Borrego Springs, CA

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The check valve search

I had a list of three RV places that might have a check valve as Emma and I headed out this morning on our search.  The closest place was in St. Anthony, ID, which is over 50 miles away, and the furthest one was in Idaho Falls, which is close to 100 miles away.  I was crossing my fingers that Angell RV Repair in St. Anthony would have the valve, but it was not to be.  He had just sold his last one a couple of days ago, and hadn’t restocked since that one had been on the shelf for two years.  :(  However, he did suggest I go to Hathaway Inc. about three miles down the road to check there.  Hathaway’s wasn’t listed in the yellow pages that I checked at the campground office yesterday. 

So, I followed his directions and headed for Hathaway’s.  What an eclectic place that was.  Not only do they sell RV supplies, but they also sell modular homes, a few trailers, and they are also a carpet store!  I guess you have to diversify in a small town in Idaho.  :)  After about 15 minutes of scrounging around, they came up with the needed check valve.  I decided to buy two of them (just in case), and wiped out their inventory.  :)  Since the valves were only about $6, I figured what the heck.  I’ll have a backup that I can install myself if I need it down the road.  As I was about to pay for the valves, I decided to ask them if they had any discontinued carpet samples for sale.  (You know…those rectangular, finished edge, chunks of carpet that are about 18”X30”.  I like to use them under my bench table.  That way, they get dirty from my shoes instead of the installed motorhome carpet.)  Anyway, the salesman said “follow me” and led me to a stack of samples.  I picked out two that would go with the carpet in the RV.  He told me there was no charge!  Yahoo!  Two valves and two carpet samples for a total of $12, and I didn’t have to drive all the way to Idaho Falls.  I was a happy camper!  Sometimes things work out better than you think they will.  I’ve been looking around for carpet samples since I got the new rig, but hadn’t found any.
IMG_1962On the way back home, I decided to make a couple of side trips.  First stop was the Island Park Dam, and what a great stop it was.  I got this pic of a double-crested cormorant as it came up for air after diving for a fish for lunch.
IMG_1972Then I spotted a Western grebe in the water.  This is a new bird for me.  I’ve never seen one before.  :)
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I wish I could have seen a pair of these grebes doing their mating “dance.”  They fairly rise up out of the water next to each other and seem to dance on their toes in perfect harmony across the lake on the tips of their webbed feet.  I’m probably a couple of weeks late for that, but it was a thrill to see one anyway.

My next little side trip was to drive up the road to Sawtell Peak.
IMG_8603Sawtell Peak is the highest mountain in back of my rig in this picture that I took on June 6 when I arrived at Red Rock RV Park.  (Sam, this is my new, to me, 2008 Winnebago Adventurer Limited)

The drive we took was on the other side of this mountain, and was a nine mile up hill climb on a nicely graded gravel road.  There were many, many switchbacks and steep grades.
IMG_1994This was the view from the top.  You can see the curvy tan road that I took to get up here.  The view wasn’t the best because of the heavy haze down below.  I’m thinking that that heavy haze is caused by all the pine tree pollen that was being blown about in today’s brisk winds.  You can also notice all the snow that can still be found at this elevation.
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On the way back down the mountain, I was fascinated by the silvery windblown dead and dying trees clinging to the mountainside.   They had no visible bark, just the silvery smoothness.  How could this one on the right still be alive with no protective bark?  I don’t know.

When I got back to the rig, Jim, my neighbor, was sitting outside his rig, and was curious to find out if I had been successful in my search for a new check valve.  I gave him a thumbs up, and we both headed inside to install the new valve.  I want to clarify for some of my commenters, that neither I nor Jim knew anything about hot water heater valves to begin with.  It was only because of your comments, responses to my post on the Escapees forum, and each of our internet investigations, that we were able to come up with a solution to my problem.  We both learned a lot from this experience, and will both be prepared should this same problem arise in either of our rigs.  I didn’t have the proper wrenches nor the strength to accomplish the fix, and I am very grateful that Jim helped me out with this challenge. :)  In return for his help, I will watch over his rig while he and his family take a trip (without his fifth wheel) up to Glacier NP next month.  It’s all give and take out here on the road.  That’s one of the things I like about this life.  :)

