Arizona Trip September 1997

Hi all,

Well we are off again!

Wednesday Sept. 3 
We got an early start heading for Arizona.  We spent our first night in Mesa, AZ, at a small urban RV park.  It was 106 when we got there, but dropped to under 100 by the time we returned to the motorhome after some exploring and dinner at Boston Market.  The air conditioner ran all night.

Thursday Sept. 4 
This morning we did some local shopping.  We picked up some RV supplies at Isley's, a large RV store about 2 blocks from our campground, checked out the local Camping World, dumped our tanks, and headed up the hill toward Forest Lakes to visit Scholls'.

Our "new" motorhome is working great!  (You all do know about our new vehicle, don't you?)  It is a 1993 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager diesel, 32 feet long, and very comfortable for us.  The floor is totally flat from stem to stern, and the living area extends to the dashboard, instead of the back of the driver and passenger seats.  There is a couch behind the driver with the sink and refrigerator behind it.  Behind that is a wide wardrobe.  On the passenger side, there is a small wall mounted folding table behind the front seat, with a swivel bucket chair behind that.  If you rotate the passenger chair it faces the bucket chair across the table.  Behind the bucket chair is a unique dinette set.  There are two loose chairs, the dinette table, and a built-in typical dinette seat.  It works out great for us.   The bathroom is behind the dinette.  Behind the wardrobe and the bath is the bedroom with an "RV Queen" size bed.  (60 x 75 inches).

Pulling the grade from Mesa to Payson, I only had to downshift from 4th to 3rd a couple of times.  Most of the way I was able to maintain 50 to 55 on cruise.  It really pulls the grades well.  It would be nice to have closer ratios on the transmission so I could downshift earlier, but it does very well.  The exhause brake was giving a problem.  It would really give a noticeable slowing effect, then quit.  It seemed to be actuating while the "pull-in" solenoid was actuvated, but not remain on as the holding coil was active.  The brake is brand new, and still under warranty.

We arrived at the Scholls' and announced our arrival with a couple of blasts of the air horns.  We had not told them of the new motorhome.  Unfortunately, they had spotted us before we started up their driveway, so the air horn blasts were not as effective as I had hoped.

We reviewed the switchbox Keith has for his generator and the installation problems to expect.  This is the main project planned for this visit.  The switchbox is very clever and really quite simple.  It has 6  two position switches with center off and 6 circuit breakers.  There are two ammeters (calibrated in watts) and a twistlock connector for plugging in the generator.  It wires to the main breaker box by removing the wire from the 6 circuits you want to power from the generator.  The wires and the breakers they were removed from are wired to the new switchbox.  The end result is if the power fails, you can plug the generator (it is on wheels) to the switchbox  and switch any or all of the 6 circuits to it.  There is absolutely no feed through to the main line, so it is very safe.  When the power comes back on, the circuits which were not switched will indicate this, and the other ones can be switched back to the line.

Friday,  Sept 5  
We finalized our plans for the switchbox installation, figuring how to mount it, where to run the conduit to the main breaker box, measured for all the parts, etc.  We then went into Payson and bought all the parts.  When we returned to Forest Lakes, there was a roaring thunderstorm in process and we spent most of the rest of the afternoon in the house.

Saturday,  Sept 6  
We spent much of today installing and testing the switch box.  Things went smoothly, and we finished wiring the final connections shortly before the afternoon monsoon showers started.  They only lasted about an hour and we were able to set up the generator and test all our handiwork after they finished.  The balance of the day and night was dry.  Everything on the switchbox worked great.

Sunday, Sept 7  
Today was fairly relaxing.  We installed some software on Keith's two computers, .  I installed a light across the coil of my exhaust brake to try to really see what is happening as I try to use it.  We then set up Keith's new MIG welder in preparation to trying it out tomorrow.  It was a restful day.

Monday, Sept 8  
Another relaxing day!  We slept until about 8:30, the latest yet.  We ran a couple of local errands and set up Keith's MIG welder.  After an early afternoon shower or two, we got a chance to test the welder.  It is quite tricky to get set up properly, but once adjusted we started getting some decent results (for a first try).  Much fun!  Tonight we watched the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Raiders by a point in the last 2 seconds.  We leave in the morning for the Wilkisons' in Prescott.  We may stop enroute and see Tonto Bridge near Pine and Strawberry, we'll see how things are going tomorrow.

