Friday, February 28, 2014

Sometimes You Have to Bring Your Own Shade

We are glad to be in the sunshine and warm weather.  We hoped it would work out that way when we decided to spend the winter in Arizona.  And thankfully it has been mostly good weather here.

And with all the sunny weather, we sometimes need some shade.  It is thinking about Springtime here, but still has a ways to go.  The tree near our campsite is just budding.
But not a lot of shade.

I thought I'd see if I could come up with something with our beach umbrella to use here.  My biggest challenge was the corkscrew end of the bottom pole.  It works great in sand, not so great on hard packed gravel and packed dirt.
I came up with an idea to use a length of PVC and three large spikes.  I was going to use some nuts and bolts but decided not to.
Then I drilled three holes in the side near bottom of the PVC.
Then I scraped away the rocks, put the PVC in place
Then I put the spikes in, only I aimed them downward and used a 8# sledge to hammer them into the ground.

The PVC is just large enough for the corkscrew tip, but the rest of the umbrella needed to be stabilized inside so it didn't wobble.  I accomplished this by some extra wood I had.  I cut a couple of 6" pieces, then split them.
Then I dropped enough pieces (3) down the inside which made it snug and stable.
Then I moved the picnic table over near the umbrella pole and secured it with a bungee cord.
And it seems to be working.
And now we have more shade!

That's all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shiny Wheels Time

I have been carrying around a bottle of aluminum wheel polish for a long time.  I even used it once with marginal results but the first time I used it with a sponge buffing attachment.

A while back I picked up a couple of hard packed/cloth buffing attachments to use with my drill.

In the past few weeks I've had the Roadrunner washed and waxed.  And to keep it spiffy, I even wiped it down again with a rag and water (since no washing RVs is allowed on site).

But the wheels were lacking so I thought I would give it another try with my buffing attachment.
I used an attachment similar to this

And put ample amounts of this polish on the tip
And then went at it with lots of elbow grease.  It was a nasty job to take the wheels from this
to this
So I found a new solution to a dull wheels.  A good product and the right buffing tool.

Now to work on that stain on my top step...

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bungee Cord Door

We went for an evening walk a couple of days after we got here to Agave Gulch - the Davis-Monthan AFB FamCamp.  It is a nice time of the day and we caught the sunset.  There is something amazing about these Arizona skies.  Especially in the evening.
After our 15-20 minute stroll around the campground, we went back to the Roadrunner and Pam opened the door.  But the handle broke.

Ugh oh...

Yes the spring loaded handle on the outside broke on the inside.  Hmm.
Thankfully it popped open-- but the outside latch was no good.
The latch had no life to it and did not "catch" anything. It flopped back and forth, useless.

On the inside of the door, there is an easy access panel.  First I had to remove the deadbolt cover and the inside door handle cover, and then the four screws.
Then we did a little investigation to see what was amiss.
And there it was.  A broken piece a the bottom.

It was dark by now and there wasn't a whole lot we could do.  But we had to figure out how to close the door (without latching it).

The solution we came up with was a bungee cord.  I waited until the next morning to take a picture.
It did the trick.  It closed enough so that no small rodents could sneak into the Roadrunner...

The next morning we got a fresh start on it and proceeded to take get some more tools and see what we could find.  The piece was obviously broken and beyond repair.  We needed a new part or door handle.

We called Tiffin Service Center and had to order a whole new door handle.  I gave them our year, make and model plus our VIN number and thought $31.95 was completely reasonable.

Then we had to wait for the package to arrive but there was no delivery on Presidents' Day.  So each time we left the coach we had to reach in and hook up the bungee cord which pulled the door shut.

After a few days, finally the package arrived and we got to work.
We took a some more pictures and unhook this and that and massaged things a bit and the door handle unit came out.   Then we put the new unit into place and only needed a little persuasion to get it place.

The key to getting the unit in place was removing the clasp/springs that attach to the end of 1 horizontal and 2 vertical adjustment rods.
Those clasp/springs were knucklebusters and I had to remove and replace them at least half a dozen times.  It took lots of trial and error before we figured out the correct lengths on the adjustment nuts.
Then we claimed some success when the door closed and locked correctly!  I only have a few photos here but it took at least a couple of hours to get to this point.
We called the Tiffin Service Center and got some ideas and help.  But progress was slow and methodical.  But we made it this far...

