Friday, April 29, 2011

Roadrunner Repairs - Glass

Thanks to the people who have recently joined the Roadrunner Chronicles:
I have linked to their blog(s) so if you click on their name, you can read their stories.

One of the facts of life in the motor home (The Roadrunner) is along with the scenic views from our front row seats, comes the risk of windshield damage.  We have a big one piece windshield that has been the target of wayward rocks from cars and trucks on the highway over the two years we have been full-timing.

Similarly, our little Honda CRV has also had damage from flying rocks.  Recently while we were in Arizona, we noticed a large crack in the windshield that was slowly getting bigger.  We decided to wait until we got to Albuquerque to get it fixed.  

We have our car insurance with USAA (United Services Automobile Association).  They put us in touch with Safelite Auto Glass.  They did a fantastic job!  We can highly recommend them!  We got an appointment and went out to their facility on the north edge of Albuquerque.

Our deductible is $250 for a windshield replacement and they only charged a total of $230 so we were glad about that.

We always like to learn about these things and our technician Danny let us go back to the work area and watch the proceedings.
In fact, he set up a couple of chairs for us and we learned all about the company and about the technology.
I didn't realize that windshields are secured in place with plastic pieces that snap in the frame.
 He used his trusty DeWalt power drill and unscrewed some pieces.
 He also removed the windshield wipers.
And popped out the plastic trim.
He attached a hinge doo hickey on the side of the window.  He put a similar suction piece on the new glass that made it easy to rotate the new one into place.
Another tool he used was a wire cutter that he fitted around the edge of the glass.  The hand crank tightened the wire and it actually cut the glass from the rubber sealing on the inside.
The wire is only good for one use...
Danny and another tech lifted the old glass out.
 And put a bead of adhesive around the new windshield before they installed it.
The suction cup arm / hinge worked perfectly and they eased it into place for a perfect fit the first time.
They vacuumed the car, cleaned the window and we were good to go.  The whole thing took about 90 minutes.

The next day, I called Allied Insurance (our RV insurer) and asked to have Safelite come and fix a chip in our RV windshield.
 John arrived and went promptly to work.  He came inside and taped a small mirror onto the inside of the windshield so he could tell where the resin was going.
He filled in the hole and then cleaned off the windshield.  It was a big job but I wasn't complaining.
The $80 cost was covered by our insurance so there was no 'out of pocket' cost this time.

We are sold on Safelite and will use them the next time.  It was pretty convenient and we learned alot.

Have you all ever had windshield damage? What glass company do you use?

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  And we always appreciate your comments!
Until next time...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Painted Desert

This is part two of our trip last week through the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.  We continued north from the southern entrance to the Petrified Forest National Park not far from Holbrook, Arizona.  We had a number of stops along the way and ended up back in Holbrook, where we started the day which ended up being about an 80 mile day trip.

As we proceeded from Puerto Pueblo in the Petrified Forest and continued north, we crossed over I-40 and saw a display commemorating the old Route 66.  The roadside information included a map showing the towns Route 66 went through from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The series of old telephone poles still stands next to the raised ground which was the highway for many years.  It is now over run with sage brush and weeds and has been replaced in part by I-40.

Then on to some more spectacular views of the painted desert.

Fred Harvey was a entrepreneur who build a series of lunch rooms and restaurants along the railroad system out West.  He is credited with establishing the first national restaurant chain.  Among the locations that became part of the Fred Harvey Hotel chains along the Santa Fe Railroad were the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, the Desert Inn here in the Painted Desert and the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona.
The Desert Inn was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during 1937-1940 on the site of an earlier construction called the Stone Tree House and taken over by the Fred Harvey company from 1946 to 1963.   Hopie artist Fred Kabotie painted the unique murals on the walls.

Outside, there were trails and markers near scenic stops.
More sweeping views overlooking colorful canyons.
Near the northern end of our route, we stopped at the Visitor Center.  The National Park Service always does a good job of explaining the history and significance of the area.
One last shot of some beautiful rocks on display.

Next, we went to Jim Gray's Petrified Wood store near Holbrook.  It was a souvenir and gift shop mixed with huge display that was also a museum.
We also took a drive through the historic part of downtown Holbrook and passed the Wig Wam Motel.  It was fantastic!  During the early days of Route 66, the motel came up with this unique idea.  Now it is a stopping spot for tourists and photographers like me.  There was a great collection of antique cars parked in front of the motel rooms.
Our stop in Holbrook turned into one of our favorite days seeing the sights.  We got to see a lot of amazing scenes and learned about the recent and distant past history of the region.  If you ever have the chance to stop in the area, I don't think you will be disappointed.

