Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tortilla Flat

I didn’t post yesterday, so I need to post a weekend update. Not that the weekend was all that exciting. Donna went out for her first bike ride in two weeks. She was away for a week and her bike was in the shop for repairs. She rode the Usery loop, 20 miles, with her friends, Dara and Amber and a few other gals. Her bike is like a new machine. The tune-up with new cables, chain and cassette and new wheels have restored the liveliness of her Trek Madone.

After her ride, we hung out at the pool for a while and soaked in the Jacuzzi. There were airplanes from Falcon Field putting on an aerobatic display to the west of us. Three Russian Yak 52s and an AT-6 Texan flew overhead in tight formation a couple of times. I really enjoy watching these piston-powered airplanes. Last week, there was a pilot roaring overhead – he appeared to be practicing for a pylon race. He would pass over the RV park in a northeasterly direction, then roll into a steep bank as he made a 180-degree turn to the southwest. He continued on that heading until he was almost out of sight before he rolled into another 180-degree turn and passed overhead again.

As he approached the park, his plane sounded like a buzz saw. The sound was coming from the propeller. The tip speed of the propeller was exceeding the speed of sound and creating a shock wave. This phenomenon is hard to get your head around. Here’s what’s happening. The propeller is turning at a certain number of revolutions per minute (RPM). Although the entire propeller is turning at that RPM, the tips of the propeller are describing an arc of greater diameter than any other part of the propeller. This means the tips have to cover a greater distance for a given RPM. Speed is defined as distance traveled  in a period of time. The speed of the propeller tips can be very high. When they are exceeding the speed of sound, they create sound of their own.

Once the plane passed by, the propeller sound abated and you could hear the rumble of the piston engine. I stood outside and watched him for several minutes. This stuff fascinates me. I guess I’m easily amused.

On Saturday afternoon, I soaked a cedar plank. Donna prepared miso rubbed sockeye salmon, which I grilled on the cedar plank. If you haven’t tried grilling on a plank, I highly recommend it.

Cedar plank on the grill

Cedar plank on the grill

Cedar planked salmon with cauliflower-potato mash and cilantro-jalapeno pesto

Cedar planked salmon with cauliflower-potato mash and cilantro-jalapeno pesto

Donna served it with a cauliflower-potato mash with cilantro-jalapeno pesto and green beans on the side. It was outstanding!

Yesterday, we drove the rental car to Tortilla Flat for breakfast. Tortilla Flat is a quirky little place near Canyon Lake on the old Apache Trail. It was originally a stage coach stop that began operation more than 100 years ago. It’s the only remaining stop on the Apache Trail. Legend has it that in the old days, miners would stop at the saloon on their way to the big city (Phoenix). They would write their name on a dollar bill and tack it on the wall of the saloon. That way they knew they would have some cash waiting at the saloon when they returned from the big city.

Today, tourists staple dollar bills on the wall. The entire interior of the saloon is papered with dollar bills.

Dollar bills with names and places scrawled on them

Dollar bills with names and places scrawled on them

Another wall covered in a fistful of dollars

Another wall covered in dollar bills

Today, there are a few buildings and six or seven year-round residents at Tortilla Flat. There’s the usual tourist trap gift shop, an ice cream parlor, small museum and the saloon. The saloon is a favorite breakfast cafe.

When we lived in Mesa, I would ride my motorcycle up to Tortilla Flat nearly every Sunday morning. I would meet a group of fellow motorcycle enthusiasts at the Dash In on the corner of Lost Dutchman and Apache Trail. Our group included a few old road racers and few want-to-be racers. We met early on Sunday morning, before there was any traffic on the Apache Trail.

About 10 miles from Tortilla Flat, the road becomes very twisty. I rode up this road so many times on my motorcycles that I remembered every inch of the way. I called out the turns to Donna and the preferred line through the turns for 10 miles. She rode the route on her motorcycle once with me, but this time, she was more focused on the scenery.

Scenic overlook of Canyon Lake on the way to Tortilla Flat

Scenic overlook of Canyon Lake on the way to Tortilla Flat

We used to ride up past Tortilla Flat. The pavement continues for about five miles up the canyon towards Apache Lake before it becomes a dirt road. At the end of the pavement we would pull off in a turn-out and chat. Now and then, a small group would ride down the road a few miles to a turn out point and race each other back to the top. We would be dragging our knees around the turns, riding the wheels off our bikes. I had an MV Agusta when I first started riding with this group. Then I bought a tricked out Ducati 848 Superbike. It had all the goods – full Termignoni race system and ECU, Ohlins suspension. We had a blast. After an hour or two, we would ride down to the saloon for breakfast and swap stories. I sold the Ducati when we moved to Michigan. I didn’t think I would have any use for it there.

