Thursday, February 21, 2019

Borrego Springs

   It's 9:15 am, Thursday, February 21 and we are in site #318 at The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course where we have been since Monday afternoon, Feb 18. It's a very nice park and a nice change of scenery from Indian Wells RV Resort, our home for the past month and a half. It's been overcast and chilly for the most part since our arrival, and rained overnight last night with the forecast calling for more intermittent periods of rain throughout today and tomorrow. Saturday and Sunday, however, are supposed to be sunny.

   The drive out Monday afternoon was pleasant and uneventful. However, once you turn off Rt.86 in Salton City, the remaining 30 mile drive west to Borrego Springs along S22 is a little rough. My new Garmin Trucker GPS had advised me to continue further down Rt.86 to Rt.78 west, but having taken S22 on our recon mission a couple weeks ago, and it being such a picturesque stretch of road, I opted to retrace our previously traveled route. There was a pretty stiff headwind heading west on S22 and the sky ahead looked threatening. However, we were lucky. The weather held out and we didn't have to set  up in the rain.
    We arrived around 4:30 pm. Site 318 is a back-in site so I exited the coach to unhook from the car while Suzanne headed for the office to see to the paperwork. I quickly realized that it was considerably colder here in Borrego Springs than it had been in Indian Wells a couple hours ago.With Suzanne following me in the car, we were escorted to our site by a very nice gentleman in a golf cart - wearing a winter coat over his hoodie. After parking and setting the air brakes on the coach we chatted for a few minutes. He jokingly apologized for the bad weather and told me that in the 8 years he has been work camping here this is the only time he has seen snow in the foothills northwest of town.
    I was planning to grill a couple filets but we were both a little tired from the day's activities and instead decided to break out our emergency-ration Marie Callender's frozen turkey pot pies. Perfect fare for a cold desert night.


    When Travis and I arrived at one of the two dog parks here at TSABRVR&GC (that's funny right?) there was woman chasing away a coyote with a golf club (the woman had the golf club - not the coyote). I had seen a coyote the previous evening during a walk with Travis. Later in the day, I was doing a few chores outside the coach and heard what sounded like a dog fight out in a yet-to-be-developed section of the park. As I walked to the front of our site I saw a park employee on a John Deere ATV speeding in the direction of the ruckus, where he dispersed a group of 3 coyotes who were obviously having a serious disagreement. That night, at about 1:00am, I was reading in bed and heard what sounded like a dozen coyotes out in that same area howling and carrying on like a bunch of... well... like a bunch of wild coyotes. I woke Suzanne up so she could hear it.
    We've decided that it's probably best not to leave Winnie (or Travis for that matter) chained outside unattended.

   TSABRVR&GC is a very nice resort. I've opined in previous blogs about the liberal use of the word 'resort' by many RV parks. TSABRVR&GC is a resort in the true sense of the word. Neither Suzanne nor I play golf but they have a very nice 18 hole golf course here and we're thinking about taking a lesson this weekend before our departure Monday morning. There is a large heated salt water swimming pool with 4 surrounding salt water hot tubs (mineral baths) - one of which is large and able to accommodate 8 or 10 people. The others are smaller, two person tubs. Yesterday, after an afternoon workout at the park fitness center, Suzanne and I took a half hour soak in one of the small mineral baths. I thought to bring along my phone and Bluetooth speaker - but forgot the margaritas! Maybe this afternoon.

   Last night we dined at Carmelita's Mexican Grill & Cantina. The food was outstanding and Suzanne said her margarita was as well. I opted for a Corona.
   Suzanne's three-day work week ended yesterday so today we are going to drive into town and do some exploring. We've been told there are a few cool/funky shops worth checking out. We also want to take a drive to see the Galleta Meadows Metal Sculptures.

Thanks for checking out the blog!


Monday, February 11, 2019


   It's been quite a while since my last post so I have quite a bit to write about.
   We've been here at Indian Wells RV Resort since the 5th of January. The weather has been a bit cooler than is normal for this time of year, but very pleasant nonetheless. There have also been some very windy days and nights that have kept the park maintenance staff busy cleaning up date palm tree debris - and me re-positioning awning mats and furniture that keep getting blown around. Having said that, as we get further into the new year, the daily highs continue to creep up into the mid 60s and low 70s - much more pleasant temps than we would be experiencing back home in Northern Virginia.
   So, what have we been up to for the past several weeks...

   The cable reception here at IWRVR is a little sketchy. It's kind of weird in that channels at the upper end of the dial are relatively clear but channels between, say, 2 & 20 are so grainy as to be unviewable. We have an OTA (over the air) antenna on the coach that we deploy pretty much every time we set up at a new location. It's a powered antenna with motorized rotation and does a great job of pulling in local OTA channels. Depending on our location, we are sometimes able to receive a few dozen channels. At other times, in more remote areas, we might only find 3 or 4. Sometimes none. The Coachella Valley is a fairly bustling area with powerful, not-too-distant transmitting antennas - and so, currently, we are locked onto over 51 channels and usually able to find something descent to watch at the end of the day.
   The coach is also equipped with a King Dome satellite dish - which I've never been able to figure out. I bought a DISH receiver a year or so ago and have spent several hours since then attempting to get a signal... any sort of signal through it, to no avail. In my research I have found that it's not a problem peculiar to my motorcoach. These things just don't seem to work very well. Even when they do work, it apparently takes forever to get them to locate and lock onto a satellite.
   I decided to pull the trigger and ordered a Winegard Trav'ler satellite dish. There are professionals who will install these things for you, but after watching several YouTube videos and reading the instructions through a couple times, I decided the procedure seemed fairly straight ahead and opted to do the installation myself. I took my time removing the old King Dome unit, scraping off the old sealant and using mineral spirits to clean up the residual. There is a chase through which the power cable and two coax cables snaked their way from the electronics cabinet inside the coach, through the ceiling and out the roof next to the old King Dome. The power cord was incompatible with the new dish - and I wanted to run new coax - so I cut the end off the old power cord, taped the new wires to it and fed them through as Suzanne pulled from down below as we communicated via our walkie-talkies. It was a tight fit and pretty slow-going, but we managed to successfully fish the wire bundle to the desired location.
   I attached the Trav'ler dish to the roof, sealing everything that needed sealing with Dicor RV Roof Sealant. It seemed to me that the material in that section of the roof was a bit thin and was concerned that the dish might not be anchored properly so I called both Winegard and Winnebago, speaking to tech reps from both companies and coming away with the feeling that neither really knew any more about it than I did. The Winegard guy did, however suggest that if I wanted, I could order a special mounting plate for thin roofs - which I did. Now, the task remains to strip off all the new Dicor, remove the nine screws holding down the dish, clean everything up with mineral spirits, attach the new mounting plate to the roof and the satellite unit to the mounting plate. It's on the to-do list.

   What else...

   It had been a year and several thousand miles since I last changed the oil in the coach. I like doing this job myself (I like doing most minor (and some not-so-minor) mechanical jobs on the coach and car myself) so a couple weeks ago I ordered the filter online. When it arrived a few days later, I went to Walmart and bought six gallons of Rotella 15W-40 diesel engine oil and a couple of shallow 24 qt. Rubbermaid-type plastic storage bins into which I could drain the old oil. I put a large garbage/leaf bag over each of the bins to make clean up a little easier and went to work. It's a bit of a time consuming job but a few hours later the 450 Cummins had a belly-full of fresh, clean lubricant. The leveling system on the coach makes it much easier getting underneath the back end of this beast. I merely fired up the engine and lowered the rear landing gear until there was plenty of room for me to work.

   Attempting to return the used motor oil to Walmart proved problematic. If you're interested, you can read my Yelp review HERE.  I ultimately was able to recycle it at AutoZone.

   Let's see...
   I replaced the coach's old and shabby looking tire covers (it's important, especially in this climate, to keep RV tires covered and protected from the suns UV rays) with new and very cool looking Magne Shade Tire Shades. I like them because they cover the sidewalls but still allow you to see the aluminum wheels that I work so hard to keep looking like chrome. 😁

   I've gone on a couple of great mountain day hikes with our friend, Tim. We first met Tim last year here at IWRVR when he was our next door neighbor. He now resides on the 'other' side of the park - but we remain friends, regardless.

   Suzanne, Travis and I went on a very cool hike yesterday on the East Indio Hills Badlands Trail. Here's AllTrails description of the trail...

"This trail enters the Indio Hills badlands and traverses the San Andreas Fault exposing twisted and tortured rocks that have been uplifted and moved over millions of years. The trail enters several narrow slot canyons and twists and turns in the sandy washes before climbing up to the ridge with panoramic views of the entire Coachella Valley."

  It's a fascinating landscape and a fun hike!

  A couple days ago Suzanne, Travis, Winnie and I made a reconnaissance run out to Borrego Springs where we've been thinking we'd (or more accurately, I've been thinking that I'd) like to spend a few days dry camping on BLM land. A lot of people traveling in RVs do this sort of camping from time to time. It's kind of a thing.  We've yet to do it. We've dry camped in the occasional Walmart or Cracker Barrel parking lot and once at a Harvest Host - but never on BLM land. I find the idea intriguing, Suzanne's not completely sold yet. She'll come around. After all, it's not like we'll be totally roughing it. We have a 90 gal. fresh water holding tank, 105 gal. gray water, 53 gal. black water, six big AGM batteries that are capable of powering, via the inverter, everything in the coach except the A/C (which we won't be using anyway), a 10,000 watt Onan diesel generator capable of powering up a large house...and of course, our brand new satellite dish!
   After checking out the BLM area we headed into town to see if we could get a better cell signal as Suzanne had to be on a conference call in half an hour. On the way we came across an RV resort. 😎

   Suzanne likes her resorts.

   It's a very nice place and their weekly rate isn't too bad.
   Anyway, we made a reservation and will be spending a week there beginning Monday 2/18. I'm lobbying for a couple of days spent dry camping on BLM land at the end of our resort stay before returning to IWRVR. I have this mental picture of myself sitting out under the stars by a slow burning fire, smoking a cigar, nursing a glass of Macallan 12 and listening to The Sons of the Pioneers singing songs about tumbleweeds and such.

   After installing the new satellite dish I was considering ordering two more DISH receivers; one for the bedroom TV and another for the outside TV. While contemplating the coax situation and the additional monthly expense of having two more receivers, I remembered reading something about wireless HDMI transmitters and receivers. I visited the local Best Buy store and ended up purchasing an ActionTec wireless HDMI system. It seems to work great! I connected it to the bedroom TV. I may get another one for the outside TV at some point in the future but I'm in no big hurry to do that.

   The under-mount galley sink had separated from the countertop and needed to be repaired. So I did that and a few other small jobs that needed doing.
   Today I intended to replace the coach's diesel fuel filter and water separator.  A while back I bought 2 or 3 of each online, so I have them on-hand. However, Suzanne has been on the phone nonstop and I need to start the coach up to raise the back end in order to gain access to the engine compartment. I haven't completely given up hope for getting that job done today, but it's beginning to look like (she's on the phone even still) it may have to be put off until tomorrow. We'll see. It's a beautiful day - I might just go sit in the sun and read for an hour then head for the RV park fitness center.
   That reminds  me, a brand new Planet Fitness just opened about a mile from our location. I'm a PF Black Card member (meaning I can work out at any PF) and Suzanne and I have had to travel six miles in order to work out at the Coachella PF. Now we have just a five minute drive. Sweet!

Thanks for checking out the blog! I'm gonna try to post more often.