Old Diary, Travel

The Perfect Autumn Day

Days don’t get much better than yesterday.  It was the Perfect Autumn Day!  With sunny skies and temps right at 70º I couldn’t ask for a better last day in Shelbyville.  We had a chance to sit around in our lawn chairs, do a little reading and just enjoy.  I really don’t do that often enough.

I’m itching to be where it’s warm and I can smell the ocean again.

seawall-beachOur stop off in Galveston in Mid November is to meet up with  family members.  Knowing that we’ll be visiting in both in Galveston and Houston finding a place for the coach somewhere reasonably near to both areas  was paramount.  But sometimes you don’t get what you wish for.  The snag that we ran into trying to accomplish that one feat also caused that only-too-frequent cascading effect on other plans but now that we have those stops locked in I can relax, everything else is hunky dory.

Our former boss Belva on a Quad.

Our former boss Belva on a Quad.

In the quiet time we called Oregon and had a nice chat with our old boss.  They sky hasn’t fallen and she’s doing well.  We got updated on our favorite volunteers, and even those who weren’t our favorites.  It was good to hear her voice again.  And to get caught up on all our favorite soap operas. 🙂 So, it was mysteries, and sunshine for me on Wednesday. Thursday is another travel day.  Check-In at Rend lake isn’t until 4 p.m., so we won’t be leaving Coon Creek very early.  But we have the usual pack up and get ready routine to go through.  And with only 108 miles to travel even if it rains (as it’s forecast to do) it won’t be a big deal.

An easy drive

An easy Thursday drive

We’ll have 6 nights at Rend lake and then a 4 night / 5 day span to get to New Orleans. Whatever we do those nights will be decided on the fly.  There are a couple Corps of Engineers campgrounds, and we could do a night with a Passport America park,  and what we have seen of the Mississippi State Parks has been impressive so that’s always an option as well.  But mostly we want to see how easy it is to just show up, and find a place.  I need to get over my now-I’m-driving-a-longer-motorhome obsession.  And just winging it is going to be my way of handling that.  No reservations until November 17th and about 5 weeks of time to fill. OK — the boss is calling and I have work I need to do before we leave, so…. thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, Travel

A new record

Just a quick one as we’re on the road with serious mileage to accumulate.

We set a record for us,  423 miles in one day, and a late start at that.  Not my favorite thing but for this trip it was necessary. I hope to have  more to say tomorrow, as we have learned more about our coach and driven in a very hot day 99 in Pasco WA when we drove through about 5 p.m.

We’re spending the night with Uncle Wally in Post Falls, ID.

Check out at Guaranty went smoothly.  We fueled in Junction City before heading out.  And we stopped in Portland to check out mattress toppers in case we decide to add that to our Sleep Number bed.  I’ll talk about that in the future too.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, Travel

Last Minute Hustle

Last Minute TravelWe’re winding down and getting all those last minute chores out of the way.

  • We stocked the fridge.
  • Peg did the laundry.
  • I cleaned out another 1/4 of the basement, and the rear of the CR-V.
  • I put two coats of polyurethane finish on the office desk (it’s been kind of rough and I might as well get it done now).
  • I put a coat of polyurethane finish on our walking sticks — Danish Oil was not a good choice it seems. I haven’t been happy with them since they were done last year and this is a good time (read that: I had the paint brush and the poly out of the basement and I might as well spend a few more minutes with the sandpaper).
  • We found a nice piece of boneless leg of lamb — so we slow cooked that for dinner & for sammies on the trip.  dont_rush_me

In the morning (I’m writing late Sunday evening)  we’ll dump our tanks, refill with fresh water, we might load up on propane — I have a coupon for $2.00 / gal propane (I think that’s better than I can get  in Wisconsin), and hook up our toad.  After that we will pop into the shop and pay our bill — and head for Wisconsin.