If you ever get up to the saloon at Tortilla Flat, you must try the chili. Whether it’s breakfast time or lunch, the chili is tops. On the menu it’s called “Killer Chili.” On the breakfast menu they have the “Killer Omelette.” This is a three-egg omelette filled with chili and topped with cheese. Tasty and very filling.

Here are a few pictures of the quirkiness that’s Tortilla Flat. Click on the photos to enlarge.

Outside of the saloon at Tortilla Flat

Outside of the saloon at Tortilla Flat

Bar stools made from saddles in the saloon

Bar stools made from saddles in the saloon

This is what happens if you steal a dollar off of the wall

This is what happens if you steal a dollar off of the wall

Lost Dutchman legend

Lost Dutchman legend

Old western ruins

Old western ruins

Water tank for the stage coach horses

Water tank for the stage coach horses

I’m glad we made it up there. The breakfast was good and it brought back great memories.






Almost Bored

Yesterday started off with a great breakfast. Donna cooked sunny-side-up eggs for me in the Pampered Chef microwave egg cooker our friend Mona gave us. She served it with cilantro and avocado over skirt steak strips with salsa on the side.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

I puttered around most of the day. I’m still resting my sore shoulder, so that means no bicycling or anything strenuous. I need to get on the roof to clean and polish the crown where the roof meets the side walls of the coach. I hope I can do that next week. I don’t want to lift the ladder and climb it right now. For the first time since we hit the road, I’m getting a little bored, sitting around and waiting for my injury to heal.

FedEx delivered a couple of items I ordered through Amazon from Ryder Fleet Products. I bought new wiper inserts. The wiper blades on the coach are dry and cracking. That’s common in the southwest from sitting in the sun. My neighbor, George, gave me wiper blade covers to protect them when I install the new inserts.The covers are a mesh cloth that wraps around the blade and are held in place with velcro strips. They’re supposed to filter the sunlight and keep the blades cooler. I want to be sure we have good wipers when we hit the road. We could drive into a thunderstorm anytime, any place.

I also ordered two fuel filter/water separators. Diesel engines need a clean fuel supply. Filtration is necessary. Water can build up in the fuel tank from condensation. Any time we will be sitting in one place for more than a week, I try to have the tank as full as possible. With less air space in the tank, the chance of condensation forming is reduced.

The Fleetguard external fuel filter on our coach is also a water separator. It has a sensor on the bottom that plugs into a wiring harness on the coach. If we have excess water, it will illuminate a warning light on the dash. It also has a drain port on the bottom. The water will separate from the fuel in the bottom of the filter canister. Opening the drain will allow the water to run out.

Water in the fuel can cause corrosion in the fuel system. The other problem with water in the fuel is the formation of algae. Once this happens, it clogs the fuel filter and is hard to eradicate. I haven’t worried about it too much while we’re parked here in the dry desert air and I haven’t had to drain any water from the filter. However, once we start our travels again, I’ll start adding an algaecide additive to our fuel tank.

The water separator is in the service bay – the last bay on the right rear of the coach. This service bay allows access to the fuel filter, air filter and air filter restriction gauge, engine oil dipstick, transmission fluid dipstick, air suspension water drain and various relays and fuses.

Powertrain service bay

Coach service bay

Last week I opened the air filter housing to look at the air filter. It looks okay and the restriction gauge shows 8 inches vacuum (H2O) – almost no restriction. I won’t replace the air filter element until the gauge reads above 20 inches H2O. Replacing air filters too soon isn’t a good idea. New air filters don’t have as much filtration efficiency as one that has already trapped some particulate matter. The trapped particulates act as added filter media. With the vacuum gauge set-up in the service bay, I’ll know exactly when we need to replace the air filter element.

I’ll replace the fuel filter/water separator next week, before we leave here. I don’t know for sure how old the current filter is. Barring any contamination issues, replacing the fuel filter/water separator will become an annual maintenance item. I ordered two of them so I can carry a spare on the road. If we get a tank of contaminated diesel fuel, I can change the filter on the side of the road.

