New Followers and the rig

2005 California Cruise 130It has been a busy week here in Rocky Point.  Even though I work part time as a retiree, there are sometimes glitches in the paper work, so now instead of a “National Older Worker” I have become a contractor for a private temp agency.  Same diff, really, same pay, same assignments, the only pain in the patoottie is having to redo everything, get my government computer authorization redone, dealing with a cancelled government email account, and deleted access to NASIS (National Soil Information System).  Good part about all this is that I didn’t need to work this week before the cruise, and won’t actually start up again until February when I return.  Ahhh, real retirement for a couple of weeks! 
2005 California Cruise 128I have some new followers and want to send out a big “thank you”.  Teri has a new blog that shares her broken heart and a great attitude and willingness to move forward. I really enjoy reading her thoughts lately.  Teri asked about what kind of rig we had. Ruth and Ken from Five-Just Rolling Down the Road are finally beginning to warm up after all that cold weather down south. Meowmomma and her hubby at the Cathouse Adventures have been dealing with rude drivers, but the cats don’t seem to mind. Mike and Pat  of Mike and Pat’s Travels are following along as well. Mike was one of a few bloggers in Arizona who spoke up about the recent tragedy in Tucson.  Knowing how most of us carefully dance around our political and spiritual selves, I appreciated his post a lot. Gin and Syl just got some new shoes for Wanda, oh, I think of tires as shoes too! My friends Chris and Karen decided to follow along as well, although I don’t have blog sites for them.  Chris actually has a food blog that is totally entertaining, but he writes about once every six months or so.  I like the reference to “blog supporters” rather than blog followers that seems to be going around.  May have to dip into the design mode and change that one as well. 

The baby MoHo was only 21 feet long and pretty tight inside
2005 California Cruise 129
Back to Teri’s question about our rig.  Mo bought the first motorhome back in 2005.  It was a gently used Dynamax, 21 feet long and really a sweet little rig.  This was before blog days and it’s one of those stories that I hope to get up there eventually, but in the mean time, here are some photos.  We loved the small rig for getting in and out of forest service campgrounds, and it was really cozy and snug.  The bedroom window did leak in a heavy rain, showers were taken sitting on the toilet, and I had to get on my knees to get into the refrigerator.  Hence on our cross country trip in 2007 Mo found the current MoHo in New Braunfels, Texas and we traded in the baby MoHo and traveled the rest of the way home in roomy luxury.  Our current rig is a 2006 Dynamax Isata 254SL Touring Sedan on a Ford E450 V-10 chassis.
Moving Day 12-27-2007 1-22-47 PMWe discovered with the baby MoHo that we really like the well built quality of the  Dynamax rigs, although there don’t seem to be a lot of them out west.  They can be expensive, but Mo shopped around and found this one as a year old model that hadn’t been driven, but of course had a well reduced price.  We get about 9 mpg when we are towing the Tracker, and I think maybe 10.5 was the best we ever got with it.  Our holding and water tanks aren’t as big as a class A would be, but we can boondock for a week or so if we are careful.  We truly love this rig, especially the 26 foot length which gives us a lot of flexibility.  It is roomy enough that we can travel for weeks, but would probably have a hard time if we were full-timing.  It tows the car with ease, and keeps up with hills and traffic as well as any and better than some. The photo on the right was taken while we were driving down the road with the slide in.  I can’t believe as much as we have traveled in this rig that I have taken so few photos of the interior.  Next trip that will be on my list of to-do’s.

coast_day5 (1)This week I took advantage of a week with no work by going to town, two towns actually, a trip to Klamath (60 mile round trip) and a trip to Medford (about 100 miles round trip).  The Klamath trip entailed hair time and a great lunch at Applebee’s with my daughter, the purchase of a new external drive (how in the heck can I fill up 300 GIG so fast?), shopping, gas and all those other things that we don’t have out at Rocky Point.  The trip to Medford included a skin check (yeah, I have freckles and this was my first one in 65 years), some shopping at Chico’s (yeah, I am an addict for Chico’s) finalized with a truly great dinner at Red Lobster.  Mo got her Harbor Freight fix as well.  Gotta love that place.  She is always looking for practical reasonable things that we need. I, on the other hand, get all excited about those cute little tools that do a bunch of things at once and come in a kit.  Mo just rolls her eyes at me.  I got out of there yesterday with no cutesy tools and just a really cool pair of leather palm gloves for less than five bucks!  Ah, if only the Chico’s habit was that cheap.

