Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Home again...

From Rockhound I went a short distance as planned up to City of Rocks, stayed a couple of days, and then moved on to Elephant Butte State Park, near Truth or Consequences.  I'd never been to Elephant Butte, although I'd driven past many times on I-25.

City of Rocks has lots of hiking/biking trails, and some truly unusual rock formations which give it the name. The most sought-after spots are up in among the rock formations.  I was content with that was available, which had the advantage of electric and water service. I made a new friend...

This little purple finch was fascinated by the passenger-side mirror, and spent a lot of time trying to make contact with his image in the mirror:

You may have to look carefully to see him plastered up against the glass. He was relentless! 

Elephant Butte Lake is big, and the state park is, I think, New Mexico's biggest.  It gets very heavy use in the summer as a boating location. 

I decided to go home to Tucson in one day, which is a longer drive than I usually plan. New Mexico in the spring is a windy place, and there were some white-knuckle moments along I-10 as I headed west.  I later learned that ADOT closed the road for a stretch, just behind me. Got back in pretty good time, all things considered.   

This was intended as much as anything as a shakedown cruise, and I've spent time since getting back dealing with some issues: I figured out what was wrong with the rear-view camera -- 

You get bonus points if you know what this little connector is called.  I spent hours on line trying to find it, and then gave up and did it the old-fashioned way: I went and asked the guys SoundFX here in Tucson what it was called.  They had one in stock. $4.  Bingo!

I also needed to replace the plastic shelf brackets in the little pantry area, which had been failing for a while, and this trip seems to have taken them over the top.  This is what they look like:

Found them at a web site I hadn't known about, but is now bookmarked because they have lots of handy stuff which I may need at some point: RV Locks and More.

Not sure when the next trip will be, but it will surely head north into the Idaho and Montana country I enjoyed so much last year.  Anyone ever visit Flathead Lake in MT?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday AM at Rockhound

Tuesday morning at Rockhound State Park.  Familiar and comfortable territory. Today is a leisurely drive up to City of Rocks, which was one of the first New Mexico state parks I visited, a couple of years back. Two nights there.  

It’s windy, which is to be expected in NM this time of year.  I’m glad it won’t be a long drive… keeping this very high-profile vehicle stable is tiring, mostly because it requires constant attention.  

Two new experiences this trip:  I now have DirectTv service at home, and since they’re owned by ATT, I get to watch TV on my cell phone without dinging my data allowance.  So after dinner, I watched Rachel Maddow — more because I could than because I felt a pressing need to stay in touch with the clown circus in Washington.  The ATT service here is pretty sketchy, so there were a few unscheduled pauses, but it wasn’t all that annoying. 

This morning I took a shower!  The edges of the tub enclosure had needed caulking, so last season I cleaned up the joints and got out the silicone. Showering isn’t a real option when boondocking… but here in “civilization” it’s a bit more reasonable.  I’ll drain the holding tanks on my way out of here. 

Something about watching TV and having a real hot shower in the Beast seems a bit surreal. 

So far this is a good shakedown. I’ll check in down the road, but briefly: I’m seeing how sparing I can be with the Verizon data service, and posting here requires logging on.  I can write off-line, and comments get relayed by email, so we’ll see how far I can stretch 4GB of data. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Heading out ...

I hit the road for a week or so tomorrow (Monday) morning. Headed for familiar places in New Mexico... Rockhound State Park, City of Rocks SP, the BLM campground at Valley of Fires near Carrizozo. It's kind of a shakedown cruise for longer trips when the the weather stabilizes a bit up north.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Testing 1 2 3 4 ...

Is this thing still on?

Tap tap tap ...

Yep, seems to be.   Ok, then.

Seems hard to believe that it was last August that I last posted here.  Lots has happened, but not much has involved the Beast, and that was only some routine maintenance. There have been some health issues, and I'll admit freely that following the national election and the advent of the Trump administration have soaked up a lot of energy. I don't intend to write much about politics here, but I'm one of people who is appalled and fearful about the direction the government is taking us. Yeah, and embarrassed.  So if you're one of the people from outside the USA who's reading this, please understand that we're a big country with a lot of unsolved problems. Democracy is inherently messy, and this is a particularly messy moment.

So.  The Beast is currently in the shop, getting a systems check. When I get a list of the things the folks at Frost RV think need to be done, I'll have a better idea when I can get on the road again.

My destination, I think will be the desert over near Quartzite, AZ.  This is winter RV mecca for the whole dang country, and I've never been partial to parking cheek-by-jowl with a few hundred of my new best friends, so I've stayed away.  But the big crowds have moved on, I gather, and it's not crazy hot over there yet, so I'll go poke around while I wait for things to thaw out up north.

