Monday, June 30, 2014

Storrie Lake revisited....

After leaving Cummins Rocky Mountain shop, I drove to Santa Fe to spend the night in the parking lot of a new Wal-Mart.  The store is huge and the parking lot was very nice.  As usual I found a nice spot in the rear corner of the lot and we were settled.  The plan was to drive on to Storrie Lake after we woke up Saturday morning.

When I woke up in the morning and looked out the window, this is what I saw:

Well, crap!  This was a HUGE parking lot, and it was almost empty.  I immediately thought of Denise - this happened to her once, too, right Denise?  (I tried to find her link, but couldn't.)  Anyway, I took Katie out for her morning potty break and took this photo, then walked over to the car and bent down to peek into the driver's window (the windows were dark and I couldn't see into the car).  YES!  Someone was asleep in the passenger's seat!

I went into The Palms, cleaned up, made coffee, and got ready to leave. I set my GPS for Storrie Lake, started the engine, and immediately the car backed up and drove off.  Whew!  That was lucky, what if they were gone for the day?  Did I notify Wal-Mart security that a car that was legally parked was in my way?  Did I call the police with the same info?  The Palms was the one taking three spaces sideways.  Would I be here all day?  I felt so lucky he was in the car and woke up right away!  I'll bet he saw me peeking at him.

When I told Jeanne about this, we discussed different ways of blacktop parking for overnight stays.  She gave me a good tip:  pull forward more than I did in the photo above so my rear bumper was still in that left-most space and no one could squeeze in.  That would put me over the line into the space the car took during the night.  Then if they did  park right next to my front bumper, I could back up quite a bit, since the rear of the cabin overhangs quite a bit before my tires would touch the sidewalk edge (and before I would squash a bush with my rig). Of course that would take up four spaces, but in a large empty parking lot, who cares?  And I wouldn't have to worry about getting stuck.

The other option, of course, is to take up two tandem spots, and then I'd have the driveways front and rear to drive out in either direction.  That's how I park when I shop, but it's my second choice when overnighting, because I seem to have more privacy parked as I am in the photo above. 

And so off we went down the road and about an hour later, "Hello Storrie Lake!"

It is so good to be here again.  It's been windy and a little hot from time to time, but the wind and breezes seem to cut the heat, so all in all not bad right now.

The park has been busy, but I was able to get one of my favorite spots, all by itself and across from the showers.  It's a really big site.

When I arrived, I checked in with Jeanne and Annie, who were dry camping down by the lake.  There was only one open developed site left and another in the lower electric circle that was a dry camping site and Jeanne knew it was emptying before noon so she snagged it when the camper left.  I nabbed the large site across from the showers to share with Annie, who was hoping an electric site will open up soon. She is in her new-to-her smaller rig with no solar panels yet. Luckily she has a good generator, so when it's hot, she can run her air to cool things off for now, and she was right next to a tree that gives her some shade for part of the day.  (The Palms on the left, Bliss on the right - this was taken yesterday, and this morning Annie was able to grab an electric spot, so she's settled.)

Sometimes when you get to a new campground you just get a great spot, no problem.  Sometimes you have a choice of great spots.  But other times it's like musical chairs.  Get ready, get ready, get ready - DRIVE!  Get that one open spot before anyone else sits down in it.  I like the second option best.  :)

Annie made a big pot of chili Saturday and invited Jeanne and me to share it with her, so Jeanne made some cornbread muffins and I put a green salad together and we had a nice late lunch.  I'm not a chili eater, but I did try some, and it was so good I went back for seconds.  I guess I do like chili!  And Jeanne's cornbread was perfect - warm, soft, and crisp around the muffin top edge.

As you can see from my bowl below, I was being very cautious with the chili serving.  LOL  When it was gone, I went back for more.  I loved the grated cheese and sour cream on top, too. Annie was nice enough to let Jeanne and me take a bowl home with us for dinner.  That was BIG pot of chili!

I was out of tomatoes, but added artichoke hearts, avocado, raw carrots and croutons to the lettuce, and Jeanne brought some Greek olives that added a lot of flavor, too.