Loading up

outside (2)Finally! It is Sunday and we are loading up the MoHo.  Tomorrow we will be on the road again, certainly not another long jaunt, but almost two weeks of ambling down the California coast with our new kayaks. The snow melted, and even though it’s raining today, the snow level is above 6500 feet or so, higher even than our pass crossing to Medford tomorrow.  Once over the pass (I can’t believe this pass doesn’t have a real name) we will be out of snow country. Of course, rain and fog are distinct possibilities, but with a cozy home, lots of fleece, and raincoats, that isn’t a problem either.  The ocean is wonderful even in the rain, and fog just makes the redwoods more mysterious.

I guess you can tell who takes the most pictures around here.  It looks like Mo does all the work, but not really.  I am just the one with the camera.  Mo has been raking and burning to hopefully get a head start on the pine needles that will accumulate in drifts by next spring when the snow melts.  I worked all last week, but managed a few work days at home, which gives me a chance to run laundry loads in between uploading data.  I also got the house all spiffy for our return in mid-November. 

Mo is checking the tires and the air shocks while I load up the food and clothes.  She also did a bit of retrofit on the cubbyhole that holds the DVR so it would stay in place.  The little wooden fence will keep the remotes from hitting the driver on the head when the road gets too curvy!10_31_2010 I stood in the MoHo for a minute and couldn’t for the life of me remember just what I needed to pack.  It’s only been a month since we landed, and I cleaned everything out back then to hopefully starve the mice.  Hmmm, what has to go back in? ??  I laugh when I read about everyone packing their computer cords, batteries, computers, cameras, all that techie paraphernalia.  Someday maybe batteries will be implanted in our bodies and run everything wirelessly?  I put in the dry foods, the kayak clothes, too many shoes, and started to get back into the routine of living in the MoHo.  Only took half an hour or so to get back in the groove.

trkrtrt 10-30-2008 8-40-16 AMOur new kayaks are coming from Canada.  It’s been a bit worrisome because of the bad weather this week, and the trucker was trapped in Montana for a couple of days.  I have to say that the company has worked extra hard to get them to us in time for our trip.  We are meeting the driver in Medford tomorrow (on our route) mid day to finally pick them up.  It is pretty exciting.  Of course, we could have taken our old trusty boats, but since we paid for these back in September, it sure will be nice to have them with us.

I have been reading the RV blogs  more and more lately, and thanks to some prolific writers who mention mine now and then, I am actually enjoying some readers following Mo and I as well. Welcome to these  new followers.  You inspire me to take better photos and write more often.  Gail Durham looks like she is enjoying Halloween very much and  Kathy talked about how unique each person’s story is, and I so agree with her.  The only problem I am having now is trying to read everything.  The list just keeps getting bigger and bigger!  whew!  Life and work and travel might get in the way now and then, but it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t really appreciate this great group of people. Hi and welcome as well to Randy and Pam who are working on a Habitat for Humanity home, and to Loree, tucked away on beach making gorgeous afghans.  Donna found me, both here and on Facebook, and I had to tell her I had been reading her blog a long time before she and Stu got together.  Pidge and Don,  The Frugal Travelers, go to some really great out of the way places I might never find without her blog.

Jeremy is watching me closely through the front window!

geetting_readyHappy Halloween everyone!  I am going into Klamath Falls tonight to celebrate with my daughter and her family.  They live in my home in a neighborhood known “the terrace”.  Pacific Terrace is a double boulevard with a grassy median lined on both sides of the street with old unique homes from the 40’s.  There are big beautiful trees, sidewalks for walking, and every year the entire street lights up for Halloween.  Almost every house is decorated, and there are lights and kettle corn, and one person has outdoor scary movies projected on his garage door.  People bring their kids from all over town to trick-or-treat here. It is like we all stepped back into the 50’s when kids could be out late and there were no scary people doing scary things to the treats.  On Pacific Terrace, Halloween is still fun and fabulous.


