December 28, 2007 - Friday
We're enjoying a few
quiet days at home while Catherine decompresses from the strain of working
and taking care of her mother. Cath has been working Mondays through
Wednesdays and on Thursdays she drives to LA to be with her mother. She
usually doesn't get back till late Sunday night for a few hours of sleep
before she leaves for work at 6 Monday morning. A grueling schedule.
But recently her mom
has been rallying from congestive heart failure
so Cath feels comfortable taking a few days off next week for our trip to
Arizona. Nothing too structured planned, just a brief tour of the southern
portion of the state.
For me though, things
are finally getting back to normal after the flurry of activity involved
with getting the RV. I've been enjoying reading The Berrybender
Narratives by Larry McMurtry but like so many of his books, the story
goes quickly and before I knew it, I had finished all four books.
I'm currently working
on The World Without Us by Alan Weisman which describes what the
world would be like if humanity ceased to exist. He describes how long it
would take for the cities to decay and for nature to recover from the
effects of 30,000 years (give or take) of human habitation. As expected,
it's a little judgmental and somewhat pedantic. OK, Ok, I'm only 50 pages in
so I'll retract that review and give it the benefit of the doubt, for now.
Today's photo is of
one of the properties I drive by on the way to the mailbox.
December 22, 2007 - Saturday
Winter chores; mostly having to do with
storing machines and equipment that won't be used until May. Putting
engines away with gas in the tank can cause havoc to the carburetor and
ideally you should run the engine dry before letting them sit idle for even a month.
So I spent the morning siphoning gas out of the generator, brush mower, fire
pump and brush chipper. The excitement never ends on this ranch.
I've also been preoccupied with upgrading the computer that runs the weather
station and I'm trying to fine tune it so that it runs reliably,
indefinitely, without human intervention. Since it uploads data to NOAA
every hour, I feel some responsibility to make sure that it keeps working
when I'm not around. At any moment though, hardware failures or poor programming can
bring down my setup like a house of cards. For now, I've done everything I
can with the hardware. The programming is out of my control.
Cath will be with her mother this Christmas
but when she returns, we'll head out on our next adventure. From the photo
of my desk you probably think you know where we're headed. Wrong!! We're
going to Arizona. Can't believe you didn't guess that.
And I can't believe I'm spending my
Saturday night taking pictures of my desk. Well, Cath is gone...
December 18. 2007 - Tuesday
- Lots of odds & ends to take care of, most having to do with the RV (or
Circus Wagon as my mom used to call them). The things have 6 wheels (four in
the back - two in the front) and checking the pressure in the rear wheels is
troublesome because of the way the valve stems are located. Yesterday I
invested $25 on a good pressure gage that is designed to be used on tires
with the awkward valve stem positions.
I also purchased
Microsoft Streets & Trips to supplement my Garmin Nuvi GPS. The Nuvi is
an excellent GPS navigator that has always gotten me where I need to go but
it isn't the best when planning out a trip with multiple stops. The
Microsoft program will be used to design the trip and then I'll program the
"points of interests" into the GPS devise. Kind of awkward actually and no
doubt I'll be revising this setup in the future.
December 16, 2007 - Sunday
My Nephew Tony with Ben, one year old!
See the rest at:
December 15, 2007 - Saturday - Salton Sea
We left Thursday
morning and returned Friday afternoon with another 300 miles under my belt.
I still haven't achieved "comfort" while driving the RV and perhaps never
will. I suppose it's be a good thing to never get completely relaxed when
driving (for obvious reasons).
Lots of things to get
used to though. A cacophony of sounds accompany you while driving and I'm
still learning what can be ignored and what needs further consideration.
Stuff in cabinets clatter, drawers and doors rattle, the chassis squeaks and
the breaks sometimes squeal. Nothing serious though and I'm still miles away
from taking it in for its 10,000 mile service.
We stayed at the
Salton Sea State Park in the "full hookup" section which meant we had power
and fresh water. Wi-Fi was available from AT&T for $7 but I decided to pass.
No time for browsing the web. These definitely weren't camping spots and
Cath would be quick to point out that it more closely resembled a huge
parking lot. An empty lot except for us and one other RV.
It seems that the
Salton Sea doesn't rank high on the list of popular recreation sites and
even though this should be considered the peak season, attendance was poor.
The place was tidy though the park service has definitely put this park on
the back burner. The "Nature Trail" was unmaintained with empty
pamphlet containers and signs falling over. The visitor center was staffed
by volunteers who knew nothing about the area and info that the website
promised to have available, wasn't. The staffer mumbled something about the
rare bird list being available last year but they didn't bother to print it
this season. This place is supposed to be about birds!
For me though, wild
life parks aren't my main interest when traveling the back roads. Frankly
I'd rather be stopping at the teeny little towns that seem trapped in time.
Derelict cafes and gas stations moldering away, surrounded by weeds and
unvisited since 1958 when the superhighways grabbed all the traffic. Those
encounters will be on my Route 66 trip on the leg that runs from Santa
Monica to Oklahoma city. Maybe this spring.
December 13, 2007 - Thursday
6 AM -
We'll be taking off in a few minutes to spend the night a The Salton Sea
State Park. It's just a quick trip to give Cath a bird watching break and to
give her a chance to try out the new RV. Next week I'll be spending some
time seeing if I can get Blackie used to the thing. The length of future
trips may depend on whether we can take him along though so far, I'm
skeptical about how that will work out. He tends to get a little vocal when
riding in vehicles and spending 24 hrs a day with a cat yowling in my ear
isn't my idea of fun.
