Sunday, March 24, 2013

Headed for the North Pole … almost!


It was a great week spent at Stewarts Point on Lake Mead.  The weather finally started to cooperate (ie get Warm), and it was good to have friends camped nearby.

Unfortunately, the calendar kept ticking off a day at at time, till it was finally time to hitch up for the last time and start the northern migration.  Hailey didn’t want to leave, and I had to crawl under a thorny bush to catch her and drag her out.

Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park is just to the north, and we could not resist driving that way for another look at the incredible scenery.


After that, it was mostly I-15 northbound.  Mesquite was the last fuel stop in Nevada, then through the top corner of Arizona, and then into Utah, where the tanks were topped off again just south of Provo.  I must say, either things have started to change at the gas stations, or I have just been getting lucky.  Either way, I have not had to go inside and give an ‘exact amount’ and prepay for the fuel in the last month or more.  Several pumps have requested a zip code, and I have used the postal code ‘trick’ (which has never worked for me in the past), but none recently have forced me to go inside!  Yay, about time.

Cabela’s in Lehi has an RV dump site and a huge parking lot that I shared for the night with one other small RV and a semi-truck.  I guess I just didn’t see that ‘no camping’ sign till morning Winking smile.  After a slightly delayed start to let the Salt Lake City traffic thin out, it was non-stop through there and it was nice to see that all their construction projects on I-15 are apparently finished.

By lunch time we were in Pocatello Idaho, which must have the largest ‘downtown’ cemetery that I have ever seen. I took advantage of a nice sunny parking lot to drain the fresh water tank and fill all the lines with pretty pink antifreeze.  Hailey was upset that she could no longer drink from her sink! Roads were bare and dry over Monida Pass and the continental divide, and continued that way almost all the way to Helena where they were only a bit wet from melting snow on the sides.There was still daylight most of the way to Great Falls where I’m not sure who was the most worried.  Me, or the deer standing broadside in my lane just coming down the hill into town.  Hard braking on my part and rapid acceleration on his part prevented a closer introduction.  By this time, shorts and T-shorts were but a distant memory ;-(

One last fill-up in Shelby, Mt got us to the border crossing at Coutts, where the process was quick and pain-free.

I likely should have kept moving north, but visited friends for the night in Pincher Creek, which gave the weather gods time to conspire against me.  It started out well, but soon deteriorated to near blizzard conditions, which succeeded in covering the truck and trailer with frozen, muddy slush.  Stopping for fuel for the first time in Canada, I was surprised to find that my fuel tank had obviously swollen over the winter!  Now, it was easy to fit in $100. worth of fuel.  What a bonus!


Luckily, it improved somewhat for me by the time I turned off, but just 100 miles or so ahead, this was the party I missed.  There were about 100 vehicles involved, but at least no one died in it.

When I finally got home, another challenge awaited me.

I had blocked my driveway to prevent the plows from scraping off all the gravel during the winter.  But arriving home a month early, I found there was almost a foot of snow everywhere, with a rock-hard crust that I could walk on.


Good thing I didn’t bother washing it before heading home!


But after dropping the rig in a nearby plowed lot, it was not much of a challenge for the big GM with the new Michelins to bust through, then pack down the offending snow.


It wasn’t long before we were parked, partially unloaded, and with the dish set up, back on-line. 

But, we’ll only be enjoying the ‘luxuries’ of home for a week, before heading out again to begin our ‘summer’ (?) job!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trashing Lake Mead!

When I first arrived at my campspot at Stewarts Point on Lake Mead there was garbage strewn all about, particularly on the shoreline below my site.  It was mostly fishing, and beer drinking related, quite disgusting actually.  I bagged it up, and there was so much that I struggled to carry it up the hill to my truck.

That’s it in the back of my truck – and the ‘hitch cat’.


