Monday, January 30, 2012

Perfidy and Malfeasance

Greetings maties! Just when we thought it was safe to come out of the burrow, we discovered more perfidy and malfeasance perpetrated by our friends at McMahon's RV in Palm Desert, CA.

We've had the RV in for work, and we provided Premier RV with our receipt, and our policy and our brochure for First Extended, which is our extended warranty provider. Problem is, First Extended has never heard of us. It would seem that McMahon's accepted our check for the extended warranty and then kept the money. They did not send it in, and we do not have coverage at the moment because they kept the money. I can not tell you how angry I am at these people. I knew they were snakes, but I did not realize they were in the business of theft, which is what this is. They've had 4 months to transfer payment to First Extended and they have not done it. So, tomorrow, we'll be back at Premier, on the phone to the Head Finance Weenie of McMahon's starting the laborious process of making them do the right thing. I have such a headache.
So, for those of you entering the glamorous world of Class A ownership, here is another pitfall of which you should be aware.
The really cute mammal in the picture is a round tailed ground squirrel.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

We're Home

I took this last night. It was a pretty spectacular sunset.

We're back in the RV. We have no clear root cause. If I were running a post mortem for a computing system crash, I'd say we're going to WFR it. That's pronounced woofer, and stands for Wait For Recurrence. So, there you go, and Bob's your uncle.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A New Hike

We had planned to bike today, but neither of us is sleeping well in the hotel, between the noise, the suboptimal pillows, and the constant thoughts of "what if they can't fix it". So we were tired. Plan B was to hike Pontatoc Trail, but upon arriving at the trail head there were no parking places. It's surrounded by a neighborhood that has invested much money in no parking signs. So we went elsewhere.
The trail head for this hike is off Ina. It's Pima Canyon. It was a delightful hike. It's not a ridge line hike, but there is much to look at.

There is a slow moving creek. We sat on a rock in the shade and had a nosh, it was quite nice. We're going to have to start moving earlier, it's warming up here. Remember, my personal comfort zone is between 68 and 72 degrees F.

This was cool. The big bright round thing is the sun. Those of you in the GPNW may not have seen this for awhile. The straight white line is a contrail. The dark line to the left of the contrail is the contrail's shadow being cast on the clouds. If you look right around the sun from nine o'clock to noon positions you can see pink and green clouds. They were more evident in person, but not as much for the camera. I'm amazed that I got any sort of picture, aiming the camera right at the sun.

Jim is off to ask the RV people what, if any, progress was made today. I did not go. Too much time in the car causes me to become car sick.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day Three of the RV in the Shop

Greetings maties! Gather round and listen to our tale of woe and unhappiness. Today is day 3 of having the RV in the shop. This place would not have been my first choice to repair an electrical disaster. I think they're OK for TV installations, cabinet work, flooring and the like, but not weird power stuff.
Exhibit one: There are 3 multiplexer boards in the panel. Two of them were fried on Tuesday. Wouldn't you think that it might have occurred to the techs to pull board number three and look at it? If two out of three are fried to a crisp, wouldn't you look at the third? Apparently not. They discovered that number 3 was toast this morning. Its replacement will be here tomorrow.
Exhibit two: Great whanging goo-gobs of electric current were required to fry the boards. Where does that volume of power come from? The alternator. The owner told us today that the only source for that much power is the alternator and they were in the process of removing it to send it out for rebuild or replacement. If they knew this, why did they not do this on day one?
So, we're unhappy. They may have it done tomorrow, but it's not likely that we'll be able to drive it away as the extended warranty people will want to come out and look at it first. That will not happen until Monday at the earliest.
This has been trying on so many fronts. One of the reasons we really resisted buying a Class A is because of exactly this type of situation. There are so many power management systems on board; there is shore power, generator, batteries, inverters, converters, 12V. 110V and etc. Jim and I are not engineeringly inclined people because we haven't needed to be. Until we're further down the learning curve, we have to rely on the repair people, and many of them do not deserve the trust placed in them. If this shop is able to positively identify the root cause of the problems then we can go forth happily. If not, then we're in the position of not really being able to trust the RV.
So, that's where we are as of Thursday night. The good news is that we have clean clothes and we got our bike helmets out so we can ride tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Always Something With the RV - Part 2

A scene from Sunday's hike, back when we were happy and carefree, unaware of our impending doom. How was that? Ominous enough?

