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Monday, March 28, 2016

West... To California In Search of Geodes

Eric has become a rock hound during our stay in western Arizona.  He has been collecting Quartz, Jasper and coarse pieces of Lava during our walks and while golfing at the Quartzsite Golf Course.

It's time for a drive west 
to California to look 
for Geodes.  

Geodes are spherical rocks with hollow cavities that are lined by crystals.  In this part of the country, they are formed by volcanic activity.  A bubble of carbon dioxide and water vapor forms in a volcano's lava flow.  As the molten rock cools, an empty space is left behind.  The dissolved gases cool and form crystals inside the hardened rock.

Eric found a site, east of Blythe, California, that has abundant Geodes.

We follow a dirt road...

.... to Mule Mountains
Long-Term Visitor Area.

A blooming Ocotillo...

I've been looking for this
cactus since the desert
started to flower.

The Hauser Geode Beds
are that-a-way....

We park in the middle of a
rock-strewn volcanic area.

 The Geodes are around here... somewhere.

Eric takes a bucket & rock
hammer & sets off in
 search of Geodes.

Previous visitors have left
evidence of their searches.

Eric picks a spot & digs into the
soft soil with his rock hammer.

I look around on the ground for rocks that look like solid bubbles.

There's an arch up there....

I like finding the unexpected.

Over thousands of years, the
elements hollowed out this

My small collection of 
possible Geodes.

There aren't a lot of rocks that look like bubbles lying around on the ground here.

Eric gathered a bigger, more
varied collection of rocks.

This rock, called a nodule, 
has solid Quartz inside.

My brother, Al, calls this
type of rock a "Thunder Egg."

We can beak open the other stones at another time.

It's time to load up the
Jeep & start our drive
east to Arizona.

Eric stops, one more time, so
I can get another photo of
the Ocotillo in bloom.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Duct Duct WHOOSH!!!

We have a 2004 Winnebago Vectra 40AD Motorhome. This RV has a basement air conditioner. That means that instead of 1, 2 or 3 air conditioners on the roof of the RV, we have 1 huge 2 compressor air conditioner in one of the compartments down below. It is in the compartment at the very rear of the RV on the passenger side. Ours died a year ago or so and was replaced with a brand new unit.

The AC unit is in here on a slide out tray

One thing that is good about the basement air is that it leaves lots of space on the roof for the solar panels. We have 5 panels that are about 2 foot by 4 foot and we have room for a few more, if we ever want them.

The main thing bad about the basement air is that you lose one compartment in the basement that could be additional storage. Another issue is that a LOT of people with basement air have experienced poor cooling when they are in really hot weather in full sun. We have been in the sun on 90 degree days and was only able to get the RV down to the high 80's inside. Think about it. What's your car like when it's sitting in the Walmart parking lot for a couple hours on a sunny hot day? The RV is pretty well insulated and has double pane windows, but it still gets hot fast. On a day like that, it could easily be over 100 degrees in the motorhome. We can open the two roof vents with fans that blow out to get rid of the hot air. That helps a lot, but if we are in a campground with electrical hookups, we run the air conditioning.

I have been researching online to see how others have dealt with the poor cooling of this particular line of RV's and have found that people have solved it mostly by fixing leaks in the duct work. The air conditioner makes the cold air and blows it out into a system of duct work that goes up the rear of the RV behind the rear wall and then splits into a "Y" so it then sends the cold air down 2 lines of 6 vents each for a total of 12 vents mounted in the ceiling of the RV.

This isn't OUR RV but it is a similar model so ours looks like this as far as the ducting is concerned. We don't have a radiator here like this photo shows. Our radiator is on the side of the RV on the drivers side. The area that is leaking is in between the 2 horizontal straps you see near the center of the lower section. This photo is from FIREUP, a very helpful forum poster on His write up is HERE.
There are 12 of these vents on the ceiling. One row of 6 for each of the 2 ducts. The vents have louvers that can be rotated and closed if needed. We close the bedroom ones and close the door during the day to concentrate more air flow to the living area.

