Just another average sunset in paradise!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Days 1 and 2 - Bakersfield

We left Huntington Beach Monday at 1:30 p.m. and arrived at my brother Rick's house about 5:00 p.m. after a drive of 127 miles.  Dod performed great including going over the "Grapevine".  The Grapevine is a portion of Highway 5 that climbs from the floor of the valley to a summit of 4,144 feet.  I only had to shift into 2nd gear twice.

Dod is Happy

Jesse is Happy

It was a nervous drive because Dod had been diagnosed with a major problem in his front suspension.  A mechanic in Huntington Beach told me that Dod needed to have the complete front suspension system and steering control replaced at a cost of $2,400.  He also told me that I needed all new belts, a tune-up, and new gaskets for the oil pan, transmission pan and differential.  Total cost would be around $3,000.00.  He said that if the work wasn't completed soon, I would most likely lose a wheel while driving!

My brother and I sat up until 1:30 a.m. reminiscing, solving the world's problems and getting reacquainted.  We also talked about Dod's problems and Rick has friends in town.  One friend manages a tire store that does suspension repairs; another closer friend and frequent house guest is a mechanic.

Tuesday morning we went to the tire shop to have an expert with 30 years experience check Dod's suspension.  This guy started doing suspension work about the time that Dod was new.  He performed a thorough inspection both visual and mechanical.  In just 15 minutes I had my second opinion.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the suspension and in fact he said that it was amazingly tight for a motorhome that is 32 years old.

Later that morning Rick's friend Mike came by to look at the problems with the engine.  The belts did not need replacing, the gaskets were "good enough" for several thousand more miles and that the engine seemed to be running just fine.  While we were examining the engine, I found a loose wire just hanging down from the wiring harness.  After attaching it to the battery, my only other concern with Dod was fixed.  His clearance lights, back-up lights and flashers are now working!

It has always been my preference to give everyone the benefit of the doubt so I will just say that the shop manager in Huntington Beach probably just made a bad analysis and wasn't actually trying to take me for $3,000. worth of unnecessary repairs.

Rick and his wife Karen planned a big home-cooked meal for me that night with chicken fried steak, fried chicken, corn and mashed potatoes and gravy.  Some of my all time favorite foods!  When my brother's son Matt showed up for dinner Rick told me he was an electrician and he asked Matt to check my roof AC as it had no power.  One loose wire and one wrongly wired connection were located and within an hour I had full power going to the AC.  The roof air probably has not worked for several years as the wiring problems resulted in no power reaching the unit.  The roof air now blows ice cold!

Today, we are going back to the tire shop where an air conditioning specialist will be working today.  He will pressurize the AC system and test for leaks.  If there are no leaks, Rick has offered two cans of freon that have been sitting in his garage for years.

Boy, I sure picked the right place for my first stop!  Dave is Happy

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This is my final post . . .

. . . from Huntington Beach!  All of the finishing touches have been made to the house and it is ready for the renters.  There are several projects left to complete on Dod but as I posted earlier, I would rather do them in a forest than in my driveway.

Yesterday around 4 pm I decided that I will leave on Monday.  Today I worked about 7 hours loading up Dod. It would have taken much longer but I didn't have to put everything in a "forever" place because I want to let DJ do that once I get to Oregon.  I packed way more stuff than we will ever need so after DJ decides what we need we will give away the extras.

Tomorrow afternoon I will (hopefully) be in Bakersfield at my brother Rick's home.  I plan to stay there a few days and get some required repairs done on Dod's front end suspension.  The labor rate in Huntington Beach for auto mechanics is $95.00 per hour.  I know it sounds ridiculous but sadly it is true.  I think I can get the work performed in Bakersfield for about 1/2 of what it would cost here.  It will also be good to visit with my brother and his family and enjoy some home cooking!

My original plan was to take several weeks to get to Oregon but most times when DJ calls, she holds the phone out and then asks me if I can hear the river roaring past her sister's house as she sits on a bench in the back yard.  I never heard the river but the description was good enough to make me change my plans.  Once I leave by brother's house I will try to do the rest of the trip (about 1,000 miles) in three or four days.  I like driving and my only limitation is that I refuse to drive at night, even while at home.

