Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Blog - Mesa, AZ

I am starting a new blog with the mac computer I switched to. It is so much easier to use and I'm enjoying learning it. The new address I will be using for the blog from now on is:

Check it out. Just copy and paste it into your browser and save it to your favorites if you wish.

The new blog opens to a cover page which I will be customizing over the next few weeks. The cover page will list the most recent blog. You can click on the title of the blog to open it. Once there, you just click next or previous to go from post to post. It is easy to figure out.

Thanks, Mitch

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mesa, AZ

This is a cell phone tower at Fountain of the Sun where mom and dad stay. If you look at the top, there are antennaes on it. It looks like a real palm tree and blends in very well.

I went with dad Friday morning and we preped the shuffle board courts for the day. It was interesting to learn how they do it. Here's dad (left) and a friend cleaning the courts.

Mom and me on the Cricket.

Kim last night as we played dominos with mom and dad.

Isn’t it hard to believe December is here? Christmas will be upon us before we know it. We stopped by Cummins at Avondale, AZ to get the fan clutch checked out. Avondale is on the west side of Phoenix and Mesa (where my parents winter) is on the east side. Normally we would stay in the coach at night but we stayed with mom and dad for two nights while they were working on the coach. It has been great to spend time with them. Dad and mom won’t let us pay for any meals while we’re here. They've always been like that and we very much appreciate their generosity. We’ve been out to eat three times already.

On the way from Yuma to Mesa we had a coach engine clutch fan problem that turned out to be quite an exercise in futility. The clutch runs the fan at low speed until the engine gets hot from climbing a hill or we are stopping using the engine brake. Then it runs at the normal full speed. The clutch fan gets us about one more mile per gallon and also cuts down on the fan noise. The coach comes without a clutch fan but our Cummins rep back home recommended we install it to save money and cut down on noise. It only runs one or two percent of the time. At Cummins, the service writer wouldn’t agree as to how it worked when I described the problem and so he didn’t tell the mechanic what I thought the problem was. He thought the clutch fan turned the fan on or off. I explained that the clutch fan runs the fan on low or high speed and it never turns off. He told me I couldn’t have driven it there without the clutch fan working as the engine would have overheated. I explained that it did not overheat because the fan doesn’t shut off, but run on low. I told him to check the engine computer log and verify the engine had not overheated and that my explanation was correct, but he didn’t. Consequently after a day I drove back over there and he told me they didn’t warranty the clutch and I would have to pay the bill when they were finished. They had spent the day trying to get the fan to shut off, which it doesn’t do. I have a friend back home who goes to our church and works for Cummins on motorhome engines. His name is Jack Markin. Jack actually did the install himself. Since Jack is the Cummins area rep / mechanic for motorhomes and 85% of the motorhomes made in America are made in northern Indiana, I really trust Jack’s knowledge. I got Jack on the phone with the service writer and he explained how the clutch worked, called the clutch company and also told the service writer that they were in fact distributers for that make of fan. In the end the service writer explained how the fan worked to me and I said that was what I have been trying to tell you. I talked with the manager and requested to talk to the mechanic because the service writer didn’t want to let me do so. The mechanic was very open to my opinion of what the problem was and was very glad to speak with me. He couldn’t have been nicer. He called Jack on his cell and Jack walked him through the diagnostics. Bottom line: the clutch fan works now and they did it on warranty. Since they didn’t have to replace it and it now works, Jack suggest since it failed before it will probably fail down the road, but I understand they can’t fix something that is not broke.

We took the coach in on Wed and picked it up on Friday. During that time we looked for an RV park here is Mesa. We will be here a few weeks, home two and a half weeks and then here a week or so and the best deal was to just rent a spot for 6 weeks. We’re at the Spirit of Mesa Park which is about 7 miles from mom and dad. We are on a lot about 40 by 80 which is one of the biggest sites we’ve had on the trip. There are 1800 units here. Some are RV’s and some are park models which are like miniature mobile homes – maybe 12 by 40 feet. We have a lot of palm trees, some 40 or 50 feet tall here in the park. When we checked in they gave us some really good cookies and Kim liked that. They gave us a weekly newsletter which has about 15 pages and has so many activities we couldn’t believe it! We went to the clubhouse for a pancake breakfast yesterday.

