And the road goes on forever...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Always the Hard Way

What have we been doing? 

So, the farther we get into fixing the ’97 Dodge, the more there seems to be to fix. We take it out for a 30-mile spin towards Quartzsite towing the trailer and I don’t care for the way it handles the trailer despite the addition of the air bags and heavy duty shocks Marc installed. Getting it back home he notes that there is antifreeze leaking and further checking reveals it isn’t from the radiator hose or something simple. It’s from the engine.
I start to cajole that it may be time to consider a new(er) truck; larger, more capable. After all, everything we drive is pushing twenty years old and older. Marc balks big time. The days ebb by. We have sank so much money and time into this. 

Two weeks before I am due to leave, Marc goes out on his own to hunt for a new truck. He comes back with a line on a new GMC 2500HD 4-wheel drive with optional tow package, which gives it a dash-installed trailer brake, heavy duty springs, anti-sway and back up hitch camera. A couple days later after arriving at an agreed price he sends me in, we sign paperwork, he leaves back for work and I drive home with a new truck. All 25 miles of travel until the transmission goes gunny bag; apparently not knowing what gear it should be in so let’s just randomly shift and rev the engine at inopportune times. Marc calls the dealer an hour later and tells them to come get it—it’s their truck again, we want nothing to do with it.
In lieu of the GMC, the dealer suggests substituting a Chevy—same truck, same equipment, they’ll give us the same price. Only it’s not the same truck. The GMC has wheel trim which help prevent rust, important to folks who drive salted winter roads; and it had the running board option and cargo bed lights. It also commands at least a $1000 pricing premium for the brand over a Chevy. We’re sent home with a dealer plate and the Chevy to try.
Our deal was made on a GMC—we want the Chevy similarly equipped for the same price and MINUS the brand premium or we walk. The dealer goes back and forth for two days before capitulating. Parts should arrive to the dealer Friday to turn the Chevy into its cousin by Monday or Tuesday. With any luck, I’ll have a new truck by mid-week and I can maybe leave here on time next weekend. Why should something so simple have to turn into such a time-consuming disaster of stress and headache? 

Dealing with the typical car salesmen and glad-handing dealers made us realize what we had in our encounters purchasing our two RVs recently from Dean Peters at Schieks Click Campers in Wisconsin. What a jewel he is—a regular guy who pulls no punches and just gives you an honest deal. What a concept. 

Monday update: It’s finalized and the new Chevy is ours. The fender skirts are larger and more appropriate to heading off rust and somehow give the refined truck a more rugged appearance. We hitched up this weekend and I drove out twice and it feels so much more comfortable with the load. It has a six-speed transmission which can be manually controlled which is a boon on downhill grades; we tried it on the 6% grade into Wellton.
I’m very pleased but still nervous as a Nelly, as they say. My anxiety shifts into high gear at the thought of going off on this venture by myself even though the truck is equipped with OnStar. Who would have thought at the beginning that it would have required the purchase of a new truck and attendant expense? I figure at the speed I’ll drive and the rate of mileage, the trips will be very time-consuming. We’ve done all we can to assure me a safe trip so it’s time to do the dance. Just one more thing left for Marc to do: install the bed lining and the auxiliary fuel tank he purchased for the Dodge into this new truck. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Groundbreaking; the Golden Shovels Have at it!

This is the way the project looked on a Thursday afternoon for the groundbreaking ceremony and the following pictures shows how it looked the next Monday as the dozers went into action doing all the grading. The job trailer is set and offers spacious accommodation for Marc’s homemade plan table and his neat ‘50’s used schoolteacher’s desk.
Marc’s been trying to wrap things up on my rig and managed to find an auxiliary fuel tank for my Dodge so I won’t have to be purchasing fuel every couple hundred miles. Given that I have a short bed it needs to be cut down and modified just a tad but should still hold around 75 gallons and give me a range of nearer to 1000 miles if I’m filled. It’s always nice to be able to pick and choose your fuel stops when going cross country given the difference in pricing state to state. We also just purchased new heavy duty truck tires and he took time to get my lovely new stained glass window installed, which matches in perfectly to my rig’s graphics and colors. It’s a waterfall, river, cabin and bear in the evergreens—just the scene for the Northwood’s!
Things here in Yuma are winding down for me given that I hope to leave on the first of April if the heat doesn’t get to me before then. I now have a love-hate relationship with the desert—it’s nice in its way but the dusty, arid air wreaks havoc with my sinus and allergies and I miss the humidity and lush green of Wisconsin. Rocks and sand just aren’t inspiring enough for me anymore. Spring is awakening my sense of wanting to be back gardening and working outdoors and watching everything emerge from winter slumber. I miss my seasons!! 