We will make Pendleton, OR our home base and take some trips from there.  DJ has never been to Canada and I would really like to show her some of my favorite places on  Vancouver Island and maybe even up to Whistler.

When we finally leave Pendleton, we will travel around the Northwest for awhile and cut across the corner of South Dakota to establish residency for drivers licenses and registration for Dod.  I've always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore!

Of course, my goal of existing on $30. per day is not going to happen on this segment of our journey due to fuel costs.  My actual expense reports will not start until we cross the border into Mexico sometime around October 1st.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jesse takes his first ride in Dod

I put Jesse in Dod this morning and drove over to a local park to have lunch with my ex.  Jesse wouldn't jump up  and into Dod so I picked him up.  He snarled and snapped at me!  I don't think he likes to be picked up.  Once we got to the park and took a 2 mile walk, he was in heaven.  He met several other dogs and studied the smells of hundreds of former dog visitors.

When we got back to Dod, again, he wouldn't jump up and into Dod.  Bummer.  I picked him up and he snarled and snapped again but not as menacingly as before.  My hope is that when he starts associating the fact that wherever Dod stops is going to be a good place for him he will look forward to getting into Dod for a drive.

I had to take a day off from Dod today!

My last three house projects were clouding my mind.  The shower tub has to be refinished, the tiles the painters tore up have to be reset and I have to install one ceiling light.

If everything goes smoothly, I should be able to post the after pictures this evening.  But I can't remember the last time everything went smoothly!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dod's cab interior is finished!

After putting off the carpet install for as long as I could, I started the project early this morning.  I decided to make a template out of some vinyl material I had.  I then put the template on the carpet and cut around it with a utility blade.  I only needed to make three small adjustments to get a nearly perfect fit.

Next project is the waterproofing of the roof and all seams.  I will take lots of before and after pictures!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jesse really likes his bed!

But, he likes mine better!

It was almost noon today before I could make my bed.  I just couldn't bear to disturb "Sleeping Beauty".

I realize that I made a promise to post "after" pictures of the cab improvements.  I was very motivated to complete the project until I remembered that I am retired and that "Goals are just goals".  All of a sudden, a 22 year old golfer from Northern Ireland started to cause a great commotion at the U. S. Open golf tournament. I decided to devote several hours on Saturday and Sunday to enjoy watching golf.  Dod will still be there on Monday!

However, here are a few photos of the progress I have made so far.  All of the work I have completed still needs a few finishing touches.

I hate gravity!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No Beach Balls!

This post is rated PG as it includes the discussion of "Brief Nudity"!

Yesterday while reading the always entertaining and enlightening "Travel with Kevin and Ruth" this picture reminded me of an example of why the prohibition of beach balls is so important and why violating the rule is not always a bad idea!

Following is the Anaheim Stadium website rule concerning beach balls:

Beach Balls:
For the safety of all guests, players and employees, beach balls are not allowed inside the ballpark. Any fan bringing in a beach ball or inflating one during a game will be subject to ejection from Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Please do not partake in hitting or chasing after a beach ball as it may disturb and/or injure another fan.

The significance of the above will become clear later.  First a long story made short (I hope).

Around 30 years ago, in a former life, I decided that I wanted to travel.  Not that much different than the present, but at that time I needed to travel and earn an income at the same time.  I decided that driving a moving van cross country would be a good way to accomplish both goals.  A friend taught me to drive a truck; I bought a truck; I went to DMV and took the required written test; I scheduled the first appointment available for the driving test; and, I almost aced the test.  Well, not really, I got a 78 on the driving test which was barely acceptable as the minimum passing score is 75.

