seat ATV with Homeland Security badges

Our next stop was at Al’s RV Service and Supply on Fortuna Road in Yuma. I wanted to stop there and buy a bottle of Tank Techs RX – the treatment I use in our holding tanks. Al’s is one of the few RV stores that I find it in and buying it at the store saves the cost of shipping when I buy online. I’d also planned to go to the RV Water Filter Store in Yuma, but I found the filter elements I wanted at Al’s. Then Donna said we should look for a new latch for my closet door. The old one broke and the mirrored door slides open and closed as we drive down the road. I was doubtful, but we found the right latch on a display rack! Then Donna found a rod for the kitchen window shade – it went missing earlier this year when were having work done at RV Renovators. Al’s has almost everything for an RV.

We drove across the overpass to the Pilot/Flying J and I topped up the tank with diesel fuel again. We’d been running the generator and roof air conditioners all afternoon and I wanted to avoid buying fuel in California. I also had our propane tank filled. The gauge showed less than 1/4 tank of propane remaining. It took 30 gallons so we had at least a quarter tank – it holds 42 gallons when filled to 80% of actual capacity.

We made one more stop in Yuma at Walmart to get a few things. It was after 4pm by the time we left Yuma. We decided to stop for the night at our usual stopping point on Ogilby Road where we dry camp on BLM land. Interstate 8 is being rebuilt along large sections between El Centro and Yuma. The exit from westbound I-8 was closed at Ogilby Road. We had to continue a few miles west to the Gray’s Well exit and come back east to get on Ogilby. As we crossed over the freeway I noticed the on-ramp to westbound I-8 from Ogilby was also closed so this would present another detour when we left.

We went to a familiar area where we’ve boondocked before. The area was empty – not an RV in sight. We set up a little closer to the road than usual and called it a day. After dark, another motorhome came past us. The driver was brave to drive deep into the desert at night!

Ogilby Road is usually quiet with few cars passing by. The road runs north where it merges with CA78 and continues all the way to Blythe. This morning, a gaggle of cars came south on Ogilby starting around 5am. I got out of bed at 5:30am and the traffic quit coming by shortly after that. I’m guessing the crew working on the interstate must be camped up the road and were heading out to start an early shift – I can’t think of any other reason for that much traffic on Ogilby Road.

Dawn in the desert

We knew the day would warm quickly and planned to hit the road before it became hot out. Tuesday was in the upper 90s and we expected the same today. To get on I-8 westbound, we had to go east to Sidewinder Road – about five miles, then cross over and head back west. Our plan was to cross the desert early and stop at the Golden Acorn Casino across the Tecate Divide. The Golden Acorn is near Campo at an elevation of about 4,100 feet above sea level and would be much cooler. Our reservation at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego starts tomorrow, so we needed a place to spend another night before we arrive there.

Desert sunrise on our coach

The traffic on westbound I-8 across the California desert was very light. Even with the construction zones we made good time. West of El Centro, we were at sea level. We started climbing before we reached Ocotillo, then quickly gained 3,000 feet of elevation. The coach handled the climb easily – we never went below 50mph and the coolant temperature topped out right at 200 degrees for just a short time.

We found the Golden Acorn Casino on the south side of I-8 at exit 61. The parking lot is large, but we were a little confused about where we should park the coach. We came in the truck entrance on the southeast side of the casino and saw what was clearly a truck lot. Then we saw a couple of RVs on the north end of the lot and another on the southwest side. We found a fairly level spot on the northwest end, well away from any parked cars. I think we’ll be fine here for the night. It’s always windy here by the divide. There are wind generators on the mountain tops around the casino and to the east. The temperature is over 80 degrees but the breeze makes it feel cooler.

Our spot at Golden Acorn Casino

Tomorrow we’ll have a short drive – less than 70 miles to Mission Bay. We’ll settle down there for the next two months.

Jake and the Shortcut

Donna rode the Spyder to pick up some groceries before we hit the road Sunday morning.  The traffic was terrible as everyone was exiting Balloon Fiesta Park as well as the RV park. She was trying to go east to Trader Joe’s, but police had closed Alameda and were diverting traffic down San Mateo and onto the I-25 frontage road. She didn’t want to get on I-25 and was able to make a detour back west to Jefferson and south to Paseo del Norte. She ended up at Target on Coors Boulevard. It took her about an hour and a half to get groceries and make it back to the RV lot – but she managed to do it without getting lost.

