Sunday, July 29, 2007

Refrigerator Problems in Espanola & Albuquerque. July 5-14, 2007

Refrigerator problems at Espanola and Albuquerque. Thursday July 5th thru Saturday July 14, 2007.

We had been camping in Bandelier National Monument and boondocking in Santa Fe NF and this morning we moved to Espanola, NM. What a surprise we had when we arrived at Cottonwood RV Park in Espanola, NM!! We arrived about 11:30am and selected site #35 at the RV Park and as soon as we got the trailer parked, I opened the door and was immediately hit in the face (or should I say nose) with the strong order of ammonia!! Since we don’t carry a bottle of ammonia cleaner in the trailer, this could only mean one thing: the coolant from our Dometic refrigerator leaked out and the fridge is now toast! For those of you are not familiar with a gas powered refrigerator (the correct term is “Absorption Refrigeration”), the coolant is ammonia. It provides the same function as Freon does in an electric refrigerator or air conditioner. One big difference is that ammonia is very toxic or fatal if you are exposed to very much of it for very long. If you have pets, don’t leave them in the trailer while you are traveling!! I wouldn’t think there is a great risk leaving your pets in the RV while parked. The plumbing (Cooling Unit) containing the ammonia in the refrigerator is much more likely to break while traveling down the road, subject to all the vibration than it would be while parked.


Bottom of Cooling Unit (the culprit!!) The gray can & tubes contain the ammonia.

Campsite at Cottonwood RV Park

We do have an extended warranty from Good Sam Club, “Continued Service Policy” (CSP) to repair things like the refrigerator, a/c, hot water heater, etc. I called CSP and they said yes the fridge is covered, but the contract will only pay for a rebuilt cooling unit to be installed. They said we could pay the difference and install a new cooling unit, or even have a new fridge installed. Yes I read in the contract when we bought the extended warranty, but figured that wouldn’t be a problem. Hmmm, on second thought, while rebuilt parts are common for automobiles, I wonder just how easy it would be to find rebuilt parts for RV components. We are going to find out.

Of course today is the day after the Fourth of July; so many people are off for a long 5 day weekend. The owner of Cottonwood RV Park, Art Martinez, suggested we call Action RV Mobil service in Santa Fe. We called them about 12:30 and got voice mail and left a message. By 3pm we still had not heard back from them. We did find a second phone number for them online and tried that. We got voice mail there too. We are thinking they took the weekend off. How dare they take time off when our refrigerator is broken!!! Smiling!

We went on the internet to the online Yellow Pages and didn’t find a lot of options for RV repair in the Santa Fe, or Espanola area. We asked Art for other places he could recommend and he suggested Travel Town RV in Santa Fe. I called them and the service manager said they don’t deal with “any” extended warranty companies. It is just too much of a hassle to work with them! I guess Travel Town RV must have plenty of business so they don’t need extra work. He did say the cost to replace the cooling unit would be cost close to the same as installing a new refrigerator.

It’s 5pm and we are still waiting for Action RV to call back. About 5:30pm we finally got a call back. They are indeed taking the weekend off. We certainly understand wanting to take time off, people work hard and are entitled to time off! Action RV said they would call us Monday morning and we would get started with the process to fix our fridge. Being a holiday weekend, we figured that we wouldn’t find anyone else to fix the fridge before Monday anyways, so we agreed.

Monday about 8:15am I called Action RV and left voice mail detailing CSP’s stipulation that they only will pay for rebuilt cooling unit, not a new one. No return phone call. I called back about 11am. They were just getting around to calling Dometic about parts & cost. They called back about 2pm & said new cooling unit from Dometic was $939, (plus shipping and installation) but they were out of stock and it would be a 2-3 week wait. However Dometic had new refrigerators in stock for $2130. No mention of rebuilt part or CSP requirements in the call, so I had to tell them to price out a rebuilt unit. They called back about 3pm and asked me for the serial number of the cooling unit assembly in refrigerator. No call back from Action RV the rest of Monday or Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning about 10am and still no call back from Action RV! Grrrr! We gave up them!