Our exact destination for the day is unclear.  Here begins our next round of education:

  • traveling in a 40′ coach
    It will be different finding holes to park in that are 8′ longer than those we needed in the Journey.
  • traveling with solar
    We aren’t dependent upon having plug-ins anymore — so we can comfortably spend the night anywhere we can park.
  • learning to think about overnighting differently.
    We never do multiple days of travel in a row — but for this trip we’ll make the entire trip without a day of rest.
  • discovering what kind of fuel mileage we actually get.
    I’ve mentioned this before, but we haven’t put much fuel into the Ambassador yet and we really don’t know what kind of mileage to expect with her + the addition of the new solar panels will add a little bit of wind resistance and cut into mileage by a little.  How much — we have no idea.

I’ll share more about Silverleaf as I evaluate it for our purposes

I have been playing around with the idea of adding a Silverleaf VMS (Vehicle Monitoring System) to our coach configuration.   The software is reasonably priced (depending on how you feel about such things).  The drawback is that you need a computer to run it — while you are driving.  The software does not run on OS X so I’d either have to set my laptop up with a separate boot partition, or buy a cheap netbook sort of PC.

The software was designed for Heavy Duty trucking applications — lots of miles and demanding situations.  Installation in an RV is — perhaps — overkill.  Then again with years on the road in a heavy duty truck I sort of miss the added info that engine monitoring can provide.  I haven’t decided yet if it’s something I want to move on now, or something I’ll keep under my hat for a while.

I have more instrumentation in the Ambassador than we did in Journey — not a lot, mind you, but a couple more dials.  This engine is a larger block/bore engine and the transmission is a larger version of the Allison we had in our previous coach.  Everything is bigger but we aren’t all that much heavier — I think we’ll be putting less stress on this coach than we did on the other.  But a few thousand miles will help me decide.  By the time get to the coast for this coming Winter we’ll have at least 3,000 miles on her.

Ok — gotta get ready for a busy day.  We’ll write when we can.  Talk to you soon.

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary

Feeling better now that we have a plan

IndecisionIt sure seems as if God is trying to teach me patience because an awful lot of situations lately have been filled with forced indecision.  And we’ve been feeling a lot like the mouse surrounded by mousetraps.  One wrong move and WHAM!


Are you very good at waiting? I’m not.

Don’t get me wrong – life is been good; we have no reason to complain.   And at the end of each day we can look back and say, ‘Today was a good day.’

Our personality – Peg’s and Mine – is always to move forward.  Our steps can sometimes be small indeed, but we are always trying to progress.  And the most maddening thing in the world is not being able to move, to progress, to make a decision (due to circumstances beyond our control).  And it is just there — unable to move because other people were inhibiting our choice — that we have been for a while now.Worry sustained indecision

All of which has gotten me to realize the truth of that anonymous quotation:

Worry is a sustained form of fear caused by indecision.

Boy can I say AMEN to that. I never thought much about it, but I can definitely say that specially at times when I was younger much of my fears resulted from an inability to make a decision, a choice.  I can see it even in some more recent instances — often revolving around routing.  I want to go a certain way, but perhaps there isn’t enough time to make that route, or there is some costly reason not to go, or … well, you get the idea.

Tick, tock, tick, tock...

Tick, tock, tick, tock…

the risk of a wrong decision

I know that I still have my worries.  This last couple days of sitting around helplessly make that point forcibly.  I don’t think I’ll ever get past the anxiety of putting our coach in the shop.  That just seems like something you should worry about a little.  If you don’t know what’s happening I don’t see anything wrong with a little anxiety.  To deny anxiety would seem to me to be both dishonest and inhuman.  I know no one who can control their anxiety.

Lately – meaning since we went mobile – we haven’t been facing a lot of personal problems.  Our challenges have largely revolved around others.  We understand our financial situation.  Our health is moderately good.  Our family are generally doing well. So other than deciding when to move the RV, and where to move the RV our own life is relatively stable.  There was that time a few months ago when we were wondering whether we should trade up in to our current coach — but that’s already a 1/3 of a year away.decision is a sharp knife

We were having our angst about volunteers.  To be sure;  once again issues over which we had no control.  We were having our angst about what to do on the Forest — and again they were issues we had no control over.  Those sort of things don’t keep you from worry.    And perhaps our ability to feel worry and concern over others remains a test of one’s humanity.  For, why should you ever lose one moment’s sleep over someone else’s situation?  Why should you waste one moment’s peace of mind because a camper might be drinking contaminated water from a well that isn’t yours?  But then we all do it, don’t we… We worry about our friends, even when we can’t improve their situation.  We worry about things that ought not be — even though every popular influence around us says there are no such things as absolutes and just go with the flow.  Of course there ARE absolutes and I’ve never been very good about flowing…..

have patience

There are those who say that ‘patience’ is a manifestation of indecision. I disagree. Indecision can have its purposes. We aren’t always ready to MAKE a decision. The idea that if you can’t say ‘yes’ then the answer is ‘no’ is flawed. There is no nobility or merit in making a decision before you have adequate information.

