Temptation

Every once in awhile, I find myself drifting over to EBay just to check out motorhomes that are listed there. I really know next to nothing about the Monaco brand of coach. And when it comes to the various models offered by Monaco, I know even less. But I know what I like when I see it. And I’ve decided that temptation is a Monaco Diplomat.

Why? I haven’t a clue. Maybe it’s because they always look nice, regardless of year. And they seem to have creature comforts that are of interest to me compared to what I’m used to in our beloved but aged Bounder. AND, they are affordable. At least used ones can be; say one that is 10 years or so past new.

So why am I even looking? Now THAT is a very good question. We’re really not in the market. We have a perfectly good Class A “coach” which, aside from its age, is almost new in every other respect. Only 40,000 miles on the odometer. Remodeled interior, new tires, new coil spring front suspension replacing the air bags, new starting and auxiliary batteries, solar charging, new 200o watt inverter, new 4-phase converter with smart technology, new flat panel TV’s and, most recently, satellite TV via DISH. And, most important, it suits us.

Except for the bathroom and shower. We don’t have much of either. When I’m tempted to look at other, newer coaches, the first thing I look at is the shower. I guess as the years went by, the manufacturers of these land yachts started thinking about larger bath and shower areas because most have them. Some even separate the two. Ours is more along the lines of a broom closet. A small broom closet.

And, in spite of problems that we have heard of more than a few times, a slide-out or two, or three, would be nice. And then there is the washer/dryer combo. And the list goes on. Levelers, rear camera, driver side door, etc., etc.

Of course, at some point temptation gets trumped by reality. Our motorhome is paid for. If we upgraded to another, newer coach, we’d likely finance a portion of the purchase. While that’s not a deal killer, it is an expense we don’t need to have. At least for the time being. There’s something wonderfully satisfying and “freeing” about NOT having monthly payments.

Nevertheless, we decided to take a day trip to a dealer not far from us, whose inventory we had been viewing on EBay. Temptation never rests.

We might have resisted had it not been that on this same day, when we thought we might have a recurring problem with the air conditioning on our Bounder, we received a call telling us the AC was fine but we had a leaking water pump on the engine. To replace a water pump in a motorhome is very labor intensive. Yikes.

Upgrading to a newer coach was not going to change anything. We would still have to replace the pump. But maybe a few hours “looking” would be good for the soul or something. So off we went. OMG, what an experience.

And, we’ll tell you about it in our next post.  Also, just to let you know, we had a great yard sale. We’ll be filling you in about that in an upcoming post as well. And it’s good that it was successful, cause I have a water pump to replace.

Happy Trails!

 

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Beating the Yard Sale Drum

We are scheduled to have our first yard sale this weekend. I am NOT excited. I should be, but I’m not. I’m good at logistics and planning. Dealing with the bargain hunting public, not so much. Even though I may be good at planning for an event such as a yard sale, I’m never quite ready enough. In my mind, there’s always something yet to be done. Something unfinished.

That’s why it’s good that I have Sharon as a partner. Her attitude is nearly always positive with a bit of “C’est la vie” thrown in.  Such is life. Oh ya, and “This too will pass”. I can hardly wait for it…to pass.

I’ve mentioned to her that maybe we should have the yard sale next weekend rather than THIS weekend. Her one word reply is “Why?”. I hate it when she does that. I try to explain that we are “not ready”. Then, she plays dirty. “Sweetheart, we will never be ready enough (for you), but we ARE ready”. When it starts with “Sweetheart”, that means get the cart and start moving things out into the driveway.

Those of you who are already living the full-time lifestyle have already been through this. My friend Dave, who commented in my last post, talks about these things as being “part of the journey” and that we’re “making memories”. Maybe eventually, but right now I’m not feeling it.

I’m still thinking next weekend might be better than this weekend. But then I look at the calendar. June 30th, our “be out date”, is not THAT far away. And we most certainly will likely need more than one yard sale. So, my goose is cooked. This weekend it will be. Despite my better(?) judgement. After all, I’m a renowned planner. I can plan and plan, and plan.

And I could go on and on about this, but I have to get to Lowe’s to pickup some sawhorses. Grrrr…

 

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Notice Given

When our lease was up on the house we are presently living in,  by mutual agreement, we converted to a month-to-month rental arrangment that included a 90 day notice provision by either party. On April 1st, notice was given that we will be out by June 30th.