We hit the road around 11:30am. Our first stop was the Pilot/Flying J travel center. I didn’t need fuel, but I topped up the tank to estimate our generator fuel burn rate – I had topped up before we came into the park. We put about 40 hours on the generator at the balloon fiesta and took on only 18 gallons of fuel – less than half a gallon per hour. This is better than I expected. We had a lot of generator run time in the last two months – 95 hours since August 17th.

We drove I-40 westbound to exit 89 and got on NM117 south. This took us along the El Malpais National Conservation Area. We traveled through here two years ago. We were pleased to find much of the road had been repaved and was much smoother. We then followed NM36 to Quemado where we hit US60.

On US60, we found a primitive rest area about 8 miles east of the Arizona border and called it a day around 4pm. The rest area was all dirt and gravel with a few covered concrete tables and no facilities, but it was level and overnight parking is allowed. Two other RVs and a tractor/trailer rig pulled in before dark and stayed overnight. There was plenty of room and everyone had their own semi-private space.

We had a quiet evening. I watched football while Donna watched a couple of episodes of 24 on her laptop. I woke up at 5am – a hangover from eight days of rising early for the balloon fiesta. I rolled out of bed at 5:30am and went outside to look at the stars. It was very dark in this secluded area and the stars filled the sky. It was also cold – the elevation was 7,500 feet above sea level and the temperature dropped to 34 degrees overnight.

Our overnight spot just after sunup

We hit the road around 8:45am and gained an hour a few minutes later when we crossed time zones entering Arizona. When we came this way in 2015, I took AZ260 from Show Low to Payson, then down through Phoenix. This time I stayed on US60 – it’s a shorter route and I wanted to do something different. It also allowed us to bypass Phoenix.

The thing is, short cuts are never easy. If they were easy, they wouldn’t be a short cut – they would just be “the way.” This route took us down into the Salt River Canyon – a steep winding descent from about 5,000 feet above sea level to about 3,400 feet.

The south side of the canyon is equally steep with a number of switchbacks – we topped out around 6,000 feet above sea level. This was a good test of the new turbocharger, charge air cooler and engine radiator. We had good power and made the climb easily and the engine coolant temperature never exceeded 193 degrees. I should also mention that having a full functioning turbo also means the Jacobs (Jake) engine compression brake worked flawlessly and made the descents easily controllable. Donna finds peace of mind when she hears the Jake smoothly slow our coach instead of me having to stab the service brakes!

Our route on US60 took us through the mining towns of Globe, Miami and Superior before we turned off at Florence Junction. We stopped and ate lunch in the coach at a park in Florence, but moved on when we couldn’t find a suitable overnight spot. About 45 minutes later, we found ourselves in Casa Grande and set up in the Elks Lodge lot. I wanted to stop in Casa Grande to have the coach serviced – we’re due for an engine oil change and chassis lube. I didn’t have this done along with the other work at Cummins in Albuquerque due to their high rates. I’ll have it done at Speedco in Casa Grande where I usually stop for routine maintenance.

We’re well ahead of schedule to make it to San Diego on Thursday. I want to stop in Yuma to pick a few supplies – tomorrow we’ll decide where to stop next after we have service at Speedco. The temperature here in Casa Grande is 93 degrees today and we expect to see 90s for the next two days before we reach the coast. More generator run time to power the air conditioners!

A Familiar Route

The final few days at ViewPoint RV and Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona seemed to fly by. Actually, our two-month stay here seems to have gone by quickly – even more so for Donna since she was away for a girl’s week in Sedona. Our first month of the winter stay in Arizona dragged slowly – that’s because I was stranded in the parking lot of RV Renovators having repairs made. Donna was able to escape for week from there when she made a trip to Vieques.

On Monday, Donna joined me on the pickleball courts in the morning. This turned out to be not the best decision for her. Although she played fine, afterwards the congestion from the cold she’s been fighting returned big time. She took it easy and stayed home on Tuesday. I played for two and half hours that morning and again on Wednesday.

