December 2007

Ranch Weather Station
Ranch Webcams
Ranch Operations
Ranch Wildlife
The Indians
Stealth Cam
Ranch Photography
Cedar Fire 2003


RV Trips

Idaho to Home

Salton Sea

Arizona 08'


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

5 AM - 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 Trip

Circus WagonWe 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.

EgretWe 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.

Pelican SunsetIt 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.


Cathrine Sunrise

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

10 AM - 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.

Of 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 The 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 smoke detectors.

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

11 AM - 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 clothes.

Getting cabin fever.

December 7, 2007 - Idaho to San Diego

It's like 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.

Barry & Sheila in WinnemuccaOn 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.

View from Barry's house

The Golden Gate from Barry's place