Saturday, May 30, 2015

Panorama Trail

We came to Show Low based on reading about the White Mountains trail system on the blog, Occupation of Independence.  Now that Jim and I are older, we enjoy the rocky technical trails much less than we used to.  The enjoyment of the challenge of negotiating the rocks is now out weighed by my desire to not be maimed.  It just takes too long to heal. 
Today we walked part of the Panorama trail.  It starts out as a packed dirt trail through the piney woods.  It reminds me a lot of Bend, except without so many rocks, and way fewer people.  We saw seven people on the trail.  Seven!


The trail eventually heads up and out of the woods.  The view is lovely and green.  Those little lumps out in the distance are cinder cones.


Tomorrow we'll return with the bikes, and enjoy some suffering at 6,750 feet.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Disaster Kitty Returns Once Again

When we arrived at Venture In RV Resort in Show Low, Jim went out to unhook the truck and discovered it was covered in a fine mist of one of the RV's precious bodily fluids.  It was a red fluid.  After we backed onto our concrete pad site, the red fluid continued to drip on the ground.  Perfect!  Just perfect!  We googled diesel repair in Show Low and found Show Low Diesel Repair.  He came out a couple of hours later, on his way home from picking up his wife in Phoenix, and told us no, it was engine antifreeze.
This morning he came back and discovered a fitting was only finger tight and was allowing the release of coolant.  He also discovered that one of the hydraulic fluid hoses had a 90 degree kink in it (think water hose) and was impeding the flow of fluid.  We could have lost power steering yesterday, on the switchbacks with the 6% grade.  You can't drive this thing without power steering. He also wants to replace the large container that holds the antifreeze because it has a crack.  Parts will be 5 to 7 days.  We extended our stay here to wait for the part.  Going to Santa Fe is now not looking likely.

OK - stay with me.  Extended our stay.  Held for parts.  Things are not so bad, until they are.

We have a Hydro Hot.  When they work, they are wonderful.  It burns diesel and provides on demand infinite hot water.  There is also a pump that takes engine antifreeze through copper coils, warms it up and takes it through the engine block for starting on cold mornings.  We used that pump this morning when the RV tech was fixing the leak and ensuring there was no air in the hydraulic fluid lines.  After he left, Jim walked outside and discovered the Hydro Hot was peeing red fluid on the ground.  The pump failed.
There were several calls to Hydro Hot today.  Jim spent some time on the ground under the bus verifying it was the engine pre-heat pump that failed.  The nearest hydro hot certified technician is in Mesa - on the other side of the Salt River.  The second closest certified technician is in Albuquerque.  No biggie, we thought, we'll drive there Sunday, get fixed Monday, and then return and wait for parts in Show Low.  NOPE.  The failed pump must be by-passed, or we'll be peeing engine antifreeze as soon as the engine starts. This information was conveyed on the last call to Hydro Hot when we asked if we could drive.  Hydro Hot technical support knows a lot, but they don't volunteer information; they will answer the question you asked.  Fortunately, we did ask at the very last minute.

Don of Copper Road RV (480-748-7131) came out and did the pump by-pass for us. 


This is the offending part.  It's the fuzzy thing in the top center of the photo.  I asked the shop in Albuquerque to order the part and have it air freighted to them.  After leaving here, we will go there.


This has been disturbing on so many fronts.  Losing the power steering going down to the Salt River could have been fatal.  The overall reliability of the engine has again been called in to question again.  That's actually not fair, I strongly suspect that the leak and the kink are fall out from the rebuild.  The Hydro Hot is disturbing because there are so few places certified to work on it, and it could have been so bad if we'd driven off believing we were peeing boiler antifreeze and not engine antifreeze.
So, we're back on the edge of the slough of despond.  There are worse places to be marooned, but I would really like to be able to put a set of reservations together and actually be where we wanted to be, and not where our broken bits have taken us.  

Tucson to Showlow, AZ

Yesterday's drive was from Tucson to Show Low, AZ.  We went via AZ60.  It was a day.  After arriving at the turn where we should have gone left into Florence, the GPS told us to go right.  So we did.  The next thing we knew we were out in the hinterlands with the GPS now trying to send us back where we should have gone in the first place.  We saw this.  Why is this truck blocking the road?  There was discussion of unhooking the pickup and trying to turn around and go back, but as we were waffling the truck finally cleared the road.  We kept driving through the featureless desert.