We’ve been actively planning for our Great Escape for well over the past two years or so. And even though we have REALLY accelerated our planning for what to do with our stuff, and have made great progress, there’s no denying that we’re antsy about the fact that June 30th will be here before we know it.

So, the pressure is on. Even so, we think we’re ready. Not only from an on-the-road point of view, but also from the more immediate requirement of reducing our possessions that WON’T be going with us in the motorhome, which is most of our stuff.

We have quite a few items on Craigslist. And several on EBay. And then some items on a industry related forum for the few remaining business items we had. So far, so good. We’re actually sending stuff to new homes and building our nest egg.

We also have reserved some storage space. We know that the object is to keep storage rental to a minimum, if not non-existent. But the reality is that there will come a time when we will no longer be on the road. And there will be some minimal number of items we will want to keep and have available when that day comes.

Another thing that occurs to us is how our three road trips since last September are figuring into the scheme of things. As a reminder, the month of September was spent over in Colorado, and then a bit of Utah and Arizona. November included time in Anza-Borrego, and then over to Yuma, an area of Arizona we had not previously visited. And then in January, we went over to Quartzite for our first “Big Show”, and further east to Wickenburg, Prescott, Casa Grande, Tucson and Apache Junction.

That’s a fair amount of traveling which included a considerable amount of boondocking. Without necessarily planning it, these trips served as a perfect set of shakedown cruises prior to our upcoming Great Escape. Our solar worked perfectly, as did the other improvements we had made. There were a few things needing looking into, one of which was thought to be a heater core problem. I pulled the heater core when we got home and took it to “Charlie”, our local radiator genius. He tested it and proclaimed there was nothing wrong with it. Turned out to be a loose hose connection making it look like a leaking heater core.

In conclusion of this post, I guess we are counting the days at this point.  But we certainly won’t be idle. Still have some yard sales coming up, and some things to sell that may not be conducive to yard sale bargain hunting. But one things for sure. Sometime in early July, we’ll be heading north “on the road”. It will be too hot here in Southern California to head in any other direction. Stay tuned.

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Blog Reading

Well, Nina and Paul are in Pismo. Or were. You know how these things go. There’s always a time delay so that everyone can get out of Dodge before we run into them.  Same with Jim & Gayle who are/were in the Mojave National Preserve. So is Suzanne.

Mark & Bobbie are in Moab. Pam & John aren’t hiking. They are on Lake Powell. In a rental boat. They haven’t figured out how to hike on water…yet. But they DID make sure to wander up certain canyon waterways to find places to put ashore…to hike. Sue and Dave have joined them.

RVSue is WAY down some dirt road south of Tucson. Al & Kelly are back in Canada, having sprinted 2500 miles from Congress,  Az. to Bayfield. Brenda and Hector are no-shows, not having posted for over a month, and even then, only posted a review of their Christmas and holidays spent in San Diego. UPDATE: Just received a new post from Brenda & Hector. They are over in the Wickenberg/ Congress area of Arizona. Obviously, they saw this post and decided a new post was long overdue. 🙂

And, lest I forget, Ingrid is STILL hanging in Phoenix, watching rattlesnakes cross the trail and otherwise visiting with her newly re-located daughter. And, last but not least, Dawn is in Michigan sending out photos of winter’s beauty.

So, that’s it. Everyone is now free to go about their travels re-arranging the chessboard of life until next time. 🙂

 

 

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We’re not Hoarders – Really We’re Not

 

We have been “home” now for a little over a month, having spent early January until the first week of February over in Southern Arizona. This was our third trip out on the road since last September. Two 30 day trips and one 2 week trip.

Each time out impressed upon us more and more, the necessity of getting more serious about cutting the cord between a sticks and bricks existence at “home” and a full-time RV life. So, this time getting home we have put the pedal to the metal, so to speak.

For those of you who have gone through this, you know. But for the rest of you, do you know how much “stuff” one couple can collect over a period of 35 years? Well, we didn’t. But we’re surely finding out.

I’ve often said, and I’ve said it here, make a plan and work the plan. So, our plan is to have as many yard sales as it takes, as soon as we are ready. We hope to be “ready” sometime in April. April 1st would be ideal, but I’m starting to see that weekend slipping away. But not for lack of effort. We have been diligently going from room-to-room, agreeing not to move on to the next room until everything in each room has been categorized as either “Yard Sale”, “Keep” “Donate” or “Trash”. I cannot tell you how many times our two 70 gallon trash bins have been filled and hauled away.

