Sunday, August 12, 2018

70 MPH Winds

High winds with gusts up to 70 mph swept through Las Vegas last night creating a major dust storm and leaving thousands without power. It was the scariest time I have spent in a RV in the seven years I have been on the road. First, there was the extreme rocking. It was so violent that I was beginning to think my fifth wheel might turn over. Second, was the noise. The fabric slide covers and rubber roof sounded like they were about to be ripped off. It all lasted around 30 minutes but seemed like a lot longer. Fortunately, there was no damage to the RV and the park did not lose power. However, I did age a few years that I can hardly afford to lose.

Here are some photos of the aftermath that I downloaded from the Internet...

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Pinball Hall of Fame

When I was a kid (yeah, we're talking ancient history), there were no digital video games. There were board games like Monopoly and outdoor games like the incredibly dangerous Dodge Ball but the closest we came to first person action games were pinball machines. I still remember playing them in the arcades at Myrtle Beach.

In a nondescript building on Tropicana Avenue east of the strip is the Pinball Hall of Fame where you can play over 300 machines from the very old to the very new...

I spoke with one of the owners and learned that they have over 1100 pinball machines in their collection and have purchased property on the south end of the strip where they are planning to move in 2020.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Vegas Money Saving Tip

I am not a gambler so I had not given much thought to those casino player cards that allow you to earn points for comps. What I did not realize is most casinos give you a discount on meals with those cards. In as much as I dine at casinos off the strip because they are some of the least expensive places in town to eat, I am becoming a player card collector...

A $6.49 breakfast was only $3.99 with this card

I would recommend getting a casino card(s) as soon as you arrive in the city, particularly, if you gamble. They are free (my favorite price) and can offer substantial rewards to you high rollers.

Monday, July 30, 2018

International Car Forest

The International Car Forest of the Last Church just south of Goldfield, Nevada is an eclectic collection of old vehicles most of which are buried in the ground similar to the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, Texas. The artwork on the cars complements the uniqueness of the forest...

If you would like to view a full screen version of the slideshow, click here

Tonopah Historic Mining Park

The Tonopah Historic Mining Park is a huge mining complex in Tonopah, Nevada. If you enjoy mining history and do not mind a little walking, you can spend hours here looking at old buildings, equipment and mines...

Desert Queen Mine

These "stopes" were hundreds of feet deep

I was surprised at all of the tools laying inside this shop unattended

Later development of the Mitzpah Mine brought electricity to the site

The belts went outside to raise & lower items into the mine 600 feet down

Belmont, Neveda

Belmont is a ghost town in Nye County, Nevada along former State Route 82. It was established in 1866 following a silver strike. Today, it consists of a few intact buildings and the ruins of several others. There are a handful of year-round residents and a saloon but no groceries or gas.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Lonely Roads

I knew U.S. Route 50 in Nevada had the reputation as "The Loneliest Road in America" but I am discovering there are a lot more lonely roads in the state where you can drive miles and miles without seeing another living soul...

Smoke from the California wildfires obscures the mountains

You definitely want a well maintained vehicle and a full tank of fuel...

Friday, July 27, 2018

Pony Express Help Wanted Ad

This ad appeared on flyers and in newspapers in 1859 across the country...

Not over eighteen. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. WAGES $25 per week. Apply Central Overland Express.

If this job was available today, I would be an ideal candidate (except for the "young, skinny, wiry, not over eighteen, expert rider willing to risk death daily and orphan" requirements).

Ward Charcoal Ovens

South of Ely about 20 miles is the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historical Park which contains six charcoal ovens that were used from 1876 through 1879 to help process rich silver ore that was discovered in the area. After the mining ended, they were used as shelters for ranchers, prospectors, lost travelers and rumor has it, stagecoach bandits...

If you have never seen a western jackrabbit, you will be amazed at how big they can get. This fellow was almost two feet tall (including ears)...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Ely, Nevada

To escape the heat in Las Vegas, I have traveled to Ely, Nevada where at an elevation of 6,437 feet, it is ~20 degrees cooler. This evening after dinner was the first time in over two months I was able to sit outside comfortably. Am looking forward to the mid-50s tonight.

