Friday, June 22, 2018

R-Pod 189

Although my Heartland Big Horn fifth wheel is a great RV that has 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

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Logandale Trail System

That notorious thrill seeking couple, Steve & Jayne (, are in town which means that at the very least I am going to have a very dirty Jeep and I do not even want to contemplate what may happen after that. Just to be on the safe side, I have put Earl Scheib Paint and Body on speed dial...

If you own a Jeep and see this couple, run in the other direction

Today, we drove up to the Logandale Trail System where we ran the Overton Ridge and Wash. The ridge has some extremely steep ascents/descents but you are rewarded with great panoramic views of the surrounding rock formations...

Click on photos to enlarge

There was even a little rock crawling along the way...

But for the most part, it was all about enjoying the scenery...

Lastly, we did discover an extreme rock crawling area where even the "big boys" were having problems...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Action Hero Night

It was "Action Hero Night" at the local Chick-Fil-A where kids dressed as their favorite action hero would receive a free Kid's Meal. I tried to convince them that I was still a kid-at-heart and that I was dressed as Marvel Comics' "Fat Man" whose superpower is the ability to eat huge quantities of dessert in a single sitting. For some inexplicable reason, they did not believe my story and I had to pay for dinner. 😢

Jeep Modifications

In preparation for towing a RV trailer, I had U-Haul install a 7 pin connector and brake controller on my Jeep. Although it came with a tow package, there was only a flat 4 pin connector which does not have the ability to brake the trailer.

Newly installed 4 pin & 7 pin connector

Much to my surprise, the tow package used a 3.73 gear ratio instead of 4.10. In an effort to improve the overall performance of the Jeep including towing, I purchased a Superchips Flashpaq.

This device comes with several preset performance tunes along with the ability to do a custom tune. It will even correct the speedometer if you go to bigger tires. Lastly, you can return the Jeep back to stock mode before taking it to a dealer.

Click on image to enlarge

I am currently running the 87 (octane) Performance Tune. I have not noticed any significant change in power but the automatic transmission appears to shift smoother. There is a Heavy Load Tow Tune which requires 91 octane gasoline that I will switch to when towing. I am also curious to see how the Crawling Tune performs on those really gnarly trails. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Liberal Hypocrisy

I recently read an article on Harry Reid, the retired Democratic leader of the senate, who lives here in the Las Vegas area in the exclusive Anthem Country Club community. What makes the Club so exclusive (other than the million dollar homes) is it is a gated community (think wall) with armed security (think guns) that requires a government-issued photo ID (think voter ID) for entry. All the things that Harry and his fellow progressives are against in public, he has embraced in his personal life. Definitely, a case of "do I say, not as I do".

My other favorite liberal hypocrite is Al Gore, the millionaire retired politician and global warming activist, whose home in Tennessee generates five figure monthly electric bills and who flies around the world in a private jet that spews tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I suspect the same can be said for the Clinton's, the Obama's and other liberal elites.

Perhaps, politicians should be limited to two terms: one term in office and one term in prison.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Fixer Upper RV

After dinner I met this fellow in the shopping center's parking lot, who was kind enough to pose with his RV...

He offered to sell it to me and as an added incentive was going to throw in the trailer...

He assured me it had never been in a wreck and had only 65,000 original miles on it...

When I asked how it was damaged, he said it was the weather in Mexico (I think we're talking hurricane or tornado). If I had not already put a deposit on a R-pod, I might have tried to negotiate a good deal.

Friday, April 20, 2018


My friends, Steve & Jayne, sent me this image...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Most of the major intersections in Las Vegas have panhandlers holding signs asking for help/money. As in any highly competitive market, there are those individuals on the cutting edge of their profession, who are always looking for new and innovative ways to differentiate themselves from their run-of-the-mill competitors. It appears the latest trend in panhandling is the "Why lie..." signs. In the last year, I have seen signs that read "Why lie, need beer". Now, in keeping with the recent legalization of marijuana, I see signs that read "Why lie, need reefer".

Ironically, it is against the law here to panhandle or give money to panhandlers (it is considered a traffic hazard) but due to the huge homeless population, it is rarely enforced.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lift Kit

I had 4 The Truck in Henderson install a 3 inch BDS lift kit with Fox 2.0 shocks on my Jeep. Now, I can hit those speed bumps at the mall without fear of bottoming out. The next step in the evolution of my machine is to replace the stock tires with larger ones once I have put a few more miles on the current set. The downside to this setup is having to pole vault into the driver's seat (it's not easy being "inseam challenged").

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

UNC Alumni Association

It has been 50 years since I graduated from the University of North Carolina. In the interim, I have moved more times than I can count including a three year stay in Mexico. I never once sent them my new address. And yet, whenever they want a donation, I get an alumni letter asking for money. I believe the FBI, CIA, NSA, et. al. could learn a great deal about locating "person(s) of interest" from them. Unfortunately, now that they are politically just to the left of Lenin, I no longer donate.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours

I think most people would be surprised at the number of interesting places within an hour's drive of Las Vegas. Today, I visited Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours located in Eldorado Canyon at the historical Techatticup Mine (the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada). I photographed so many old and unique vehicles that I thought a slideshow would be the best way to display them...

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

After the mine, I continued east to some remote areas of Lake Mead where I discovered a late model Ford F-150 trying unsuccessfully to learn how to swim...

This occurred within a national recreational area so I suspect the owner will be hit with some massive fines in addition to the cost of repairing or replacing the truck.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Vegas Heat

Although my RV came with two 15,000 BTU roof air conditioners, it is all they can do to keep the inside temperature under 85 degrees F when it is over 100 outside. In as much as I want to see if I can take the heat in Las Vegas this summer, I needed to look at other ways to cool the RV.

I spoke with some people in the office who live here year round and they recommended a portable air conditioner that vents to the outside. However, when I looked at those units, I discovered that they were not only more expensive than window conditioners but did not work as well.

After some careful window measurements and then shopping online, I found a 6,000 BTU LG air conditioner that appeared to be just what I needed. It arrived on Monday and much to my relief fit the window in the slide-out perfectly. I used some water hose insulation that I bought several years ago during a cold snap in NC to seal the ends of the unit so there are no drafts in or out of the RV.

Since then, we have had two days where the outside temperature was in the low 90s and I am pleased to report that it not only worked well but cut down on the time the big roof A/Cs were needed. Hopefully, I will stay cool this summer and lower my electric bill at the same time. 😊