Last evening, Donna and I had dinner at Red, White and Brew. Then we drove over to DNA Cycles to pick up Donna’s bike (she rented a car for the weekend). Afterwards, we came home and I watched the NCAA basketball tournament. Both Michigan and Michigan State advanced to the Elite Eight round. Dayton is in as well. San Diego State was eliminated Thursday night. Sunday’s games will determine the final four. This is my favorite basketball tournament.

I hope whatever is wrong in my left shoulder heals soon, so I can get some things done and quit moping around.

Under Pressure

Yesterday, the temperature stayed in the upper 70s – much cooler than the days before. Today is forecast to warm up back into the 80s. I’ll pull the window awnings out to shade the windows again since we don’t expect much wind.

I haven’t been very active the last few days. I’m resting my shoulder, hoping that whatever is wrong with it will heal. I’ve been spending too much time in the coach though. I finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner. Donna and I watched that movie again Wednesday night. She was bawling.

While I was sitting at the table yesterday, I looked out the window. A covey of quail were walking through our site. There were five or six of them. They seemed curious about our scooter. Two of them stopped under it and looked around. Then they climbed on the muffler and jumped onto the rear tire. One crawled through the engine compartment.  Another jumped onto the floorboard, then hopped on the seat. I tried to take a couple of pictures. I knew they would scurry away if I opened the door, so I shot through the window glass. The window glass created a moire effect, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. The photos are poor, but I’ll share them anyway.

Curious about the scooter

Quail curious about the scooter

This one wanted to take it for a ride.

This one wanted to take it for a ride.

Speaking of the scooter, Donna was going to ride it over to the optometrist to pick up her prescription and go grocery shopping. I told her I should check the tire pressure before she rode it, since I haven’t checked it for a few weeks. It’s not unusual for tires to lose 1 or 2 psi per month.

I try to keep our tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure, such as blow-outs. Improper inflation can also cause poor handling, increased wear and decreased fuel mileage. It’s not as easy to fill tires at gas stations as it used to be. Back when gas stations were full-service stations, there were hoses with air chucks next to the gas pump. You could inflate your tires for free while the gas was being pumped. It still only takes a few minutes though and it’s an important task that too many people neglect.

The tires on the scooter were down a couple of pounds. I got the Porter-Cable portable air compressor out of the basement compartment and filled the tires to the proper pressure. I also use this compressor to fill the tires on our coach. The front tires on our coach are inflated to 110 psi. This little compressor produces a maximum of 150 psi. The pump cuts in when the pressure drops to 125 psi, so the pressure is always high enough to fill a 110 psi tire.

Proper tire inflation is important when you only have two wheels under you. It’s also very important when you are driving a 40-foot, 30,000-plus-pound motorhome. Having said that, let me add that it’s important no matter what vehicle you are driving. Please take a moment out of your day and check your tire pressures. This might help you avoid problems down the road.

Last night, Donna prepared pork tenderloin with a new marinade. It was a ginger-soy-sherry marinade and it was really tasty. I grilled it along with asparagus spears and she baked a big sweet potato that we shared. Yum.

Tenderloin and asparagus on the Weber Q

Tenderloin and asparagus on the Weber Q

Pork tenderloin, asparagus and sweet potato

Pork tenderloin, asparagus and sweet potato


Today, I think I’ll check the library in the clubhouse and see if I can find an interesting book to read. Then, I’ll relax at the pool and read it.


30,000 Visits

Before we decided to hit the road full time, I spent a lot of time online reading blogs and RV forums. I learned from others this way. Although you can learn online, there’s no better teacher than experience.

I decided to create a blog of my own. My initial goal was to enable family and friends to know where we are and what we’re up to. I also wanted to let others have a taste of this nomadic lifestyle. I always said I would be honest and share our experiences, good or bad. I’m hoping someone learns from the mistakes we’ve made. Overall, we have no regrets. We haven’t wished to be back in a sticks-and-bricks residence.

I’m gratified by the growth of this blog. Last week we surpassed 30,000 visits to the site. There are more people checking in on us than I ever imagined. I’ve expanded the content with the addition of the Resources page. I’d like to spruce my page up, so I’m looking into online blog tutorials (I need all the help I can get).

Being in the same area for months at a time isn’t as exciting as roaming around the country, exploring new places. We’ve made many great memories, though, while we we’re here in Mesa and when we stayed in San Diego. We have some plans for the summer months and also plan to head back to San Diego next fall.