The only "upgrade" I've done to the Beast is get a small solar trickle charger for the starter battery.  It's hard to know whether it's really necessary, but it makes me feel all provident and green,  Because ... solar!'

More later.  You all OK?


Thursday, August 25, 2016


This is/was the spare tire on the Beast.  It’s been sitting at the RV service place for a couple of days, waiting to get a short list of relatively minor stuff done.  Yesterday afternoon, the folks there tell me, they heard a very loud explosion which shook the building they were sitting in.  It wasn’t clear what it was.  This morning, a couple of them went out to look at a hawk in a tree and noticed this.  They called me.  Yep: the tire looks like it just plain blew up.  The service writer there calls it “freaky.” I say, “huh???"

There was no damage to their property or to the trailer parked next to it.  No one was hurt.  There seems to be no damage to the motorhome other than the black scuff marks on the rear wall just above the tire. 

The tire’s age is unknown.  It was the spare tire when I bought the rig over two years ago.   Last week I replaced the old ratty-looking white-ish cover on the spare with a new, spiffier black cover. The easiest, although still puzzling, explanation is that the black cover concentrated the heat from the sun, and Pow!!! 

I’ll get the RV back from these guys on Monday and schedule an oil change etc with Buck’s next week.  And ask Buck’s if they have any ideas about what might have caused this.  

A new tire will be on the order of $150-200.  A new cover (NOT black!) will be about $30.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Yep. It's been a while!

Last time I posted was right after my long trip up through Idaho and Montana.  I've been hunkered down in the heat of southern Arizona, catching up on house maintenance and with friends hereabouts. It's been a remarkable monsoon season, with heavy rains producing local flooding sufficiently dramatic to make the national TV news. And muggy!  Not by the standards of the Southeast or even my New England home, but still humid enough to make it really nasty a lot of the time.  When the dew point gets over 60, most people begin to be uncomfortable.  That would be me!

The next venture:  I definitely have itchy feet again.  I have a trip outlined in my head which centers on meandering along Highway 101 in northern California and Oregon.  I started scoping it out, and discovered that the whole dang world thinks September would be a great time to do just that!  State parks and commercial campgrounds alike were pretty much full -- this for a trip a month out!  But more than that, I found that I just wasn't ready for a month or more on the road.  Planning it felt like work, not play, and that is NOT the idea here.  So ...

I have a trip outlined in the Arizona high country.  It's much cooler up there, it's scenic, and it's close enough that I don't have to drive for days and days to get there.  There are lots and lots of National Forest campgrounds and dispersed camping areas... it'll be mostly boondocking, but likely with enough sun that the solar panel can keep me in business.  And a week-long trip seems a lot more manageable than a month.  There are some maintenance tasks on the rig which I've been postponing, so I've scheduled them with my new favorite RV repair place... which has conveniently relocated to a spot about a mile down the road from me, right next to "my" Albertson's supermarket.  And the fact that I'm not putting on that many miles, and I'm mostly boondocking, means that the cost will be way low.

Timing looks like about a week out, spanning the weekend after Labor Day.  The closer we get to October, the closer we get to the kind of weather we brag about down here in the desert.

So that's the word.

Friday, July 15, 2016

By the numbers

I'm home, putting things away, doing laundry, reacquainting myself with the dog.  Almost ready to put the rig back in the storage lot. I'll have some reflections on this, the longest trip I've taken with the Beast, in a day or so.

But the numbers are easy to summarize: the indispensable Road Trip app records all the vehicle-related costs, and some spreadsheets I've put together track where I've been and how long.

So here's it is:

I was away for 33 nights.  Three of those were spent with family, so for expense purposes I was on the road for 30 days.

I covered 3,476 miles, consuming 395 gallons of gas at an average price of $2.33 per gallon.  Gas cost ranged from $1.979 to $2.659. Total gas cost was $919.58  The Gas Buddy app and web site were invaluable in finding the best gas prices. Over the trip, which included some challenging mountain grades and some gentle rolling country, I got about 8.8 miles per gallon.  Wind and whether or not I was using a/c as I drove seemed to be the biggest determinants of fuel efficiency.

I spent a total of $485 on overnight stays; the cost per night of these ranged from zero for Walmart parking lots to $36.42 at a commercial RV park in Idaho.  Nightly cost averaged about $16.

Total road trip cost, then, was about $1400, or $46 per day.  I don't keep separate track of food costs, since I eat about the same stuff as I would at home and buy it at supermarkets along the way.

I released 7,663 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.

There were no notable repair costs this trip.

These are, of course, only the direct costs of this trip.  The indirect costs of repairs and maintenance to the rig are a whole 'nother story.