Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pictures of the Class A

Here is the new house. Below is the kitchen area. The kitchen was the biggest change for us. We no longer have an oven, so now we must learn to use the microwave/convection oven. Otherwise we will never have pizza again, ever. I did get the convection rack from the dealer, so that was good. The other major change is, in the 5th wheel I would dry and put away dishes behind Jim while he washed, now I have to stand next to him, with an open cabinet door. Open cabinet doors are dangerous to the head.
Behind the double doors to the right of the microwave is one of those dumb wire rack pull out pantries. Half the volume behind the doors is completely wasted. When we go to the cabinet maker, shelves will be put in there, doubling available food storage.

Jim's couch. This is where Jim reclines and watches the news and PBS.

On the other side of the RV are the recliners, I sit in the one that is farther away, with my PC in my lap. The blue "area rug" is a furniture pad we have down on the carpet, since the techs will be walking on it again this week.

This is the dining region. The table will pull out to seat four, but it's usually in. This is Jim's computing area. Note the extension cord running along the base of the cabinet. There's not enough 110 in here.

The vanity in the main bathroom. I really like the under mirror lights.

The powder room. Note the flowers next to the sink. It has one of those built in soap dispensers, which immediately broke, so we stuck flowers in it. I like them better. We still need to get a soft soap dispenser in there.

Left side of the bedroom. The bedroom has a fair amount of storage, including a very large closet. We didn't lose storage in the bedroom, just the kitchen.

There was a washer/dryer combo in the bottom, which is gone. We're either going to have a floor to ceiling pantry put here, or else just shelving in the bottom. I kind of like having that flat surface, but there could always be more storage.

We're still getting used to a new floor plan. We're on the hunt for a paper towel solution. We're concerned about drilling into the underside of the kitchen cabinets, because that's where they put the 110 outlets. I don't know why that it is, but they're all on the underside of the cabinets. Driving a screw into that wiring would be bad.
Hopefully they'll fix the over the air antenna and the right rear tail light tomorrow. Did I mention that one of the guys from the dealership drove the RV over to Thousand Trails, parked it, and then took the ignition keys with him when he left? They're serious about us not driving it until we sign papers in Arizona. After that, we're free to drive about the United States with no training what so ever!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Indio - Still

We're now in the Class A. We finished up moving around 2pm today. However, we're here until Wednesday. Why, you ask? Well, after having the RV for 6 days, the techs failed to notice the following things aren't working: leveling, the 110 outlet in the dash, the over the air TV antenna, and the right rear tail lights. I'm somewhat irked, it seems like one of the first things they should have done was to go around and stick a tester in each and every outlet. The service manager assured me that they had replaced the guts of the mechanism that raises the antenna, no word on whether they tested it or not. Anyhoo, the leveling failure is serious, Monday they will order the new board, and hopefully overnight delivery will have it here Tuesday. Wednesday we will drive to the border to take official delivery.
While we're waiting for it to be Wednesday, we are staying in a Thousand Trails RV park (the dealer is paying for it). TT is a membership park, you pay money to belong to the network. This is one of the worst places we have ever been. The thought of joining TT to stay in a dirt park with no cable, no wifi, no nothing is just amazing to me.
Sorry, no pictures yet, I'm too tired.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Tonight I have the headache that ate Tokyo. Think of my headache as Godzilla, sitting on my head, gnawing on my brain. Yes, it's that sort of headache. A careful examination of our mattress in the 5th wheel reveals that it is 2 inches wider than the space allotted for it in the Class A. We're going to shove it in there anyway, and see how bad it is. We decided to try to take our Lazy Boy recliners, they may or may not fit, either. Then we spent an hour with the finance guy and signed many papers. This has been more stressful than I thought it would be. When we bought the 5th wheel we had been in the travel trailer for 6 months, and the 5th wheel was such an improvement. There were no downsides and there was joy everywhere. The Class A improves some areas, but dis-improves others. Case in point, we have a 2 by 2.5 foot area of counter space dedicated to a cutout for two gas burners, the burners themselves are so close together that I doubt if two pots can be on there simultaneously. Who designed this? I'm pretty sure it was a man. RVs are always a giant compromise. Tomorrow we take possession, and then unload the 5th wheel into the Class A. I'm expecting my brain to explode.

This morning I took this picture. Note the shallow depth of field. I am really impressed with my new Lumix camera. I like it.

This is Palm Desert. Note the word desert in the place name. THIS is why the poor almond farmers in the Central Valley are being denied irrigation water, so all of these rich old farts can have grass and trees.

