Saturday, March 26, 2011

Monday, March 21, through Wednesday, April 6, 2011: In Palm Springs:
We left for the 70-mile trip to the Palm Springs Thousand Trails preserve before 7:00am Monday, to try to get there early enough to get a pull-through space in that very crowded park. We succeeded. Late in the morning, Becky asked me to join her at the local dealer's RV display at the park. It turned out that she had fallen in love with a new 5th wheel there. I had known that she was not thrilled with the external appearance of our rig after 8 years (it is looking a bit tired), but I did not know she was in a mood to get a new one right away. Wrong.

On Tuesday, I saw a dermatologist, Wendy Roberts, MD, about a growth on my left ear that Bob Newhouse had noticed and strongly recommended I take care of. She sliced it off, put a band-aid on the wound, and wished me well. Not counting the blood I splattered during the procedure, it was quite a non-event. I like that in doctor visits.

Surprise!!! We bought the new trailer on Wednesday, arranging to take delivery the middle of next week.

The dealer is taking our current trailer in trade, as is. So, it seems that replacing the entire rig was easier than replacing the destroyed lounge chairs. We celebrated the deal with the Wheelers at the nearby Don Diego restaurant, where I enjoyed one of their "medium" margaritas and some excellent enchiladas.

It will take some effort to get used to a new rig, especially personalizing it and adjusting to the placement of all our stuff. But it will be fun. Otherwise, we played pickle ball and walked the dogs, and on Thursday, we had lunch at the lovely Indio (second) home of Carlos and Denise Solis. Their next-door neighbors, Roy and Edna, joined the group. Fun.

On Friday, Daisy discovered a forgotten package of doggie treats while she was killing time alone in our truck. Somehow, it had gotten lodged between the right-rear seat and the adjacent door. To get to it, she had to tear apart a portion of the seat cushion. I guess she had seen the fun Ramsey had with our lounge chairs, and decided to join in. I have arranged with a local auto upholstery shop (Caruso's) to replace the seat cushion next Thursday. Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

Saturday morning, Ramsey chewed his way through the covering on his soft crate while we were away, and escaped into the rig. Becky repaied the damage (to the crate; there was no damage to the rig) while I went to PetSmart and bought an indestructible crate. Ramsey's adventure happened while we were on an excursion to two sort-of-local attractions: Salvation Mountain and Slab City. The most appropriate description: Bizarre.

According to Wikipedia,

"Slab City is a camp in southeastern California, used by recreational vehicle owners and squatters from across North America. It takes its name from the concrete slabs and pylons that remain from the abandoned World War II Marine barracks Camp Dunlap there. A group of servicemen remained after the base closed, and the place has been inhabited ever since, although the number of residents has declined since the mid 1980s. Several thousand campers, many of them retired, use the site during the winter months. These 'snowbirds' stay only for the winter, before migrating north in the spring to cooler climates. The temperatures during the summer are unforgiving; nonetheless, there is a group of around 150 permanent residents who live there all year round. Most of these 'Slabbers' derive their living by way of government checks (SSI and Social Security) and have been driven to the Slabs through poverty. The site is uncontrolled, and there is no charge for parking. The camp has no electricity, no running water or other services. Many campers use generators or solar panels to generate electricity. Supplies can be purchased in nearby Niland, California, located about three miles (5 km) to the southwest of Slab City.

Located just east of State Route 111, the entrance to Slab City is easily recognized by the colorful Salvation Mountain, a small hill approximately three stories high which is entirely covered in acrylic paint, concrete and adobe and festooned with Bible verses.

It is an ongoing project of over two decades by permanent resident Leonard Knight."

The description appears to be accurate, and the place is worth visiting, if only to remind yourself that there are some very eccentric people in this world.

