Summer Travel Map

Monday, January 26, 2009

She's got teeth!

January 26, 2009
Peoria, AZ

Well, Geri's 18-month long saga of dental work is finally over! Early this morning, we were at the prostodontist's office for the "delivery" appointment, and everything went smoothly (as it has all through this process). A few adjustments for a comfortable bite, a spot of glue, and in they went. Perfect!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Did we fall off the face of the earth?

January 23, 2009
Peoria, AZ

No, not really. We're just not doing much in the way of interesting things. Projects around the coach and house are generally going well, although we're starting to see the effects of the economic slowdown, and (as usual) projects beget projects so the list can get longer.

One example of new projects appearing when you least expect it came up last week. One of my coach projects was to add an exhaust tip to keep the diesel exhaust away from the side of the motorhome. The existing pipe was OK until I added a "performance" muffler a couple of years ago. The new muffler is a little smaller than the original, so the end of the pipe was too close to the side of the coach. Pretty simple process: cut off the end of the existing pipe straight (it has an angled tip) and bolt on the $55 part. Unfortunately, when I went under there, I found that the muffler is cracked. No problem, lifetime warranty, right? Yeah, but "Oh, we won't have that model back in stock until the end of February". Maybe they'll still be in business then?

I had a similar experience trying to get a new macerator pump. It's supposed to have been shipped three times since late-December; still no pump. Hopefully, this isn't a sign of things to come, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of suppliers to vehicle manufacturers (in our case both RV and auto) have problems hanging on. I've already started thinking through which parts I should probably start putting "in inventory". Ouch!

Over the next few days, I'll finish up one of the more interesting projects: upgrading the coach's air filter. Basically, diesel engines are just big air pumps, so anything you can do to improve the efficiency of the intake is a good thing. I found that I can move to the next size larger air filter, with about 15% better flow. To do this, I've started fabricating new brackets for the filter, which hangs right over the engine. It's a cylinder about 27 inches long and 13.5 inches in diameter, weighing about 25 pounds, so it's not a simple change out (the old one is about 11 inches in diameter). I'm hand-making two curved metal straps that will bolt in where the existing bracket connects. I feel like I'm back in Metal Shop in High School, but I'm having fun doing metalworking with hand tools. :-) Fortunately, all of the maintenance tasks like changing the air filter can be spread over the next 10+ weeks since we're not going anywhere in the coach until we leave for the summer, since we can't go far with the broken muffler.

Otherwise, we're in pretty good shape, eating well and continuing to enjoy our wines. Geri's been feeling a bit under the weather lately, but we took her to the doctor today and they'll have her all fixed up in no time.

I'll update the blog once in a while just to let people know we're alive, sooner if anything interesting develops or I get bored...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Moving through January

January 9, 2009
Peoria, AZ

Welcome to 2009! We're moving crisply through January; I can't believe it's the 9th already! We had a great New Year's Eve with Ana and Larry, managing to "watch the ball come down" two or three times on TV (well, most of us did anyway; one of us went to bed at 10:00). For some reason, there was no local coverage of local events, just replays of the New York festivities, so that had to do.

Once beyond New Years, we've been puttering about as usual. All of the holiday decorations are down and packed. Our new decoration rules (1. No ladders. 2. If it can't be hung with a zip-tie, it doesn't go up. 3. If we haven't used it for 2+ years, it gets donated.) have helped simplify things greatly, and we still felt like we were in the holiday spirit. Geri finally got her belated gift (that extra special bathrobe she'd asked for in November), which comes in hand on the chilly desert mornings we've been having.

We're back onto the project list after taking time off over the holidays. I've cleaned out the shed, which frees up space so I can rearrange stuff in the garage, which had gotten a bit unmanageable. I spent an afternoon at the coach, hitting a few of the simple changes I wanted to make there, and (hopefully) fixing the small leak in the kitchen sink drain line that we discovered in November. I used a fast-setting flexible urethane "goo" (not sure how else to describe it) that should stay in place. If it doesn't, I'll have to replace the drain pipe. At least I have options. Even though I'm now closer to being mentally "ready" to full-time in the coach (neither of us was when I retired in 2005), it's nice to be able to fix things like this without the pressure of a leaking pipe.

I have a couple of other coach modifications planned for the next few weeks, mostly changes to the storage cabinets to make things better suited to our "stuff". Cleaning up the garage, which doubles as the workshop, was a necessary precursor.

Of course, I'm quite easily distracted these days, having a tendency to start one project only to go off on another. Yesterday's activities ended up along this line: I found four boxes in the garage that held photo albums and loose snapshots. Since these really shouldn't be in the garage (it probably gets well over 125 degrees in there in the summer), I moved them to a spot in the spare room closet. I lost a couple of hours on this project (moving 4 boxes 50 feet?) because I had to look through everything. The pictures fall into two general categories (family and family events, and trips). I found lots of pictures of the grandkids and various configurations of the kids with dates/spouses/significant others - plenty of embarrassing moments there. I also found shots from our various trips to Europe over the years, "Live Aid" and "Woodstock '94", as well as our early years in the RV world, when we'd rent one for a couple of weeks somewhere in the southwest. There were pictures of our "first time" at the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce, Sedona, and even Lake Powell (when we were there last summer, I knew we'd visited before).

This trip down "memory lane" resulted in a few conclusions. First, we're lousy at organizing photos. Most albums are a hodge-podge of different items, and some series are spread out over several albums. Second, we generally don't label or annotate. Who was that again? Don't remember. When was it that we made our last trip to Paris? If it wasn't for the lighted "An 2000" on the side of the Eiffel Tower, we'd only be guessing. Third, we've got a lot of pictures that never made it to albums. And finally, the digital age may be working against us. There are very few pictures from roughly 2003 on, when we converted mostly to digital. I realized how little film I actually shoot these days (maybe it's time to sell the film cameras?) and how we rarely make prints. Our digital photos are all nicely archived, of course, and some make their way to this blog or get emailed around, but flipping through an album is fun, too. Sounds like a new project emerging: organize, update and annotate. I'll put it on the list!

Well, on to today's projects: walk the pups, a couple of packages to UPS, more work in the "workshop", and a Home Depot run...