We took the RV in to Premier RV today for 3 minor fixes, and to obtain a quote for cabinet work. HAH! Double HAH HAH HAH!!!!!!! We got there, and the engine wouldn't shut off. We called Monaco from the parking lot and they said it's either a bad ignition switch or a bad ECM relay. The guys at Premier decided to back the coach into a service bay before trying to kill the engine. Good thing.
Techs swarmed the battery bay and the front bay full of wires. We were asked if we had the full schematics for the coach and we set about looking for them. After I had gone through the manuals we keep at the front of the RV, I got up and walked to the back to see how Jim was doing with his search. I walked through a cloud of smoke the smell of hot electronics, and said to Jim, "I think we're on fire." Reader, if you own an RV, fire is the word you never, ever want to hear in conjunction with your coach. Two of the multiplexer boards in the cabinet in the bathroom just cooked themselves. COOKED!

So that is how our day started. They spent several hours trying to identify the root cause for the failure of the engine to stop running, immolation of the multiplexer boards and a general WTH? The solution proposed by the tech is that an incorrectly wired circuit for the docking lights in the dash was the cause. We are having trouble buying it. The amount of electricity required to fry that board did not come from the dash. We don't know what caused it, and we probably won't ever know.
So, tonight we are sleeping at the Hampton Inn out by the airport. Parts are being shipped from around the country, and maybe we'll get the RV back tomorrow, but I doubt it. At this point we will find out if we bought an extended warranty from a good company or a bad company. Some vendors are better about paying than others, so we'll see.
So maties, this is today's report from the glamorous world of full time RVing.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On the Road in Tucson

This is not something one sees on the road every day.

But hey, this is Tucson. We were just stunned that it wasn't dripping body parts as it went down the road.

Cool cloud formations tonight.

Images from Jim's Trip to Seattle

Here is Jim's Mom. She just got her hair cut. It was down to the middle of her back and she was sick of it. i think it looks cute short. She's 97.

I copied this from the Seattle Times website. If SOPA passes, my website will probably go dark due to my borrowing of copyrighted material. I did give photo attribution. Anyway, the is highway 202 between Fish Hatchery and Snoqualmie Falls. This is a road we ride a lot in the summer. Technically Jim didn't see this, but I thought it was a very evocative picture of the area during Snowmaggedon.

This is off the back deck at May's house.

Click this one to enlarge. I like the way the lights are so yellow in the house windows.

There is a new memorial on Bainbridge Island to the Japanese-American citizens who were deported to the internment camps during WWII. This was one of the more shameful chapters in American history. Jim said it's really well done and worth a ferry trip over to see it. We'll be back up in April, and will take more photos.

Sunlight on the city.

Thus ends Jim's trip to the frozen north and his narrow escape from Winter Blast 2012.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Status of Seatac and Snowmaggedon - updated

Winter weather update 1/19/12 10:20 a.m.
One runway/taxiway at Sea-Tac is open for arriving and departing flights. Another runway is open for departures. Please check flight status online or contact your airline for any flight delays.

So far, Jim's flight is showing on time. They're on their third gate change, but they do have a plane on the ground. Yay. He reports that they are de-icing with vigor.

Kim in Issaquah reports that they have no power in the RV park. She plans to bury bottles of champagne in the snow, for medicinal purposes only. Our friend Don in Manitoba has been reporting temperatures of -40C. MINUS 40. I'm not going to tell you what it's doing here, that would be cruel.

Update: Jim has been sitting in the airplane for two hours. One of the baggage doors broke and had to be fixed. Last time I spoke to him, they were waiting for de-icing. I don't know if they're going to leave today or not. Poor baby, he's hungry and he wants to go home.
Update: They've pushed back from the gate, maybe he'll get outta there, and back to this.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow in Seattle

I got this off the King5 web site. It's a pretty cool picture. The GPNW is in the grips of Snowmaggedon! I'm hoping Jim gets a flight out tomorrow to return to warmer climes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Later the Same Day

Beautiful day! Just gorgeous. I hiked about 5 miles, did the usual plus a little more.

When were first learning the trails in the Tucson Mountain Park, this was our landmark. It's visible from just about everywhere and we'd use him to navigate. We call him the Tiki God. He looks like a Tiki, doesn't he?

Then, after all this loveliness and happiness, the wretched TV finally died. There's no more sound. So aggravating, just makes me want to throw it through the window. So, now I'm back to the little TV in the interim. There's a definite trip hazard on the floor.

