With Great Trepidation,

we begin .... our Maiden Voyage in ....


Dec. 19th, 2010


Sunday is the day to drive through Seattle!

As we end our first decade of RV'in, there seem to be certain truisms that can not be argued. You learn to cope with these "facts" as you go, eventually being able, you hope, to cope with almost anything that can be thrown at you by the RV gods. Traveling through Seattle is one of those absolutes and a wise man plans his whole trip with the idea of going through that unpleasant road system as early as possible on a Sunday Morning.

Another well accepted truism is that a new RV is a machine from Hell that is totally dedicated to making the purchaser a complete dribbling idiot. Two years is the accepted time period that is required to "iron out" all the bugs and fix all the mechanical issues before you arrive at a "perfect" RV. Even then there is always the unexpected event that will turn any trip into an exciting adventure. These little issues can crop up any time, but it is the first two years that can reduce even the bravest couple to tears. For you more intrepid readers of these missives, you will remember the "fun" we first had when we got Harvey. It took several years of frustration, but eventually Harvey proved to be a stalwart performer! We promised ourselves that we would never go that route again. If we were to replace Harvey, it would be with a two or three year old machine where someone else had gone through the excruciatingly painful birthing process. We were too clever to let that happen to us again.

Well, guess what ... as time wounds all heels, we must have forgotten the pain ...

Anyway, we were in Penticton for our Niece Marja's wedding. We arrived early so had a day to kill ... and we knew that Midtown RV was located there. So, foolishly we thought a little tire kicking would be in order. To make a very long story mercifully shorter, Elsie found not one, but two Motor homes with floor plans she loved. One was less expensive and the other more. Of course, we ended up with the more expensive one. But, it had all the mechanical "thingies" I wanted and after several weeks of offer/counter offer, we got the price we were willing to pay. All those years of studying RV prices in the US, and having a friend who sells Newmars in Junction City sure paid off.

Back we go at the end of October for the last drive in Harvey. It was very sad to part with the old guy as he had sure turned out to be a fantastic machine. He never let us down in any "big" way ... only hundreds of little ways in the first years. Now ... what can we expect with Périgord?

To begin with though, we had to stop in Junction City to visit our DataStorm Guru. We bought the Satellite Internet system in '04 and thought that we should keep it going. Although the Guys in Midtown RV said that they could install it on Périgord with no problems, something told me to get the experts to do it. Midtown took the system off Harvey and stored it in one of the bays in Périgord.

The trip through Seattle was a breeze and the run to Junction City was even fun. I must admit that I am enjoying driving Périgord! With 70 more horse power and nearly 500 foot lbs more torque this thing is a rocket when compared with Harvey. Add to that the comfort steering package which allows for the driver to choose just how the steering feels the road, and the two stage honest-to-god, trucker-style "Jake Brake", I'm getting really fond of Périgord.


Junction City

On arrival in Junction City, we contacted Don Marr who is the resident expert on all things Motosat. We set up an appointment to have the Satellite installed and to have the rest of the equipment fine tuned after a winter's rest. A visit of three days, and we were ready to head south with all systems "GO". Lake Havasu here we come.

Leaving Whatcom Meadows Dec 19th 2010

                        1. Dec 24th -- Jan 7th Lake Havasu AZ
                        2. Jan 7th -- Jan 21 st Desert Hot Springs CA
                        3. Jan 21st -- Feb. 4th Yuma(Pilot Knob) AZ(CA)
                        4. Feb. 4th -- Feb. 18th Casa Grande AZ
                        5. Feb. 18 -- Mar 4th Tucson AZ
                        6. Mar 4th -- Mar 18th Indio CA
                        7. March 18 --- head home

    Well, that was the basic idea to start with. You will notice that all these towns and cities are large enough to have good RV repair centres. We were taking no chances... Oh, we of little faith!


    Lake Havasu

    The drive through the Siskiyous was beautiful. Périgord climbed the hills with not a burp, and the road was clear and dry. We slipped, at 55 mph of course, through California and arrived in a park at Lake Havasu that we had not visited before. In fact, we had never even stopped in this area. We had heard that with the London Bridge transplanted there, the community puts on a sort of Dickonsian Christmas with appropriate displays, carolers etc. We should have done more research before we made the two week reservation. Alas, it was not to be. Christmas came and went without a single roasted chestnut, stuffed goose dinner, or even the Salvation Army band playing on a corner. Elsie and I were left to our own devices to celebrate the season.

