Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rockin' On Down to Lake Mead

So much has happened since I last posted, and I have had very poor internet service, too. We had thought that we might have problems getting a fall and winter workamping gig in a warm climate since we didn't start seriously looking until September!

We hoped to get on at Lake Mead near Las Vegas, so put off applying at other sites... but realistically speaking, we had little chance of such a choice spot so late.

As we waited for Lake Mead to call, we toured more of the stunning areas around Cedar City. In vain, we looked for more wild horses. we went for a fall color ride and drove out to Escalante to check out the Petrified Forest State Park where we were encouraged to call about the winter camp host position. It's a lovely park and would have been perfect except for the freezing winter temperatures. Bbbbrrrrrrr!!!

Then at last we made a few calls here and there and were offered a spot on the first call! We also applied for several slots listed on and received some offers or hopefuls from there... This is a great site and includes online applications which people respond to quickly (some the same day!) and the openings are nation wide and from all government agencies. Really cool!

So then, as we had three places on the string (I had told them we couldn't accept anything until we heard from Lake Mead because we had promised we would take the spot if offered) finally, a call from an operations manager asking us to come join their team... Yay! The reason we got in is that this is a brand new slot. All the other volunteer positions
I love the fall colors!
We took one last ride before departing Utah and again enjoyed the fall colors, stunning geology and amazing skies of southern Utah... they don't call it "Color Country" for nothing. But amid all the beauty, there was a troubling aspect, hundreds, probably tens of thousands of dead and dying trees... I am praying for the trees, that they can somehow be saved before this blight takes an even higher toll.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Improving the rig and the self

We went back to the National Park offices Thursday morning and filled out applications for camp host or similar workcamping gigs at Lake Mead. The host slots were all full for fall and winter, but they can place us on stand-by and we lucked out because they had a possible recycling slot. A different person was in charge of those services, so our paperwork was to be passed on to him. The opening must be ready now since they asked us to hold off a week before renting anything in a park. Well, we were stoked!

Excited to see where we might live for several months, we drove on down to where the maintenance volunteers' RV pads were. They were wonderful, shady full hookup spaces with lots of trees and room. Very, very nice. The work would be pleasant and important, also. We would pick up recyclables from the different campgrounds and boat ramps and haul them to a central location for processing.

As you recall, we left out rig in the shop to have the wheels balanced, the fuel filter changed out, the electrical issues tended to, etc. When we picked it up everything was done except the steps which will need a more extensive work over and some rebuilding of the wood, relaying of the tile... The mechanics at Color Country Diesel were right to assume we would rather do that ourselves than pay their hourly rate for it. All that they did was well done and very reasonable, and we were pleasantly surprised at the bill.

Another improvement we got for the Safari was window shade material. A sheet bigger than our front windshields was only $20 at Camping World. You just cut it to fit and set it in place. It is nothing more than stiff bubble wrap covered with a silver coating of some sort, but it is very effective in keeping the heat and light out... so much better than our curtains! 

Inspired by my friend Eva, I began eating differently yesterday. My doctors have encouraged me to lose weight for some time now, and I know that with my cholesterol issues, I need to make better choices, but I am not a successful dieter. I lose weight for a short while, then put it all right back on... plus I HATE having to think about calories or depriving myself of favorite foods. I need a life style change, not a diet. 

Sooo, I checked out a portion control system, because I know that I overeat all the time, and this was the only eating plan I have seen that is affordable and makes sense. LifeSize Portions has a system I think I can live with because it's so simple! There are various measuring devices for meats, carbs, dairy, etc. and a simple chart that tells you how much you can have in each type of portion. You are allowed six portions a day, no matter which ones you choose. Then there is a ton of FREE food you can eat all you want of. No calorie counting, a very relaxed approach, and very affordable. I have worked with it two days and so far, it's a breeze... and I'm not hungry! 