Overhead I have secured the coax, so that is not a hazard. I really really want this resolved.

This ends my reportage for Tuesday in the Old Pueblo.

Trivial Complaining

Clearly my life has reached new depths of non-interest if I am blogging about stuff that annoys me, but it has and I am. Exhibit One: The dedicated brownie maker. Why would one own a single function electric appliance whose only function is baking brownies? This company also markets a device that makes donut shaped items, and circus animal shaped items. I think I'm losing touch with my culture again.

My second complaint concerns NPR. I was listening in the truck yesterday and the announcer says, "Up next is actor ........ who plays the spy in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." The movie just came out and they're already broadcasting spoilers and telling us who the spy is. WTH? The media used to not do this, I remember a huge uproar when Time magazine discussed the ending of The Sting months after it had been released.

The pigeons are on the roof of the RV. The males are ready for love. They're very annoying. They make a one note call, over and over and over. We need some hawks here.

The weather heads are predicting 9 inches of snow tomorrow in Kitsap County and Seattle metro. NINE! It's really hilly, there are very few plows, and the area will be paralyzed. Jim is supposed to fly out on Thursday, we are really hoping the he makes it out of there.

Other than this maties, I have nothing to offer.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


My friend Kim sent me this, taken with her phone in Issaquah, WA. Happy I am to be in Arizona, even if it did rain a little today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Crafts and Return to Seattle

We're still in the grip of frigid temperatures! We hiked yesterday in the upper 50's. It was brutal, but it had to be done. I think we went about 4.5 miles or so. It was a very pleasant walk.

We also did crafts together, and lived to tell about it. Drawers in RVs have stiff latches. When one opens a drawer one yanks. One closes the drawer with vigor, as well. As a result the non-slip drawer liner ends up bunched up at one end or the other. We went to Target and bought poster board, cut it to fit the drawer, and taped non-slip drawer liner to it. Now it says put and stays flat. I have domestic bliss.

Jim left for Seattle today. He's renting an all wheel drive Subaru because snow is forecast for the lowlands. Snow!

We had a pretty good sunset today.

An x-ray taken yesterday reveals that May has a fractured patella. She doesn't actually remember the x-ray being taken, so we were not able to get any details from her as to how bad, how long ago or what happens next. It would be nice if this meant that things would get better for her. Jim will interrogate her PCP for further details.
Other than that maties, I have nothing to report.

Monday, January 9, 2012

RV Maintenance

Greetings Earthlings! Have you seen reports of the snow falling in Alaska? One poor town has received 18 feet. Ina in Alaska posted a video of her dog in the back yard, of particular interest to me was the height of the snow piles she has created while making paths for the doggoes.  Alaskans are tough. Here we are not so tough. Friday was a halcyon day, we rode with the Rincon bike club north, then south with a stop for coffee by the UofA. Just delightful in every dimension. 

When one buys a Class A, one resigns oneself to the fact that there will be maintenance on a scale hitherto unknown when one owned a 5th wheel. Class As have significant systems. Here is the battery system. On the left are the two chassis batteries (which are dead as door knobs). On the right are the house batteries, two out of four are dead. The wiring is shoddy, with insufficient gauges used, and done incorrectly. And then there was the corrosion. Current will not flow through corroded cables. Everything had to be removed to the waste bin.

Here is Ken of Cameron's Reliable. It took about 2.5 hours to fabricate and install new cables, which involved cutting them to length, attaching connectors, and then shrink wrapping the connectors to the cables. It was a lot of work. I had no idea what would be involved in redoing the batteries.

Here are the new lovely batteries. These will not leak or corrode like the old ones. They require no maintenance what so ever. Notice the difference in the cable runs. Ken's work is very, very good.

We also had maintenance done on the Hydro-Hot (the thing that burns diesel to make hot air and hot water), which was way overdue. This is one of the items that the dealer said he had done as part of the pre-delivery inspection (which we paid for), but didn't. Dealers! If their lips are moving, they're lying. Those batteries had been bad for awhile. Oh yes, battery inspection was another pre-delivery item. I think the person who owned the RV before us lacked situational awareness. We discovered that at some point he moved the RV forward, jamming the gravel guard into the ground with enough force to unbend an I-bolt, and a big one at that. Anyway, we now know why the bay doors hit the slide and won't open. The slide is retracting ever so slightly, which causes it to droop. Ken thinks the solenoids are fried. We're taking the RV to Premier RV to get the solenoids replaced. The hydraulic pump for the slides is under the RV and Ken would rather not spend time under it, and risk being crushed. I do not blame him. Premier has a pit and can do the work safely. Sunday morning was cold. Yes, I know, I am a weather wimp and should be banned from using the word cold. We set out on a hike at about 11:00 and I was cold! It was 50 degrees with a stiff breeze. A heavier shirt would have been good. We set a blazing pace uphill and eventually warmed up. It was a gorgeous day in the Old Pueblo.

