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.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

10/15-17/15 Cochiti Lake and Kasha-Katuwe

My little nook in the RV with my Dine sand painting from Four Corners and my Zuni fetishes.

I spent an afternoon messing around with rock painting. First I did a balloon.

Next I did a petroglyph sheep.

My first site at Cochiti was nice, but the giant fence made me feel like I was in prison.  I moved down and was much happier.

We visited Kasha Katuwe on the way out and it was wonderful as usual.

Moki steps. People actually used these to climb vertical canyon walls.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Santa Fe 10/13-15/15

After leaving Madrid we took a little ride through Cerillos. We loved Madrid so much we were hoping for some more. Nope. It was almost a ghost town. We stopped at the visitor's center for Los Cerillos State Park hoping for some info but the ranger there had little interest in talking. We ended up on a dead end street and had to back out. It's times like that where I'm glad I didn't choose to drag a car behind me as that would have meant I would have had to unhitch the car, move it, back the rig out, pull the car up, re-hitch, and then leave. I was already mad about the GPS screwup, my head would have probably exploded if I had to go through all that too.  Thankfully Barb is also good at backing up her trailer.

We ended up parking in the Sam's Club parking lot in Santa Fe. Barb helped me add half a gallon of water to my batteries. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. We caught a bus into Old Town Santa Fe the next morning. I have to say, we were both underwhelmed. It didn't have the charm of Old Town Albuquerque and the galleries were antiseptic and killer expensive.  It didn't help that they were filming some series in the square, which made it unpleasant to walk around. I don't recall the name...Graves or something. The suits/sunglasses of the two guys I saw looked like a Men in Black remake. I'll pass.  Also, one of the other things I was really looking forward to was the Georgia O'Keefe museum. It turned out to be a huge disappointment. I would say less than 10% of the works in the museum were O'Keefe's. And none were her iconic bone and flower images that I so loved.  Worst of all, most of the stuff there was from her contemporaries, many of whom were doing cubism and other abstract work. It made for a presentation without any real flow or coherence.  I actually went back to the front desk to see if we had somehow missed a floor or even a room where the actual O'Keefe works were. But we hadn't. They did offer to sell me a ticket to another museum where they said there were more O'Keefe's.  I passed.

Miraculous staircase

I think this dog was approx $3,000.

This was the best thing in the Georgia O'Keefe museum. It's a good thing they had this homage to her and her work because there was little to be found in the museum.

At the brewpub

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

10/13/15 Madrid NM

Folk Instrument shop....was never open while we were there.

Sculpture Garden

Sheep sculpture garden

Boondocking right outside Madrid NM

Monday, October 12, 2015

9/29/15-10/12/15 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Wow, what an event!!  It was life-changing, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that. I crewed every single day, which meant the alarm going off at 4:30am every morning. I never intended to crew every day, but it was just so much fun that I couldn't stay away.  I got to the Fiesta a few days early as that's what most Boomers do, the Fiesta didn't start till the 2nd. However, we did go out training with our pilot on 10/1.  The first few days were just disgustingly hot. I ended up running the gen a few times for A/C. It cooled off a bit as the week went on, which was very welcome.  Here's a link to some of the photos I took:

ABQ Balloon Fiesta

But just in case you can't be bothered to click, here's my favorite.

And this is me in the basket on my first flight. Photo by Barb Brady.