I'm also interested in
experimenting with wireless internet connections while on the road. The
Salton Sea park offers free access so I'll look into connecting there. If it
works I'll try to post something here.
December 11, 2007 - Tuesday
- Cold, for us. Low 30's last night with a threat of rain this morning. But
now it seems to be clearing though the wind is blowing from the north with a
wind chill of 32. Being a typical Southern Californian, I had to come in and
warm my hands before I continue with my outdoor chores.
On Thursday we're
headed to the Salton Sea for a couple of days but we'll be back by Saturday
to attend my nephews 1st birthday. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I'm
all ready to go though I did want to empty the RV's holding tanks before we
leave. Black water and grey water tanks can be dumped into a home sewer
system if you have a clean out plug conveniently located.
course I'll be obsessing about RV matters while I'm getting used to the new
vehicle and I've been following a couple of RV blogs that deal with the
subject. Actually I started reading
Adventures of Tioga and George about three years ago. He travels full
time in a Class C motor home and spends his winters in Mexico. I have to
give him credit for my selection of a class C RV.
From The Lily Pad
is another blog written by a 60 year old women who travels full time by
herself . She also owns a Class C RV but pulls a trailer that houses her
motorcycle. Interesting reading.
December 10, 2007 - Monday
8 AM -
Finally a chance to get out early and beat the shopping crowds. I'm getting
lots of odds & ends together for the RV to make it self sustaining and ready
to go on a moments notice. I dislike extended trip preparation with stuff
cluttering up the house and piled in corners waiting to be loaded into the
car. The beauty of this motor home is that it has lots of storage space and
my aim is to keep it prepped and ready to go whenever the opportunity
presents its self. The refrigerator is stocked, gas is in the tank and the
propane tanks are full. I want to be able to unplug the thing and go.
But don't call it
camping! At least not when Catherine's around. As a backpacker and purist
hiker, she's quick to point out that excursions in this thing have nothing
to do with camping. Hot water, microwave, stove with range, forced air
heating, color TV with DVD player... ok, ok, it's not camping.
6 PM -
At 12:30 AM the smoke alarms went off. No it wasn't a fire but rather a
glitch in the smoke alarm system. Ours are hard wired into house and
whenever the line voltage drops, the things go off. It's not commonly known
but the voltage coming off the lines to the house can vary in quality and
quantity. Stray signals causing "line noise" and erratic voltage below 117
or above 125 can cause havoc to computers and in our case, the smoke
detectors. I know the problem is caused by dirty power because the battery
back-up for the computer starts setting off alarms at the same time as the
Of course SDG&E denies
any problem on their side and since none of the neighbors are reporting
similar troubles, I'm inclined to let them off the hook. Appliances have to
be able to handle some voltage fluctuation but in this case the smoke
detector is just too sensitive. For now it's un-hooked. With her mother
being sick, Cath has been running herself ragged and she needs all the sleep
she can get.
December 9, 2007 - Sunday
- A winter storm is blowing through and this morning we have 35 MPH winds
peppering the north side of the house with rain and small grains of sand.
The temperature has been wavering in the upper 30's with snow last night. I
ventured out a couple of times to feed the turkeys but it's not a good day
to be outside. The wind blows all the rain sideways and it soon soaks your
Getting cabin fever.
December 7, 2007 -
Idaho to San Diego
having the space shuttle moored to the side of the house. Attached by an
umbilical cord to provide power and charge its batteries, this big white
behemoth requires constant attention. The pipes and holding tanks can't be
allowed to freeze and I've always got minor repairs and improvements to tend
to. It has gages that monitor the levels of propane and the 4 holding tanks.
It has buttons that need to be understood so I can properly operate the
water pump, generator, anti freeze heating element and electrical
converter. I'm not complaining. In many ways it's like having a spare house
that I can drive away whenever I get the urge to explore.
the 27th, my sister and I flew to Boise to meet my brother and drive it back
to San Diego. Because of weather, we had to cancel a large portion of the
trip but the remaining 1,200 miles was still a suitable shake down drive. We
left Boise on the 28th (it snowed the night before), spent a night at an RV
camp in Winnemucca Nevada and arrived in Oakland to drop my brother off on
the 28th. On Sunday it was a straight shot down Interstate 5 to drop my
sister off in Coronado.
And it's not hard to
drive. Really. You just have to be aware of the extra length and make wider
turns. The automatic transmission and 10 cylinder engine make driving in
traffic a non issue. But yes, filling the 55 gallon tank is expensive with
the only surprising up side being that it doesn't require premium gas.
I made it back home on
the 2nd but since then I've been dealing with the dozens of little details
that need to be accomplished before life gets back to normal. The thing had
to be smog certified before I could get the title transferred from Idaho to
California. It had to be inspected for insurance and I spent yesterday
installing a 30 amp circuit breaker in our house so I can plug the RV into
its own dedicated outlet.
Of course I'm already
anxious to hit the road again so we hope to head out to the desert some time
during the Christmas break. I'm looking forward to the time when I can
concentrate on enjoying the trip instead of being distracted by learning to
drive the thing.
The Golden Gate from