I’m hoping Donna’s new wheel set for her bike comes in today. She has a week of final preparation for El Tour de Mesa on April 5th. A week from next Monday, we’ll light the fires and kick the tires. It’s time to start roaming the country again!

Note from Donna: I was interviewed awhile back about how we decided to hit the road as full-time RVers and how we sold all of our stuff. The video just went live yesterday on YouTube. I thought you might be interested!


Virga and Haboob

Yesterday, the temperature climbed to 90 degrees! We ran the air conditioner in the late afternoon for an hour or so. I don’t remember when we last had to resort to that. I went to the pool and sat in the Jacuzzi for awhile to soothe my shoulder. While I was there, I saw and smelled something I have not witnessed in a long time.

It was virga. Virga is observable precipitation that evaporates before hitting the ground. Overhead, I saw a dark cloud and rays of raindrops. I could smell the rain. But nothing was getting wet. The temperature cooled for a few minutes, then the cloud moved on and it quickly warmed up again.

After I returned from the pool, as I was getting into the shower, my phone sounded an alarm that I haven’t heard before. It was a weather alert from the National Weather Service (NWS). The alert was for wind and dust storms.

These dust storms are also known by the name haboob. Haboobs are found in arid regions throughout the world. They are usually triggered by the wind created by thunder storm cells. It’s unusual to have weather alerts and haboobs this early in the year in central Arizona.

Here’s a Wikipedia file photo of a haboob near Ahwatukee, outside of Phoenix, Arizona.


After my shower, I stepped outside and took a look around. I could see the dust storm well to the south and west of our location. I didn’t think we had anything to worry about. It turned out I was right. The wind picked up a bit, but nothing drastic and no haboob here.

I didn’t do much yesterday. I’m still having trouble with my neck and left shoulder. I’ll give the NSAID medication one more day, then I might need to think about a visit to the doctor.

Today, the temperature should only reach the upper 70s. The wind is expected to pick up later in the afternoon. I have the main awning in and may have to pull in the window awnings later to avoid wind damage.

I worked on some of our travel plans yesterday. We have a lot of stops for the summer already booked in RV parks. I’m still trying to find something in the Arlington, Washington area. I looked at an RV park near Stanwood that may be our best choice. If anyone has a suggestion, please let us know.

We have lots of open dates still and plan to fill in several nights on the fly. I really enjoyed doing that last summer. We were spontaneous and found cool places, like county fairgrounds or rodeo grounds. The rodeo grounds were fun. We’re still undecided about our route when we leave here. It all depends on the weather. We’re considering running up to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, but right now the overnight low temperature there is in the 30s. If it doesn’t warm up in the next two weeks, we probably won’t go that way.



Oso Mudslide

Yesterday was uneventful. The only thing I had on my agenda was a dentist appointment to have my new crown installed. Donna spent the day catching up on her work.

We continue to monitor  the news from the devastating mudslide in western Washington near Darrington. The photo below was published by the Washington State Patrol. It’s an aerial view from the east looking west towards Oso and Arlington, Washington.

You can see the large crater where the mountain side broke away. It’s about 1,500 feet wide and 600 feet high. The normal path of the Stillaguamish River is pretty clear. If you look closely on the left side of the photo, you can see Highway 530 winding its way next to the river. The highway is under the mud and rubble in  the left center of the photo. There was a road that ran from Highway 530, north towards the river called Steelhead Drive. The road made a 90-degree turn to the east near the river then hooked back towards the highway where it became East Steelhead Drive.

There were more than 30 houses along this road, which is now completely covered by the mudslide. The mud moved quickly and with great force, uprooting large fir trees and demolishing houses. Roughly one square mile is covered by the mud and debris. You can see the normal course of the river in the lower right of the photo. All along the bottom of the photo is floodwater. I can make out at least one flooded dwelling. I don’t know what else was there.

The media is calling this the Oso Mudslide. Although this is near the small community of Oso, I think most of the people in this area consider themselves as part of the Darrington commmunity. Darrington is a small, blue-collar logging town to the east of the mudslide.

There are efforts to raise funds for the families affected. One is run by the Cascade Valley Hospital, where my oldest daughter works as a Registered Nurse. Another fund has been set up to specifically benefit a young family that lost their home and everything in it at Giveforward. Thankfully, they weren’t in the house at the time.