Kudos to Michelin

Just a quick little update here about our tires.  Mo bought the MoHo in Texas in 2007, and while it was brand new to us, and it had very close to zero miles, the model was 2006, and the chassis was actually from 2005.  The Dynamax brand is considered to be an excellent coach, and we do love it.  The MoHo sat in the hot Texas sun waiting for her new owner, and then we put around 18,000 miles on the rig in the last couple of years.  Just recently Mo noticed that the tires were checked and cracked, and very dangerous.  Buying six light truck e-class tires is not a cheap proposition!  Michelin to the rescue.  After reading the fine print, we found that the tires were still under warranty.  Michelin gave us an 85 percent credit toward the entire set of six!  Delightful!

Things that go bump in an RV

Traveling in an RV is an interesting experience, especially a new RV. After we picked up the new rig in Texas, we thought that since it was new, there shouldn’t be any real problems. Also, since it’s a high end rig from a reputable dealer on a Ford chassis that has a good reputation, we just assumed that things would work properly, that there would be minimal rattles, and no leaks.

Well, at least there aren’t any leaks. LOL The excitement of the travels have quieted down a bit and I have a little time to think about it all. I have read several posts from several forums that discuss the merits of various kinds of RV’s and the problems that are associated with them.

Yesterday, when the exhaust system came loose on the interstate, I began to wonder again about whether things that are built in this country really are built well, or maybe not, no matter how reputable the company. Dynamax is supposed to be one of the best, a high end luxury coach with service and amenities to match. So far we haven’t actually tested that out, but the time is coming. The most interesting part about owning one of these babies, is discovering just how easy it is for the makers to pass the buck along to someone else.

We have had a few problems. The mirrors are great, huge things that have automatic adjustments and nice views, heated for cold weather, but oops, the passenger side mirror suddenly decided to come loose somewhere in the middle of a texas highway. We stopped to tighten it, only to discover hidden bolts and a small plastic panel that said words to the effect of don’t touch this thing without a design engineer present. Called our trusty Rueben at Stahman’s RV and he gave us a few pointers about removing the door panel to get to the screw, but in the end, it’s come down to either a Ford problem or a Dynamax problem. In the mean time, Mo bought duct tape, in standard silver color, and electrical tape in a muted black tone, and taped the mirror together so it wouldn’t fall off. Hence the trip to Modesto, to the appropriate design engineer, after being informed that the local Ford dealer doesn’t work on RV’s. 60 miles later, one way, we find out that the mirror is some kind of after-market thing that was put on by Dynamax. So the mirror is still duct taped until we find someone who will do warranty work on the Dynamax. Hopefully that doesn’t mean driving back to the factory in Indiana, as I have read on a web site or two. geez.

Then, the fancy brushed stainless steel 8 cu ft refrigerator, with a REAL freezer and plenty of space, has a chintzy plastic tab that snaps shut to keep the door from flying open when you go around the corners. hmm. so the tab cracks, and Mo decides to glue it, but in the process, glues the door shut for good, and then of course the whole thing breaks. Now we have to figure out who the aftermarket maker of the fridge actually is, and it’s in that huge box of manuals that came with the rig. Of course, Dynamax or Ford probably don’t have a thing to do with the little plastic thingy that keeps the fridge door closed.

Then there is the aforementioned wooden panel above the gaping hole over the bed. Still propped up on the window shelf with several books and the stem end of a vacuum cleaner hose. Which every now and then decides that a curve is just a bit too sharp and falls with a very loud bump and slide. Note to self. Get a drill and screw that board back where it belongs. Someday. Dynamax should of course be responsible for this one, but do we really want to drive to Indiana?

