After our boondocking at Lake Havasu City, Jeanne and I moved to the Blue Water Casino in Parker for a few days in their RV campground on the Colorado River. The area here looked to be a fun place to do some kayaking, however, being the “fair weather kayakers” that we are it was still a bit chilly to be playing in the river. Laundry, tank dumps and fills, and donating a few bucks to the Blue Water economy (aka: casino losses) finished, we moved on into Mesa, AZ.
In Mesa, we stayed at The Good Life RV Resort, a typical large snowbird park. The park was very nice; clean facilities, big community hall area with craft rooms, card rooms, billiard room, gym, and big auditorium/stage room for various performances. At $21 per night (Escapees 50% off rate) this was a great bargain. While here we met with Jeanne’s sister Cindy and went to dinner with her for her birthday. We got rained on most of the time here in Mesa, it flooded the dog run area in the park pretty well. And while here in civilization we took the opportunity to get our residential fridge repaired. We had been having some type of leak under the freezer which was freezing sheets of water at the bottom of the unit, then leaking small amounts of water onto our floor. We were recommended to call a family business, Bishop & Son, Home Appliance Repair (480-862-6435), for the repairs. They do mobile repairs and Rick came right out to us. He was quick and reasonably priced and if you are ever in the area and need repairs, I would definitely recommend him.
Fun and games over in Mesa, it was time for a return trip to Quartzsite to get ready for the big RV/Gem and Rock extravaganza. We picked a spot off Plomosa Rd. where several of the Escapees BOF’s (birds of a feather, individual special interest groups within the Escapees RV Club membership) were set up and we “hung out” with the Boondockers. (Before it was over, there would end up being hundreds of rigs parked off a several mile stretch of Plomosa Rd.) While here we went off on a little pre-Jeep Rally Jeep run of our own. We found an easy little 8 mile road/trail, the Kofa Queen Canyon Road, in the Kofa Wildlife Refuge just south of Quartzsite.
We have been discussing/debating the issue of getting solar power for the beast for quite some time. In our travels we have heard recommendations for A&M Solar in Oregon, Starlight in Yuma, and the folks from the BOF Boondockers highly recommended Discount Solar in Quartzsite. We made a trip into Yuma and got an estimate from Starlight, got an estimate from Discount Solar, then decided Discount Solar had the best set up for what equipment we wanted and the pricing was comparable. We made the appointment for the install, but first we needed to replace the stock coach batteries. We had (6) 6-V deep cycle water fill batteries originally. No problems with them yet, but having to regularly check and add water to them, coupled with the corrosion starting from the battery acid fumes, they were starting to wear on me. I am the technologically challenged one here, Jeanne LOVES to research stuff, and she learned that Lifeline batteries are high up on the recommendation list. So, Lifeline it was. The only place in Quartzsite that sells Lifeline batteries is a place called “Solar Bill’s”. They also do solar panel systems for RV’s. I took the MH in and got the batteries swapped out, but not without controversy. The employee replacing the batteries started to disconnect cables without turning the power off to the coach (there is a large red switch right next to the batteries). After a short 4th of July show and my suggestion he kill the power at the switch, he agreed. He removed the tray the batteries sit in, cleaned it, and replaced it (backwards). When he tried to secure the batteries with the brackets, the hardware did not fit and he figured out the tray was backwards. After the batteries were re-connected, another 4th of July show when he tried to close the pull out battery drawer–he had replaced one of the cables up-side down which was grounding on the bracket. Needless to say, we finally got the Lifeline batteries installed and operable. During the install, the owner of the business was bending Jeanne’s ear about them being the best solar power business in the nation and we should not get ours done by his competition, Discount Solar. Now the kicker to all of this. I am trying to get real regular at rating businesses on the social networking app “Yelp”. It is a very handy, free app, for locating businesses, with customer ratings and comments. I gave Solar Bill’s a 1-star poor rating just based on the above, simple battery install fiasco. My computer did not have enough time to power down before I got a personal response on Yelp from Donna, one of the owners at Solar Bill’s. It was purportedly written by “Kevin”, the installer of my batteries. After his short recap and corroboration of what I have described above, the narration goes into some fictitious description of me “grilling chili” and “drinking beverages” during the install. This was when I knew problems were forthcoming. Shortly afterwards, I got a telephone call from “Donna”. She expressed her disappointment with me and my Yelp rating, thought I was unfair, and wanted me to change my rating. I told her never to phone me again and terminated our phone call. Unfortunately, some people do not understand plain English and the phone immediately rang. I told Jeanne to let it go to voice mail and she did. And my eternal faith in human stupidity was instantly validated by a shiny new voice mail message left by “Donna”. She requested I take this “dispute” off of Yelp because I offered her employees beer and heroin, that she was going to report me to Escapees (I must have mentioned SKP’s to them) and the police. The whole VM was extremely entertaining and comical, however it still gets me fired up. It’s hard to believe people like this are able to maintain a business. Water off a duck’s back, but I will not hesitate to spread the words:
I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND SOLAR BILL’S IN QUARTZSITE, ARIZONA, TO ANYONE FOR ANY TYPE OF WORK!
Discount Solar, on the other hand, did a good job on our solar. We got (8) 145-watt panels installed on our roof on tilt mounts. We went with (8) panels because we plan on doing more boondocking and we are saddled with that all-electric residential fridge. Now all that remains is to see how much we can cut down on our generator use. Without the solar, we typically run our 10,000 watt generator (4) hours total a day, (2) each in the morning and evening. A good omen was yesterday, when we did not run the generator at night, had some TV news on, went to bed with 100% battery charged, and woke up today still at 79% battery charged. We even ran some gas/electric heat, TV news, charging phones and I-Pad, computer on, lights in use and still did not kick on my Automatic Generator Start which is set to start the generator when the batteries get to 11.8V.
We also discovered the weekends are crazy during the RV show. We went to the big tent on opening day Saturday and it was packed. The big RV show they have here each January is OK to see, once. We can now mark that off our to-do list. There are a lot of vendors for all things RV related and there is quite a diverse number of RV brands on display. We got our fill of the RV show, as well as the requisite stop for a Walla Walla Burger, and it was on to the Family Motor Coach Association 4-Wheelers Jeep rally.
From our Plomosa Rd. address we moved over to La Paz valley location for the Jeep rally. We got there a few days early, got set up, and were able to participate in one pre-rally scouting run on what they called the Hillbilly trail. It was a 30 mile trail ride at what is considered the easy level. We had nice weather and a nice all-day ride. And it was our first opportunity to “air down” for a trail. For the uninitiated that is letting the air out of all your tires to assist with traction over rocks, etc. We went from normal 35 PSI to 18 PSI. It makes a very noticeable difference in the ride.
So here we sit now, waiting for the start of the rally in a couple of days. I’ll be back with tales of our exploits as soon as we complete them. Unfortunately, Jeanne has had me listening to country music and, as Earth shattering as it will sound to those of you who know my heavy metal ways, I kinda like some of it. So, as it goes in one of them country songs, “Adios, and vaya con dios…”