By now we had decided on getting a new refrigerator and not trying to repair old one. A new refrigerator probably doesn’t cost much more than repairing old one. Also when you look at how the absorption refrigerator is made, you wind up tearing the refrigerator apart to replace the cooling unit. What are the chances of them getting it all back together w/o more problems in the future? Better to spend a few extra hundred dollars and get a new refrigerator.

I had been checking online and Camping World has our refrigerator in their catalog for $1599, $69 shipping & $200 install, but there will be a two to three week shipping delay.

I called Camping World in Albuquerque and they said they would work w/CSP on extended warranty and the refrigerator would be $1599 plus shipping, etc, but they would need for us to bring the trailer to them for diagnosis before they could call CSP. It has been 5 full days now since the refrigerator broke! It was time to “do” something! The refrigerator at Camping World was $500 to $600 cheaper than anyone else so we are off to Albuquerque.

Wednesday afternoon we arrive at Camping World. I went in to the service desk, and the inexperienced service writer man started talking about a $120 refrigerator diagnosis. After much talking I finally got them to understand all the ammonia leaked out (the guy kept saying Freon). They finally said “Well since you could smell the ammonia there is nothing we can do except replace the refrigerator or the cooling unit. Well, duh!!!!

Finally the work order was created to install a new cooling unit for $1600 or to replace refrigerator for $2000. After calls to CSP, Camping World came back with; CSP will pay about $1200 of the $1600 to replace cooling unit, or about $1500 of the $2000 to install new refrigerator. Both, of course, less our deductible of $100. Bottom line, we will pay $650 out of our pocket and Camping World will install a new refrigerator! Not cheap, but not too bad either. Now a wait of 2-3 week for refrigerator to arrive. Wheeeeee!!! Exactly what to do is finally over with. Well, sort of. We now have to wait; live out of two coolers we bought at Wal*Mart, come back to Camping World and hope everything works out. It should, but time will tell.

Thursday morning, about 10am. Action RV finally called back and wanted to give us a price for repair which included the rebuilt cooling unit. Wow! We haven’t heard a word from them since 3pm Monday, almost three full days ago! Did they expect us to just wait around? Go figure!!

Since the refrigerator situation is on hold we are going to do a little tourist stuff.

Friday, we went to Albuquerque Old Town to do some shopping and lunch. The following is a quote from their website:

Old Town is the heart of Albuquerque's heritage. The first Spanish families settled near the banks of the Rio Grande in 1706. That’s right April of 2006 marked Albuquerque's Tricentennial! Albuquerque was a colonial farming village and a military outpost along the Camino Real between Chihuahua, Mexico and Santa Fe. The village formed in the traditional Spanish pattern of a central plaza surrounded by a church, homes and government buildings. Some of the old homes are still standing and many have been renovated into businesses.

The shops sell a variety of turquoise & silver jewelry, pottery and knickknacks (tourist junk). A couple of things Sharon found that she wanted were way more expensive than she would pay. Other things they didn’t have. Of course I was elated; we didn’t have to buy any stuff!! J. We had a decent lunch at a reasonable price at: La Placita Dining Rooms, A quaint, old hacienda in the heart of Old Town, serving up New Mexican and American fare. We selected La Placita because we ate here when we spent a night or two in Albuquerque on a camping trip when Sarita was 1 year old and enjoyed the food.

Sharon at La Placita.

Saturday we are off to a little higher & hopefully cooler country, about 6500’ to 7500’ around Grants, NM for 2 or 3 weeks until the refrigerator comes in. Albuquerque is about 5700’.

While we have been here in Albuquerque we have been staying at Enchanted Trails RV Park. The park is clean, neat and quiet even though you are not far from IH40. The owner and office attendants are very nice. No grass, all hard packed sand for roads and parking sites. If you plan on staying at Enchanted Trails more than overnight, stop at the entrance and walk to rows “B” & “E” and see if any sites are open. Both these rows are close to the entrance. These rows have some sites with trees which give some shade. Also the sites have all the RV pointing in the same direction. This gives you a little more space between sites. All the other rows have side-by-side hookups. This means every other RV parks pointing in the opposite direction and the street side of your RV is right up close to the street side of the other RV. Also most of the other rows don’t have any trees. The first two days are cheap if you are a Camping World, Presidents Club member, $13 a day. After that, 20% off the regular $26 fee.