Batteries. Amazing invention. Especially when paired with converters and inverters and such. Problem is, we have a hard time actually remembering convert vs invert and which is doing what when. So we have to try to remember if the inverter is supposed to be on or off when we are driving, and if the battery should be in “store” or “use” when we are driving and will it charge anyway? Yesterday while driving, the battery suddenly reads 0 charge, that is the house battery, and we discovered that yes, the battery needs regular maintenance, and yes, more often than the once a month recommended by the dealer. Both house batteries were empty, and dead and wouldn’t take a charge until Mo got out in the pouring rain and filled them. Of course, even with the nifty battery shelf that slides out so nicely, there is a cover that is screwed over the compartment that makes adding water very close to impossible without an eye dropper. But she managed, and once again the batteries worked.

Our lovely Ford chassis has some really lovely leather captains chairs, both which are automatically adjustable electronically. Very very comfortable. That is, of course, until they no longer adjust and when Mo is driving it’s ok, but then when I took over my knees were in my chest and I couldn’t manage to lift my foot to the brake. Good thing I didn’t have to stop. Thought we would get this handled at the Ford dealer while dealing with the other problem, but come to find out, the seats are also an aftermarket Dynamax thing and would need to go to them for repair. Lucky for us, Mo figured out it could be a fuse, and the Ford guy relented and helped us replace them. So at least on the trip home, I was able to use the brake.

Then, of course, there is the small matter of the exhaust system. Driving along HWY 4 on the way down to the valley isn’t exactly smooth, but we didn’t think too much when something when “whang” under the front carriage of the hood. A rock maybe? something in the road? Didn’t give it much thought after that except for this nagging thought that the engine somehow sounded louder than usual. Then some miles later, at 3am in the dark on the interstate, there is another whang and a bang and then the truly horrendous sound of an engine with no exhaust muffled at all. Now what!? Get back on the freeway. Is it hot? Is there any power? What the heck just happened anyway? It wasn’t too bad if you didn’t give it any gas, just a low rumble, but as soon as it was accelerated at all, or going up a 2 percent grade and needed a push, that big V10 engine sounded like some kind of huge joke. It was louder than anything I remember from the days when guys used to take their mufflers off of cars to sound cool. We weren’t sure if anything was getting hurt or not, so drove slowly for awhile, especially up the hills, and decided that we could get to somewhere at least. The somewhere went from Sacramento, to Redding, to the last decision to go ahead and rumble up the pass and try to make it to Klamath. Turned out to be a good decision, because the Klamath Ford dealer was actually incredibly helpful and quick and said it was just a clamp that hadn’t been installed properly and he took the rig and brought it back all nice and quiet and polite like a fancy Dynamax should be.

Most other things that bump just have to do with the learning curve of having something with so many buttons. There are tank heaters for the gray and black water tanks, but I’m not sure if they are gas or electric, and there is the question of the order of when you push the on buttons for the “use” and the “gas on” and the “auto gas or electric” for the fridge, and actually turning the fridge on. and the inverter button. We still aren’t sure about the order of that pushing.

Leveling the rig and opening the slide is another funny one. Do you level first or slide first. Brake on for both, at least that part is easy, but is it key in and to acc for the slide? or for the levelers? and which order? turns out it is brake on key off for the slide. brake on key to acc for the levelers, and we have decided to level first and then slide. LOLOL ahh the joys of a closed system, an amazing closed system actually, when you consider all that is going on in a rig like this, especially the stuff behind the scenes.

Last but not least, there are wonderful little buttons for all the doors and drawers to make sure that they don’t fly open. As long as you check to be sure they are fastened properly. and that the vents are down. and the auto functions of the Fantastic Fan are turned off so the vents do what they are supposed to do. Those things actually decide to close if you are off somewhere with your vent open and it starts to rain.

So I thought that since I am not running off anywhere particularly fabulous right away, it would be a good time to talk about what it’s like having one of these lovely things called a Motorhome.

