Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to save $295.00

The companies that make component parts and appliances that go into making an RV are notorious for over pricing replacement parts.
Here is a perfect example:
Recently the gasket on the refrigerator door came loose at the bottom of the door. I did a thorough search on line, and for our model of refrigerator/freezer the cost of a replacement gasket is $299.00 plus tax and shipping. Yes I did say two hundred and ninety-nine dollars. Outrageous! Especially so since it probably cost less than $15.00 to manufacture the gasket.
This was my solution:
I found a white vinyl weather stripping at Walmat for $5.00. Think of two thick-walled soda straws side by side. That's what I got.
I cut out the “bad” section, cleaned the area under the old gasket with alcohol, then I warmed up the vinyl door with a hair dryer and peeled the adhesive protective strip and pressed into place.  Less than 10 minutes to do the job.
The $295.00 saved sure looks better in my pocket.

Stay tuned

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Some wisdom, some good mpg and a significant repair for only $1.98

We only had to drive 246 miles today and it took us 4.75 hours.  The temptation was to sleep in and leave late, but from experience we have learned to leave a cushion in case something unexpected happens.  And as we know, the unexpected often happens.

We arrived at a Super WalMart in Oklahoma City, OK just off of I-I40 around 12:30 noon.  First thing I did was take Trixie for a comfort walk.  As I was returning to the coach I thought that the "stone guard" or whatever it is called than hangs underneath the back of the coach looked unusual.  I had never seen it leaning like that and as I got closer I could see that it became detached on one edge. Oh crap, I thought now what?

Apparently, it had been loose for quite a few miles today as the left edge had an area worn away of about 1.5  x 8 inches.

Long story short.  $1.98 worth of parts from a nearby Home Depot (in same mall) and it was back in working order.    So that is probably going to the the only significant repair I will ever do to the coach for under $2.00.

Today's trip was on mostly flat terrain and at times we were getting up to 9.4 mpg, but finished with 9 mpg.  Not bad for a 450 HP Cummins engine.

Last item.  About two weeks ago the rear AC unit stopped working.  Magically it is now providing cool air.

Tomorrow we will stop at MCD RV Innovations in McKinney, TX to have two of our new shades repaired as they do not roll up the same way as when they were installed 11 months ago.   As my good friend, George Hatfield says:  “it is always something.”

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On our way to Nacogdoches, TX

We departed from Cochiti Lake, NM early this morning and headed east and north toward Amarillo, TX.  We drove 304 miles in 5.5 hours and stopped for lunch en route  at a picnic area along I-40 in Texas.  We arrived in the WalMart Super Center parking lot here in Amarillo about 1:30 (actually 2:30 CDST).  No problems.  No wrong turns.  No rain.  Just a smooth easy drive.  We are one of 14 campers, RVs or motorhomes here.

Tomorrow we will drive about 220 miles to Oklahoma City, OK and stop at another WalMart Super Center.  We always buy groceries or other supplies at the store where we are parked, and Sandy and I have been known to round up carts and pick up trash.  It’s the least we can do for having Sam Walton’s heirs let us stop overnight for free on their property.

Another plus for us with WalMart is that they will accept the used oil from my changing the oil in our diesel  generator.  So this afternoon I dropped of the nearly 5 quarts I was carrying in one of the storage bays.

Recently, we have begun using Google Maps to get a bird’s eye view of the destination parking area and the turns involved.  It really helps us to know what we face ahead of time.

Trixie note.  She is quite the good little traveler. Sandy puts her bed in back of the co-pilot chair and Trixie climbs in and snuggles down for a long nap.

This is just a quick update.  I don’t want you to get bored.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When is a mystery really a money making enterprise?

It was suggested to us that we visit the “mysterious staircase” in the  Loretto Chapel in Sante Fe.  Like good and gullible tourists we went to take a look.  The staircase is beautiful and  really is a masterpiece of woodworking.  But is it a miracle or just a legend?  We’ll let you decide. But it is a charming story.
The museum gets about 250,000 visitors per year who each plunk down $3.  Nice little business.
I took a few photos.  No mystery in that.
After doing our part to help the local legend we walked around the old part of Santa Fe.  It is a charming area of shops and restaurants.
Thanks for checking in. 

Stay tuned

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A trip into Santa Fe, NM

We were getting low on some items and I needed to change the oil in generator so we drove the 25 miles into Santa Fe.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera.  Santa Fe is a neat city with unique southwestern architecture and a rare find called Sage Bakery.   I Googled “bakery” and found this 56 year-old-bakery.  Sandy had a cappuccino and I had a cup of plain coffee and we each had a pastry. Everything was wonderful.  We took home a loaf of raisin-pecan bread that will go great with coffee for breakfast tomorrow.

While in Santa Fe we visited Walgreen's for our flu shot.  According to CDC anyone over 6 months of age should get the flu shot this year.  Did you get yours?
Here was tonight’s sunset.

Next Tuesday we begin a long south-easterly trip that will take us back to McKinney, TX to have a couple of quirky window blinds adjusted and then into Nacogdoches, TX for some fiberglass repairs and finally into Readyville, TN where we hope to remove the carpet in our living room and replace it with tile or laminate. Once we leave Readyville in late November, it will be by car to drive about 600 miles to Illinois to spend most of December with our children.