We stopped for water this afternoon. I get the biggest kick out of this group on D street. They're out in the street chatting almost every day about 4.

In other news, I'm locked in mortal combat with Medco, who is our drug insurance company. I'm pretty sure I'm done with drugs by mail. Getting them locally may cost more, but at this point I have two hours of cell phone time dedicated to trying to get them to replace a lost order. There may be a follow on post about them with a timeline and quotes from the various and sundry people with whom I have spoken. May remains at Wyatt House and has not dialed 911 yet.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Note to Self

May was released from the hospital yesterday, January 5. Nothing has changed, her knee still hurts. I think she's got it in her mind that going to the hospital will result in her condition improving. Unfortunately this is not the case and will never be the case.
We went mountain biking yesterday. It was a beautiful day and a pleasant ride, except for the toll 6 weeks of not working out have taken on the old fitness level.
So, other than keeping track of dates, I have nothing of interest to report.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Bird is not the Word

Do you have any New Year's resolutions? We are resolving to reinstate multiple day menu planning so we stop going to the grocery store every single day. That gets expensive and then we end up with convenience foods. We haven't started yet, but I'm hopeful. I need to write down everything I know how to cook, assign it a number, and then use a random number generator to come up 7 days worth of menus.
We found a new RV resource today and happy we are. They are Premier Motor Coach Services. We originally were going to use them just to install a new TV (which will require cabinet work), but they do it all. They can replace flooring, remove slide rooms, cover the walls in wood, whatever. I'm about to throw a rock through the TV. It gets stuck on the install menu and/or the sound goes out. It's not muted, it's not making sound. Anyway, it looks like we'll be able to get the TV installed and the shelving we want done locally. They do nice work, they took us through a couple of RVs they're working on, and their cabinetry is impressive.
Ken of Cameron's Reliable came out to look at the RV yesterday. Our BIRD is dead. It's a Bi-directional Isolator Relay Delay that uses shore power to keep the chassis batteries charged. It's broken. We're fortunate that we were able to start the engine upon our arrival from Seattle to build up air pressure to level the coach. Ken is bringing new batteries Saturday, I am aghast at how much they cost. Aghast and aggrieved. However, it is what it is.
We went for a hike today, it was just a beautiful day. Upper 70's, halcyon breezes, just perfect weather. My feet are not so happy, all my callouses are gone from lack of use.

Our furnace and hot water burn diesel. While we were in Seattle, the RV went through about 18-20 gallons. Since we can't drive the RV, we're bringing fuel to the RV. Jim's leaving for Seattle next Thursday and I want to burn diesel with abandon in his absence. We got the fuel, but we're going to need a funnel. The spout is too short. It's always something.

May continues her stay in the hospital. At this point we don't know what's going to happen next.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Always Something with the RV

Chassis battery is dead. The RV won't start. Apparently that which is supposed to run current from shore power to the battery is not actually performing the task. So aggravating. Ken will bring new ones, all will be well.
May remains at Swedish, not sure how long they're planning to keep her.
That is all maties. I need to get out and take pictures of something interesting.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day

The downside to living in an RV park is that generally they're not in the most desirable part of town. Often they are close to freeways, trains, airports or all three. Frequently one is in a part of town one would not normally choose to inhabit. Our part of town has a New Year's Eve tradition of firing guns in to the air at midnight. Last night was no exception, we're pretty sure one of those guns was fully automatic. Apparently the local school system did a poor job of teaching the effects of Newton's law of gravity. At 4am we had a helicopter hovering over the wash, tracking the progress of some miscreant, accompanied by sirens on the ground. If you're beginning to suspect I didn't sleep much last night, you'd be correct. I'm glad it's only once a year.
May 911'ed herself back into Swedish Hospital last night, they admitted her. No new word on that front.
May you all have the sort of year you're hoping for.