Wanderlust

Eclipse Countdown Update

In anticipation of a second solar eclipse that we may travel to observe, I updated the Eclipse Countdown item in the Featured Pages in the right sidebar (or below on your smartphone) to include a countdown to the next American total solar eclipse. The previous counter for the Albuquerque Annular Eclipse next October is still there.

Newly added to the Eclipse Countdown page:


The next North American total solar eclipse event will take place on April 08, 2024. We’re planning to be in Kerrville, TX to view this event.

Damsel took the (clickable) image on the right during a previous eclipse seen from Casper, WY on August 21, 2017. At that time, we witnessed our first total solar eclipse and are eagerly anticipating seeing another in April 2024.

Time left until the Total eclipse begins in Kerrville:

Thirteenth Retirement Anniversary

Damn if these years don’t just keep speeding by! Thirteen years ago yesterday, I hung up my aerospace hat and jumped into the world of never-ending weekends. Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of my first full day of retirement.

The texture image in the numeral 13 above is from an old photo taken at the Grand Canyon National Park ten years ago.

Last year we posted about our twelfth anniversary and in that post we spoke of our intention to get in the big RV and go somewhere. Well, for various reasons, that trip has not yet happened. It has been over three years since we had the motorhome out and about, so this year we really intend to take a shakedown excursion to see how the RV does and how we do with it.

The most recent long trip was in 2019 when we went through Northern Arizona, Southern Utah, Western Colorado, Southern Wyoming, back into Colorado, down through New Mexico, back into Northern Arizona and then home again.

Our next excursion, as I mentioned, will be a shakedown cruise and as such, will be confined (mostly) to Arizona. We may cross over into Kalifornistan for a few miles, but it will be brief and (hopefully) won’t subject us to any of the insanity out there. Our proposed route will take us from home base up through very scenic US 93 to I-40 and east to Seligman, AZ. After that, we’re going to travel along Old Route 66 up through Peach Springs, AZ, Kingman, AZ and winding up at Bullhead City, AZ. Then we plan to head back home via Lake Havasu City, AZ, Parker, AZ, Salome, AZ and then on into Wickenburg.

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.