At sundown, Yom Teruah (Day of Blowing - Lev 23:23-25 and Num 29:1-6) began for observant Jews and Messianics. There is not a congregation near us, so we drove up to Three Peaks and held our own private service there. It was beautiful and very touching, but pressed on us the need to find others of like faith. We are anxious to relocate to the Las Vegas area where there are at least three Messianic congregations. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wet and Wild

We missed our target date to go to Las Vegas looking for our next place to stay a bit, but Tuesday morning the rig and paperwork were all set, so we tried to start the rig to take her to the shop. They will be balancing wheels and doing some other varied chores like welding a part of our steps. 

No go. The rig will not start. Earlier, a light weight wire joining two positive posts had burnt off its insulation, so Richard was using a jumper cable... long story. But these batteries were DEAD. We started the genny (Onan 6300 generator) and went back inside the Safari to let things get charged up.  
It was raining hard and I noticed the carpet was wet in front of the passenger seat... Then I saw the water pouring in the window and down the wall. But the window was securely closed! 

We keep a bunch of towels for pets, beaches, washing the coach, etc. and I used every one, plus some baking pans trying to keep up with the water and soak up what had already been absorbed by our thick carpeting. 

Heading Out... Notice raggy towels on fence, LOL
Finally, after many trips out into the elements because one battery was not charging, we were able to get started, but by this time, Richard was as soaked as our carpet. While he got into dry duds, I hung our raggy towels on the fence and we drove off at last. Jasper was left in Stephanie's house with his litter box, a ton of food, four water bowls and two beds.

We dropped off the motorhome at  Color Country Diesel and at last headed to Vegas in the rain. We took the scenic route, west on Utah 56, south on US 93. It was a good ride. On the way, we discovered our car alerts us of of low tire pressure. One tire had gone down to 24 psi and the others were all 28. We aired up and it's been fine since.
 Tia (from a visit to FL)

It was great to see our granddaughter Tia again. She is always such a warm and welcoming hostess even when she is super busy with work, an M.A. program and managing her houseful of our great grandfuzzyies.

So today, we got our Shooting Complex applications in and went lot shopping after doing and exhaustive search of RV parks all around the area. There are nice ones and trashy ones, but no cheap ones... and no GRASSY ones! They are all blacktop or gravel or dirt... NO GRASS! We kept hearing, "You are in a desert, there is no grass here." Well, the casinos have grass... oh, yeah, and money. Hmmm

In our wanderings from park to park, we saw some very interesting rigs. There were two fifth wheels with add-ons. Take a look... And that is just a sampling of the one-of-a-kind outfits we found.

At last, we found a park with some grass and few rules. So many will not let you wash your rig or car or put up a little cabana tent. So, we have about decided that Kings Row will be where we park until (or if not) we get a workamping position somewhere. 

Our last stop of the day was Lake Mead National Park... well, as many of you know, we are gonna look up a park if we can. So as we were marveling at the many mobile homes permanently planted in one of the campgrounds, a park host drove up in a golf cart and we visited about workamping for a while. We learned a bunch from Dawn and will be headed out in the morning to the National Park office in Boulder City. What a great and productive and fun few days we've had in Las Vegas!
Lake Mead

Monday, September 10, 2012

No Bad Days Here

We had planned to finish organizing our motorhome Sunday and get it to the shop today. We have a leaky fuel filter and our front tires need balanced. We had also planned to head for Las Vegas by noon so as to deliver our applications to the Clark County Shooting Complex by this afternoon... but I am ahead of myself, or perhaps beside myself, so let me start over, one thing at a time.

As we headed west a few months back, we noticed a drippy leak from our old style (meaning no longer available) fuel filter/water separator system. We were in Gunnison, Colorado and the only fix available was an O-ring made of non-diesel safe material, meaning diesel fuel will eventually destroy the O-ring. Well, after consulting several shops along the way, we have concluded the best fix is to swap out the out-dated filter system for a currently available one. Since the filter is leaking again, now is the time.

I drove most of the way from Salt lake City down here to Cedar City and was not pleased with the bounce at certain speeds. Time to balance the steer tires. This is our home and it is precious to me. I don't want it shaken apart. One visit to the shop for both problems, we thought, just as soon as I do a few things on the computer.