Great lunch, thanks!!

We've been doing a fair amount of visiting back and forth, sitting in our shelters and chatting.  Katie has been such a bear lately with other dogs, she is especially not nice to Riley, Jeanne's dog, and then yesterday she snapped at Annie's dog, Jake.  So embarrassing when your dig is the bully.  When they took a walk yesterday morning, Katie and I met them on the way and walked with them a bit, and Katie did fine, of course she was in the stroller most of the time.

Then Saturday late afternoon Annie and Jake and Katie and I walked over to Jeanne's shelter.  She has a fence across the opening to keep Riley inside, so we took our dogs off their leashes and Katie did great!  We were there quite a while chatting, and the dogs just did their thing.  Katie even sniffed Jake's butt (at least she tried, he's lots bigger and taller than she is, and she couldn't reach much more than the lower part of his tail to sniff, but she tried).  I was glad she got that close and was okay.

I thought Jake was a super shy dog, and he is somewhat, but the main reason he's that way around us is because Katie barks at him and he's afraid of her.

Riley is a "chill" dog - he does his own thing and if Katie bugs him, he just walks away and lays down and ignores her.  I wish I was like that!  I think Katie is getting more used to him, too, just being around him more.  Things are getting better, so that's a good thing for the dogs.  And for their moms, too.  As usual, like most RVers, Annie and Jeanne are super polite about Katie's bad manners.  We're working on it.  And being around dogs more is helping.

Before I end for today, I wanted to show you our other Wal-Mart neighbors.  They drove in a little after we did and stayed for an hour or so.  Three or four large horses, one yearling, I think, and two babies.  They were snorting and clumping their feet, moving around, making "I want out of this trailer" noises.

When Katie and I were out walking and checking them out (staying quite a bit away from their trailer; the horses were nervous when we were walking in their vicinity) a cowboy-looking young man walked by and I asked him if those were his horses.  He said, "Yes, Ma'am," just like you hear in the movies.  I said, "They are just beautiful - you made my day!"  and he says, in that cowboy accent, "Thank you, Ma'am!"  So cute.

And guess what?  Caught a mouse in the engine.  When I checked yesterday morning there he was.  I added two additional snap traps.  And that was with two sets of my solar flashing lights covering the top of the engine and a small, bright light shining down the middle of the engine to the ground all night long.  The lights might deter some of the critters, but obviously not all, and they only flash at night, so not such a good deterrent during the day.  This morning, no mice.  :)))

NOTE:  If you're thinking about changing out your current batwing TV antenna for a Jack antenna, I noticed this morning they are priced at $48.56 today on Click HERE for my post on how easy they are to change out.  (I paid in the low $60s for mine)  :)

From me and Katie, have a great Monday, everyone!  :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The New Onan install

After a truly stressful week, things have calmed down and Katie and I are enjoying our stay at Storrie Lake State Park.

The new Onan generator install at Cummins Rocky Mountain, LLC in Albuquerque, NM was finally completed on Thursday after 5:00.  It's beautiful, as these things go:

Here's a tip for anyone who might be purchasing a new generator in the future:  READ YOUR OWNER'S MANUAL.  No one explained anything to me, except I need to have a service done on it after 20 hours of use, oil change and filter, I think.  When I read the manual, I saw that you have to BREAK IN the new generator by running it under 1/2 load for 2 hours, then 3/4 load for 2 hours.  You won't get the best out of your machine if it isn't broken in correctly.  How many people ever read the manuals until there's a problem?

If you're buying a new generator, read and follow the manual directions.  If you're buying a new-TO-YOU rig with an unused or very under-used generator, get a reduction in the the total price if you can, because you'll be buying a new one down the road like I did.

Another thing I didn't know until I read the manual.   If I'm running the air conditioner, I need to start the generator and let it run for two minutes then turn on the air.  After turning off the air, or other appliances, let the generator run for two full minutes before turning it off.  "This reduces backfiring and run-on."  It also gives it a chance to cool off.  I didn't know that.