We plan to visit the area and spend some time with my daughter and granddaughters in July. Our plans for the year are really shaping up. We’re booked at the Fairview RV Resort in Portland, Oregon from August 1st through the 11th. Today, I’ll book our reservation in Great Falls, Montana. I think we’ll stay there from around June 10th to the 22nd. Donna will be competing in the Montana State Senior Olympics 40K road cycling event on the 20th. We’ll book a reservation in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho from around June 24th through the Fourth of July holiday during which time we’ll meet up with Allen Hutchinson who will competing in the Ironman Triathlon. Then we’ll head to Arlington, Washington where we’ll stay for a few weeks in July. We’re still looking for a place there. Any suggestions?

I’m getting the hitch itch. Our plan, as it stands today, is to hitch up and hit the road on Monday, April 7th – less than two weeks from today.

Home and Housewares Show

I didn’t post to the blog this morning as usual. I didn’t sleep well due to the pain in my neck and shoulder. Before I complain too much, I should count my blessings.

My ex-wife and I raised our three daughters in the north Cascades of Washington in a small town called Darrington. Darrington is about 35 miles east of I-5 on highway 530, north of Seattle. I still have friends and family in the area. Last Saturday, tragedy struck outside of Darrington, east of the community called Oso. A large section of a mountain on the north side of the Stillguamish River broke free and turned into a mudslide. The mudslide quickly traveled south, crossing the river and damming it. It continued south through two neighborhoods and across highway 530. There were lives lost and homes destroyed. Many people are still missing. The mud slide covers about a square mile of land. The full extent of death, injury and damage are yet to be determined. My heart goes out to all in the community.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the International Home and Housewares Association (IHA) Show Donna attended in Chicago. The IHA Show is an annual event for buyers to connect with manufacturers who come to the show with their latest and greatest products, many of which will be launched in the coming year. Taking photos was not allowed at the show, but Donna did come home with some product samples.

Cupanion vacuum insulated bottle and infuser

Cupanion vacuum insulated bottle and infuser

Cupanion hot and cold cups
The blue bottle is a water bottle with an infuser so you can add fresh fruits, veggies and/or herbs to your water. The black bottle will keep drinks hot or cold. This is neat – with every reusable bottle you purchase, Cupanion will give the same amount (equal to your first fill) of clean water to a person in need.

Brillo makes more than just steel wool cleaning pads.

Brillo makes more than just steel wool cleaning pads.

Sponges from the Brillo company
Donna connected with people from the Brillo Company and learned that they are manufactured in Walled Lake, MI – just around the corner from where we used to live! Donna came up with a great cleaning tip using Brillo pads – they’re perfect for cleaning glass shower doors and no, they won’t scratch the glass. Anyway, Donna stopped by the Brillo booth to let them know that she often recommends Brillo pads for that job and, in fact, her tip was included in the April issue of Real Simple magazine. They had the magazine in their booth and were very pleased to meet her. They gave her a bunch of product samples including a pack of Bug Blaster sponges for getting bugs off the windshield and some kitchen and bathroom cleaning sponges that are so good, Donna threw out all of her other sponges!

Slim Sonic travel toothbrush

Slim Sonic travel toothbrush

Slim Sonic travel toothbrush
Donna met the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for VioLife, makers of the Slim Sonic toothbrush, on her flight to Chicago. She gave Donna a sample of the toothbrush at the show. Donna loved the variety of designs that include their new destination series. They also make a mini-humidifer that she is sending to us to try out in our motorhome.


Dawn Luxe dishwashing gloves

Dawn Luxe dishwashing gloves
Donna likes these because they are infused with hand lotion to soften your hands when you wear them. They will be in stores soon.


Bamboo perforated towels

NatureZway(TM) Bamboo Perforated Towels
NatureZway(TM) Bamboo Perforated Towels are from the makers of Spic and Span products. These towels come in a roll like regular paper towels but are reusable up to 10 times. This makes them a great product for RVers, don’t you think? Keep an eye out for them in stores.

Bounce lint roller

Bounce lint roller

Bounce Lint Roller with Febreze

Those of you with pets probably go through a lot of lint rollers! This one is scented with Febreze. FYI, another one of Donna’s cleaning tips is to use lint rollers as an easy way to clean lampshades.

Something I meant to mention in yesterday’s post – shortly after Donna came home Saturday night, we stepped outside at 9:15pm and enjoyed the fireworks display I organized to celebrate her return.

Actually, we don’t know why the fireworks show was going on just north of the Apache Wells RV Resort, but I can take credit, right?

