Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mohave Valley

Odometer 42,625
Trip meter 212 miles

Thursday November 27th- Thanksgiving Day

Okay, we had a plan for today, we really did.  It was a beautiful morning, sunny and warm.  We left Kit Fox RV in Patterson and headed down I-5 with a final destination of Bakersfield.  Joan says Bakersfield has a bad aura for us, but the park we were headed to - Orange Grove RV really is an Orange Grove, and it is a very nice park in all other respects also.  Our plan was to arrive in the early afternoon, have some cold libations and some salty snacks, then make up a vegan feast for Thanksgiving, and talk to the family on the phone.

I think the picture above kinda gives the impression that things did not go as planned.  That's the Kern County Fire Department responding to our call for help.
A little background is in order here- Okay, we've been having a few sporadic alarms from our propane dectector.  The detector is mounted into the cabinet below the referigerator and we would mute it and fan some air over the front of it and it would go quiet- sometimes for the rest of the day.  My gut told me to trust my instruments, but the alarm is 6 years past its expiration date, and the interval between alarms might be an hour or a day or more- so I had the purchase of a new alarm on my list, next stop at an RV supply.  While at Kit Fox during our set-up I kept smelling propane, so I got some soapy water and tested all the connections on the tank and the piping- nothing, not a single bubble. The alarm would not be quieted, so I committed the cardinal sin- I disconnected it from the wall and unplugged it!   I decided that I'd better shut off the tank at the main valve and did so before we turned in for the night.  We also opened our bedroom window and ran the fantastic fan all night.
Today when I got out to stow the utilities, I could still get a whiff of gas every now and then.
We decided to get to Bakersfield and re-assess the situation, there would be parts stores and service centers if we found any problems.
Well- after setting up in our assigned spot at Orange Grove we started smelling propane odorant again.  Jeff got out the soapy water and a sponge again and this time he soaped the whole tank.

The front of the tank looks almost brand new, very little rust and everything looks tidy

It wasn't until I was on my back under the tank and working over the back side with the soapy sponge that I finally found the spot on a weld on the hanger bracket.

With 21 gallons of propane in the tank and no way to shut off the leak- Joan and I looked at each other, and said now what ??  There was no one in the park office, so we started calling the major propane distributors in the area (yeah- on Thanksgiving day at 3 in the afternoon)  The emergency number netted us one call back from a distributor who told us there was nothing they could do- they do not have equipment that will remove propane from a motorhome tank.  He told us to call the fire department- so we did.

Poor Dino and Barbara in the space next to us!  The crew from the fire department set up a gasoline powered fan to blow the fumes away and opened up the spitter valve on the tank to vent out the contents.  After a few minutes I suggested that maybe they could use my BBQ extension hose to vent more quickly.  They hooked up the extension and cut the fitting off the other end.  This got the vent going a little faster, but the smell was still venting right by the coach, so mister meddler- I suggested they run that small extender hose into my spare water hose- seal it with some black tape to run the vent further from sources of ignition, which they did.   After 2 hours, darkness was descending on us and we still had 1/2 the tank to go- I was desperate for a better solution.  I suggested that we remove the regulator and tape the water hose directly to the outlet valve.  The firemen did that, and I explained to them that there was an equalization valve in the outlet fitting that if they opened it up too fast, or too much it would shut down the flow to a trickle.  After messing with the valve for a few minutes we got to the fastest flow without the safety cutting in and closing it off.

By now (6 PM) Joan and I were hungry- no lunch and now no dinner.   We had killed all the power to, and within, the motorhome, and were sitting in the car.  The fire department left one firefighter to sit with the leaky tank and the others returned to the station.  Finally Joan drove off to find us something to eat- only to find that McDonalds was the only place near us still open.  She brought back two salads and an order of fries, which we gobbled down.  By 10 PM the Fire Chief finally declared the tank to be safe, and we could hookup and re-enter the coach.  The Chief wanted me to hook up the propane alarm before he left- something I wanted as well- but now I had another problem- I couldn't get the bus to power back up.  We plugged into the pedestal, but only the 110v outlets for the major appliances would power up- no lights, none of the other outlets- and not the propane alarm.  I ran though every scenario I could think of to get the power to restore- checked the pedestal with my meter- took the battery cable off to "reset" the inverter, double checked all the breakers, even resorted to reading the manuals on the inverter and other coach power systems.  The fire Chief finally left, and I guess it's a good thing that he did.  I eventually retraced my steps earlier in the day and found that in my search for a remote battery disconnect switch, I had actually tripped it by flipping a switch on the dashboard labeled "Aux Bat Off"  Who knew?  Aux Bat?? gonna re-label that one.  Well when I flipped the switch back to "ON" the propane alarm started sounding as the lights and power came back on.  
We instituted the same precautions as the night before- open window and roof fan on so we could crawl into bed and get some sleep.

