Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Long Weekend in Santa Fe

We hope you all had a great weekend!

We had a thoroughly enjoyable one.  After a busy week at Habitat,
we got the entire three day weekend off.

Pam and I celebrated by taking our wash over to the Laundromat and getting a couple of loads done.  Yikes - we checked two locations and both were $2.75 a load!

Next we had a great meal at Los Amigos Restaurant which is a small restaurant near the Rodeo Grounds.  It has to be some of the best New Mexican food in town.  We had tostadas and it really hit the spot.

On Saturday, Reid and Amy arrived for a weekend stay at the Roadrunner.  It didn't take long to meet Paul, Tom and Ray here at the Rodeo Grounds.
After lunch, we stopped by the nearby Verizon store and I got a Verizon MiFi.  My connection speed has not been all that impressive here and I am not sure how well my two year old Autonet Mobile solution was going to do as we head north.  The MiFi works great and has a stronger signal with more bandwidth.

After the Verizon store we took Reid and Amy for a tour of the two Habitat worksites to show them what we have been doing all week.  Next, we went by the house where we grew up.  It appeared to be in pretty good shape compared to other times we have seen it.
Mom and Dad bought this in 1965 for $17,000.  We spent all summer putting in a great lawn in the front and back yards.  The big weeping willow tree in the front yard is no longer there.  Times have changed.

On Sunday, we decided to stay put at the Roadrunner Chapel and listen to a good sermon on the internet from Ken Boa's series on the book of Hebrews.  Then we packed a lunch and took a drive to Hyde State Park and the Santa Fe Ski Basin.
We were up over 10,000 feet and looked down on Santa Fe and the Sandia Mountains which are 75 miles away.  It was a beautiful drive up and down the mountain.

We had packed a lunch and went to the downtown Santa Fe area where we found a picnic table on the County Courthouse lawn.  After that, we walked across the street to the Sweeney Convention Center to the Indian Art Festival show (known as Native Treasures).  That was quite a treat.  From the classic to the contemporary, we saw jewelry, sculptures, paintings, carvings and a lot more.  Very impressive!

Next, we headed home and had fajitas for dinner.  While dinner was being made, I called AppleCare.  My MacBook has been getting hung up.  Especially when I load pictures and /or work on the blog.
Turns out I had a permissions issue in my Mac OS and the install disk I have been carrying around was scratched so I could not reinstall.  I set up an appointment with the Apple Store in Albuquerque, then we ate.
After dinner, we got set up at the Roadrunner Lanes for a Wii Bowling tournament.  That was a lot of fun, but Pam and I got smoked by Reid and Amy!

On Memorial Day, we drove to the Santa Fe National Cemetery and got there early.  They were setting up for the activities including an address by the governor.  We found our parents site.
Next, we went to the far end of the property and found where Uncle Don and Aunt Mary were laid to rest.
It looks like they are changing from the upright to the flat head stones.

After that, we went back to the coach, got my laptop and headed to Albuquerque.  Pam stayed with Amy while Reid and I went over to the Apple Store.  I upgraded to Snow Leopard.  I have been regularly backing up things in Time Machine and was able to load everything back onto my laptop.  I even took my MiFi and checked it out there.  Everything is working well now and I am very pleased.

While the 3 hour install and backup / restore job was running, we met Pam and Amy at Trader Joe's for lunch.  After that we finished up at the Apple Store, stopped by Reid and Amy's house and then drove back to the Santa Fe Rodeo grounds.
We sat around with Paul, Tom and Cathy, and Ray for a little while hearing how everyone else spent their weekend.  We had leftovers for dinner and called it a day.

It was a long and wonderful weekend in Santa Fe!  Hope yours was too!
Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Please stop by again.  And have a great week!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Habitat de Santa Fe

We arrived in Santa Fe on Saturday and found a spot at the Rodeo Grounds. There are nine of us Care-A-Vanners on this Habitat build.
We had a reception and orientation meeting on Monday night at the Habitat Office on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe.  Karen, the Volunteer Coordinator also arranged to have dinner for us.  She gave us a little background on Habitat and the work in Santa Fe, and Bruce, the construction manager also spoke.  It was a great way to kick-off the two week stay for our Care-A-Vanners group.

The local affiliate here has a Womens Build going on, so they were glad to get our more four ladies working on that house.  They had to haul the 4 x 8 sheets of OSB up onto the top of the rafters before they could start nailing it down.
Meanwhile, the guys split up and worked on a punchlist at a group of Habitat Houses that were getting finished up.  Those houses were about 3 or 4 miles away.  Both neighborhoods are off Airport Road not far from Santa Fe Country Club.
Some of the jobs we have done are putting in towel racks and bathroom accessories, hanging shelves and putting in a mailbox.
We also put in an irrigation drip system at three houses for the trees, shrubs and plants.
A tree was planted but the root bulb wasn't low enough, so we had to dig the hole deeper.  We usually take a break in the morning and may or may not in the afternoon.
Some of the jobs we have done are putting in shelving, hanging bathroom towel racks, putting in a mailbox and we also put in an irrigation drip system at three houses.

