Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quick Trip to Tucson

Odometer 43,458
Trip Meter 279 miles

December 13th 2014

We missed the best photo of the morning.  A herd of "wild" javelinas went through the park early this morning, but by the time Joan got the camera up to the window, most of the herd had passed behind the row of RVs in front of us.  One lone straggler waited long enough for us to get a photo.  There were easily 10-14 javelinas in all, including some babies that were just cute!  I say wild- and they are wild in most senses, they run from you and stay out of sight as much as possible, however they do wander through town quite often looking for anything edible.

 Today we are headed for Tucson.  We have an appointment at LaMesa RV to have our propane tank checked for warranty replacement.  Tucson is 130 miles east of Ajo, and this is only the first trip to see if we qualify under a recall notice issued on our model and year motorhome.  Joan has made us a reservation at Lazydays KOA which is only a block away from the LaMesa RV dealership.

We could drive north to interstate 8, and hop on the freeway, but we prefer to take Arizona route 86, a two lane road heading east from the "town" of  Why, AZ, 10 miles south of  Ajo.  86 is a nice paved rural highway that crosses the Tohono O'Odham Nation, and passes just below Kitt Peak and the observatories there.  We visited Kitt Peak in 2012, and if you missed that blog you can see it again by using the link here   Kitt Peak  (The link will open in a new window, so you can quickly return here just by closing that window)
On the west end of route 86 the road has virtually no shoulder.  As a matter of fact, AZDOT has let the vegetation grow out so far, that in passing situations like the one pictured above, the woody shrubs will actually scratch the side of the bus.

The eastern end of 86 between Sells and Tucson has been repaved and a nice wide shoulder has been added.  The road work is so new, that it has not even been fully completed yet, and in an ironic twist- the new road is being held to a speed limit of 45 mph where we had a limit of 65 mph on the narrowest part that has no shoulder.  Ahh, all the better to poke along and see the sights!  Luckily, there is almost no truck traffic on this route and the car traffic is very light, which makes it easy to set the cruise control,  and sit back and watch the scenery in full HD out that big front window.

We arrived at our destination, at 3 PM after a lesiurely trip , and quickly got registered and set-up in our space.  Joan and I needed to stretch our legs, so we walked the two or three blocks over to the LaMesa RV Center to check out where we would be heading in the morning. And even did a turn through the RV park for good measure.

This is a very large park with over 360 spaces.  It also includes two separate pool/ spa combinations, one which was conviently close to us.  Great way to relax after a grueling 3 hours on the road :->)

Each space has a mature fruit tree, and ours had a beautiful, well-loaded orange tree.  Most spaces also include a concrete patio and a comfortable table and chairs.  Hmm.. this is living!  The temperature was in the high 60s and low 70s during the day and would dip into the 40s overnight.

Monday December 15th

At 8:30 AM we un-hooked the bus and drove it over to La Mesa, where we left it at their service department, and headed over to Camping World, Costco and WalMart to do some shopping.  Just after noon we were called back to pick up our motorhome- the warranty/ recall had been approved and the new tank has been ordered.  We made an appointment for December 29th to get the new tank installed.

While hooking up the sewer hose today, I noticed that the Calder couples (those rubber couplings with steel band clamps) were showing signs of cracking and the idea of a failure at this end of a tank holding 40 gallons of sludge was a little un-nerving to me- especially since it is up-stream of any shut-off valve.

I made a quick trip over to Home Depot for some new couplings and some two-by material for a new set of steps back in Ajo.

Tuesday December 16th

A warm and sunny day, and a fun, and un-eventful trip back over highway 86 to Ajo.

When we arrived at Shadow Ridge RV in Ajo last week, we decided not to take our "traditional" space in the first row between the tall Oleander bushes, and where your "view" is of the trees and shrubs just outside the park.  Insted we selected a spot in the back row where we are afforded a vista of the surrounding mountains.

The RV park is situated on a slight incline from front to back, and the back rows have quite a territorial view.  The back row spaces are also inclined, meaning that to get  the coach level front-to-back, you have to jack the front end up a whole lot.  We cheated a bit by digging a 6" deep depression for the rear duals, but we still had a 14" step up to the first step on the motorhome.

The coach is equipped with some pretty beefy hydraulic leveling jacks, but they actually work too well in this situation.  We bought some 12" pavers that are 2 inches tall and put those on top of our normal jackpads, which are a double layer of 3/4" plywood that is glued and screwed together to make a 16" square that is 1-1/2" thick.  Bottom line is, that we could jack the front wheels off the ground and get the coach level.  However, hanging the front axle and wheels off the suspension components is not a good idea.  The suspension is built to do the opposite- to support the front of the chassis on the wheels, and hanging this kind of weight on the suspension will tear things up.  To remedy this, we bought four additional pavers to place under the tires (two on each side) which support the front axle.  Now all we had to do is over-jack the front end and place the supports under each tire and then lower the front end back to the level position.  Well, that solved the problem of getting the coach level- however it created a whole new problem of getting in and out of the front door.  Motorhomes with mid-entry and fifth wheel trailers with mid, or rear entry doors won't have this problem, or won't have it to this degree, as their door is further up-slope than ours.

We carry a folding aluminum platform step with us, and use it often to shorten up the first step to from the ground to the motorhome stairs  In this case, even with the aluminum step in place, the next step was still about 14 inches.
The remedy was to build a set of wood steps to bridge the gap, and even out the risers from ground to motorhome.
By judiciously shopping at Home Depot in Tucson, we were able to get all the wood we needed for about $40.  The wood was very reasonable at $22 but the deck screws were an additional $18 for 1 lb boxes of 3" and 2" deck screws!  I could have saved about $4 by buying regular phillips head cadmium plated drywall screws, but the deck screws have a bigger shank diameter and a cutting tip on them as well as a rust-proof coating.  We'll be able to use the stairs many times in future years.  I'm sure Amy will let us store them here each spring.

My friend Mark and I have been busy scouring the desert, looking for old military crash sites.  Mark purchased an 88 Suzuki Samurai last spring so he wouldn't have to take his nice Chevy pickup tow vehicle out and get it scratched and banged up.  That's a good place to start my next blog...

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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