Campsite at Enchanted Trails RV Park.

That’s it for now. We are off to Grants, New Mexico tomorrow.

Palo Duro Canyon to Jacks Creek CG in Santa Fe NF. June 18-24, 2007

Palo Duro State Park to Jacks Creek Campground in Santa Fe National Forest. Monday June 18th thru Sunday June 24, 2007.

Monday: After a nice three day weekend at Palo Duro State Park, it was time to move on towards the mountains of New Mexico. Since, as usual, we don’t want to drive more than about 4 to 5 hours we won’t get to the mountains today. We plan on stopping overnight at Conchas Lake State Park, 180 miles from Palo Duro and about 35 miles NW of Tucumcari, NM. Conchas Lake is a pretty lake with beautiful deep blue water, located at the confluence of the Canadian and Conchas Rivers. The SP is nice with a number of campsites overlooking the water with elect & water hookups. However all the nice elect sites are reserveable so don’t try to stop there on a summer weekend unless you make reservations. There are a number of areas in the SP where you can dry camp right on the water and beach your boat right at your RV. Highs in the low to mid 90’s this afternoon, but it is a “dry” heat!!!

Every day is an adventure when you are traveling to places you are totally unfamiliar with. While the Conchas Lake SP is nice, some of signs indicating where the camping areas are located were lacking. We even had a copy of the State Park brochure on the laptop, but that didn’t help with locating the camping area. We took a couple of wrong turns before we found Belle Point CG. Surprise!! All the nice campsites have reserved/occupied signs on them even though this is Monday. The sites were empty but do we ignore the reserved/occupied signs?? Those aren’t for *US*! We drove up to the visitor center, but the door was locked and a sign said they were out and about, and would be back later. No return time noted on the sign. Well we figured that since this was Monday, the SP personnel probably thought almost no one would be coming in today. So it could be hours before anyone returned. We headed back to the campground. Upon closer inspection of the reserved/occupied signs we saw detailed reservations slips stating the people reserving the sites were supposed to leave today. We decided to pick a site we liked and take a chance on setting up and then checking back with the visitor center later. It worked out fine. I went back to the visitor center later and they said we would be fine for one night at the site we took.

We had a warm afternoon, quiet night with pretty views of the lake and sunset. I forgot to take pictures.

Tuesday. Only about an 80 mile drive today from Conchas Lake SP to Las Vegas, NM. The drive was pretty, going along valley floors with high hills topped with flat mesas covered with juniper trees on the sides. The road was a good two lane hwy but a little narrow since the shoulders weren’t paved.

Another afternoon of adventure again!! In Las Vegas we stopped at the visitor center and found out there was one RV Park in town, a KOA 5 miles south of town on IH25, and Storrie Lake SP a few miles north of town. We knew about the SP and the KOA. We don’t like to stay at KOA’s as they are usually $4 to $10 more than the local RV Parks and many times not any nicer and quite often NOT as nice. The RV Park in town was a gravel parking lot attached to a self storage place, full hookups but no trees or grass. We headed to Storrie Lake SP. Again we had trouble easily determining which campsites had electric. We must be getting old and senile. We found the non-reservation elect hookup camping area first. It was totally unusable. It was a parking lot w/o enough room between sites to open our slides and open our awning too! Driving over to the reservation sites, we saw all sites had reserved signs on them, but nothing stating what dates they were reserved for - way too intelligent to do THAT. We found the CG host and he checked his list and said if we only wanted to spend one night he had a couple of sites open. We took one of the sites and set up camp. Storrie Lake SP is too much like a RV park to suit us. Except for the primitive dry camping areas right down by the lake with no shade, all the camp sites are pretty close together. The temperatures are going to be in the low 90’s this afternoon, so we want electric.

It was early yet, just about noon. We had a quick lunch and then headed out to check out the other state parks and national forest campgrounds in the areas. I had looked at Morphy Lake SP on the New Mexico SP web site and it looked beautiful, a small 15 acre lake at 8000’ with camp sites on the water and views of the mountains.

