Wanderlust

Eclipse Excursion Planning

There will be an annular eclipse of the sun on October 14, 2023. We have begun the planning for a trip in order to be where we can see the ring of fire. The path forecast favors places like Monument Valley, UT and Albuquerque, NM, both of which are just a few hours from home. We will be taking the Class A Motorhome to see this eclipse, just as we did the last time on August 21, 2017.

Damsel and I are both familiar with camping in both Goulding’s RV Campground in Monument Valley and American RV Resort in Albuquerque, so we were quickly able to choose the latter, given it’s convenient location to I-40 and the amenities there with which we’re familiar. So American RV it is — on condition we can get reservations there on the dates of the event.

In the image above, we were getting set up in Casper, WY for the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Damsel is by the open side door with Tom and Amber (our friends) in the foreground. Cabela and Beethoven, our Min Pins look on as we go through our antics. Looking at these old pictures gives us the wanderlust to get this next event planned as well as getting our shakedown cruise going.

I refurbished the old countdown timer that we used to count the time left until the August 2017 eclipse to now count the time until the eclipse starts in Albuquerque in 2023. See the sidebar for Eclipse Countdown.

Five Years Ago – Total Solar Eclipse

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 took place on this date five years ago. Damsel and I (and some friends) watched the spectacle from Casper, Wyoming. We were in an RV park, along with several hundreds of other campers and spectators. Casper, a town of less than 60,000 people had grown to an estimated population of over a quarter million, not counting those outside of town limits watching the eclipse from campsites on the Platte River and elsewhere. Our campground definitely had a party atmosphere before, during and after totality.

Image above: Damsel’s capture of mid-totality – click to enlarge.

At our location, totality lasted about 2 minutes and 26 seconds. The crowd noise in the campground dropped to murmurs during totality with a collective “oooooh” sounding as the “diamond ring” appeared at the end of totality. The whole effect was phenomenal – a memory that should last until we’re gone.

There will be another total solar event during the Great American Eclipse of 2024. We sort of have a plan to be in Kerrville Texas vicinity at that time, The Good Lord willing. There will also be an annular eclipse in October next year; we have not made plans for that one yet, but we may do so after our “shakedown” cruise in the motorhome coming up soon. We’re thinking of going to the “Four Corners” area for that eclipse if we go. If we do go, maybe we’ll organize a meetup with family and friends for that event.

Motorhome Navigator Upgrade

Now that we have resolved some of the issues with our Thor Palazzo 35.1 Motorhome, we are anxious to get back on the road with it. We have a trip planned to head over to Bullhead City, AZ and then to Williams, AZ and return, which will keep us close to home in case we encounter additional latent problems with the RV. Hopefully, these (if any) will not be show stoppers, but things we can note and get fixed back home.

The original GPS we purchased for the motorhome is a Garmin Nüvi 2797 which is still operational and a very good unit with a companion smartphone app that works through bluetooth. We might have been content with keeping this unit which has served us well, but we had a bug planted in our ear by a You-Tuber we watch, Traveling Robert, who mentioned the RV-specific features provided by some of the new units.

I did some research and found that Garmin’s RV series GPS units have the RV-specific features we were looking for. We purchased a Garmin RV 1090 10 Inch GPS Navigator which has the RV specific features we were looking for and more. The most important features relate to where an RV can safely navigate, avoiding sharp switchbacks and low pass bridges, etc. I opened the box (left, clickable) and after updating maps and software via WIFI (no computer attached), I plotted out some routes to see how things worked. One feature is when you search for campgrounds, the unit already knows your RV dimensions and will show those places where you are going to have no trouble.

So now, we will be cleaning out the RV, mounting the new GPS up front, draining the black tank bleach solution and recharging it with the chemical packs plus some other things that need to be done before getting back on the road. I’m anxious to see how the new RV 1090 unit performs.

