Sunday, October 25, 2015

Electrical miseries....

Well, I guess I can be accused of being a Pollyanna most of the time, not posting the downfalls of being on the road. But now I'm finally weary of the little niggling things, and I'm going to vent . About a month ago in Bisti, when I was there for the lunar eclipse, I had a minor solar disaster. Well, actually it was pretty major.  As I was packing up to leave in the morning some people pulled up next to me and I got distracted. That's really no excuse, but it explains what happened next. As I was driving out on the crappy washboard road I hit a pretty deep hole and heard a weird noise. I stopped and got out to see what the deal was. Well, at some point in the half-mile I had driven, the solar panels came off the rack and were dragging behind me by their wires. $700 worth of panels pretty much destroyed in an instant, leaving me headed for two weeks of dry camping in Albuquerque for the balloon fiesta without solar. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to cry. I think that perhaps I only secured one bungee cord. Or maybe I did both, one has come loose before. But on a normal road with the lightweight panels it was not an issue. It only happened once and I was more careful to make sure it clicked around the ladder after that. But on this day I think I was distracted and only put on one cord. Which could not hold on the miserable road.

, Well, I couldn't live without solar for two weeks, so I ordered a Renogy  100 W panel from Amazon and had it overnighted to Albuquerque. 100 W is not much but it's better than nothing. When I got to Albuquerque and parked and set everything up, I was astounded to find that the abused plastic panels were still putting out a couple amps each. It was enough to make the time in Albuquerque livable.  

Another issue I had been dealing with was the fact that my batteries had boiled over while they were plugged in while I was gone. That has been a problem with those batteries since I got them, and I wasn't sure if it was the battery or the charger. Either way it was a giant pain to deal with. After Albuquerque, in a Sam's Club parking lot in Santa Fe, Barb and I worked on the batteries for an hour and put almost a half a gallon of distilled water in them. It turned out to be the kiss of death. While they had been operating with a very low electrolyte level, diluting the acid made them no longer hold a charge.I messed with it for a few days, hoping they would resurrect themselves, but it was to no avail. So I went to Gallup and got two new group 27 deep cycle batteries. It was quite the debacle getting them installed but I don't have the heart to go into that now. I'll just say, watch the guy wiring them like a hawk.

With new batteries, I thought my troubles were over. Two days after the batteries were in I looked at the charger in the morning, and it was showing 0 Amps. It was overcast, but I still should see something. Even .2 amp. But it was showing zero. After much cursing and some quality time with the multimeter, I determined that the solar charge controller was simply not supplying any power to the battery. Nothing I did would make it work. I took the temperature probe out, I disconnected it from the battery and let it sit for a day (which worked when this happened once before), nothing worked.  I was at the end of my rope at that point. Now, here I am with $850 worth of solar panels on the back of my rig and I'm running my damn generator for hours every day. And if you know me, you know what I think about generators.  Well, since this was the second RioRand controller that I had had fail, obviously I wasn't going with that brand again. I ordered a MorningStar controller and had it sent to Page. To the address of the UPS store I found on a UPS locations page. Later that night looking at Google maps I discovered the UPS store that I had sent my charger to had gone out of business several years ago. It turns out that wasn't an official page.  Awesome! I sent a panicked email to UPS, and to my astonishment they immediately rerouted my package to a real pick up location in Page. The controller is sitting there and I will pick it up tomorrow. I have to say, I am about out of patience with this electrical bullshit. And if this doesn't work I don't know what I'm gonna do, because running the generator every single day is not an option. And neither is living without lights, charged camera batteries, or all the other little electric things I rely on. 

So, I've spent the day in kind of a funk. I've got myself all worked up that this charger isn't going to work and I'm just going to throw in the towel. It doesn't help that the site at Lone Rock Beach, while it has a beautiful view, is like Grand Central Station. I am so tired of people driving back-and-forth at 45 miles an hour. Hopefully once the weekend is over, it will calm down a bit.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Brookings to Crescent City

I was still unsure what route I was taking, but either way, I had to head south to Crescent City. I went through that Agriculture checkpoint which pisses me off.......California gets BILLIONS of containers from all over the world loaded with all sort of pests and they feel the need to harass motorists and take their oranges. Which probably came in to LA on one of those containers. Stupid.