Morphy Lake SP. Picture from New Mexico SP web site. I forgot to take any pictures while we were at the SP

It was noted that it is a steep drive to the park but no details about the size of the campsites or roads. We had a pretty drive to Morphy Lake SP and we wouldn’t have had a problem pulling the trailer up the steep road to the park. Just put the truck in 4 wheel low and slowly pull the trailer the ½ mile up to the park. But roads winding through the park were very narrow with trees close to the edge of the road. No way could we maneuver the trailer in here and keep it undented or worse. From Morphy Lake, Coyote Creek SP was only about 25 miles further up the road, so we decided to check it out. Another disappointment! The elect sites were all a parking lot. There were only 2 other sites in the park suitable for RV’s over 20’ long.

Back to Las Vegas, and to check out two national forest campgrounds about 16 miles from town. It was a long twisting 16 mile drive through a pretty canyon to the two campgrounds. However the first CG we visited was buried in the trees and by this time it was about 4:30pm. Since we still had a good 45 minute drive back to Storrie Lake we figured the other CG would probably be the same and headed back to camp.

That was a disappointing afternoon driving 150 miles of mostly narrow two lane roads and not finding a nice camping area we could get the trailer into. One saving grace was all the country we drove though was very pretty.

We were tired. BUT THE DAY WASN’T OVER YET!! Fun can happen anywhere or anytime with us! When we got back to the trailer I noticed water dripping from below our fresh water holding tank. It was a slow drip so we quickly decided we could investigate the leak in the morning.

Wednesday: The sun rises a little after 6am here so after coffee, I was outside about 6:45, lying under the trailer, removing the 25 to 30 screws holding the protective panel beneath the water tank. With the panel off, I could see that the leak was coming from where the trailer water supply connector was molded into the tank. When the manufacturer made the tank they didn’t properly mold the connector into the tank. It was just a small hole about 1/16 inch long and the width of a pin. How to fix it??? The tank is a white polyethylene plastic which next to nothing sticks to. I called the service department at NuWa, the company which manufactured our 5th wheel, and asked them what to use to patch the leak. They weren’t much help except to say look for an adhesive that states it sticks to plastic. Thanks bunches!

I would have liked to connect to the internet and do a search for tips on how to patch the white polyethylene tank, but the Verizon service in Las Vegas doesn’t allow internet connectivity using the cell phone. We did talk with Sarita and she did a search on the internet and did find a tip which first stated the correct way to repair the tank was to take a hot air plastic welder and weld the hole shut. But if you didn’t have a welder you could take a hair dryer and heat the area where the hole is and then take a white plastic milk bottle, cut it into small strips and melt the plastic into the hole in the tank. The plastic milk bottle is made of the same material as the plastic tank. The tip sounds like it would work. I gave the procedure a try. However lying on the ground under the trailer, trying to drip melted plastic on to the side of the tank and not on me, didn’t work. I am sure if I had removed the tank from the trailer the procedure would have worked just fine

So off to NAPA Auto Parts store. They had a small tube of epoxy patch which stated it was for patching plastic gas tanks and radiators for only $16. Normally tubes of epoxy cost 2 to 4 dollars. Might as well give it a try. I patched the tank with the epoxy and let it sit and cure for a day before putting water in the tank. It is a month later as I am writing this and the patch is still holding.

By the time the hole was patched and we had packed the trailer up it was 12:30pm. We had planned on moving to Jacks Creek CG in Santa Fe NF, but it was about a 3+ hour drive so we decided to move to the KOA about 5 miles south of Las Vegas.

The KOA was fairly nice. The sites were mostly separated by small trees instead of being a parking lot and the price was $28 with a discount for being a military veteran. Not too bad for a KOA. Also free WiFi which worked well.

Thursday: Are we ever glad we didn’t try to drive to Jacks Creek yesterday afternoon. The first part of the drive was easy. It was about 40 miles on IH25. But the last 28 miles from IH25 to the campground took us almost one hour to drive. The road was a winding, twisting, up hill and down hill road. The last 10 miles was a narrow paved road with no center stripe, and we met three other RV coming out as we were going in. It was a little nerve racking the last part of the drive but we made it just fine.

