Category Archives: Maintenance and Repair

Out of Iowa

We left Center Point, Iowa and made our way west to Council Bluffs on the first of the month. Our travels across Iowa for RAGBRAI and back west across the state kept us mostly on state roads and county highways. In Iowa, most of these roads are either slabs of concrete butted together, worn asphalt that’s been chip-sealed many times over or dirt/gravel surfaces.

The concrete slabs are most common along state roads and they heave where the slabs butt together making a rough ride. At the best of times, the tires set up a rhythmic slapping sound and the coach gently bounces along. More often than not, the slabs launch the coach from one section to the next. The chip sealed surfaces are no better. I could usually see if cross traffic was approaching by the dust cloud raised as the vehicle approached on the gravel/dirt side roads. The dirt is a fine, light, powdery dust.

When we made our stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa near the Nebraska border, the constant pounding had taken its toll. First off, we couldn’t find our Jetpack wifi. We usually move it to kitchen counter before we move, but had forgotten to do that this time. The power cord was on the counter, but no Jetpack.

We searched under the slide-outs and everywhere we could think of. We found several wood screws – I’m thinking these are dropped screws when the crew rebuilt our living room slide wall. When they drop a screw, they don’t look for it, they grab another one and keep moving. It was a good time to do some real cleaning under the slide-out.

We usually place our Jetpack on a small shelf on top of the kitchen slide-out. It gets good reception there and is out of sight, but we don’t travel with it there – usually. It occurred to Donna to get out our step stool and look on the ledge and sure enough there was the Jetpack – whew! I was getting worried.

I also discovered that the stud holding the toilet seat hinge fell out! I found the stud and re-installed it with Threadlocker.

Toilet seat hinge stud

We ended up staying for two days at the Ameristar Casino while I was recovering from a virus that had me down. We moved a short distance to Papillion, NE to Walnut Creek Lake Recreation Area. This is a city park with electric hook-ups – no water or sewer. I was still feeling the effects of the virus and spent most of my time resting. I couldn’t even muster enough energy to post to this blog. We spent four nights there before heading westward to Kearney, Nebraska.

While we were in Papillion, I looked the engine compartment over – it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on things. I was surprised to find a damaged pressure cap on the coolant surge tank. I replaced this cap about three and half years ago. I’m not sure what makes the surge tank on our Cummins ISL diesel such rough duty. I found a replacement cap at an auto parts store and replaced it. If the cap doesn’t hold pressure, coolant can boil prematurely. The cap holds 13psi and raises the boiling point by 39 degrees.

Damaged seal on radiator cap

Kearney RV Park and Campground boasted 100′ pull-through sites on their web page and it may be true in one area of the park, but not where we are. The park is split into two locations. It’s a little strange. The GPS directions will take you to the north park area that sits along the north channel of the Platte River. We pulled in there to find it mostly empty with what appeared to be a few long-term occupants. A guy came out of his RV and directed us up the road to a different location where the office and the “Getaway Bay” area of the RV park is.

We found the office and checked in. They had us in the Getaway Bay in a pull-through site with a nice view and easy fishing access. The pull-through site has a level concrete pad and was just long enough to fit our 65′ length.

Our windshield view

Last night, a thunderstorm came through with heavy rain. I’m not certain, but I think I may have heard some hail in the night. Today is overcast and cooler. We plan to hang out here until Friday. There’s plenty of good biking, pickleball if I’m up to it and it’s good place for me to continue to rest and recover. Maybe I’ll catch a fish or two in the pond.

Trouble Comes in Threes

I mentioned the spacious grass area in our site at Lazy Acres RV in Center Point, Iowa. Our’s wasn’t the only one – almost all of them had plenty of room.

Lazy Acres site 42

While were at Lazy Acres, they had an issue with their water supply. On Sunday, the water pressure would drop and we only had a trickle. Donna heard the owner say he was having trouble with the pump on the well.

The water issue continued on Monday – in fact, the water was completely shut off for a while. We had used just over half of our onboard fresh water tank – I hadn’t refilled it yet. There was probably close to 50 gallons in the tank leaving us with about 40 usable gallons. The fresh water tank is a rectangular tank that’s flat and long and only four or five inches tall. The water pick-up is in the left rear corner. When the water level drops below the pick-up, it can’t deliver anymore water.

We were faced with this situation a few years ago and needed water when none was available to us. I manipulated the leveling jacks to intentionally have the driver’s side and rear of the coach low. This pooled the remaining water in the tank in the left rear corner and we got through another day before filling up the tank again.

I had intended to fill the tank at Lazy Acres but on Tuesday morning, I saw the owner going from site to site with a five-gallon bucket. He would run water at the spigot into the bucket and then dump it out. He did this several times at each site. When he reached our site, I went outside to see what was up.

He told me they had to replace the well pump. This was not so easy as the pump was at the bottom of the well casing 180 feet below ground. A well company had to pull casing tube and insert a new one with the pump attached. This left a lot of detritus in the water supply. I saw what was in the bucket and it wasn’t pretty. I decided to wait until we reached Amana to refill our tank.

We were checking out that morning – they have a relatively late checkout time of 1pm. We planned to travel about 40 miles to Amana, Iowa so we had a leisurely morning preparing to leave. I never like to push our checkout time to the last minute – you never know what might come up.

I went through my pre-flight checks and the last two items are to retract the jacks and disconnect the power cord. When I came back in to coach to fire it up, I saw the right rear “jack down” indicator was lit. This is not good. I went outside and took a look.

We have an HWH leveling system. Our jacks extend hydraulically and retract under spring pressure. Two powerful springs bring the jack back up forcing the hydraulic fluid through the solenoids and back to the reservoir. The springs are attached to the foot or pad at the bottom of the hydraulic ram. The foot had slipped off of the ram and hung uselessly by the springs. This happened to us once before in Hamburg, Pennsylvania a couple of years ago. At that time, our roadside assistance, Coach-Net sent a mobile tech out. Two strapping young guys attached it with pry bars and put it back in place.

I called Coach-Net a little before 11am. I went through the usual runaround – first you talk to someone who fills in the blanks on their computer, then they tell you a technician will call back. This took about 10 minutes plus five minutes of hold time. Then I got a call back 20 minutes later. After going over the problem again, he said he would find someone to help me out and call back. He called back half an hour later. He said he might be able to get someone out by the end of the following day, if not it would be three weeks! Unacceptable.

I started looking up mobile RV services and made a few calls. Two of them had to see if they could juggle their schedule and come out that afternoon – they would call me back. I went up to office to notify them of the problem. I talked to the owner who seemed to be mechanically competent and knew what I was talking about. He said, “How about we go down to the shop and grab a couple of pry bars and see what we can do?” I told him that sounded good with one caveat – we do it with pry bars only, no one sticks their hands anywhere near those powerful springs.