I decided to take the road through the Redwoods to Grant's Pass.  Well, I changed my mind on that one quickly. After 4 harrowing miles of crazy curves, drop offs, and bicyclists everywhere I said screw that and started looking for a place to turn around. A scenic route isn't actually scenic when you're white knuckled and eyes glued to the road.

I had a backup spot in mind for the night, I had read reviews of Elk Valley Casino and that it was scenic with elk wandering through the parking lot. Well....I didn't see any elk. And little scenery.  But I was not in the mood to go searching for somewhere else so I went in and registered with the guard. He told me to park in the gravel lot off to the side and I was good for 2 nights. I told him I'd only need one. I was starving and headed over to the restaurant.  I did a quick u-turn when I saw it wasn't completely closed off from the smoky casino and decided to go for a ride. I headed to the oceanfront and had some dinner at the Fishermen's Restaurant. It was pretty good. I wandered around a bit, saw a cool folk art place but it was closed. Headed back to the casino and had a quiet night.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gold Beach to Brookings

It was another quiet and peaceful evening. I woke up to a bright, sunshiney day.........and a rocking boat, I mean RV. It was WINDY!!!!  I was getting blasted by dirt from the piles near the entrance and fled over to the other side of the river.

It was still windy but I wasn't getting sandblasted. The wind was blowing OUT to was wild to watch the waves come in and get the tops blown off. It was mesmerizing, but the constant buffeting and rocking got on my nerves after a while. I went down to the Visitor Center, which was kind of sheltered.....not sheltered enough. I didn't really want to drive in that wind as blowing out to sea equals blow you off the cliffs. I finally hit the end of my rope and bailed late, around 6pm. I was at the point where getting blown off a cliff didn't sound that bad. Amazingly, about 10 miles down the road, it was calm. I rolled into Brookings in the twilight and was not thrilled about trying to find some boondocking spot in the dark. I saw a Fred Meyer, and thought, "Well, it can't hurt to ask...." I went in and asked to park overnight and they said no problem.  What a relief! They weren't listed in the guides I use and normally I'd just pass it up. Glad I didn't. When I was walking to the store I had seen a sign at the top of the street saying "Tap Room". After I did my shopping and moved the rig to the spot they asked me to, I did a beeline up there. It turned out to be the Chetco Brewing Co, and they had super nice folks, and fabulous beer.  I'm STILL kicking myself for not getting a growler of the Unity Pale Ale. That was one of the best beers I've ever had.

Gold Beach Day 2

I spent an uneventful night illegally parked on the threshhold of the RV park.  No one bothered me but I woke up around 6:30-7:00 and moved to Jerry's parking lot.  I took another nap and awoke to find the fog was still pretty thick. I just wasn't in the mood for the boat ride.  I wandered down the road a bit and came to what I knew would be a gorgeous beach if it wasn't socked in solid. I still went for a walk and enjoyed the cool fog.

 I didn't want to keep driving as I hadn't seen anything south of Gold Beach before and wasn't going to today! I had dinner at the was just ok but redeemed themselves when they served me about a pound of fabulous coconut cake for dessert.  I headed across the river to the place I'd boondocked last time. It was pretty deserted, though the same van was in the same place down in one of the hollows. As I was parked there sitting in the driver's seat enjoying the sunset, this goober pulls up and parks right across my nose a few feet away, Since there was like 800' of vacant shoreline, I thought it was an asshole move.