I will not be blogging as often, but stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cochiti Lake Campground, New Mexico

We drove about 40 miles today from the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta grounds to this U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Park.  More about our new location in a moment.

We really enjoyed seeing all of the balloons and watching them take off and land.  It was a worthwhile experience.  But the location for camping was the worst we have ever experienced.  For $30 a night we got to park on an sloping surface that consisted of ground up asphalt, dirt, rocks, sand  and lots of prickly sand spurs.  No water and no electric, but plenty of dust.  I was glad to leave.  Enough of that.

But there were some bonuses to being at the Balloon Fiesta.  For one we got to see good friends Rudy and Carolyn Legget and their cute dog Abbie.  Rudy is the person who convinced us to look at the Foretravel brand.  We also met up with Roger and Linda Berke.  Roger is one of the smartest Aqua-Hot techs and fixed our hot water/heat system back in March.  We now consider Roger and Linda to be friends and they are fun to be with.  The six of us went out to dinner one evening.

We also met up again with Mike and Bev Heine.  We first met them at Bottomless Lakes State Park in New Mexico last March.  This was our 3rd time to see them.

Lexie (13 years old) Bev (could pass for a teenager) and Mike Heine.  You can’t meet nicer people.

They were gracious and invited us to a dinner of delicious grilled Alaskan Halibut that Mike caught on their recent trip to Alaska.

Today as we prepared to leave Albuquerque we noticed that when the Honda was hooked up to the coach that one of the turn signals was not working.  I called Rudy, who diagnosed a bad diode.  I will get a replacement soon and teach myself how to put it into place.  It is really great to have friends who know more about motorhomes than I do.

Cochiti Lake is our kind of place.  It is very, very clean.  The parking pads are well spaced with lots of room between.  We are in a new portion of the camp ground and our streets are paved.  We have a beautiful patio with covered table and we even have a very attractive post lamp.  For those of you who have been to Buckhorn Lake Resort in  Kerrville, TX or Grizzly RV Park in West Yellowstone, this place is on a par with them.   However, while we do have 50 amp service and water, we do not have a sewer connection, so we will have to drive a short distance to the dump every four or five days.  Not a big deal.  And we get all of this for $10 a night.
Cochiti Lake, NM 011
Cochiti Lake, NM 013
Our patio
Cochiti Lake, NM 016
View of campground
Tonight’s sunset

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On the edge of “the box”

IMG_2276There are hundreds if not a thousand RVs parked as far as the eye can see in all directions .

When we rolled into this immense parking area used for RV camping at Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque I was worried that we’d be shoe-horned into a spot between an RV with a noisy/smoky generator on one side and  a bunch of small ankle-biting yapping dogs on the other.
We are “boon-docking”, meaning that we have no water, electric or sewer connections.  We run our generator about 6 – 8 hours each day and we conserve water as much as possible.  Whenever we shower we usually run through about 1.5 to 2 gallons of water before it become comfortable enough to shower.  Here we capture that water in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet.
We really lucked out. We are parked right on the edge of an area referred to as “The Box” where some balloons will land.  On one side there is a well-maintained motorhome about 15 feet away and on the other side there is a gap of at least 60 feet.
We had a prime location this morning to watch landings.  It was really neat.
One of our favorite balloons is Jack in the Box.  Here he is ready to land in The Box.
We noticed that some balloon chase crews have a humongous sheet of fabric they use to protect the balloon surfaces from sharp rocks and other stuff on the ground that might damage the balloon.  Here you can see some of the crew getting this protective cloth into place.
Here is Jack’s home on wheels.  I like ours much better.
And now for some more aerial beauties:
This mini balloon got stuck between our mirror and windshield.
This evening we are invited to Mike and Bev Heine’s “home” for a halibut dinner.  Mike caught the halibut when they were in Alaska this summer.  After that and at dusk some of the balloons will be illuminated from within by their propane burners.  Could make for some unique photos.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2010

IMG_2084We are here in Albuquerque, NM for the largest balloon gathering in the world.  The number of balloons launched this morning was approximately 350.  More will go up tomorrow.  In 2009 the total number of balloon entries was capped at 600 due to recent growth in the city and loss of landing zones.
It is something to see.  There is a riot of bright colors and thrilling balloon ascents lasting at least two hours.  A wave of balloons will launch and then new crews come in with their balloons and begin the process all over again of getting a mass of nylon inflated and sent aloft. 
Historical headcounts show that on any given morning there have been as many as 100,000 spectators.  It is a big event for this medium sized city.  Prior to the start of the Balloon Fiesta in 1972 the largest number of hot air balloons assembled in one location in the world was 19 in England. 
So here is just some of what we saw and only a few of the 120 photos I took today.
This one was called When Pigs Fly
Above are three different balloons stretched out in the initial stage of preparation.
After the nylon fabric is stretched in one long line a large fan powered by a gasoline engine is used to fill the balloon with air even before the burner is turned on to heat the air trapped in the balloon.
As the balloon nears the final stage of filling one or two strong individuals hold a line attached to the top to keep the balloon from rolling side to side.
Weather permitting, I’ll have more photos from Sunday’s events.
Stay tuned