Moving Day

One would think that “moving” from one RV to another would be of small consequence. One would think. But that isn’t the case. And the salesman at Stahman’s RV told us were certainly were not unique. A couple transferring from on small roadtrek to another new one spent three hours moving stuff. After a reasonably comfortable night at Hill Country, we went in to pick up the new rig, which in spite of the salesman’s assurances that it was all ready to go, still had some work going on. We hung around for a long time while the technicians tried to get the step and the stereo working perfectly, and after a few hours finally decided to start moving stuff from one rig to the other. Before long the technician named Yolanda was helping us move boxes, and Mo filled them, Yolanda brought them to me, and I unloaded into the new rig. This was not as easy as it sounds. It still amazes both of us that we had so much storage in the baby MoHo, and even though this one is 4 feet longer and has a big slideout, we don’t have a much storage. By the time the boxes had filled all the spaces, there were still more boxes coming and I was throwing stuff on the beds and on the sofa in complete disarray. By the time we left the dealership at 230 in the afternoon, the house looked every bit as awful as any house can look when you are moving. Ugh.

We had originally planned to stop at the rest area to clean up and organize, but were so far behind that we just kept going west, got through the San Antonio traffic and decided to go check out Fredericksburg and maybe find some groceries to cook in the new stove. Bought a baked potato some salad and wine to celebrate and found the Fredericksburg RV park and settled in while it was still daylight. We especially wanted to set up in the daylight since it was our first time.

Obviously, everything was a mess, and I had things in all the wrong places, heavy stuff too high, and dishes too low, and couldn’t find anything. We popped out the slide without too much trouble but trying to figure out the levelers was hysterical. Up down, side down, and what do all these lights mean anyway? Of course, in the huge box of manuals, there is no manual for the automatic levelers. So the rig stayed somewhat level and we decided to save that one for another day.

Then trying to figure out TV and DVD remotes at the same time that you are trying to figure out which button is the inverter and should we be on “run” or “store” when we are plugged in and why won’t the microwave come on? We sat there at the very nice heavy new table in front of the very luxurious and comfortable leather sofa eating our perfectly cooked baked potato, looked at the mess around us and wondered, why did we do this?

There is lots more room with the slide out, the dog and cats love it, but there are also lots more places to lose things, including cats. And no place for books or magazines. No more reading racks by the bed and none of the spices will fit in the spice rack so cutely tucked in over the sink. Ohh, but then there is the area below the sink, with plenty of room for just about anything. And of course, the refrigerator is the real luxury. It’a a real refrigerator, with a real freezer than can actually hold food, and I don’t have to get on my knees to open it. Some of the stuff that was in the cupboards ended up in the fridge since there is so much more room in there.

There were a couple of hysterical moments, however, when we blew out the tv, or when Mo accidentally turned off the main power button which also turns off the propane. Well, when the propane goes off , the appliances that are busy running away on propane get a little freaked out and all sorts of buzzers and bells start going. Find what is beeping and why and fix it. Finally gave up on the GFI that blew all the switches when Mo plugged in the little electric heater and just went to bed without thtem. Hence no writing for a couple of days, the computer batteries are all down.

Another hysterical moment happened when we were trying to get the wooden panel back up above the bedroom window that had fallen down. We goofed up and forgot the tools in the step area of the old MoHo, so Mo was using a screwdriver as a hammer. It is a very small space, but she needed me to hold the wood in place and to also use the screwdriver. Funny part was that I coulnd’t move properly and my arm was stuck underneath my body and while holding the screwdriver and the wood, my body started tipping sideways. Of course, with nothing to hold me up, I rolled right over and the wood fell from the ceiling and hit both of us in the head. So Mo tried to fit in another way, and as the flashlights started losing power she tried tto screw the thing in blindly. UhOh. Elbow in the boob. That hurts. No I can’t move over any more, the wall is here, and no I can’t move my arm or the board will drop again. Where is the wine. Is it bedtime yet?

First night in the new MoHo. Well, I should say first evening. First night turned out wonderful, as the new bed is more comfortable than the old one. Teddy and Jeremy loved the big window over the bed for hanging out and watching the stray cats running around, and for some reason, Teddy really kept trying to get up into the space above the window. But that is another story.