To give an idea of how powerful the springs are, the first thing we had to do was push the ram back up to force the hydraulic fluid through the solenoid. He applied pressure to the ram and I actuated the solenoid so fluid could flow. More than five minutes later, he had it halfway up, but I could see he was fading. I took the lever and heaved against it. Another five minutes and it was up. The springs usually retracted the jack against this resistance in a matter of a few minutes.

Next we levered the foot down trying to center it below the ram. This is easier said than done. After a few failed attempts, we decided the plan was for me to lever the foot down, then he would use his bar to tap it in place under the ram. Success! It was 12:45pm and time to hit the road.

Right rear jack intact again

We arrived at Amana Colonies RV Park around 2:00 pm. This is a fairly large park at 76 acres. They advertise 75-foot long sites. The problem for us is, they put the power pedestal at the far rear of the site so it could be shared with another site behind. We didn’t have a good option for dropping the trailer – our power cord and sewer hose would have to extend all the way back past our trailer. They offered us a solution – for $10/day additional they would give us the two back to back sites essentially making it a 150-foot pull-through. We went for it.

Before I hooked up our fresh water supply, I opened up the sediment filter canister assuming it needed replacement after the well problems at Lazy Acres. I’ve never seen such crud in the sediment filter – it looked like sludge. Before I installed the new filter element, I rinsed the canister thoroughly. The bottom of the canister looked like it was full of the dregs from an espresso machine.

Old filter element on the left – new polypropylene filter on the right

Donna wanted to take a bike ride and see the area. After getting her bike out, I was feeling punky and laid back on the sofa. I didn’t rise for about 90 minutes and realized then that I was starting to feel really bad. My head was pounding, my sinuses we plugged and my right eyeball had a stabbing pain. My joints ached all over. I was lethargic. Strike three – water, jack and now I’m ill.

After her ride, Donna prepared leftover chicken stuffed with feta and spinach. I could hardly eat. This is only the second time I’ve been ill during our four years on the road. I chalk it up to a healthy environment with plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Being in a crowded office all day or flying around the country exposes you to who knows what.

Last night was rough. I went to bed at 8:15pm. I slept for four and half hours then woke up with a fever. I was alternating burning up or freezing cold. I had a time of it getting back to sleep. Sometime later, maybe 4am, my fever broke. I’m feeling better this morning but will avoid any strenuous activity today.

We plan to get out and see the sights today. The forecast calls for a high of 86 degrees. Tomorrow should be upper 70s with an 80% chance of rain. On Friday, we’ll hit the road again for parts currently unknown – it’s supposed to be cooler on Friday.

Back to South Dakota

We pulled out of the Broadus, Montana city park around 10am Sunday. Our route had us continue down US212 where we traversed the northeast corner of Wyoming before we reached South Dakota. We saw several antelope in the fields along the roadside this time – I expected to see them the day before but didn’t.

We drove through the town of Belle Fourche, South Dakota which has the distinction of being near the designated geographic center of the United States of America. This designation was  bestowed by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1959 – after Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is Lebanon, Kansas.

We drove through town on US 85 next to a truck pulling a fifth-wheel trailer which had a cargo trailer attached to it – you don’t see that very often! We turned southeast at SD34 while the trailer pulling a trailer went straight down US85. We hit I-90 at Whitewood west of Sturgis. A little while later, the trailer pulling a trailer passed us at about 70mph. He must have taken US85 due south and got on I-90 west of Spearfish. Ours was definitely the shorter, faster route.

We pulled into the Elks Lodge in Rapid City around 1:30pm. I parked in the front lot while we figured out how to set up. This is a very nice lodge – one of the largest and cleanest lodges we’ve visited. This is the first lodge we’ve been to where the bar is open to the public. This is due to the golf course on the lodge property which is also open to the public. The RV lot is for Elks members only.

We dropped the trailer in the main parking lot and backed the coach into site four. We have 50amp electric service and fresh water, no sewer hook up. We paid for four nights and shouldn’t have any worries about sewer. The 50 amp electric service was needed – we had to run the generator on the road to power the front roof air conditioner. Once hooked up, we ran both roof A/Cs – it was 100 degrees outside! The average high temperature in July for Rapid City is 85 degrees – we were in for a few days with highs above average.

We had a problem with one of the basement compartment doors over the last couple of days on the road. The door popped open a few times. I adjusted the plate the latch attaches to, but it still wasn’t very secure. On Monday, I found an Ace Hardware store and bought a flat brass bar one-inch wide. I had them cut a three-inch section. I glued this flat bar to the latch plate effectively extending the height of the plate. The door latches securely now and shouldn’t be a problem down the road. While I was out, I picked up a few groceries.

Meanwhile, Donna was out for a bike ride in the 90 degree heat. She planned a route looking at a map and headed out for a 24-mile ride. Little did she know her route included some steep climbs! She got through it though.

I went online Monday and found the local Department of Public Safety (DPS) licensing office. I found out they take appointments for driver’s license exams and renewals. Donna lost her driver’s license back in November in San Diego – she figures it must have slipped out of the slot in her purse when she pulled her cell phone out. I scheduled an appointment at the DPS office a few miles from the lodge for 10am Tuesday morning. They advise arriving 10 minutes prior to the appointment time.

We walked into the DPS office 12 minutes before 10am. They had a sign telling us to take a number after we completed the application paperwork. Donna had already completed the application so she took a number. Then I saw another sign telling us to notify a clerk if we had an appointment. Donna told a woman at the counter she had an appointment and gave her name. She was told that she would be next in line.

We sat down to wait and within two minutes Donna’s name was called. The woman at the counter entered Donna’s application in her computer terminal, took her photograph and printed her new driver’s license in less than ten minutes! I’ve never experienced such efficiency at a government agency.

We were back on the Spyder and on the road a couple of minutes past 10am. We headed up US16 and turned off at 16A. We were headed to Mount Rushmore. We visited the monument in 2013 when we first hit the road as full-timers (post).

Once we got through the tourist town of Keystone, we hit a traffic jam trying to enter the monument. There was a crew painting new road lettering and arrows and they had a lane closed. This confused the traffic as it was forced to converge into two lanes from three – the two lanes that are for entry to the monument. Through traffic had to go around the crew, then get out of the entry lane at the entrance and get back on the highway. We baked in the sun for 20 minutes trying to enter.

When we were here before, we paid the $10 fee to park and were planning to show our National Parks pass inside but there was no entrance fee. This time I showed my National Parks pass and was told the pass doesn’t do anything for me at the monument – everyone has to pay for a parking permit to enter the monument. So I paid $10 again. We walked through the monument viewing area. We both thought the famous sculptures looked like they had been cleaned since our last visit.

Donna in front of the state flags display

At the viewing pavillion

We didn’t stay long. We went back to Keystone for lunch at Peggy’s Cafe. We were disappointed in the food quality – not on our recommended list. I wanted to take the scenic drive down Needles Highway again but realized that would mean we had to fight our way through the traffic jam at the monument again.

