Monthly Archives: September 2015

Jersey Jack’s Problem Solved

A few days ago, a nice coach pulled into a site near us at High Desert RV Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a 2009 Foretravel Nimbus with two slides. The Foretravel company came about when C.M. Fore built a coach for he and his wife to use in 1967. In 1974, they introduced the first commercially available diesel-powered motorhome. By the 1990s, Foretravel was well-established as a manufacturer of high-end motorhomes. Foretravel is one of the few RV manufacturers to build their own chassis. Their factory in Texas turns out four models in limited quantities.

2009 Foretravel Nimbus

2009 Foretravel Nimbus

Another view of our neighbor's Foretravel

Another view of our neighbor’s Foretravel

Our neighbor’s 2009 Nimbus is 40 feet long and has a tag axle. He told me he stopped at Camping World and they were interested in trading straight across for a new Entegra coach. He decided against it and I don’t blame him.

Yesterday I noticed water dripping from the compartment in front of his rear wheels. The compartment door was open and so was another basement compartment toward the front with tools in it. I walked over – it looked like water was coming out of an overflow hose.

Later, I saw him poking around in the rear compartment. I walked over to see what was going on. I introduced myself. His name is Jack and he’s from New Jersey. He told me he had the valve for the fresh water fill replaced. Now his fresh water tank slowly fills to overflowing whenever he’s hooked up to city water.

On my Alpine Coach, there’s a valve that diverts fresh water from an outside source to the fresh water tank. It’s a manual valve in the wet bay that I turn 90 degrees to fill the tank. When it’s in the fill position, the rest of the plumbing isn’t pressurized. Water just flows into the tank. We can access fresh water from the tank by turning on the water pump. When I close the valve, water no longer flows into the tank and the rest of the plumbing is pressurized by the city water hook-up.

Looking at his fresh water supply plumbing, I could see his set-up was similar – but heaven forbid an owner of a Foretravel having to manually operate a valve! His valve was operated by an electric solenoid. He could divert water to fill his fresh water tank by pressing a button inside the coach which activates the solenoid and opens the valve. When the tank is full, the solenoid is de-activated and the valve returns to its normally closed position. This is a $300 solution to the inconvenience of manually opening the valve!

Electrically operated valve

Electrically operated valve

This valve had to be the source of the problem. There’s no other path for water to enter the freshwater tank unless the check valve in the pump was allowing water to back-fill into the tank. I didn’t think this was the case because he had a filter with a clear bowl in the line by the pump and no water was moving through it.

Jack removed the cover plate from the brass valve assembly. I saw right away that the valve was assembled incorrectly. There’s a circular plate inside the housing that has a seal around the perimeter to seal the case and an O-ring set in the center to seal the fresh water inlet. A spring on the backside pushes the plate against the fresh water fill opening, sealing it off with the O-ring. Energizing the solenoid pulls the plate back against the spring pressure, opening the fresh water tank fill line and closing off the rest of the plumbing. This plate was put in backwards – the O-ring was on the side where the spring closes the valve. The backside of the plate was closing against the fresh water fill line without the sealing O-ring. No wonder water seeped past it and slowly filled the tank.

I told Jack to flip the plate over so the spring works against the flat plate and the O-ring fits against the fill opening. He reassembled it that way and it was job done!

Later I went online and looked up the solenoid operated electric valve. These things are usually used in marine applications where you may not have easy access to plumbing. A solenoid operated brass valve like the one on the Foretravel costs over $200. At that price, you’d hope for better quality control and not have to disassemble the part and reassemble it correctly.

Today will be a warm day with the temperature approaching 90 degrees. I plan to start organizing the trailer. Later I’ll see if I can find baby back ribs to cook on the Traeger. Donna’s friend, Hazel Thornton, will be joining us for dinner.

Tomorrow we’ll move to Larry and Ruth’s place at The Vineyard (map). I won’t post tomorrow as we’ll be busy packing, traveling and setting up.

How the Gig Crumbled

I’ve said before that all farmers’ markets have similarities, but they also offer local flavor. In Albuquerque, the local flavor revolves around red and green chile peppers. Donna bought a loaf of green chile sourdough bread at the market on Saturday. On Sunday morning, she made a breakfast dish she’d tried at the Cracker Barrel in Nashville – eggs in a hole. She sliced the bread, cut a hole in the center, then toasted the bread in a frying pan and added egg in the center. It made a nice combination with the fried eggs and green chile flavor.

Egg in a hole with bacon strips

Egg in a hole with bacon strips

I opened yesterday’s post by saying a reader had asked what became of the consulting gig I was offered. I wrote about that offer from my former colleague, Skip Redmond, in this post last April.

At that time, I was expecting a contract and we had a trip to Valencia, California scheduled on the following week for on-the-job training. I would leave on Monday and work through Friday and return Friday evening. This was all arranged via e-mail exchanges April 8th, where Skip said he was ordering my business cards and we would be rolling.

