Thursday, May 24, 2018

RV/MH Hall of Fame

They say 80% of the RVs sold in the US are made in and around Elkhart.  Ours was made in Middlebury, and that's why we're here:  something needs to be fixed, and a regular dealer can't fix it, it has to come to the manufacturer's service center.

So this is where they have their Hall of Fame.  They have some RV's as old as 1910

Some from the 1930's

1950's and 1960's

And a guitar that belongs at the MIM

More pictures

Apparently the MH doesn't stand for Motor Home, like I thought, but for Manufactured Housing.  They built a 1639 square foot house next to the museum.  Looks pretty nice, 3 BR, walk-in closet, 2 sinks in the master bath, ... but on closer inspection everything that looks like wood seems to actually be some sort of plastic.  Quite realistic, until you knock on it.

And these elks are all over the streets of Elkhart.  This one is painted to be an RV, but each one is unique.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Model Railroad Museum

Sheldon would stay here for weeks!  There's a Model Railroad Museum in Gulfport, MS.  It occupies two buildings, and their back yards and the back yards of two businesses in between.  It's got trains of 4 different gauges, and outside are some larger ones that kids of all ages can ride in.

Plus there's zillions of legos, and other "action figures".

More pictures and videos.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Sun

AWESOME!!  Rick brought his telescopes and we watched the eclipse from Casper, WY at Ruth and Richard's house.

The totality didn't come out on camera, but it was amazing.  A large group of people some distance away saw it a few seconds before we did, and we heard their "OOOHs" and "AAAHs" and celebratory gunfire.  Now we know why some people chase these all over the world.

I got a few good pictures through the telescopes, some sunspots before

and we could see solar flares, but they didn't show up on the camera.  Got several pictures from the two telescopes at various stages of the eclipse.

The next one in the US is in April 2024, from Texas to Maine.  Make your reservations.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

New RV!

We traded in the Montana for a Grand Design Reflection 337RLS.  It's working out well so far, with a few glitches in the process, caused by the dealer rather than the rig itself.

Vicki had been anxious about the Montana, getting a feeling of imminent disaster.  We did have a lot of things fail and need repairs, and the latest round with Camping World was very unsatisfactory.  They did a poor job of it, and ripped us off in the process.  So she did a lot of research and liked what she found about Grand Design, and we looked at several models and settled on the 337RLS.  I went on the Internet, and clicked on the Blue Dog page to ask for a sales price, and for reasons unknown to us we got an appointment at the Post Falls, Idaho location.  It was not the closest, or the one we would have chosen, but we liked the salesman there and didn't mind repeatedly driving past other Blue Dog shops to get to Post Falls.

They had a suitable rig at their Oregon location, and we put dibs on it with a deposit.  It would take 4 days, they said, to get from Oregon to Idaho.  The next day, the inventory in Oregon was marked "sold", and we didn't know if that was because it was coming to us or because somebody else took it out from under us.  When we inquired, they told us they had gotten a call from the factory, and a new unit like we wanted had just come off the line, and would be here a couple of days later than the one from Oregon would have been here.  So we said we'd take it.  We still needed time to gather together the money into one place so we could write one check.

The days passed, and the RV wasn't there.  After a week our campground reservation ran out and we had to make arrangements to stay in the area longer than we had planned.  After 2 weeks, we had to do it again.  Then there was a big RV show, and the sales office was closed because all hands were at the show.  Finally, 3 weeks after "a couple of days", and after Vicki gave them the verbal abuse they deserved, it arrived.  And Vicki broke her toe.

We went to the "walkthrough", or PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection for them, Pre-Acceptance Inspection for us), and did the closing paperwork the next day (Thursday), but put off taking delivery and swapping our trade-in, (moving day) from then to Monday.  We found a few little things that they agreed to fix.

It turns out the new one, a 2018, has some different features than the previous 2018's.  The web site was updated with new pictures, and ours has all the new stuff.  All good changes.  Even the VIN is updated, with a "J" where the "I" is for 2018!

At the closing they sold us an extended warranty which won't be needed for at least a year (Vicki insisted - the sales pitch included the lie that it would cost way more if we waited, and she gave us a "special" discount - because she liked us so much - along with using her employee discount, to cut the price in half) and a "protection" package that says you never need to wax it for 5 years.

The salesman caught us as we were pulling out of the parking lot and told us that the service dept was too busy and couldn't finish the protection package until 3PM Monday.  We were planning a full day for moving, so we put off delivery until Tuesday at 9AM sharp.

We put as much stuff as we didn't need to take with us into boxes around the picnic table, and covered it with tarps, so as to reduce the amount of stuff we would have to move from the old RV to the new.  We were late getting started on Tuesday, and called to tell them.  The service manager was "on the phone" so they took a message for him.