We had been to Jacks Creek CG about 33 years ago when Sarita was just a little baby and remembered the CG as being in a very pretty valley with views of the mountains all around. We weren’t disappointed. The CG is very pretty and the camp sites are well separated. The altitude at the CG is 9000’. The air is thin. We are glad we stayed in Las Vegas for a couple of days at 6500’ so we could become acclimated to the altitude. We experienced altitude sickness once before and it is not fun. However altitude sickness is easily overcome, if you can quickly move to a lower altitude.

Jacks Creek Campgound, a little band of snow on the mountain in the background, Pecos Baldy Peak.

Our Campsite

Santa Fe Mountains from CG

Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Three very nice days at Jacks Creek CG. With the high altitude, the afternoons only got up into the low to mid 70’s unless a rain shower came though and dropped the temp down to about 60*. The mornings were in the upper 40’s. Good sleeping weather.

Other than my hiking a trail up into the mountains and forests and Sharon working on a quilt she is making for our new grandson, who is due in late October, we didn’t do much except enjoy the weather and the scenery.

The CG was very quiet and we mostly had the CG to ourselves until Friday afternoon through Sunday midday. All the weekend campers were well behaved and nice folks which made for a nice stay.

Busy Saturday in the campground. That’s our truck & trailer in the middle foreground. The couple in the lower right had two cute and lively daughters who really seemed to enjoy the weekend.

Photos from my hikes:

Forest Trail

Mule Deer Doe

Mountain Meadow with wild Iris flowers

Santa Fe Peak

Pecos Baldy Peak

Flowers along trail:

Wild Orchid

Wild Iris flowers

Close-up of Wild Iris

Wild Roses

Close-up of Wild Rose

That’s all for now.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

San Antonio to Lewisville (Dallas) May 16-19, 2007

Wednesday, May 16th, was the 1st anniversary of our full-timing adventure!!!  It has been a good year of seeing beautiful parts of the country and having the freedom to stay in our own home (the 5th wheel trailer) while we visit with family in Texas.
(Just the cutest kid in the universe! That from his Grammy) :) :) :)

Wednesday, May 16th we left Admiralty RV Park in San Antonio for a beautiful 111 mile drive with fields of wild flowers bordering the highway.
Indian Paintbrush and cattle:

Blue Bonnets & yellow flowers:

We arrived at Fort Mason City Park, in Mason, Texas about 1:15 pm. This is the kind of day we like when we travel. Leave about 10am and stopping after no more than three or four hours of driving.
Fort Mason City Park is a pretty little park with about 25 sites nestled under a grove of pecan trees. Adjacent to the park is an 18 hole golf course. The fairways and greens don’t look like they get a lot of tender loving care. We don’t golf so we aren’t able to provide more info about the course.
Beautiful campsite under the mature pecan trees at the city park:

Mason is a very pretty town & county with a population of about 2200 & 3800 respectively. We dropped into the Chamber of Commerce office and picked up magazines, maps, and brochures with excellent visitor information about the area.
Mason is the county seat for Mason County, so in the center of the town is the county courthouse & square. Surrounding the square are two or three restaurants, several shops, a bank, antique store, etc. Mason, Texas web site:
As we usually do in these small towns we look for interesting restaurants to eat lunch at, and we were not disappointed in Mason. After we arrived Wednesday, we ate a late lunch/early dinner (about 2pm) at Cooper’s Bar-B-Q. The way they serve the Bar-B-Q is different. When you walk up to the restaurant entrance, there is a sign saying stop here at the large iron smoking pit and select the meat you want to eat. The pit master then carries your selections in the restaurant where you select your side orders, beverage, etc and pay. I don’t know if this is a new trend, or just how they have always served Bar-B-Q in Central Texas. We also experienced this kind of service at a Bar-B-Q in Brady, Tx. There is usually quite a selection of meats available. Of course the usual smoked brisket, sausage & chicken, but also pork chops, prime rib & goat.

