November 16 2016 Trying out old skills

For the last two days we were relaxing around our campsite. It was great. Today, however, we invited our son and his fiance over to the Original Pancake House for breakfast. I think there may be more than one “Original” pancake house and I am uncertain which one really is the original. The establishment on Convoy Street in San Diego serves a great breakfast with pancakes.
After breakfast, we drove to our former residence in San Diego where I was supposed to help Sam with an automotive issue. It turned out the issue required some welding skills from me that have been dormant for about 35 years. I was hoping that it would be like riding a bicycle; once you master it, you can always do it. It wasn’t
The welding involved joining some exhaust components by the oxyacetylene process. Although I was competent at this type of work back in the Pleistocene, the finished product in this age was quite ugly. At least there weren’t any holes. I am glad I am not looking for a welding job. Surprisingly, the welded parts did go back into the car without resorting to hammer fitting.

November 14 2016 Move to the south side

Today we gathered up our stuff from our RV spot on the north side of Pio Pico and moved over to the south side. The south side has sewer connections, ample shade, the store, mediocre wi-fi and large RV spots which are not available on the north side. We hope to be set up here for two weeks.
We also got lined up with the wi-fi service which costs about $15 a week but since there is very little cell phone service in this locale, texting is about the only way to communicate with the outside world. We can now irritate our kids and friends at our leisure.

November 12 2016 The fix is in

Mike the mechanic showed up pretty early today with a replacement leaf spring for our trailer. He had found an RV supply house that was open on Saturday and had our spring in stock. An hour later, our Barbarian Invader was fixed and ready for the road again. Anybody in San Diego looking for RV mobile repair services should get ahold of Mike at TNT Mobile Mechanic Service if they want good service at very reasonable rates. The number is (619) 840-4533.
We were delighted that our rig was back in traveling shape. The fact that the spring broke was a little unsettling but since it did not happen on the highway, we got away without a catastrophic failure of the trailer suspension. It must have been the terrible speed bumps in the park that broke the spring but since we were only going 5 mph, it turned out okay.

November 11 2016 Back at Pio Pico

We split from Wilderness Lakes (where there is no evidence of a lake or multiple lakes anywhere) and continued south on I-15 to Pio Pico, our local Thousand Trails campground in San Diego County. We arrived early but all the RV spots that have a sewer were taken so we pulled the Invader across the road to the north half of the campground where there are no sewer hookups. We got onto a list allowing us to move over to the south side Monday.
No sooner had we finished setting up the Barbarian Invader in the north half when I noticed something looked fishy with the right side wheels of the trailer. A bit of scrutiny revealed a broken leaf spring for the rear axle and we called some mobile mechanics to see about fixing the problem.
We called several mobile mechanic services to get ourselves on their schedule. Surprisingly, there is a mechanic who lives in Pio Pico and he stopped by our trailer within about 30 minutes. His name was Mike and he owns TNT Mobile RV Service. He jacked up the trailer with some industrial-looking gear and removed the broken spring from the suspension system. He indicated he may have trouble getting a replacement spring for a few days since RV supply stores are generally closed on Saturday but he took the broken unit with him for parts comparison purposes. It was amazing how quickly Mike was on the task.

November 10 2016 Leaving Las Vegas

Last night we took a drive down the Strip at night. We figured we better at least take one pass down the main drag in this sparkly nightmare before departing. We took a few sort of blurry shots which you can see if you click here
Today,we gathered up our stuff and left Las Vegas today. Although we were amazed by the gorgeous scenery around Vegas, we are poor gamblers so I suppose from the local tourism authority standpoint, we are duds. We did find Mr. Mamas, a fabulous breakfast venue with terrific food. It is run by some folks originally from Greece and I can unequivocally state they are great cooks. Their chicken fried steak and gravy is right up there with Jake’s in Bend and Dean’s in Clackamas, Oregon. Peg had a Greek omelet and said it was very tasty.
We headed back south on I-15 past an enormous solar power facility in the desert which uses 3000 acres of mirrors focusing on three towers to generate steam to run turbines. Very shiny. For a couple pix click here
Continuing into California, we ended up at Wilderness Lakes, another TT facility that is located in Menifee, CA. Menifee is an unremarkable place with no interesting attractions although there are nearby Trader Joe’s and Costco stores. Other than those stores, I cannot explain why anyone would stop in Menifee other than breaking up the drive.