Now the only thing left was to get the keyless lock system working correctly.  Hmm....
When I took the unit out of the door I had to loosen the screws on the keyless system so I could unhook things.  When I replaced it all, I tightened the two black screws down partially.  It all seemed to be in place.
After a while at trying different things, Pam saw that the screws were not tightened.  I fastened them down and gave it a try.  That was the magic final adjustment.

The latch and the catches all seemed to work with the proper tension.  Except after a couple of times opening it, the inside clasp/spring was getting hung up on some molded metal.  I decided to sand it down and smooth it out so it wouldn't snag.

Here's a photo of my engineering modification using my Dremel:
The top arrow shows where I am sanding a piece that looks just like what the bottom arrow is pointing to.  That little piece was snagging the clasp/spring of the vertical adjustment rod.  After I sanded it....

Presto!  It all worked.  The latch, the automatic locks and the keyless entry!!  It was a little surprising to us but a definite milestone in repair and maintenance skills.
A new door handle and no more Bungee Cord Door!

That's a look at our latest maintenance challenge and this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Seeing PGA Golf at Dove Mountain

We are sports fans and my #1 sport has been golf since I was about 10 years old.  I grew up watching Arnie and Jack and Gary.  And then Lee Trevino and Johnny Miller came along and I love to watch them on TV also.

But now and then we get to see the stars of today's PGA tour up live and personal.  Such was the case this week at the Accenture World Golf Championship at Dove Mountain which is outside of Tucson.

We saw tickets for sale last week at Costco and bought two tickets for $69.99.  As I was reading about how to get there and find details on the parking, I came across this:
 I read "...all military members including their dependents...."  which sometimes means Active Duty military.  Since we are retired military, I wasn't sure that included us.

But the more I read and went to the "BirdiesfortheBrave.org" web site, I was convinced it did include us!
We then went back to get a refund of our Costco tickets and had no problem.

Then on Wednesday, we drove out to Marana and found the Public Parking area.
The signs leading to the parking were evident from I-10 up to the parking area.  We paid our $10 parking fee and walked about 10 rows over to the Shuttle bus area where we went through security and loaded onto the bus.

Very easy - no wait and the bus ride took about 10 minutes to get to the front gate for our tickets.  It required us to show our military ID card.
A new deal for us is how the officials are managing cell phones.  They are allowed but have to be put on 'silent'.   No cameras are allowed but they well know that phones have cameras.  They have 'cell phone police' that are on the lookout for those taking pictures of the players, especially when they are on the tee box or near the greens.

But the rest of the time, it is no problem and I was able to get a few pictures.

Once on the grounds, we found a map of the grounds.
We made it over to the tent that was set up for the Military.  They advertised complimentary lunch, drinks and ice cream.

After finding it and showing our ID again, we got inside and waiting in line for lunch.  On Wednesday, Subway was the provider.
They had stacks sandwiches which were great!  And there were cans of soda and water.  And sure enough, ice cream for dessert.  Hard to beat!
On Thursday, Hooters had hamburgers and chicken wings.
Both days, we found the 13th green and parked ourselves there.  On Wednesday, we sat near the green.  The MetLife blimp was overhead which gives all those great shots on the Golf Channel and NBC.
On Thursday we had our chairs with us and were on the sidelines.  It was a great way to see all the matches and we had some good seats.
It was a great couple of days on the course at Dove Mountain and we were very impressed with how the whole tournament is run.  It could not have been easier for spectators like us.  And a big thank you to them for free tickets to us vets.  It was totally unexpected and not necessary.  But we really appreciate it!

Thanks all for this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time...


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Black Tank Flush

We have been pretty satisfied with our SeeLevel II tank monitoring system.  Except when it doesn't work.
Over the last 7 or 8 months we have been getting faulty readings.  I flush the tanks pretty well each time because I am thinking that some residue may be hanging on the inside of the tank.  And it reads "46" when I know it is empty and should read "0".

We have also put used dish water down the toilet at regular intervals in hopes that it may dislodge any remnants of stuff.  Sometimes it works--sometimes it doesn't.
Sometimes we put ice cubes down the toilet before we leave a campground and drive to the next destination.

But the fancy, push-a-button-and-get-the-tank-readings-machine --- isn't working like it is supposed to!