The valley is just surreal. If you see an expensive car, it's more than likely being driven by someone really old. We watched one of them run a red light, make a right turn into not one, but two lanes of traffic, all without ever moving his head to see if there might be any cars around him. The communities are all gated, with huge security huts, gates and key cards. There are, however, dedicated golf cart lanes on the major thoroughfares. I can't wait to leave here.

Monday will be interesting. To avoid paying CA sales tax (10%) on the Class A, one must have the RV driven out of state by someone other than us. Once in AZ, we visit a notary in the Wendy's parking lot, finish signing papers, and only then do we have legal possession. I am not making this up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

San Diego - It's Always Something

Monday we drove out to Point Loma. It was sort of a dreary, overcast day so none of the photos are really inspiring. This is part of the Navy real estate, you can't see them, but there are submarines in the water down there.

After Point Loma we drove over to Coronado Island. These people have a sign ordinance in place that puts all others to shame. We saw a very attractive building with benches and fountains, and wondered what all this beautiousness was. It's a switching station. You know, those concrete bunkers full of phone stuff. Here, they made at&t spiff it up a bunch.

Walking on to the historic Hotel del Coronado. It's really beautiful.

Taken from the inner court yard.

The next two were taken from the high point of the deck at the hotel.

Upper left is an F-18 landing at NAS North Island. The noise was fairly impressive. Our neighbors told us that they had seen them doing formation landings that same day, so that must have REALLY been loud.

One of the many very lovely haciendas in the surrounding neighborhood.

A fuschia, planted in the ground, where it grows, year round. In the GPNW we beg these guys to survive our summers, potted and hanging in the best light available. Here, they grow outside.

Coming back from Coronado Island, we got the dreaded "service trailer brake system" warning message. This is the fault that tells you that there is a fatal error within the integrated trailer brake controller system. We got home, plugged in the 5th wheel, and discovered yepper, no lights, no brakes, no awareness on the part of the truck of the 5th wheel being plugged in. So annoying. I called the local Chevy dealer, and they took us this morning.
So, after taking the truck in at oh:dark:thirty, we went for a short walk. This is what we saw.

You know, all we needed was for the brake controller to live for two more days. TWO! Is that asking so much? But noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Chevy can't reproduce the fault, it's an intermittent electrical thing. Based on what they know isn't the cause, they believe it's the master control module for the whole shebang. So, several hundred dollars later, we will get the truck back. There are huge hills between here and Indio, so there you go.

It's unfortunate that we didn't see more of this area. Today's plan had been to take the trolley in to Old Town and walk around and look at stuff. Instead, I think we'll do a long walk around the marina. We did do weights and stretching this morning, so we're not totally worthless. This is a great park, we may come back in May after Tucson becomes unbearably hot.

Later that same day.........
We saw this guy walking around the marina.

He reminds me of the golden squirrels in Zion. We got the truck back, the brake controller now knows when the 5th wheel is attached, so that is good. We're leaving in the morning for Indio. I really hope we don't have to stay there too long.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

San Diego CA

We're in San Diego at the Chula Vista RV Resort. Even though it's foggy and cold, it's SO MUCH BETTER than the Pomona KOA. It's actually a beautiful park; wide, level, paved sites with no over hanging trees and no leaves and sap falling on the vehicles. In short, everything that the Pomona KOA is not. OK, enough on that topic.
California vegetation is amazing. Where else do they plant Birds of Paradise on the landscape strips between RVs?

So, we're here until Wednesday morning. Hopefully the weather will clear for better photography. We want to go out to Point Loma, which is very beautiful when the sun is out.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pomona RV Show - Day Final

Today we could see the mountains for the first time. The wind direction changed and cleared out the LA basin. It was hot without the smog filtering the sunlight.

Still no decision about financing. I've decided to quit thinking about it for awhile. It'll be what it is. Today has been difficult. We've lived in this RV for 3 years, and it's a lot like selling a home. I keep looking at stuff and thinking it will never be like this again, it'll be different. Hopefully it will be better.
There is no reason to stay on in this miserable, awful, wretched park anymore, so we're going to go down to San Diego for three days. After that, we'll head over to Indio to wait for the RV to be ready. Transferring 3 years worth of stuff out of the 5th wheel into a Class A is going to be painful.
So, perhaps fun will be had in San Diego.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pomona RV Show - Day Eternity

This is the new Fiat 500. It is so unbelievably cute. Here is the cabriolet version.

The dashboard.

A red interior. It gets good mileage. Driving it across country would probably be painful, but for an in town car, it's a hot ticket.