Friday Nov 28th
Odometer 42658

We are still  able to use all the electrical appliances, so we had the heat pump for heat, we had hot coffee, and toast- the refrig was cold after running all night on electric, AND we didn't even lose our Almond Dream (vegan ice cream), the freezer items were all frozen- Yea!  
Around 9 AM, we were getting rigged for another day of travel when I noticed a good friend walking up to our space- Mark Langford our friend from both Port Orford and from Ajo was heading back to Coos Bay for a doctor's appointment and decided to stop in and see us!  We had talked on the phone the evening before, but he was in Desert Hot Springs- he got an early start and as he was passing by on hwy 58- decided to see if we were still here.  I am amazed at the coincidences in life- had he been a few minutes later, or we left a few minutes earlier...
We had a fun time catching up on what's new with each other, before we both needed to get on the road.  Mark north to Williams, and us, east to Mohave, AZ.
As Joan and I were nearing Ludlow on I-40 east, we found a high prominence with a turn- out where we could eat lunch.  Jeff hooked up the garden hose and ran it down over the edge of the hill so we could see if there were any more gas now that the tank was warmer.  After 30 minutes of venting we couldn't feel anymore flow, and wound up the hose and shut off the tank again.  It sill had an odor when you were near it.
By 3 PM we reached our destination.  A good friend from Port Orford Rotary, offered to let us mooch-dock at his vacation house on the Colorado River in Arizona's Mohave Valley

There are hook-ups for an RV beside David and Kathy's mobile home, and soon we were set-up and exploring the new site.  After a phone call, we had the water system turned on and power and sewer hooked up.  Home on the road for the next several days.

At this site where we are visitors, there is only 20 amps of electricity available, so as a friendly gesture we offered to install a 30 amp plug-in.  We called our host, Dave, who readily agreed to the project, and after a trip to Home Depot and Lowes we were in business.  With 30 amps of power and all the other necessities met, we are enjoying the chance to relax and explore.

Joan and I drove into town to go to the local Smith's market, and as we crossed over Boundary Cone Road, we both thought about visiting friends of ours that live out that way in the town of Oatman.   Joan was lamenting that she did not have a phone number for  Mary Lynn and Terry, so we could call and see if they were in residence.  As we walked into Smith's market we ran smack-dab into Mary Lynn!  How does this happen??!!

Wednesday  December 3rd

Drizzle on and off today, so this morning after breakfast Jeff  fired up the Neat scanner to scan in receipts.  We've been using this software/hardware combination to keep us as paperless as we can be. The attraction for us, is that we can throw away all our receipts and in the rare situation where we need, we can pull it up and reprint it-( IRS accepts reprints too)  Neat also allows us to print up a spending report, which helps us stay within our means.
By early afternoon it was semi-dry and the temperature was in the mid sixties and we decided to drive out to Oatman to see our friends Mary Lynn and Terry.

We wrote about Oatman in our blog in 2012.  ( Oatman 2012)  Oatman is rough.  No polished edges here, most of this mining town looks like the real deal.  Main street is completly set up for the tourist trade, but get one street removed from Main (old Route 66) and you'll see the un-varnished reality of hardscrabble mining.   Our friends have purchased a house that probably dates back to the 1930s.  They say probably, because few records exist of the structures- the land title is clearly documented, but the structures were added, remodeled and demolished with out much official notice. Terry is busy bringing new life into this old house  So far he has installed all new plumbing, windows, siding, electrical, and soon he will tackle the roof.  The house is looking great. 

The town of Oatman is famous for the "wild" burros that have the run of the town.  I say wild in quotes, because they are free range, however they have become quite habituated to the tourists who want to feed and pet them.  I am told the BLM will frequently relocate them to protect their health, and to prevent over-population.  About 2 years ago the BLM told store owners to stop selling carrots for burro treats, because the animals were getting an unhealthy fat layer.  Nowdays you can buy compressed alfalfa cubes to feed the burros.

Joan and I had a great time visiting with Mary Lynn and Terry, and it was getting dark as we said our good byes.  We don't know where we'll see them next; Medford, Prineville or here in Oatman- but we will see them again in the future.

Your traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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