Mom and dad’s neighbor is Jim and we met when we were here a few years ago. He and I really get along well. Jim and his friend Dolly came over yesterday to see the coach and I gave him and mom each a ride on the cricket (mini golf cart we have). While talking he referred to the movie Field of Dreams. I told him we had never seen it and he told me we had to see it. Last night when Kim and I were at mom and dads’ there was a knock on the door and Jim had went out and bought a copy and gave it to us. That was very nice. I got up at 4 and wrote this. We will be at mom and dad’s this morning at 7:30 to go to church with them.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had a new computer. I got a macbook. It is a notebook made by Apple that uses a different format than PC’s. They are known for reliability, common sense operating and not locking up like the IBM based computers with Windows operating system. Why you ask? I have come to realize that I’m an initiator. I just like new things. Most people would not want to learn a new system at my age but I really enjoy learning new things. It keeps my mind young and open to change. Hannah had wanted one so I bought her one as her early college graduation gift. I also see it as something we can learn together and help each other out. I like interacting with her on new things like this. We taught our kids for years and now there are areas where they can help us along and I really appreciate that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Algodones, Mexico

Somehow we didn't think we were at Lake Tahoe!

There are many eye clinics there.

This was the chiropractor's office. It was very neat and clean.

The dentists had some interesting artwork. This shows a crown. It hurts me just looking at it.

This is the place we ate our big meal for $7.50. The owner was great and showed us how they use tortilla shells as their bread. He took one of mine and put some salt in it, then he said you can put rice, beans, chicken, beef, pork or donkey meat in it. He said they eat tortilla shells every day as a main staple and anything can go into it. Painted on the wall in big letters it said "If you don't like it, you don't have to pay for it."

We drove 20 miles west of our Yuma campground and walked across the border into Mexico today. They have a huge asphalt parking lot on the US side and it is $5 to park there. Going in to Mexico there was no border check. The cars had to stop but there was nothing for us walk-ins. I should mention that there were hundreds of cars in the parking lot. Coming back there was a walk through check for us at the border. There were about 100 people in line for two inspectors. We met some nice people in line and they were informative – like when they call us to the inspection table, only one person at a time. They also told us that sometimes the line is much longer to get back in the USA. We only need a drivers license now to get back into the USA but starting Jan. 1 people will need a passport or application for a passport.

One must understand that this town is not like most towns in Mexico. It is a town that thrives because of the US people who shop and come for medical treatment and prescription drugs. If you need prescription drugs, they will write one for you and sell you 3 months worth. That is what our customs will allow in. There are maybe 50 dentists’ offices. There are also chiropractors and other doctors. I went to a chiropractor but he wasn’t in. The receptionist said he may be back in an hour and a half. We ate at the street side vendors and the food was very good. Their veggies are fresh and the seasoning is good – a bit spicier than the Mexican food we’re used to. One of the guys saw us coming and pushes some kind of meat off to the side of the grill where we wouldn’t notice it and then offered us beef and pulled it out of a pan already cooked and warm. We got a beef taco and afterwards asked him what the other meat was. He said it was tripe. According to a web search, tripe is usually made of one of the first three stomachs of the cow, but it can be made of pigs, goats or sheep also. It didn’t look too good. My friend Doug Moore would have probably tried it. I was with him in Goshen when he tried tacos with some strange animal body part or organ in it. I spoke with my friend Kevin Sommers by phone while we were there and he said he generally stays away from eating organs – makes sense to me.