I decided to ride the Spyder down 16A to SD87 and we could come up the Needles Highway from the bottom. This route took us through Custer State Park. At the park entrance there was a sign advising a fee for a park pass to use any of the parks facilities – through traffic on the highway didn’t need a pass. So I carried on without stopping.

At the turn-off to Needles Highway we were stopped and an agent told us we had to purchase a pass to enter the highway, even if we didn’t plan to stop. I didn’t recall paying anything four years ago when we drove down the highway. I paid $10 for a pass.

Needles Highway is very scenic – and it’s slow. The road is narrow and full of twists and turns. There are six tunnels – some a as narrow as eight feet seven inches. I don’t know how the tour buses which are eight feet six inches wide manage to get through, but they do.

I didn’t stop to take photos at the Cathedral Spires which are granite columns – needle like – towering along a section of road. I thought we would come back down the highway and I would get pictures then. We went all the way to Sylvan Lake before stopping to stretch our legs.

Sylvan Lake

We were hot and the route was longer than I anticipated. We didn’t have enough fuel to back-track down the highway. We cooled off in the shade and Donna even put her feet in the lake.

Donna cooling off in Sylvan Lake

We exited the highway at the top end and rode back to Rapid City. We had put in about 110 miles and spent four hours on the Spyder. We had enough sightseeing for one day – we were getting saddle sore.

We ended the day with grilled green chile turkey burgers cooked on the Weber Q for dinner and some leftover red potato salad.

Green chile turkey burger

I opened an IPA called Total Domination from Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon.

Ninkasi Total Domination

We’re thinking about going to a barbeque and rodeo later today – it depends on the weather. For the last three days, a thunder shower developed in the late afternoon. Usually it blows through quickly but we had a considerable amount of rain along with high winds, thunder and lightning last night.

Tomorrow we’ll head east and probably make an overnight stop near Chamberlain before we check in for a week in Sioux Falls.

The Rude Crew

Life on the road isn’t always fun and games and sightseeing. We had a couple of reminders of this while we were staying in Winthrop. For one thing, sometimes things quit working or need maintenance – just like in a sticks-and-bricks home.

While we were in Winthrop, our toilet starting acting up. We have a Thetford Aria II electrically operated toilet. I can’t find an actual technical description or schematic of the operating system, but looking at the parts list, here’s how I think it works.

When you push the flush button it sends a signal to the control module (CM). The CM activates a solenoid that opens and allows water to flow through an impeller inside a plastic housing. At the same time, water is added to the toilet bowl. The impeller spins and operates a mechanism that opens the blade valve in the bottom of the bowl. The bowl empties and the first solenoid closes while a second solenoid opens, reversing the flow through the impeller and closing the valve. More water is added to the bowl and the flushing sequence is finished.

Last week, the toilet would add water to the bowl when the flush button was pressed, but it wouldn’t always open the blade valve. It took several presses before the toilet would actually flush. I tried to look at it while it operated and see what was going on, but the back of the toilet where the operating mechanism is was too close to the bathroom wall for me to be able to see. I saw a couple of drops of water come from somewhere in the back when a flush was attempted. I felt around and thought the water was coming from the impeller housing. I tried tightening the bolts on the housing, but I couldn’t get a wrench on all of the bolts.

So, I had to remove the toilet and turn it sideways to see what was going on. Of course I had to disconnect the water supply to do that so I couldn’t flush and observe. I tightened the impeller housing bolts and while I was at it, I decided to tighten the seat and lid mounts. To do this I had to reach inside the back and feel for the little lever on the plastic mounting nuts. In the process of doing this I felt something strange – the open end of a plastic hose. I put my head down on the floor and peered upward with a flashlight and found a hose had come off a plastic barb. This was my water leak and maybe it was impeding flow through the impeller.

I reconnected the hose and put everything back together. The toilet flushed fine and no leak! Job done! I don’t know how the hose came off, but if we have trouble again I know where to look.

Over the long holiday weekend, the Pine Near RV Park was overflowing with people. There were tents pitched all around and even people camping in regular vehicles. It wasn’t too bad during the day as most people were out and about. The evenings got a little noisy.

We enjoyed dining outdoors at the picnic table and watching the antics of some of the kids. Donna made a jerk marinade for shrimp which I grilled for Sunday night’s dinner. She served it with an orzo, spinach, tomato and feta salad with basil vinaigrette.

Shrimp with orzo salad

Park overflowing – the Bounder and tents on the right turned out to be a problem.

Sunday night a group of people about 100 feet away from us got rowdy. This group appeared to be friends and extended family with three generations together. They were housed in a Fleetwood Bounder Classic motorhome – which we assumed belonged to the grandparents – tents and a rental cabin. They had a number of little kids and young adults.

After dark the little kids were inside and a group of about a dozen thirty-somethings sat outside around a table where they were drinking and playing some kind of game. They were hooting and hollering and one of them would break out with loud, shrill laughter. A little before 11pm Donna went over and politely asked them if the could keep it down. They seemed okay.

But it didn’t end. If anything they got louder. After 1am, I’d had enough. I went over and asked them to stop the noisy partying. They were obviously intoxicated and told me they were camping and having fun. I told them they weren’t out camping in a secluded area, they were sitting in the middle of a hundred people trying to sleep. They told me if I didn’t like it, I should leave! They kept at it until well after 2am. I’ve never encountered such a thoughtless and rude crew in an RV park before.

Monday morning while we were preparing to hit the road, Donna had a conversation with Anna, the owner of Pine Near RV Park. She told Anna we enjoyed our week in the park until Sunday night. She said it was the worst night she’d ever had in an RV park in our entire four years on the road.

Anna said we should have called her – she keeps her cell phone on her nightstand and comes out when there’s a complaint. She lives onsite and she usually sleeps with her window open. But she was up the night before dealing with a loud group on the other end of the park and slept right through the noise we were complaining about.

Rude crew Bounder

If you see the Bounder pictured above in the RV park, you might want to consider staying somewhere else. I had to remind myself that these were not RV people. They were “camping out” in tents and rental cabins. They were clueless about RV etiquette and obviously had no sense at all. Anna said she would deal with them and apologized for the unacceptable behavior.

We pulled out of Winthrop before 10am – both of us feeling the effects of a near sleepless night. We avoided the traffic on WA20 by taking the Twisp – Winthrop Eastside Road. Our route took us down WA153 along the Methow River to Pateros where the Methow reaches the Columbia River.

From there we took US97 across the Columbia River to WA17 through Bridgeport onto WA174 past the Chief Joseph Dam and the Grand Coulee Dam and onto US2. This highway took us east and we stopped at a rest area east of Creston – one of the very few rest areas found on US2. We ate lunch at a picnic table at the rest area and met a guy touring on a motorcycle. He had ridden his Indian motorcycle from Allen Park, Michigan where he left a week before. He was headed for the coast.