A couple of folks have asked about Rick’s fix for sizing pictures to match their desktops.  My suggestion is that you read his instructions that can be found in the comment section of my post entitled “Asking for help with two challenges” which I posted on 6/28.  His instructions are so clear and easy to follow, that I can’t improve on them.  :)  Just click on comments at the end of that post and look for Rick’s comment.  :)

This post has been long enough, and I’m going to take a shower tonight thanks to my newly fixed hot water system!  :)

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yesterday's challenges almost resolved :)

When I woke up today and checked my email, I received many comments and suggestions on how to overcome the two challenges from yesterday.  RICK, of http://rickpaulettervjournal.blogspot.com/ , had given me very clear and precise directions for getting my photos to be the right size to use as my desktop background.  He’s the guy to go to if you are having any questions about your blog or computer questions in general. Thanks, Rick, you really got my day started off on the right foot.  :)

The consensus of the rest of the comments was that my hot water tank problem was a result of a bad check valve.  I thank all of you for your input.  My neighbor, Jim, and I set to work to see if we could access the rear of the hot water tank.  Apparently, it is often located in a place that is very hard to get to.  I have to say that Jim did most of the work while I just paid attention and learned a few things.  :)
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I was lucky.  The tank was located below the entertainment center, and slightly behind the bench seat.  All we had to do was remove a cabinet door and a panel to gain easy access.  There are two check valves on the back of the unit.  The bottom one is the incoming cold water valve, and the top one is the outgoing hot water valve.  The top one was the culprit.  Jim had the correct sized wrenches, and after turning off the water and releasing the pressure in the tank, he removed the valve.  We checked to see that it wasn’t clogged, and that all the three parts were in tack.  It wasn’t and they were.  :)  Jim reinstalled it and we gave it a try…still no water through the faucet.  Next, he removed the valve again, and this time took out two of the inside parts.  Then he put the brass part back on and we tried again.  This time, the water came through!  So my mission tomorrow will be to find a replacement valve.  I may have to drive all the way to Idaho Falls to find one, but I’m determined.  :)  So that mystery is solved thanks to Jim and your comments.

This evening I attended a potluck in the campground at the site of friends Gordon and Juanita Pierce.  Gordon and Juanita started fulltiming the same year I did and we are all Escapees members.  Gordon’s blog is the reason I chose this RV Park for my stay near Yellowstone.  There were about 16 people in attendance, and we all had a great time socializing and enjoying the abundant food.  Luckily, the rain held off until just a few minutes ago.

I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out today.  It’s great to have newly made friends that offer to help you out in a bind.  I love this RV life style.  :)

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, June 28, 2010

Asking for help with two challenges.

Challenge #1.  After publishing my blog post last night about all the pictures I had that could be used as screen savers, I decided to select one picture for my desktop background.  I picked the shot that is the present header for the blog.  Here’s the problem: the picture gets blown up so big that only a small portion of it shows as the background.  I never had that problem with my old camera, but it happens every time now with the shots taken with the new camera.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Maybe one of you that knows about pixels, etc. can give me a clue as to how I can fit the picture to match my screen.  I’d really appreciate it.  :)

Challenge #2.  After all that driving yesterday, I decided to stay in camp today and do a few chores.  Among them was doing a couple of loads of laundry in the Splendide.  Everything went well with the first load.  When I put in the second load, on perma press, it wouldn’t even start.  Aside from that, as I went to wash my hands in the bathroom sink, no water came out on the hot water side.  I checked the kitchen sink, and no hot water came out there either.  To make a long story short, cold water works fine, but not a drop comes out if I use the hot water handle.  I am on full hookups here and everything worked fine up until this point.  Has anyone had this happen to them?  Please help me if you have any ideas.  I’ve put the problem out on the Escapees forum as well.  I guess I’ll heat some water in a pot to wash up and brush my teeth tonight. :(  The water here comes out of the tap at 40*.  Brrr! 

I guess I’ll pretend I’m tent camping until the water issue gets resolved.  :)
IMG_1949When I arrived here, I was told that I had the best view of the wonderful sunsets.  So far, this has been the best sunset.  Not exactly what I’d consider spectacular.