The first room that was emptied, one of three bedrooms, has become a staging area for “Yard Sale” stuff, all priced for quick sale we hope. The dining room and table has become Yard Sale staging area #2. We still have the master bedroom, family room, living room, the kitchen and the garage to go. Actually, it’s not as bad as it seems. We’ve made some progress in each of the remaining rooms as well. It’s hard to stick to a strategy of only going room-by-room.

And let’s discuss shredding of documents and papers. We’ve been saving “important” documents for 35 years. It’s amazing how UN-important these documents have become all these years later. But in this day and age, it’s prudent if not paranoid to shred anything you would not want in the hands of others. So, sitting on the living room floor shredding documents while watching TV has become the new normal. Slowly but surely, file cabinets are becoming empty.

Although we would love to unload everything we put out for a yard sale, we don’t really expect that to happen. So our plan is to have a first one, and then have another one or two on subsequent weekends, re-pricing as necessary. If, after three yard sales, things have not sold, they will convert to “Donate” or “Trash”. We have no time for sentiment.

Then, there are the Craigslist or Ebay items. Since starting preparations for this our Great Escape, we have had good luck selling items on one or both of these sites. We still have a couple of vehicles, a trailer, a motorcycle and small equipment left from the winding up of our business to sell.

So…anybody need a brass bell door knocker? How ’bout a hardly ever used Nordic Track treadmill? Cheap!

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Boondocking Report Card

Having returned home to Apple Valley this afternoon, I’m reflecting on 27 days on the road. This trip across southern Arizona included 10 days on BLM land at Quartzite, 6 days at Escapees North Ranch outside of Wickenburg, 4 days at Picacho State Park between Casa Grande and Tucson, 1 day at Catalina State Park north of Tucson, 5 days at Lost Dutchman State Park outside of Apache Junction, and then 1 day at Quartzite.

As you know if you follow our blog, we have done our best to outfit our Bounder with those things necessary to stay off-grid for periods of time. In other words, “boondocking”. Not the least of which is 400 watts of solar panels, and 440 ah of batteries, as well as a 2000/3000 watt inverter.

When we set our rig up for boondocking, I guess we wanted to accomplish two main things. First, we wanted to avoid using our generator for as long as possible. Second, we wanted to stay off-grid for as long as possible. Staying off-grid is dependent on several factors. Weather, that is sunlight, is critical for good solar charging. If the skies are cloudy and overcast, charging will take longer and, in a worst case, there might not be enough daylight hours in the day to recharge the batteries. And if you have repeated days of bad, overcast weather, the batteries might never get fully recharged, or even sufficiently charged. If this happens, the generator has to be used or you have to get back on-grid, i.e., an RV park where you can plug in to shore power. The other things that can interfere with boondocking is your tanks, gray water, black water (sewage), propane and fresh water. If your grey or black tanks fill up, you have to find a place to dump. If you run out of water, you have to find a place to refill. Same with propane.

In our case, of the 27 days we were out, 15 days were spent boondocking. No hookups. Of those 15 days, 10 were while boondocking at Quartzite, and 5 were while camping in the overflow dry camping area at Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Mountains outside of Apache Junction.

Admittedly, we had great weather with little cloud cover. We also have recently converted our 25 year old TV’s for energy efficient, low amperage flat panels. And while we were attending the “Big RV SHOW” in Quartzite, we picked up several LED bulbs to replace many of our interior lights. It is amazing that, for each bulb, we went from using 1.3 amps to using .25 amps.

While boondocking, we were able to use small appliances like the coffee maker, toaster, hair dryer, ceramic tower heater and rechargers for our phones, tablets and laptops. We also used our TV and even the microwave. We generally tried to use one appliance at a time, and generally during the day if practical. At night, we watched television and only turned on lights that we were using. Through it all, we never used our generator, and our batteries never went below about 80% state of charge. Because of the good weather, and the fact that we tilted our panels with a southern exposure, we were generally back to 100% charge by noon each day.

For this first real world test covering 15 days of boondocking, we are more than pleased. We really were frugal with our energy usage, but we did not do without. We were fairly comfortable. I will say that after 8 days at Quartzite, out of a total of 10 days, we DID have to go into town for a refill of our propane tank. But that was because we did not have a full tank when we arrived. More like a half a tank. But while we were there, we emptied our gray and black tanks, and filled our water tank even though such was not necessary.