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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Petrified Forest

What a glorious day!  We drove from our campground in Holbrook to the southern entrance of the Petrified Forest National Park (1) to the Painted Desert Visitor Center (2).
We  finished up the day back at Holbrook seeing Jim Gray's Petrified Wood shop and  the Wig Wam Motel on Historic US Route 66.   It was quite a day.  I took lots of pictures...

In fact I took so many pictures, I am going to split up the trip into two posts:  this one and the next one on the Painted Desert and what we saw in Holbrook.

At the southern entrance park to the Petrified Forest National Park, we presented out Annual Pass.  We  bought in February at the Big Bend National Park for $80 and calculate we have used it for $50 in entrance fees so far.  It won't be too much longer before it will have paid for itself.

At the entrance, the park ranger made it clear that the Petrified Forest is a protected landmark and they are serious about trying to preserve the lands.  Shockingly~ almost a ton of petrified rock is removed every month by visitors!  Therefore, minimum fines of $325 are in place for collecting petrified wood, rocks fossils, plants or animals.

Something like only 10% of the petrified forest land are is protected by the National Park/National Wildnerness Area and there are commercial companies that are authorized to collect and sell petrified rocks.  So there are legitimate ways to get keep sakes.

We started out at the Rainbow Forest Museum.  We always like to get an overview of the park area and we sat in for the 20 minute movie.  Along time ago this area was underwater.  Large trees and forest were caught up in the flooding.

Then a huge land shift covered up the area and all the sediment and minerals somehow found their way into the trees and the silica-mixed ground water somehow replaced the wood makeup with silica deposits.  Eventually it crystalized into quartz and the logs were preserved as petrified wood.
Inside the Rainbow Museum is a display that shows every state in the Union having petrified wood.  It is just not as plentiful and majestic as the collection here in the Petrified Forest.  I did not know that.

Adjacent to the museum is an easy paved Giant Logs trail.  We walked through that area which only took about 30 minutes.  On the trail is the park's largest log, known as 'Old Faithful'.
Next we took another hike along the Long Logs and the Agate House trails.
These two trails are next to each other and shows the parks largest concentration of petrified wood.
The Agate House trail is along a building of petrified wood that is speculated to be something like what some peoples may have lived in a long long time ago.  It was reconstructed to its present state by Civilian Conservation Corps personnel back in the 1930's.
From the Agate House, we continued on the trail through open fields of petrified logs and near sandstone and an area of badlands.  It was a very interest hike through different kinds of scenery.

From there we went to the Blue Mesa which is an overlook of some astounding vistas.  We had a picnic lunch while we tried to take in all the beauty.
I don't have enough words in my vocabulary to describe all this.  The pictures seem to be one enormously beautiful view after another after another after another that all run together...  I took 249 pictures during the day and every one was a sample of unique beauty.
It got to be a little windy and at some of the overlooks, we just stopped and took some pictures rather than taking a hike on the trail.

A stop along the way was 'Newspaper Rock'.  There you can use the telescopes to view petroglyphs.
A short distance away a small community of ruins called Puerco Pueblo shows some more petroglyphs and remains of where ancients lived.  The short paved trail through the area makes it accessible and an easy hike.

It was a perfect day and a lot of fun.  It was very interesting and definitely a unique and beautiful part of the world.  We couldn't take it all in really.  These pictures hardly do it justice.  I run out of descriptives and the amazing beauty all around us became one spectacular view after another.

In my next post, some views of the Painted Desert.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Snow in Arizona and other Surprises

What??  Yes -- we ran into some snow yesterday.  But that wasn't the only surprise.

After a wonderful time in Tucson the past couple of months, it was time to get ready and move on.  On Sunday, after I packed up the Roadrunner and repositioned everything in the basement so it would all fit, I did some mending.

My bike bag has served me well but it was in need of some TLC and I took out the needle and thread for some repairs.
It took me about 30 minutes to get it done and six or seven months to get motivated to do it...

Next we settled in and watched the Masters.  It is one of my favorites golf tournaments.  A newcomer won after an exciting back nine and my man Phil never was a factor.  Tiger put on a late charge but has never come from behind in a 'major' and came up short again.

We were up and raring to go on Monday. We went through the checklist, buttoned everything up, hooked up the car and pulled out.

Ugh oh...
the air bags did not inflate.  This has happened before.  Last time it happened we were up near Mackinac Island in Michigan.  The lesson there was to put down the jacks again, raise them and go through the whole sequence slowly.

We pulled out of the campsite area slowly and went to the overflow area that had a lot of empty space.  I was thinking if the Roadrunner had to be towed, it would be good to have a lot of space.  Instead of the coach being 16 inches off the ground, it was about half that height.  And the ride was bumpy.
Once in the overflow, we raised and lowered the jacks three times.  No dice.
Then we called the local La Mesa RV dealer since they sell Tiffins.  "Yes - we have a problem with the air bags."  "No ~ we couldn't get in for a couple of weeks" since they were busy.
Then we called the Freightliner shop about 6 miles from where we were.  "Yes - come on over and we will take a look."