On Thursday we had a great lunch at the Willow Creek Café. The lunch special was chicken fried steak, baked potato, vegetable, desert, ice tea or coffee for $7. Needless to say we left stuffed and had to take a nap. I have no idea why it is hard to lose weight, or keep from gaining weight!! :)

One of the brochures gave detailed driving directions to three tours in Mason County to view the wild flowers, beautiful ranch land and old ranch homes, some of which were built in the late 1800’s. Many of these old homes are still occupied by descendants of the original settlers. Some of these county roads are gravel, and in places a little rough where the roads drop into low water crossings.

Green Heron at Beaver Creek:

A rock ranch house built in late 1800’s:

Moving on toward Lewisville Friday:

We spent two nights in Mason and left (very early for us) at 7am. We left early so we could stop at Dan’s Machine & Welding shop in Brady, Texas.

A sidebar about why the stop at Dan’s Machine & Welding Shop:

In late March this year while spending the night in Brady we discovered we had a broken leaf spring on our 5th wheel axel. Due to errors in information from NuWa (the manufacturer of our HitchHiker) and lack of diligence from the owner & worker at Dan’s Machine, the incorrect length leaf springs were ordered and installed on the trailer. (OOPS)
While in San Antonio in April, Al realized the wrong springs were on the trailer.

The thing (equalizer) in the middle should be level instead of one side higher than the other. This is caused by one spring being longer than the other.

Close up view of the equalizer:

In San Antonio we took the trailer to Southwest Wheel and they installed the correct length springs and adjusted the trailer brakes. My hat is off to Southwest Wheel. They did a superb job of replacing the springs, aligning the axels and adjusting the brakes. All the work was done with a friendly smile, a helpful attitude AND at a reasonable price! :) :) :)

We arrived at Dan’s about 10 minutes before they opened at 8am. We spent about 1 ½ hours discussing the problem with Dan and getting a refund of half of the cost of replacing the springs. Dan is really a very nice and seemingly honest person. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances which caused the incorrect springs to be installed. A lesson learned by Al is to inspect all work done before leaving. Then we could have corrected the problem then and there. Of course we would have cooled our heels for another several days in Brady waiting for parts and the work to be completed. The camping facilities available in Brady don’t appeal to us to spend more than over night.

Then it was on to Copperas Creek Corps of Engineers CG on Proctor Lake a few miles outside of Comanche, Texas. We arrived shortly before noon and thought about maybe driving on to Sarita’s in Lewisville, an additional 145 mile drive. However the last 40 miles would be driving though Fort Worth and Dallas traffic. This meant, with stopping for lunch, we would be arriving about 4pm and still have to back the trailer into Sarita’s back yard. Due to the configuration of her driveway it takes us about 30 minutes to back the trailer in. The problem is that the driveway has an 18” by 18” brick post on one side of the entrance to the back yard, followed by an iron gate, the then to top things off, there is a dogleg to the left starting just after the gate. This gives us about 2” clearance on each side of the trailer when going past the brick post and through the gate. I am going to have to create a post about backing the trailer into Sarita's drive way, one of these days!

In the end we decided to spend the night at Copperas Creek CG. It sure is nice being retired and to not have to rush to some place because we are short on time. It is a hard life. :)

We had a pleasant campsite under some shade trees with a pretty view of a cove and the lake in the distance.

Morning view from the back of the trailer:

That evening we were sitting outside enjoying happy hour about 6pm. Down the way from the back of our trailer, was a family with a boy about 9 years old, fishing and feeding two or three ducks pieces of bread. Suddenly we started hearing a loud honking coming from the water a little to our left, but out of sight. At first we though it was the ducks giving out a loud quacks, but then shortly we saw two geese swimming across the little cove to where the duck were being fed. While the geese were swimming across the cove they continued to honk. From prior experience we know how aggressive geese or any wildlife that have lost their fear of humans can be when people are feeding them and you run out of food or just want to stop feeding them. Geese can and will start biting your legs or any other part of your body they can reach. In the case of children, geese are large enough to reach up to the arms, hands and maybe even the face. Sure enough once the family stopped feeding the geese, the geese approached to within a foot or two of the adults and demanded food. Fortunately these geese weren’t bold enough to actually attack the humans. All’s well that ends well. 