The early part of the week was spent preparing for the closing of the deal on the new rig and getting ready for the massive job of transferring all our stuff. The storage area on the new rig looked huge until we started moving things over. On Tuesday, we closed the first part of the deal (i.e., we gave them the money and signed a thousand pages of documents) and on Wednesday, we continued the transfer process, leading up to the final closing ceremony in a Flying J truck stop 50 feet inside Arizona (to avoid exhorbitant California sale taxes) where we signed more papers and actually picked up the new trailer. We then drove it 106 miles back to the same site in the Palm Springs RV park, arriving in the dark for the first time in years. It's no fun setting up in the dark.

On Thursday, we set out in earnest to complete the transfer of stuff to the new rig, and failed miserably. We have things parked temporarily all over our site and no place to put them in the rig. It's not as "storage friendly" as our old trailer, notwithstanding that it is larger, and we have not been very efficient in placement, so we have more work to do, a lot of stuff to donate to charity, and some stuff to transport (perhaps) to our storage facility in Las Vegas.

We also had scheduled DirecTV to set up our service in the three TV sets in the new trailer on Thursday. The guys arrived on time. So did the blistering weather. The temperature soared to 103 degrees, and after six or seven power failures in the RV park, the DirecTV guys said rhey could do no more work without electricity, and said they would return Friday morning to complete the job. It was over 100 degrees again on Friday, but the DirecTV people were able to complete the installation, anyway. Good job, guys. One small glitch: Because of the screwy way the rig was wired, the third TV set, the one in the "basement," could not be made independent of the one in the living room. That is, the same show had to be played on both sets. That was
OK with me because I didn't expect to watch the basement TV except for special events, such as the Super Bowl, in which case I'd have it showing on all three sets, anyway.

Because of the power failures, of course, the air conditioning in our trailer was not working well and the place became an oven, so Becky and the dogs hung out outside in whatever shade they could find---and, happily, survived. That night, they all went to bed early due to the exhausting day all had spent.

We had the work done to repair the truck upholstery on Thursday. It turned out OK. Two things didn't turn out so well. First, one of the changes to the new rig we had negotiated was replacing the king-size bed with an RV queen-size bed. (They are 5 inches shorter than regular queens.) The change allows for more room in the bedroom. The dealer took its time locating the appropriate bed and ended up ordering it online, with a five-day delivery time. That meant we couldn't leave the area when we had planned, so we extended our stay and spent the extra time continuing the transfer of our stuff. It was quite a project, but we avoided having to drop off anything in Las Vegas---primarily by donating a lot of stuff to a local charity (Angel View).

The Wheelers were scheduled to leave Monday morning---for points east. We probably won't see them again until September, so we said goodbye Sunday night with a wonderful Chinese dinner at the Emperor Buffet in Indian Wells.

The second thing that didn't work out so well had to do with the magic self-leveling system the new rig had as a major selling point. In short, it didn't work. After several attempts by the dealer to diagnose the problem, it was determined that the computer "brain" needed to be replaced. After some haggling, the dealer agreed to borrow the brain from another new rig. In the process of installing it, the tech realized that the problem was not with the brain but with the fact that two connecting wires had been reversed. Voila! No problem (or so he said). When I still couldn't get it to work, the tech insisted that I was misreading the instructions.

The new bed issue turned out to be a bigger problem than initially thought. The dealer informed me Wednesday morning that the five-day delivery time did not start until the bed was finished (it was a special order due to its being an RV size) and the bed was at least a week away from being finished. That was not acceptable, of course, and, after some heated words, the dealer agreed to deliver the bed to us---wherever we were when it arrived at the dealer---at no charge. In the meantime, we "borrowed" the one from our old rig---simply to be trashed when the new one arrived.

We had predictions of very windy weather the next day, when we were scheduled to leave, so we decided on short notice to head out for Soledad Canyon Wednesday afternoon without further interaction regarding the leveling system. We arrived at the Soledad Canyon Thousand Trails preserve without incident, and settled in to relax for a change.

It was an altogether exciting and fruitful (and expensive) stay in the Palm Springs area.

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