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Quartzite Revisited

We were in Quartzite last month for the Outside Our Bubble blog’s “Get Together 2016” in conjunction with the “Big RV Show”. Since then, we have been to Wickenburg, Congress, Prescott, Casa Grande, Picacho State Park, Catalina State Park, Apache Junction, and this morning, left Lost Dutchman State Park after 5 days there.

This afternoon, we arrived back at Quartzite for an overnight stay prior to crossing into California for the final leg of our trip back home in Apple Valley. What a difference once the Big Show is over and done. Oh, there are still plenty of people and rigs wintering here. But it’s not the same. Not sure what I expected, but it’s just different…and weird. Even our pizza tonight at Silly Al’s was not the same. It was the same choice and size, but somehow not quite as good. And being the day AFTER the Super Bowl, we asked if the place was jam packed yesterday for the game. They have a sports bar and multiple screens as part of the restuarant. The manager said, “You know, we had a large crowd but it was kinda typical of this time of year. Not necessarily because of the Super Bowl”. And a customer overhearing us said “What game?” I think he may have been kidding, but maybe  not.

We’re staying at Quail Run RV Park, one of a few choices in Quartzite. We could have boondocked on BLM land, but we wanted full hook-ups. And we were hoping for television. Since we have not ordered our satellite dish and receiver, waiting until we get home, we have been relying on over-the-air signals using our antenna. For the most part, we have had good  to adequate reception in the places we have been on this trip. But not in Quartzite. No signal, nada, zip. And I cannot figure out why. It’s a big valley, and we can actually see antennas on the mountain top toward Phoenix. Maybe they are not television signal repeater antennas. Maybe something else. But it blows me away that Quartzite does not get coverage. And I have asked. I’m told “no signal”, which is what my flat panel is telling me as well. Everybody has satellite…except us. But THAT is about to change as soon as we get home. 🙂Tailgater

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Getting Ready to Head Home

We’re winding up our time here at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction and getting ready to head home on Monday. We’ve seen some things, and done some things. Only one thing left. To watch Peyton Manning beat the Carolina Panthers tomorrow.  🙂

We’ve been out for nearly a month, and could not be happier with this particular winter trip. We’ve tried to document our travels here, but it’s hard to convey in writing the really good feelings and memories that we have. Certainly our time in Quartzite and the relationships we established there, stand out as the best of the best of good times. Who woulda thought?

As followers of this blog are aware, we are not full-timers as yet. Still got stuff to get rid of at home. So, our game plan is to get back and schedule a yard sale or two before heading out again. Of course, there are other things to be done as well; doctor appointments, taxes, etc. And I’m also finishing up a 1966 Mustang restoration project prior to offering it for sale. Also, the motorhome will require some attention. Nothing major. But we DID have the heater core spring a leak in Lake Havasu on the way to Quartzite. We by-passed the in-dash heater as a quick fix. But we will be visiting our local radiator shop at home to get a new heater core or whatever is needed before getting back on the road.

They say that one sign of a good road trip is the anxiousness one feels to get back out on the road. That’s where we’re at. We are not even home yet, and we can hardly wait to get back out on the road.

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Apache Junction, Lost Dutchman State Park and Goldfield

We have been in the area now for four days. The first two days at the Apache Junction KOA, and now our second day at Lost Dutchman State Park. Continuing with our “philosophy” that “we doan need no stink’n reservations”, we were able to get into the park’s overflow area, pretty much for as long as we want it. Lost Dutchman S.P._Our BackyardAlthough this is dry camping, with no hook-ups, this “overflow” has to be the best that one will find anywhere. It is located at the highest elevation within the park, with paved and well-manicured sites complete with fire rings and picnic tables. Each site is as good as reserved sites, except with no hook-ups. Perfect for us because we are self-contained and our tanks were empty except for water, which was full. All sites within the park, overflow included, are spaced such that you never feel crowded. Windshield ViewAll at different elevations with Sonoran Desert at its best between sites. Just gorgeous. And, as a backdrop, the Superstition Mountains in all their glory. Lost Dutchman S.P_Site 124

 

 

 

 

 

Our site, due purely to luck of the draw, was elevated such that we had panaramic 360 degree views. We are truly Happy Campers.

Although this state park is convenient to Apache Junction and amenities, it also serves as a gateway to go further east into the back country toward Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat, Roosevelt Lake and, ultimately Globe, should someone want to take that route which includes gravel roads intermittently along the way. Apache Trail_Hwy 88_Windmill & BluffsOne of our day trips took us as far as Tortilla Flats, a small tourist attraction about 15 miles back into the hills. The scenery along the way made the trip worthwhile. Quite stunning, and oh so western. As always, just click any photo to see an enlarged version.