Next, even though I had little experience driving and even less experience loading a truck, I interviewed with a local Mayflower agency and was offered a job hauling people's treasures around what is called "the eleven western states" in trucker's lingo.  In my thirties I felt pretty much invincible and accepted the job.  My first month was what I considered on-the-job training and all my assignments were for less than full loads and the destinations were mainly in California with a few trips to Arizona (in the middle of the summer).  Income is based on how full your truck is and how far you haul the load.  When I got back to the agency after the first month, I knew I had to do something to improve my assignments. 

This is where the beach balls come in.  I won a radio promotion giving away 4 tickets to an Anaheim Angels day game.  Who to take?  The operations manager and the dispatcher (the guy who hands out the assignments) gladly accepted my invitation.  We had very good seats about half-way down the third base line.  The location of the seats became even better as two very pretty young ladies squeezed past other fans and took the two seats immediately in front of us.  BTW none of the guys they had to squeeze by seemed to mind as the young ladies were clad in short shorts and bikini tops (think hot day and a few beers).

Okay, this is really where the beach balls come in!  It was a warm July day and the game wasn't that exciting.  Someone (bless his heart) decided to throw caution to the wind, break the rule about beach balls and throw one down from the upper level.  It wound up right in the lap of the best endowed of the two young ladies in front of us.  Rather than just batting it away, she decided to stand up and hold it for a moment while she shook her booty and made a couple of 360 degree turns so that everyone in the stadium would notice her.  She finally gave the beach ball a toss and miraculously within a very short time it came back our way.  I caught it and, being a considerate gentleman, I handed it to her.  Spontaneous cheers erupt!  She repeated her previous performance and it took even less time for the beach ball to get back to us.  Everyone near us was also very considerate and instead of hitting the beach ball away, when caught, it was promptly returned to the young lady.  More spontaneous and much louder cheers!

After around 15 minutes, and maybe 10 of these repetitive displays of very impressive beach ball tossing, a man who was sitting about 20 rows behind us came down and offered her $200 (1980 dollars when you could still buy something with a dollar) to take her top off the next time she got the ball.  He only had one condition:  he wanted her to wait until he got back to his seat so he could watch her through his binoculars!  Kinda sick don't you think; but what the heck!  

She accommodated the request, remaining topless and doing 360s (right in the face of my guests and I) to cheers so loud that the players on the field looked up to see what was going on.  Security was also watching and had her removed from the stadium within a few minutes.  The boos for her ejection were even louder than the cheers and the game was delayed until she and her escorts reached the tunnel.

My scheduled half-load trip to Arizona the next week was cancelled and replaced with a full load from Laguna Beach to Denver.  I spent the rest of my time at that company with full-load trips to and from Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho.  I would have offered her $400 if I could have foreseen the outcome!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Goals are just goals!

My goal yesterday was to finish off the entire cab area of Dod.  I posted my goal early yesterday morning and then walked outside into RAIN!  Yes, it does rain in Southern California.  The two products I purchased to complete the bottom portion of the task both had warning labels about using the product in high humidity.  It was one of those "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" kinds of moments.  I actually wanted to finish my goal for the day but was glad that Mother Nature intervened and gave me an extra day.

Even though I had to postpone the flooring until today, I was able to cover the walls leading to the living area with carpet and to install the same carpet on the ceiling of the cab.  Right in the middle of installing the covering for the ceiling, I started to miss DJ.  It was one of those moments when I wanted to say "Can you give me a hand?", but there was no one there.  I had to balance a 3' x 5' piece of carpet on my head while attempting to fasten it to the ceiling.  It's no fun to attempt a two person job by yourself!  I got it done but fine-tuning it will go on the "to do" list for while we are on the road.

As I worked on Dod I came to a decision.  I am leaving a month early!  I may wuss out and wait until Tuesday, July 5th to leave (avoiding holiday traffic) but my goal is to leave on July 1st.  It may be "foolhardy" to cut 30 days from my preparation time but I have several people to blame for my decision.  If you look at "My Blog List" you will find out who they (you) are.  All of the great stories and pictures make staying here almost unbearable.  Besides,  if you had just a few items left on your punch list, wouldn't you rather complete them in a beautiful forest than in your driveway?

