Friday, December 18, 2015

¡Dale Gas!

"Dale gas" (prounced like dolly gas with a long a sound) is a slang Spanish expression meaning “get goin” which we learned of while watching a local car commercial on TV in Los Fresnos.  So before we start out on the road - and get goin - let's party with the good friends in Los Fresnos.    A bounty of delicious appetizers were prepared with the loving hands of Karen as she and her husband, Terry (who are originally from Northern Minnesota) hosted this fun party.  Once again, thank you!
Terry & Karen

Everything was absolutely delicious!

Jan & Terry
December 2 was our first travel day for leaving Texas.

It started out with a stop for breakfast at the Flying J with our friend Richard.  This visit was two-fold as we wanted to take the motor home onto the truck scales to get it weighed so that we knew just exactly what kind of weight we were carrying.   We’re happy at a total weight of 37,720 pounds.   As we were walking outside to the parking lot, low and behold our good friends, Chip and Daisy, pulled up in their car after noticing the coach as they were driving by.  What an awesome surprise – more hugs around for everyone!

The road heading north took us into the Hill Country of Texas for at least a half day of driving before it got dark.  Interstate 10 in Texas is the major east-west interstate highway in the south US.  At just 880 miles it is the longest continuous untolled freeway in Texas.  Also said to be the longest stretch of highway a single destination within a single state.  Pretty amazing, isn’t it.  Our first overnight was at the Cypress Creek Rest Area, east of Kerrville and right in the heart of the Hill Country.  It was good to stop for the night with Jeff sleeping on the couch up front just to make sure that we were safe for the night.

The next morning we had already decided to put on a few more miles since starting fairly early in the morning after the sun came up.  It did prove to be quite the day as we were tooling down the interstate.  Kay drove a little over 140 miles to give Jeff a little bit of a break before turning the wheel over to him.  She is sure glad that Jeff was driving when the alarm sounded within the motor home telling us that we had no air for our brakes.  OMG!!!!  Jeff was able to immediately get off the interstate by taking the next available exit that was right in front of us (Exit 206 at Balmorhea), using the brake pedal to come to a smooth stop.  The time was 2:30p.m.  From what we know about air brakes, when you loose air your tires should lock up and you stop pretty suddenly.  This was not the case for us as we came to a pretty smooth stop with brakes still operating.   What a nightmare trying to find someone who could help, let alone get a tow truck to come  the distance and get us!  Either we were too far away as in the case of El Paso and they didn’t want to drive the miles – and to get towed there would have definitely broke the bank – to finally finding someone back at Fort Stockton (about 53 miles  who located a tow truck to come and get us.

Kay did a lot of praying to St Joseph that night.

To make a long story short . . . diagnostics were run that next day and nothing came up pointing to an air leak of any kind.  And the odd thing about it all is that in the morning Jeff started the motor home and our air pressure was back to normal.  Go figure!   Jeff assisted one of the mechanics with re-installing the drive shaft that morning, as four hands are better than two at lifting up an awkward 80# of weight lying on your backs underneath the motor home.
The women always love a man in uniform!
After having quite a few phone conversations with a good many people, they believe it could be the air governor for our brakes that needs to be replaced.  Jeff contacted a Certified Spartan truck dealer in Phoenix (Massey Diesel Repair) and will see them the week after Christmas to get this taken care.  We are anxious to get it resolved so that we don’t have to worry about going through another “towing” episode again if we can help it.
Next stop, New Mexico and a new RV park that we read about in our Escapee’s magazine.  We usually stay in Deming at the Escapee's Dream Catcher RV Park when we’re passing through but thought we’d check out Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo NM.

This park is pretty much right on the border of Arizona (directly on the other side of the Chiricahua National Monument that we had visited earlier this year.  This park is VERY big rig friendly with pull-thrus approximately 200 feet long.    The 360 degree mountain views make this a little hidden gem from most RV parks - to the West the Arizona Chiricahua Mountains and to the East in New Mexico, the Peloncillo Mountains. 

The park sits on 40 acres with full hook-ups and has a clubhouse, swim spa, outdoor Gazebo and a lovely water garden.


And when the weather is warmer the birding is supposed to be spectacular as well as the heavenly stargazing that graces the skies in this area.  We're told that it is quite an astronomer’s paradise.  What is so amazing about this park is that all of the sites were converted to solar power made possible with the 204 solar panels that provide almost 100% of their electricity.