As I was re-reading this, it occurred to me that the ladies are doing the heavy lifting and hardest work but...

And then there is lunch.  Everyone gets together for lunch which had been provided by local volunteers. That is VERY nice.  We have had homemade enchilada casserole, tamales and pizza so far.  
Yesterday, the guys joined the women over at the other build site.  The ladies continued on the Women Build, the men went down the street to the 'open build' where all the other volunteers worked.
We have had a great time with this group.
We all enjoy each other and have gotten together for early morning coffee and had dinner together a couple of times.

On Wednesday night, a bunch of trailers showed up, unloaded about 20 horses and then had a little 4-H/Santa Fe Barrel Racers competition.
We took our seats in the stands and enjoyed the barrel racing.  Some in our group had never seen barrel racing.
I think my first experience was in the late 1960's in this very rodeo grounds where my brother and I sold cotton candy during the annual Rodeo de Santa Fe which is held in July every year.  Our old neighborhood is about 1 1/2 miles from here.

It has been a fun week and we look forward to a nice weekend and our second week of Habitat.
Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  And thanks for those comments, we always appreciate them.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Roadrunner Repairs: Air Bag Solenoid

After a great stay in Albuquerque for six weeks, we were ready for the short and scenic drive up to Santa Fe.  We packed up on Friday and were ready for a leisurely departure from our FamCamp site at Kirtland AFB on Saturday morning.

But --- we had another problem with the air bags.  Again, they would not inflate.  We tried the same things that worked when we left Tucson.  We set down the jacks again and went through the whole sequence a couple of times.  We moved the coach and drove it to another spot in the campground hoping it would loosen something maybe and fill the bags and empty the bags.  No dice.

So we called the Freightliner dealer in Albuquerque.  To our surprise, they said, "bring it on in", they could work on it today.

Now for the hard part -- getting it there.  It was about a 14.5 mile ride to the dealer.  At 10-35 mph.  The coach was sitting so low to the ground I had to take it slow.  Plus I could feel every crack in the pavement or pothole since I had no air suspension.  It felt like my shocks were completely gone only worse.

So it was scary.  But I took it slowly with flashers on and Pam following with her flashers on and we made it to the Freightliner shop about 10:30.
They got us in quickly and started the troubleshooting.
 There were only a couple other rigs in the shop to work on so we were hoping to get out of their quickly.  But it took most of the day.
We left and ran some errands and went to lunch.  I tried the California burger from Burger King.  (I think that may be my first and last...)

We came back after a couple of hours and they found the problem.  The air suspension dump valve assembly was bad, causing air bags to always be in the dump mode.
(The photo is an example of a similar part.  I didn't think to take a picture of the real culprit when it was sitting on the counter.)

They went to see if they had a replacement.  We had two surprises:  1)they had the part and 2)it was a lot of money.  I should not have been surprised on the cost, but after it was all said and done, we were $1174 lighter.  But we were very glad to be rid of that issue.
There was still plenty of time to drive to Santa Fe and we left about 4:00.  The air bags were as they should be and we hitched up the car and drove out of the garage area.

It was a beautiful day for a drive and we arrived at the Rodeo de Santa Fe Campground without incident. It was not the day we planned on but we are glad we got the air bag issue resolved.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!
Until next time...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Work on the Solano House

When we got to Albuquerque six weeks ago, we asked if Reid and Amy (my twin brother and his wife) had any work for us.  We checked with the local Habitat affiliate and they were not taking volunteers at the construction site.  So we worked on their house on Solano Avenue - aka "the Solano House".

They needed the facia around the roof painted.  And the soffit under the was peeling plaster.  I had never noticed a soffit of plaster and stucco before, but sure enough it needed some repair.  
And in some places, the facia board under the edge of the roof actually had wood rot.  So we tackled the 'whole enchilada' so to speak.

First the facia board.
I had to use my orbital saw and a saw normally used for sheetrock to remove the rotten wood.  There was a 2 x 6 under a 1 x 6 that needed to be replaced.

When I removed it, I had to cut a 45 degree angle where the wood was still good and do it on a rafter extension to hold the new pieces.
There were two areas on the side of the house and two pieces on the top roof that needed to be replaced.
Once I got the old out and the new pieces in, I caulked it.

Meanwhile, Pam was going around the whole facia and painting where I had sanded and or scraped off the old paint.
We did not work every day at it, but it took us about five days in two weeks to get that phase of the repairs done.