When we originally discussed the opportunity during a lunch meeting in November, Skip said the work should suit my RV lifestyle. Each job would take five or six days, depending on the travel time. I would have two or three weeks lead time – all I would need to do is make sure I had access to a major airport whenever I took an assignment. He said the work would be infrequent, maybe six to eight trips per year.

I received another e-mail from Skip later on April 8th that puzzled me. He asked how many weeks per month I would want to work. Weeks per month? This didn’t sound like an infrequent assignment. I replied, asking Skip if something changed – I expected to take an assignment every six to eight weeks as we discussed in November. I didn’t hear back from him.

On April 16th, the Thursday before our scheduled trip to Valencia, I e-mailed Skip and asked if the trip was still on. He replied that the trip was cancelled and he would get back to me with new dates when he got them. I never heard from him again.

I don’t know what happened. I heard that another former colleague went to work for Skip. Maybe he decided it wasn’t worth it to hire me if I wasn’t willing to work “weeks per month.” The lack of communication has certainly put me off though. I’m retired and I don’t want or need to work on regular basis. The job he offered in November sounded ideal for me. Maybe he was just trying to lure me onboard, then he could make it into something more than infrequent assignments.

So that’s how my consulting gig crumbled.

In Search of Slime

A reader posted a question about me going back to work at a part-time consulting gig I wrote about in an earlier post. I have to catch up on Friday and Saturday’s activities before I go into that story – but I will tell the tale soon.

The plan for Friday was to scooter down to Old Town Albuquerque where Donna would meet her friend and professional organizing colleague, Hazel Thornton, so they could catch-up over lunch. I thought I would make a run to Costco. After studying the map, I knew where to take Donna, but Costco didn’t seem to make sense. Next Wednesday we’ll move to The Vineyard off Edith Boulevard (map) where Larry and Ruth live to begin our stint as volunteer crew for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. This happens to be only a few miles from Costco, so we can go then.

I scootered Donna to the Old Town Plaza where we met Hazel at the gazebo (map). From there, I went southeast to check out Robinson Park where the Downtown Growers’ Market is held on Saturday mornings. Here in Albuquerque, they call what is essentially a farmers’ market the growers’ market. Donna and I wanted to go on Saturday morning, so I thought a pre-run to check the area out was a good idea.

Donna enjoyed a long lunch with Hazel. Hazel dropped her off back at the RV park around 3:30pm. I was already back, having run a few errands.

On Saturday, we took off before 10am to hit the growers’ market. We like to visit farmers’ markets as we cruise around the country. There are always similarities, but each one has its own vibe and regional flavor. Albuquerque is a distinct case in point. The market covers the perimeter of the triangular-shaped Robinson Park with a diagonal path cutting through the triangle. There are a diverse range of vendors covering every step of the way.

Albuquerque growers' market

Albuquerque growers’ market

Along the east side of the park, a large grassy area had a band and many people lounging on the grass.

Enjoying the weather and music on the grass

Enjoying the weather and music on the grass

This is a relatively large market. Our intent was to meander around and see what it had to offer – not really shop. We ended up buying more than we thought we would. Local, fresh-baked green chile sourdough bread was irresistible plus some green chile sauce that we will add to pork tenderloin in the crockpot tomorrow. An apricot flan that was too delicious to walk away from. Peruvian purple fingerling potatoes, kumato (brown) tomatoes and some hand-crafted soaps. I bought Donna the cutest hat from a French woman who handmade them. I also had my share of free food samples!

We left the market and rode back to Old Town. We made a stop at the visitor’s center and then went to a shop that Hazel recommended to Donna. I bought a hot air balloon spinner ornament to hang from our coach’s side view mirror. Donna bought me a T-shirt with hot air balloons that changes color when exposed to sunlight.

Our next stop was up the road at The Bikesmith shop. We wanted to get Slime self-sealing inner tubes for Donna’s bike. I expected to have the Gatorskin tires I ordered delivered to the RV park by the time we returned. I wanted to set her up with self-sealing tubes and puncture-resistant tires to ride here in Albuquerque and throughout the southwest.

We found the bike shop but a sign in the window said they would be closed until Tuesday due to a big mountain bike event here this weekend. Another guy was looking at the sign and checking his cell phone. I asked him if he knew of another place nearby. He suggested REI several miles away. I looked at the map on my smart phone and found another bike shop four or five miles away. Off we went.

Along the way, Donna spotted a Cost Plus World Market. She knew that I was in need of my favorite martini garnish – Old South Tomolives – and Cost Plus is the place to buy them. I made a mental note of the location since I’ve been without tomolives for the past couple of months.

We found the next bike shop – Bikeworks – and it was closed with a similar sign about the mountain bike event. I looked at the map again and decided to move on to REI – it wasn’t that far now that we’d gone all the way to Bikeworks.