On Tuesday afternoon I started packing the trailer. I reorganized a few things and had it looking good. By Wednesday afternoon, I had most of the stuff stowed in the trailer, leaving only a few items for Thursday morning before we pulled out.  We went out for dinner at Roma Cafe Wednesday evening on Main Street in Mesa. Donna loves Italian food and she says it’s great to feed a cold.

I ran across one of my pet peeves when we arrived at Roma Cafe. Someone decided they were entitled to take two parking stalls – right at the entrance to the restaurant! What? I don’t understand behavior like this.

Nice parking job – but we got the Spyder in there

On Thursday morning, I put the windshield cover, awning mat and chairs away. Then I dumped and flushed the holding tanks. Then it was time to kick the tires and light the fires – we were pulling out. I thought I had a plan to get us out of the tight spot we were parked in. I wanted to pull straight across the street, then angle back and work my way to the left around the light post.

After a couple of moves, I could see this wasn’t going to work. Time for a new plan. I reversed the operation and worked the coach around the orange tree and irrigation line on the right side of the coach and pulled into the street in the opposite direction of my original intent. This was a time-consuming and painstaking process. When I finally got the coach safely into the street, I had to back into the pad to hook up the trailer – this wasn’t so easy either.

After nearly an hour of manueuvering to get out of our site and hooking up the trailer, I loaded the Spyder in it. We hit the road at 10:50am. The trip was a familiar one as we took the Loop 202 south and followed it west on the San Tan Freeway to I-10. I got off of I-10 at exit 164 and followed AZ347 through the town of Maricopa. Although Maricopa has grown and is beginning to sprawl, it cuts several miles off the drive to I-8 versus staying on I-10 and is a quicker route. We took AZ347 to AZ84 and merged onto I-8 west a few miles later.

We made our first stop around 12:30pm at exit 119 – the Butterfield Trail at Gila Bend. We often stop there for lunch at the Subway sandwich shop. It’s next to a truck stop that has ample parking in the rear and also has a free dump station and even RV hook-up sites in back – for a fee of course.

Great parking space behind Subway

We split the daily special foot-long sub and got back on the road. Droning along on I-8 isn’t the most exciting or scenic drive, but I don’t mind. It was getting warm – Donna had me turn on the generator and crank up the air conditioners. It was over 90 degrees out. Also, the wind was increasing – it was mostly a headwind but I had a few cross wind gusts to contend with. Our next stop was another familiar one – the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center at exit 12 – Fortuna Road in Yuma. I always top off the tank there before I enter California. I paid $2.54/gallon there for diesel fuel while the TruckMiles.com site shows the average diesel fuel cost in California is currently $2.93/gallon. Plus I have a harder time finding convenient truck stop locations in California.

A few miles after we crossed the Colorado River and were in California, we hit another familiar sight – the inspection station. This is where they usually question us about fresh fruits and vegetables onboard and ask us where we came from and where we are going. This time they just waved us through, no questions asked.

About 12 miles later we pulled off of I-8 and found our little piece of desert on BLM land in the Picacho Recreation Area. I think this is the eighth or ninth time we’ve stopped here for an overnight stay. We stop here when we’re east bound from San Diego and when we’re west bound from the Phoenix area. It’s a nice change of pace to boondock in a remote site without the distractions from sirens or helicopters and traffic racing through the streets of the city. Ironically, as I’m typing this, a formation of four helicopters – I think they were military MH6 Little Birds  – flew by!

Our little piece of the desert

The view from our doorstep

We don’t have another rig in sight. Donna spotted a large American flag to the northeast of us and took a walk toward it before dinner. It turned out to be just a flag pole and flag – no people or RV there. She also found a stack of pallets where someone had a bonfire but the site was empty.

The gusty winds continued through the night. It didn’t bother me but Donna said it kept her awake all night. This morning we have calm air here and clear skies. We’ll head out around 9am. Our only planned stop for the trip to Mission Bay will be at the Buckman Springs rest area in the Laguna Mountains – about 115 miles from here. It’s another place we always stop at – we’ll have lunch at one of the picnic tables there.

The weather forecast for San Diego looks great for next couple of weeks – high temperatures around 70 degrees and mostly sunny skies.