You Know You’re in the Wild West . . .

You know you are in the wild West when you see a sign that says:

Report Shooting From Vehicles

Yup, Dawny and I are back on the road!  We encountered that particular sign in Northern Nevada.  Made both of us chuckle… then peak quickly at our fellow travelers as they drove by…

Just wanted to do a quick post to give an update on what happened with the RV, in case anyone reading encounters a similar problem.

The electrical gremlins that made the dash indicator lights go on and off like crazy and did all sorts of other stuff turned out to be caused by a faulty Smart Junction Box.  This is apparently a smart new name for a vehicle’s fuse box.

The RV shop that we were towed to at first pulled some of the fuse box wires out but could not figure it out.  Plus they were super busy because the Burning Man Festival was starting soon (crazy annual festival in a Northwestern Nevada desert that draws over 50,000 people, many in RVs).  Apparently everybody’s RV was in this shop for a tune-up or something.  So they passed the baton to Ford.

Problem is the local Ford dealer refuses to work on RV’s, so my poor little house had to be towed 20 miles to a more friendly dealership.  None of the Ford diagnostics showed what was wrong, so they ordered this junction box in the hopes that it would fix the problem, which it did.  Thankfully, all the work was under warranty.

Everyone is likely aware of this tip, but just in case it is helpful to anyone, be sure to check your RV and all it’s systems out as thoroughly as possible before pulling off of a lot where it has been repaired.  Even though my issue turned out to be solely with the Ford fuse box, some of the components from the house side of the RV are connected up there, as well.

Before pulling out of the Ford lot I discovered that the back-up camera was not working.  Traveling alone, this camera is critical when I am trying to back into camping spaces (Dawny is a very unreliable spotter).  A couple of techs messed with the wires and could not figure out what was wrong.  I pointed out a video connection wire that was not connected to anything, but they could not find anywhere to plug it in.  They blamed the problem on the RV shop, saying that they must have pulled that wire out, and sent me back there.

Fortunately, Burning Man was in progress so the RV shop had plenty of time to help me out this time.  The tech there said he did not pull that wire out but he was able to fix it (Ford had connected the wrong video feed).  He had to tape it up, though, to make the connection more solid, since things got messed up a bit with all the fiddling around with the wires.

Another lesson I learned was that with a vehicle like this, which has a separate warranty for the chassis (Ford) and another warranty for the “house,” and yet more warranties for each of the systems in that house (refrigerator, generator, water pump, macerator, water heater, furnace, air conditioner, etc.), you need to be as proactive and knowledgable as possible in making sure the work is being done by the right party.  When I am bored enough, I have been reading through all the documentation on the components and systems that came with the RV.  I sure don’t understand a lot of it, but at least it is starting to give me some familiarity and some of it is gradually sinking in.

I also found it helpful to research similar problems on the web, as that is a rich source of information.  It armed me with proper questions and terminology when talking to repair people.  When having these discussions, it is wise to take notes on who is saying what and when, unless you have a mind like a steel trap–unlike mine, a steel sieve–and understand all this stuff inside-out.

Okay, enough of all that!  Bottom line, we had a nice, long stay at our last stop–two weeks longer than planned–and enjoyed every minute of it.  We are slightly smarter about our little house on wheels than we were a few weeks ago.  And we had a wonderful, long, uneventful drive today through the wild, wild West.

A Rough Patch

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, but I think it would have been nice to have happened when my lovely house-on-wheels wasn’t so brand-spankin’ new.  Less than 4,000 miles on it and the electrical system went haywire this week.  Dashboard indicator lights flashing on and off and the engine would not start.  Headlights and turn signals were on, even though they were turned off.  In fact, if you turned the headlight switch to “on,” they would go off.  Gremlins have invaded my house!

Had a tow truck take it to a local RV repair shop, and the tow truck broke down on the way.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  Once we finally got it to the repair shop, they took a look at it and then decided they couldn’t get me out of there fast enough.  Said they were not equipped to deal with the problem.  They actually got it started, but only by disconnecting half of the fuse panel, which meant driving without lights or turn signals.  Tried to talk me into driving it to a Ford dealership to have Ford deal with the problem.  Without turn signals, lights, and who knows what else that had been disconnected.  Hardly legal, and even less wise.