The people there were nice and friendly and helpful. Our son Ben collects Harley Davidson T shirts so we bought him two for $16. We didn’t haggle much on price as everything seemed inexpensive already. The one restaurant we ate at I got chicken, beans and rice with chips, salsa, three kinds of dip and also a shrimp taco. Kim also got a shrimp taco and we each got a large bottle of coke that tasted kind of fruity and all was $7.50.

San Diego to Yuma, AZ

Lots of pretty mountains with lots of small rocks

This is the ATV area that went on for miles. There were lots of RV's parked in the wilderness.

This pretty pink cactus is in our park.

Monday we left San Diego and drove east on Highway 8. People had warned us that there would be nothing to see. We thought it was one of the more interesting and colorful roads we had been on. There was a huge variety of things to see. There were mountains with huge rocks and then some of shattered rocks. They were just beautiful! There was also lots of veggie farming, irrigation, and desert and just about anything else you could imagine. There was a big ATV area in the desert that went on for miles and miles. I thought of Tyler Moser as he would love it. It is big enough that it shows up on the state map. It is called the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. When we arrived here the weather was just perfect. It was 75 and sunny. We’re staying at the Shangri-La RV Park and it is really nice. There are lots of palm trees. We walked all the roads in the park today. It was probably a mile and a half or so. There are over 300 hookups here and we walked every row today. We plan to stay here tomorrow and leave Wednesday.

Today when going up the mountain I noticed the engine coolant and transmission temps were running about ten degrees high. I troubleshot the problem and found the clutch fan on the engine wasn’t engaging in high speed. It was only operating at the low speed. I think some insulation came off the engine compartment and got in the fan and it damaged the wires to the clutch fan. I watched the temperatures and they only rose above normal going up mountains. They only ran about ten degrees above normal. I have an appointment at Cummins Coach Care in Phoenix this Thursday. Cummins Coach Care works on engines and also fixes most other things on the coach. They have hookups and we can stay there overnight. We have had excellent service from these facilities.

We had planned to go to Quartzsite after Yuma but after contacting our friends, Jerry and Sharon Angel, we decided to wait till they were there in a few weeks. We would like to have them show us around and explain the area. Quartzsite, AZ is an area known for huge RV activity in the winter months. I guess it is a flea market and also has anything you could want for RVing. Most folks just simply park in the desert. I guess you have to see it to believe it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kids in San Diego 3

Si and me at Balboa Park where we visited museums.

Here's the boys on the Cricket. They enjoyed riding around the park on it.

Sightseeing along the coast

This was s pretty area overlooking San Diego, an Air Force Base and the ship docks

This is a glider port where people strapped themselves into parachutes and ran off a cliff.
There wasn't enough wind to really get them going though.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kids in San Diego 2

Ben and Hannah sleeping sideways (actually the new computer doesn't respond when
I rotate the pics). I'll get it figured out.

Si and Ben eating like cave men (they just did this for the pic).

Dessert time!

Ben and Kim

Kids in San Diego 1

Hannah at the camel display

Ben spent a lot of the day holding Kim's hand.

Hannah really liked the pandas.

Here's the family on an outdoor escalator.

The kids were tired at the end of the day.

The kids just left this morning for Indiana. We had a great time with them here. They were able to be here 5 full days. We have really missed not being with them. As I write this, I am on a new computer. We made some changes and I like the new notebook, though it is a little challenging at times to learn a new system. We went to the zoo. Most of the day we walked. The San Diego Zoo is a must see. The employees are so friendly and helpful and the displays are great in that they aren't just rows of cages but rather the settings are very well planned and spaced out. We also went and saw two movies while they were here, August Rush and Enchanted were both enjoyable. We made it to IHOP and Denny's for breakfast and Red Lobster one evening. We also stopped by a Cold Stone Creamery after a movie. We had fun getting around the city in the rented car. We had a GPS but it still was a bit of an adventure at times. It was good to just lay in the hammock and talk with the kids. I really enjoyed just talking with them. Kim was so content to have the kids here and it showed. We go home for Christmas in two and a half weeks, but it was still good to have the kids here.