Car Nuts and Volts

Yesterday I was moving rather slowly. I pinched a nerve in my neck, probably an overuse issue from washing and waxing the coach with my arms up and my head tilted back. After I posted to the blog, I ordered a small pizza to go from the Red, White and Brew.

I spoke to Donna on  the phone. She was on her way home from Albany, New York and waiting for a connecting flight in Chicago. Everything seemed to be on schedule. I was looking forward to her return home around 8pm.

When I picked up the pizza, I remembered there was a car show down the street from us at the Apache Wells Community Center. After lunch, I scootered over to the show.

People enjoying the cars

People enjoying the cars

It seems like I’ve been running into live music everywhere I go lately.

The guy hiding behind the sax could really rip on the  fiddle

The guy hiding behind the sax could really rip on the fiddle

There were several rows of cars on display.

Another row of cars

Another row of cars

Some of cars really caught my eye. I didn’t take photos of all the cars I liked, but I’ll share a couple that I thought were really cool.'s a hemi

Yep…it’s a hemi

This 1962 VW Beetle with the canvas sunroof was a real beauty.

1962 VW Beetle

1962 VW Beetle

And it had a super-clean hot-rodded engine with dual Weber carbs, 2180cc.


I didn’t know what to think of this next one – it’s a motorcycle with a side car powered by an inline 6-cylinder car engine.


I spent about an hour looking at the cars. Then it was time to get stuff done.

When I returned to the coach, I thought I should take a look at the 6-volt battery bank that powers the house 12-volt system. We have a bank of four 6-volt deep-cycle golf cart batteries. These are flooded, wet cell type lead/acid batteries. The batteries are wired in pairs. Each pair is wired together in series – positive to negative. In effect, this creates a big 12-volt battery. Then the two pairs are connected together in parallel – positive to positive and negative to negative. This creates an even bigger 12-volt battery. Wiring in series makes the voltage additive; i.e., 6 volts plus 6 volts equals 12 volts. Wiring them in parallel makes the capacity (amp hours) additive, but voltage remains constant.

Our battery bank. The four golf cart batteries are wired together. The two 12-volt  batteries in the left rear are starter batteries

Our battery bank – the four golf cart batteries are wired together. The two 12-volt batteries in the left rear are starter batteries.

The flooded wet cell 6-volt batteries require maintenance. Our inverter charges the batteries when we are on shore power or when we run the generator. The electrolyte in the battery is 35% sulfuric acid and 65% water. The water will evaporate when the battery is being charged. Periodically you need to remove the caps and look at the electrolyte level. The lead plates inside each cell must always be completely submerged in electrolyte. If the plates are exposed to air, they will be damaged.

If you need to add water, you need to use distilled water. Tap water or drinking water contains minerals that will build up and eventually short the plates. Never add more electrolyte to a battery. Only the water evaporates, so only distilled water needs to be added. I use a turkey baster to add distilled water to each cell.

Use distilled water to top off batteries

Use distilled water to top off batteries

I need to clean the dust off the batteries. That’s a chore for another day.

Donna made it home around 8pm. She had a great trip. She says the housewares show in Chicago was amazing and she met with some interesting people including a buyer for the Camping World catalog and representatives from the Home Shopping Network and QVC. I’ll share some of the goodies she brought home tomorrow. She also enjoyed visiting her parents who live west of Albany, New York. From all accounts, they are both doing very well although, like most people in the Northeast, they are ready for winter to be over!

We watched an old Quentin Tarantino movie called Jackie Brown last night. Donna was jet-lagged and barely stayed awake to the end.






Totally Tubular

Finding a suitable set of wheels for Donna’s bike was my top priority yesterday. The Bontrager Race Lite wheels on her bike had cracks in the rear rim. She paid the entry fee and has been training for the El Tour de Mesa bike race that takes place April 5th. I had a spare set of wheels in our old cargo trailer, but those Dirty, Rotten Thieves took them. Her friend, Dara, generously offered a set of wheels for Donna.

I drove Mike Hall’s Jeep over to Dara’s house in the morning. Dara left the wheels in her garage and gave me a code to enter. At first look I said, “Wow!” They were Mavic carbon fiber race wheels. Then I realized they were tubulars. Tubulars are a type of racing tire (we used to call them sew-ups). Tubular tires have the tube inserted, then the tire casing is sewn together at the inner circumference. This allows very high tire pressure for racing. The tire is glued to the rim, which has a shallow depression to fit the tire.