I asked around at Quartzsite and heard about a "Happy Camper" product but didn't know much about that.  Instead, I found the vendor at the RV tent that was selling the "See Level Tank Monitoring Systems" and asked what she recommends.

She asked a few questions and suggested we buy a couple of jars, one for an initial rinse and one for a second rinse a few weeks later.

Then we got our things organized for the clean-out:

I read and re-read the instructions.
Pam got the 5 gallon bucket and poured the cleaning agent into the bucket.
Mean while, I emptied the grey tank and emptied and rinsed the black tank.
Sadly, the black tank still registered 50% full.  (Which is the reason we are doing this exercise.)
While I was doing that, Pam finished filling and stirring the bucket.
Then with a smaller bucket, she put some down every drain:  the kitchen sink,
And the two bathroom sinks and the shower
Then the other half of the 5 gallon bucket went down the toilet.
We did all this before we departed Yuma.  We had a short drive to Gila Bend that day and during those couple of hours, the cleaning agent jostled and sloshed around the tanks.   When we got to our campground and got hooked up.  I emptied all the tanks again.  

Then I checked the readings on the See Level monitor and it read:
Would you look at that!  
But time will tell if it really worked.  So far it has been about two weeks and the gauges seem to be working correctly again and I haven't seen any false readings.  When I empty the tanks, they read 'zero'. 

At this point we are going to claim 'success' and keep watching the readings.  The lady at the booth at Quartzsite said she did her tanks a second time about a month later, but we figure we will save the second jar and not do it again for a while unless we get some faulty readings.

We saw the product for the first time at Quartzsite.  And then we saw it again at a Swap Meet setup in Yuma.  Probably the easiest way to get it is from Amazon.com.
I wanted to pass along our results in case your tanks need a good clean out.  Other products may work just as well, but we recommend this product.  

Are there any others out there you would recommend?

That's all for now on the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!!  Until next time...


Monday, February 17, 2014

Another Hike in the Desert

I want to get as many hikes in as we can during the next few weeks.  Just seemed like a fun thing to do.  And we enjoy the National Parks in the Tucson area.  There are a number of them.  Saturday we went back to the Saguaro National Park.
It was a beautiful morning and we were not surprised to see a lot of bikers and hikers.  We entered the park and drove past the Rincon Visitor's Center to the entrance booth where we found out it was a free access day.  No daily fee today!  We picked up a hiking map and pulled over to study it.

We decided on the area we wanted to see and found the road over to the Mica View Trailhead.
The trails are well used but also well marked and well maintained.  The one we chose was also a horse trail and they had been there a little while before us.  But not an issue, plenty of trails from which to chose.

One thing about the desert is that there are lots of vegetation.  The picturesque and majestic saguaro were all around.  But there were also palo verde trees, mesquite, plus chollas and prickly pear cacti.
It is a different kind of beauty that is, well -- beautiful!

After hiking a while, we made a turn near the Broadway Trailhead and picked up another trail
Along the way, we could see erosion control steps along some washes and figured it took a while to build those.  This park has been around since 1991 and is well taken care of.
And then one of our favorite moments of the hike.  We heard a bird singing for all its worth and just stopped and listened to it.  We couldn't quite tell where he was.  But we stayed still for a few moments and Pam spotted him in the distance about 150 yards away
Then we stopped for a picture.  There were a few folks on the trail, but most of the time we had it to ourselves.  And my handy tripod worked fine sitting atop a prickly perch.
After some good exercise and an enjoyable time, we found our way back to the car.
We left the area and went over to the Cactus Forest Loop and took a leisurely drive around the one-way road.
It wasn't too long before Pam spotted a desert creature along the side of the road.  Earlier, the ranger said to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes because they had their first sighting earlier in the week.  But this was no rattlesnake ---
What??? a turtle?  in the desert?
It was a desert tortoise - common in Saguaro National Park but not seen every day.  Boy was that a shock.  In the desert??  We never did see any water.  But apparently these little guys only need a little bit and have been know to store some for themselves to last 12-15 months.

We made our way around the Loop Drive and stopped at a couple of overlooks for some great views in a couple of different directions.
One thing I like about Tucson is that there are a lot of different parks nearby with some great hiking trails.  The Saguaro National Park (East) is a few miles from Davis-Monthan AFB where we are camping and it took about 15 minutes to get here.

We had a nice hike and spent a couple of hours getting some exercise enjoying the desert and warm 80 degree weather.

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