Also, my super technician, Ken, who did my install, asked my how I use my generator.  I told him:  coffee maker, toaster oven, microwave, hair dryer and blender.  Occasionally air conditioner, but I do run it under load for an hour each month, either air or a space heater.

My manual says to run it under heavy load for two hours each month.  "A single two hour exercise period is better than several shorter periods."

But Ken said I need to "exercise" mine more because of my use. Maybe you guys all run your air a lot, or other heavy loads, I don't know how other generators are used.  He said I should run the generator under heavy load, like the air or space heater, every week for an hour.  Not every month, that isn't enough if you don't use your generator a lot.   And I asked him about some commenters' suggestions that they run their air while driving down the road, keeping the motor home cool and running the generator at the same time.  He said that is actually a good thing to do, and will give me a little better gas mileage.  He explained why, but I didn't get it all.  I'm going to do that, though, during weather that doesn't require air or heat being run.

So...  every week under heavy load for an hour, and on the fourth week I'm going to let it run two hours. (NOTE:  I copied the manual section relating to this at the end of this post.)

I always wanted to keep my hours low on the generator, it made sense to me that the lower the hours the longer it would last.  Strangely, that's not true.  Lack of use is why most generators fail.  They are made to run, and if they sit for periods of time, they will fail sooner.  Running them circulates new gas through the fuel system.  It will also lubricate the internal parts of the motor. (If you put your rig in storage, there are procedures to follow, and they are shown in the RV Generator Handbook.  The link is below toward the end.)

Okay...   so ....   I am super happy with it so far.  It starts right up and keeps going until I turn it off.  I've done the break-in hours under load.  Now it just needs it's 20 hour service when we get to 20 hours.

You might remember when I was at that facility last year I didn't get very good service.  They had a new tech there, someone said Ken was probably overloaded and they brought someone in, and I got that new tech, who didn't do a very good job on my Level II service.  I needed to have another service done elsewhere to finish what wasn't done correctly.

When I went back this year (only because they have many EXCELLENT reviews and no bad ones that I could find), I told the customer service gal what happened and brought my receipts to show her.  She made copies to show her manager.  I asked if they would consider giving me a discount this time to make up for last time.  She ended up giving me an estimate, and said she would talk to the manager about taking something off the total.  When I got my final total cost, it was a pretty deep discount, and I was beyond pleased.   I sure appreciated it, they stood behind their work and then some.  The labor hours I paid for were less than estimated, too, probably because my technician really knew what he was doing and did it quickly.

If you have an Onan and no manual, this is the link to the:  Onan Cummins RV Generator Handbook.  You can read the PDF manual at this link, or download it to your computer.

All in all I left their facility a happy camper.  What a relief to have that done.

I'm going to end this post here; I want to keep the generator info separate.  I'll post again tomorrow with Storrie Lake news.

From me and Katie, keeping cool at Lake Storrie, have a great Sunday everyone!  :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

$$$ OUCH $$$ (Generator Update)

Well, folks, that's what the Emergency Fund is for.  Right?

I'm at Cummins Rocky Mountain Onan Repair shop in Albuquerque, NM.

See the rig on the left?  He was unhappy because he showed up a day early and they wouldn't take him, so he told me, "We decided we're going to camp here."  Like the other people with appointments that day didn't count?  This is a busy shop. 

Their slide is over my line and they have chairs and their awning out.  They are making a point, while they are taking up part of my parking space - when the tech checked my generator and re-parked The Palms, I couldn't open my door - just enough to barely squeeze in and out.  (I guess I could have pulled out and re-backed in, but the men on either side didn't like it when I move in the day before.  Too close to the slides on one side, and too close to the mirror on the other.  Then after I was parked, they said, "You have plenty of room."  They said it twice.  I felt like saying, "Bite me!"  I was not going to re-park.)  Plus the rig with the slide was leaking antifreeze that was rolling down under The Palms.  I had to be really careful that Katie didn't walk in it and then lick it off so she was on a very short leash around our rig.  He couldn't put a bucket under the leak?  Right now they are in the shop, so hopefully their leak will be fixed and they will be gone today.  If they come back - trust me, they are not parking that close to the line tonight!  LOL 

Wow, this is turning into a RANT, isn't it?  I haven't done that in a while, so I guess I'm due.  Don't you just love rants?