Today my sweet little house is being towed to a Ford dealership about 20 miles south of where I am, who cannot even look at it for a week.  I sure hope the tow-truck doesn’t break down again and that it makes the trip safely.  If I didn’t know that it would do no good, I would worry about it terribly.

So, what are Dawny and I doing without our house?  Well, thankfully this all took place while we were visiting a good friend (actually an ex-husband hahaha).  And thankfully he lives on his own and actually welcomes having company for a stretch of time, even if it’s me!  So I unloaded all of the most critical items from my little house before sending it on its way, entrusting it to Ford’s care.  May that trust be well warranted… and may the work be totally warrantied!

Meanwhile, Dawny is enjoying chasing lizards in a fenced-in back yard.  She still gets lovely morning and evening walks, and she now has an extra person to beg food scraps from.

As for me, I am enjoying showering without striving to do so with under 2.5 gallons of water, having unlimited internet access, and watching lots of movies and sharing much laughter with an old, dear friend.

I suppose for a patch of bad luck, we sure are lucky!

Lively Clouds

I made it a week out on my own!  And only one call back to Phoenix USA with a question about the emergency brake (which I won’t even tell you what it was because it was so basic that you’d fall over flat imagining someone as green as me out here with this beautiful RV).  I’m exceptionally proud tonight because I screwed something up with the water pump when filling my fresh water tank this morning, and I was able to figure out the remedy along with the help of good-fellow-Google.  What did we ever do before Google?

I am finding that I have to concentrate very hard to do all the steps of even the simplest things correctly.  Like when I arrive at a campground with electrical hookups, I need to plug-in first and make sure my surge protector approves of the power source.  At one perfectly lovely campground in Illinois, I had to try four posts before I found one that satisfied my surge guard monitor.  Boy was I sweaty when I finally found a good one, and it didn’t help that at the first one I had already started unpacking and setting things up before realizing the power source was no good and had to move.  Again and again and again.

I am excruciatingly careful with the propane, from the stove to the tank itself (faithfully turning it off when I fuel up), and mentally following all these steps that are so foreign to me.  I am becoming attuned to the finer points of balancing how quickly my gray and black tanks fill up and how fast my fresh water gets used.  I am becoming a gourmet cook (at least my hungry tummy thinks so) using the simplest and most basic ingredients.  I am listening to my body’s timetable for important events (sleep, wake, potty breaks) rather than dictating to my body.

I have discovered that sweat is not a dirty word.  Nor is wearing a shirt for more than a day or pants until they cross the line on their own two legs.  I have found that I can dry myself off after a shower with a simple washcloth, and that big pink towel I brought (and forgot to bring to the campground shower facility) was superfluous.  (So much for any friends/family who read this inviting me to stay with them for a spell!)

Most wonderfully, I have been introduced to the most lively clouds I have ever seen.  For two days now, while driving through Arkansas, I have enjoyed a magnificent display of white on blue as far as the eye can see.  Ever-changing shapes bring back memories of children’s games of I-Spy in the clouds…  Turtle-gator!  Pikachu!  Armadillo!  Tasmanian-devil-twirling-with-Caspar-the-friendly-ghost!

As for Dawny, she is looking happier each day.  She is starting to relax and sleep when we are on a long-drive day.  Her campground leash allows her movement within our campsite without being tethered to me.  We have had campsites where she can sit and just stare into the forest, study the little creek that runs behind our site, and dream of who-knows-what.

Perhaps she is concentrating on her own steps that are so new to her, like not barking at or chasing any animal, stopping and quietly appreciating the deer we often see on our morning walks, walking at a reasonable pace so that we make it back, and stopping to ponder those shifting shapes up in the sky…   Doggie cookies!  Chipmunk-Squirrel running up a tree!  More doggie cookies!  Buster flying through the air after a tennis ball!

Who would ever have guessed the sky was that big?

(Above photo taken at Ferne Clyffe State Park in Southern Illinois.)