Then we saw the sign for the bridge with a weight limit of 6 tons.  We weigh about 36,000 pounds.  Apparently the bridge is stronger than they think it is because we crossed it.


Eventually we reached Florence.  Their main industry is prisons.  There are prisons everywhere.  It's a depressing place.


Then it was on to Globe.  See the "mountain" on the left?  Mine tailings.  They are all over this part of Arizona.


Globe is looking a little worse for wear.


After that it was on to the Salt River crossing.  We were moving from the bottom of the map to the top.  Those switchbacks are all 6% grades on a two lane road.  After you cross the river, it's about a 7% climb out of the canyon.  We knew this from reading the Mountain Directory West, but I have to tell you it was an impressive drive.


See the road down below where we currently are driving?


I took this as we were climbing back out of the canyon.


We were not expecting this.  It's an absolutely beautiful drive - at least for the passenger who can look out the window and gawk.



It's a strenuous drive.  There is much use of engine braking and there is much climbing.  I think the drive is actually worse going south bound due to really long steep grades.  The engine handled it well, there was no over heating.  I'm not sure we would do this route again in either direction, unless we really, really like Show Low.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

More Cactus

This morning I was up and out early with the camera to see what the cactus were doing.  This is a tall cactus, and until this year I did not know it bloomed at all.  Each blossom lasts only one day, so you have to be quick.  Unfortunately its location causes it to be backlit by the morning sun.


It's very pretty.


The next three are all hybrids in the trichocereus family.




This is a wood pecker in a palm tree.  They're very noisy birds.


We have not accomplished all that we had hoped for today.  We have not been able to reach Mike to get the results of the testing on the transmission fluid.  It looks like we're going to have to leave here without changing the transmission fluid.  We did get the truck in to Jack Furrier to investigate the slow leak in the back tire.  There was a nail in the tire.
Fluid replacement in Tucson is becoming an issue for us.  We don't like the Freightliner people at all because they keep the RV all day, and even though you've made an appointment, they will not promise to get it done.  Kenmore has been great, but they've quit servicing RV's because so many RV owners (and their extended warranties) are just butt heads to deal with.  We may have to look at Phoenix for the yearly changing of the oil and etc.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Trichocereus in Bloom

Two of the trichocereus cactus in the park are blooming again.  They are so amazingly gorgeous.


We had the carpets cleaned today.  Inside and outside we have been buffed and scrubbed.  Thursday we are departing, the cooler temperatures are now on the wane, and we're getting the oven feel.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Time in Tucson

Today was the first road bike ride since April 10.  It's just demoralizing how fast the fitness leaves us when we're not riding.  The Loop Path is open, we can ride from the RV park's back gate and never get on the road, unless we want to.  It was 30 flat miles, and it was enough!  We had one of those weird shifting winds that seemed to always be a head wind.
The palm trees are flowering.  I did not know they did that.


All the laundry is done, finally.  Now we're starting the extremely tedious process of washing down the cabinets, vacuuming the valences and removing the accumulated dust of Kanab.  Marco is coming tomorrow morning to wash the RV.  Soon, we will be all lemon scented loveliness.
The weather has been really weird.  It's not crazy hot.  The air is still cool, and we don't yet have the sensation of sitting in an oven.  I'm certain it's coming, however.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Camp Verde to Tucson AZ

Today's drive was uneventful.  We actually had a speed limit drive through Phoenix. 
We're in Tucson for what we think will be a week. If not a week, then maybe longer.  There will be washing of the interior and washing of the exterior of the bus.  The ice maker has frozen up again (see the pun there?) so we must defrost it in the morning.  It's warm here, but not as hot as usual.  Today and tomorrow are windy, and then it will calm down.  I doubt seriously if we'll do anything blog worthy while we're here, so posting may be light.
That's it maties, that's all I've got.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kanab Utah to Camp Verde Arizona

This morning we left Kanab for Camp Verde. We went through Page and down AZ89.  This is a  giant descent south of Page.  Here is where it starts.  They blasted through the rock to make this passageway, and down you go on the side of the mountain.


Once you come around the corner you're on the section of road that was destroyed in 2013.  You can see pictures of the damage and the time line to fix it on the ADOT site.


After you get off the grade and into the flats the road surface is just abysmal.  It's nap of the earth with many short but steep dips.  It's the kind of road that can pop out a windshield on an RV with air suspension.  After Cameron, which is full of construction, the expansion joints in the road are just horrendous. In short, the road just sucks.  It sucks so badly, we're thinking next time we leave that part of Utah to go south, we may go the long way through Las Vegas so we can spend more time on freeways and no time on AZ89.
 
About 10 miles south of Flagstaff  on I17 is a very long grade, it's about 18 miles.  They've signed it very well.  It's also good to have the Mountain Directory West so one knows what the route will be doing.






We're staying at Distant Drums RV Park in Camp Verde.  It's a nice park.  If you reserve here, make sure you ask for a site that does not face the video billboard for the casino.  It's so annoying.

The bus ran very well today.  The engine note has changed; it's quieter and sounds smoother than it did.  Cross your fingers!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

We're Fixed!

We're fixed!  We're leaving in the morning.  See the thing with wires coming out of it?  That's the starter motor solenoid.  See the wire attached to the bulk head over on the right?  That's a new ground.  Attaching that wire allowed the RV to start.  It then took the better part of another day to figure out why the exhaust brake wouldn't work.  It was another steenking solenoid.  Very weird, I do not understand electricity.


Apparently the engine has not been a happy engine for quite some time.  The people who rebuilt the turbo said it had been very hot on several occasions prior to our ownership.  Our valves were out of adjustment as well.  We will never know why fuel injector #6 decided to die at such a young age.

We visited the baby chicks again today.  They're growing.  Soon they will be chickens.


This part of the country is curiously devoid of RV services.  If you find yourself in dire straits in the Kanab/Page/Hurricane/Virgin area, Little's Diesel Service is where you want to go.  If you have to be towed/hauled, you want Ramsey Towing to come get you.  We are so fortunate to have washed up here and not elsewhere. 
We're going back to Tucson.  We need to wash every square inch of the inside of the RV.  There will be carpet cleaning as well.  Being parked on the edge of a dirt road has left a layer of grime everywhere.  We've bailed on all of our reservations in Gunnison - it's too cold and too wet   Until the weather settles down, we do not want to be going to 8100 feet in Colorado.  I'm looking forward to a week of warm weather and no rain/hail/wind. We must replan the late May and early July - and compete with the families with ankle biters for RV park space.
This was taken last night - there was rotation in the clouds.  Creepy, just creepy.



Monday, May 18, 2015

Update on the Tunnel Drilling Project in Seattle

As you no doubt recall, Seattle is about drilling a tunnel to replace the aging Seattle Viaduct. The drilling machine, affectionately known as Bertha, advanced 1,000 feet or so, threw up in her socks and died.  Since then, a rescue pit has been dug and the cutter head has been brought to the surface to make repairs.  The news is not good, the damage is much worse than was originally anticipated.
In a report to the Seattle City Council, DOT officials said the massive drilling machine's outer seals and the steel retainers that hold them in place are destroyed. There was also damage to the cutter drive motor pinions and the main bearing bull gear.

Seattle Tunnel Partners, which operates Bertha, is awaiting more replacement parts from the driller's manufacturer in Japan.
Officials had originally hoped to get the tunneling machine back in operation by August, but the discovery of additional damage probably means that the schedule for repairing Bertha and resuming tunnel construction will be delayed even more. A new schedule could be released sometime in June.

The $3.1 billion project is already two years behind schedule.
So, that's what's happening in Seattle.  If I were them, I might be thinking about Plan B.

In our neck of the woods, Mike is able to start the engine by using the pointy ends of test equipment to complete a circuit to the starter engine.  We're presently contemplating installing a new wire to the starter engine so we can leave Kanab.  We would then head directly to Harrisburg, OR for further trouble shooting.  The Harrisburg/Coburg area is still the nexus of Monaco knowledge. 

Unfortunately, the "exhaust brake engaged" light is on when the key is turned.  This is not good.  We don't know what it means.  The RV can't go anywhere without a functioning exhaust brake.

This is all giving me a case of nervous exhaustion. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

This morning we made the drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The road opened the 15th.  We had really good weather for it, low winds and fairly warm at 8,100 feet.  It's a slow drive from Kanab.  You gain 4,000 feet on the way there and it's fairly curvy.  We went to the visitor's center and walked on the Bright Angel Trail, which goes along the rim of the canyon.  There is haze, there is always haze so the colors are somewhat muted.




The snow capped peak in the distance is part of the San Fransisco Peaks.  It was unusual to be able to see it.


There are huge meadows along the road before you hit the park.  They are full of deer and elk who want to cross the road in front of your car.


I think if we went back to the North Rim we would not go to the visitor's center.  We would instead take the 20 mile drive to Cape Royal.  That overlook gives you a view of the river, which you don't get from the Bright Angel Trail.  We didn't have time to do both, so we didn't.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Engine Rebuild Hits a Snag

First I will share something I have learned.  Jim knew this from flying airplanes, but I did not.  Perhaps this will be news to you, as well.  When you have a turbo charged engine, you must allow the turbo to cool down before turning off the engine.  Seven minutes at least, at idle.  People who get to the top of a long climb, pull off and turn off the engine are doing a great dis-service to the turbo.  This applies to diesel pickups as well.  Please make a note of this.

All parts were back in the engine compartment yesterday afternoon, loaded with brand new oil and red coolant.  We just had that oil changed when we left Tucson. 

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Not quite finished here, but it’s getting closer to the bottom of the closet floor.

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So what’s the snag?  It won’t start.  When the key is turned in the ignition, there is dead silence.  It’s electrical.  Somewhere there is a blown fuse, a bad solenoid or a bad ground.  This is very concerning because we’re not in a shop that specializes in RVs.  We called Erik in Oregon, who talked to Mike for the better part of an hour.  They both have Apple phones and were able to FaceTime each other.  Mike could show Erik what he was looking at.  They’re both convinced it will turn out to be not a big deal, it’s just finding the thing.  I am back on the edge of the slough of despond.  Of all the outcomes I would have predicted, this wasn’t on the list of things to worry about.

This is our current place for showers.  It’s really old.  They man who owns it is 81, and doesn’t really want to put any money in it.  Three new hotels are under construction in Kanab, and this place is not competitive with the new construction.  However, it’s really cheap and they do keep it clean. 

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And, they have no vacancies.  So it’s not all bad.  The neon and the chasing lights on the arrow still work.  It’s very retro.

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This was taken this morning.  It seems to be clearing a little.

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Today will be laundry and grocery shopping. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Life in Kanab

Kanab is a small town, population somewhere around 5,000 people.  They’re slowly rebounding from the collapse of the global economy.  It’s weird being in a small town.  The people at True Value recognize us now.  When we checked in to our latest hotel, the guy who runs it remembered us from four days ago and why we’re here.  This would never happen in Seattle.

Kids here get to do cool stuff.  We see them driving back hoes, they unload the hay trucks, they stand on fences.  It’s not like being in suburbia, they have jobs and responsibilities.  They also have fun stuff like small motorcycles which they ride up and down the dirt roads.  We also see unaccompanied minors out and about.  Let your children out by themselves in the big cities and CPS will take your kids away from you.

Mostly this is dog heaven.  I’m not a fan of putting dogs in the back of pick up trucks, but the dogs here just love it.  There is a black and gray dog that goes up and down the road out front, sitting in the bed barking.  We recognize his voice now before we see him.  There is another brown brindle dog that rides on top of a truck box.  He doesn’t bark, but he’s always on the truck box. Tonight there was this.

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There are four dogs in the truck.  The driver is out of the truck talking to a friend, the dogs are waiting for him.  They’re all really well behaved.  They don’t jump out of the bed, they just stay there.  They’re fun to watch.

Mike says that some of the workers at Best Friends are so incensed at the sight of dogs in the beds of pickup trucks that they will dognap dogs when the trucks are parked, take them up to the sanctuary and put them up for adoption. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

As Seen in Kanab

Jim and I have been to Europe several times on organized bicycle tours.  Our last was Vienna to Prague, followed by Prague to Budapest.  A careful examination how much these tours cost per day has convinced us that we’re done with bike tours.  We used to like Experience Plus tours, but they are now up to $400 per head per day, double occupancy.  This is just stupid expensive.  Our one REI tour kept us in a van way too many hours a day.

Then we thought – how about bus tours?  While we are both very comfortable driving in the EU, we’re both somewhat leery about driving in countries whose language and/or alphabet is so different than ours that we can’t recognize signage on the roads.  Nah – after witnessing the numerous tour buses disgorging their passengers in Kanab, we think not.

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This was about 6:30 last night.  They got in, they went out looking for food, they came back and went to bed.  They were up and out about 6:30 this morning.  That’s a tough schedule. 

Today all of the piston kits have been installed.  That’s the piston, cylinder sleeve and connecting rod.  Matt will be spending the rest of the day reattaching things.