    The weather was rather cool for this area with the daily temperatures in the mid 50's F to the mid 60's F (12 to 18 C) during the day and often went below freezing at night. The Parks here are divided between those that have lake access and those that have desert access. The Lake Parks have every type of water craft known to man. The entire life of the park centers around when you are going boating, when you are boating, and when next you will be going boating. The desert access Parks -- which we were in -- have every know type of vehicle that can scream, with great speed and noise, across the empty stretches of the Sonora desert. As Elsie and I are neither boaters or sand dune bashers, we did have a little problem fitting in.

    In fact, as it was over the Christmas period that we were there, the Park was almost empty with most of the rigs standing empty, waiting for the return of the owners. Add that to the cool weather and you can understand why the Park had the two swimming pools and hot tubs covered. Given my long developed blubber coating, I wanted them to open the pools, but they would only bend as far as letting me take the solar cover of one of the hot tubs if I would guarantee that I would replace it. Well, it really was a two man job to do this so as you can imagine, I didn't get a lot of soaking time.

    Ahhh gentle readers. I hear you say that there have been no Périgord problems mentioned yet. Could it be ... might it be ... Périgord is no Harvey? We all remember the early days of Harvey and the "challenge" he was to us? Does this mean that Périgord has no teething difficulties. Well ... not exactly ...

    It was here in Lake Havasu that the first problem reared its very ugly head. Périgord is equipped with an Oasis Hydro hot heating system. This system heats both the interior of the coach and also all the hot water you could ever want ... we are no longer stuck with limits of a 10 gallon hot water tank. It does this using either electric power or its own separate diesel boiler system. If the weather is just cool, you can heat the coach with the electric option and only use the diesel burner for those long, luxurious, hot showers that most RVers can only dream about. If the weather is cold, then the diesel burner provides lots of heat to the coach if left on. It does use fuel from Périgord's diesel tank, but it really is not that thirsty even in really cold weather. So, it is quite a large step up from Harvey ... right??? For those of you who might want all the technical details on this system, click on the icon below.

    Sounds great eh??? Well, it is GREAT when it works.


    On our arrival in Lake Havasu, it was cold. No problem, thought I. Set up Périgord on the campsite, come inside, level the coach, put out the slides and turn on the thermostat. Comfort city .... right?

    We kept waiting for the tell tale sound of the boiler firing .... we waited and we waited, and we got colder and colder. No heat and no hot water. This could be a problem ....

    Well, never being the sort of person who might let a mechanical device get the better of him, I started to push buttons on the control panel in the coach. Nothing ... So, all that is left is to go outside to the bin that holds the guts of the system and have my first really good look at this monster. There it sat ... painted a lovely shade of green, with pipes coming and going all over the place. What to do? Well, proudly positioned in the middle of the machine, were three buttons, a string of LED lights, and a little window through which one is supposed to see flames when the boiler fires. Well the buttons were there, lights were flashing off and on, but no flame appeared. No problem, I can push buttons ....

    Let's see ... there is an "power off/on" button, a bypass button, and reset button. Applying Aristolean logic, for which I am duly famous, I thought, "I don't wish to bypass the system. I want the damn thing to work!" So, the first and third buttons quickly became my focus. With Elsie inside running the hot water thereby creating a demand on the boiler, I started to push buttons in various sequences. Every time I did, the string of LED lights blinked encouragingly, but no hot water and no boiler firing sounds. Hmmmmmm.

    Suddenly, almost for no understandable reason, the boiler fired! Yahoo .... we will be warm.

    So as not to prolong the agony, the heating system worked flawlessly for the rest of our visit in Lake Havasu. What was the problem you might ask. Hell, I don't know. Perhaps just a hiccup??? A new Rig temporary flaw? Hmmmm, we were skeptical.

    But, we did have a good time wandering around the area exploring. The weather was not conducive to a lot of outdoor activities, but one trip did stand out. We headed to an old, mostly abandoned, gold mine town called Oatman. This little town has been reinvented as a tourist site the highlight of which is the number of "wild" donkeys that wandered at will through the town. Have a look at the pictures especially those of Peanut the mother donkey and her daughter Butter. We had a great lunch there and really enjoyed getting out of the Park and into the desert.

    After two weeks there and not meeting a single sole, we were pulling out when a guy walking his dog passed by and saw our BC plates. He ran up to the driver's window and asked where in BC we were from. After passing these salient bits of information, we quickly realized that his home park was Swan Lake in Vernon where we visit a couple of times a year. He was there with two others from Swan Lake but it was too late. Friends were indeed in this Park, albeit on the other side, with whom we could have gotten together. Maybe the Park would not have seemed so lonely ... Maybe we would have liked it more ...