More Motorhome Maintenance

After our recent motorhome maintenance, I made the discovery that when I start up the 6KVA Generator, the house AC power was not switching from shore power to the generator, which is the normal behavior. It is my routine to start up the RV once a week and to start up the generator once a month and load it up with both Air Conditioners going.

I called the Mobile RV Service after a short attempt at finding out the cause of the problem myself because (a) I don’t have enough expertise and (b) I have been satisfied with these guys before. They do good work at a reasonable labor rate.

I was pleased when the dispatcher called me and set up an earlier-than-normal appointment with the same technician that helped us with the battery problem. When he showed up, he quickly found the problem: there is a junction box by the generator at the front of the RV that connects the generator output to the wiring leading to the relay that switches over when the generator is activated. As you may be able to see in the photo, a bad connection in the box overheated causing damage to the wires and wire nuts inside. This is the “before” photo but I don’t have an “after” photo because he worked very quickly and had everything buttoned up before I could take one.

When the work was done and everything performing as it should, the tech advised me that I should check the inside of the junction box in a few months to see if his work is holding up. I have that task on my list of things to do in the future.

When Damsel and I thought about what had happened, we thank God Almighty that a fire had not broken out in the generator compartment since the J-box is a plastic one rather than metallic as they were in the old days.

Clach Mhile

“Clach Mhile” is Scots Gaelic for “Milestone,” I think. At least it is what Google Translate thinks. I was trying to channel my Scottish/Irish/Celtic roots when titling this post to take notice of another lifetime event, i.e. an additional year old. It doesn’t seem like it’s been a year since the last one, but again, a lot of things have transpired since then, so I guess it does seem like it’s been quite a while. I don’t hit the Big O until next summer. After that, I still expect to feel “young” (as I do now) since most vital functions are still working as they should.

I have some routine health checkups scheduled soon – the Urologist next week and the Nephrologist shortly thereafter. I visit those two regularly because of previous bladder and kidney problems, now (mostly*) resolved. I should schedule a chest x-ray as well, since the Radiologist found some lung smudges described as “ground glass” in a previous exam.

The (clickable) image on the right is of a lemon chiffon birthday cake that the Damsel made for me before we went on the low-carb, low-sodium diet in late 2018. She still bakes confections like this, but uses more Keto-friendly ingredients for the dough and icing. I copied this image from our Food Blog.

So, as the next year unfolds, we hope to resume some of the travelling in the RV with a couple of planned destinations and others that will be more ad-lib as we go along. The RV is getting some updates and as soon as we do a couple of other items fixed, we’ll be ready to roll.

* I have an atrophied kidney causing stage two renal disease which is not that bad (stage five = dialysis).

Motorhome Maintenance

Nothing lasts forever and that’s especially true in the Arizona Sun. Today, we replaced some worn out slide-out toppers on our Thor Palazzo Motorhome. Well, when I say “we” I mean the contractor who gets paid by us, that is. “We” also replaced the house batteries which were getting to the end of their useful lives. They are four deep-cycle 6.75 volt units connected in series/parallel to produce the house voltage of 13.5 volts (nominal voltages). Additionally, the crew replaced the bathroom exhaust fan which failed last year.

Because the environment is so harsh, we are still considering building an RV shelter across the road from our house. We want to build something that at a minimum will provide:

  • Full hookups (water, 30 and 50 amp AC Power, sewer)
  • A concrete pad large enough to accommodate our 36×20 foot slides out motorhome
  • A roof and three sidewalls
  • A lockable north-facing door

There are still some roadblocks to construction since the town may not allow a prefab building. Additionally, we may have to construct a septic system because rumor has it the town won’t approve the RV to municipal sewer hookup (black tank chemical treatments?). We are still looking into these problems.

3D Photo Bonus

The image above was taken in February 2017 just after we brought the big RV home. I also took a side-by-side image pair that day (being the penultimate nerd) and combined them into a gray scale anaglyphic stereo image. You will need your red/cyan glasses to view the 3D image here.