November 8 2016 Still waiting for the mechanic

This morning we started out by contacting our RV mobile mechanic to ascertain when he might show today. We snagged him by phone early this morning and found he was not scheduled to appear until 3:00 PM. We hope the issue will be resolved today but, since there is very little we can do about it, hope is the best we can do. Unable to affect the outcome until the afternoon, we chose to do a bit of wandering.
We did very little actual wandering but we were home when the mechanic showed up after 3:00. Considerable wiring fun ensued but by about 8:00 PM the mechanic had the lights and the brakes apparently working. $600 bit the dust.

November 7 2016 More brake system fun

The Ford dealers in the Las Vegas area were opened this morning and not too long after they cracked their doors, they were speaking with me while I was on a quest to find a Ford stock replacement trailer controller. Unfortunately, these dealers apparently do not believe that their expensive factory controller can fail because the closest controller they could find was in Lake Havasu, over in Arizona.
Plan B was indicated. We drove over to an RV supply place called Johnny Walker’s and I purchased an aftermarket trailer brake controller and a possibly unneeded wiring harness. We followed up with a call to our current trailer wiring repair guy and had him schedule a visit to install the new controller tomorrow.
We were able to get the Las Vegas RV Resort to extend our reservation until the 19th but we’re not telling the mechanic. We told him already that we need brakes working by the day after tomorrow in an attempt to limit the duration of our prolonged repair services. I hope tomorrow’s work makes our problem go away. I am starting to get ready to prepare to be pissed off about this irritating issue.

November 6 2016 Sunday in Vegas

Well, there was supposed to be a NASCAR race on today. There was rain at the venue so the start was delayed. NBC had great coverage of no cars flying down the track for a few hours but right as the race was getting going, they pre-empted the program with some other crud. No race today, I think.
No Ford dealer parts departments are open on Sunday so I was stalled in my effort to get a replacement stock Ford F-250 trailer controller. I need to get one of these things before we can go anywhere with the trailer.
To pass the time with a sliver of productivity, we went to Trader Joe’s and Costco and acquired a bunch of good stuff.

November 5 2016 Waiting for the mechanic

Yesterday we got a message from Jim, the mechanic from Happy Hal’s Mobile RV Repair, that he would be stopping by today to attempt to fix our faulty trailer brake wiring. He was not real forthcoming on the arrival time but since there is a NASCAR Xfinity race that we could tune today, I really didn’t care.
The race was very nice, at least for me. Peggy was not nearly as impressed as I was. She is not a big stock car racing fan. The mechanic showed up around 3:00 and he started an electrical analysis of the truck. Soon, he found what he believed to be a trailer controller problem and I volunteered to go buy a Ford replacement controller. Unfortunately, by the time the mechanic figured out where the problem was, it was too late on Saturday to get any parts from Ford.
Things are getting weird. We currently have a reserved RV spot here at Las Vegas through this Wednesday and then we have to leave, brakes or not. If Jim is not able to fix this trailer issue by Tuesday, we may have to scramble a bit to figure out where we are going to go. Maybe I should get real grimy, find a street corner and craft a cardboard sign that says “Need 30 or 50 amp RV hookup with water and sewer. Willing to pay up to $40 a night.”

November 4 2016 Valley of Fire II

Peggy was feeling all better today so we swung back into exploration mode. This time we decided to return to the Valley of Fire State Park. We drove through the park in the afternoon back on October 30. This time, we took the Valley of Fire / Northshore Road going the opposite direction we took last time. We also went in the morning today.
Valley of Fire offers terrific views of massive colorful rock formations that look quite a bit different in afternoon versus morning sunlight. Rock monoliths that looked deep red last week appear almost purple in the morning sun from the east.
As soon as we entered the park, we came across some Desert Bighorn Sheep with enormous cornucopia-shaped horns dwarfing their puny heads. We also spotted some birds and lizards but we suspect most of the animals in this desert environment lay low during daylight and come scurrying out of their little homes in the early morning, late afternoon and at night. Fortunately, the landscapes are stunning.
On the way southwest on Northshore Road, we pulled down a side road toward Lake Mead’s Echo Bay. We ambled along for about 4 miles until we came to the original boat launching ramp which is a long way from any water due to prolonged low lake levels due to drought. We took another gravel road from the original ramp a couple more miles to the actual boat launching facility – you know, like a ramp near the water. It was on the way back that we spotted an entire covered marina docking facility that is surrounded by weeds. Nobody will be using those docks until after many years of rain.
Our trip today took a slightly different route than we took last week but we still ended up on a long stretch of Las Vegas city streets which are heavily laden with signals with lengthy cycle times. We noted that as we headed north on Boulder Blvd., we were being outpaced by folks riding bicycles. Six miles only took about 25 minutes but we got back to town late so at least it wasn’t hot.
We shot a few pictures along the way today and you can see some of them if you click here