    But, off we went to Desert Hot Springs ... with hot tubs I KNOW will be open.


    Desert Hot Springs

    The drive from Lake Havasu to Desert Hot Springs is not long and the day we left, the weather was beautiful ... sunny, blue sky with the temperature hovering around the mid to high 60's F (20 C). Our desire was to by-pass as much of the I10 as humanly possible. Why, you ask? This is one major east/west truck route and can be a bit of a "white knuckler" to drive. The choice we had is to head on 95 to Parker and cross the Colorado River there and wander south west through the tiny towns of Vidal Junction and Freda. This is a beautiful, quiet road snaking out across the desert. Beats the hell out of an I10 traffic mess! As the total drive was less than 200 miles, we figured that we had lots of time to just poke along and enjoy the scenery. It was a nice drive.

    We did have to join the Interstate at Desert Center, but that was for a short a time as possible and at Indio, we took the very small, quiet back road to our membership park, Desert Hot Pools. Time for some serious soaking in one of the three hot tubs they have there all fed by healthy underground hot springs. I was sure ready for that!!!

    We have been to this Park many times over the years so we knew just what was waiting for us. On top of that, we knew that our good friends Mark and Pat Darling/Winship were also in the area and Rugby friends John and Betty Langley were staying just around the corner from us. It will be such a nice change from the Park in Lake Havasu.

    But, before we can settle in, there was the heating issue to confront. Sure enough, we get to our site, setup and go inside to check the hot water situation. DAMN ... no hot water and no furnace. Out I go to the bin hiding the monster. As I stare at the three button option, I was frustrated enough to just start pushing randomly hoping for a pleasant surprise. Again nothing for at least 5 minutes and suddenly the boiler started. We had heat again. As I swaggered back inside, once again the victor, I casually glance at the interior control panel and lo and behold a new red light has decided to come on. What the heck???? The title of this little bugger was "heater module fault" So, we now have proof that our difficulties were not just a one of hiccup! It was time to call in the Big Guys!

    A quick call to Newmar service center in Indiana resulted in a very pleasant person recommending to us the name of a traveling RV Repair person in our area who was qualified to work on Oasis Heating Systems. A quick call to him, and out he came to see what was wrong. It only took him 10 minutes to diagnose the problem. A faulty compressor was the culprit. Simple eh? Not so fast!!!

    The repair person had to call Seattle and get permission from one guy there to have the part shipped out to us. Do you think he could get in touch with him? This guy, Steve Elwell quickly become our heating nemesis but finally he agreed and the part was shipped to us the next day. Whew, we thought. The problem solved and nothing before us but lots of hot water and a warm coach. In hind sight, we realize now just how hard the RV Gods were laughing at our naivety!

    And indeed the next two weeks were fun. The weather remained warm during the day and the hot tubs were indeed working. One tub is set at 96F; the next one at 98F and the last one at 102F. On top of that there is a very large swimming pool all of them using the natural hot spring water. With John and Betty just around the corner from us, we had another pool and hot tub at our disposal. Mark and Pat were also very close by so we had lots to do. What with happy hours, dinners, lots of swimming time, and wandering through Palm Springs and environ, the days just flew by.

    Our last night there, we decided to visit a local eatery, The Sidewinder Grill, that was highly recommended to us. Well the company was great, but the food ... well suffice it to say, it will be a one time visit.


    Just to orient the readers, the cast of delinquents from left to right ... me, Pat, Mark, Betty and last but not least of course, John. Elsie was taking the picture. You see guys ... I did put this shot in the web page.




    Our next stop is an old favourite of ours, Pilot Knob just on the California/Nevada border.







    Another short drive today. This is the way to cut your fuel costs ... 160 miles so it will take us about 3 hours. A walk in the Park with a late morning take off. This is the relaxing way to travel. What a life eh?



    Getting there was half the fun. Arriving at the Park, the question still was floating around in the back of our minds ... would the Oasis heater function or would I be back to playing the "three button kazoo". Hmmm ... we were hopeful, but the RV Gods were still laughing. We had a number of people in the area we wanted to visit, and we had our Auxiliary Brake System to get repaired. When the system was transferred over from Harvey by the Techs in Midtown they were not familiar with just how this system worked so I simple turned it off until we got to Yuma. On a previous trip there we had problems with the system and had been advised by the makers of the US Gear system to visit this unlikely looking Brake, Muffler and Radiator shop. It turned out that these guys were incredible! They quickly, and cheaply, found the problem and solved it for us. So, we knew to phone them for an appointment on our arrival.