As we pulled off of Montano Drive heading to REI, I saw Performance Bike. They were open. They had the Slime self-sealing tubes we were after and I also bought Stan’s sealant for my mountain bike tires. The Stan’s sealant works really well, but it dries out over time and needs to be replenished and I’m probably overdue for resealing.

Slime self-sealing tube

Slime self-sealing tube

The Performance Bike shop was about a block away from Costco – that’s how far we had come. But now we were loaded up from the growers’ market, Old Town shopping and bike shop, so a Costco run was out of the question. Since we were this far, we decided to call Larry and Ruth to see if they were available. The plan was to meet with them before we showed up in our motorhome so we could see where we would be parked. It’s always nice to preview a location when possible and decide on the best way to to enter.

They were home and invited us to drop by. It was only a few minutes away from the bike shop. Larry and Ruth welcomed us into their place and told us more of what to expect during the Balloon Fiesta. They’ve coordinated volunteer crews for the event for decades. They also showed us where we’ll be parked and took us on a tour of the clubhouse amenities we’ll have available. It will be a dry camping test – with the exception of 30-amp electric, we’ll be without hook-ups for about two weeks.

On the way back, we made a short detour to stop at Cost Plus for the tomolives. By then we were both hungry. It was well after 1pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast other than the food samples I had at the market.

We stopped at a combination Subway sandwich shop and Twisters. We weren’t familiar with Twisters. It turned out to be very good fast food Mexican fare and they’ll even customize a plate for you. Donna wanted a bowl – no tortilla – and they made a nice chicken chile bowl for her. Twisters, by the way, was the setting used for the Los Pollos Hermanos fast food scenes in the TV series Breaking Bad.

When we returned to the RV park, the new tires for Donna’s bike had been delivered. I broke out my bicycle mechanics stand and removed her wheels again. Mounting the new Gatorskin tires was a tough task. These tires are so stiff, I think they’re the toughest tire to mount I’ve ever encountered. I probably say that every time I mount brand new tires.

Donna's Trek Madone on the bike stand

Donna’s Trek Madone on the bike stand

Gatorskin mounted

Gatorskin mounted

Once I had the tires mounted, Donna was raring for a ride. She headed out on Old Route 66. About 40 minutes later, my phone was ringing. It was Donna. I couldn’t believe it. She had a flat tire! She told me she picked up a nail in her tire. She pulled the nail and the tire went flat! I was thinking, when was the last time I picked up a nail in a bicycle tire? Short answer – never!

She was close to the park, so she walked her bike back. I’ll pull the wheel this morning and see if the tube is savable. Other than that, I have a full day of spectating. Formula One from Japan, Moto GP from Spain and NFL Football action. Donna is planning to scooter over to a regular Sunday morning event at the Railyards Market in Barelas where she will meet up with Centerforce Hoops to do some hoop dancing to live music.



We had a fairly quiet day at the High Desert RV Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico yesterday. It was windy in the morning, but Donna was determined to go out for a bicycle ride. Wind is the worst on a bicycle. It’s an invisible force that holds you back as you pedal into it. When you climb a hill, you know there’s a summit ahead. When you ride into the wind, it can feel like there’s no end in sight.

Around here, we have hills as well as wind. High Desert RV Park is just west of the city. Albuquerque sits in a valley – more like a basin actually. The Rio Grande River runs through the center of the city. Our location has us high above the Rio Grande. Most of the good bicycling roads run east from here, down into the valley. Of course that means the return trip is all uphill. At least Donna was riding downhill into the wind yesterday and had a tailwind component while climbing. That was the good news.

The bad news was that she got a flat about a mile away from our site. She decided to walk the distance back to our coach which meant pushing her bike uphill most of the way. When she reached our site, she told me her front tire was flat. I pulled the wheel and removed the tire. I found remnants of goathead thorns in the tire.

Goat Head stickers

Goathead stickers (Google file photo)

Goatheads (tribulus terrestris) are a non-native invasive species that thrives in arid climates. The fruit of the plant drops in clusters of five nutlets or burrs. Each burr has two to four sharp spines. They are a hazard to bare feet and dog fur – and also bicycle tires.

I only felt one goathead spine penetrating the inside of the tire. I pulled all of the spines I could find from the tire. Then I patched the tube and pumped the tire up. Then I noticed her rear tire was flat as well. I found more goathead spines in the rear tire. I located the puncture and patched it after pulling all of the spines I could find from the rear tire. Then I noticed the front tire had deflated. I retrieved a bucket from the trailer and filled it with water. I inflated the freshly patched rear tube and dunked it in the water bucket. The patch didn’t leak but I saw a steady stream of air bubbles coming from two other holes in the tube. I wasn’t going to put three patches on, so I replaced the tube.