Ely is the largest city and county seat of White Pine County, Nevada. It was founded as a stagecoach station along the Pony Express and Central Overland Route. It is located on Highway 50, a major east–west highway, connecting Ocean City, Maryland and West Sacramento, California. The section here in Nevada is known as “The Loneliest Road in America”.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Did You Know

You have probably driven over them numerous times. I am talking about those bright blue reflectors embedded in the middle of roads...

But did you know their purpose? If not, you have come to the right place. They are there to let the fire department know where the nearest hydrant is located...

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

$14.7B Pork-barrel Spending

A watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste, on Wednesday released its annual Congressional Pig Book of what it considers the most egregious examples of pork-barrel spending in Congress, drawn this time from fiscal year 2018 appropriations bills. According to the group, earmarks in 2018 totaled $14.7 billion, an increase of 116.2 percent from $6.8 billion in 2017.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Back In Vegas

I have returned to Las Vegas after having "field tested" my new R-Pod in Mesquite and Kanab. I am pleased to report that with only a few minor problems, it performed well. I also discovered that although the Jeep will tow the trailer, it struggles with uphill grades even with the Superchip tow tune.

A couple of nights ago, a major storm came through Vegas and flooded parts of the city. It also left a lot of moisture in the air which makes the heat almost insufferable. It reminds me of being back in NC when this time of year it was a race between the temperature and humidity to see which would reach 100 first.

Last week, I noticed that the summer heat had begun to buckle the plastic strips that run along the top of the RV covering the fastening screws. The strong winds from the storm blew several of those strips off the rig...

Fortunately, there was no permanent damage and this should be an easy fix

Monday, July 09, 2018

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

A few miles north of Kanab is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, home to around 1,700 animals on over 20,000 acres in Angel Canyon. You can drive through the sanctuary on your own or take a free, ninety minute van tour where you get to mingle with some of the animals...

Welcome Center

Angels Rest (animal cemetery) 

If you have a high clearance, 4WD vehicle, you can drive to the Hidden Lake, a water-filled cave peeking out from a red sandstone cliff...

Tip of the day: Have lunch at the Angel Village Lunchroom at the northern end of the sanctuary. It's an all-you-can-eat vegetarian/vegan buffet including salad bar and dessert for only $5.00!

The stuffed portobello mushroom was outstanding

View of the canyon from the lunchroom

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Kanab, Utah

This is my first visit to Kanab and after leaving the visitor's center, I realized you could probably spend a month here and still not see everything this area has to offer. However, most of the attractions require some hiking so I want to return when it is cooler.

I am staying at the Kanab RV Corral near the center of town. In addition to most of the amenities you would want in a RV park, it has "Gigabit Fiber WiFi and the latest technology for fast solid connections throughout the park". I have never stayed in a park where uploads/downloads were this fast.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Bunkerville Choo Choo

The Bunkerville Choo Choo is a scenic, single lane, dirt road/trail that winds through the Virgin Mountains south of Mesquite. It appears to have gotten its name from this old locomotive boiler that a rancher converted to a water tank for cattle...

Click on photos to enlarge

Today's highlight photos...

Keyhole Rock

Roadrunner posing for photo

The Seeps

I may have spent too much time in the desert as I am starting to see mirages

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Little Finland

I drove the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway (south of Mesquite, NV) to Little Finland which is known for its bizarre rock formations. Although I left early this morning to avoid the high afternoon temperatures, it was already in the mid-90s by the time I arrived at 10:30 a.m. The heat radiating from the rock made hiking very unpleasant so I did not spend as much time exploring the area as I would have liked. This is definitely an adventure you want to experience in the cooler months of the year.

Click on photos to enlarge

On the way back, I came across this unique structure...

Old dam with steps built by the CCC

Old shelter across the road from the dam

Friday, June 22, 2018

R-Pod 189

Although my Heartland Big Horn fifth wheel is a great RV with all the amenities I would want, it is somewhat of a beast to move, particularly, for short trips. More importantly, because I have a Jeep and a RZR, I have to make two trips wherever I go.

This has led me to try a slightly different lifestyle where I use the Big Horn as a semi-permanent residence and a smaller RV for road trips. After looking at a number of travel trailers, I chose the Forest River R-Pod RP-189 which at 20'4" in length and an unloaded weight of 2792 pounds can be towed by my Jeep and will fit in small sites such as those found in older state parks...