When we got back on the road, I noticed something strange. My ScanGuage D was displaying erratic coolant temperature readings. As I accelerated out of the rest area, the reading shot up to 220 degrees – I doubted if this was a true reading as we had parked for at least 20 minutes I would have expected to see a temperature of around 170 degrees. An over-temp alarm sounded, then the temperature reading went down to 170. Then it jumped back up to 215, then 220 and an alarm sounded before it went back down to 180 and then it read normal temperatures between 180 and 190 for the rest of the way. I’ll have to inspect the wiring or maybe I have a sensor malfunctioning.

We made a stop for fuel after crossing into Idaho on I-90. While I was fueling up, Donna called the Coeur d’Alene Elks Lodge to see if they had an open site. They did. The camp host told her we should take exit 11 and come up Ramsey Road. The usual way is to take exit 12 and go up US95. He said US95 was a traffic snarl and coming in from Ramsey to the west was a better option. His route worked great. We dropped the trailer and backed into site 23.

Coeur d’Alene Elks site 23

Several rigs came in after us but there’s still a few open sites. In the evening, I saw on Facebook that my friend Gary Stemple is here. We plan to hook up this afternoon for a Fourth of July boat ride on the lake.

It was blissfully quiet all night and Donna and I woke up well-rested. She’s out on the bike trail taking a ride to Spokane and back this morning. Wherever you are, I hope you have safe and happy Independence Day!

Last Weekend on the West Side

Donna and Sini planned to go to a house concert on Saturday. House concerts are an interesting concept. The host opens their home for the performance and will usually offer local transportation and lodging for traveling musicians. People attending the concert bring food to share and, in this case, pay $20 each which goes to the performer. About 30 people attended the concert.

House concert

Charlie Imes performing

We used Alana’s car and drove down to Edmonds where we met Sini for lunch. We had lunch at Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke. I had an episode that ruined lunch for me. I chronicled my battle with throat cancer in an earlier post and won’t rehash it here except to say I have permanent damage from radiation treatments. It left me with a chronically dry throat.

Sometimes when I swallow food, it becomes lodged in my esophagus. This was one of those times. I had a piece of fish caught in my throat. It was terrible. I excused myself and went outside the restaurant. It was painful and I knew there were only two possible outcomes – either the fish would continue to move down to my stomach or it would be expelled. After about 10 minutes of hiccuping, it moved on and I was able to finish my meal.

Donna’s plan was to go with Sini to the concert, then spend the night with Sini at her friend’s house. Sunday morning Sini was going to the Tulalip Casino with a friend at 11am and I met them there and then Donna and I made a stop at Best Buy where she bought a new laptop.

I wanted to watch the Moto GP race from Assen but my satellite reception failed in the night and the program didn’t record. Luckily there was an encore showing of the race at 1pm. I started packing the trailer, then took a break to watch a very interesting race. It was about 100 degrees in the trailer but I managed to get it 90% packed and figured I would finish up Monday morning when it would be cooler before we headed out.

We were invited to have dinner at LuAnn’s house at 6pm. LuAnn had spicy shrimp and crab legs as the main entree and a large selection of veggies from her garden to make salads.

Salad buffet spread

I brought along a bottle of IPA called Crikey from Reuben’s Brewery in the Ballard district of Seattle. I hadn’t tried this one before, but I liked the name. It wasn’t anything special, just a typical west coast IPA.

Crikey

We sat in the backyard until the mosquitos started biting – the sun doesn’t set until well after 9pm this far north at this time of year. Back at the coach, I watched the Formula One race from Azerbaijan which I had recorded during the afternoon.

Monday morning I finished packing the trailer and we headed out by 10am. It’s always a little sad to say goodbye, not knowing when we’ll be back to see my daughter and grandchildren again. We know we’ll be able to see Lainey when we return to San Diego in October – she’ll be there attending college at San Diego State University.

We went west on WA530 to the truck stop at Island Crossing. I wanted to top off the tank as I didn’t think we would have an opportunity to fill up until we were in the Spokane area. The fuel price was very reasonable at $2.49/gallon.

Then we drove east on WA 530 up to Darrington where WA530 hooks north to Rockport. At Rockport we hit WA20 – the North Cascades Highway. This highway snakes its way along the Skagit River up to Diablo and Ross Lakes. It’s one lane in each direction with lots of twists and turns and has become bumpy in many places. The North Cascades Highway closes in the winter – generally from mid-November to mid-May. They cannot keep the road clear of snow in the dead of winter. There are still some very big snowbanks along the road and lots of snow on the surrounding mountainsides.

Climbing up the west side of the Cascades, the terrain is rugged and heavily forested. Big, moss-covered fir trees dominate the terrain with blackberries and beds of ferns so thick you cannot see the ground on the forest floor. Once you cross over to the east side, the firs are replaced by pines and the forest opens up considerably.

We crossed Rainy Pass at an elevation of about 4,900 – we started out at 300 feet above sea level in Arlington. Then we dropped down a bit and climbed again over Washington Pass at 5.477 feet above sea level. At the summit, Donna noticed something in the driver’s side rearview mirror. She pointed it out to me and I saw we had a basement door open. I pulled over and found the rear compartment just ahead of the rear wheels had popped open. I keep my portable compressor and accessories in there. Everything looked to be intact – nothing spilled out onto the highway. I always check the doors and make sure they’re locked before we move. The latch was in the locked position, but something is worn and if I give the door a yank, it pops open. Hitting a bumpy section of road must have made it pop. It’s on my “to do” list now.

WA20 took us directly to Winthrop. There’s a four-way stop at Riverside Avenue which is the main drag through town. Going right keeps you on WA20. We wanted to go straight ahead up Bridge Street to Castle Avenue, but Bridge Street was closed for construction. We were directed to go left to the north side of town where we found the end of Castle Avenue and doubled back to the Pine Near RV Park.

Pine Near doesn’t have much in the way of amenities, but it has large pull-through grass sites and is located on a bluff overlooking downtown Winthrop. Winthrop has a population of about 400 people in town with about 2,000 permanent residents in the area. It’s a western themed tourist destination.

A few rain drops fell as I was setting up. The owner of the park, Anna, told me not to worry – it would pass quickly. She was right and the thermometer stayed at 89 degrees!

From Pine Near RV Park, I walked across Castle Avenue through the Shafer Museum – a collection of pioneer artifacts – and down a terraced boardwalk into town. Meanwhile Donna was working on an article – she has a few assignments to complete while we’re here.

Terraced boardwalk

As I walked through town, I found a new plaza called Confluence Park. It’s a small square with landscaping, paver stones and benches overlooking the confluence of the Chewuch and Methow Rivers.

View of the Chewuch joining the Methow River at Confluence Park

The park was dedicated last October – it wasn’t here when we stayed in Winthrop last summer. I made a stop for a cold one at Schoolhouse Brewery.

Pine Near RV Park – site 11

Last night I enjoyed an IPA from Elysian Brewery called Space Dust.

I had it with dinner in a pint glass Alana gave me as a Father’s Day present.

Around 9pm, I stepped outside and shot a photo of a pink sunset.