Then I removed the front tire again and pumped up the tube. When I dunked it, I had the same result – patch was good but two other holes streamed bubbles in the water. Luckily I had four new inner tubes on hand in the trailer. While I was inspecting her tires, I came to the conclusion that it was time to replace them. The tread surface is fine with lots of rubber left, but the sidewalls are looking thin and fragile with cord showing in places. These are handmade racing tires – not the most durable. Donna’s no longer racing and the liveliness and slight speed advantage these tires offer aren’t worth risking a blowout. I ordered two new Continental Gatorskin tires for her. These are durable tires resistant to punctures. With my Amazon Prime account, they’ll deliver here on Saturday.

Our site at High Desert RV Park

Our site at High Desert RV Park

I set up the Traeger smoker/grill. Donna had the large mat under our awning with chairs out and the table cloth on the table. I roasted chicken thigh quarters that Donna seasoned with Stubbs dry rub. The Stubbs has become a go-to rub for us.

Chicken thigh quarters hot off the Traeger

Chicken thigh quarters hot off the Traeger

Donna served the chicken with forbidden rice and bok choy braised in white wine, chicken broth, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. And it was ready just in time for the Thursday Night Football game.

Chicken thigh quarter with braised bok choy and forbidden rice

Chicken thigh quarter with braised bok choy and forbidden rice

The New York Giants pulled off a win against the Washington Redkins, but neither team looks to be real threat.

We have pleasant weather today, no wind. The forecast calls for a high of 77 under clear, sunny skies. I’ll scooter Donna down to old town Albuquerque where she’ll meet up with her friend, Hazel Thornton, for lunch. After dropping her off, I’ll make  a Costco run.

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

Free Parking and Good Food

I mentioned the Sandia Crest tram in my last post. The Sandia Resort & Casino (map) is approximately 5,300 feet above sea level. The tram is up the road from here at 6,559 feet above sea level. It’s the longest aerial tramway in North America – the third longest in the world. It tops out at Sandia Peak at an elevation of 10,378 feet above sea level. It was built by a Swiss company in 1966. The normal speed of the ascent is 12 mph – it takes about 15 minutes to reach the top.

The weather gods scuttled our trip up the tramway. The peaks of the Sandia mountain range were socked in by low cloud cover all day. There’s no sense in riding the tram up the mountain if all you can do is stare into a fog bank.

Sandia mountains to the east of us socked in

Sandia Mountains to the east of us socked in

Our free parking at the Sandia Resort & Casino was terrific. It’s quiet and the employees are very friendly. The views are nice. Ozark loved watching the rabbits on the trails by our coach. She would sit in a window and stare at them – then she would jump down and run into the bedroom, hop on the bed and watch them from the bedroom window as they moved down the trail.

Although it’s just a parking lot, the scenery is nice. Most of the land around us is undeveloped except for the golf course. Donna went for a walk in-between rain showers on Tuesday and enjoyed her hike. At one point, she cut through an employee parking lot. Security caught up with her and told her that only employees were allowed to access the lot – she got kicked out!

View to the west of us looking down at Albuquerque

View to the west of us looking down at Albuquerque

We will definitely take advantage of this place the next time we pass through Albuquerque.

Late Tuesday afternoon, we saw an Alpine Coach with Texas tags pull into the parking lot. The driver drove quickly around the perimeter of the lot, then parked in front of us. He appeared to be on a mission. He unhooked the black Jeep he was towing behind his rig, then leveled the coach and put the slides out. Then he and his wife (I presume) got into the Jeep and left.

On Wednesday morning, they left early in their Jeep again, so we never had a chance to meet them. I think their Alpine is a 2006 model year judging by the paint scheme.

Alpine parking area

Alpine parking area

We walked to the casino for their breakfast buffet. It cost $8.95 per person and has everything you could imagine for breakfast – even eggs and omelettes cooked to order. I stuffed myself trying out too many items and getting my money’s worth.

Three days a week, they have a lunch buffet special for people 55 and older – all you can eat for five dollars! We saw a long line of people waiting for the lunch special to open at 10:00am. On Friday and Saturday nights, they have a seafood buffet that includes crab legs, shellfish, salmon and more. It costs $25, but if you have their players card, you get five dollars off. We were told the line gets so long, the wait can be over an hour for the seafood buffet.

We packed up and pulled out of Sandia Resort & Casino a little before noon. We drove down I-25 to I-40 west. Our destination was 19 miles away – the High Desert RV Park. We drove past the Pilot/Flying J travel center where I filled our tank on Monday. We checked in and set up. This park is clean and the setting is nice with open, undeveloped land around us. The sites aren’t level though. I had to place 12″x12″x2″ wood pads under my rear tires. I used four pads to support all four tires. I posted about the importance of this here. I used the pads so the rear tires would still be in contact after I used the leveling jacks to raise the rear of the coach. I don’t like sites that slope down in the rear.

It’s windy this morning. Donna is hoping to go for a bike ride. With the wind and hills around here, it’s going to be challenging. We’ll spend a week here, then move to Larry and Ruth’s place in Albuquerque to begin our next adventure crewing for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.