We unhooked the car and prepared for the slow bumpy drive to Freightliner.  I turned around, slowly drove out and headed for the front gate on base.  About 300 yards from the gate, I pulled over to a large concrete area.  Pam and I talked some more, got out and looked things over.
Sure enough - the bags inflated and everything looked fine!
Hmmm.  Now were were just as surprised to see them filled as we were to find they had not inflated.

This happened another time about 15 months ago in Cedar Rapids, South Dakota.  We took the coach in to the Freightliner shop there after a similar episode. After $300, they said, "Looks good, we checked and couldn't fine anything....".
So we cautiously decided We to save $300 and go on our way.

Our destination was Holbrook, Arizona near the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert in northern Arizona.

We stopped about 50 miles south of Flagstaff for a rest stop and everything checked out fine.  Air bags were good.
This day was full of surprises and a lot of changing scenery.  We just couldn't believe the changes.
Tucson is about 2600 ft in elevation while Flagstaff is similar to Santa Fe and at 7,000 ft.  So we went through a lot of beautiful and changing scenery.
From the desert, to the high mesa.
Grassy meadows and rocky mountains with pine trees.
And then ~ snow!  What a surprise!  It was 61 degrees outside and the snow had not all melted.
 What?? While we were going through the rain and wind on Saturday, northern Arizona was getting hit with freezing temperatures and a snowstorm.
We missed a couple of other shots showing fields that still had snow.  It didn't look like it was very deep but it must have been something.  We could tell the highway had been plowed and there was plenty of salt and sand on the highway around Flagstaff.
As we continued east out of Flagstaff, we saw more spectacular beauty in the red rocks and canyons.

90 miles down the road in Holbrook, we found our campground.  It is a good place to stop and adequate for our needs.  The pull throughs are 60' long.  And there is a sewer connection every 10 feet so it can accommodate almost any kind of rig.  The staff is friendly and helpful.  Perfect for a couple of nights.
It was fairly empty when we arrived but then around 5:00, they were lining up 3 and 4 deep to check in and get a site.  The migration north is in full swing for the snowbirds.

That was our day on the trails of the Roadrunner Chronicles.  Thanks for joining us!  Until next time...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Time in Tucson Waning...

We have loved being here in Tucson and are 'getting in the mode' to travel on.  We are planning to leave on Monday, heading for Albuquerque with a stop at the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert in northern Arizona along I-40.

We have had a wonderful time in Tucson.  The views here are spectacular.
And we have been able to see friends Bub and Winnie again and return to a restaurant we like.

Here in the Agave Gulch RV Campground at Davis-Monthan AFB, we saw an older Tiffin Class C Motor home.  This looks like is about the same vintage as one we saw last fall in Destin FL.  It has the same paint scheme:  brown stripes and orange lettering
And then the last few days I have had the privilege to do some online work in the Roadrunner office...
Which has accounted for the majority of our time the last week.  But I am glad to do it and work toward a new refrigerator.  Thats right.  We have talked about getting a new 'Residential Refrigerator'.  It should cost us about $7,000.

It will be a great replacement to our present situation.  Over the last 4 or 5 weeks our Norcold refrigerator has gone into a reduced mode.  It is not dead yet but it only cools to about 40 degrees.
We had it looked at by Ken Cameron of Cameron's RV Repair service.  He is a very knowledgeable guy and thoroughly checked it out.  The coils in the back that you can access from the outside should be very hot if they are working correctly.  They were not and he suspects that crystallization in the coils.  What ever it is ~ frozen food has spoiled and the fridge only keeps drinks cool in the freezer portion.

We asked, but Cameron could not take on a project like installing a residential refrigerator until his schedule opens up in the next four or five weeks.  That does not work with our schedule.

We have an appointment in September at Red Bay, AL (Brannon's Custom RV) to get a residential refrigerator.  But what to do in the next five months?  Financially, it did not make sense to drive the 1500 miles to get it done now.  We have to be in Spokane Washington in June so it really was not an option.

So we found a smaller refrigerator at Best Buy for $200.  It has a lot more space than we initially thought we would have and is a very workable situation.

As I said, I have spent some serious hours working online the last few days so I am looking forward to catching the Masters Golf Tournament on TV.  The weather is supposed to be quite blustery in the next couple of days so it will be a good time to clean up things and get packed up for our departure on Monday.

Hope you have a great weekend.  Thanks for viewing the Roadrunner Chronicles!  Until next time...