Pink sunset in Winthrop

This morning I walked down to the Rocking Horse Bakery across the street from the terraced boardwalk and picked up breakfast sandwiches for Donna and me. That’s one of the things we like about this RV park – everything is within walking distance, yet it’s still very quiet and has a country atmosphere.

Rocking Horse Bakery

We’re thinking about extending for an extra day here, but that will mean we have to move to another site. I don’t like making a move within a park – I have to secure everything just like I was going to head out on the road. We’ll see how it works out.

Not So Simple Repair

Our granddaughter, Lainey, is through with high school and also had the day off work on Thursday. After lunch on Thursday, we took some time to have a discussion on safe handling of firearms in preparation for a trip to the gun range. Back in the 90s, I was a certified Washington State Hunter Safety instructor. I also taught a class at Darrington High School on safe handling of firearms. The focus of the class was how to handle a firearm and also to recognize unsafe handling if you are ever in situation where someone is showing a gun.

After going through the safety lesson, we went to Norpoint Gun Range, about three miles from here. Lainey got to shoot a handgun for the first time. She found it much harder to shoot accurately than she imagined – it’s not like on TV! Donna also practiced and I had my share of rounds down range. Altogether we went through 250 rounds of ammo.

Lainey at the range

I’m putting a group into the top bullseye

Lainey had fun learning to handle a gun. I think it’s an important skill to have. Anyone can can encounter firearms and if you don’t have a clue about how to safely handle or operate one, it can have tragic results.

There was another project I’d been putting off since we arrived here at my daughter Alana’s house in Arlington, Washington. The cord for the pull start on her lawn mower broke and needed to be replaced. I wasn’t putting it off so much as I was waiting for a day that wasn’t dark, dreary and raining. Working on the mower in a dark, cold garage wasn’t my preference – I was hoping for a sunny day to tackle the job in the driveway.

The weather took a turn for the better Thursday afternoon. I dove into the lawn mower repair. Replacing the pull-start cord seemed like a simple task at first glance. Well, as usual I had to start peeling the onion. First I took the plastic cover off the top of the Briggs and Stratton engine. Then I found the sheet metal housing for the starter pulley was riveted in place. I was hoping for sheet metal screw or bolts. I’m sure the rivets are used because it makes manufacturing simpler – no tapping threads for bolts and not enough clearance for screws.

Once I drilled out the rivets and had the starter pulley assembly in hand, I could see this may be challenging. I needed to wind the recoil mechanism of the starter pulley to tension it and then feed the pull-cord through two holes. Holding the assembly – which comprised the sheet metal housing, pulley and internal recoil spring  – upside down in my hand, I didn’t pay enough attention to which way it was winding. It only provided sufficient spring tension in one direction, so I tensioned it and used a small punch tool to hold it in place while I installed the cord.

Sounds simple, but the cord was a little frayed and nearly impossible to pass through the two holes I needed to get it through. I tried cutting it clean and using a little super glue to stiffen it. No go. Then I used a length of safety wire and attached the wire with the thought of pulling the rope through. I got about halfway through then it was stuck. I had to use a small punch and hammer to get it through.

I temporarily attached the assembly with two rivets – instead of all four – to try it out. No go. The spring didn’t pull the start cord back – it was turning the pulley in the wrong direction. By then I was through. I figured it was best to attack it fresh on Friday morning. The weather forecast for the next several days is good.

Clear skies at sunset on Thursday

On Friday morning, I got after the mower project again. I drilled out the rivets I’d installed the day before and went through the assembly steps again. This time I worked the recoil spring in the right direction, but it didn’t feel right. When I turned counter-clockwise as I should, it would provide some tension then it seemed to slip. In a clockwise direction, it increased tension with every turn. Puzzling to me. I managed to get the rope holes aligned with the peak tension in a counter-clockwise direction and went through the agonizing steps of threading the rope again. This time I got a little smarter and wrapped the frayed end of the rope with tape, then cut through the tape with a knife to make a clean, tight end.

Top of the mower disassembled

I put it all together and installed two rivets to test it. No go. It wouldn’t reel in the pull-starter cord. There wasn’t sufficient tension. I took it all apart again. This time I went deeper and pulled the pulley assembly down to it’s component pieces. I found the problem. The spring inside the assembly was shot. Apparently when the pull-start cord broke, the pulley assembly rewound without any resistance and the spring was damaged. The spring is supposed to be a flat section of spring steel wound like a main spring on a mechanical watch. What I saw was a spring folded back on itself with random wavy areas.

Here’s the problem

I went to Arlington to the mower shop there – about two miles away. They didn’t have the part. They said they usually stock it and would have some on Tuesday. No good. We will leave on Monday and there’s no way Alana can reassemble what I took apart. The guy there told me the only other possibility was 20 miles away at The Shop in Mount Vernon.

I called The Shop in Mount Vernon, but only got voice mail. I took a chance and rode the Spyder up there. It was a beautiful day with the temperature in the 70s under blue skies. I went up SR9 to Lake McMurray, enjoying the sunshine and views all the way. This two-lane highway meanders through woods and the traffic was very light. From there I went west and up I-5 to Mount Vernon.

When I got to The Shop I found what I was looking for. They told me they try to always have this part on hand as it’s a common replacement.

New spring and pulley

I also bought five feet of cord thinking I shouldn’t be using the old cord to pull-start after this ordeal – after all it broke once and would likely break again sooner than a new one.

With all of the practice attempts at completing this repair, I had it back together in short order.

Repaired assembly riveted in place

A pull test had the mower running in three pulls. It worked perfectly and retracted the pull-start cord as it should.

Job done!

While I was working on the mower, I had another strange thing occur. In my last post, I ranted about Amazon not making good on a guaranteed delivery date. They offered me options for return and refund, but I thought it best to wait and see before I took up the offer for refund.

Friday morning I looked at the tracking info again and it showed out for delivery – scheduled for Monday June 26th. This didn’t make sense to me. If it was out for delivery, why wouldn’t it deliver that day? Well, the UPS guy showed up while I was working on the mower. He had two large boxes on a handcart and two smaller ones. I recognized one of the smaller ones as something I’d ordered, the other was for Alana. The two large boxes turned out to be an error as they were addressed to someone else.

He said, “Wait, I must have grabbed the wrong boxes, I show two more at this address.” He came back with the tires I ordered for Donna that were guaranteed to arrive Friday but showed they would arrive on Monday. Apparently it was a problem with the UPS tracking – the tires arrived on time.

What’s wrong with this picture – hint – I took this shot on June 23rd

Donna was out with Alana while I was working on the mower. They stopped at the computer repair place where the guy transferred the data from her hard drive to an external drive so she can easily set up a new laptop. Then they shopped at WinCo and Costco.

I grilled wild Alaskan sockeye salmon that Donna bought and we dined at the table in the front yard. Warm, sunny days are so much nicer than the weather we had last week!

Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon

We have another sunny day ahead and the temperature should reach the 80s. Donna and I plan to meet Sini for lunch in Edmonds. I need to start prepping the trailer for travel. We plan to pull out Monday and head over the North Cascade Highway to Winthrop for our next stop.

Mishaps and Miscommunication

I haven’t posted for a few days as I haven’t had much to say. Sunday was a cloudy day with periods of rain. My middle daughter, Jamie, along with her significant other, Francisco and family hit the road. They planned to go back to Texas via California so they could visit Francisco’s cousin along the way. It was great having some time together and hanging with her family.

Monday was another gloomy day. There was a thick, low overcast ceiling. Although some sunlight penetrated the cloud cover, it was diffuse light and the clouds were so thick you really couldn’t pinpoint the position of the sun. A light mist fell most of the day punctuated by occasional large rain drops.

In the evening, we went over to my ex-wife’s house for dinner. LuAnn grilled fish burgers and also had hot dogs for the kids. We had a send-off for my youngest daughter, Shauna, as she had a red-eye flight back to Washington D.C.

Tuesday’s weather was more of the same. The daily high temperature only hit 64 degrees – a few degrees cooler than the previous days. With the damp mist it feels colder than recorded. My oldest daughter, Alana, had to report back to work after having six days off. She was back to 12-hour shifts in the emergency room at Providence Hospital in Everett.

I spent most of my time indoors reading books. I don’t get on very well with the sunless, wet weather. Donna managed to get in a couple of bike rides when the rain stopped for a couple of hours.

Donna had another laptop mishap Sunday night when her wine glass toppled right into the keyboard of her laptop. It was up and running at the time but shut itself down. We let it sit and dry out for a couple of days but couldn’t get it to work. It sounded like the hard drive was spinning and we could see the power indicator light up, but the screen remained dark. On Tuesday afternoon when we had a break in the rain – it was still misty out – we rode the Spyder to a computer repair place in Marysville. The guy there was able to get the laptop to boot up using a remote keyboard and monitor.

We took this as a good sign. He said oftentimes when liquid is spilled into the keyboard it remains there as the bottom of the keyboard has a plastic liner. If that was the case, he could replace the keyboard and check everything out and she would be back in business. We crossed out fingers and left the laptop with him for an assessment.

Wednesday morning the cloud cover persisted. The computer repair guy called with bad news. Liquid had damaged the motherboard and fried a cable for the display. It wouldn’t be cost effective to repair the laptop.

Meanwhile I was having a couple of customer service challenges. I needed to replace the jack on our cargo trailer. If you’ve been reading my posts you might remember how I mis-judged the severity of a dip at the Elks lodge driveway in Palmdale and damaged our jack when it dragged on the pavement.

I called the TrailersPlus outfit in Marysville Tuesday to see if they had a replacement jack. When I asked the person on the phone for the parts department, I was put on hold for a minute. When they came back on the line they said there was no answer in Marysville as everyone was tied up with customers. They took my number and said someone would call me back shortly. I realized I wasn’t talking to someone in Marysville, I was talking to the TrailersPlus call center, wherever that may be.

A few hours later, I hadn’t received a call back so I phoned again. This time I was told the Marysville store is extremely busy and they’re operating on reduced hours. Really? When the store is extremely busy you shorten the hours of operation? He said it was necessary so they could handle paperwork and not be serving customers all the time. Wow! What kind of business model is that?

After lunch on Wednesday, I borrowed our granddaughter Lainey’s car. I had to pick up Donna’s laptop and I also wanted to see if I could find a jack for the trailer. I stopped at an RV and trailer supply store nearby in Arlington. They had jacks but not the one I needed. I was told they would have it on Thursday if I wanted to come back. The price was $61.

After I picked up Donna’s laptop, I stopped at TrailersPlus since I was nearby. I went in the front entrance and found an empty lobby area. I looked around and found a couple of empty offices. I walked through a door into the shop area. Outside the shop, I saw a couple of guys shooting the breeze and smoking. They asked me if I needed something. I told them what I was looking for and one of the guys said he would get someone to help me.

A couple of minutes later, he came back with another guy that motioned for me to follow him. We went back into the front lobby area. I told him what I was looking for. He hit a few keys on a computer and told me he had the jack and it was $29. Deal. I bought the jack and a new sand pad – the old pad was bent when the jack dragged. While he was entering the sale, I heard the phone ringing on three occasions. It was ignored by everyone. A few employees walked in and out of the lobby area but as far as I could tell no one was doing anything useful. This store is definitely in need of competent management.

Damaged jack on top, new replacement below

When I came home, I was able to change out the jack in short order. I was a little leery of the threads tapped into the frame for the jack mount. The mounting bolts took a mighty whack when the jack was pulled across the pavement. I used thread locking compound and was careful not to over tighten the jack mounts.

Job done!

The other customer service story was totally unexpected. On Monday, I ordered a new set of tires for Donna’s bike with my Amazon Prime account. At checkout, before I proceeded to finalize the order, I confirmed the shipping info. It said “Delivery Guaranteed Friday June 23.” I placed the order.

I received an e-mail Wednesday from Amazon telling me the order had shipped and it had tracking information. When I tracked it, the arrival date was Monday, June 26th! We are booked at the Pine Near RV Park in Winthrop on Monday. I called Amazon customer service. The representative I talked to definitely wasn’t a native English speaker. I was pretty sure I was talking to someone in India and his accent was so heavy, I had to ask him to repeat his question a few times. He couldn’t get the address I gave him or the order number right – he kept transposing the numbers and I had to repeat the info several times. It made me think of the times I was in Germany and tried to communicate with my rudimentary language skills – I think the phrase I most often used was “nochmal langsam bitte” or “repeat slowly please.”

After we got through my account information – which took about 15 minutes – I explained the problem with the order and the delivery guarantee. He put me on hold a couple of times saying  “Please on hold” and returning with the phrase “Thank you for on hold.” He said I would receive the items on Monday. I explained again how that wouldn’t work for me and they had guaranteed Friday delivery. He said it was “in shipment” and nothing could be done. I hung up frustrated.

To Amazon’s credit, I later received and e-mail giving me return options. I think I’ll wait until Friday to see if the items miraculously deliver before I choose a return and refund option.

On Wednesday afternoon, the skies cleared and we had bright sunshine. Donna rode south on the Centennial Trail and got 26 miles in. The forecast calls for much warmer temperatures with highs in the 80s by the weekend. This is more like the weather we’re used too – just in time for us to prepare to leave.

The Road North

When we pulled out of Lake Shastina Tuesday morning, we vowed to return for longer stay in the future. It’s such a beautiful and quiet setting. Our route took us north on Big Springs Road to County Road A12 – also called the 97-99 Cutoff. This took us west to I-5. We were surprised at the number of large houses we passed along the way. I wondered aloud where the money was coming from and whether these were primary residences or vacation homes. It’s a pretty remote area.