Last Weekend in Santa Fe

We’re not in Santa Fe anymore but I need to catch up on our last weekend there. On Saturday, Donna and I rode the scooter to the farmers’ market down by the Railyard Park. We originally planned to ride the bus, but took the scooter instead to save time. It was nearly noon by the time we got there and the market closes at 1pm. We were surprised at the size of the market – this is a big farmers’ market. We’d only been through about half of the vendors when some of them began breaking down their displays around 12:30pm. Donna bought a small bag of roasted Hatch chiles.

I was hungry and hoped to find tamales or street tacos for lunch, but the food vendors were sold out. We thought about stopping at the Second Street Brew Pub, but the food was overpriced and I didn’t want to have a beer that early before riding the scooter home.

We headed back south on Cerrillos Road and stopped at a Mexican restaurant called Los Potrillos. The salsas they provided with a bowl of chips were outstanding and I knew we were in for a good meal.

Tres salsa and chips

Tres salsa and chips

I had the enchilada suizas plate and Donna had chicken enchiladas con mole. It was delicious and we took home leftovers.

We made another stop to buy a whole chicken. Donna had invited our neighbors – the ones with the medium-duty truck in my last post – Audrey and Steve – to join us for dinner. Around 5pm, I fired up the Traeger smoker/grill and roasted the whole chicken which Donna prepared by lightly coating it with olive oil, salt and pepper. After about 75 minutes, my new Palermo instant read thermometer showed an internal temperature of 175 degrees. I turned down the Traeger to the smoke setting and basted the chicken with a barbeque sauce Donna had whipped up from scratch. Ten minutes later, we had a nicely roasted barbeque chicken.

Roasted barbeque chicken

Roasted barbeque chicken

I cut the chicken into quarters. This worked out well since Donna and Audrey preferred the leg/thigh quarters while Steve and I took the wing/breast quarters. Donna served it with fresh steamed green beans and cheesy cauliflower biscuits. Audrey contributed mashed potatoes and a couple of bottles of wine.

Chicken dinner plate

Chicken dinner plate

We sat together at the table outside and talked for a few hours. At one point Audrey said, “Look, you have a praying mantis on your back.” The praying mantis climbed up my neck onto my head. Donna snapped a couple of photos. I don’t think I’ve ever had a praying mantis land on me before.

Praying mantis walking up my neck

Praying mantis walking up my neck

Praying mantis perched on my head

Praying mantis perched on my head

We talked well into the night and finally went indoors after 10pm. Audrey and Steve planned to pull out of Santa Fe Sunday morning.

On Sunday morning, we said our goodbyes to Audrey and Steve. I watched the Formula One race from Singapore, then proceeded to be a couch potato for the rest of the day watching NFL football. Donna went out for one last bike ride on the Santa Fe trails.

The entire time we were in Los Suenos de Santa Fe RV park, there was a 45-foot Beaver Patriot Thunder parked two sites away from us. The Beaver Patriot Thunder is a high-end motorhome with lots of features including powerful engine options. This one had a 15-liter 525 horsepower Caterpillar engine. The thing that piqued my curiosity was the fact that we never saw anyone enter or leave the coach for nine straight days. It was hooked up to water, sewer and electricity and the AC was running, but it just sat there empty. This seems like an awfully expensive way to store a coach.

On Monday morning, I heard the rumble of a large diesel engine running. It was the Beaver. There were two guys walking around the coach, putting away hoses and disconnecting the electricity. There were two cars – one behind the coach and one next to it by our site. The older of the two guys got behind the wheel of the Beaver and drove away followed by the younger man in a Volkswagen GTI. They left the second car – a Porsche Cayman GT4 behind. Curious again. Why did they come in separate cars and leave the $85,000 Porsche behind?

Porsche Cayman GT4 left behind

Porsche Cayman GT4 left behind

I took my time packing our trailer and getting ready for the road. We had a short trip planned and I didn’t need to leave the park before the 11am check-out time. Donna had the interior packed early and walked over to the Ross store to buy a skirt she saw there the day before and decided to go back for. She came back just as I fired up the Cummins ISL. The Porsche was still in the empty site hours after the Beaver pulled out.

Our plan was to head down to Albuquerque where we will stay for two nights at the Sandia Casino & Resort. They have free overnight parking in their RV lot. Our route took us south down NM14 which is also known as the Cedar Crest Scenic Byway or Turquoise Trail. It was a pleasant drive. We went through a few old mining towns. I wanted to stop in Madrid – the town featured in the movie Wild Hogs. The town is quaint, but the road through town is very narrow and there’s no place to park a big rig. We drove slowly through and continued on our way. We turned west at the junction of I-40.

I knew there was a Pilot/Flying J travel center off I-40. I programmed it into the GPS and stopped there for fuel. Then I programmed the Sandia Casino as my destination. I should have studied the map. The Pilot/Flying J is about six miles past the casino, near the High Desert RV park which is our next destination.