    Guffaw, Guffaw!!! We pull into the site and guess what ... NO HEAT!!!

    My heart fell like a stone. Out I go and play the kazoo. Eventually it works and heat has been restored. Now we have two calls to make. One to the Brake people and one to Oasis.

    The Brake people told us they were available in two days time to have the system repaired. Unfortunately, they are in Yuma, about 10 miles away, and they don't make house calls. So, we have to lift anchor in two days and drive to their shop. Oh well ... at least this will be fixed!

    We make a call to Oasis's main man Steve Elwell. No answer so we leave a message. This was the start of many messages left for this turkey, but more on this in a bit.

    Just to remind you, we have two satellites on the roof of Périgord. The old Internet satellite taken from Harvey and the new TV satellite installed by Midtown. Both systems were made by Motosat. In our division of labour table, I'm responsible to make sure the Internet works and Elsie is in charge of the TV Satellite.

    After our trip to Junction City, the Internet satellite was working well and Elsie was having no problems with her TV satellite. Oh, Oh I hear you saying.....

    The next morning, a knock on the door and there stood a gentleman who wanted to wash and wax Périgord that very day!!! The price was reasonable! The thought of the two of us spending three days accomplishing this very tedious task made our decision simple ... Pitter patter ... get at her!!! They did a nice job, even washing and waxing the roof. Périgord looked spectacular.

    Next morning we lifted anchor and headed to Yuma and the Brake and Muffler shop. As usual, they went through the system very quickly, found the ms-wiring problem that Midtown created, and repaired everything. We were good to go and off we head back to Pilot Knob. What would the heating situation be?

    We pull in, hook up, put the slides out and .... NO HEAT! Out I go to play the kazoo ... again. Eventually, we get the heat back on, and just as I was climbing in the front door, Elsie gives a little cough and says ... "Guess What? The TV satellite is not working. Those damn RV Gods were at it again. Another phone call to make, sigh.

    Current score ... aux brake fixed, Oasis still on the blink and the Motosat TV satellite wonky! But, Périgord looks beautiful!

    We get a Mobile Tech to come out and look at the system. After climbing all over the roof, he determines that there are two parts that need to be replaced. My comment was, "Good, Do it". But things are never as simple as that. He had to take the parts off, and send them to Salt Lake City, Motosat's HQ, to be tested. That would take about a week round trip. But, by then, we would be in Casa Grande miles away from Yuma. No problem, I'm assured. Motosat would send the new parts to us in Casa Grande.

    Simple eh? Not quite!!! We find out that there was no Qualified Mobile Tech in Casa Grande. To top that off, due to Motosat's exceedingly slow payment record to mobile Techs, the guy in Pilot Knob wanted to get paid now for the work he had done. $90.00 later he was off, but before he left, he did tell Elsie how to make the TV Satellite work manually. It took much longer, was more difficult, but at least we would have TV. Motosat told us that they would cover the $90.00.

    So, did we have no fun in Pilot Knob? No! We met Matt and Carol who were staying for 3 months in Yuma and Gary and Janice Johnstone who were staying in our old stomping grounds Del Pueblo. Gary owns Johnstone's BBQ here in North Van and is the expert on all things BBQ. During one Happy Hour, I was grousing about the cost of propane to heat the Weber BBQ. Gary asked me why I didn't hook up to the huge tank in Péigord. I didn't know you could, was my comment. The next day, Gary shows up with all the bits and pieces to accomplish this task. Within a very short time, the transformation was complete.

    We made plans to visit the Arizona Market Place in Yuma which is a very large general market that specializes in many things RV. It didn't take much time for Gary to identify a weakness that had escaped us in the past. The sewer system could be much improved. Sure enough, we found the "Sewer Solution" for sale in one of the booths. Oh well, I thought, what is another $150.00. It would be much cleaner and much more convenient that the old one. Just to get even, we then found a dealer for the tire pressure monitor that keeps track of all RV and tow car tire pressures as you go down the road. Gary didn't have one so $480.00 later, he now has one. It was decided that we had better leave the market quickly before we both we completely broke. Several Happy Hours and dinners later, it was time for us to head off to the next Park, Casa Grande.

    We were still waiting to hear from Steve Elwell, and still waiting for the parts to come to us from Motosat. Other than that, Pérgord was running very very well.