MARCH 2008



As you can see, it was not far from the Luxury Motorcoach to Desert Pools RV Resort. Just a short drive from Fantasy to Reality ....

We like this Park and have been here several times in previous years so we were looking forward to the three natural spring hot tubs and the huge swimming pool of which this Park boasts.

We pull in at the office to register, and just as we were getting out of Harvey we hear .... "Hey Joe ... Hey Elsie".

We look over and there were Art and Sandy Peters who used to have a lot in Whatcom Meadows, the Park,DogPatch, in which Harvey, resides. "Happy Hour ... 4 o'clock -- our spot" In many ways these parks are just like coming home! But, the RV Gods were not yet finished with us!!!!

After registering, we drive to our spot, stop and try to get out of Harvey. When you open the door, there are two steps that are supposed to automatically deploy so you can get to the ground. But, suddenly, the steps only went out 1/2 way and were extremely spongy when stepped on. Something is busted!!! Now in the past, I would have immediately made a reservation at the nearest RV dealer for repairs. But, being an experienced RVer (?), I thought I had better diagnose the difficulty to see if I could repair it. So, we carefully back into our gravel site, set up, put out the slides and get ready for two weeks of relaxation. Oh, wait, I have to look at the stairs .. right?

The site, being all gravel, made getting down on my back under the front of Harvey and squirming my way back until I was directly under the steps distinctly "unfun". It had to be done. After careful scrutiny, I noticed that the steps are one complete unit that bolts to Harvey's frame. Bolted to the top of the stair unit is the motor that by deploying a small arm attached to the steps causes them to go out when the "brain" tells them to. The motor, however, is hanging down, snapped away from the top of the step unit. I notice that the four bolts which should attach the motor to the assembly have sheered off completely. The motor is just hanging there suspended only by the little deploying arm. By the way, if you have followed all this, you should buy and RV!!!

What to do? A quick trip to the web site for Kwikee Steps shows the motor can be replaced for only $360.00 plus shipping. In the fine print, I notice that they will only ship to a registered RV repair dealer. Now what?

I dig out an old piece of 6x6 that I have kicking around the back bin and wedge it under the steps so we can use them. It is now 4:00 and Happy Hour time at Art and Sandy's. The steps can wait until tomorrow!

It turns out that Art and Sandy often travel with Wally and Erma also late of Whatcom Meadows. This is turning out to be an old friend's meeting. Wally is just in the process of buying a County Coach Allure which immediately puts me back into "RV envy mode" that I thought I had left in the last Campground! Ah well, if you can't dream.....

The next morning, was step repair time. I had noticed that in the Park brochure was an ad for an RV Mechanic who would make house calls. I guess that they haven't yet learned from Doctors ....??? A quick call and sure enough, he was willing to come out and "cure" whatever ailed Harvey the next day. OK ... off to the hot tubs and swimming pool. The weather was sure improving with temperatures during the day in the mid 80'sF (29.4C) and at night in the high 40's F (8.3 C) which is perfect sleeping weather. We are making up for the previous lousy weather in San Antonio and Fort Stockton! And the swimming pool is great!!!!

The next day, as planned, the RV Doc arrived, pulled off the motor and said, "Yep, you need a new motor". "No worries, I can order one and have it here in several days."

Being cheap as hell, I asked in all innocence, "Can't you drill out the broken bolts and just replace them with better grade bolts? Huh, Huh??? Then we could save the cost of the new motor and brain."

It turned out that he did indeed have a drill press at home and with the help of his 8 year old son, he thought that he might be able to do just that. Off he went and promised to return tomorrow. Sure enough, the next day he appeared with 4 clean bolt holes in the old motor and 4 stainless steel new bolts to make sure this never happened again. He quickly reinstalled the motor and the stairs worked as before. Magic!!!! The bill was only $40.00 to boot. Have we lucked in???? Well, not exactly....

I have had problems with the starting batteries -- yes diesel engines require two 12 volt batteries to be able to turn over the high compression engine --- and when they get to be 6 years old, batteries tend to die. The last several times starting Harvey, required me to boost the starting batteries using the 4 house batteries. OK procedure as long as the house batteries are fully charged. We figured that since we had saved a packet on the steps, maybe we would have the RV Doc bring us new starting batteries and install them. He was delighted to be able to do this ... $180.00 per battery installed. We started out with this little experience facing a 450.00 bill and guess what ... we got there .... But, we were now ready to head to the barn with good batteries and sturdy steps.

The remainder of the two weeks passed gloriously. The weather was fantastic, we had a great dinner with the Peters, and still managed to spend lots of time swimming. This is, indeed, the life!

The day finally came to leave, and we headed out to the local fuel stop to top off Harvey's tank. As we drove in, the sign said "$4.09" for diesel. OUCH. But, we noticed the gas jockey up a ladder changing the price from 4.09 to 4.29. We got in just under the gun and were happy???? paying only 4.09!!!????

Stage one of the return home, Desert Hot Springs to Kettleman City CA, was extremely windy ... most of the way directly into Harvey's face. Needless to say, mileage that day was dismal! From Kettleman to Red Bluff, from Red Bluff through the Siskiyou to Junction City was typical I 5 corridor driving ... set the cruise control at 1600 rpm (58 mph) and keep heading north. Keeping awake is always the problem. Fortunately, the Siskiyou was bare and dry!!!!