We found a nice spot at the back of the RV lot at the Sandia Casino. We have a view of mountains to the east and the city in the valley to our west. Donna and I went into the casino where we were given $25 gift cards to play the slots since we’re first-time visitors. Afterwards, we had a beer at one of the casino bars. Then we checked in with security and they gave us a pass for up to four nights of free parking.

We had rain overnight and there’s more rain in the forecast. If the weather clears, we may take the tram up to Sandia Crest which is a 10,000-foot high viewpoint. If the low clouds hang all day though, the tram ride will not be worth it.

By the way, Donna’s doing a book giveaway and today (September 22nd) is the last day you can download her Kindle book, Secrets of Professional Organizer’s Volume I for free at Amazon. Grab your free copy and help her reach her goal of getting listed in the Top 100 Free Kindle Books by the end of the day!


Sour Ale

Thursday was a pretty quiet day around here. My big deal for the day was servicing the scooter. I changed the engine oil and filter and also the gearbox lube. This is required every 3,000 miles. Donna went out for about an hour on her bicycle. Later she walked to the natural foods store half a mile from here. She was disappointed in the quality of their produce though. As usual, Ozark hung out and watched the birds outside.

Ozark keeping an eye on things

Ozark keeping an eye on things

I went to the office and extended our stay here at Los Suenos de Santa Fe RV park through Monday. It’s a good thing I did it when I did – the place is sold out next week! The Thursday night NFL game was entertaining. It looked like it was heading to overtime when the Broncos stunned the Chiefs in the waning seconds to win 31-24.

On Friday morning, I rode the scooter over to the community center to play pickleball. Donna walked over about a half hour after I arrived. I played for nearly three hours. I was whipped by the time we were done! We were told about a new outdoor pickleball court that will open Saturday afternoon. I don’t know if my legs can take another day of pickleball at this point though.

On Friday afternoon, I repaired the windshield washer nozzle on the passenger side. I’ve been putting it off since we arrived here. The plastic housing where the hose attaches cracked and separated from the nozzle. After thinking about it, I decided to try gluing it back together with a contact adhesive called Goop. This stuff will adhere to almost anything. The trick is to pre-fit the parts so you know exactly how you want them positioned. I applied a thin bead on both parts and allowed it set for two minutes. Then I pressed the housing into place and held it for a few minutes. That’s all there was to it. By allowing the contact adhesive to set up first, when you press the parts together, they bond immediately. It looks like it will be a good repair – time will tell.

For happy hour, Donna and I went to Duel Brewing – a Belgian-style brewery and tap room (map). Duel isn’t your run-of-the-mill micro-brewery. They specialize in Belgian-style beers that are complex to brew and unique in taste and character. I had a Belgian pale sour ale. Sour ales are so different and can be very tasty. They are made sour by intentionally allowing wild yeasts or certain bacteria to enter the wort. Usually brewmasters do everything possible to keep a sterile environment and only allow specific brewers yeasts into the fermentation. Brewing sour beer is risky – if the wild yeast or bacteria get out of control, the brew is ruined. The sour ale I tried was out of this world! Donna had a Belgian witbier called Marcel – it’s brewed with coriander and bitter orange peel. She really liked it. We shared sardines and olive tapenade and cornichons with sliced baguette.

Belgian pale sour ale

Belgian pale sour ale

We only had one beer each as we were on the scooter. When we returned to the RV park, it was filling up fast. I saw an unusual outfit in one of the sites. It was a tiny trailer that transforms into an elevated tent with a canvas room trailing behind. I wish I could have watched them put it up.

Small trailer transformed into this

Small trailer transformed into this


Another unique RV pulled into the site next to us. It’s a medium-duty Freightliner truck with a long wheelbase and living quarters. It also has a gooseneck trailer hitch. I talked to the owners – a friendly couple from Minnesota. They use their RV to haul a horse trailer. They spend the summer in Minnesota, then haul their horses to Georgia in the winter. The truck is fairly new to them and they’re out for a few weeks of travel without the horse trailer.

Freightliner medium duty truck - RV

Freightliner medium-duty truck – RV

Gooseneck hitch in back

Gooseneck hitch in back

On the other side of our site, we have two identical Newmar Dutch Stars. They’re traveling together – I don’t know if they’re related to each other. One has a Mississippi plate, the other Louisiana. Other than that, they are the same with a 4018 floorplan and exactly the same paint scheme. They even have similar name signs on the dashboard.

Today we’ll buy bus passes and head downtown. We’ll decide later if we want to play pickleball this afternoon.

Stay and Play in Santa Fe

Donna and I rode the scooter over to the community center yesterday. The Genoveva Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe houses swimming pools, an ice skating rink, workout rooms and a large gymnasium.  They have a ton of scheduled activities, including pickleball on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Non-member visitors pay a $6 fee to use the facility.