Other snowbirds are feeling the heat as well, as they slowly trickle out from the lots a few at a time. Our neighbors got together for a wonderful celebration of birthdays last evening over some great pot luck entrees and it was nice to be able to formally say goodbye to all and wish them good travels. Of course, many of them no longer move with the seasons but the Canadian contingent are limited on stay days so many leave in March.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Kids Visit

It’s always hard to get excited about writing an entry when the kids have just left as it always leaves me feeling so sad since I get to so seldom see them. Eric & Rachael are due back at work tomorrow however, so left this morning on the three-hour drive back to the San Diego airport. It’s raining right now, adding to my feeling of depression. 

All in all, the visit was fantastic and we enjoyed lots of catching up chat, evening al fresco dining and fires, and a ton of good beer and wine! Neighbors joined us for a brat dinner to welcome them to Yuma and celebrate their recent engagement.
Sunday, we planned for the day in Algodones, as Eric had never been to Mexico and Rachael had a wish list of things she wanted to shop for. The colors are so enticing--bursting forth from every vendor’s booth and I was able to find the new stained glass window I wanted for my little trailer. Wandering worked up our appetites, which we satisfied over lunch at El Paradiso, a consistent favorite of ours.
Marc has a big week coming up given his job trailer was finally delivered last week. Electric is supposed to go in today and the official groundbreaking ceremony will take place on Thursday. The project is finally underway!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

It’s Wintertime and the Living is Easy

Our lives should all be as easy and effortless of those of our cats. Lay in the winter sun, have grass grown for you to nibble on, not a care in the world, huh?
Marc’s pants are on fire to start his project but still no go on that front so he still occupies my trailer as his office which leaves me out in the cold as far as trying to do any practice with it. The kids are coming to visit next Friday for a few days so it needs to be cleared out by then! 

He did do some work to get our new washer/dryer ordered and installed and that was quite a job and quite a tight fit. The dryer is gas so it won’t be hooked up until later when he runs the propane line where it needs to be but I have a clothesline here so that’s no problem in Yuma’s persistent sunshine. Personally, I feel as though this has been a very warm winter and although I know most RVers travel here by the droves to enjoy this stuff I am not so sure I do anymore. My circulation seems to have a problem venting my body in my older age and all heat does for me is make me five shades of beet red in the face and cause profuse sweating. My preferred temps now range in the sixties; Yuma has moved into the 70’s and 80’s already.
Our neighbor Ron loves them though and can often be seen whipping around in his Razor which is one sharp rig and must be fun as all get-out. Boys and their toys. Despite being a four-seater, this thing looks like it could climb just about anywhere he chooses. 
Meanwhile, the weather is conducive to having my mind turn to all the yard work that awaits me in Wisconsin when I get home. I really would like to see some major strides made in getting the outside appearance into a “finished” state and add some curb appeal since the exterior of our floorplan is so plain. Pinterest has thousands of ideas for me to try out in my mind’s eye and pictures to save and compare. The big question now becomes what does the exterior that is there already lend itself to? Something country/rustic (think split rail fence here) or something more cottagey (imagine arbor with picket fence here)?
Of course, first things first, the porch needs to be completed and a new and permanent stairway built. Instead of going with an enclosed sunroom, given Marc’s absence for so many forthcoming years, we have determined it’s best to just go with our initial plans to screen it in. That way it can be enjoyed almost immediately instead of waiting so long. Obviously, someone besides Marc will need to do the work although I am planning myself on doing a paver walkway of individual steps leading from the house to the shop. That will be back breaking I’m sure…but at least I’ve got a truck now to haul stuff in!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Has Yuma Become the ATV Capital?

It dawned on me the other day as I was doing my morning neighborhood walk just how many ATVs I was seeing. Wow. It used to be a few would be present but this year it has literally been overwhelming—nearly every lot is sporting at least one and sometimes several. Has the character of RVing changed here in the past three years? Seems so. 

More lovely homes have been built and I assume the RV crowd is now also younger and more active than ever before. There are even more squatters in the nearby desert whereas before folks were hardly ever found boondocking there. Most of them also are carrying off road vehicles.
Between the RV off roaders and the weekend crowd that comes from San Diego and Phoenix to play in the sand dunes west of Yuma it does indeed seem as though we are now the ultimate playground.