Just about dark three cars pulled into the campsite right next to us. Out piled 6 or 7 “Yutes” (“Yutes” comes from the movie “My Cousin Vinnie” and is Brooklyneese for “youths”). Oh boy we thought, here comes noise through out the night! :( :( They did play the radio and did talk until after 2am, but they were quiet and well mannered. :) :) We knew they were up until after 2am because both Sharon and Al usually wake up for a few minutes in the 1am to 3am time period. Before we left in the morning Al thanked them for being polite and quiet the night before. We called this group “Yutes”, but this is from our perspective being in our 60’s. They were in the early 20’s to early 30’s age group. Not exactly teenagers.

Saturday: Took our time as usual, packed up and left shortly after 10am. Took us about 3½ hours to go the 145 miles to daughter’s. There was an extra half an hour delay in there because of some stop and go traffic in Fort Worth and Lewisville. So much for light traffic on Saturday! :(

Pictures at our Daughter's  house in Lewisville.

Front yard:

Back yard:

Our trailer in the back yard:

Future Itinerary
We will be staying our daughter's back yard until mid June. Then we will head into the mountains around Santa Fe, NM for three or four weeks. We will probably spend most of late July and August in the mountains in South Central Colorado. We have an appointment at the NuWa (pronounced New Way) factory, in Southeast Kansas, the last Tuesday in August to have a window installed at the head of our bed in the trailer. Right now we have a small window on the right and left side of our bed. We spend a lot of time in places w/o electricity for air conditioning and want the window for extra ventilation. Also we like to be able to lie in bed and look out the window at night and in the early morning.

We plan on being back at daughter’s for Labor Day weekend and then back in San Antonio the first week in October or earlier to be on hand for the birth of our second grandchild, due in late October. We are planning on spending the winter in San Antonio again.

That’s all for now.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bio for Al & Sharon, May 2007

Introduction to Al & Sharon and our travel logs. It is not our intent to update this blog or travel log on a daily basis. After we travel for a ways or have visited a particular area, we will post a log and pictures of our travels. Most of the writing will be done by Al, and edited (corrected) by Sharon. We welcome comments and feed back and will try to reply to emails.
We do not have full time access to internet. We currently use our cell phone for internet access. We have studied accessing the internet by “air card” and two way satellite, but we have not made a commitment to either yet.
Al & Sharon retired at an average age of 60 in 2004. Al worked in the mainframe computer industry for 37 years at IBM & USAA Insurance Company. Sharon took “very early retirement" from government service in 1973 when our first child was born and has been a homemaker for Al & the kids ever since. Of course now Sharon says “What retirement? I am still doing much the same work things I did before “we” retired in 2004! :)
We have two adult children, a daughter who lives in the Dallas, Texas area and a son, DIL and grandson who live in San Antonio.

Grammy says our grandson is the "cutest kid in the Universe”
We have known for years that we wanted to travel extensively after retirement. Al’s parents became full timer travelers (RV’ers) twice in their lifetimes, once for two years in the early 50’s when Al was 6 to 8 years old, and then again for 10 years from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s. So the full-timer bug is a trait that Al must have inherited.
After retirement in 2004 we started taking trips in our 33’ Mobile Scout travel trailer to see how we liked living in a tin box. This included a 5 month trip in 2005 to Wyoming and Idaho.

After returning from this trip in the summer of 2005 we started getting serious about clearing out 35 years worth of accumulated “valuable possessions”, painting & prepping the house for sale in the spring of 2006. In May 2006, just a few days before we signed a contract with a realtor to sell the house, our son & DIL decided they wanted to buy our home. This really made Sharon happy to have “family” live in the home she has loved for 30 years instead of some stranger. It is also nice that our grandson will get to grow up in the same house & have the same bedroom his father did.