I haven’t played pickleball since we were in Branson, Missouri at the end of June. I expected to be rusty but I actually played a decent first game. I thought I would improve after a few games, but I was wrong again. I slumped through games three and four but picked up my level of play again in my fifth and last game. Donna played well and we had a lot of fun. It’s a nice group of people there and we’ll probably go again tomorrow. Overall, the level of competition is somewhat lower than we found in Arizona and San Diego which was good for us getting back into the game.

We’ve worked out our travel schedule for the next few weeks. We’ll extend our stay here in Santa Fe and depart next Monday. Our next destination is Albuquerque. We plan to spend two nights dry-camped at a casino before checking into the High Desert RV Park there. We’ll stay in the RV park for a week before we meet up with Ruth and Larry for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We met Ruth and Larry when we were in Mesa, Arizona earlier this year. They coordinate volunteers to crew for balloon teams. We’ll be dry-camped at their place while we crew at the balloon fiesta.

After the balloon fiesta, we plan to head to Arizona. We need to figure out where we’ll stay there and for how long. We’re thinking about boondocking at the Phon D Sutton Recreation Area in Mesa. We want to stop in Casa Grande and Yuma as well. From there, we’ll probably spend a night or two at our favorite boondock in the desert before heading back to San Diego. I’ve booked two months at Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego beginning November 6th.

Last night, I enjoyed a bottle of Stone IPA while we watched the republican presidential debate. As always, the Stone was excellent. I won’t editorialize on the debate as I don’t want this blog to get mired in politics.

The good stuff

The good stuff

Nothing too exciting on the agenda today. I’ll service the scooter – change the engine oil and filter and change the gear box oil. Donna is going out for a bike ride. Tomorrow we’ll hit the pickleball courts again.

Loving Santa Fe

Donna has become totally enamored with Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ask her what she likes about it and she’ll give you a long list.

On Monday morning she went to the recreational center to play pickleball and found the $6 entry fee wasn’t exorbitant at all – they have a 50-meter swimming pool and an ice skating rink! I didn’t go with her because once again, I have a recurrence of the dermatitis on my feet. I’ve been trying to keep up with the last doctor’s instructions and washing my feet twice a day with antibacterial soap.

Around 3pm, we walked south from the park about a mile and a half to the Blue Corn Brewery. This is a local brewery and restaurant. It’s a small but very interesting brewery. James Warren is the brewer – he has a fine arts degree from Baylor University and while working toward a career in art education in Connecticut, he found his passion in brewing.

Donna wanted a stout as usual but they were out of stout. She had a brown ale that was very close in flavor to the stout she wanted. I had their Roadrunner IPA – excellent ale brewed on site.

We made the trek back to our site – my feet weren’t happy. I kicked back and watched most of the Monday night NFL double-header before going to bed.

Ozark the cat seems to be content while we’re away. When we return, we usually find her either sleeping on our bed or on the dashboard watching the world outside the windshield. She’s a fastidious creature grooming herself several times a day.

Ozark grooming

Ozark grooming

Keeping clean

Keeping clean

Nap time

Nap time

On Tuesday morning, Donna told me that I was kicking and scratching my feet in the night. My feet always seem to be better in the morning and I’m optimistic – but by the end of the day I’m miserable. Donna reminded me of this. I went online and found a couple of clinics that were in-network for our health insurance. Then I looked at maps and bus routes.

I finally gave in and took a bus toward downtown to Roadrunner Clinic near the train station. The bus dropped me off only a couple of blocks from the clinic. When I boarded the bus, I paid $2 for an unlimited, all-day pass in anticipation of making a stop for prescriptions on the way home.

While I was heading to the clinic, Donna went out for a bicycle ride. She rode about 16 miles.

Beautiful paved bike path in Santa Fe

Beautiful paved bike path in Santa Fe

The doctor I saw at Roadrunner was very attentive and had a holistic approach. After reviewing my previous treatments, he said, “Well they certainly shotgunned everything.” He wasn’t surprised to find this resulted in a quick but not long lasting cure. He advised a less aggressive treatment after telling me the systemic (oral) steroids I’d been taking are too hard on my body in his opinion.

He has dealt with dermatitis conditions many times before. He showed me a medical text describing and detailing different skin conditions. He was certain of his diagnosis of eczema dermatitis – not an infection, no need for antibiotics and not contagious. He spent quite a lot of time telling me how he thought we should approach a long-term cure.

He hedged his bet though. He prescribed a topical steroidal cream for the tops of my feet and a couple of antihistamines that aren’t usually used for for this condition – he knew about this approach from a previous stint working for a dermatologist. It turns out one of the drugs will alleviate my pollen allergy at the same time. But he also prescribed oral Prednisone – only to be used if the initial treatment is ineffective. The other difference from my previous treatments is he wants me to use an emollient on my feet at night. I’ll massage Bag Balm on the tops of my feet and go to bed with socks on. I’m hoping the third try is a charm.