He finally left and I read for a while, then hit the sack.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Waldport to Gold Beach

It was another foggy day so I didn't do too many stops. That stretch of 101 south of Yachats is pretty harrowing.  I was starving but kept passing up restaurants hoping to stop at abandon Face Rock Creamery. Well, I never saw it.  :-(  I finally stopped in Port Orford at the Crazy Norwegian. It sucked. :-( Gluey chowder and soggy, oily fish. :-(  What a disappointment.  I walked around a bit and enjoyed the fabulous view.  I headed off to Gold Beach after about an hour's relaxing.  I stopped at Jerry Rogue Jets first as I was thinking of doing a tour. I wasn't sure as it's long and expensive and I wasn't sure I was up for it. I moved the rv over to a nice waterfront spot across the street from an rv park. I discovered I could get their wifi, so it became a 3 episode Longmire marathon.  :-)   By the time I was done, it was dark and really foggy.. I had planned to move across the river for the night as Gold Beach has an anti-rv parking ordinance. I really didn't feel like it though. Since there were no no-parking signs, I figured I'd risk it, especially since I planned to be up early to decide if I was doing a river trip.  

Astoria to Waldport.

I got up fairly early and walked back to the sea lions. I must have been there for an hour.  Highly entertaining.  I headed south and enjoyed the usual pretty drive down 101. I sent a message to my friends in Waldport saying I'd be in their vicinity and they kindly invited me for dinner. I didn't stop too many places until I got to Bay City and Pacific Oysters.  I've wanted to eat there for a while and was finally able to find a parking space.  The food was fantastic, I had a nice chowder and a shrimp burger. It was cool to watch the oyster shuckers as well.  Next stop was Depoe Bay. I walked around for a while but the stores were not as cool as I remembered.  I realized I needed to get going if I was going to make dinner before 6:30 and set off.  I was flying along Alsea Hwy, and made it by 6:05. I had a nice dinner and a pleasant night in the Wilson's driveway. And got to watch Longmire. :-) So far, I'm not liking it as much....I hope later eps are better. 

The return trip

I left Tacoma somewhat later than I'd hoped, and it took forever to get propane. Like a fool, I stopped at a Chevron station that had a propane tank out front that I passed on the way to Uhaul. Like a bigger fool, I didn't ask the price first. $4.99 per gallon!!!  It was $2.10 at Uhaul. Unreal. I had planned to do I-5 south to Portland, then cut over to the coast at Lincoln City and spend the night at the Casino there. Unfortunately I hit Portland at 4pm and traffic was backed up for miles.  Since there's little I hate more, I turned west and headed to Astoria. I parked at the Safeway and inquired whether it was still ok to park overnight. They said it was ok, stipulating that I had to park in one of the 6 rv spaces and that if they were full I could not stay. Also, they reiterated that it was one night only.  It's a shame when people abuse the privilege, as has happened here, to the point where the business is teetering on the edge of forbidding it.  

As soon as I got out of the vehicle I could hear (and smell) the hundreds of sea lions hauled out all over the docks.  I set off toward the Rogue Public House, which took me past them. I watched for a while, they're pretty entertaining.  I finally got to the Rogue and ordered my standard dinner, smoked salmon chowder and albacore fish and chips. I asked to substitute a salad for the fries, which was an extra $2. The soup & entree arrived at the same time. The chowder looked odd, and when I took a taste I saw why.  It was full of black beans!!  Who put beans in chowder? I guess they do now.  Never did before. I was also unimpressed that they just dumped the salad in the basket with the fish.....fried food is never improved by contact with wet/cold salad.  Also, my fork poked holes in the paper liner, resulting in a dressing spill on the table.  When I finally saw the waitress again. I told her I wasn't sure if I got the right soup as there were beans in it.  She replied, "Oh, yes, we put beans in our chowder though it's not mentioned on the menu." Kind of a glaring omission! I told her I didn't want it and she took it off the check without asking if I wanted anything else to replace it. The fish was fabulous as usual. When I was done she brought the check when she came to clear the plates so I figured that was a sign that I didn't REALLY want desert and another beer. :-(. All in all, a disappointing experience.  I headed back to the rig and enjoyed another beer there, then laid down and fell asleep pretty quickly. The sea lion noise was not bothersome, in fact, as I began to drift off the sound seemed to morph into something like voices in a crowded room and even singing. It was really peaceful.