Now for the bad news. Due to the short supply of RP-189s, I had to travel to Upland, California to buy one from The RV Spa dealership. My first disappointment was the transporter requirement for titling and registering a RV out-of-state which cost me an additional $520.

Next, although I was told I would receive the Manufacturer's Statement of Origin (MSO) along with a 90 day permit at the time of purchase, it turned out I will not get the MSO for another two weeks and instead of a 90 day permit, I got a one trip permit (had I titled the vehicle in CA, I would have received everything immediately). The problem with this is it will now take 4-6 weeks for the State of South Dakota to send me the plates and registration I need to be completely legal and that is if the dealer does what they say they will do. Based on my experience to date, I am not holding my breath.

Lastly, the air conditioner in my new unit ran for about five minutes this morning before shutting down. I checked the circuit breakers and fuses to no avail and then called several RV dealers in the Las Vegas area. Due to the current heat wave, the earliest appointment I could get was over two weeks away.

I was able to get a mobile RV repairman out this afternoon, who told me he could do the work under the manufacturer's warranty. After he arrived, he quickly found that the Dometic thermostat was bad and had to be replaced which solved the problem. Unfortunately, when he called Dometic, he was put on hold for about 20 minutes before being cut off and on the call back got a message that they were closed for the day. I had to write a check for $325. Hopefully, I can get Dometic to reimburse me for the full amount but based on past warranty claims experience, it will probably be a long, drawn out affair.

Between California's weird regulations and poor customer service from the dealership and Dometic, it has been a very frustrating couple of days. I like to think it will only get better from here on out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Surge Protector

In the seven years I have been on the road as a full-time RVer, I have discovered that the electrical hook-ups at RV parks vary all over the map. I even had a power surge that tripped the circuit breaker in the inverter for my residential refrigerator. That's when I purchased my first surge protector.

In order to protect the electrical system in my new R-Pod trailer, I bought a Progressive Industries Portable SSP-30XL RV Smart Surge Protector. When I plugged it into the 30 amp outlet at my storage site, it indicated I had an "open neutral" connection. I am not an electrician so I looked it up online and discovered that is not a good thing, particularly, with 50 amp circuits.

When I contacted the park's office about the problem, they immediately sent someone down, who not only confirmed the open neutral connection but made the repair in about 15 minutes. Another reason I have been very pleased with the service here at the Las Vegas RV Resort. If all goes well, I hope to have something to plug into the surge protector tomorrow afternoon. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

California Craziness

It seems like every week you read or hear about some crazy law or regulation that California passes that increases the state's cost of living and makes you wonder "what were they thinking" (my favorite is the anti-flatulence law). Most of the time, I just shake my head and am thankful that I do not have to live there.

However, this week I get to experience first-hand the cost of one of their laws. If all goes well, I plan to pickup a small travel trailer in Upland, California on Thursday. As a resident of South Dakota I like to title and register all my vehicles there. In all of the states where I have purchased vehicles in the past, all I had to do was let the dealership know I was going title it out of state; sometimes, I had to sign a government exemption form or if the state had a reciprocal agreement with SD, pay the sales tax at the time of purchase. The point being there was no additional cost.

Not so with California. In order to title and register your RV out of state, you have to pay a transporter to take it to the nearest state line before you can take possession. In my case, I have to drive to Upland to complete the paperwork/purchase and then follow the transporter to Primm, Nevada before hooking it up to my truck. The cost: $520 ($455 towing + $65 notary public). What a waste of time, fuel and money.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

RV Water Leak

Yesterday afternoon, I discovered water dripping from the bottom of my RV which is never a good sign. Fortunately, it turned out to be from the overflow vent on the fresh water tank. Knowing that it was not from the gray or black tanks allowed me to wait until this morning when the pavement was no longer the temperature of the sun to make the repair.

After a little detective work and calling the psychic hotline, I decided the problem was due to a defective valve that diverts water from the main hose to the various RV tanks. Replacing the valve was not difficult. The real work involved emptying the cargo bay and removing two panels to get to the backside of the valve and unhook the multiple connections...

It's been a couple of hours since the replacement and I have neither flooded the park nor the interior of the RV so I am going to call it a success. It never hurts to have an additional skill set in case this retirement thing does not work out.