Monday, January 26, 2015

Rainy Day in the Desert - 01/26/15 - Yuma, AZ

Monday – January 26, 2015
Rainy Day in the Desert
Yuma, Arizona

Rain is a big deal throughout Arizona, since the average annual rainfall is only around 3 inches. A light rain started around 8:00 a.m. and lasted about an hour or so. Pockets of sporadic light rain continued throughout the day. We probably didn’t receive more than .250 inches of rain, but it looks like a lot more, as pools of water formed within depressions in the dry, parched, desert landscape.

We took advantage of the inclement weather and spent the day indoors at the Yuma Main Library located at 21st Drive and 32nd Street. This is a wonderful, large, two-story library. They have a large selection of computers for both adults and children to use. There are work tables, with electrical outlets, available for visitors with their own laptops or tablets to use. There is free WiFi available throughout the library.

The library has several conference rooms. Seminars are presented each month on various topics pertinent to the Yuma area.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.


Friday, January 23, 2015

City Hall - 01/23/15 - Yuma, AZ

Friday – January 23, 2015
City Hall & Historic Yuma
Yuma, Arizona

A Visit to City Hall
When World War II ended, so did military aviation in Yuma, Arizona. To spark interest and revive the economy, local Jaycees came up with a idea to spotlight Yuma’s perfect weather: set a record for non-stop flying.

An Aeronca Sedan named "City of Yuma" took off on August 24, 1949 and didn’t touch the ground again until October 10. The planes record-setting 1,124 hours aloft were made possible by volunteers who passed food and fuel from a speeding 1948 Super Buick Convertible to pilots Woody Jongeward and Bob Woodhouse. A protective railing was built around the open top, and it was driven along the runway at the then-Yuma Army Airfield, to a speed of 55 to70 mph so passengers could hand cans of gasoline up to whichever pilot wasn’t flying the plane at the moment. Then the driver had to slam on the brakes so the car wouldn’t go off the end of the runway.

The original plane was located and returned to Yuma by present-day Jaycees in 1997. It was restored and flown to mark the flight’s 50th anniversary, and thanks to volunteer efforts and donations, now hangs in the atrium of City Hall. A short video and excerpts from a 1949 NBC radio broadcast can be viewed during regular city hall hours.

A Visit to Historic Downtown Yuma
Once the end of the Gila Trail, Main Street has always been the heart of "Old Yuma." In 1849, more than 60,000 California-bound gold-seekers followed Main Street to the rope ferry across the Colorado River. But being so close to the river, this area often flooded and its adobe buildings melted back into mud. Because the last big flood was in 1916, most Main Street buildings date from the 1920s.

Today Yuma’s historic downtown offers a wide variety of shopping, dining and entertainment.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

RV Show - 01/21/15 - Quartzsite, AZ

Wednesday – January 21, 2015
RV Show
Quartzsite, Arizona

We were greeted by a very windy, sunny day here in the southwestern desert of Arizona. This was the day we had selected to visit the RV Show in Quartzsite, Arizona. Quartzsite is located about 70 miles due north of Yuma, on U.S. highway 95. The RV Show began on January 17 and ends on January 25.

Every January something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it! According to the Arizona Highway Department, as many as 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly in RV’s, converge on this sleepy little desert town, located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10, for the rock, gem and mineral shows, plus numerous flea markets and the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. This phenomenon started over 40 years ago and is now billed as "The Largest Gathering Of RVers in the World." The inaugural Quartzsite RV Show opened on January 28th, 1984 at the corner of U.S. Highway 95 and Business Route 10 in Quartzsite, Arizona. With just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, the "new show in town" was still very popular since the majority of the people in Quartzsite we're RVers. In 1987 the show, now re-named The Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show.

We arrived in Quartzsite around 12:30 p.m. The place was packed! Finding a place to park was quite challenging. A large parking area was full, so we followed the parking signs to an alternate area. Big mistake! We entered an area where other vehicles were parked. There was a sign posted at the entrance stating: Vehicles Enter at Your Own Risk. We have a Ford E150 Cargo Van weighing in excess of 5,000 pounds, so I figured we would be all right. We no sooner entered the parking area and I felt the wheels on the van sinking into very loose, deep gravel. We struggled to travel a short distance and came to a sudden stop. We were stuck! Panic immediately set in. How am I going to get out of here? Call a tow-truck, came to mind. After surveying the situation, I determined I needed to move the van about 20 feet forward to get to an area with solid ground. Finally, calm settled in, I put the gear shift lever in reverse and the van moved slightly, the rear wheels spinning and spitting out small-sized gravel everywhere. That’s good, the van moved, slightly! Then I put the gear shift lever in 1st gear and stepped on the gas pedal hard. The rear wheels were spinning and spitting out gravel like crazy. But we were moving, ever so slowly! Sharon and I were both learning forward in our seats urging this behemoth of a Ford van to continue its movement forward. We made it! Sighs of relief were all that were heard once we were back on solid ground. We subsequently learned we had entered into a dry riverbed. Lesson learned … never again.