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy

A screen saver kind of day

Emma and I were on the road shortly after 7:30 this morning for our excellent adventure of visiting Grand Teton National Park.  In order to get there, we had to drive about 69 miles through Yellowstone NP.  For you dog owners out there, I want to tell you that each time I’ve gone through the entrance gate with Emma, the ranger on duty has given her a dog biscuit.  How welcoming is that!  I was ready with the telephoto lens on my camera in case we encountered any wildlife along the way.  Surprisingly, not even a bison was out and about. 
IMG_1939I was looking forward to seeing big mountains, and big mountains is what I saw!  It was a glorious day, weather-wise, and it seemed like every picture I took could be used as a screen saver or background picture for my computer.  I was on a Rocky Mountain high!
IMG_1862 IMG_1879I had a real challenge not posting 100 pictures tonight.  The views were just out of this world.  The water of Jackson Lake was very calm this morning, resulting in great reflections.
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I took a gravel side road to get these wildflower pictures.  I think the two on the left are lupines.  They kind of remind me of the bluebonnets of the Texas Hill Country.  I’m not sure what the name of the yellow flowers is. (click on any pic to enlarge)
IMG_1898Emma and I drove to the summit of Signal Mountain to have our lunch.  Dogs aren’t allowed on any trails or in any buildings in the park, but they are allowed at picnic areas and parking lots.  There was only one picnic table here, but I figured that qualified!  :)  It was right on the path at the top of the overlook.
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These were the views as I ate my sandwich.  Can you imagine a better place to have a picnic lunch?  I wrapped Emma’s leash around the table leg and she crawled under the table to take advantage of the shade.  Many  people came up to the overlook as I ate my lunch, and Emma greeted every one of them!

The hoot of the day came when one woman returned from the overlook and said “What a well behaved dog you have.”  I almost choked on my bite of sandwich!  No one has ever said that about Emma before!  She’s such a wild child.  Do you think maybe she’s FINALLY growing up???  I can only hope.  :)
IMG_1906After my repast, we went back down the five mile incline and continued on our way.
IMG_1930 IMG_1931Along the way, we took the scenic route to Jenny Lake where these shots were taken.  I wasn’t able to stop at any of the visitor’s centers in the park because all of the parking lots were full to over flowing.  I couldn’t leave Emma in the car to hike back to them because of the very warm temperatures, and of course she wasn’t allowed inside.  Maybe some other time.  :(
IMG_1925I bet you thought I wouldn’t get a bird picture in today.  Ha!  This Grey Jay, and several others, were hanging around the Jenny Lake pull off looking for handouts.

The loop trip today ended up being right around 280 miles, and it took us a little over nine hours to do it.  It truly was an excellent adventure today!  I’ll leave you with this parting shot of Grand Teton National Park…
IMG_1938Those yellow splashes in the foreground are blooming sage.  What an enticing aroma permeated this pull off.

Thanks for stopping by….talk to your later,  Judy

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A new adventure tomorrow?

It's a short post for tonight since I posted once already this morning.  It was a gorgeous day in the neighborhood today.  I went for an afternoon drive down US 20 to procure some needed grocery essentials.  I took my time and enjoyed the scenery.

I'm thinking tomorrow, Emma and I will start out early and take the loop drive through Yellowstone to the south entrance and head for Grand Teton National Park.  It's about a 250 mile drive, so I'm sure it will take us all day.  I'm hoping for some great photo opportunities.  :)

As you may remember, I've been hoping to extend my stay here.  My reservation is up on July 6.  I wanted to stay until about Aug. 6, and so far I'm set through July 28.  There are a lot of other things to explore in this area, and I'm pleased that the owners are still making an effort to accomodate my wishes.  With a little luck, things will work out.