After I stopped at the bus stop by the CVS pharmacy and picked up my prescriptions, I phoned Donna and said I would walk from there and pick up lunch on the way. She suggested meeting at the taqueria across the street from the RV park for lunch. It turned out I’d underestimated the distance and walked nearly two miles to the taqueria.

This place was authentic Mexican fare. Although I’m well-versed in Mexican food, we had to ask for explanation on some of the menu items which included things like beef tongue and tripe. We ended with the the usual pork, beef and chicken street tacos. The salsas from the salsa bar were so good, they’re beyond description.

Later, Donna took my bus pass and went out for a couple of errands and shopping at the farmers’ market at the mall south of us. She opted to walk back with the goodies she picked up along the way in her backpack.

Street musicians at the farmers'

Street musicians at the farmers’ market

Today I’m going to push the envelope and go to the community center with Donna for pickleball. I haven’t played in months and I think my feet will withstand a few games.

Santa Fe Fiesta

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a vibrant town with a lot of history. On Saturday, we studied the bus routes and schedule and rode the bus downtown. The bus ride costs one dollar each way or you can buy a one-day unlimited pass for two dollars if you want to make multiple stops. The metro buses are clean and the drivers are friendly.

We exited the bus at Alameda Street (map) and walked a couple of blocks to the plaza. The streets around the plaza were closed due to the Santa Fe Fiesta (Fiestas de Santa Fe). This festival has been held annually since 1712. It’s a celebration of the re-conquest of the city by Spanish colonists in 1692. It’s the longest running annual celebration of its kind in North America.

Plaza ahead on San Francisco Street

Plaza ahead on San Francisco Street

The area around the plaza is filled with boutique shops, restaurants and bars. We stopped at a shop called Parts Unknown where Donna looked at sandals and ended buying OluKai flip-flops. When we reached the plaza, it was filled with people and food vendors.

On the north side of the plaza at Palace Avenue, a stage was set up. There was a performance of a traditional Pueblo Indian dance going on. I didn’t understand what it was all about, but a guy was banging a drum and chanting while a woman and two kids danced.

Traditional performers

Traditional performers

We wanted to take a look at the Loretto Chapel. This chapel has a unique spiral staircase that seems to defy logic. It winds its way up without any visible support. We arrived at the Loretto Chapel at 3pm and found it was closed to the public after 2:00pm on this day for private weddings. I’d like to go back another time to see it.

We walked back to the plaza and my feet were getting worn. I’m still battling that pesky dermatitis condition – it clears up, then comes back again. We stopped at the Draft Station on the south side of the plaza and sat at their rooftop bar. Donna ordered a locally brewed oatmeal stout and I had an IPA from Le Cumbre Brewing in Albuquerque. It was first rate IPA.

Le Cumbre Brewing IPA

Le Cumbre Brewing IPA

They boast of their artisan pizza at the Draft Station so we ordered a 12-inch supreme. The crust was thin and crispy and it looked as good as it sounded. Unfortunately, we both thought it was lacking flavor.

Artisan pizza

Artisan pizza

I studied the map and thought I knew where to find the metro bus terminal to catch our ride home. The bus map wasn’t very good. It wasn’t to scale and many street names were missing. We left the Draft Station about 15 minutes before our scheduled bus departure. We walked west on Palace then turned on Grant. Before I knew it, we were walking up Griffen Street and I knew we had gone too far. We asked a woman on the street for directions but although she was local, she didn’t know where the bus terminal was. We backtracked and I asked a parking lot attendant. He directed us around the corner about a block away from where we were. We had missed the bus by then and would have to wait 30 minutes for the next one. When we reached the terminal, a sign said “Closed for Special Event – Buses Staged at Alameda Street.”

We needed to go back to the corner where we got off the bus earlier! You’d think they would have a sign on the bus or something. We walked back to Alameda Street. My S Health app on my smartphone showed about 8,000 steps by then. My feet were feeling it.

On Sunday, I cooled my feet in the coach and watched football. I had the Denver Bronco – Baltimore Ravens game on TV with the sound off while I listened to the San Diego Chargers – Detroit Lions game radio broadcast online. It was an up-and-down affair with Chargers down 21-3 at the half. They won 33-28 in the end.

Donna went out for a bike ride on a great trail that she picked up not far from the rv park. After lunch, she rode the bus downtown again and attended mass (in Latin) at the oldest catholic church building in the US. The adobe structure of the San Miguel Mission was originally built in 1610.


San Miguel Mission

Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the US – only St. Augustine, Florida is older. It can claim the title of the oldest capital city. It was founded in 1607 – well before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

On her way back, Donna stopped at Sprouts Market to pick up a few items. They were roasting Hatch chiles in the parking lot. The roaster rotates and skins break free of the chilis making them ready for canning or using in a recipe.

Hatch chilis roasting

Hatch chiles roasting

I finished the day with another entertaining game as the Dallas Cowboys made a comeback to defeat the New York Giants.

Today I’ll rest my feet again. Donna is going to play pickleball at the recreation center a couple of miles from here.