Tubular tires are race specific. They are not an ideal deal choice for all-around use. If you have a puncture, you have to replace the tubular tire. In a racing situation, ideally you have a support person replace the entire wheel assembly so you can rejoin the race. It was very generous of Dara to offer her the wheel set, but I didn’t think it would work out for Donna.

I came back home and looked on the Internet and checked local bike shops for wheels. The local bike shops stocked both extremes of the market – they either stocked cheap wheels that weren’t suitable or they had high-end $2,000 racing wheel sets. We needed something in between. I bit the bullet and went to DNA Cycles to order a custom-made wheel set. Donna should have new wheels before the end of next week. Happy birthday Donna…your present is two months early!

I dropped off the Jeep at Mike’s place and picked up the scooter. Mike’s wife, Jodi, told me they would be at Baja Joe’s Mexican Cantina at 3pm and I was welcome to join them.

I rode back home and took prescription-strength ibuprofen for the pain in my left shoulder. Getting old really hurts sometimes. Between the mountain biking and the wash/polish job on the coach, I’ve aggravated a nerve in my left shoulder. I kicked back and read for a while, did a load of laundry and took a short nap.

At 3pm, I rode over to Baja Joe’s and found Mike and Jodi out on the patio. We were joined by Mike’s friend, Don, and his wife. Then Jodi’s twin sister, Julie, joined us. The tacos were great and the beer was cold. We sat outside and talked until about 6pm.

Last night, I watched some of the NCAA basketball tournament and nursed my sore shoulder. It’s still bothersome this morning, but not as bad as yesterday.

Donna is scheduled to fly into Phoenix around 7pm tonight. It will be great to have her back! I’ll tidy up the place today. I should check the electrolyte levels in the bank of 6-volt house batteries. I think a trip to the Jacuzzi to soothe my shoulder is also a good idea.

A Polished Set

I didn’t pick up Donna’s bike yesterday. She needs to replace her rear wheel and is deciding what she wants to do about it. I took advantage of having Mike Hall’s Jeep by making a Costco run. I stocked up on bottled water, coffee k-cups and a three-pound bag of Japanese rice crackers with nuts, one of my favorite snacks.

I started the wash and polish job around 11:30am. After I washed the front and right side, I got the ladder out and cleaned the windows. While I was drying the coach, our neighbor, George, came over. He offered to lend me his fiberglass ladder. He said the steps on it were bigger and thought it would be easier on my feet and back. I took him up on it, but it turned out not to be tall enough for me to reach to the roof line.

I worked at it nonstop until 3pm. In hindsight, it may have been smarter to break it up into two sessions. The thing is, once I get started on a project like this, I want to get it done. I don’t want to sound like a wimp, but by the time I finished, I could barely raise my arms and I had pain running from my neck to my left shoulder. I don’t know what that’s all about, but it’s still sore this morning. The coach looks great though!

After I showered, I called Mike Hall to see when he wanted me to drop off the Jeep. We decided to put it off until this morning.

Last evening was the Apache Wells RV Resort Farewell dinner party. They do this every spring as a thank you to all of the snowbird guests who spend the winter here. Most of the snowbirds will be heading back north over the next two weeks. They had tables under canopies set up in the street by the office. The street had been closed for the last two days as preparations were being made. Park exit and entry was through an alternate gate north of the main entrance (which was closed).

Happy Hour under the canopy

Happy hour under the canopy

They served beef tips in sauce over egg noodles. Not a gourmet treat, but you can’t beat the price. It was free!

Free dinner plate

Free dinner plate

After dinner, a band set up on a stage in the street, near the park entrance. The band was called Johnny K and Kompany. They played songs from the 50s and 60s. The front man was an excellent singer. Their playlist included songs that ranged from Nat King Cole to the Searchers (Love Potion #9). They really had the crowd going when they played Ghost Riders in the Sky – a cowboy song penned in the 40s by Stan Jones and covered by everybody from Dick Dale to Johnny Cash to the Marshall Tucker Band.

Johnny K and Kompany

Johnny K and Kompany

The band sounded great – their songs were polished. I had enough by the second set and went back to the coach. I was whipped from the day’s work.

Today I want to check out a set of bicycle race wheels that Donna’s friend, Dara offered her. If they’re suitable for Donna’s needs, it will be a good deal. Donna already put $300 into the tune-up which included new cables, chain and gear cassette. I also need to return the Jeep and retrieve the scooter.