We finally found a parking space. The gusts of wind, probably less than 20 mph, were stirring up sandstorms across the desert landscape. We ducked into one of the giant tents to escape the wind. Inside, vendors were hawking their merchandise, Cookware, flagpoles, clothing, RV insurance, RV accessories and trinkets of all kinds were available for purchase.

After a while, we ventured outside to walk through a couple of the 45-foot-long luxury motor coaches. These coaches are priced close to $700,000. We toured an Entegra Motor Coach, Model: Cornerstone 45K, manufactured by Jayco, priced at $677,000. Jayco is the world's largest privately-held manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

The Entegra Motor Coach has quad slides with a rear master bath. Upon entering the coach, along the passenger side there is a slide with a hide-a-bed sofa, refrigerator, pantry, double kitchen sink, two burner range, and microwave. Just past the slide there is a washer and dryer. The opposite side of the motor home has a sofa and dinette ensemble slide. Next to the slide there is an entertainment center with a fireplace and a 46" LED TV. Next to the entertainment center there is a pantry. Down the hall is a convenient half bath.

The bedroom has a king bed slide with nightstands on either side of the bed. Across from the bed there is a vanity, dresser, and 32" LED TV slide. The master bath has a corner shower, toilet, and two sinks. Along the rear is a wardrobe with sliding mirror doors. There is an exterior entertainment center that has a 32" LED TV.

This 54,000 pound, gross vehicle weight, motor coach is powered by a Cummins 15 liter ISX turbocharged 600 HP engine 1,950 lb. ft. torque at 1,200 RPM, coupled with an Allison 4000 MH 6-speed transmission.

Did I mention … this motor coach had already been sold at the RV show!

There were numerous other motorhomes, fifth-wheels and travel trailers on display for visitors to walk through and plunk down their hard-earned cash if they chose to purchase one. We finished our tour of the RV Show and returned to our campsite at the Imperial Dam, BLM, LTVA near Yuma, Arizona.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ride on the Riverfront - 01/20/15 - Yuma, AZ

Tuesday – January 20, 2015
Ride on the Riverfront
Yuma, Arizona

It was the Colorado River that put Yuma, Arizona on the map. Linking the riverfront together is a paved, lighted, multipurpose pathway that’s perfect for walking or biking. The riverfront trail runs from Joe Henry Memorial Park (23rd Ave. & First St.) to Pacific Avenue/Avenue 2E. Highlights along this path are:

West Wetlands Park

A statue commemorating the Mormon Battalion’s crossing of the Colorado River. In 1846, the Mormon Battalion was tasked with finding a southern route to California. Its record-setting, 2,000-mile march passed through Yuma because this was the best place to cross the Colorado River.

The U.S. Army of the West Mormon Battalion erected Foundation erected a bronze statue in 2007 to commemorate the historic journey.

Pivot Point Interpretative Plaza
Located on Madison Ave. at the river, a stop here offers a capsule lesson in Yuma history at the spot where the first railroad train entered Arizona in 1877.

The public park incorporates the original concrete pivot that allowed Yuma’s railroad bridge to to swing open for passing steamboats, and features an authentic 1907 Baldwin locomotive.

Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge
The bridge was a critical link in joining the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans with a highway. The bridge was built across the Colorado River between Yuma, Arizona and Fort Yuma, California in 1914 for $76,000 and dedicated during a citywide celebration May 22-23, 1915.At the time of its opening, the bridge provided the first safe, economical crossing of the river at Yuma and it was the only vehicle bridge across the Colorado River for 1,200 miles.

The 336-foot bridge was closed in 1988 due to structural problems. A renovation begun in 2001 and was completed in 2002. It received the Arizona Preservation award in 2003. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

On Monday we rode the trail from the Visitor Center to the West Wetlands Park. This is a beautiful park with a walk-through hummingbird garden and a small, stocked, fishing pond. The pond is also popular with model boat enthusiasts. There were two model sailboats, sailing the waters of the pond on the day we were there. We had a picnic lunch in a ramada by the pond. We biked about 6 miles on this portion of the trail.