This photo of the western end of Canyon Lake does not due it justice. When you get down to the shore, the sheer walls of stone dropping right down to the water are pretty dramatic. Apache Trail_Hwy 88_Canyon LakeAlthough not visible in the photo, there is a dam upstream to the left. Behind the dam, is Saguaro Lake of equal size.  And, although it is hard to see in this photo, there is a break in the rocks where Canyon Lake flows north and then east behind the far ridge, becoming Roosevelt Lake behind yet another dam. The lakes in total probably stretch 50 miles west-to-east.

Once we reached Tortilla Flats for a rest stop and gift shop “spree”, we turned around and re-traced our route back to Lost Dutchman State Park. Apache Trail_Hwy 88_Saguaro FamilyAlong the way, we encountered this “family” of Saguaros, the father and mother with their arms around each other.

 

On another day, we visited Goldfield Ghost Town which WAS a real town back in 1890 when gold was discovered in the area. It is thought that the name was a reflection of the number of mines in the immediate vicinity. Some say the buildings are the original ones. Others say the town burned down at some point and was partially reconstructed on the same site. Goldfield_Street SceneRegardless, today the buildings appear to be authentic even though the town is essentially a tourist destination with lots of shops, eateries, a train, gold panning and such. Even so, it’s an interesting and fun way to spend an afternoon, which we did. And to make it all the better, Goldfield Ghost Town is almost directly across the highway from the State Park.

Stopped for a brew and wandered around town looking for a gunfight. Didn’t find one on this day, although they DO happen with some frequency.

Goldfield_Saguaro Saloon

Goldfield_Out HouseGoldfield_MercantileGoldfield_Hava Seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I needed to use the restroom, but the only seat in town was taken.

Have a seat!

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Catalina State Park -Oro Valley/Tucson

Sunday morning we left Picacho State Park and headed in the direction of Tucson, but not exactly TO Tucson. I was not quite ready to return to anything resembling a big city, with its crowds and everything that goes with lots of people. We had read reviews of Catalina State Park, north of town and tucked up against the Catalina Mountains, officially in a suburb of Tucson known as Oro Valley.

The State Park and campgrounds are quite beautiful, complete with tons of trails for hiking, biking, dog walking, etc., all with a dramatic backdrop and gorgeous views of the rocky outcroppings of the western flank of the Catalina Mountains complete with a hint of snow up top. Park Sign

This is a VERY popular park, not only among travelers passing through, but also locals. When we drove to the end of the park, where there are no less than, say, 10 trailheads, we could not believe that the entire LARGE parking area was completely filled with cars. It WAS on the weekend, so we can only assume that the majority of the cars belonged to locals.

There is a great irony to Catalina State Park. When you are in the park, it would be easy to be convinced that you are totally immersed in sheer wilderness. And, IN the park, you certainly are. CampgroundThe irony is that, when you leave the park, and I mean at the stop sign when exiting, straight across the street is a Red Lobster, an In-N-Out, Best Buy, Century Theaters, and a whole host of other retailers. In fact, on the one day we were there, we went across the street to an RV show, and then drove down the highway for pizza.

Shortly after dinner, all hell broke loose. We were aware that a storm system was moving across the southwest and was due into the Tucson area. But the weather Sunday had been SO GREAT that we were shocked when winds started picking up just before dark. By the time we went to bed, the motorhome was rocking so violently that we actually thought it might turn over, even though we were sure that could not happen. Then, it started to snow. In the park. It’s not supposed to snow at such a low elevation. Surprisingly, in the morning, all evidence of any snow was gone except on the mountain. Nevertheless, during the night it sounded like heavy rain on the roof. I went outside and found that small beebees of snow were everywhere.

Since we have been trying to stick to a policy of “no reservations” ahead of time, we had to accept the risk of “no room at the inn”. Fortunately, we were able to get a space with water and electrical, but only for one night. Although we were told to check further availability later or in the morning, such availability was not to be. So, we proceeded to Plan B. Originally, 24 hours earlier, we were not sure what Plan B looked like. We had not decided whether to head west and south toward Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, or north toward Apache Junction. We had even thought about heading due west toward home. In spite of the weather that we woke up to, we decided to head north to Apache Junction. Fortunately, although we ran through some rain and snow flurries along the way, the storm was continuing east. And as we will detail in my next post, we were glad that “Plan B” turned out to be Apache Junction and the Superstition Mountains.

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