When we arrived at about 9:30, the service department was totally surprised.  They had not staged the new RV where they had said they were going to, and the service manager was no longer on the phone, he had not yet returned to work after the funeral on Monday.

So we told them we wanted the two RVs parked door-side-to-door-side, within reach of the electric hookup, because it was going to be 90 degrees and we would need the air conditioning for the move.  They parked them, but with the Montana face-in to the electric hookup, and its plug at the rear, 50 feet away.  The cable is 30 feet.  So we had them turn them both around, which worked because the Reflection plug is amidships and could be within 30 feet of the hookup.

We looked for the three items found during the inspection, and none of them were fixed.  One of them was some calcium stains under the water heater vent, from washing it, and apparently the "protection" package would have been applied over the stains, immortalizing them in the finish.  Except they hadn't done the protection package either.  So they fixed the three items, and we said "forget it" on the protection package.  I had asked a question in an RV forum, and the consensus was that the thing was no more than a good wax job, and with the clearcoat from the factory the RV would probably still be shiny after 5 years even if we never waxed it.

By now it was 12:00 and we were wondering if we even had time to finish the move before they closed, but we soldiered on.

About 2:00, a rookie technician opened the black tank dump valve on an RV in the shop, without a sewer hose hooked up, and flooded the parking lot with raw sewage, which flowed down the hill and under our two RVs.  Because of Vicki's toe, she was inside the new rig putting things away while I carried them from old to new, and didn't have to enter the new one, so we managed not to track the s*&^ into the new rig.

Finally, after normal quitting time, we finished the move and the acting service manager drove the fork lift to move our new home to the front parking lot where we could hitch up.  I checked the tire pressure, they were all low, so he took it back to the shop to use their compressor rather than my 20v Sears job, which can barely get up to 80 lbs and seems to take forever.  I checked them all today, and they are all still low.  My guess is that his gauge is out of calibration (I know mine is good, we've had it checked.)

Finally we took it "home", hooked up power and water, and got to the Iron Skillet diner for dinner at 9:30 PM.

Next morning we started to load the boxed stuff into the new rig, and found the leak.  There was a wet spot on the ground under the water heater, and in the storage area at the bottom of the wall.  So, we disconnected water and power, hitched up and went back to Blue Dog.  They found the problem and fixed it, a loose connection at the water pump inlet, and claimed no water damage behind the wall.  Another day lost, and our park reservation is running out again.

In the course of unpacking and putting things away, we found that a couple of the 120v outlets in the bedroom didn't work - a circuit breaker was turned off - ;  one outlet had a missing cover plate, and one of the little plastic side containers in the fridge was broken.  Parts are on order, they'll tell us when they come in, and we'll tell them where to send them.  We also have only one copy of each key, so they're getting us some more.

We just about have everything put away now, got rid of a lot of stuff we didn't need that probably wouldn't have fit anyway.  We have the whole basement storage available because Shelley's cat box is now in the shower, and the fridge is 50% bigger than the other one (we can shop at Costco now), but every nook and cranny is still filled.  We seem to have lost some other types of storage.

We read the extended service contract, and it turns out we have 60 days to cancel, so we will do that.  We had asked to read it before we signed, but were refused (shades of Nancy Pelosi!).  The manufacturer's warranties on things are good for at least a year, Grand Design has a 3 year structural warranty, and Blue Dog has a forever warranty on most of the appliances, if you do an annual $99 checkup.  The only big things not covered are the slides and leveling system, so after a year we will buy an extended plan.

Vicki has started a list of design suggestions for Grand Design.  We are very happy, and like a lot of their features, but there are still some things that could be improved.  I guess they have to leave something for us to do ourselves.

Monday, May 22, 2017

New culinary delight

I had a taco Al Pastor at the golf course restaurant in Nuevo Vallarta, so when I saw Al Pastor on the menu at Casa Blanca, in Cathedral City, CA, I ordered it.  Vicki ordered the carnitas, which I had two nights before, and she didn't like them (too "porky") so we switched.  We both liked the Al Pastor a lot, so when we saw a package of Al Pastor in Stater Bros, we got some.

I grilled it tonight, and grilled some pineapple chunks, and the tortillas, and we dressed the tacos with fresh cilantro, fresh squeezed lime juice, and Newman's Own pineapple salsa.

The palette of flavors was exquisite.  Next time we'll get sliced pineapple, so it can be grilled directly on the grate and cut up later.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cabot Pueblo Museum

One of the first white settlers in the Coachella Valley was Cabot Yerxa.  His first name is his mother's maiden name - yes, those Cabots.  His family founded the Yerxa Mercantile stores, and at age 15 Cabot managed one of them, with 20 employees reporting to him.  Following some adventures in Nome, Cabot paid $10 for a 160-acre homestead in the Mohave desert.  For a year, he walked 7 miles every 3 days to Palm Springs, an Indian village, to get water and carry it back to his homestead.  One day his Cahuilla friend asked him why he didn't use the abandoned well at the old Indian village, on the hill near his house.