The sun is out this morning and I will start the flooring project as soon as I have my breakfast.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I hate deadlines!

However, I really need them.  Dod was purchased in August 2010 and the first projects I planned on finishing were the necessary cab over repairs, the cab interior and waterproofing the entire body.  Even though I did a temporary repair in September, the cab over project was not completed until last week.  That amounts to 9 1/2 months of planning and one week of work!  I will say that the planning worked as the completed project went smoothly and came out better than anticipated.

The materials necessary to do the cab interior have been sitting in my garage 10 months.  When I began the project yesterday, I found out just how difficult it is to work with carpet on the many uneven surfaces in the cab so I changed plans slightly to include "rubberizing" and painting the most difficult parts and carpeting the rest.  Following are some "before" pictures.  I hope to have the "after" pictures posted tomorrow allowing  me just one day to complete the project.

Cab floor

Being a multi-tasker I am simultaneously working on the waterproofing.  Well, not exactly working, but after a few months of thinking about possible solutions, I googled "RV roof leak fixes" a few days ago and ordered what I hope will be the solution to fixing existing leaks and preventing any further leaks.  My personal deadline for the leak repairs is Sunday.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shake-down trip cancelled!

My plan was to take a week-long local trip to see how well Dod accommodates two people and a dog.  Also, I wanted to find out what necessary items might have been overlooked in our packing.

Well, I've always said that my plans are subject to change.  DJ is leaving today to visit her sister in Pendleton, OR and will be gone for about a month.  Now instead of a local shake-down trip Jesse and I will take off on a 1,000 mile trip and pick up DJ in Pendleton!  Everything considered, I think this is a very good thing.

The new goal is to reach Pendleton, OR in mid July.  This puts me on a tight schedule to finish my "to do" list for Dod.  I want to leave around the 1st of July to allow myself 2 weeks to leisurely travel up the coasts of California and Oregon, boondocking all the way.  One of my concerns about having DJ along on my journey was that I did not want to put her through any major mishaps along the road.  I am both an optimist and a realist.  While I don't expect any problems, I know they can occur and I will be much more comfortable handling any set backs if I am alone.  A shake-down trip of 1,000+ miles should provide ample time to check out Dod for problems and make any necessary upgrades and repairs.

While in Oregon, we are invited to boondock at DJ's sister's house.  We can take short trips from there and then begin a longer trip around the northwest and then on to Mexico hoping to make a border crossing some time around October 1st.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lots of progress on Dod

DJ and I spent about 8 days during the past two weeks working on Dod.  If it was just me alone, I would have limited the projects to the ones required to hit the road.  DJ had other ideas and wanted to improve on the interior.  After seeing the difference, I am very glad she convinced me that aesthetics were important too.  Besides, she did 90% of the work on the aesthetics while I was  making Dod sturdy and watertight.

Before pictures of Dod's flooring

Before picture of Dod's cab over area

Dod is almost too small to take pictures inside!

My jobs included:  replace flooring; replace floor and ceiling in the cab over; replace the passenger side of the cab over compartment where the previous owner made friends with a low hanging tree limb.  DJ's jobs for me  included taking off every cabinet door and drawer cover in Dod so she could refinish them and then re-installing the doors after she was through .  Dod has 13 cabinet doors and 3 drawers.  Each door required the removal of 10 to 13 screws.  Quite a bit for a 16' motorhome.  

DJ did a great job of refinishing the doors and drawers.  She did such a good job that she decided to refinish the entire interior; she did a great job on that too!  The interior does not look like it is 32 years old.

I had originally installed carpet in Dod but did not fasten it down completely so the pictures above show how it slid around on my last trip.  I went to look for some type of DIY wood flooring and found that it would cost around $150. to do the project.  I wound up buying a linoleum remnant for $15. and had enough left over to cover all of the bottoms of the cabinets.

After pictures of Dod's floor

The first picture above is the entry way where I added a piece of carpet to use for wiping off your feet when entering.  Following are before and after pictures of the cab over interior.

