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.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Vegas Heat

It's not even officially summer and the daytime temperatures here in Las Vegas are already over 100 degrees F. How do these temperatures affect life in a RV...
  • Air conditioners run constantly from about 10:00 in the morning until 10:00 in the evening and then intermittently throughout the night. Fortunately, the Las Vegas RV Resort caps your electric bill at $175 per month from April 1 through September 30 which is less than I paid for my home back in NC.
  • I now take showers using the cold water tap only. Sometimes, I have to let the sun heated water in the hose run a bit to cool down to a comfortable temperature. Hopefully, by turning off the water heater, I can offset some of the energy used by the A/Cs.
  • Pet owners carry or drive their dogs to the "doggie park" to keep them from burning their paws on the pavement.
  • You plan your outdoor activities based on the time of day.

Monday, May 28, 2018

World's Largest Orgy

Mark June 2 on your calendar as a group called Menage Life is hosting a world record attempt for the world’s largest orgy in Las Vegas. As many as 1,000 people are expected to take part in the orgy world record. The current documented record for the largest orgy with a mere 500 participants was set in Japan in 2006. According to the event’s official web site, “All participants in the world record attempt will receive complimentary condoms, lube, hand towels, hand sanitizer and sexy swag”. I almost signed-up just for the "sexy swag".

Organizers have said the event will have a masquerade theme, masks included, so participants can be assured of anonymity.

Two of my favorite quotes regarding the orgy:
  • Can you imagine the cramps from writing all those thank-you notes?
  • We are old-fashioned and believe humiliation should happen between two people, a man and whoever we are disappointing.

Also on June 2, Las Vegas sex worker advocacy groups plan to march in honor of International Whores Day. The day is in commemoration of the occupation of Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, France by more than 100 sex workers in 1975 to protest police brutality and exploited working conditions.

I am not making this stuff up. They don’t call it Sin City for nothing.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mammoth Caves & Cedar Breaks

My idea of putting together a trip itinerary is to head in the general direction I want to go and then hope to bump into something that is interesting. I call it the "pinball method". Sunny's planning, on the other hand, is so meticulous she makes German train schedules look sloppy and unorganized. Here are some of the highlights of where she took us today.

Mammoth Caves is actually a lava tube. If you have a flashlight and do not mind a little crawling, you can go from one opening to another underground...

Cedar Breaks is a National Monument similar to Bryce Canyon but without the huge crowds. Unfortunately, you cannot hike down among the "hoodoos" like Bryce. Well, you probably could hike down there but would need a helicopter to get out...

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Willis Creek Slot Canyon Part Deux

Today, Sunny, Stormy and I hiked Willis Creek Slot Canyon south of Cannoville, Utah...

Then, it was on to Bull Valley Gorge where some years ago a vehicle ran off the road into a very deep section of the gorge...

Vehicle is in the circle
(click on photos to enlarge)


Friday, May 25, 2018

Paiute Trail Reunion

I drove up to Marysvale, UT to spend the weekend with Sunny & Stormy Weathers, my full-time RVing friends from NC. After a quick "getting caught up" moment, we took a short ride on the Paiute Trail System. The first thing we notice is the "prescribed burn" by the National Forest Service (they used to call them "controlled burns" until they found they could not control them)...

Next, we discover an area where the beaver were working overtime...

And of course, no trip with Sunny would be complete without her photographing an outhouse...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Seven Magic Mountains

If you hike, you probably have come across cairns, man-made piles of stones. Today, I discovered the ultimate in cairns near Jean, Nevada. Seven Magic Mountains is the work of Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and consists of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high...

Click on photos to enlarge

One article I read indicated the project took Rondinone five years and $3.5 million to build which seems like a long time and a lot of money to paint and stack some rocks. I guess that is what makes it "art".

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Las Vegas Fees

Las Vegas used to be a relatively inexpensive city to visit as casinos made their money via gambling and used cheap rooms/meals as a way to attract tourists. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, particularly, on the strip. Everything is substantially more expensive. Even free parking has pretty much gone the way of the mechanical slot machine.

As expensive as Vegas may be, you generally know how much something will cost beforehand. However, businesses are now including hidden fees in your bill:
  • Most hotels add a "Resort Fee" of ~$25-40/night when you checkout (in hotels off the strip where things are cheaper, the resort fee can be more than the room rate). The insidious part of this is you are usually not told about the resort fee when you make your reservation.
  • The latest trend is the "Concession & Franchise Fee" of 4.7% at some restaurants. What do you get for this fee? Nothing, it's just a way to pad the bill. Adding to the outrage is the fact it’s added to your bill before the sales tax is calculated so you’re paying tax on a tax.
In the long run, the free market will sort this out. In the interim, "caveat emptor".

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Railroad Canyon

Steve and I took the Jeeps over Railroad Canyon southwest of Las Vegas. On the 1-10 scale it is rated a 5. However, there are some spots where it is a "hard 5"...

Steve using advanced mathematics & psychic intuition to calculate the right line

Is this anyway to treat a practically new Jeep

It's a good thing I attended the Stormy Weather's School of Extreme Rock Crawling

Additional photos...

Tight squeeze

Joshua tree

More wide open spaces

Monday, April 30, 2018

Manual Sway Bar Release

My new lift kit came with a manual sway bar release. Just pull a pin, move the sway bar off the stud and fasten it out of the way with the included strap...

When I was shown this feature, I thought "I have a Rubicon with an electronic sway bar release so I will never use this". What I failed to realize is the Jeep is programmed to reconnect the sway bar when it reaches 18 mph. However, there are rough trails like what we ran today where you want to release the sway bar for a more comfortable ride but still travel faster than 18 mph. This option solves that problem.

Mormon Well Road
There is still a lot of wide open space in this country

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ultimate Jeep Accessory

Looking for the perfect gift for your significant other and their Jeep. How about a Rear License Plate Mounted Bottle Opener. At $9.95 it will not break the bank and could potentially save a life (think broke down in the middle of the desert with a case of ice cold long necks and no opener).

Another product I wish I had invented