I arrived Monday afternoon and Ken, the technician, had time to look at the generator before they closed.  It needs it's annual service and also a new starter, but when I told him about all the oil I've been adding (at first 1/2 quart every 8 hours of use, then I realized I could add 1/2 quart every 20 hours, and that only fills it half-way.  It's never leaked, it just burns up), he said its the O-ring, or pistons or something...  and that it would be better to replace it than to have it rebuilt.  But they would check it out Tuesday morning to be sure. 

The prognosis after pulling it into the shop yesterday agreed with Ken's opinion:  I need a new generator.  And you know what?  It will be so nice to have one that actually works all the time.  As anyone who has read this blog from the beginning - or even from the middle - knows, I've had issues with this generator since I bought The Palms.

And I didn't post all the problems, it was just too depressing, so you only heard about some of them.

This is a picture I copy/pasted from an Onan ad on-line.  It's the same model, but it sure does look prettier!

I only had 1,274 total hours on the generator which is 8 years old, and I've been told by a few people that this failure is probably caused by all the time it sat unused.  It's a 2006 motor home and I bought it in 2011 with a reading on the generator of only 8 hours.  So obviously it wasn't used during the five years before I owned it.  I kept thinking I was okay, even though it sat for so long, because it still worked.  The thing was, though, it didn't work well, and I've spent a lot of money on it trying to keep it going. 

This is a good lesson for all you RVers who have so much solar that you don't need to run your generators, or those of you who always have electrical hook-ups, so you never run the generator.  YOU MUST RUN THE GENERATOR UNDER LOAD FOR ONE TO TWO HOURS EVERY MONTH.  Under load means start the generator, wait two minutes, then turn on the air conditioner - for an hour or two.  If it's winter, or too cold for the A/C, turn on a space heater for an hour or two. After turning off the A/C or heater, wait another two minutes before turning off the generator.  You're good for another month.  That will keep your generator in good shape.  If you're in a place where the weather is perfect, choose either one and sit outside in the perfect weather for an hour or two.  I've been doing that, but it was too late, I guess.  The damage had already been done.  (Check with your generator expert to confirm the above.)

They have four RV hook-up sites here in their lot, which is really nice when you have to wait for parts. Each site has electricity and water, and they also have a dump site here.

This is the view of the shop after hours from where we're parked.  The garages are double what's shown, they go through to the back of the lot, so there are 19 service bays.  The service area and office area are spotlessly clean - that always gives me confidence:

They don't have my generator in stock, they've been replacing a lot of them lately and haven't reordered this type, so I'll probably be here two or three days.   With full hook-ups.  I haven't had hook-ups in ages.  It's nice to be able to watch TV in bed!

For those of you who are wondering how much this is costing me: I'm not happy with the quote of course, which they told me would be right around $3,500 total, yup, it's an $$$ OUCH $$$, but it's fair and they've promised me Ken - their best guy for this kind of work, so I'm happy about that.  There goes the tire fund - plus!  :(  But we all have expenses with our homes whether they are made of wood and sitting on a foundation, or made of fiberglass and sitting on wheels.  All a part of home ownership.  And at least, I assume, it's a smaller generator in comparison to some of yours.  I imagine a larger motor home would require a larger generator?  So it could have been worse.

NOTE - The generator was  supposed to be here this morning, but the shipper didn't send it out until this morning (bummer), so I'm here until tomorrow.  I asked if they would at least remove the old one today and she said yes, when they had a break today someone would come and get The Palms and do that.  Hopefully that will get me out a little earlier tomorrow.
I'll let you know what happens with the installation tomorrow.   (Don't forget our link for all your on-line purchases - it doesn't cost you a thing and gives me and Katie a tiny percentage of your purchase price.  And please remember to start your research with the blog post link.  Thanks!  I super-appreciate your support!)

From me and Katie, have a great Wednesday, everybody!  :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Little critters in the campground

Poor Katie!  I wrapped her ankle the other day with some tearable tape I had left from when I had the trigger thumb.  I remembered it as being really easy to use, so...

Unfortunately, Katie is such a BABY, after having the tape on all day I wanted to remove it in the evening.  Katie made such a fuss!  Screeching every time I tried to gently pull the tape.  I guess it wasn't as user friendly as I remembered.  

She never tries to get stuff off and the tape wasn't tight, so I decided to leave in on overnight, hoping it would loosen up and fall off.  Didn't happen. 

The next day she was in her car seat and her ankle was in a great position for me to try a little tug, very gently, and she screeched so loud I thought my left eardrum burst in that cab space.  Whew!  That was my last try, for sure.  She is so sensitive, and I didn't know if it really hurt or if she was just being a baby.  I mean, I hardly touched the tape when she went ballistic.
So I put some olive oil on her ankle over the tape and put a sock on her to keep the oil from getting all over everything.  And put the tape over the sock to keep it in place.

Mom, I am NOT happy about this dumb sock!

It wasn't until the next day I was able to get most of the tape off, and the rest, a little piece right on her ankle, stayed on for days. 

I'm back to wrapping it with that sticky cloth tape - it sticks to itself and not to her fur.  I'm glad that episode is over!   Moral of this story:  don't put tape on your dog.  Sounds kind of like "don't put gum in your hair."  I guess I should have known?   :(

Other than horses and cows, which were wonderful to see, there wasn't much critter action at Bluewater Lake while we were there - at least that I saw.   There were lots of birds and the birdsong was wonderful, but I didn't get good photos of new or interesting birds except these guys below - Rock Wrens.  I think they are juveniles.  There were a bunch of them, and they came out from under a large flat rock while Katie and I were walking nearby.  This was a new bird for me.

This looks like an adult - lots more color in it's feathers.  Probably keeping an eye on it's babies:

I only saw a hummingbird at the feeder a few times - this guy:

But he didn't hang around for long when he came by.  The above are the only decent shots I got of him.

And I did get one shot of a colorful butterfly:

The last photos from Bluewater Lake State Park are of Katie and a squirrel.  This little guy was sitting happily in the crook of the tree right outside our window and Katie was barking like crazy.  Didn't phase him a bit.  Katie doesn't have a very exciting life, so when she sees a squirrel or lizard that gets her heart rate going, it's a good thing.

This one is through the screen, but you can still see the squirrel:

Wednesday my generator wouldn't start, wouldn't even try to turn over.  I checked everything I could think of, but no luck.  So Thursday morning I called the Onan shop in Albuquerque and made an appointment for Tuesday morning, first thing.  Tomorrow.  We left Bluewater Lake on Saturday to take care of errands on the way, and tonight we'll stay in their parking lot so we'll be there first thing in the morning.   I decided to have the annual service done a little early while we're there.  I hope they'll get it serviced and running tomorrow so we can move on.  Wish us luck!  :)

From me and Katie, have a great Monday, everyone!  :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Big critters in the campground :)

The last two days we've have some fun animal watching in our campground.

Yesterday early evening nine cows slowly walked in front of The Palms, about a campsite up from us, and strolled through the campground and out of sight.  I love seeing cows.

Then this morning, I was walking Katie and across the field came a family of four horses, the stallion, mare, yearling and little colt.

This seems to be a good scratching tree - I remember the filly from a previous year doing the same thing.  The crook of the tree must be in a perfect place.

They are such a pretty family.

See the horse in the field behind Katie?  This is her new thing:  when she wants out of the stroller to walk, she stands up and waits for me to lift her out.

Then this afternoon I glanced out the front windshield, and the cows were walking across the street again.  So of course I grabbed my camera and went outside to get some better shots. 

One of my favorite things about Bluewater Lake State Park, other than it's size and beauty, is the possibility of seeing horses wandering around in the campgrounds.  Cows aren't as plentiful, but so far this year I've seen more in two days than I have in the last two years.

Made my day!

From me and Katie, have a great Thursday evening, everyone!  :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Bath Time

From me and Katie, have a great Wordless Wednesday, everyone!  :)