The cab over section still needs some finishing touches but as I kept telling DJ all day, it is going to be an entertainment/storage area which no one can see, so we can lower our standards just a little!  You can see that the passenger side is now minus the window.  I decided that since that would be a storage area the window was not necessary and the time and effort saved by not replacing the window was enormous.

 Picture of Dod's cab over minus the window

The new panel is the exact color of the paneling Dod had when new.  The parallelogram just below the rear window is a stainless steel patch the previous owner installed to cover up another boo-boo.  I like the fact that the repair work shows and that it is not perfect.  As I posted earlier, since I will spend a majority of my time in very isolated areas of Mexico, I want an RV that looks old and beat up on the outside but has a great interior and drive train.  I think I am almost there and my total investment is still below $1500.00! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jesse and Rob Lowe

What do Jesse and Rob Lowe have in common?  They were both too pretty to be guys!  Jesse, not so much anymore.  When Dan and Alena came over yesterday to give Jesse a bath and a haircut, Alena asked me if Jesse would like a "lion" cut.  I thought she said line cut and really had no idea what she was talking about.  I told her that she was the professional and that whatever she wanted to do was okay with me.

No, it wasn't a coyote attack - just a hair cutting party!

Jesse, the "Lion King!"

By the way, Jesse had zero fleas!  After less than two weeks of the brewers yeast/garlic pills he is flea free.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Stand 1" closer to the ball!

Okay, that's golf advice.  Years ago when I was golfing 4 or 5 times a week and practicing almost daily, my best friend would pick out a player on the driving range who was swinging badly and give him that advice.  Inevitably, the golfer's next few swings would be greatly improved and the golfer would give my friend a heartfelt THANK YOU!

After several times witnessing this lesson, I asked my buddy why so many golfers were standing 1" too far away from the ball and how  he was able to notice it.  He said "They were in the perfect position all the time.  They just needed to refocus and concentrate on their swings."

That was over 20 years ago but I still remember to this day, that when things aren't going quite right, I need to stand 1" closer to the ball.  I re-focussed this morning and am having a great day.  I hope you all are having great days too!

54 days and counting

The other day I put my hand in my pocket to be sure I had my keys with me.  Once my hand was there, I couldn't remember why it was there!  This preface is here because I don't remember if I have posted about my Google counter before.

I have a counter on my Google Chrome homepage that tells me how many days remain until I leave. This morning  it shows that I have 54 days remaining before "I leave for Mexico".  Things are going so well with the preparation of the house for the renters that I probably will beat the deadline by a month or so.  By Sunday, the entire house will be empty.  That includes all my worldly possessions (only exception is food in the fridge).

Everything that will wind up in Dod for our journey will be on the two workbenches in the garage or in my "man cave" pool house.  The painters will arrive sometime Monday and hopefully by Wednesday the entire interior will have a new coat of paint.  After that Dod will get my total attention!

Just to be sure I keep on schedule, I am posting some of my "to do" list for Dod and will update my progress here.

To do list:

Convert over-cab sleeper to entertainment/storage unit
Refinish all interior wood (fake wood) surfaces
Replace carpet with linoleum (Thanks to Jesse, the wonder shedder)
Check and replace as needed all of the hoses and fittings for fresh water, gray water and black water
Add two new house batteries and solar panel
Replace every engine hose and belt (and buy replacements for each one)

Wow!  I know there are more items on the list but I need to stop now and get to work on these.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Budget re-evaluation!

When I picked the random figure of $20. per day for my travel budget, I was going it alone.  Now with Jesse and DJ on board I have to adjust.  Jesse has been with me just over a month now and I figure his food and medicine will average about $60. per month.  DJ spent four days with me over the long weekend and my food budget doubled.  No real surprise there but I hadn't even considered that inevitability.

I think I really could have made it on $20. per day because I have no problem "doing without".  Asking Jesse or DJ to do without is not something that I can do.

My new budget figure is $30. per day!  Sounds small but it is close to the published expense reports of the bloggers I follow.