We would definitely recommend this park and hope to be back when the weather is just a wee bit warmer.  The staff at Rusty's was very friendly and we met some new friends from Deming who love the outdoors just as much as we do.  A good visit all around.  At an elevation of approx. 4400 feet it did prove to be 2-blanket sleeping at night but we managed the 5 days that we stayed and had a very good rest.  Sunrises and sunsets are absolutely beautiful here.

Lee & Sharon from Deming
Staying grounded for these days gave us a chance to unwind even more by taking a Jeep trip to Douglas and Bisbee, Arizona.  We have always had a good experience in Bisbee and this time was no different.  Taking in a visit to a new eating establishment for us this time around to taste their beef brisket sandwich with a beer chaser at the Stock Exchange Saloon was definitely on the menu.

And with our growler in hand (from our last visit to Bisbee Brewery) we made sure to get it filled up before we headed back to the RV Park some 65 miles to the north.  A very fun day and the weather was sunny!

It is once again time to bring in the slides and position all things securely in the coach as we drive around Tucson's maze of highways on our way to Apache Junction, Arizona.  We stopped for an overnight at the Tom Mix Monument outside of Florence on Hwy 79 before heading further north to the Superstition Mountains.

Jeff knew who Tom Mix was so it was good to read up on his days as a legendary cowboy film actor between 1909 and 1935.  The grounds at this site were very clean and large enough for us to find a corner near a mesquite tree to spend the night.

 History of Tom  Mix

It’s funny when you’ve been to an area more than once that you pretty much feel at home knowing which roads to take.  This is how we feel when we are driving into Apache Junction on our way to the Lost Dutchman State Park.  It is here that we plan to catch up on some special "cooking" and to make a stop to visit Jeff’s first cousin, Carol and her husband Dale for an evening of delicious home cooked food, lively conversation and much laughter reminiscing.  Carol is making us dinner on our last night here before we drive into Phoenix for appointments on the motor home.

Chef Jeff getting his Italian Sausage Lasagna ready

Now, that's Italian!!

Beef Stew with Rosemary & Mushrooms

Cous' Carol & hubby Dale
Nestled in amongst the Saguaro & Ocotillo
The Superstition Mountains
The date is now December 15 and we are on our way into Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, for an appointment at D & R's Family RV for a few changes and additions to the coach that we wanted to make.  Ron and his wife are the owners and their staff are Stuart and Shane.  The four days that we stayed in their fenced in work area to observe all that was being done on the coach was truly amazing as everyone was a very dedicated, hard working individual with a lot of RV tech smarts.  We definitely couldn't have done any of this by any means with the tools that we carry.

This is what our wish list included:

1) one new solar panel to be added to the roof and then to have all three wired into a new controller box for us.  This will give us 20 amps/hour of electricity for when we should need or want it when we are dry camping

2) purchase and install a Winegard Trav'ler DirecTV satellite dish that would make our lives easier with a touch of a button - to raise and lower the dish as it finds all satellites quickly and efficiently.  NO MORE DISH NETWORK.  HURRAY!!!!! 

3) an inside connection for our catalytic heater that will run off propane so that we don’t need to run the furnace in cooler weather.  With the connection at this location near the refrigerator we can use it in the living area or bring it around so that we can have heat in the bathroom and bedroom areas.

4) out with the old (non-HD TV) and in with a new unit that will have the capability of picking up the HD programs that will tie into our roof top satellite.  Getting the surround sound working too will really help as most of the new LED TV's have the speakers behind the front of the TV.  Not too good for RV's, so this will really help us with the sound for us "ole folks".

5) the ability to use an Extend-A-Stay that connects to a 30# propane cylinder that we would use first before having to use the propane from the underbelly tank of the coach. 

6) installation of an automatic generator start detects that there has been a loss of power and should fire up the generator automatically.  This will definitely aid us if the battery levels go low as we don't want to be stranded out in the desert looking for AAA to come and jump-start us .  Our Guardian Angel, Helen is watching over us as we travel.

Once we have everything completed we will be heading northwest of Phoenix to Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  We will stay at the Lake and then come in for a Christmas Eve service in Cave Creek at the Light of the Desert Lutheran Church.  Our scheduled appointment at the Spartan dealer is on Monday, 12/28 so we will leave Lake Pleasant on the 27th and stay at a Flying J close to the dealer for the Monday appointment.  After that, we continue on the road toward Yuma and BLM land at Ogilby Road in SE California.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.  We'll be sharing new adventures with you in 2016.

Hugs ~