The rest of this post will be whining and complaining. So, if you continue to read, you've been warned.

We "bought" the Class A. We are having trouble getting financed. Why, you ask yourself, would two people with a near perfect credit score, and no debt, have trouble financing? Well, that's an excellent question.

It appears to be related to being full timers. After that, the stories diverge.

The web says it's due to:
  • The new lending laws imposed by Regulation Z Section 226.35 require banks to escrow property taxes and insurance on any RV or boat that is the borrower's primary residence. Since full-time RVers don't have a "permanent residence," the banks may have difficulty determining what taxes to withhold and in what amount.
  • Well, this is crap. I do have a permanent address; it's in South Dakota and there are no property taxes. Further, why would a loan to a full timer require the escrowing of insurance, and not a loan for a recreational use RV? It makes no sense.
One of the salesmen said it's due to:
  • Banks don't want to lend to full-timers because if they default, the banks don't know where to go to repo the unit.
  • Well, this is crap. What's to stop someone with a stick frame house that's underwater on their mortgage, from walking on the mortgage, taking the RV, and disappearing into the wilds of Alaska?
The finance guy we're talking to can't articulate the problem at all. A torrent of words came out, but with no real meaning. So, it's two days later, and we still have no word on financing availability. Personally, I find this annoying because we're having to stick around in this wretched park waiting for some sort of decision.
From a more global perspective, think about the long term ramifications of full timers not being able to finance. This park is full of people who live in their RVs full time. None of them can ever buy a new unit unless they pay cash. The RV industry was just about killed by the collapse of the global economy. Whose interests are served by making it impossible for people to buy the product unless they're able to pay cash? SD and TX are going to be hit by this because they pull in big dollars from full timers paying sales tax, registering their vehicles, and paying for mail forwarding services. This is the most stupid idiotic thing I have ever dealt with in my life, and I have seen much stupid stuff in my life.

Then on top of all this, we unwrapped the pork tenderloin we were going to have for dinner, and discovered it was spoiled. We're having pizza and asparagus for dinner because that's all the food we have left. Spoilage just made a shambles of the week's menu planning.

I have more complaining to do at a later date about the FCC, full time RVs and local channel availability, but that will have to wait for another day.

Over and out, maties.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pomona RV Show - Day 2

These people scored big time in the good RV site lottery. They're permanent residents. If you look carefully behind the swing, you will notice their hot tub. They do have a nice green oasis in the park. There is also covered parking out of the frame.

Covered parking.

This individual only has a 6 gallon hot water tank. He grew tired of running out of hot water while showering. So he added a tankless hot water heater. He did this 4 years ago on his own. We're now seeing the technology making its way into RVs.

On to the RV show. Can you see the mountains in the background of the photo? The air quality here is is just abysmal.

After a bit we were faint with hunger, major bonking. So, under the influence of low blood sugar, we had a hot dog. They're not that good. German hot dogs are way better, and so are the ones at the Pike Place Market. I would not squander my bad food allowance on these dogs again.

Winnebago has started making towable RVs. They are really well done. This is the living area of a 30 foot travel trailer. Isn't that lovely? Their designers are very good. They make a 5th wheel with two bunks (you don't see that very often) so the kids have somewhere comfortable to sleep.

It's been a neurotransmitter depleting two days. What to do, what to do. We spent a long time looking at the Landmark San Antonio, which is a 41 foot fifth wheel. Yes, a 41 foot towable. Tuesday night both of us were struggling with the concept of threading that much RV through older, smaller parks, much like the one we're in. While Jim has become a genius RV backer upper, it's still tedious to dodge the over hanging trees, parked cars and etc. What to do, what to do. On our way over to the show, there was a salesman starting up one of the used class As that they had in the KOA park. Used RVs are not allowed on the show grounds because they compete with the new RVs. They also make it clear how much depreciation occurs the minute you drive one off the lot. So, banish the used RVs!
Anyway, I digress.
We stuck our heads in and asked if we could look. He was firing it up to take his girlfriend for a demo ride, and if she didn't buy it, he'd call us. We met her later, he actually did take her for a test drive. She didn't buy it because it would not fit in her back yard, and she didn't want to store it.
Here is the interior. The slides are in, which is why the corridor is so narrow. It's a quad slide, so the living room and the bedroom expand when the slides go out. It's a mid-ship bathroom

Here is the exterior. We were not that fond of the color scheme at first, but it grows on us.