We then moved into our 33’ Mobile Scout Travel trailer and began our full-timing lifestyle. Even though we had spent considerable time in the Mobile Scout, we began to realize we wanted a little more space and ease of towing for our full-time traveling home. Since we love staying in National Forest, National Park, State Parks, BLM areas, City Parks, etc, we didn’t want a 36’ to 40’ 5th wheel and a medium or heavy duty truck. We also ruled out motorhomes. The “nicer” motor homes are beyond what we are willing so pay for an asset that depreciates very quickly. We probably would think differently if our 2200 square foot house in San Antonio had been located in a high priced city where the sale would have brought several hundred thousand dollars. Then we may have considered using a portion of the sale money to buy a motorhome. In San Antonio, the proceeds from our home would just about pay for a decent diesel pusher.

Our first trip as full-timers went up thru the heartland of the US into Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. In Kansas, we toured the 5th wheel trailer manufacturing plants for Excel, New Horizons, and the HitchHiker, made by NuWa. Everyone we met in these plants impressed us with their desire to turn out a quality product. On the other hand in Indiana, we toured several manufacturing plants and were sorely disappointed in what we saw. Of the plants we visited in Indiana, only Numar seemed to put much thought, interest, and care into the manufacture of their product. The rest seemed to be interested in only how much product they could turn out in a week.

In September, we attended our first RV rally, the Escapees Escapade in Van Wert, Ohio. There we met a nice couple who was the president of one of the HitchHiker club chapters. They knew of a nice lady in Omaha, Nebraska, who wanted to sell her HitchHiker & Chevy diesel tow truck as a package. This package was just what we were looking for. Our current tow vehicle was a gas powered Chevy, which we knew was not rated to tow a 33 to 35 foot fifth wheel.

We talked with the lady in Omaha and agreed to purchase the trailer & truck after being allowed to give it a through inspection. As soon as the Escapade was over we high tailed it to Omaha, and in short order we agreed the trailer and truck were in excellent condition and committed to buy them. Now we had a dilemma. Two trailers, two trucks and we were in an unfamiliar city. We headed back to Texas, with our Mobil Scout, to our daughter Sarita’s house in Lewisville, Texas. It is so nice there; we can park our trailer in her back yard. Woo Hoo, free rent!! J

Al & Sharon spent the next couple of weeks making the Mobile Scout ready for selling. Al then flew to Omaha, completed the purchase of the HitchHiker and truck and brought them back to Lewisville.  

We moved all our belongings to the HitchHiker.

 Now the next obstacle: Where & how to sell the Mobile Scout. A couple of years ago we had read in an RV’ers web site where they had bought their 5th wheel from a consignment dealer in Houston, at PPL Motor Homes We had researched PPL and thought they were very professional. However we really didn’t want to have to tow the trailer 300 miles down to Houston if we could sell it in the Dallas area. We took the Mobile Scout to a small consignment dealer about 45 miles north of Dallas. That turned out to be a mistake. The trailer sat on their lot for a month, and I don’t believe anyone looked at it. The day before our free sales period was over we picked up the Mobile Scout and took it to PPL. Six days after it was put on PPL’s lot it sold for the NADA retail price. We were thrilled! J NADA’s prices are always somewhat over priced, but the Mobile Scout was in excellent condition.

We spent Thanksgiving & Christmas in San Antonio with the “kids” and thoroughly enjoyed being with our grandson. Our daughter came down for both Thanksgiving & Christmas. It was great spending both holidays with all of our family.

A couple of days before New Year’s Day we left for southern New Mexico and Arizona for the winter, returning to San Antonio the first of April. We had mostly very nice sunny and warm days in New Mexico and Arizona. We did have a few days of cold and a little rain but not enough to be uncomfortable. We did have a memorable day in Zion National Park, where we had 4 ½ inches of snow right around daylight. We were camped inside the park and it was beautiful, first with the snow falling and then with ground, trees, bushes and canyon walls white with the snow. We wish we could show you pictures of the snow but all the pictures of this trip were lost. Al thought he had all the pictures and travel logs of the trip backed up, but due to an operator error the external hard drive he uses to back our files deleted these files. You live and learn. Sometimes the hard way!!
We hope you enjoy the stories of our travels.