A few days later I spotted an apparent US National Park Service truck in the area with two individuals out collecting garbage (they call it trash down here).  My friend Don and I immediately grabbed garbage bags and quickly had 4-5 bags full from a short stretch of shoreline.  We quickly exchanged full bags for empty ones and continued picking.  Turns out, these are fellow RV’ers and volunteers, working with Parks and staying at Echo Bay in return.  Over the next few days, a number of individuals came to fish nearby, and most of them left an array of bottles, cans and other crap on the shore without the slightest effort to contain it or take it with them.  All of these were ‘locals’, ie: no camping gear, so most likely living nearby.  I found it ironic that all of us picking up the trash were not from around here, and everyone leaving it was!

I had thought of poking fun at the signs on the highway declaring that it was illegal to litter; but I guess they are needed here unfortunately – not that the subjects in question care at all.  End of rant.

Other than the garbage situation, it has been a very enjoyable week and great weather here at the lake.  First, John & Nicole (soon to be RV bloggers?) showed up and found a great spot out on the point.  Next, my friends Don and Donna from icy cold Alberta showed up and parked beside me where we both had camped last year.  The week was spent touring the local area, Valley of Fire State park, a trip in to Overton, and a day trip into Vegas.

At Calville Bay, we got a grand tour of their largest rental houseboat – with six bedrooms, video screens everywhere.

Pretty nice boat, but a slight bit out of my price range!


Much time was spent reducing the inventory of cold beverages, while watching boats, birds, and burros on the far shore.  John came over to coordinate the construction of a proper fire circle, and brought some wood as well, and he and Nicole and dog Nibbs joined us around the fire.

John, Donna, and Don.


There is a ‘rock garden’ near camp, that someone has spent a lot of time and effort building!


When I told Hailey we were headed for the north, she began to practice for hunting seals, and whales!CIMG8754

It is a great spot for Hailey, who could run free much of the time with her bell on to help me keep track of her.  It was her third birthday, and she got a new reflective, break-away collar and another neon green mouse to keep her entertained indoors.  She has now been with me to the Atlantic ocean, Pacific ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and now Lake Mead, again!

We checked out the Redstone dune trail, just up the Northshore Road, that had similar formations as the nearby Valley of Fire state park.


Some of the other gang have already gone home for the summer.  Jean & Skip made it back to Vancouver Island after encountering some snow on I-5 and in the mountain passes of northern California and Oregon.  Wandering Willy has been home for a while now – but quit blogging last year ;-(  The Bayfield Bunch are starting to make early preparations for their cross-country trek to north of the line.  Crofts are starting to make their way north in Mexico.

And, it seems that my time has about run out as well. ;-(

It seems like I agreed to take on a summer job with Alberta Forestry – Fire Control section, and they want me to start in early April – brrrr.  Weather up in western Canada has not been very spring-like of late with late season snow storms, and temperatures that spend a lot of time south of the freezing mark.  I’ll be watching the road reports closely this week and hope I won’t have to break out my snow shovel to get in the driveway.  As I type here in the Lake Mead sunshine, my thermometer on the sunny side says 45.7C (110F), and the inside temp with the windows open is about 30C (80F).  I fear that long underwear, gloves and heavy jackets will soon be covering my winter tan.  And I’m not looking forward to my rig transforming from a warm comfortable resort, – to a frozen icicle with no water, plumbing, and pink RV antifreeze in the shower, toilet, and Hailey’s ‘drinking sink’.

Come on along for the trip north.

(PS – no response from the Pwerdrive 1000 inverter people.  Not a way to operate a business, if you ask me)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Heading up the Colorado