This morning, I planned to touch up and print our resumes and create a cover letter about us and our rig aimed at anyone who might take us on as camp hosts, etc. I also needed to finish the application for Clark County. I estimated these tasks to take about an hour... 90 minutes tops. It was almost four when I finished them!

First, our resumes were seriously out of date, and they looked old and were laden with uninteresting details. They were focused on impressing the reader with our credentials, education and professional competence, whereas now, we want to leave the reader with a desire to get to know us better, hang out and work with us as we help others have a good time. 

A redesign takes time. Streamlining the info takes time. I decided to add photos to the paperwork and resumes... But somehow the file of Richard's pictures was missing. Another hour gone, tick, tick, tick. Then there were the applications to finish. 

Finally time to print. Oops! We were out of ink. Off to Wal-Mart for an ink cartridge, then back to work. Ready to print! No, we only have 10 sheets of paper and two of them are dirty. Oh, well, too late to go to the shop today anyway. 

What a crazy day. They happen, so we decided to go out to eat. After all, this IS a day the Lord has made and we were glad and rejoicing in it. After eating hearty dinners and reading Bad Day jokes, we took off exploring to the east of town.

We investigated several side roads as the sun crept slowly toward the western horizon. The terrain in the region is just amazing and ever changing. At last, we ran out of drivable road so headed back to town where even more discoveries awaited us.

We are always on the lookout for RVs, any size style intrigues us, but we are especially excited to see another Safari. So, when I saw a row of trailers on a little side street, we turned around to investigate. 

One area in this tiny park had mobile home, but another had old and small trailers and one Class C motorhome. All were there to stay, even a tiny little teardrop camper. People had lovingly cared for these mini RVs and were living in them full time. It made me glad. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Workamping Dreams

Although we have Richard's pensions and our Social Security checks to live on, and they are enough for a modest lifestyle, there isn't enough to cover extensive travel, repairs to the rig or any of the upgrades we hope to make so we can efficiently boondock (live in the rig without the electrical, water and sewer hookups found in RV parks).

Fuel is at an all time high and going up almost every day, so having been parked here at our daughter's vacant house in Cedar City, Utah for almost two months has been a real blessing. It's been a good arrangement for both sides. We have stayed cost free and she has benefited from the work we've done around the place. Sort of a family workamping affair. 

Workamping is popular among full timers, and you need to apply early because slots are filled way in advance.  Just as we have had lots of time to play tourist here, the same is true of most workamping arrangements.

Not long ago, we headed out exploring and to see the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs. On the way, we encountered a slight delay. A covered wagon and a convoy of Model Ts! We didn't mind waiting at all, and after we spent some time admiring the petroglyphs done by ancient native Americans in a stunning gap carved by nature in a line of hills, we headed on east in the direction of the strange caravan that had delayed us earlier. 

We didn't get far before overtaking a troupe of antique farm tractors all restored beautifully. We weren't sure what the event was, but there had to be big doings ahead... It was the Iron County Fair! Yay, we love a fair. The local music was great and the displays just stunning.  

So much talent, so many loving hours poured into each project. Wow! The only disappointment, no animals. Where was the livestock? We found out the next day that the critters were at another location as were the old car displays, tractors, etc.

Later, we drove west on a 200 mile trek and were again reminded of the vastness of this region. We went to the eastern Visitors' Center of the Great Basin, the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America, meaning all the water falling here stays here, none flows to a sea. From one crest to another we could see the road stretching for miles. It was awesome.

We then headed south toward Cathedral Gorge State Park (Nevada), where there is a workamping opening, and we were surprised to see a wind farm with about a hundred turbines all turning slowly on their lofty pedestals. There is something strangely fascinating about these tri-blade windmills... almost mesmerizing. 

As for Cathedral Gorge, lovely, but we later found the winter temperatures are far too low for us. We're mobile and will head for the warm and balmy days south of here.

Next week, we will head to Las Vegas to check out some other workamping possibilities. We want to get moving soon, but not too far with the price of fuel so high.