Tuesday, Sept 9  
We got a leisurely start this morning from the Scholls'.  We drove to Payson and stopped at the Whiting station where Keith and I had stopped briefly on Friday.  I had noticed they had a diesel pump which was specifically labeled as not recommended for autos, as it had a high delivery pump.  After the pump I used returning from Atascadero on our last (and first) trip, which was able to push a whole gallon every 20 seconds (and I bought 45 gallons that time), the idea of high delivery appealed to me.  I put about 22 gallons in less than 2 minutes.  Yes - I like high delivery!  From there we drove a few miles up the highway to the Tonto Bridge turnoff and took it.  As we were driving on the entrance road we encountered a sign "14% downgrade".  We looked around and we had just passed a small turnout labeled "Trailer Parking".  I pulled to the edge of the road, unhooked the Nissan, and backed into the turnout.  We then drove the Nissan down the very steep grade and proceeded to take the tour.  As we went down one of the paths we came upon a small triangular grate in the ground, surrounded by a railing.  We looked down the grate and could see about 100 feet below us to a stream bed and some people on a trail.  As we went around the corner to an obversation point, we could see a huge tunnel coming up to about a six foot thickness of ground at the top.  That is where we had come. 

We then went to Waterfall Trail.  As it turned out, this was about 20 feet of flat trail, and then 105 steps down.  (Actually I counted them on the way up, but I didn't see any come or go in the meantime.)  I managed to get to the bottom.  The very bottom of the trail flattens out again and proceeds right through the waterfall!  The trail ends a few feet later.  I decided to get all my pictures of the waterfall from the dry side.

We continued on to Prescott  When we got there, we checked into Point of Rocks Campground, unhooked, and drove the motorhome over to the Wilkisons' to show it off.  We then returned, established camp, and drove back to the Wilkisons' for an enjoyable dinner and evening of catching up.

Wednesday, Sept 10  
Gene and I went flying this morning!  (He always makes his best effort to get out to the RC model field as many times as possible whenever we visit.  He knows how much I enjoy it (as does he!).  Today we flew his Butterfly (known as the "Killer Butterfly" since a midair collision where the other plane was totaled and the Butterfly was only slightly damaged).  We had a most enjoyable morning with Gene making a number of flights, and a lot of hangar talk between.  There were over ten fliers out this morning.

About noon, the Scholls arrived as scheduled, and we all went out to lunch together.  After a couple of hours of Scholls and Wilkisons catching up, Keith and Virg had to head back to Forest Lakes.  They try not to drive the highways at night if at all possible, because of the fascination the many elk seem to have with car headlights.  Elk are large, and a collision is a serious matter for both the elk and the person hitting it!

We finished the day in a relaxing manner and decided to fly again tomorrow.  Oh boy!

Thursday, Sept 11  
Today we flew Gene's Mirage, which is his first electric plane.  There is so much less preparation and clean up with an electric.  You just show up and start flying.  We had another marvelous morning!  Betty and I went to an RV shop in Prescott Valley, and noticed a few small fluffy cumulus clouds to the south.  By the time we were heading back, the whole sky was dark gray, with ferocious winds.  Part way over to the Wilkisons', we decided that maybe we should head back to the RV park and fold up our awnings.  As we got there, the sky let loose and in the process of "saving" our awnings, I almost drowned (well, almost!).  We were glad the Scholls had come yesterday.  We saw only a momentary shower on our way home from lunch yesterday.

The rest of today was spent talking and eating and relaxing.

Friday, Sept 12  
Yes!  We flew again today!  This was really special.  Gene made the maiden flight of his "Outrageous Giant Mud Duck".  This is a very large plane with about a 9 foot wingspan, made almost entirely of foam core poster board.  It is powered by a 90 cc 4 cycle model airplane engine.  Gene is a little concerned about the power of this engine, as it is the one used by the designer who lives at sea level.  Prescott is over 5000 feet.