On Tuesday we became more adventuresome and biked the portion of the trail that follows the East Mall Canal from the West Wetlands Park to 40th Street. This was about a 13 mile roundtrip ride. This paved trail takes the visitor by moderately priced real estate, the Yuma Medical Center, high priced real estate and ends at 40th Street by a golf course. The entire trail runs parallel to the canal that contains diverted water from the Colorado River. There are concrete benches spaced out along the trail, providing rest areas for those visitors who prefer to linger for a while. We had a picnic lunch at one of them.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Solar Panel Addition - 01/06/15 - Yuma, AZ

Tuesday – January 6, 2015
Solar Panel Power – Green Energy
Yuma, Arizona

Dry camping in the desert of Arizona provides its own unique challenges when it comes to powering the AC electrical requirements of your RV. Using a generator for AC power is certainly an option, but it can become quite costly to fuel the generator on a daily basis. A better option is solar power, in my humble opinion.

We are fortunate in that we have a small fiberglass trailer manufactured by Casita Trailer in Rice, Texas. These trailers do not have large electrical requirements and are therefore powered by one Group 27, 12 volt DC, Deep Cycle Battery. The key to maintaining a healthy battery is to keep it charged, either through shore power, a generator, a wind generator, or solar power.

In 2012, we purchased an 80-watt solar panel to maintain the charge of the battery in our Casita trailer when dry camping. While dry camping, we would use a 400-watt power inverter to power our 20" television, satellite receiver and antenna. The inverter plugged into a 12-volt accessory outlet that had been installed by the Casita factory. We soon discovered that a significant voltage drop occurred, most likely due the size and length of the wire installed between the converter in the trailer and the 12-volt accessory outlet. After about two hours of operating the television and the satellite receiver, the 400-watt power inverter would suddenly power off. Such is the dilemma when converting DC voltage to AC voltage. Large wire size and short lengths of wire are an absolute necessity to minimize the voltage drop when connecting a battery to a power inverter.

During the month of December 2014, I began the process of putting together a solar panel power system to remedy the inadequate system I had been using to power the television and satellite receiver. I purchased the following components:

  • Xantex PROwatt SW, 1000 Watt Sine Wave Inverter
  • Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel with a PWM Charge Controller
  • Group 27, 12 Volt DC, Deep Cycle Battery
  • Size 2 AWG Stranded Copper Wire Cable
  • Crimp and Solder Terminals for Size 2 AWG Wire.

Xantex recommends using a size 0 AWG battery cable with a maximum cable length of 6 feet. They caution not to use a battery cable size less than 4 AWG. I chose a size 2 AWG cable as a compromise. This size cable was much easier to work with and has a minimal voltage drop of 0.0159 volts per foot. I kept the cable length run between the battery and the Xantex PROwatt SW inverter to 5-1/2 feet.

The Xantex PROwatt SW requires a ANL fuse holder and an ANL fuse 150 amp be connected between the positive terminal on the inverter and the positive side of the battery. Neither one of these components are furnished with the inverter.

With all of the components assembled, I now have a system in place that provides in excess of 4 hours of television viewing each night, before the battery reaches 12.2 volts, a 50 percent charge level. I actually wound up swapping the 80 watt and 100 watt solar panels. I use the 100 watt solar panel to charge the battery in the Casita trailer and the 80 watt solar panel to charge the battery used to power the television and satellite receiver. These solar panels provide sufficient power to maintain fully charged batteries during the day.

An added bonus is when the trailer battery goes dead, I can replace it with the battery used to power the television and satellite receiver.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Satellite Advantage - 01/03/15 - Quartzsite, AZ

Saturday – January 3, 2015
Satellite Advantage
Quartzsite, Arizona

This is a continuation from my December 30, 2014 post on: Dish Tailgater Antenna.

I arrived at Satellite Advantage on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Once again, they downloaded the software onto my Dish ViP211K receiver. The receiver functioned properly when connected to one of their televisions and Dish satellite antennas. This time I had them connect my receiver to my Tailgater antenna. Sure enough, a message appeared on their television screen: No Satellites Found. The Tailgater antenna was not working and from what I understand, there is no way to repair them once they go bad. I am very disappointed with the service life on this antenna, since I purchased it new, in July 2012.

I purchased the Winegard Pathway X1 antenna. I had researched this antenna online and all of the reviews I read were very favorable. I could have purchased this same antenna from American Antenna System in Yuma, Arizona, but due to my previous disappointing visit to them, I preferred to do business with someone who was customer service oriented.

Upon my arrival back at our campsite, at the Imperial Dam, BLM, LTVA near Yuma, Arizona, I connected the television, ViP211K receiver and Pathway X1 antenna and turned on the power. Everything worked perfectly. We are once again able to watch our favorite television programs.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.