We did a test drive. It's so weird being up that high off the road. Jim will have to readjust his eye as to what proper position in the lane looks like. But he is confident he'll master it. That's a good thing, because we bought it.
We have a Class A!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pomona RV Show - Day 1

Oy! We spent the day on our feet touring the RV show. It's exhausting, all of those entry way stairs; up down up down. Kidding just kidding. There is solid nutrition to be found at an RV show, so that the customers can keep their strength up for the search for the perfect home. Pink's is a world famous (although Jim had never heard of them) LA hot dog institution. We didn't eat there, we went home for better food. Bummer, I love hot dogs.

I referenced toy haulers yesterday, and wondered how many people could visualize one. Here is a toy hauler in all of its hauling glory. They're geared towards the weekenders who are taking toys out to the boonies. We toured a couple with an eye towards a gut remodel, but it would be expensive. Walls would have to be moved, plumbing changed and etcetera.

This is why one shops an RV show. I don't understand the economics of it, but allegedly the manufacturers will subsidize the cost of an RV so that they will sell for less at a show. When we bought the Montana we're in now, we had a deeply discounted price, plus they gave us a boatload of money for the trade-in. So, shows would seem to be a good place to buy.

We're closing in on models for 5th wheels. Inside storage is close to what we have now, and should not require Jim to jettison too much of his stuff. The issue is the storage underneath. Due to our pesky requirement that our road bikes travel inside and not on a rack, we need space in the basement. We're going to go back and measure some more and think.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pomona KOA

Well, we're here. It was a veeeeeery tedious drive. The freeways in California are just abysmal. The noise level is just unbelievable from the rutted bumpy roads.
After leaving Coalinga, one must climb out of the Central Valley. It's steep coming out of the valley. One travels from sea level to 4,183 feet.

Then there is descending back to sea level. There's a 5 mile 5% grade to endure. It's a pain because the trucks are limited to 40 mph and they won't stay in the far right lane. So everybody ends up having to excessively brake.

After the descending, there is the 210 bypass. It takes one well north of metropolitan LA. I can not stress enough the importance of not entering 210 with a full bladder. There is no where to stop (if you are towing a large RV). We hit it fully dehydrated.

We're at the Pomona KOA. It's a terrible park. With the exception of the end slots, they're very narrow, close together, and covered in trees. Satellite reception is not possible with the trees and there's no cable. So far, over the air reception is good, hopefully it will not rain. We're somewhat concerned about leaving here Saturday, people tend to park in the streets which has the potential to make the turn out of our slot painful. The other thing about this park is the flies. We have never experienced so many flies. They're agile little buggers, we've got one in the RV and thus far have been unsuccessful in killing him. Additionally we're on the final approach course for a local airport, and very close to a rail line. Perfect!
This is one of the coveted end slots. I suspect someone has to die before one becomes available.

We'll be doing the RV show starting in the morning. We bought our admission wrist bands this afternoon, and we both got the senior rate. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I got one salesman to admit that the 5th wheel manufacturers are moving away from the full-timer demographic and more towards the week-enders. Apparently there are more week-enders than full-timers. It's kind of a bummer to think that our current coach represents the pinnacle of massive amounts storage. We're seeing a trend of larger living rooms and smaller bedrooms with really pitiful closets and fewer drawers. Depressing, very depressing. I suggested to Jim that we buy a toy hauler (half the RV is dedicated to hauling motorcycles and stuff) and have the entire interior gutted and redone by a cabinet maker. Could happen, yet.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Petaluma to Coalinga

This is what the first part of the drive looks like. After that it's orchards. Everywhere. Sort of like corn in Kansas, but with trees.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Leaving Petaluma

Today is our last day in Petaluma. I have to say that this place is very nice when the sun shines. Last May was fairly dismal from a climate perspective. Thursday and Friday were just delightful. We were able to ride two days in a row. Here is Jim out in the boonies.

This morning, fog rolled up from San Fransisco and it was cold and windy. We went down to the Helen Putnam park and walked. We saw wild life. This is a black tail deer.

Don't you love that tree? I love that tree.

These are the rolling hills of Petaluma. When you ride, you get to experience the rolling hills close up.

By the time we got back to the car, the overcast had burned off and it was a beautiful warm day. That's the path our walk started out on, up the hill.

This guy was sitting on the fence near the truck. This is the third day in a row I've taken pictures of this species. This one sat still and presented a profile for me. I need more zoom.

Petaluma has been fun. We've enjoyed our time here. The weekend is in full swing at the park. There are children everywhere, the KOA people are hauling the kids around in the hay wagon, and they're burning wood like there is no tomorrow.
Tomorrow we're staying at a park out in the toolies near Coalinga. We've stayed there before and it's not terrible.