Gene started by doing engine tests, partly to confirm the adjustment of the throttle servo, which had just been remounted.  After these tests, he put the wings on and tried some taxi tests on the runway.  The power was not in excess, so Gene made some more engine adjustments and nursed a little more out of it.  After some more taxi tests, he took off and she flew beaurifully!  He circled the runway, making a low pass and went around the pattern again.  There was a fair breeze, straight down the runway, and when he turned downwind, he just did not have the power to accelerate and maintain altitude.  As a result, he landed it "in the rough" at the base of a tree.  The landing gear broke, and there was minor damage on one wingtip, but all in all, survived the adversity very well.  Gene is going to research several different propellors to see if he cannot get more performance from the engine.  It was a disapointment to not be able to make more flights today, but the day was really quite successful.

We had told Gene and Betty that we would have lunch on our own today, and would take them out to dinner.  Betty and I did some exploring of the Prescott area, stopping by two Forestry campgrounds and driving to the base of Thumb Butte.  As we were heading to the Wilkisons', I realized how badly I felt.  Kind of like death warmed over, but not too much warmth.  My head ached, my body ached, and I just felt poorly.  We called Gene and Betty and said we were heading back to the motorhome to rest and I would call him in a couple of hours with a status update.  After sleeping for about 2 hours I felt much better and we spent the rest of the evening as planned.

This is the first day in a long time with no rain!

Saturday, Sept 13  
We slept in this morning, not getting up until almost 9:00!  We got packed up, and left by about 10:30.  We had less than 100 miles to Flagstaff.  On the way out, I stopped by the office and let them know we did not need the contingency reservations for a couple of extra days in case I stayed sick.

We arrived in Flagstaff at our RV park shortly after noon, got all settled and went out
exploring.  Part way through, I felt just awful.  We came back to the motorhome and relaxed the rest of the afternoon and evening.

We had several showers shortly after arriving at the park, but nothing to write home about.  (Actually, I guess I am writing home about it, aren't I?)

Sunday, Sept 14  
I felt much better this morning, but decided to schedule our activities so we could cancel anywhere and head back.  We didn't need to.  I was fine.

We first went to Sunset Crater, then to Wupatki ruins.  At each place we toured the visitor center and strolled around the trails a little to see what we could.  We then came back to the motorhome and relaxed for a while.  We then went to Walnut Canyon.  This was the first Visitor Center we can remember that was not wheelchair accessable!  Upon entering the front door, there are about 4 steps to the main level.  Then about a dozen to get to the observation platform.  We did take the Rim Trail for a little.  You could see several cliff dwelling ruins in the distance.

We spent the rest of the day planning and relaxing. (Yeah, I know, we've done a lot of that lately).  We decided to head home from here and do the North Rim on another trip.  We have broken the trip into two short days instead of one long one, just in case I am not really over it all yet. 

Monday, Sept 15  
About 5:00 AM we started hearing thunder, started getting rain, then saw lightning all around us.  We got a lot of water!  This lasted for about an hour, but then continued on and off for several more hours.

We packed everything up and left Flagstaff about 10:30.  With only about 120 miles to Kingman, there was no hurry.  We arrived in Kingman about 2:00 and after fuelling at Petro we decided to go on to Needles for the night.  Of course, several miles later we passed a Pilot selling diesel for 10 cents a gallon less!  Oh well, even the gougers are selling it for less than it is in Escondido!

We decided on the KOA in Needles as it is the only one not on the river, which might contribute to their prices not being that much higher than the others and they are Good Sam (= -10%)  and we figured there would be less of a bug problem.  

I have opened the awnings to see if I can get them dry before stowing them again.  The sky is certainly not too promising as there is solid overcast with many gray cells within.  We will see.

Tuesday, Sept 16  
Well we arrived home today!  We got a good start at 7:15 and pointed the rig west.  We had a good drive under a mostly overcast sky, but with very little rain.with, making a number of rest stops.  The most fun was our stop at the Lake Elsinore Outlet Center, and the Sony store there.  We pulled in our driveway at about 3:00, dumped the tanks and parked.  

It was a fun trip, and a real experience driving our new rig.  One thing that I found very interesting is that ownership apparently helps adjust one's way of thinking.  The marvelous mechanisms that efficiently propel many vehicles with that fine tuned precision hum, used to be called those *@#!%& stinky, noisy diesels!  Now I are one!