Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011-02 A week in the Life of a Snowbird

A week in the Life of a Snowbird.

You may wonder what we snowbirds do in the winter, with so much time on our hands.  Of course as a snowbird, that means that we Rv’ers migrate to the warmer states, AZ, Fl, and TX being the most popular.  I’m staying again this year at Desert Trails which is about 12 miles out on the west side of Tucson AZ.

Desert Trails is one of those “active” communities of retirees where it seems everyone is always on the go.  As an example of things I do throughout the week, here are a few examples.

Ruby Ghost Town

The previous week I went on a outing back to Ruby Ghost Town.  A great place for our photo club even though it’s about 4 miles from the Mexican boarder and there have been quite a few shooting in near the boarder.  You can See more photo’s on my PICAS web site.

Monday:  Attend the Monday morning coffee and donut meeting in the clubhouse, where Pericles, the owner of Desert Trails tells us everything that’s scheduled for the coming week and any changes to the monthly schedule.  Pericles also throws in some awful jokes which, as corny as they are, are always well received and a great way to start the week, just a few laughs and info thrown in for good measure.

After the meeting, I may go on the weekly bike ride, which always includes lunch somewhere out and about.  This week, I opted to help some volunteers pick up garbage along San Joaquin and Bopp Roads.  We went out in groups of 4 and walked both sides of the road for approx. a mile, each group taking a different section.  I found a dime, another guy in our group found a $5 bill.

If I have time, Monday afternoons is the time to enjoy the jam session where a group of musicians get together and play usually country and folk music with the occasional old time spiritual.

Tuesday:  Usually a great day to do chores like cleaning the camper or washing the truck, having lunch out and in the evening attending a concert in the rec. hall.  This past week a couple sang with absolutely perfect pitch, voices that rang with crystal clarity and their guitar, piano and banjo playing were top notch.

Wednesday:  Writers Club, where I get to share some of my stories I’ve written and blog material as well as listen to some really great authors in their own voice.  And some have the most resonant voices for telling their tales.  Later, there may be time for a nice hike out into the desert.  This past Wed.  I had to miss the writers club to go to Tubac with the photography group to take pictures and experience a really cool old town that has become an artist haven along with a historical Az State park and a Mission now preserved by the National Park.  In the evening it’s Bingo, but I don’t usually attend.
Tubac AZ

Thursday:  Free day to do anything I want.  Usually I read book, this weeks it‘s an historical book, John Adams (our 2nd U.S. President) by David McCullough,  go shopping and more entertainment in the evening.

Friday:  I joined the Geo-caching club for an outing.  We drive out of town usually to some park or Gov land where Geo-caches have been hidden.  We all use our Garman’s, or Droid or I-phone’s to get the GPS coordinates and try and find the caches.  A Great outdoor sport, seeing places one would not normally go and find a hidden treasure hidden under a rock, in a tree limb or tucked in fence post.  If you bring a small trinket to put in the box, you can take one out of the cache as a prize.  Afternoon it’s the photography club meeting.

Later in the afternoon around 4pm (it’s 5 o’clock somewhere) we have an impromptu cocktail hour.  The gas fireplace is turned on, the sun is beginning to set behind the palm trees and mesquite trees and the sky turn all red and orange.

Saturday:  Enjoy a good cup of coffee along with a cinnamon bun a neighbor has dropped by as I read the Saturday News paper.  A walk around the park and before you know it, a couple friends ask for assistance with their new Droid Verizon phone.  About a dozen folks in the park have just upgraded to the new droid smart phones so it’s a constant sharing of how to use the new devices.  Later, I’m asked to provide additional training to two more friends on creating a BLOG.  It’s really enjoyable to share what knowledge I have on these subjects.  I  probably should have been a teacher as I love to share new things and teach others how to use their computers and electronic devices.  It’s pure fun for me.

Sunday is finally here and I get to relax.  Maybe go to the Tohno O’Odum Indian swap meet (flea-market). Have Lunch out as usual.  Visit with friends and get ready for another busy week ahead.  Time really does fly by and it’s nice to just sit back and watch the clouds drift by once and a while.  Besides, it’s been too chilly lately to go for a swim in the pool.

2011-01 First Report of the new Year

New Camper, New Repairs
What can go wrong.

As you know from my last posts, I’ve purchased a new 5th wheel camper.  The Montana Hickory edition.  This is my first American made 5th wheel camper.  In the past I’ve also owned two pop-up campers made in the states.  But the two previous 5th wheel campers were made in Canada by Glendale, an Rv manufacturer that went out of business in 2009.

I’d heard many a story about the poor construction quality in the building of campers, especially those built in the U.S.  However, I took the plunge and purchased a U.S. built camper with the express knowledge that I would probably have a few things that would need repairs.  Keep in mind, when purchasing any camper, this is a normal occurrence and one must just “get through it”.  In the end, one usually ends up with a great camper.

Up front I will tell you I am happy with the basics of my Montana by Keystone, but I’ll go into a few of the things that need correcting and warranty work that must be done to make my new camper humming along.

First off, before I headed out of the dealers, it was noted that there was a leak in my basement, near the water control center.  One of Sunshine maintenance workers opened the bay and ended up replacing a 6 link water connector solving the leaking problem.

Ready to go, I headed to Tucson for my winter destination, new camper in tow.  It’s a couple thousand pounds heavier, but traveled well and I got about 11 miles to the gallon towing the new rig.

A few days later, I was contacted by Sunshine Rv and told there was a recall on the gas stove/oven.  I’ve called a local RV MD to come repair the stove after they order the parts required to repair the errant gas line.  Odd they couldn’t have done this check while I was staying at the dealership for a few days.

Then I couldn’t get the water pump to work properly.  Hmmm.  Another call to the RV MD.  Come to find  out the water lines are not connected correctly.  To ensure proper connections, the RV MD will request schematic drawings of the water connections so they can reconfigure the lines correctly.  Could the Sunshine Rv maintenance guy have re-connected the lines incorrectly?? Hmmm.

A couple of days after settling into the new camper in Tucson I went to open one of the pull out drawers in the kitchen and the whole drawer fell right off the tracks.  D#$%.  After much effort, a good neighbor was able to help me remove the drawer from the high-end slide mechanism.  The problem was discovered.  Those high-end slide mechanisms were connected to the back brace with a single screw.  The slightest movement of the drawer, caused the connection to wobble and fall apart.

This is a good example of cheap construction in an otherwise well built coach.  Rather than a brace on each side of the drawer, a single brace was placed in the center with only one screw per drawer.  One wonders what they were thinking.  I of course shored up the brace, glued the horizontal board and put two screws in each board to stabilize both drawers.

I’m waiting for the RV MD to return my calls regarding the repairs they are schedule to make.  Yes, even we campers have regular maintenance, recalls and warranty work that needs to be done.  But in the end, what a great life style.

Update status.  Called after the 1st of the year for status on the expected repairs.  Answer:  Opps, we dropped the ball.  We’ll work on it right away, apologies were given and hopefully they will follow up.
As of this writing, 1/9/2011 no word from the Repair folks.