On Monday, the day we anticipate leaving Junction City we will have been off the Forest and in the Eugene area for a full three weeks.  That’s more than twice the time we planned but this came up and that came up and so it is that we’re still here.  That’s OK.  It really is.   We are retired.  We don’t have to be places on arbitrary dates unless we choose to be.

The solar install was to take 2 1/2 days, and we wanted about a week to unwind from the routine of the Forest before hitting the road home.  The decision to install the fuse bypass in the CR-V added another 1/2 week.  I suppose that if I had the right tools — or wanted to buy them and carry them around in the RV I could have done the job myself.  A little bit cheaper.  But, big deal.

vulturesWaiting around for technicians and parts; for them  to fix what really was a fortuitous refrigerator failure isn’t all that bad either.  Heck, we’ve been camping on their nickel while we wait.  No site rental.  We’ve been safe from harm.  We have good service people here who actually care about us (I’m sure someone wants to sell us another RV some day).  And the horrors of getting service work done on the road when you have no control over where the work is being done is an undeniably greater worry than sitting here wondering when we’ll be finished.  We know these people have the skills to fix our problem — all we are doing is waiting.  Waiting.  WAITING.

I’ve never been very good about waiting.  Can you tell?

I’m sure someone is just itching to ask whether we are sorry we traded RV’s.  Absolutely not.  RV’s, like houses, need maintenance.  On our list of 5 issues to be investigated it turned out that 2 were instances of my ignorance, one was the desire to add a new functionality we never had before, and 2 were actual repair problems.  All for a coach that is 10 years old.  And our extended service covered the expense (above our deductible).  And we got to do it in a pleasant place, during warm (hot) weather so that we weren’t freezing, and our A/C was working.

customer service

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, RV Living, Travel

Downs and Ups

Can you tell from the title that there’s been a change in circumstance?

Norcold 1200 Refrigerator

This is what our Fridge looks like

It’s Friday morning and the repair story has changed a couple times since Wednesday evening.  Isn’t that always the way…!

We got  an update call on Thursday morning.  The part was supposed to arrive on Thursday at 11, and they were going to start on pulling the fridge out of it’s place and replacing the cooling core at 1 p.m.  — and they’d call to confirm.

The confirmation call never came.  I heard back from them late in the day to say that the part still hadn’t arrived but that they anticipated pulling us into the shop Friday morning (today) about 9 a.m.
If that holds we could have all our repairs completed by the end of the day on Friday.

Norcold Refrigerator Fire 1

Refrigerator fires are nothing to laugh about.

Norcold Refrigerator Fire 2

Refrigerator fires are nothing to laugh about.

That doesn’t mean we’ll leave Junction City Friday night, or even Saturday Morning.  In fact, the Svc Mgr sat down to talk about 3:30 in the afternoon to say that they usually like to let a new cooling core ‘cook’ for a good 24 hours before returning it to the owners.  With us staying in our coach that makes the burning in time a little dicey, and with the weekend upon us there was a question about just what our travel plans might be.

The two photos attached illustrate the  dangers of  overheated RV refrigerators.  We agreed with the Svc Mgr that we’d stay through the weekend, give the fridge 48 hours to burn in and stabilize on AC power — importantly enough — not on LP — and see how the repair works.  It’s not that they don’t trust their work but there is such a thing as ‘infant failure’ with replacement parts and we want to make sure we are really repaired and not have to spend more time at another shop.  Better safe a day later than sorry on time.

Norcold Refrigerator Cooling Core

A Norcold Cooling Core

Refrigerator fires aren’t all that UN-common.  These two are just examples of many RV refrigerator fires and it’s not a scenario we choose to visit!