We drove north through Yreka and crossed the border into Oregon. A few miles past the border, we reached the Siskiyou Mountain Summit – this is the highest point on I-5 at 4,310 feet. Once we were over the pass, we hit a seven-mile 7% downgrade. We dropped over 2,300 feet of elevation. I was thanking Jacobs Engineering for their marvelous engine compression brake – affectionately known as a Jake brake. The Jake brake on our Cummins ISL engine has two settings – low and high. By toggling back and forth between the two, I was able to control our downhill speed without using the regular service brakes – I only stabbed at the brake pedal a couple of times when we approached tight curves in the road.

We passed through Ashland and Medford. The interstate has a series of summits as it undulates through the mountains. We would quickly climb a thousand feet or so, then immediately drop back down only to repeat the process time and again. We crossed both the south and north Umqua River. North of Roseburg, we pulled off at Sutherlin – a small town on the North Umpqua River. Our destination was the SKP Timber Valley RV Park. As Escapees members, we were able to dry camp in the park for a five-dollar fee.

We found a site long enough to back into without dropping the trailer and set up.

Our site at SKP Timber Valley

Donna had a Skype call as a guest speaker for an online organizing course. She set up shop outside to take the call.

Donna’s office Tuesday afternoon

A park member served as the welcome wagon and stopped by to drop off gifts. She gave us a cat toy made by someone in the park and Ozark the cat loves it. The toy has a wild turkey feather sewn in. We saw a couple of turkeys as we entered the park.

We had a quiet night but after sunrise, I woke up several times to the sound of turkeys gobbling. After slumbering for a while longer, I got out of bed. I saw wild turkeys strutting in the street in front of our coach. I went outside as they were moving away from us and tried to get closer to them. Wild turkeys are usually very wary creatures and it’s not often that you can approach them. These turkeys were obviously used to people in the park and came out of the woods to forage around – they didn’t seem too afraid of people.

A couple of them were strutting with their tails fanned out and feathers puffed up. I managed to get close enough to take a couple of photos.

Wild turkeys struttin’ their stuff

 

Walking back to the coach, I saw a jackrabbit slinking through a site.

Jack rabbit slinking away

There’s no shortage of wildlife in the area!

We hit the road just before 10am and continued our journey northward. We were still in hilly country but the climbs were short followed by short descents until we reached Eugene and then the terrain was flatter through the Willamette Valley.

Cruising along on the flat terrain, I noticed our transmission temperature seemed abnormally high. It was running around 210 degrees. The engine coolant temperature stayed normal – ranging from 180 to 195 on climbs and staying around 182-184 on the flat stretch of road. I thought it was odd. After a while, the transmission temperature started to increase again. When it reach 220 degrees, I became concerned. There was a rest stop a few miles away. By the time we pulled off at the rest stop it was at 224 degrees – much higher than I’ve ever seen in the past.

With the engine idling and the transmission in neutral, the temperature quickly dropped to 184 degrees. I used the Allison transmission key pad to check the fluid level and interrogate the control unit for trouble codes. The fluid level was fine and no diagnostic trouble codes were recorded. I found my Allison manual and read through it. It said high temperature is worrisome when the sump temperature exceeds 250 degrees, so we were still in safe territory. However, it wasn’t making sense to me. Why was the transmission running that hot when the engine temperature remained normal and there wasn’t any reason for the drive train to be under more stress than normal?

We got back on I-5 and continued on our way. The transmission temperature remained normal for several miles, then started climbing again. When it reached 211 degrees, I shifted down from sixth gear to fifth gear. The temperature dropped to 204 degrees. I still can’t make sense of this. As we approached Portland, I shifted back into drive and the transmission temperature stayed in the 190s.

Driving through Portland, Oregon is one of my least favorite drives – it ranks right up there with Seattle. We hit I-84 on the south side of the Columbia River and followed it to I-205. This took us over the Columbia River and into Washington. We pulled into the Vancouver Washington Elks lodge around 2:30pm.

Our dry camping spot at the Vancouver Elks Lodge

We plan to boondock here for two nights. Our thinking was Donna could get some bicycle mileage in here – she bicycled when we stayed here last year. While we were driving, Donna had a beef stew in the crock pot. The aroma was wonderful! After we set up and paid for two nights, we took a walk to the Fred Meyer Supermarket about a half mile from here. The crock pot stew continued to simmer.

Then we went into the lodge for a cold one. When we came back to the coach, I was reading a book when I thought to check the battery condition. Oh no! The inverter was powering the crock pot from the house batteries and I had run them below 12 volts! I went to start the generator but it was dead. Hitting the start button did nothing.

I started our engine to put some juice back into the batteries from the alternator. I still couldn’t get anything from the generator start button. It didn’t make sense to me, we had run the generator that morning without any issues. I went out checked the connections at the battery bank. Sure enough, the cable that runs up to generator had corroded and pulled out of the connector.

I made a temporary fix by clamping the cable to the terminal with Vise-Grip pliers. Today I’ll have to clean the cable and connector, strip the insulation back and reconnect the cable.

MacGuyver temporary solution.

With the temporary fix in place, the generator fired up and recharged the batteries.

Meanwhile, Donna dished out the stew and it was excellent!

Crock pot beef stew

This morning we woke up to rain. I hope it clears up so Donna can get her ride in and I can work on the generator/battery cable.

Darkness, Darkness

We were invited to join fellow Alpine Coach owners Dessa and Frank Halasz at their coach for a small gathering Monday night. I wasn’t feeling up to par after suffering from dehydration in the afternoon, so Donna went without me. She rode the Spyder over to their site at the far end of the park before sundown, around 7pm.

She returned a little past 9pm and said she had a heck of a time riding home. It’s very dark in that section of the park so when she first started out, she thought maybe her eyes just needed to adjust to the darkness after being inside in bright light. She tried the high beams, hoping to shed more light, but that didn’t change anything. It took her awhile to navigate the unfamiliar park roads, but she eventually found her way home. She told me that she thought something must be wrong with the Spyder’s headlights. I went outside and checked it out. She was right – the tail lights and running lights worked, but no headlights. I needed to do something about that – I wouldn’t want us to be caught out in the dark. For some reason the Jesse Colin Young song Darkness, Darkness came to mind.

Tuesday morning we played pickleball here at the Escapees Park of the Sierras. We quit before noon and it was another hot day. After lunch, I looked at the headlight situation on the Spyder. First I checked out the 30amp headlight fuse. Looking at the manual, I saw tail lights and running lights were on a separate circuit from the headlights. The fuse was fine so I moved on to the next check.

I read the shop manual instructions for bulb removal and it seemed pretty straightforward. Simply remove the instrument panel, then take the cover off the rear of the bulb housing. Twist the bulb holder counter-clockwise and it should come out. Easy, right?

The instrument panel snaps in place with plastic tabs. You’re supposed to depress the tabs with a screwdriver and gently lift the panel out. Okay, except you need a screwdriver that’s less than an inch long or else it’ll hit the windshield! I took an old pocket screwdriver and modified it for this task.