At this time of the year, it does not take long for me to get bored with a particular camp spot.
Besides, Hailey had already checked out all the local bushes to make certain they were not harbouring any small prey.
This is especially true of Lake Havasu, where the bikinis have not started to blossom in great numbers yet!  In fact, it started to rain one day, so that cemented our intentions to move on.  But prior to that, I had joined John & Nicole on a hike to the top of Lizard peak, where there is conveniently, a picnic table bolted on the top.  I think it should be called Tabletop mtn!
Since Lake Havasu is simply a wide spot on the Colorado River formed behind the Davis dam at Parker, we decided to follow it upstream.
First stop was just across the line (and river) in Needles, Ca, as Californians are much more amenable to recycling stuff than are Arizonans.  After giving a fingerprint at the recyclers in Yuma to recycle my $2.80 worth of aluminum cans, and having to produce photo ID to do so, I was a bit apprehensive.  As expected the Ca crew were much more friendly, and I only had to print my name and add a signature to give them back their cans!  They were quite amazed when I told them of my Yuma experience.
For a change, we followed the Needles Highway going north along the river on the California side. The road had more than it’s share of potholes, so it was not a lot of fun. Exactly where the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada come together, we crossed back over into Arizona and into Bullhead City.  It was late afternoon when the two new batteries were installed in the truck and we were ready to go.  The local Walmart is of the ‘no camping’ variety, but we soon found a secluded section of the Sam’s Club to share with a couple of other units. As a bonus, there was free wi-fi available from Sam’s.
The weather was starting to improve in Bullhead City (Laughlin), but by the time we climbed the long grade up to Kingman, the temperature fell and so did the rain again, mostly on the plain.  Last time through here we camped on the side of the Eldorado road, that winds it’s way down from highway 93 to the shore of Lake Mohave (Colorado River).  But it was cold and dreary looking as we passed the turnoff, so we kept going up to Hoover Dam.  We crossed the new bridge by the dam and now found ourselves in Nevada.  After a leisurely drive up the North Shore road, it was nice to pull into our favourite place at Stewarts Point.  There were a few rigs there and plenty of room.  As an added bonus, camping is allowed here for 15 days (according to the sign), unlike the usual 14 days at most of the BLM camping areas.  And, the sun was shining once again!
We were soon set up and enjoying the warmer weather, the lake and mountain views and the sight and sounds of loons, grebes, gulls, and osprey, and small waves splashing on the shore.  It’s a bit of a contrast from the mostly dry camps the rest of the winter.
I think this is the remains of a navigational beacon that was placed here when the water in Lake Mead was much higher.  The location of our camp would have been an island, or totally submerged in the past.  As evidence, the gravel is littered with shells, and I don’t mean the firearm type.
We’re just getting settled here, but if the weather cooperates, it might be a while before the next move.  With luck, we might be joined by the same couple of friends who were here with us last year – having recently escaped the icy cold grasp of Alberta for a couple months.P3097565P3097564P3097563 

I almost forgot to mention one thing.  My Powerdrive 1000 inverter.  It is made by Powerdrive - 1875 Zeager Road, Elizabethtown, PA 17022.  It quit working properly a few weeks ago.  Properly, being the important word.  It just quit turning on or off, either with the remote switch, or with the button on the face of it.  It DOES turn off the display, but power is still full in the 110V outlets, though none in the USB plug.
I also tried to disconnect it completely from the battery, but that did not change anything.
So, I wrote them a nice email to their 'support' (  line and received a completely useless reply telling me to 'keep my receipt'!  In fact, here is the complete reply,

**Note by Stacey Morris, 18-Feb-2013:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us, and inquiring about the RPPD1000, Inverter.  This unit can ONLY be operated when connecting directly to the battery of your vehicle.  Here are some additional tips, to help you get the best performance from your PowerDrive Inverter.

1)      Save your receipt, you will need this if you ever need warranty service.
2)      If you need to extend the length of the stock cables (36” 4 gauge are included), you must use a larger gauge wire. (2 gauge is recommended up to 6 feet. Over 6 feet Ø gauge)
3)      Do not use extension cords or multi-taps on the inverter. One device per outlet.
4)      Supply plenty of fresh air.  A hot inverter will not be able to supply full power and will shut down if it becomes too hot.  It is best to mount it in a location that is cool, like the passenger cab, away from an outside wall, and not in a cargo box.

I wrote back suggesting that their advice did nothing to help the situation at all and gave them another chance to suggest a solution or repair.  I told them that I would be pleased to mention their service in my blog - good or bad.
You be the judge.  I guess I for one will not be buying one of their products again.  I will advise if I hear more from them.