Next,
 we tackled the places where the stucco had fallen off and/or need to be patched.  We had to learn about that and ask the guys at Home Depot which was the way to on it.  We settled for Quikrete stucco repair.  We added water to a bucket and put in the stucco mix until it was the right consistency.
We actually spent money on a concrete adhesive bond that was basically a waste.  The stucco mixed up 'thinly' was the best way to stick it on in most cases.  In some areas the diamond mesh was visible and we applied the stucco in small areas so it would stick until it dried.
This who process was very much a trial and error project and after a few minutes we got the hang of it.
In some areas I had to replace or install new diamond mesh to cover up the whole.  Then I applied the stucco.

It took us two tries at matching the old stucco color with new paint but WalMart insisted we could return it if the first coat didn't match.  And we did and came up with the color that was real close.
It took another two weeks to go around the outside of the house again and repair the stucco and then do some work on top of the house.
Believe it or not, it was a lot of fun and gained another skill set.
Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  We appreciate you taking the time to check in and putting forth the extra effort to drop us a comment!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

More Friends

Now and then I get an email from someone who says:  "We are in the area and would like to meet you".  Or, "You don't know us, but we follow your blog and thought it would be fun to get together in person", or some such thing...

Over the last two years we have sent similar notes to folks and found out it is fun to meet new friends that way.

Recently, we got an email from Allan and Jeanne who were traveling through Albuquerque and we were able to meet.  About 18 months ago we left Albuquerque and we just missed being able to see them.  They do a lot of volunteer work and I asked them some questions.

Since then we have more or less kept an eye on each other from a distance and last week we were able to get together.  They were on the other side of town, so we decided to meet downtown Albuquerque for lunch at the Flying Star Cafe.
So sight unseen, we met at the restaurant and sat down for lunch.  Allan and Jeanne have been full-timing 3 years.  Recently, they changed from a 5th Wheel to a 40' Phaeton motor home.  So far, so good and they are getting used to it.
After our lunch came, we asked to get a photo.  If you want to see a version of the same thing, go to their blog 'Dream Reachers' and you'll see something real similar...
It was very nice to meet them and strike up a new friendship.  They left Albuquerque for parts north and will be taking the train in Silverton, Colorado in the next day or two.

So that brings me to the question for the day:
How many of you have met people on your blog or via email and have had the chance to meet them in person?

That's if for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles ~ thanks for stopping by and jotting down a comment or two.  We appreciate them.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Roadrunner Repairs: Pump and Switches

The longer we are in the Roadrunner, the more things need attention.  As in replacement and / or fixing attention.
But that is not to be unexpected.   A premise I embraced early on in this adventure was "there are 3,000 moving parts on this coach and it is ALL going to break at some point."

So I am not surprised or frustrated by maintenance challenges when they pop up.  We are very pleased with our Tiffin Motor Home and still feel like it is one of the best values out there.

But about a month ago we noticed the water pump went out.  Pam turned on the switch and nothing happened.  Then we checked it out and sure enough it was dead.

We wanted to replace it ourselves.  I looked at the make and model number and called around to a few RV parts stores here in Albuquerque.  Then I shopped online and decided to order a replacement from American RV Company.
Once it arrived, we spent about 30 minutes replacing it.
First I turned off the water.
Then I removed the water filter so I could get at it.
 Next, Pam removed the fuse which is located under the refrigerator.
 I got our my new DeWalt drill and found an extension Phillips head.
A few minutes later, I had the four screws removed.  I looked at the new pump and it has about 1/4 inch more of a rubber gasket on the bottom than the old one.  Because of that, I needed to put in longer screws.
Next, Pam looked over the three connecting wires and carefully disconnected them.  
After I positioned the new one into place, Pam reconnected it.  Then I carefully replaced the four screws.  I turned on the pump and it was very quiet.  I thought - wow!  This is great, it is SO much more quiet than the old one.

Oops -
I forgot to turn on the water and make sure it was flowing through the pump correctly.  Pam confirmed the 3.0 gallons per minute (gmp) water flow inside.  It was still quieter than the old one, but only a little.  But it worked perfectly.  Success!
In a related replacement, we had three of the water pump switch lights burn out in the last couple of months.  I ordered replacements and a spare from the Tiffin Parts Department.  They arrived in a few days.
 Pam popped off the top and figured out which side to attach and presto!
 More success!  She did the same thing for the one in the bathroom and the one near the water pump in the wet bay.
Even though this was a relatively easy repair, it helps us gain a little more confidence in what we can do.  For example, I have friends who have replaced toilets in the RV and it is something I think we could do on our own if we ever had to.  But I hope that doesn't happen since our toilet (expensive toilet) was replaced last year.

So we feel good about fixing up the water pump and replacing a few light switches.  Nothing like a little maintenance to put us in a good frame of mind.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  We love hearing from you and appreciate those comments.  Keep 'em coming...

Until next time,