That well was too alkaline, but Cabot started witching and digging for water, and discovered Desert Hot Springs.  And a cold water aquifer close by it, which is now the source of the award-winning city water in DHS.  Because the hill had both hot and cold water, he named it Miracle Hill.  That was 1913, and in 1917 he joined the Army to fight in WWI.

In 1941 he returned to his old homestead and began building the Pueblo, using materials found in the desert or scavenged from abandoned structures nearby.  It eventually expanded to 35 rooms and 5000 square feet.

He made it a museum and artist colony.  One of his Cahuilla friends made him a sculpture

called two-faced white man.

On the property is a 43-foot tall sculpture of Waokiye, the "traditional helper" of the Lakota, and part of the Trail of the Whispering Giants.

There are 74 whispering giants, at least one in each state.  Sounds like the next quest, after I finish playing the top 100 golf courses.

More pictures.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Rocky start

We were trying to get to Aguanga, CA, but didn't make it.

It all started almost two months ago, when the GMC dealer said we needed all new hoses.  Which seemed likely, because they were the original equipment from 11 years and 170,000 miles ago.

Then about a month ago, we got a "low coolant" alarm from the computer.  So we added coolant, and the alarm went away.  It didn't register that when they changed out the radiator hoses all the coolant would have drained out and been replaced.  I figured maybe it was a slow leak, or normal losses to evaporation or something.

Friday, on the way up the mountain from Palm Springs, the engine overheated and the low coolant alarm came on again.  Luckily, there was a pullover only about 1/4 mile ahead, so we got off the narrow, winding, 2-lane road to safety.

We had a container of coolant in the RV, and began to pour it in, and it ran out from under the truck onto the ground.  I crawled under the truck and found a radiator hose disconnected from the thing it was supposed to attach to.  It had some sort of clamp that should hold it on, but I could only see one side of it and couldn't get it securely reattached.

Luckily again, there was an emergency call box, because there was no Verizon cell service on this mountain road.  Which I told everyone who could possibly need to know.  They all wanted my phone number, so I made sure they knew there was no service there.

The operator who answered the emergency phone transferred us to USAA, which includes roadside assistance in the auto insurance for the truck.  They sent a tow truck and took us and the truck to the local GMC dealer, leaving the RV in the pullover.  I figured they would be able to reattach the hose in 30 seconds, and we'd be able to continue on our way.  HAHAHA!

They needed a part, and couldn't get it until Saturday.  So we made a reservation at a nearby RV park, and I called Progressive, who provides the insurance for the RV, and also includes roadside assistance.  They agreed that we were covered, and said they would dispatch a tow vehicle to take the 5th wheel to the RV park.  The GM dealer had no loaners, and the Enterprise Rent-a-Car down the street had nothing to rent, so we got an Uber to take us back to the RV to meet the next tow company.

And then we waited.  After an hour, I used the emergency call box again, and got transferred to Progressive, and got a different agent who asked all the same questions again, and said she would try to find a tow service to come get us.

After another hour, I called again, same thing.  Oh, when Progressive puts you on hold to find a tow company, they drop the call after a while, so I had to call back to the emergency operator - a new one, who didn't have the info from my previous call - and get transferred to Progressive again - a new agent who didn't have the info from my previous call ...

Then a good Samaritan stopped by.  She is an Uber driver, and offered to go down the hill and use her cell phone to call Progressive and see what was going on.

After another hour, I was on the phone again holding for Progressive when she came back, and said she had convinced them to send a tow truck for us.  And, finally, after 4 hours, after dark, the tow truck showed up.  By then the RV battery was run down, and we had a hard time getting the jacks up so we could be towed, but finally we did, and then I remembered that the RV power cable was in the bed of the truck, which by now was locked in the GMC dealer's lot, because they were closed.  So when we got to the RV park we had no power.  The tow truck had a battery charger so we were able to get the jacks down and the slides open.  I did have cell service, and I had 6 messages from the tow company asking me to call them and confirm the information I had given to Progressive, so that they could dispatch a truck to tow us.

Saturday, GMC had their part, and did the repair under warranty, and we got the truck and the power cord back.

Sunday we rested.  I played golf today at the #94 best course you can play in the US, La Quinta Mountain Course.  Read about it here.  I'll play the #56 course tomorrow.  Vicki got her nails done, and became a hand model.  They took pictures of their work on her for their web site.