Our duct work tape was coming loose in a couple areas. This was allowing a LOT of cold air to escape into the space between the walls. That unsecured duct work is the cold air reaching us inside.

Air was really coming out of here.
My hand is getting COLD!
This area is normally covered by a plate held on with about 10 screws. I had to remove that panel to gain access to the duct. Luckily the area leaking was right there behind this panel otherwise the leak would be really hard to get at.

Herb's is the True Value hardware store in Quartzsite, AZ
This type of aluminum tape was the best thing to use according to the many forum posts I read by others who have done this repair.
The upper right shows the panel that can be removed to gain access to the duct.
Here is the panel after I removed it.
The tape has a backing you must peel off before placing it. After peeling the backing off you have to be careful working with the tape or else you get a sticky tangled mess. 
Had a few of those.
This piece is the typical size of the pieces i was using. Because I was working in a small tight access area I needed to work with these short pieces.
The lower area of the duct had a leak too.
Working my way up the duct one horizontal piece at a time to close the leak in the vertically installed old tape. If the original tape had additional horizontally installed tape this leak probably would not have happened.
Adding another piece. After each piece is placed you rub it smooth. This tape really clings well. The entire area was cleaned with de-greaser first and let dry so
 the new tape would stick better.
As I went up the leak the duct started being more rigid too as the tape was re-enforcing the duct. Like taping a cardboard box for shipping.
Replacing the metal panel (lower left).
The finished project. (Shot from the bottom while lying on the ground facing up) As far as I can see and feel there are no more leaks. There may be leaks way up in the "Y" area of the duct but there's no way to even check that area without removing the entire rear cap of the RV. THAT would be a job for a professional. I'd have THAT done at the Winnebago plant in Iowa if we ever need to.

So the job is done, we start up the generator and the A/C unit and WHOOSH!!! the air coming out of the vents is increased at least 30% form before. Makes sense. Today it got up to 95 degrees F and we got the RV down to 83 inside which, in this dry environment, is very very comfortable. We NEVER got the inside that low on a day as hot as this... NEVER!

I had been toying with the idea of installing one small roof-top A/C unit to augment the main A/C for those occassions that we are having a really hot day. I don't think that will be necessary any more.

I am HAPPY and like Fonzie, we are....... COOL!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Buying Sweet Treats at the Quartzsite Bakery in Quartzsite, Arizona

 Eric & I stopped at the Quartzsite Bakery.

One of the signs says, "Get your buns here."

Decisions.... decisions....

Eric chose a mixed bag of pastries & 
the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.
I chose Cinnamon Rolls.

Sweet, tasty treats...  Yum, yum, yummy!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Sonoran Desert in Western Arizona Becomes More Colorful

While offroading a couple of weeks ago, Candice, Darrell, Eric and I found colorful flowers in the Sonoran Desert.  Spring continues to bloom in Western Arizona.

The desert erupts into shades of yellow.


Their tiny yellow flowers
remind me of stars.

The taller, Palo Verde 
Trees are flowering...

Tiny yellow booms

This Palo Verde Tree is just
starting to flower.

The branches of this tree are
green with chlorophyll.

More small yellow

This is Brittlebush.

This flowering plant grows
at the side of the road.

I think it's Coulter's Globe Mallow.

Its flowers look like
tiny Poppies.

I'm glad that Eric and I stayed in Quartzsite long enough to see the desert bloom.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Using Gravity to Fill the Motorhome's Water Tank

There's more than one way to add jugs of water to our motorhome's water tank.  Two years ago Eric used an electric motor to fill our water tank.  This year is different....

Eric decided to use gravity
to fill the water tank in
our motorhome.

He stacked our camp tables
before putting the 7 gallon
water jug on the top table.

The jug's water spout, with a
shut off valve, is inserted into
the water fill on the passenger
side of the motorhome.

Gravity forces water out of the jug and into the motothome.

Elevating the jug ensures
the last of the water will
run into the motorhome.

This is the simplest, non tech method for adding jugs of water to the motorhome.  

I would use the electric motor, as I am too weak to hoist 56 pounds of water
to a table at shoulder height.