The actual part being replaced is quite a chunk of  tubing and sheet metal.  It extends from the top of the fridge pretty much to the very bottom, and most of the width.  The job typically takes about 5 1/2 hours to complete so we’ll have time to do our re-provisioning while they are working on the coach.  After all, we’re nearly out of coffee beans and you can’t start on a long trip without coffee beans!

So, that’s our good news!

Friday (today)  is the day our daughter and SIL close on the sale of their house.  They made the physical move into their new place (with a few livability chores to be completed) and they are eagerly awaiting a smooth closing.  This will be the first time in … almost three years … when either we or they have not had a house in the process of being sold and it will be a relief for us all to be done with real estate uncertainties!

So — there you go.  That’s our day and our plan — (Revision A). Tomorrow may change; but we’ve always got a plan working, even if it’s “Just Hang Tight Until We Know More.”  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow!

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, Travel

It doesn’t pay to gloat

I’m getting my comeuppance!

It’s what I get for anticipating a repair and departure date:  a kick in the anticipated schedule.

Last evening before the Svc Manager went home he came over to check on our progress; we looked at a couple things together and considering that he was to be gone for the next 5 days he encouraged us to ask questions and make sure that we were happy with the finished job before leaving.

Based on that conversation I had a couple questions for the technicians working on our coach yesterday — and one question about our coach that I had not been able to find an answer for in the owners manual.

We talked about what he found about the refrigerator, and boy was I glad we did.  He pulled out his troubleshooting directions to show me the schematic for the version of the refrigerate we have.  He was pointing away and explaining why he re-wired the sensor circuit when I commented on the fact that OUR fridge matched diagram 10 which uses wiring schematic 6B, but he had been pointing to diagram 9 which uses wiring schematic 6A.  So, yesterday he had rewired the fridge over-temp sensor according to the wrong schematic and in fact he had not made any fridge repairs; now it was wired so that the over-temp sensor would not work properly; it had been right when we arrived here.  All of which caused a sudden flurry of activity and a brand new attempt to troubleshoot the recent overheat situation.

It turns out that our heating core is failing.  It  needs to be replaced, and our warranty will cover all $2380.00 worth of repair.  At present we are likely to be here in total a week — till Tuesday the 19th. (Though we won’t know for sure until tomorrow morning when we get a call from the Svc Mgr to tell us exactly when the parts will arrive.   The warranty is also covering the cost of the water pump repair; we lucked out with our warranty purchase this time.

The second question got me an answer I’ve been looking for (haphazardly) since taking delivery of our Ambassador.  PLQ cockpitOn my left side there’s a panel of rocker switches.  And the furthest back and furthest outboard is a rocker switch labeled:  ATC.  Nowhere have I found a reference to that switch — and it turns out  it’s an Automatic Traction Control — a feature of the Allison transmission which applies braking to one drive wheel in case it begins to spin, slowing it down to the same speed as the wheel still gripping.  Not sure I’ll ever use it — but nice to know what it is (the button).

See the Air Dump switch?

See the Air Dump switch?

We don't have 'automatic' leveling -- we have to do it ourselves.

We don’t have ‘automatic’ leveling — we have to do it ourselves.

There were two other items on our list:  a question about one of the slides — turns out my expectation was wrong — the slide is ok.  And another about our leveling system which we jointly concluded may have been happening because of something I was doing (should stop dropping the air in our airbags when we are leveling).  Always something new to learn.

So…. at the end of the day we moved from behind the shop where the technician has our coach up on the leveling jacks to the other end of the Travel Center parking lot where we are plugged in for 4 or 5 days.  Just knowing we are here for the next few days makes us feel a lot  better.  Knowing is always better than not knowing.

And so it is, as the sun sets gently in the Western sky…..

No, seriously…. thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow. 🙂

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, Travel

My Liesure time reading…

Magnum RemoteMarvin (the solar tech) took me through our Solar Paces on Tuesday morning.  I now have 5 owners-manuals to read, two new remote sensing stations to consult and a big headache from trying to grasp everything in a single explanation.  (Not literally, but I can see myself a few months from now wondering, ‘Now what was it that Marvin told me about that….?’)

