Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Leaving Nick is hazardous

Yup, we left Nick Terry and Jan and Greg in Tucson.  And as I said before in a previous blog everything seems to be OK.  We busied ourselves in Las Cruces, eating, shopping and getting haircuts. I failed to mention… we will NOT be needing haircuts for maybe 6 months.  Tom’s flattop is now less than 1/8” ALL OVER.  He wears a hat most of the time so that is no problem.  I asked for 3/4” inch taken off the length and I think the female barber thought I said 3/4” all over.  Confused smile   Well, I think I like it. Tom likes it. I’ll get used to it and it is so comfortable on the road. So if you spot someone that looks like me with a VERY short haircut – it’s me.

We had to move from the Coachlight RV park after 2 nights at PassPort America rates, $18 a night because the next night would have cost us $36 plus tax. NOT worth it.  We moved to the primo Wal-Mart spot to spend the night after having dinner with our friends, Jan and Greg White. 

Did I mention that leaving Nick is hazardous?  Remember back when we left Nick in Yuma?  We broke down less than 3 days after leaving Nick.  In addition to having our RV repaired, our outer duel tire started loosing pressure.  While in Avondale we had it looked at by the tire repair shop and they could not find anything wrong.  They aired it up and it held pressure for 2 nights.  We replaced the tiny insert in our Pressure Pro Tire Monitor and it seemed to be OK until we left Nick AGAIN in Tucson and now it is loosing pressure AGAIN.  What’s up with that?  Now, back to Las Cruces.  Greg and Jan left Nick in Tucson and were coming to Las Cruces. We had stayed over until Sunday so we could meet them for dinner.  We waited for Greg and Jan to call to tell us they had checked into Coachlight and were ready for dinner.  Now Greg and Jan had engine trouble. It died on I-10 and were having the tow truck come and get them to a Peterbuilt Repair shop.  Remember, they had just left Nick!  OK… the tow-guy said it would be a while so advised them to just go to dinner.  We met them at their favorite restaurant in Las Cruces, El Comidor.  We had eaten there a couple of days earlier and were looking forward to dining there again.  El Comidor is closed on Sunday.  While discussing where we should go, Tom tried to roll his window down, CLUCK, ZIP, CRUCH, the window stopped 3 inches from the top.  We drove over to a nearby Italian restaurant. Tom got out, Greg and Tom tried to raise the window, SLOOP, down into the bowels of the door went the window.

We went inside to eat and because of the worrier that I am, I asked Tom to move the Jeep where I could see it out the restaurant window.  Good dinner, great company, but 2 nervous wives (Jan worried about their rig and cats – me worried about the contents of the Jeep being stolen) shortened our after dinner conversation.  So back to Wal-mart for us, parking the Jeep with the open window as close to the front of the RV as possible.  Even so both Tom and I got up in the middle of the night to take a valuable or two from the Jeep to the RV.  Needless to say we did not get a lot of sleep on Monday night.  The next morning Tom pulled the panel from the passenger door, disengaged the window from the motor apparatus, and we taped the window up. At least the dust and dirt from the road will not be a problem as we travel to our next destination.

We left Las Cruces and drove to Balmorhea, TX to a little, absolutely beautiful PassPort America park.  The cacti, rock separators, small and appropriately trimmed trees at the back of each space (so they do not block satellite) reflect the considerate planning in this nice park.  We decided that for $10 a night we would stay 2 nights. 


The first night we saw lightning in the distance and got a little wind.  Last night we got a lot of wind, gusts of about 35 MPH and then a weather alert – flood warning.  This is a flat valley with mountains under the thunder storm.  The weather alert said the slow moving storm would produce a lot of rainfall.  I called the office at the park and was assured this was not in the flood plain. 


This was a very nice place to rest: full hookups, quiet, cheap, what more could you ask for?  Beautiful sunsets?


Recap on leaving Nick:

1) Westerfield engine trouble, 2) Westerfield tire trouble, 3) White engine trouble, 4) Westerfield Jeep window trouble, 5) Westerfield bad weather trouble.

Solution: Do not leave Nick.

Tom filled the tire and we are On The Road Again.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Moving slowly toward Texas

Last Monday we left the Phoenix area, Avondale to be specific, after having our actuator and actuator pump replaced.  We pulled a few hills on our way to Tucson and there was no black smoke. It seems that black smoke was the only indication that there was something wrong and that started the Monday we left Yuma.  Tom checked diesel mileage along the way and closely monitored the gages and all looked normal so I guess that means we are good to go for a while (we hope).

We did miss a couple of nasty looking weather systems on our way to Tucson.  These look almost like weather systems in Kansas that we are very careful of, but these only hold LOTS of rain.  In this part of the country it really makes the roads slippery and hard to see ahead so we were happy to see the system move east before we arrived.


We checked into the Pima County Fairgrounds RV park and met up with our buddies, Nick & Terry Russell and Greg & Jan White.  We have spent the better part of the month of March and part of February with our good friends.  We always have lots of fun time and hours of laughter with this group. If laughter is the best medicine, we should all live several years longer now.

Most of our time in Tucson was spent eating with friends.  We ate at Texas Roadhouse with the Russell's, Whites, and Nick’s cousin, Bev; we ate at Ole’ with friends, Anne and LeRoy Willis, again with the Russell's and Whites at a delicious Chinese/Thai restaurant, and even once on our own at a TTT truck stop.  Unfortunately this week Terry Russell was undergoing some medical exams and procedures and then came down with a very bad cold and flu symptoms so we were not able to spend a lot of time with Terry. Sad smile

We did go to the Pima Air and Space Museum, the 3rd largest Air Museum in the US and the largest non-government funded.  We had visited this amazing museum 4 years ago and it is a credit to their good fiscal management that it has grown several hundred more restored planes since then.  One of the things we discovered this time was the use of QR codes on all the planes outside so if you wanted to know more about that plane you just scan with your smart phone and your smart phone opens up the website giving all the information about that plane.


We took the tram to look at all the planes parked over many acres. Our guide was a retired pilot and was really knowledgeable about the planes.

We really enjoyed our brief stopover in Tucson, but Friday it was time to go.  We said our goodbyes and gave hugs all around – twice. and left for Las Cruces, NM.


That’s left to right, Greg White, Nick Russell, Tom, Terry Russell, and Jan White.

We stayed at the Coachlight Motel and RV park, a clean Passport America park. They only allow 2 nights under PA so after visiting the Historic La Mesilla square, eating delicious Mexican at El Comedor restaurant and a couple of stops at Cracker Barrel we pulled out of Coachlight this morning and will stay at Wal-Mart tonight.  We will also repeat our dining experience tonight with the Whites at El Comedor which is their favorite Mexican food in Las Cruces.

So tomorrow we will move on slowly toward Texas… that’s what retirement is all about.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On the road again, almost

We have had all repairs made at Cummins. In fact they were done by 11 a.m. Saturday, St Patrick’s Day. We decided to sit out the impending storm at Camp Cummins at the invitation of the generous Service Staff.  We could not be happier with the service here. 

Our St. Patrick’s Day started at 5 a.m. to get ready for the service to begin at 6 a.m.  Tom put a little levity in the day reminding us of the small Irish ancestry of the Westerfield/Clayton Clan.



We sure enjoyed the comments on Facebook to the picture, especially the one by cousin, Ellen, who said, “I’m almost speechless – he managed to get the hippy tie-die and St. Paddy’s all together.  Well done cousin of mine!”

Boy, did we get a laugh out of that.


We went up to the very nice waiting room on the second floor of the Cummins’ offices and were offered breakfast sandwiches, again free food compliments of the generous staff.  After all was said and done we got a 15% break on the bill. The repairs were very thorough including steam cleaning the engine, draining and refilling the coolant, replacing the actuator and the pump.  Tom checked on the readout on the engine computer and found there never was a ‘code’ thrown, only our visual symptoms determined the start of the trouble – Monday.  We will see what Good Sam will eventually do about covering –part or in full – the bill.

In the afternoon we did laundry at the nearby truck stop that the Cummins people recommended and it was clean, inexpensive with comfy chairs so we read our Kindles. Nice day.  We went to a new-to-us Hawaiian restaurant and had a delicious lunch, me – fish tacos, Tom – chicken salad.  Both very different from anything we have had before. We then retired back to the RV just in time for the storm to hit.  Winds, rain, and more rain.  We went to bed early.

Yesterday we went to the Phoenix Friends’ Church where we have gone when we are in the area.  The congregation always makes us feel welcome and we are always remembered.  The pastor that married us, Ernest Thompson, was also the pastor at Phoenix Friends after he left Fresno Friends.  One of the ladies that greeted us was also married by Ernest.  It never ceases to amaze me what a very small world it is.  As it happens, Pastor Steve, preached yesterday on the “P'”, our personality, in  S.H.A.P.E., a series that our Fresno Friends Church went through a couple of years ago.  And everyone asked about Larry Kinser, so we said we’d say Hi.  “Hi Larry”.   Again, small world.

Update on our South Dakota license plates… our plates for the RV came in and our Jeep, “DA TOAD” is now being pulled by the RV called “DA PAD”.  The RV will now be known as “Lilly”.


That’s all for now.


Pansy’s ready to hit the road, again, we’ll be caching places that we’ve never been.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Not Much Happening

We went from an activity level of 90 miles an hour parking RV’s, setting up rooms, helping Miss Terry Russell with the Western Gypsy Journal Gathering in Yuma, and participating in 4 seminars on Geocaching, GSAK, and Smart Phones to almost nothing to do.  Am I complaining?  Maybe.  I personally thrive on being busy, but appreciate the rest.

We went to a wonderful church service at the little Friends Church in North Holtville, joined them in a delicious potluck, and even placed a Geocache at the corner of the property.  It is called “Friendly Power, GC3EF1A” as there is power where the cache is found and spiritual ‘power’ within.  We then visited with Luke Rinehimer and went to dinner with Cool Judy and Luke.  We headed back to Southern Mesa RV and spent the rest of the evening reading our Kindles.

The next morning we started to our first stop, Tucson, then on to New Mexico, Texas and parts along the Gulf Coast.  Then the unexpected happened. 

Monday morning we left Southern Mesa RV park south of Yuma and the RV was running just fine.  I was on the internet planning where to park in Tucson when pulling a hill out of Welton, Tom noticed a puff of smoke when he passed a slow moving older RV.  He mentioned it, but was not alarmed, as all gauges were normal and the RV was running just fine.  About every mile or so, a couple of puffs of black smoke then occasionally a bigger puff of smoke.  Still the RV was running just fine.  We had signed up for the Good Sam Extended Warranty at the Gypsy Gathering Rally, so I gave the Customer Service a call.  No alarm, he just said to be sure to have any work approved before repairs were started.  I called Cummins in Avondale, west of Phoenix, and they also were not alarmed, just thought we should have a look at it.  As we approached Gila Bend about 30 miles out the black smoke stopped.  We still stopped for the night in Gila Bend, AZ, as that is a good place to head up to Cummins if we decided to.  I posted our predicament on Facebook and Nick Russell called, then Greg White called.  These are our friends that we had just spent about 2 weeks with setting up for the rally.  Greg thought it might be a fuel injector problem and so did Tom.  Greg suggested getting a fuel additive for cleaning the injectors and we did and added it that evening. 

Tuesday morning we started up, no black smoke, smooth running RV, and continued our trip to Tucson planning on canceling our trip to Cummins.  Well, about 20 miles east of Gila Bend we started to see that black smoke again.  This time it was accompanied with a kind of hiccup as if we were going over a rough road.  Tom looked for a place to make a U-Turn across the highway and we turned around.  Fortunately, no traffic and headed up to Cummins in Avondale.

We parked at Camp Cummins with 50 amp hookup and looked for a FedEx to mail the computer I had been working on for granddaughter, Jamie.  We did a bunch of errands, Costco, Home Depot, and ate lunch at Quiznos since we had a coupon for buy one get one free.  The lobster/seafood was pretty good and then we went to Dairy Queen for their buy one get one for $1. 

Fast forward to today, Cummins diagnosed a bad actuator on the turbocharger, the Good Sam guy came out to look at the repairs, and then Good Sam denied the claim saying it was a pre-existing condition.  Wrong!  We have talked to the technician who said that actuators just fail and the way to tell they have failed it look at the symptoms: black smoke and balking. Those were our only symptoms.  Other symptoms such as low power, Poor Acceleration or poor response, engine misfire, engine speed surge, or engine speed unstable indicate failure.  We had none of those symptoms, however, if we waited long enough I guess they could appear.  We think this was a case of the actuator just starting to fail.  Our only symptoms were the black smoke that started Monday and a couple of hiccups on Tuesday. 

Our agents, Chris and Charles Yust, will be advocating for us, but in the meantime we are having it fixed tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.  We will be paying the entire bill and hope that the Yusts and Good Sam will come through for us.  We will be praying for God’s Will in this and His Attitude as well.  I must admit I am a little discouraged and hurt that our word is not believed.  So unfortunate that other dishonest people who take advantage of the system spoil it for others.

So that’s about all the news, good and bad, for now.  We are grateful that our breakdown is not like the one our friend Kurt Simon had, 41 days down, a shattered turbo that tore up the engine heads and valves, a tow truck that tore up the pan on their RV and then to make matters worse, a cracked windshield on the way home.  We will be On the Road Again soon and Caching Places That We’ve Never Been.