We stayed several days in Junction City as there was a very large RV dealer there that handled Country Coach and Monaco RV's. Yeah, we were kinda kicking tires to see if we wanted to trade Harvey in on a newer, larger RV. After many hours of looking, the decision was made ... KEEP HARVEY!!!! What we would get extra in a new RV would cost us too much money to make the switch worthwhile. A few dollars spend dolling up Harvey would allow us to keep him for at least 2 or 3 more years. To that end, we called an RV stereo repair place and they sent out a techie to finally fix Harvey's surround sound system that had not worked for the past several years after we had Fraserway RV here in Vancouver, replace the DVD player we had blown in a Park with lousy power the year before.

This Techie turned out to be very very good. The TV in Harvey is one of the old heavy CRT units that is very hard to pull out to get in behind it to hook up the correct cables. Instead of doing the hard work, the Fraserway Techie simply said that it could not be hooked up and we would have to live with it. This guy, pulled out the TV, plugged in the correct cables into the correct places and ... VOILA ... surround sound restored. Sure makes you like Fraserway Techies eh?????

In order to acclimate to the expected rain in Vancouver, we thought that a short detour to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast might be in order. After several days there, on the beach, we might be ready for Vancouver's April ordeal.

You know these machines are funny .... you assume things that may or may not be true.  We pulled into Cannon Beach, checked in, parked, and began to plug in.  Well, the Progressive EMS high Voltage meter, instead of checking through all circuits and then flashing "E 0" which means all is well, only flashed 888.  Over and over again!!!  I went down to the desk and told them something was wrong with their pedestal.  They sent the "service guy" (read gardener) to have a look.  He plugged in the device that checks polarity -- you know the plug with  the three lights on it -- and said all was well with their side.  So, what to do?  I have the Hughes Autoforma in line before the Progressive and have not had one second of problem with any of them.

I get on the phone and call South Carolina service guys and then spend 2 hours on my back in the side compartment ... legs sticking wildly in the air and the cell phone attached to my ear.  Took the damn thing apart.  Everything seemed to work OK.  But still no power.  It was raining and getting very late, when the Techie told me to go out and purchase a volt meter from the nearest Radio Shack.  Yeah yeah, I know I should already have one but ... electricity is black magic to me and the further away I can keep myself from the arcane science the better.  Anyway, out I go and find a Multimeter.  Radio Shack to the rescue, but what do I do with this thing?  There are two prongs and a dial, all of which means something to someone. It is now dark, raining, and I hurt in every part of my body.  I was not designed to fit into one of those damn tiny compartments!  Tomorrow ... I'll call back then and continue the problem solving????

Anyway, the next AM, the techie with whom I was dealing, was home sick so got another guy.  We had to start all over again with problem description and what we had done to that point.  All the time our cell phone minutes are clicking away to 0 ... the black hole where .30 cents per minute is the rule!

With my new Radio Shack toy, the techie, after explaining to me just how to use it, had me check power in all sorts of places.  Apparently, we had 120V at the pedestal, 120V at the end of the power cord, 120V at the Hughes, and 120V going into the Progressive. But, when I measured within the Progressive EMS itself, we had only 30.0 V.  What the hell?????  Now, this techie was not only very very patient, but also very very good.  So, we got out our normal orange power extension cord and switched everything down to 20 amps.  Still no joy!  So, he had me start the generator, plug the extension cord into an outlet in the RV to see if that would work ... the RV providing the power to itself.  WOW... the EMS checked through all the circuits and click on --- ready to go.  Then, Elsie got the bright idea to run the much longer extension cord to the next door pedestal --- the 50 amp cord was too short to reach --- and check there. We turn off the generator and what do you know ... everything worked.

Well, after well over 2 hours that day, I put everything back together, and went down to see the office again.  This time the girl said that she had mentioned my problems to the manager that AM, and the manager said that they have had problems with this site before.  But, don't worry, she said. We can move you to another site. I COULD HAVE INSERTED MY FOOT IN A SPOT OF HER ANATOMY THAT WOULD HAVE GOTTEN HER ATTENTION FOR A VERY LONG TIME!!!!

So, a site change and all is well.  I called the techie back and told him that a new site solved the problems.  I don't think I have ever heard a techie so frustrated!!!!

The reason, we hoped to stay in the original site was that it had a view to the south, so I could have used my DataStorm.  The new site is completely blocked, but at least the WiFi here is OK.  As usual, after one of these experiences, I know now what to do if it happens again.  That is if my memory doesn't fail me .... sigh

The trip to DogPatch we uneventful. That is, until we pull in and try to hook up Harvey to the Park power. Same thing as Cannon Beach ... no power to the Coach! The gods were chuckling I'm sure.

Fortunately, our Park has a very competent maintenance man, George. He diagnosed the problem as being too many people on one of the legs of power and not enough on the other. When we plug in, we require over 104 volts on each leg minimum. We were getting less than 104 on one leg and the usual 124 on the other. My system would not accept that situation. Several hours later, George and Pat had "balanced" as many of the sites on my circuit in the Park as possible, and we could get power to the coach. Hey ... life is good again!!!!

The future has been decided. We keep Harvey! That decision drives several other decisions. We need new tires, the engine requires an oil change, and the transmission should be changed over to synthetic oil. All filters and belts should be examined and changed if necessary. That alone is a LOT of money, but we were not finished yet. Elsie would like to replace the easy chair in Harvey, and we would like to be able to get Canadian news when we are down south. The former is a future decision and the later requires a StarChoice automatic dish on the roof to replace the Kingdome.

By ourselves, we will be keeping the BC economy driving forward at a fevered pitch .... fun does cost a lot of money ... sigh.

We do plan a short RV trip to the Okanagan in the end of May, and a trip to England in September.

Other than that, we will be in Vancouver until Elsie decides on the date to leave. It is her year to choose ..... Keep tuned!


Joe, Elsie, Lord Stanley, and the nutcase. Lord Thurston.

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