Modified screwdriver for instrument panel removal

With the instrument panel out, I could reach into the body work to remove the headlight bulbs. However, the instrument panel opening is fairly small. My hands aren’t especially large, but they’re not small either. I wear an XL glove size.

Instrument panel out

Next I had to take the cover off the rear of the headlight housing. There wasn’t much room – the back of my hand was jammed against plastic mounting points for the dash body work.

Not much room in there

Once I had the rear cover off, I needed to twist the bulb holder and unplug the H7 halogen bulb. This took a lot of effort. The headlight housing is like a monkey paw trap. I could get my hand in there, but once I wrapped my fingers around the bulb holder my hand was trapped against the inside of the housing. Also my wrist was against the edge of the instrument panel opening – not too comfortable. I tried different approaches standing on either side of the Spyder. Eventually I managed to get the bulb out.

The bulb holder is free from the mount

The headlight bulb was burned out. I didn’t bother removing the left side bulb at this point, I assumed that both bulbs were bad. A while back, Sini told me she thought one of our headlights was out. I didn’t think so – I thought the headlights only used one bulb on low beam and both on high beam. Some motorcycles are set up this way. It turns out that both bulbs should be illuminated at all times. High beams are actuated by a solenoid that adjusts the reflector in the headlight assembly.

I rode the Spyder to Coarsegold and bought two new H7 Halogen bulbs.

Old H7 halogen bulb

When I returned, I went back to work. Accessing the left bulb was tighter than the right side! There’s a wiring harness behind the bulb housing that makes removing the rear cover and the bulb holder nearly impossible. I’m sure the factory assembles the headlights on a bench, then installs the body work and instrument panel on the vehicle. To do it the way the factory assembled it would mean removing the windshield, the instrument panel and all of the associated front end body work. It would be a large task.

So, I continued the monkey paw game in the 100-degree heat. I had to take care not to touch the glass bulb – halogen bulbs run hot and any oils from your fingers will cause them to fail. After a while persistence paid off and I had both bulbs changed. Getting the bulb holders back in place was another test of patience. Eventually I got it done. But I would like to have five minutes with the person that designed this set up. I’m guessing it was an engineer that got a mechanical engineering degree because of an aptitude for math. Obviously they had never serviced or repaired anything in their life!

I spent the rest of the afternoon cooling off inside with a book. Before dinner, Donna and I took a cruise around the park on the Spyder. This is a large property with several loops through five sections. We took a look at Coarsegold Creek where it crosses a golf cart path – the creek is running strong and with the large Sierra Nevada snow pack I imagine it’ll run strong through the summer months.

Coarsegold Creek

Donna made coriander crusted pork chops with a pineapple salsa for dinner. She served it with green beans and sweet potato mash – it was a hit in my book – very juicy and flavorful!

Coriander crusted pork chop with pineapple salsa

We played pickleball again this morning. We expect another hot afternoon with the temperature exceeding 90 degrees. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler. We’ll head out early tomorrow to visit Yosemite National Park.

Last Dance in San Diego

Our last week in San Diego was filled with the usual activities and then some. I hit the pickleball courts and happy hours at Offshore Tavern and Grill and Dan Diego’s. In addition to getting some writing done, Donna got in some cycling and also attended a beach workout sponsored by San Diego Magazine.

In my last post, I described the dead end I hit trying to change out Sini’s kitchen faucet. After discussing the issue with my friends Mark and Paul – both have earned their living as plumbers their entire adult lifetimes – they came to the same conclusion. I would have to cut the frozen brass nut off of the old faucet with a sawzall reciprocating saw to remove it. I had two problems with this. First – I don’t have a sawzall. Second, I would most likely damage Sini’s sink if I used a sawzall on the faucet nut. I hated to do it, but I had to tell Sini I wouldn’t be able to complete the job.

On Friday night, Donna, Sini and I went to Offshore Tavern and Grill. We were joined by Sini’s friends, Larry and Cindy, who were visiting from Washington. We ordered dinner from the happy hour menu – Sini and Donna went for the poke plate while Larry and Cindy had carne asada tacos. I went for the seared yellowfin tuna – delicious.

Seared yellowfin tuna

We left Offshore around 7pm and headed over to Tio Leo’s – a Mexican restaurant and bar a few miles south of Offshore. We met up with our friends, Carole Sue and Mona, there. It was my night out with the girls.

Carole Sue, Donna, Sini, Mona and me

The Siers Brothers Band was playing at Tio Leo’s. This was the second time we saw this band – we saw them at the end of April at the Beachcomber. This time they had another member – a singer fronting the band – he did a smooth rendition of the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling. They were as good as before – we really enjoyed their performance and I even hit the dance floor with Donna for a couple of songs.

Siers Brothers Band

Steve Siers

Steve Siers and his brother Mark play guitar in the band. They trade off lead and rhythm parts. It was interesting to see their different approach and style of playing. Mark tended to be true to the original recordings and played the lead parts pretty much note for note. Steve was a little more free-form and put his own twist on the solos. It was really evident when they covered Tom Petty’s Last Dance with Mary Jane. Mark also plays hot slide guitar and really cooked on the Allman Brothers One Way Out.

On Saturday, the kitchen faucet saga came to a close. Sini’s current faucet works fine – no leaks or problems – she just wanted to upgrade it. Since I couldn’t get the job done, she decided to wait on replacing it rather than hiring a plumber to do it. Meanwhile, Donna really liked the faucet Sini bought so she decided to buy it from Sini so I could install it in our coach.

I replaced our faucet two years ago but Donna wasn’t entirely happy with the one I put in. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but it was too low and she didn’t like the way the sprayer functioned. The faucet Sini bought was a Delta high-rise pull-down kitchen and bar faucet. I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to remove our faucet since it was only two years old and not corroded.

Our “old” kitchen faucet

Of course I had to deal with a cramped work space, but there was more room than I had in Sini’s cabinet.

Cramped workspace

As I suspected, the threads on the hold down nut weren’t corroded at all and removal was easy.

Clean threads and easy removal

Installing the new faucet was straight forward and I had the job done in less than an hour.

New high-rise pull-down faucet

Donna is happy with her new faucet. She likes the way the sprayer works and the high-rise design gives her more room in the sink. A happy ending to the faucet story. Sini will probably have her faucet changed when she returns here in the fall – she’s spending the summer up in Washington and her coach will be in storage.

The weather has been a mixed bag this week. We had a few showers at the beginning of the week. The pattern has been cloudy mornings with sunshine in the afternoon. The temperature has reached the upper 60s everyday. Today may be a little cooler.

I have a few things to accomplish today. We’re pulling out of here tomorrow so I’ll need to pack the trailer, check tire pressures and put away the tire covers and windshield cover. Tomorrow we’ll drive 90 miles up to Hemet where we’ll check in at Golden Village Palms RV Resort. I got a great rate on a 70′ pull-through site there with our Passport America discount – under $30/night.