Even though all things electric scare me, my first reaction to seeing the whole kit and caboodle installed and operating is:  “This isn’t so bad.”  And the fact of the matter is that knowledge is power; so the more I learn the better it’ll be.

We have Seven of these on the roof.

We have Seven of these on the roof.

The panels occupy the rear of the coach — we could get a couple more on the roof if we chose.

The remotes are easy to program and the manuals contain fairly explicit directions.

true sine wave power

true sine wave power

With the new solar panels, we’ll have to do some things differently.  For example:  whenever the inverter senses the presence of ac power, by default the inverter will start the battery charging system.  What we’ll want to do is to turn that off and let the solar do it’s job, unless we’re parked in a place where the sun won’t hit the roof.  That means when we pull in to a site with ac power, or when we start up the generator. Just a little something to remember.

I also need to put power-strips in place, or switched 110V outlets.  The Lounge TV, BlueRay, DISH receiver, Satellite Dish module and the entertainment selector box all power-on whenever there is 110V power.  I won’t want them all to turn on all the time.  In short we’ll get smarter about our use of electricity just by living.

All of that happened before 10 a.m.  That’s when we left AM Solar.  About 10:30 the UPS man delivered our Sleep Comfort bed!

Travel_Center_1270x778Not knowing, we popped over to Guaranty and went over the repair items that needed evaluation / correction and as I write we know we’ll probably be here a couple days so we’re relaxing in the travel center  lounge.  Once the technicians install the fuse bypass we’ll be free to run some errands — including picking up our Sleep Number bed from AM Solar — it was delivered about 90 minutes after we left Springfield.  (Isn’t that always the way?)

We’ll be camping out on the premises here until we’re all wrapped up.  There are electrical hookups here at the travel center and there are also sites further on into town — behind the other RV service area in town.  They really are set up to make a good attempt at caring for their customers.    Like anywhere you hear good things and bad things about service departments, about dealerships, about any business you choose to patronize — but thus far all of our dealings with these people have had positive outcomes — whether or not it started out that way.

We chased back to AM Solar to pick up the bed. Chased back to Guaranty to check in with the mechanic at the end of his shift and find out what time we have to be ready in the morning.  (8 a.m.)

The Bed was assembled in less than an hour; I’m looking forward to our first night on it — may not be a perfect night’s sleep until we get the sleep number correct, but we have a good starting point from our session in the company store.

All in all I’m feeling better than I have in a couple weeks.  I like having the list of things to be taken care of down to 1 — the repairs here at Guaranty.  OUR life is just about back on track.  The kids close their house on Friday.  We should have adequate time to make the trip to Wisconsin — all is good.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Ambassador PLQ, Old Diary, Travel

Up On the Roof

Monday (Not so early)
We made it back to Springfield.
But not without a little frustrating news – but more about that in a moment.

First: the topic of the day is up on the roof…. solar panels.

There they are — in all their resplendent glory.  7 solar panels. 945 watts of free energy (after we pay the bill)  And now all I need is to figure out how to control them!


As I write this we are waiting on workmen to finish the installation –sometime  later today we hope, but we’re getting close.  There will be a learning curve.  To be sure.  But it’s a new kind of freedom for us.

The frustrating news was that over the weekend the recently-repaired refrigerator popped the safety circuit when the cooling core overheated.  When I say ‘overheated’ I’m talking about 800º!  I’m hoping that there’s no damage inside the coach (meaning the interior of the refrigerator).   I already sent an email to Guaranty detailing all 5 items we need fixed before we can leave OR; I’ll call once we know for sure we’ll be out of here tonight or in the morning.

This most recent mechanical malfunction has set in concrete our tentative decision to take the easiest, quickest route home.  I-5 to I-84 to I-94. Let’s make sure that we are done with snags and malfunctions for a while before we head out cross country on narrow roads where there’s not much traffic.  The only good part of lots of traffic is that if you break down you may get help sooner.


Under the circumstances I’m not in a big writing mood — so that’s it for today.  I’ll share more about the Solar, and more about the repairs as time and circumstance dictate.  For now, I’m going to cool my jets and mumble to myself a little..

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you in the morning.