Thanks for stopping by....talk to you later,  Judy

Meadow View Ranch Rodeo

Last night, about 6:30, my neighbors and I headed over to the Meadow View Ranch for their Friday night Rodeo and Chuck Wagon Dinner.  There were ominous clouds in the sky, but by the time the rodeo started, they had blown away, and the sun was shining brightly.
IMG_1755The rodeo  started off with the National Anthem sung by one of the young cowgirls.  For a small ranch, there was a nice variety of events to entertain the audience.
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I’d have to say that the bull riding was my favorite.  :)  I believe this ranch has a summer camp for kids from all over the west that come here to learn about life on a ranch.  They all participate in the rodeo in one way or another.  Some of the older young folks serve as counselors and do the major performing.
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A good ride by AW.
IMG_1810But all good things must come to an end.  :(
IMG_1782Then we were treated to a trick riding  demonstration.  This young man was the 2009 Idaho State High School Champion!  He did all sorts of fancy riding; first with two horses, and then with one.  I can’t imagine the number of hours and tumbles he’s put it to become this good!
IMG_1816 Next came calf roping; for singles…
IMG_1828and pairs.  There were also two audience participation events where young, and not so young, folks scrambled around the arena trying to get a ribbon off of the tail of an elusive calf.  It was a very enjoyable performance.
IMG_1853Last, but not least, was the chuck wagon dinner.  Lots of good food, and conversation.  That’s my neighbors seated at the table.  That’s Jackie and Jim Smith on the left, and Jackie’s mother, June, across from them.  The other two folks on the right are from Red Rock RV, also, but are just here a few nights.  (It was Jackie that took me on the four wheeler ride into the mountains on Thursday)

As people finished up eating, the entertainment began.  The male country singer really got the whole audience involved in the program.  Jackie lost a whistling contest.  You know, it was one of those challenges where you have to eat two crackers and then whistle.  Well, Jackie can’t whistle to begin with, so eating two crackers really put her out of the running.  :( 

It was getting on toward dark as everyone began to head for home.  For a price of $23/person, we had a full evening’s entertainment and dinner.  Not bad to my way of thinking.  By the time I took Emma out for a good walk, it was too late to start going through the pictures and write a blog entry, so I waited until this morning.

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, June 24, 2010

There’s a first time for everything

The weather looked fine this morning, so I decided to take a drive back to Ennis, Montana, on a day that I knew Resveldt Meats would be open.  It’s a rather scenic drive along the Madison River.  Lots of trout fishermen were out today in boats and waders.

I drove 14 miles past Ennis to Virginia City, which people had said was worth the trip to see this restored town from the past.  It turned out to be not something I’m especially interested in. 
IMG_1743 There was a nice overlook, however, of the Madison Valley.  This valley is very important as a wildlife corridor.  That’s Ennis in the lower left.

I stocked up on several varieties of sausage and some smoked pork chops at the butcher store, and then headed back to camp.
IMG_1734On the way back, I spotted an Osprey nest overlooking the Madison River.  I believe the female is on the left incubating the eggs while the male is watching on the right.

Once I got back to the rig, this was the scene that was unfolding out my front window:

For the last week or two, lots of cattle have been trucked in to the high mountain meadows for summer grazing.  Today, this small herd was moved via mounted cowboys and cowgirls to greener pastures.  :)

As Emma and I sat outside in the balmy temperatures this afternoon, I asked my neighbors if they were interested in going to the rodeo and chuck wagon dinner that is put on by a nearby ranch.  It turns out that this is the same working ranch that had the cattle drive this afternoon.  They sounded interested, but Jim, the husband, thought we needed to have reservations.  That’s when his wife, Jackie, suggested she and I hop on their ATV and drive over there to make a reservation.  I’ve never ridden on a four wheeler before, so I was up for the new experience.  :)  After making our reservation, she asked if I’d like to go for a little ride.  So, off we went up into the hills.  It was quite a ride!  We made it to the continental divide, and then drove off on a side tract into the mountains. 

We probably drove about eight or nine miles total before I suggested we head back since there were some very ominous looking clouds heading our way.  She agreed, and we high tailed it back down the rustic track.  We didn’t quite make it back to camp before the rains were upon us.  That was some cold rain!  As we hopped off and ran to our rigs, she said “Now you can check that off your bucket list!”  Yessiree Bob!  Four wheeling in the Rocky Mountains…not something I ever expected to do.

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

No touring today

With all of the driving I’ve been doing the last few days, I decided to just stay in camp today and take care of chores.  It’s been several days since I did battle with the Splendide washer/drier, so it was time for round two.  :)  I took Bruce and Margie's Full Time Journey suggestions to heart, and everything went smoothly.