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This is our dedicated cart in the shop.  All of this has to go back into the engine compartment.

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There was a caravan of sorts going into a gas station in Kanab.  The first guy made a left into the gas station from the far side of the road.  A pickup truck was towing a trailer and a boat.  He made his turn with great panache and accuracy.  This guy was at the end of the caravan, trailing his sewer hose.  His turn lacked panache, trailing the hose as he was.

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Mike turned our claim in to the warranty people yesterday.  They’ll need 48 hours to examine the lint in their navels, and then they will probably want to send an adjuster.  They did not tell Mike to stop working in the mean time.  All of the broken parts are in the shop – they can be examined at leisure.  We’ll see, I tend to expect the worst and then be pleasantly surprised once in awhile.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Enjoy the Journey

Today work begins to reassemble the engine.  As you no doubt recall, we're doing an in-frame rebuild, which is a step down from a new short block in complexity and expense. 
Our extended warranty is an interesting beast.  It quite clearly states that "all internally lubricated parts" are covered.  Currently they are making life difficult for the shop owner by leaving him on hold for an hour at a whack.  The person who answered the phone today was very unreasonable, and I suspect they are looking for any reason to jump out from under this.  It was not unexpected, labor on this will be extensive.  However, if you're going to offer the warranty and take money for it,  you should honor it.  They're working their way out of business.  Since they are such butt heads, more and more shops won't accept warranties.  Soon, they will be extinct, a victim of their own bad manners.
We soothe ourselves by walking down to the Ranch Supply store and looking at the baby chickens. It's not a great picture, they never stop moving.


I am sad today - Mark captured it perfectly in his post about Lloyd and there is really nothing I can add to it.  I'm again reminded to live in the moment and not to expect too much planning horizon.  Guess I'll go look at the baby chickens again.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Filling Time in Kanab

This is what yesterday looked like until we hit St. George.  It was just gruesome.  It's been gruesome in many places.  It would be nice if spring would arrive and stay put. 


By the end of the day it cleared some, and offered a puny sunset.


Today is much better.  It's cool, but at least the rain has stopped.


There is an airport just behind Little's Diesel service.  When the wind is right, they fly right at us when they're landing.  The first time I saw a landing airplane coming in it was very startling, since we didn't know how close we were to the airport.


We went for a walk in Kanab, visiting the Frontier Movie Town.  It's sort of sad, they don't have much in the way of exhibits.


Here you have it, the barn from "Outlaw Josey Wales."


This is a beautifully restored building.  It's the Heritage House.  This text is clipped from their website.
The Heritage House in Kanab, Utah, was built in 1894 for Henry Eyring Bowman by master builder John Rider. The Thomas Chamberlain family later lived there, and its last residents were the McAllister family. In 1974, Dr. George R. Aiken was instrumental in restoring this property. He headed many fund-raising events to contribute to the cost of the renovation. Citizens of Kanab also worked many volunteer hours to help restore this home painstakingly to its original splendor. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The paint on it is just perfect.


Work on the bus will resume once again tomorrow.  Some parts have arrived, and more are on the way.  Mike has scheduled many techs into the shop so that they can get us out as quickly as possible.
 
After work commenced on the RV, we departed for a Kanab hotel.  Our first two nights hoteling were spent at the new Holiday Inn Express.  It was very nice, at $189 per night.  Then we moved to the Rodeway in (formerly a Super8) which isn't as nice, but costs half as much.  Last night we got a load of tourists in on a bus.  They've been with each other all day.  Why, then, must they stand on the far ends of the balcony talking to each other in raised voices?  And why, in the morning, must they all slam their doors upon early departure?  I hate hotels.  Wednesday we're moving even further down the scale of hotel goodness to the Sun and Sand.  It's an old motor court hotel, and I think we're afraid to stay there at night.  We're going to take the contents of the closet out of the RV (now occupying the living room floor) so we can move around more easily and just use the room for showering.  We both want to be back in the RV again really badly.  However, after our last experience, we do not want the Party Pooper lady emptying our tanks again.


It'll take at least a day to get the interior of the bus cleaned, and the closet restored to order once they are done.  This is all giving me the heebie-jeebies because we are a three day drive from our major reservation in Gunnison that starts on May 22.  It's very close to Memorial day and we all know how bad it is trying to find places to stay around holidays.  We can't reserve on the route yet because we have no dates.  It'll be something, stressing over it will not change the outcome.