IMG_1715As you know, I’m good with identifying birds, but wildflowers are another thing.  Please enjoy today’s pictures even though I don’t know what they are.  :)  I found all of these wildflowers blooming away in the four acre dog walk area of the RV park.  Emma was pretty patient with me as I took these photos.  Of course, she was busy sniffing out all the ground squirrel holes.  :)

IMG_1717Another chore I tackled today was changing the sheets on the bed and putting on the new foam bed topper that I bought last week.  This mattress is a lot heavier than the one in my old rig, so it is a real challenge to change the sheets.  The mattress is thick to begin with and with the topper, it was a struggle to get the fitted bottom sheet on.  The plan for tonight is for me to feel like I’m sleeping on a cloud.  :)

IMG_1723I spent a part of the afternoon making reservations for the tours my sister, Pam, and I want to take at the ports of call on our cruise in November.  How fun was that!  I booked three tours so far.  The tours for Nassau aren’t available yet, so I’ll do that later.  I’m so happy to have a compatible traveling companion for the cruise!  It’s a good thing I booked this Escapees cruise before I got the new rig, because I don’t think I would have done it if I had known about my recent added expenses.  Yep, it’s only money.

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Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Yellowstone day

Emma and I were on the road well before 8:00 this morning.  Our plan was to drive the upper loop of the figure eight roads of the park.  We did that in addition to the West entrance road and just about all of the Northeast entrance road.  I was hoping for some outstanding photo opportunities.  The forecast said partly cloudy skies, but the morning was spent with overcast skies.  :(
IMG_1674First up was this doe elk just relaxing and “chewing her cud.”  The chewing can be seen better in the header picture.  I think it looks like she wants to say something.  Couldn’t you just picture one of those cartoon bubbles coming out of her mouth with a snappy comment?  Some people know how to do that with their pictures, but not me.  What do you think she wants to say?
I don’t have too many scenic shots from today’s 200+ mile drive, since lighting conditions were not very good, and I couldn’t take the hikes to see Tower Fall and a few other views because of having Emma along. 

The thing that was most noticeable to me on this drive was the dramatic increase in visitors.  There were so many cars on the roads that it reminded me of being in a major city!  I don’t blame all those people for wanting to see this magnificent park, but I just wish they had come until July.  :)

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I’m trying a new technique with two pictures side by side here that I learned from a post in Rick & Paulette's RV Travels blog.  It’s lunch time on the left, and a minor disagreement between two cows on the right.   Rick is quite the guru with Live Writer, and I’m trying to implement some of the things I’ve learned from him.  :)

As Emma and I moved on from Tower/Roosevelt toward Mammoth Hot Springs, I was getting hungry and wanted to stop at a picnic area to walk Emma and consume the lunch that I had packed.  Every place that we pulled into was jam packed with no where to park.  Ugh!  So, we drove through Mammoth Junction (what a mass of humanity that place was!), and turned south towards Norris.  The reason I wanted to stop at an official picnic area is that they all have a bathroom!  That was a paramount need by this time.  :)  Finally, about 2/3 of the way to Norris, we found one vacant picnic table!  What a relief!  Emma was, literally, relieved as well.  As I enjoyed my sandwich, Emma investigated the area.
IMG_1710“I know something’s in this log…I can smell it!”
IMG_1708“I’ll try the other side!”
IMG_1709“I know it’s here somewhere!”
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Here’s the little culprit that Emma couldn’t quite get to.

In all my drives through the park, I have seen evidence of the great fires of 1988.  As I think I’ve mentioned, I was here during the summer of 1988 and experienced the magnitude of these fires.
IMG_1695 Twenty-two years later, the devastation of these fires can still be seen.  This area had a dense population of Douglas fir twenty-two years ago.  Douglas fir is usually quite resistant to fire, but the high winds in the summer of ‘88 produced such hot fires that most trees did not survive. 
IMG_1696You can see some rebirth on the forest floor, but it is a slow process.  Other areas of the park have seen a better natural reseeding of the forest.  Some species of trees only open their cones, for seeds to emerge, after a fire.  In the great scheme of things, 22 years is just a blink of an eye, and that was really brought home to me today.

This has been a rather long post today, so I’d better say…
IMG_1690THE END….once again.  :)

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy