Tag Archives: Arizona

Back at the “Dirt Farm” (Casa Grande, AZ)

Author’s Note:  Some of you readers that are also my “Friends” on Facebook® may wonder what we’re doing in Casa Grande when my last Facebook “Check-In” was in California… well, the fact is; I’m still behind on the blog because I continue to have picture download issues to my laptop.  The screen will go blank all of a sudden and all I can do is restart the laptop!  It seems to happen most often when I upload pictures from my iPhone… possibly a memory problem or maybe a video driver?!?  I stopped trying to download pics directly from my iPhone to the laptop because if it freezes during the process, I then have to do a time-consuming rebuild of my iPhoto application (i.e., all the pics on my laptop), and that’s no fun 🙁  So as a result, I paid a little extra ($.99 per mo) to increase my iCloud space and have been letting my pictures on the iPhone upload automatically.  Well, that’s fine except now my iPhone uses a lot of data uploading to iCloud and then when I want to do a blog post I then still have to expend even more data downloading from the iCloud to the laptop which turns out to be another long convoluted process that is also dependent on good internet connectivity.  Today (8 Nov) as I write this post, I just recovered once again from having the laptop freeze up on me, but this time it froze up  while downloading pics from iCloud!  Aaaargh!  We will travel to San Jose today and I will try to get the laptop fixed (a 15″ mid-2010 MacBook Pro; 2.66 GHz Intel Core i7 processor; 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 memory; 500 GB DATA Hard Disk Drive; running Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5).  If I can’t get it fixed, I’ll maybe look at “biting-the-bullet” and purchase a new one.  Anyone looking for a used laptop?  🙂

We left the Emerald Cove Resort on the 10th of October and made it back to Casa Grande on the same day.  A ~200 mile travel day.  We parked in front of my Mom’s house at the “Dirt Farm”.  My brother Steve & Cheryl also have a house here on the ~5 acre farm.  As I’ve mentioned before –  the term “Dirt Farm” is the name they gave the place, not mine… kind of a term of endearment or nickname.

The Urban Escape Vehicle at the “Dirt Farm” in Casa Grande, AZ.

You may recall from my last post I mentioned my Mom was in the hospital but is back home now and doing better every day.  We’re all thankful for that 🙂

Some of you have asked about our little dog “Coach”.  He’s doing fine as you can see in the picture below where you see him checking out his old favorite spot by the window on the back of the couch in the coach.  How do you like that play on words?  Life on the “dirt farm” appears to agree with him and Mom keeps him shaved so he stays cool in the hot Arizona sun.

Little Coach checking out the Couch in the Coach.

We settled in at the “dirt farm” and helped out around the place as needed.  Stilla always enjoys cooking meals in the kitchen as opposed to the Coach.

Brother Steve and stepdad Jim working on yet another project around the “dirt farm”.
Mom and Stilla keeping an eye on the many chickens that have the run of the “dirt farm”.

Soon after arriving we got to spend a day helping to round up some of the roosters running around the farm so they could be harvested, cleaned, and made ready for the fryer.

Brother Steven and stepdad Jimmy chasing down some roosters at the “dirt farm”.
Mom getting ready to put some chickens in the pot and freezer.

We also spent a few days helping brother Steve & Cheryl shop for a new motorhome.  We made a number of trips to Phoenix and toured dealerships.  They finally decided on a Super C to replace their older model Class C.  We didn’t get to see the new motorhome in person yet because we left just before they picked it up.

We also spent a few days cleaning up and detailing the travel trailer that I bought for my oldest daughter when she moved (←link) to Phoenix from Colorado Springs.  Sorry, no pics… I was downloading them at the time my laptop froze up again.  Maybe later…

Typical Arizona sunset in Casa Grande.

As always, we enjoyed our time (~15 days) staying with family in Casa Grande, but the next Alpine Coach Rally is scheduled to begin on 31 October, so we said our ‘see-ya-laters’ and left the “dirt farm” on 26 October to make our way.

My next post will cover our travel to the rally located in San Juan Bautista (near Monterey, CA)… stay tuned 🙂

A Little River Time & Some Off-Road Fun (Parker Strip, AZ)

We left the Elks Lodge in Lake Havasu on 5 October and headed south on 95 to Parker, AZ where we drove across the Colorado River to the California side.  A whopping 50 mile travel day.


After crossing the river we immediately turned north on Parker Dam Road until we reached the Emerald Cove Resort (←link).  Click HERE for a virtual tour.


We knew about this place because a good friend from the Alpine Coach Association is a member of the resort and we visited him briefly earlier this year (February) when we stayed across the river at La Paz County Park.  Link HERE for a link to that post where I also wrote about Chris leading us on an off-road trip to the Desert Bar on our ATV’s.

Our “true” pull-thru and full hook-up site at Emerald Cove Resort (below).



We downloaded the scooter but never disconnected the Silverado during our 5 day, 4 night stay.  And since we were “guests” of an existing member, we only paid $10 per night.  Can’t beat that, eh?


Our “host” and fellow Alpine Coach Owner, Chris Cratch was parked in the next row directly behind our site (below).  So we naturally spent a lot of time hanging out together and socializing.  Chris’s wife Sonja was off visiting family so we didn’t get to see her this time.

Our friend, and fellow Alpine Coach Owner’s site at Emerald Cove Resort near Parker, AZ but on the CA side of the Colorado River.

It’s clearly still early in the season as evidenced by all the empty sites (below).  Many of the “snowbirds” are yet to arrive.


Some of the full-time residents (aka mules) have the run of the resort as you can see from the pics below:




Stilla posed for a photo op located near the Tiki Bar and swimming pool here at Emerald Cove (below).


Here’s some views of the Colorado River here at the Emerald Cove Resort:




One day, we rode the scooter up to the Parker Dam.  After crossing the Dam, we rode south along 95 back into the town of Parker and then crossed again to the California side, effectively completing a big loop.  Fun!


Chris got his pontoon boat back from being serviced, so we naturally had to help him get it into the water and he took us on a “shake-down” cruise:




Lunch on the river at the Blue Water Casino after docking at their riverside bar & grill (below).


Here’s some more pics we took from the couple times that Chris took us up and down the Colorado River on his pontoon boat while we stayed at the Emerald Cove Resort:

We had to watch out for the many folks that were water skiing or inner-tubing behind boats on the river.
One of many RV and mobile home resorts along the Colorado River here on the Parker Strip.
View of some of the riverfront homes along the Colorado River here on the Parker Strip.




Notice the camel and zebra in someone’s riverfront yard (below).


Back at the RV Resort, I flagged down the ShadePro® awning service guy and arranged to finally have some sun screens made and installed for the front windows.  We decided we needed the external shades after two+ months facing the sun while parked at dear daughter’s house in Bowling Green, KY.  We already have a couple internal sun shade screens that we put up on the inside of the windshield with suction cups along with some (cut-to-size) silver insulation material, but it still gets hot (greenhouse effect) when the sun shines most of the day on the front windows.  The external sun shades are the way to go, but are certainly not cheap.  We paid $450 to cover the windshield, drivers side window, door, and passenger side window.




Chris also had his Polaris Razor® side-by-side here with him at the resort and invited us to go off-roading.  Stilla wasn’t interested this time and didn’t want to go through the effort of downloading our ATV from the back of the Silverado, so I jumped in with Chris and off we went for the day.  He even let me drive for part of the trip.

Chris Cratch in front of his Polaris Razor®.

Here’s some pics (below) from our day trip on the trails in the California desert west of the Colorado River:


Lots of really cool rock formations and trails to explore…





We checked out an old abandoned mine site.  Lots of old core samples still sit in the broken down buildings (below).




More awesome views…


and another old abandoned mining building.


We even came across what was left of an old car…


I tried to identify the make and model, but couldn’t quite make it out.  What do you think?  An old Ford Falcon maybe?



A couple more abandoned mines:





The following pic shows a trail leading up to a memorial…


It seems that a young kid lost his life here and the family has made and continue to maintain a pathway to a memorial of sorts…





View from the mountain top memorial site for “Jeremy”.


A couple more scenic California desert views:



On October 8th we attended an Octoberfest party that the Emerald Cove Resort put together in an open area next to the river:

Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.
Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.
Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.
Octoberfest at Emerald Cove Resort.

Naturally, with Stilla being German, and with myself having spent many years stationed in Germany, we are pretty critical of Octoberfest type events… so we’d rate this one rather low.  But, it was still fun once we got past the undercooked bratwurst and sauerkraut from a can.  The live band was good 🙂

On the 9th of October we said our ‘see-ya-laters’ to Chris and thanked him for allowing us to join him as his guest at this fine member-only resort.  We headed straight back to my Mom’s house at the “Dirt Farm” in Casa Grande, AZ.  We got word that my Mom was admitted to the hospital to have her gall bladder removed.  Thankfully, she’s doing fine and was released from the hospital but we wanted to get back and help out as we could.

Check back for an update on our time at the “Dirt Farm” in my next travel blog post coming soon…


A Little Lake Time (Lake Havasu City, AZ)

After the Pahrump Rally was over (3 October), we headed back towards Las Vegas but instead of going south by Hoover Dam on 93, we took Hwy 95 towards Needles but then turned on NV-163 to Lauglin / Bullhead City.

In Bullhead City we stopped to visit good friends and fellow Alpine Coach Owners John & Lorraine Foster.

(L to R) Lorraine, John, and Stilla in Bullhead City.

John & Lorraine are some of the nicest people you could ever meet and we like to consider them close friends.  Lorraine is also one of our current newsletter editors for the Matterhorn, our Alpine SoCal Chapter quarterly update on all things going on in our 74 member-strong club.

In Bullhead City we parked in a Lowe’s® parking lot where John & Lorraine met us.  They took us over to their nice Condo on the Colorado River just across the street where we got caught up and enjoyed each others company for a short while.  They weren’t able to attend our most recent rally in Pahrump, so it has been awhile since we last got together.  Thanks for the hospitality John & Lorraine!  Hope to see you guys at the next rally 🙂

From Bullhead City we continued south to Needles where we got on I-40 east…


until we reached the exit to Lake Havasu where we went south on 95 to Lake Havasu City.




After filling up the Urban Escape Vehicle at the Pilot/Flying J on the corner of I-40 and Hwy 95 (64 gallons for $176.25) we found the Lake Havasu Elks Lodge.  We’ve been here before for dinner, which is always fantastic, but had never parked in their RV lot which had been recently remodeled and upgraded.

The Urban Escape Vehicle at the Lake Havasu Elks Lodge.
View from our spot at the Havasu Elks Lodge with the lake in the background. Notice the huge Elk sculpture at the entrance in the center of the photo.

The new upgrades to the RV parking area at the Elks Lodge also came with an upgraded price – it is currently $25 per night for full hook-ups.  We paid for two nights (arrived 3 October, left on the 5th).

We pulled into the RV lot and got set up with barely enough time to make the spaghetti dinner.  We were the last people to be served an awesome spaghetti dinner complete with margaritas for only $21 🙂

We spent Tuesday, the 4th of October, tooling around Lake Havasu on the scooter.  We went out on the man-made island across the London Bridge and did the loop while we checked out some of the RV Resorts for future reference.





There was a Jet Ski competition going on while we were in Lake Havasu.  The quakysense® World Finals (←link).  We were fascinated with the acrobatic and underwater stunts performed by some of the Jet Ski drivers we had the opportunity to watch practice (below).


We also visited the London Bridge and browsed through the Visitors Center/Museum (←link) located in English Village.  If you haven’t been here before, it’s a must-see.  And the pedestrian zone under the bridge is chock-full of shops to wander around in.  The ice cream is pretty good too 🙂



The famous London Bridge in Lake Havasu, AZ.

Stay with me for my next post as I continue to play “catch-up” on the travel blog with my laptop and photo download issues…  maybe I can get a new laptop soon.

On the Road Again (Finally!) – (Benson, AZ)

Around mid-day on Monday, we said our goodbyes to my mom, stepdad Jim, brother Steve & Cheryl and headed south on I-10 towards Tucson after hooking up the Silverado.  For those of you wondering about our little dog “Coach”… well, we also said goodbye to him since mom stole (er, I mean adopted) him.  He’s quite happy in the air  conditioning at the “dirt farm” and really likes all his chicken “friends” 🙂

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After traveling about 120 miles, we decided to stay overnight at the Escapees Park in Benson, AZ.  We paid $22.31 for one night with full hookups.  Electricity is metered and ended up costing us an additional $4.21 at checkout.  We’ve stayed at the SKP Saguaro Co-op before back in April 2015. Click HERE for that posting.  This is a nice jumping off spot for anyone wanting to visit Kartchner Caverns, Tombstone, or Bisbee AZ.  Click on the active links to check out my previous posts on those local attractions.

Our site at the Escapee (SKP) Saguaro Co-op Park in Benson, AZ.

Not a whole lot has changed here since our week-long stay last year.  Although, we did notice a new covered pavilion had been built inside the cactus garden on the west side of the park and also a pretty cool looking water fountain outside the community building (below).


We had a nice evening stroll around the park under slightly overcast skies.  It’s definitely much cooler here than back at Casa Grande where we’ve had a week of scorching hot temperatures.  As a matter of fact we even drove through a brief micro-burst rain storm just after Tucson… the first rain we’ve seen in months.  Just enough rain to get the Urban Escape Vehicle all dirty 🙁

We made plans to visit an old Army buddy in Las Cruces, NM tomorrow.  So check back for a new travel update coming soon…


Hanging Out at the “Dirt Farm” and a Few Projects (Casa Grande, AZ)

I know, I know… this is a long overdue blog post, but there just hasn’t been much to write about since we’re parked in one spot for so long.  Let me bring you up to date on a few of our activities this past month:

After we got our daughter and grandson settled in their new RV park in Tempe, we moved down to my Mom, Stepdad, brother Steve & Cheryl’s place in Casa Grande.  You can’t beat the monthly “moochdocking” rate here, especially with 50 amp hookups.  Thanks Ma, Jimmy, Steve & Cheryl!  We’ve been here since the beginning of June and have just been hanging out.  I took care of a couple medical appointments with the VA here and we watched our grandson for a while during his summer break from school.  Otherwise, we just stayed out of the heat as much as possible and helped out around the house a little.

We might have to rethink our nickname “dirt farm” for the homestead here since my mom has gotten even more chickens; over two dozen now.  I’m thinking “chicken farm” would be more appropriate… what do you think?

Pic of Mom’s latest baby chicks before joining the general chicken population.

Just before we moved from our RV park in Glendale to the Casa Grande “dirt farm”, we enjoyed the hospitality of my mom’s sister who lives north of Phoenix in Sun City Grand.

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Grandson Kaan is a good golf cart driver.
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Awesome meal courtesy of Aunt Kathy.

Aunt Kathy showed us her latest upgrade to the house.  She had the entire wall remodeled with shelves and brickwork where there used to be a wooden wall unit/entertainment center.  Looks nice Auntie!

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Aunt Kathy often watches dogs (dog-sitting) for friends and neighbors.  She had three that we took out for a walk once the sun started going down and it cooled off a bit.

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Aunt Kathy, Kaan, Jenny, Stilla in Sun City Grand.

Around the 11th of June, we went out to Macayo’s for my stepdad’s 70th birthday.  Happy birthday Jimmy!

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(L to R) Stilla, grandson Kaan, brother Steve & Cheryl.

Jim got a rather appropriate gift (below) that alludes to mom’s chicken farm  venture.

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Jim & Mom. Happy 70th Jimmy!

I also used the time parked in Casa Grande to take care of a few more little projects.  One was to beef up the drawer slide supports under the rear closet.

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The metal drawer slides have plastic mounts that screw to the back wall boards.  Over time these plastic pieces start cracking and break from the large amount of weight we pile into the drawers.  I’ve replaced a couple of these supports before but this time I decided to ‘beef’ them up to keep this from happening in the future.

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It was nice to have access to all the power tools and wood scraps here at the “dirt farm”.  I cut some wood strips to just the right size to support the mounting bracket(s).  I cut one to support the plastic piece that screws to the back wall and another to support the plastic channel that the metal slide rides in.  These are rock solid now and will probably outlast the coach.

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Another project was to do something about the middle clothes rod support in our closet.  The original middle support was kind of wimpy and was only attached to the ceiling.  It was coming loose from all the weight of our full-timing clothes and my temporary fix was to put a ratcheting cargo bar in place between the floor and the bar.  I decided to replace my temporary ‘fix’ with a 4′ board and use the floor for support since my cargo bar was kind of tacky 🙂  I can safely assume this is a common issue in Alpine coaches with the rear closet because I saw a similar fix in another Alpine or maybe it was a factory fix that was done on coaches after my model year.  So I just copied what I remembered seeing and found an appropriate wood plank at Home Depot™ that I cut, stained, and drilled to fit.

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I forgot to take a picture of the original support, but it was just a 6″ piece of wood with a hole drilled in it for the bar and it was sandwiched between the small strips of wood (at the top of the picture below) that were screwed into the ceiling.

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This clothes bar will hold some serious weight now.  Time to go buy more clothes 🙂

Before we left Casa Grande we took a trip back up to Tempe and replaced the tires on Jenny’s travel trailer so it’s safe to move should the need arise while we’re gone.  I cleaned and stored the Harley because we decided to take the ATV (quad) with us in the back of the pickup for the next phase of our travels.  See ya later Harley.


Anyway, it’s been great hanging out with family but it’s time to hit the road again.  Our youngest daughter Joleen recently moved from Colorado Springs, CO to Bowling Green, KY with her fiancé.  They just got a house and have been talking about needing some help renovating.  Hopefully she’ll have 50 amp hookups installed by the time we arrive… but we’re not in too much of a hurry.  We’ll take the leisurely route to get there and hopefully get to see some old friends and new sites.

Stay tuned…

Phoenix Day-Trips [Part 2 of 2] (Triple “T” RV & Mobile Home Park, Glendale AZ)

As promised, here’s part 2 to finish off my last post that details some of the day trips we’ve taken while parked here in Glendale, AZ at the Triple “T” RV & Mobile Home Park.

So, to continue where I left off… Yet another day-trip we recently took (just Stilla & I) – was over to Carefree, and Cave Creek, AZ.  These two towns are situated right next to each other northeast of Phoenix in the foothills of Black Mountain, Skull Mesa and Elephant Butte.  We heard that the town of Carefree was having a sand and stone exhibit at the Carefree Desert Gardens.

We expected a dedicated desert garden with its own parking lot and entrance fees like we’ve seen in Tucson and other places, but found that the Carefree Desert Gardens are really just part of the town-center.  There’s no entrance fee and it is surrounded by numerous businesses, cafe’s, and restaurants… even a post office.

Carefree Desert Gardens sign and water feature..

The Carefree Desert Gardens sign serves double-duty as a water feature and fountain:

Carefree Desert Garden sign/fountain.
Carefree Desert Garden sign/fountain.
Carefree Desert Garden sign/fountain.
Carefree Desert Gardens walking tour map courtesy of the carefree.org website.

In the Desert Garden Center pavilion, we found one of the sand sculptures currently under construction.  Read up on the artist Ray Villafane by clicking HERE.

“Elephant playing chess with a field mouse” sand sculpture by Ray Villafane and Sue  Beatrice.
Informational placard on the sand sculptures and artist.
What awesome detail on this work-in-progress.

The artist had a completed sand sculpture located in a different section of the Carefree Desert Gardens (below).


We were amazed at the patience and perseverance that Ray must have to get these rocks to balance (below).


Balanced rock sculpture by Ray Villafane. If the wind picks up, Ray has to start all over again.

No wires, glue or anything other than gravity… amazing!


We wandered around the gardens and took a few photos.  Follow along:




I read that only 1 out of 20,000 Saguaros have this fanlike or lumpy top, called a crested saguaro. (above & below).





After we had our fill of the desert gardens, we walked through several of the adjacent shops at the Carefree town center and browsed around.  Then we took the short drive over to the town of Cave Creek and had a nice lunch at the Horny Toad restaurant.  Their website says this about the place: “The Horny Toad restaurant is the oldest, original restaurant in Cave Creek, Arizona and has been the location for many “Old West” movies and photo shoots. Enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran desert as you dine from the expanded patio or experience the multiple interior dining rooms and Saloon.”  Our fellow Alpine friends Noel & Carol Peck and Jack & Linda Giddens told us about this interesting and unique place.  The fried chicken & rib lunch special was awesome 🙂

Cave Creek reminded me of Sturgis SD with several biker saloons and motorcycle related venues throughout town.  It’s a popular riding destination for locals and even not-so-locals.  We even stopped to check out the local Harley dealership, Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson®.

Local  rock formation feature between Carefree and Cave Creek.  Appropriately named at RoadTrippers.com

While driving around Cave Creek we stopped at the Town Dump “one of the world’s most unusual stores” as their sign above the entrance claims.  Anyone who has driven through Cave Creek, probably noticed the large assortment of garden ornaments, sculptures, pottery, rustic antiques, etc., situated in the large open-air shop and courtyards alongside main street.

I tested out a rather unique bar stool at “The Town Dump”, Cave Creek AZ.

Regarding the town of Cave Creek:  I pulled the following description from the Cave Creek Visitors Guide website:  “The numerous saloons in Cave Creek thrive on activity as establishments such as Harold’s and the Buffalo Chip, and offer almost nightly events from live bands, poker tournaments, trivia, and charity casino events – all with a wild western flair and small town hospitality. The crowds are diverse with visitors and residents alike enjoying all that is unique in Cave Creek. Other notable eateries in Cave Creek include Rancho Manana’s Tonto Bar and Grill which is part of the well known Rancho Manana Golf Club and Resort. Tonto is located in an original building from the 1940’s Rancho Manana Dude Ranch. During much of the year, the large, partially covered patio is nearly always full during lunch and dinner as the views are as good as the food. The owner’s of Tonto also operate the highly rated Cartwrights on Saguaro Hill located just a mile or so down Cave Creek Road. The Horny Toad Restaurant has some of the country’s best fried Chicken while the nearby Indian Village boasts some of the worlds best tacos although El Encanto Mexican Restaurant are mighty delicious as well and offer a unique patio surrounding a small pond with lots of ducks and turtles. The Cave Creek Smokehouse is popular as well located in Frontier Town as well as nearby Big Earls Greasy Eats.

On the way back home to our RV & Mobile Home Park in Glendale, I just had to stop at Desert Valley Auto Parts (DVAP) located in Deer Valley north of Phoenix.  Some of my readers may recognize the name from the reality TV show “Desert Car Kings” which aired on the Discovery Channel® in 2011.  I think it only ran for one season but reruns are currently shown on the Velocity Channel®.

Per my bloggers’ friend Wikipedia.com® and the DVAP website: “Desert Valley Auto Parts is the legendary treasure trove of classic cars (and parts) from the 1940′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s and a few 80′s thrown in the mix for good measure.  Over 10,000 classic cars located on 100 acres of dry Arizona land.”  Don’t forget to check out the YouTube® video on the DVAP homepage.

The Desert Valley Auto Parts office building.


We walked into the DVAP office and talked to one of the friendly guys behind the counter.  They normally charge $2 to tour the yard.  He told us that people come to visit from all over the world due to the publicity from the TV reality show.  He just asked us to sign-in and let us roam the yard at our leisure with no charge.  Pretty cool!  Although, I don’t think Stilla was as impressed as I was 🙂


Here’s a ’57 Chevy waiting for someone to restore.  It needs just a little work 🙂 (below).


It was almost painful (to me) to see a ’57 Chevy in this condition.


Some of you readers may remember our ’57 Chevy 2dr Bel-Air that we sold before we started full-timing (below).  I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to add an old picture here.  I kind of miss her 🙁

Old photo (circa 2012) of our mostly-original ’57 Chevy Bel-Air 2dr hdtp at the GoodGuys Car Show in Loveland, CO.

Rows and rows of classic cars… my idea of a fun time 🙂



There was some activity going on in the yard (see crane in action below) and what I think was a hollywood movie-set trailer.  The nice guy we talked to at the office shared with us that DVAP was going to be the location of some scenes for a popular movie sequel (to remain unnamed at this time) in case of liability.


Back at the Triple “T” RV & Mobile Home Park we finally got to enjoy the pool which has been closed for repairs since we got here.

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Kaan & I enjoying some cool-down time at the RV park pool.

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And finally, one last day-trip update:  Just the other day we stopped by Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza while we were out driving around.  We’ve been doing a little geocaching with our grandson Kaan lately and ended up driving around downtown Phoenix.

Korean War Memorial at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza.
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David & Stilla in front of the Korean War memorial at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza.

Much like the National Mall on which it is loosely based, the Legislative Governmental Mall aka Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza is intended as an open-air public space featuring monuments, memorials and gardens. Some of these monuments were erected prior to the inception of the Plaza, such as the monument to the USS Arizona which was dedicated over a year earlier on December 7, 1976. The Plaza, when dedicated, included these existing memorials and all subsequent memorials have been located within the boundaries of the plaza. Ref. Wikipedia®

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Again, I referenced wikipedia® for a good description:  The plaza is home to 30 memorials dedicated to topics including important individuals, organizations, and events.  Among the more prominent are the mast and anchor of the USS Arizona, memorials to major wars such as WWI, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and Desert Storm, and America’s first monument of the Bill of Rights.

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Jenny, Kaan, and Stilla at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza in downtown Phoenix.
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Arizona’s WWII Memorial placard for the USS Arizona which was sunk by the Japanese in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
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USS Missouri informational placard.  Site of the Japanese surrender on Sept 2, 1945.
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USS Arizona informational placard.
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USS Arizona signal mast and memorial.

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Here’s more photos we took of some of the fine memorials in this awesome and thought-provoking memorial plaza:  A must-see if you’re in downtown Phoenix!

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USS Arizona anchor memorial.
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Jenny & Kaan in front of the Wesley Bolin memorial.
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Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
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WWII and Combat Veterans memorials.
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Tribute memorial to the WWII Code Talkers.
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Enduring Freedom  memorial.
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Arizona Peace Officers Memorial.

And that’s all for now folks!  We reserved a site for Jenny’s trailer at an RV park in Tempe beginning on the 27th of May.  She’ll be closer to her job there.  I’ll move her over there at that time and we’ll probably relocate the Urban Escape Vehicle back down to the “dirt farm” in Casa Grande for a quick visit.  We can’t beat the moochdocking rates there 🙂  We’re thinking of taking Kaan along with us again for some of his summer break… check back soon to see what we get into and/or where we end up 🙂



Phoenix Day-Trips [Part 1 of 2] (Triple “T” RV & Mobile Home Park, Glendale AZ)

I’m finding it hard to keep the travel journal (blog) updated when we’re sitting in one spot for so long.  There’s just not much going on here at the Triple “T” RV & Mobile Home Park where we’ve been parked since returning from Newport Dunes, CA.  We paid the pretty reasonable monthly rate of $417 (+ electric fees TBD) and have been basically just sitting here helping out our daughter Jennifer and grandson Kaan while they slowly get settled here in Phoenix.  Jenny goes to work pretty much every day while Kaan attends school (3rd grade) at a public charter.

One highlight of our stay here was moving sites.  We moved from our original site, that was slightly behind Jenny & Kaan’s travel trailer, to a newly-vacated spot right next to them.  The Urban Escape Vehicle was facing southwest, and now we’re facing northeast which is a little easier on the electronics in the front cap due to the intense Arizona sun.  At least, I think it’s easier on the electronics e.g., DVR Receiver, Blu-Ray® player surround-sound system, Satellite Dish controller, etc., because now we only have the morning sun shining on the front of the coach as opposed to the intense mid-day and all afternoon/evening sun.  The front windshield sure generates a lot of heat from the sun in a “green-house effect” kind of way and the air conditioners have been getting quite a workout while the recent daytime-high temps here reach 100°.  We did purchase a roll of the silver reflective insulating material from a local RV store that we put on the inside of the windshield along with our existing sunscreen material… it certainly seems to help.  I’ve been thinking of getting the sunscreen material that goes on the outside of the windshield, but to do that – I have to  have it professionally fitted and fasteners have to be installed.  Maybe I’ll check into that at the next large rally we attend where there’s lots of vendors.  The see-thru sunshade material we currently have is two-piece and uses suction cups to hold to the inside of the windshield.

The Urban Escape Vehicle parked next to Jenny & Kaan’s travel trailer at Triple-T RV & Mobile Home Park in Glendale, AZ.


On one or two of the rare “not-so-sunny” days, I’ve been able to get a few general maintenance items accomplished;  I’ve washed the vehicles, gotten the propane tanks filled, replaced the plastic motion-sensor windows on our outside “scare” lights and even installed new LED marker lights in the rear spoiler that finally arrived from etrailer.com.


Rear of Jenny’s trailer with the UEV parked next door in the background.
Installing new LED marker lights in the rear spoiler on the UEV.


Of course, no job is ever easy (at least for me)… the LED lights required some work to get installed into the rear spoiler.  I had to enlarge the center hole for each marker light on the spoiler because the new lights had a larger diameter center section where the bulb sits and the wires come out the back.  I used a small grinder bit attached to a drill to make each hole large enough to mount the new lights.  The new lights look good and nicely complement the recently re-fastened spoiler that I wrote about HERE.

We have also done a few day-trips while parked here in Glendale.   We can’t always sit around the RV park, right?   One day, we drove down to the “dirt farm” in Casa Grande to visit my mom, stepdad, brother Steve & Cheryl.  Our little dog “Coach” is doing just fine since mom stole, (I mean adopted), him 🙂

Fur-less Coach.


His fur is growing back after the buzz cut mom gave him a while ago.

Coach’s favorite squeaky toy is still squeaking away after several years.


Mom showed off her new brood of chicks.  If she keeps this up, we’ll have to rename the place to “chicken farm” 🙂  Right Ma?


Ma with one of her new chickens.


On another weekday outing, we drove over to nearby Westgate Entertainment District for the weekly Bike Night held every Thursday.  You may recall that we attended a car show here a little while back that I think I posted on Facebook.  The Westgate Entertainment District is a pretty cool place to hang out with lots of good restaurants.  And who doesn’t like a car or motorcycle show…



There were lots of nice rides to check out.



Of course, we had to check out the Indian® Motorcycle stand to see the latest.  Stilla’s brother Ludwig in Germany is now an official Indian® dealer (←link here) since the beginning of this year and although I’m a Harley guy, It’s fun to keep track of the competition.



This dog with goggles got a lot of attention.


On yet another day-trip, Stilla & I drove the Silverado over to White Tank Mountain Regional Park.  I heard they had a campground here that I wanted to check out for future reference.


The freestanding, deeply serrated, 4000-foot-high White Tank Mountains separate the Phoenix Basin of the Salt River Valley from the Hassayampa Plain.  Floodwaters have scoured out a series of depressions, or “tanks,” in the white granite rock, thus the name of the mountains.

White Tank Mountain Visitor Center.


We stopped at the Visitor Center located just outside the entrance gate.  The Nature Center seemed to double as a library and also had several desert creatures; snakes, tarantulas, scorpions, etc., on display in terrariums.  There was also an alleged desert turtle in an outside enclosure, but it must have been out on a hike because we couldn’t find it.  After paying our $6 entrance fee, we drove into the park and found the campground.


There were only a few rigs parked at the campground.  I think everyone with any good sense has already headed north to cooler weather.

Family campground loop at White Tank Mountain Regional Park.


According to a flyer I picked up at the Visitors Center, the campground boasts 40 campsites with tables, grills, fire ring, water, and 30 and 50 amp hookups.  Restrooms and showers are onsite with a Dump station located nearby. Click HERE for campsite rates and information.

Family campground loop at White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
The camp host had a covered site to park his rig under.


We did a quick drive-thru of the campground loop and took some pics (above).  Then we exited the campground and drove around the regional park to check out the scenery.  Many of the Saguaro cacti are about to bloom…



The park has a huge number of picnic areas and parking areas at the various trailheads.  Click HERE for loop drive and trail map.  We stopped briefly at a few of them to check things out but decided it was too hot for hiking.


I thought I’d call this one “mustache cactus”.
The park even has a covered playground.
Typical day-use picnic area at White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
Typical trailhead sign (one of many) at White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
Multiple long straight arms on this Saguaro.


We finished our drive and passed the Nature Center/Library again on our way back out of the park (below).

Back-side view of the Nature Center/Library.


One weekend outing found us heading over to Saguaro Lake located 41 miles northeast of downtown Phoenix.  The reservoir was created by the construction of Stewart Mountain Dam.  Saguaro del Norte Recreation site is near the dam and includes the Saguaro Lake Marina (which includes a restaurant and boat concession), a Maricopa County Sheriff’s aid station, picnic tables, restrooms and boat ramps.  Butcher Jones Beach, which can be reached by a road a few miles north of Saguaro del Norte, features swimming, picnic and restroom facilities.

The drive across Phoenix from the west to east was (as usual) laden with heavy traffic, but once you get on the N Usery Pass Rd and then N Bush Hwy the scenery is awesome.

Highway to Saguaro Lake from Phoenix.
Highway between Phoenix and Saguaro Lake.


Saguaro Lake is within Tonto National Forest and as such had a day-use fee.  However, while we were checking out the signs at the entrance guard shack that was unmanned, a park ranger drove up next to us.  He told us I could display my lifetime disabled veteran national park pass on the dash.  We checked out the marina area after finally finding a parking spot at this (clearly) popular weekend destination.

One of the fishing docks at Saguaro Lake near the marina.
Stilla, Jenny, and Kaan checking out one of the docks at Saguaro Lake.


Since there was only limited beach access near the marina, we drove a few miles north on N Bush Hwy to E Butcher Jones Beach Rd.  We saw the signs for a swimming/recreation area on the northeast corner of the lake.

As you can see from the pictures (below), the beach was certainly crowded on this weekend.

View of Saguaro Lake at Butcher Jones Recreation area.
Jenny and Kaan on the beach (Saguaro Lake, Butcher Jones Recreation Area).
Stilla and I hanging at the beach in the shade (Saguaro Lake, Butcher Jones Beach).
View from parking area towards Butcher Jones Beach.


In addition to lots of people, there were also a lot of wild horses in-and-around the beach and parking lot area.


I found a local news article on the wild horses.  Environmentalists say the Salt RIver horses are destroying habitat, (link HERE).   We thought it was pretty cool to see so many wild horses up close and took a few pictures (below).

Wild horses at Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Saguaro Lake.
Wild horses at Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Saguaro Lake.
Wild horses at Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Saguaro Lake.
Wild horses at Butcher Jones Recreation Area, Saguaro Lake.


After hanging at the beach most of the day, we headed back towards Phoenix while stopping at some the other recreation area pullouts that we had passed earlier along the way to the lake.  Most of these areas provide access to the Salt River.  One of the areas had a big business booming by renting inner tubes to float down the Salt River.  (link HERE).  At Phon D Sutton we checked out the meager camping opportunities – basically dry camping in a parking lot.  Don’t think we’ll come back here with the Urban Escape Vehicle.  At one of the parking areas, we caught this picture of a roadrunner (below).

Roadrunner: (Geococcyx californianus) per wikipedia®


And at another parking area that provided beach access to the Salt River… I was walking along the pathway when I heard a rattlesnake rattle.  Startled, I jumped to the side away from the noise and then saw the source (below).  Good thing this thing rattled to warn me, I was about to walk right next to him!

Rattlesnake that I almost walked into along the Salt River.


And we had to photograph another cool cactus (below).

Multi-arm saguaro cactus near the Salt River.


And now – since I see this post is getting rather large… I’ll close for now and post a “Phoenix Day-Trips [part 2]” to bring you up to date on a few of the other outings that we’ve done recently.  Check back…

Stilla at a park in Glendale.


BTW –  We passed our 2nd year Anniversary of Full-timing in the Urban Escape Vehicle on May 2nd… Happy Anniversary to us!

Disneyland and Return Trip to Phoenix (Newport Beach, CA; Quartzsite, AZ; and Glendale, AZ)

OK… time for an update 🙂  I’ve been getting lazy on the updates and need to catch you up since we’re now back in Phoenix again.  Where does the time go?  Here’s what we’ve been up to…

As mentioned in my last posting, we stayed at the Newport Dunes Resort & Marina in Newport Beach, CA a few more days after the Alpine Coach Rally was officially over on Monday the 25th.  We ended up staying there until Friday the 29th.

On the last official rally day (Monday), while most of our rally friends headed out of the park… we decided to visit Disneyland’s California Adventure Park® (DCA).  DCA is the newest Disney park located right next to the original Disneyland®.  We also visited Disneyland® a couple days later on Wednesday but I’ll save all the Disney pictures for the end of today’s blog.

When we got back from DCA late in the evening on Monday we found (as expected) that about half of our Alpine friends had left the park 🙁  On Tuesday, we spent the day hanging around at the RV park and packed our stuff away in preparation for moving.  We deflated and cleaned the inflatable raft, loaded the Harley onto the back of the Silverado, cleaned and put away all our chairs, mats, etc.,


Kaan and I washed and deflated the Sea Eagle raft for storage.
Kaan playing on the beach at the RV Resort & Marina beach.

There were still 8 to 10 Alpines (out of 20) in our row with most of the remaining folks planning to leave on Wednesday, so we still got the chance to mingle throughout the day on Tuesday.

Alpiner’s enjoy discussions in the street 🙂


We said goodbye to a couple folks that left on Tuesday.

Alpiners’ waving goodbye to one of our SoCal members as they left the rally on Tuesday.

And then the remaining Alpiners’ had an impromptu evening get-together at Frank Krauland’s Coach.  Frank fired up his grill and barbecued some awesome chicken while other’s pitched in with a few side dishes.  Thanks for the food and ambiance Frank!

Our last get-together at Newport Dunes RV Resort & Marina.
Stilla and Frank.

It was another fun and successful Alpine SoCal rally… can’t wait for the next one!  We said our ‘see-ya-laters’ to the remaining Alpine SoCal members before we went to bed because we planned another trip to the Disney parks on Wednesday and wanted to get an early start.  This time we visited the original Disneyland®.

Now here’s some pictures of our visit(s) to the Disney theme parks from both of our trips.  Some of my Facebook™ friends may have seen a few of these pics already when I posted online.  The first ones’ (below) are from Disneyland’s California Adventure® park (DCA) that we went to on Monday:

Disneyland’s California Adventure Park.
Radiator Springs Racers at Disney’s California Adventure (DCA).


Kaan watches the Radiator Springs Racers whiz by on the track.
The whole town of Radiator Springs from the Disney movie ‘Cars’ is here.
We watched as “Mater” drove around town and joined “Lightning McQueen” on the main street of Radiator Springs.


Kaan really liked Radiator Springs. Secretly, so did I 🙂


Long lines were the norm…



Radiator Springs Racers at Disney’s California Adventure (DCA). This was a fun ride, but had the longest line… we only got to go on it once.
Riding the Radiator Springs Racer.


Riding the Radiator Springs Racer around the banked track.
The scary elevator ride.
The catch of the day.


One of the first rides we went on at DCA was the California Screamin’ roller coaster.  It was the first time Kaan had been on a roller coaster.  After the first ride, his initial shock and fear wore off and he couldn’t wait to get back on.  We (Jenny, Kaan & I) rode the roller coaster a total of four times throughout the day.  Stilla (as usual) waited out the scarier rides.

Jenny, Kaan, & I on the California Screamin’ roller coaster.

On Wednesday, (after taking a break on Tuesday as I mentioned earlier), we got an early start and went to the original Disneyland® theme park (pics below):

Kaan and Jenny at Disneyland.
This looked like a cool ride, but it was closed for renovations.  There were a large number of rides closed the day(s) we visited 🙁
The submarine ride. Pretty cool.
On the submarine ride with Kaan and Jenny.
Getting ready to go on one of the rides.
Mickey’s Toontown.
Mickey’s Toontown.


Stilla went on the Buzz Lightyear ride with me… Woo Hoo!
Kaan, Stilla, and Jenny. Hyperspace Mountain in the background. That was a fun ride… kind of like a roller coaster in the dark. The ride “Star Tours” was the coolest 🙂

Almost all the water rides were closed for some reason 🙁  There were no boat rides at “Rivers of America”.  No “Jungle Cruise”, etc.,  Even “Autopia” was closed along with the “Disneyland Railroad” and “Matterhorn Bobsleds”.

The sailing ship Columbia.
The Mark Twain Riverboat.  Walk-on only, no rides 🙁
Splash Mountain.


Kaan got pretty wet riding in front at Splash Mountain. It was worth it he said 🙂
The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was a blast.


Entrance to the Indiana Jones ride.


The Indiana Jones ride was one of our favorites, we got to ride twice and the second time Kaan got to drive.
Kaan and Stilla up in the treehouse.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures from our Disneyland theme park visit(s).  Remember, this blog is primarily intended for friends & family and doubles as our photo album to look back on in future years.  So if you think there’s too many pictures… you’re just going to have to deal with it 🙂

On Thursday, since we already packed most of our stuff for the trip back to Phoenix, we just relaxed for the day and hit the local island here in Newport Beach (Balboa Island) and then spent some time on Huntington Beach.



We had a nice lunch on Balboa Island and then walked around to do some sightseeing.  Stilla and Kaan spotted some seals or maybe they were dolphins(?).  Too far away to tell for sure.



Interesting boat theme on Balboa Island.

We didn’t have to take the little ferry onto Balboa Island… but we did anyway just for the fun of it.  There’s also a road that connects the island to the mainland.

Driving onto the ferry.
The Silverado taking the Harley for a ride on the ferry.
We had mere inches between the three vehicles that the ferry can hold at one time.
Ferry landing on Balboa Island.

We walked one of the piers along Newport Beach.


And then we drove up to Huntington Beach where the parking fee was metered by the hour and was a little more reasonable than the $15 dollar fee they want at most of the other nearby state park beaches.


Kaan and I had a good time playing on the beach and in the water.  Stilla and Jenny just got some sun.






My sand castle got washed away 🙁  Kaan was smarter and built his farther up the beach 🙂



Life is Good 🙂 Relaxing on the beach.
Stilla enjoyed the “beach life”.

On Friday morning, we left the park by noon.  After braving the LA traffic which rolled along at a snails pace at times, we finally rolled into Quartzsite to look for a free boondocking site for the night.


We found a nice spot just off the highway (I-10) called Dome Rock Rd.  It’s on the west-side of Quartzsite, only a few miles from town.


We unhooked the Silverado and drove into town for dinner.  We went to Silly Al’s (←link) for some awesome pizza and had enough to take home some leftovers.  After dinner, we found a souvenir shop that was still open and did some browsing.  Here’s Kaan (below) posing in front of the World’s (reportedly) largest belt buckle.


On Saturday, we made good time with light traffic and arrived back at the Triple T RV & Mobile Home Park by early afternoon, which is where we’re now parked again.  Hopefully, not for too long.. it’s starting to get too hot here in Phoenix.  We got the same spot we had before we left for CA and Jenny’s travel trailer is still parked just behind us.  I’ll post again soon.  Stay tuned…

Travel and Pre-Rally Activities (Newport Dunes Resort & Marina, Newport Beach, CA)

On Sunday (the 17th) we drove down to the “dirt farm” in Casa Grande to visit my mom, stepdad, brother Steve & Cheryl.  We wanted to pick up our mail, check on little ‘Coach’ and say Hi to everyone there before we took off for the Alpine Coach Rally in CA.

We spent the day visiting and then we all went downtown for a nice dinner.  Here’s a picture of ‘Coach’ (below).


Little Coach is doing just fine and likes life on the “dirt farm”.  His hair is starting to grow back after Mom’s buzz-cut.  It does get hot here – so I guess he doesn’t mind what he looks like 🙂

Mom got some new baby chicks that Coach has sure taking a like to.  He wants them to come out and play and acts like their his to protect.




On Tuesday (the 19th) after Kaan finished school, we all piled into the Urban Escape Vehicle for our ~350-mile drive to the Alpine Coach Rally in Newport Beach, CA.

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Route from the Triple T RV Park in Phoenix to Newport Dunes Resort & Marina in Newport Beach, CA.

We stopped in Quartzsite overnight and boondocked at a nice spot just south of town.  We haven’t stayed on this side of Quartzsite before, we always stay on the BLM land on the north-side of town for the annual Alpine Coach “Desert Rat Rallies”.

Boondocking in Quartzsite.
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Boondocking in Quartzsite.

We enjoyed a nice evening walk around the desert and then again in the morning.  There were only a couple other rigs in sight of our spot.  We even treated ourselves to an evening campfire with our “bonfire-in-a-can”.

We tried to get grandson Kaan to hug a cactus.


Cactus blooming in Quartzsite, AZ.

After a nice leisurely overnight stay in Quartzsite, we continued on to our rally destination.


And here we are at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort (below).  We arrived without incident, except for some typical CA freeway traffic.  I downloaded the Harley from the back of the Silverado and unloaded the back seat so we can drive around without having to be stuffed into the front seat.



As of Thursday evening, we have 10 Alpines in attendance so far.  This is a weekend rally, however, most folks (like us) want to make the most of the rally and arrive early and leave late.  We intend to stay here until the 28th and then have to return to Phoenix since our daughter Jennifer and grandson Kaan need to get back to work and school.

Our rally hosts/co-hosts Greg & Marcy Vaughan/Mike & Donna Hambarian guided folks into their spots throughout the day as they arrived and then Mike even ordered in some pizza for an impromptu dinner/get-together.

The Alpine SoCal group together again!

Here’s some pics of our first evening together here at Newport Dunes RV Resort & Marina:



Frank remembered his name tag this time.
Mike herding ducks.
The Alpine “circle” grew as the evening progressed. Good pizza, good people!

Here’s a few pics of our Alpine row… the Coaches will fill in the empty spots as they arrive.  Everyone should be here by Friday when the rally officially kicks off.




Frank Krauland has his nice outside entertainment center set up for business.


Frank set up his latest project for display.  He made a “fake” RV park power pole with a water faucet.  It has a pump that circulates the water so it looks like it’s dripping.  This will be a big hit when he sets it up at our next boondocking rally and we see how many people walk over to ask how he was the only one to get a power pedestal 🙂  Of course, he was given lots of constructive criticism by fellow Alpiner’s on how to improve on his “faux” power pedestal.  Way to go Frank… pretty cool!


Ron and Jeanne Maxwell are also here at the rally with Jennifer’s old dog ‘Ember’.  Some of you that follow the blog may remember (←link) that we had to find Ember a good home when Jenny first moved down from Colorado Springs.  You may also recall that Ember is Coach’s sister, although they look entirely different.  Ron & Jeanne stepped up during the rally (February) in Lake Havasu and took over that duty.  She appears to be quite happy and is even putting on some weight.  Thanks again Ron & Jeanne!  Jenny and Kaan sure enjoy seeing her again.



Stilla, Jenny, and Kaan also spent some evening time at the RV Resort’s beach:



Kaan burying himself in the sand at the Newport Dunes RV Resort & Marina.

And our first pre-rally day comes to an end…

Full moon through the palm tree at Newport Dunes RV resort.
Late evening picture of the Newport Dunes RV Resort & Marina beach.

Our first full day here at the Newport Dunes RV resort (Thursday) we spent exploring the local beaches.  First, we went north from the RV resort and explored Huntington Beach and Seal Beach.  Then we went all the way south to Dana Point.  We stopped along the way several times and played in the water and even watched some whales.  Follow along:

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Here we are at Newport Beach (←wikipedia® link).


Jenny and Kaan on Newport Beach, CA.
Kaan on Newport Beach, CA.


Aliso Beach:


Kaan is making a habit of burying himself in the sand everywhere we go.


At Dana Point Headlands Nature & Interpretive Center (←link here) we stopped and got the tip from the onsite volunteer ranger to walk the pathway for some whale watching.  There were reportedly several whale sightings.  There were even a couple mama whales with their calves.


We walked along the nature trail to look for whales.




And we were in luck… we saw numerous whales but only got pictures of them barely breaking the water or blowing.  Every time one would come up for a good picture, none of us had a camera ready.  Here’s a few pics of what we did get:



One of the more informed spectators claimed that we were watching Gray Whales.





It was pretty cool to finally see some whales and some of them were pretty close to shore.

Kaan at the Dana Point Headlands Interpretive Center.

A couple more beach pictures:



At Dana Point, we stopped at the Ocean Institute but quickly saw that it was getting ready to close for the evening.  But that didn’t stop us from looking around.

The Silverado in the Dana Point Ocean Institute parking lot below the cliffs.

I saw a Tesla in the parking lot.  I haven’t seen one of these before, so I snapped a couple photos:




Click (here) to learn more about Teslamotors.  A pretty cool looking car and much larger than I thought they would be.

Cliffs at Dana Point Ocean Institute.

According to the Ocean Institute website, “The Pilgrim (below) is a full-sized replica of the hide brig immortalized by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. in his American seafaring classic novel Two Years Before the Mast. This historic voyage is the basis for the Ocean Institute’s Two Years Before the Mast education program.


After walking along the pier(s) and boardwalk at Dana Point, we headed on back to the RV Resort with a quick stop at Trader Joe’s® for some groceries.  We made it back just before dusk.  A few more Alpines had arrived while we were gone and I got the chance to say a couple of quick “hello’s” before we called it a night.

Stay tuned for more on the latest Urban Escape Vehicle travel journal and our latest Alpine Coach SoCal rally which officially starts today (Friday)!  I’ll try to keep up…

Homesteading and Maintenance Projects (Triple T RV & Mobile Home Park, Glendale AZ)

I know… I know!  It has been quite a while since I last posted.  We’re still in Phoenix at the Triple “T” Mobile Home & RV Park.  It feels like we’re homesteading 🙁

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We moved here after attending the Alpine Coach Rally in Goodyear, AZ and have just been biding our time until the next SoCal Chapter rally in Newport Dunes, CA which is scheduled for 20-27 April.  The monthly rate is really good here (~$450) but we still have to settle up on the monthly electric bill.  I got two spots here; one spot for us and another spot for our oldest daughter Jenny and grandson Kaan after we bought her a trailer as a temporary solution to help her get settled here in Phoenix.  You may recall from previous posts that we helped her move down from Colorado Springs back in late January – early February.  Jenny is going to work every day and Kaan is going to school while Stilla enjoys some ‘Grandma’ time.  Anyway, I’ve used our time here to take care of a bunch of maintenance items… I remembered to take pics of some of the projects:

Here’s the first project – The door handle broke a while ago on the washer/dryer combo.  We have a Splendide® Model 2100.  I finally found a source for a new handle kit and had it shipped.

New ‘Splendide” washer/dryer door handle kit.
New ‘Splendide” washer/dryer door handle kit.
Old ‘Splendide” washer/dryer door handle broken on the back side.

The new door handle kit came with detailed instructions.  I had to remove the door from the washer/dryer to affect repairs.

Installing the new door handle kit on the ‘Splendide’ washer/dryer combo.

This was a pretty easy project thanks to the instructions included in the kit.  Email me for source and price of kit if you need one of these… it took a bit of research to find it online.


Yea!  Now I don’t have to use a screwdriver to push the latch and pry the door open anymore.  It’s the little things in life 🙂

‘Splendide’ washer/dryer door handle completed.

My next project was to finish repairs to the solar panels I removed when we were parked in Goodyear at the last Alpine Coach SoCal Rally.


The connector for the solar panels was corroded where it connected on the roof and wasn’t sending any voltage to the batteries.

Corroded connector on the roof for the solar panels.
Corroded connector (solar panel side).

While the solar panels were off the roof, I took them over to a local RV repair shop near our mobile home park.  They tested out good.

Solar panel data sticker on underside of OEM panel.

I basically gave up trying to find a new connector… all the newer model solar panels use different connectors and my older system isn’t supported any longer.  I had to cut the wires coming out of the roof and removed the roof-side connector.


Old solar panel roof connector (top view).
Old solar panel roof connector (side view).

I decided that i had to reuse the old connector in order to seal the rather large hole in the roof.  I drilled out the old connector in order to pass the wires from the panels through so I could wire crimp them directly together.

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Old solar panel roof connector with holes drilled for wires.

After crimping the wires together on the underside of the old connector with barrel connectors and shrink tubing; I then remounted the old connector on the roof, sealed it up good with non-silicone caulking, and Eternabond™ tape.

Completed repair to roof connector. I added more caulking after this picture was taken.

Now I just had to fix the broken corner on one of the solar panels before mounting them to the roof rails again.

Broken corner of solar panel.
Broken corner of solar panel. Screw holes were stripped out and damaged.

I found an angle bracket and drilled some new holes to fix the damaged solar panel frame.  I used new machine screws and lock nuts to secure the corner of the frame.  I still have to wonder how this broke in the first place – it looks like it was hit with something.

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Solar panel corner fixed with angle bracket.
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Solar panel corner fixed with angle bracket.

And voila!  The panels are all back where they should be and charging the batteries.  If I understand correctly; the panels are primarily for keeping the chassis batteries (2 ea. ) topped off while boondocking.  When the generator is running, it concentrates on charging the house batteries (8 ea. ) through the three phases (bulk, absorption, and then float).  The house batteries have to be fully-charged before the system switches over to charge the chassis batteries which basically never happens because we don’t  leave the generator running very long after reaching the float stage.  It’s just not cost-effective.  So that’s where the solar panels come in.  Of course, none of this matters when we’re hooked up to shore power because the system automatically switches between banks of batteries (house vs chassis) depending on state of charge in order to keep them all topped off.

Solar panels repaired and remounted on roof.

The next project was to replace the sewer valves.  For a while now – every time we went to dump, I had to be careful when taking off the cap because there’s always a little “liquid” that has leaked past one of the gate valves and sits there between the cap and valve waiting to come out before I had the sewer hose in place.  I bought two new gate valves and flushed the tanks before removing the old Y-pipe and gate valves.  However, while removing the gate valve bolts/screws, I found one corner of the flange on the Y-pipe had been previously overtightened and cracked.  I had to go back to the RV store and buy a new Y-pipe, which unfortunately for me, only came with new gate valves already attached.  So if anyone needs a couple new gate valves (never used/still in package)… let me know.

New Y-pipe and gate valves installed.

After taking care of the sewer valves (a surprisingly easy project), I turned my attention to the kitchen sink.  A ‘not-so-easy’ project… our Corian™ countertops have a heavy stainless double sink mounted underneath.  Originally, the manufacturer used strips of wood that were glued under the counter to attach clamps that are supposed to hold the sink up.  Over time, the silicone holding the sink up along with the weak clamps/wood strips allow the sink to drop from the countertop.  Ours came loose a long time ago but luckily, it was only sagging a little bit on one side so I braced it underneath and have been putting it off.  The falling sink issue is not an uncommon problem with our Alpine Coaches as they age gracefully.  This is evidenced by the many posts on the iRV2.com website under the Alpine Owners Forum where other owners wrote about their fixes.

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Wood ‘furring’ strip came loose from under the kitchen sink allowing the sink to drop.
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Wood ‘furring’ strip came loose from under the kitchen sink allowing the sink to drop.

I reglued the wood furring strips to the bottom of the counter using Gorilla glue™ and lots of clamps.  I let the glue dry for a day while I replaced the kitchen faucet.  I found a nice replacement faucet at Lowes™ but had to go to Ace Hardware™ for the proper “compression thread” fitting that would adapt the larger diameter Pex® hose on the coach to the small diameter supply hose on the new faucet.

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New kitchen faucet (Moen®).
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Kitchen faucet connections.

After siliconing the top of the sink, I carefully pressed it up into place…

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Kitchen sink remounted under the counter top.
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Silicone oozing out from the newly installed sink. I let this dry for a couple days before carefully cutting away the excess.

I used three methods to ensure the sink never falls down again.  In addition to the clamps attached to the freshly reglued wood ‘furring’ strips, I used about six of the adjustable refrigerator bars (←link) to brace the sink along the edges from underneath…

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RV refrigerator bars used to hold sink up.
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RV refrigerator bars used to brace the sink up.

I also used a couple footman loops (←link here).  One of these I mounted on the back wall behind the sink and the other one I screwed to the front (inner) top edge of the counter.  I then used a friction strap (the non-ratcheting) type to connect the two footman loops and tightened the strap underneath the middle of the sink, effectively strapping it up into place.  (Sorry, but I forgot to take pics of this).  I think the sink will now outlast the rest of the coach 🙂  We can probably remove some of the refrigerator bars now that the silicone has dried and the strap is in place, but we’ll probably just leave them in place unless they get in the way of storing stuff on the shelf below.

The next project (that I remembered to take pictures of) is the re-securing of the rear spoiler.  The rear spoiler on the Alpine Coaches deflects air to keep the rear of the coach (relatively) clean while traveling down the road.  It also doubles as the mounting point for the rear-view camera.  Over time, the original rivets come loose and the spoiler starts vibrating.  Some unfortunate Alpine Coach owner’s have even reported losing their spoiler on the highway 🙁  Ours had a little wobble that I’ve been periodically checking to make sure doesn’t get worse.  And well, since there’s no time like the present, and before it gets worse – I decided to redo the rivets.  Plus, one of our fine Alpine friends (thanks Sandy) gave me some of the high-quality rivets that are best for this application.  I’ve been holding on to the rivets since our rally in Quartzsite.  I drilled out the old rivets after removing all the marker lights for access and removed the spoiler.  The brackets attached to the coach itself were in good shape except for a couple rivets on the outside mounts that showed a little movement.  After replacing those rivets, I then had Stilla hold the spoiler in place while I replaced all the rivets holding the spoiler to the mounting brackets.  Now we’re good to go again (at least for awhile) 🙂

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Spoiler removed to redo rivets.
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Drivers-side rear spoiler mount. (Notice extra holes from previous repair attempts or maybe original factory screwup?)
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Center mounting bracket (and rear-view camera mount) for spoiler.

Top view (below) of rear spoiler and rear cap.  Notice that I resealed the end cap with Eternabond® tape (←link).  This tape is great stuff, I no longer have to recaulk.  I plan on doing the same to the front cap in the near future.

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Rear cap seal with new ‘eternabond’ tape.

In between projects and just hanging out in Glendale… we went down to my brother’s and mom’s place (the “dirt farm”) in Casa Grande for Easter:  Again, I’m sorry for the late posting but I’ve kind of been taking a hiatus since we’ve been parked in one spot for so long.

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Kaan hunting easter eggs.
Kaan found the “golden” egg during his solo easter egg hunt. It even had some cash inside!

Kaan had a lot of fun hunting easter eggs around the “dirt farm”.

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Grandson Kaan hunting easter eggs.
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Grilled(?) easter eggs anyone?

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Easter at the “dirt farm” in Casa Grande.

We had lots of good food and fun catching up with family while visiting the “dirt farm” for Easter.

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And here’s an update on our little dog “Coach”.  It’s official – my mom has now commandeered little Coach.  We left him with her a little too long 🙂  She even gave him a military-style haircut.  He’s enjoying life on the “dirt farm” and has a lot more freedom and stability than he did while traveling with us.

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Little dog “Coach” is now a “dirt farm” doggie.

Sure, we miss him – but it’s kind of nice not having to worry if he’s okay when we have to leave him in the Coach if we go somewhere, OR if it’s too hot in the car if we take him along with us and he can’t go into wherever we’re at.  Plus, he’s well taken care of… spoiled even 🙂

Little Coach with my Mom’s other dog Ginger.

My mom and brother are also taking care of Kaan’s dog “Sheba”.  Some of you that follow the blog know that we had Sheba for a while with us in the Coach while Jenny was getting settled.  We even took her to the fireworks rally in Lake Havasu (which she didn’t like at all).  It was great of my mom/stepdad and brother Steve/Cheryl to put up with her at the “dirt farm” but she’s a great dog and i think they have really taken to her.  She’s become quite the “outside” dog which she’s not used to, but she’s doing fine as well.

Back at the mobile home park… I also spent a lot of time cleaning up and working on the roof of the trailer we bought for Jenny and Kaan.  Here I am (below) on one of my many trips to the roof to either clean, reseal, or recaulk something.

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Jenny and Kaan’s 29ft Starcraft “Homestead” travel trailer.

Here’s a few photos of the trailer for those interested…

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Jenny and Kaan’s 29ft Starcraft “Homestead” travel trailer. (Model 29BSB)
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Rear view of Jenny and Kaan’s 29ft Starcraft “Homestead” travel trailer. (Model 29BSB)
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View of dining room slide and entertainment center – 29ft Starcraft “Homestead” travel trailer. (Model 29BSB)
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View of hallway from bedroom looking through kitchen towards front of trailer – 29ft Starcraft “Homestead” travel trailer. (Model 29BSB)
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View of master bedroom queen bed on slide out – 29ft Starcraft “Homestead” travel trailer. (Model 29BSB)

I haven’t had to do too much to the trailer yet.  Just worked on some drawer slides, rewired some of the refrigerator ground wires, fixed window crank knobs and did a general cleaning focusing mainly on the roof.  I also used some of the Eternabond® tape to reseal the front roof seam and around the bathroom skylight along with one of the roof vents.

In other news:  We also got the opportunity to go to a Wedding Ceremony on the 10th of April.  We were invited to attend a wedding reception for one of my nephews.  I have three brothers, one of whom lives in Florida.  His oldest son (Christopher) got married earlier this year to a girl (Kourtney) that has ties to the Phoenix area.  Apparently, her side of the family didn’t get to attend their wedding so they scheduled a reception and renewed their vows at one of her relatives (grandparents) house in the north Phoenix area.

It was a really nice ceremony at a really nice house.  The reception had a ’50s theme and (most) everyone dressed up in ’50s style clothing.  Unfortunately, the day of the reception happened to be the only day it has rained here in Phoenix over the last month or so.  But Chris & Kourtney made the best of it.  I helped put up an E-Z Up® canopy for them to hold their ceremony and renew their vows in front of family.

Chris & Kourtney’s wedding reception.
Chris & Kourtney’s wedding reception. Intermittent rain kept anyone from using the nicely placed chairs.
Chris & Kourtney’s wedding reception. Intermittent rain kept anyone from using the nicely placed chairs.
Christopher & Kourtney renewed their wedding vows.
(L to R) Brother Steve, stepdad Jim, Mom.
Christopher & Kourtney.
Christopher & Kourtney.


Lots of good food.  Hamburgers with all the fixins’.


Awesome desserts.  Yummm!


Make-ur-own sundaes 🙂


Towards the end of the day, my brother Steve became the gracious recipient of numerous nametags of attendees that had either left or were getting ready to leave the ceremony.  Good thing most everyone already knew his real name by this time 🙂

My brother Steve.

Thanks again for the invitation Chris and Kourt!  And congratulations 🙂

Back at the RV & Mobile Home Park, projects continue…  I even restrung one of the day/night shades.  Yup, that’s what I said.  I was actually able to replace all the cords and get one of the day/night shades restrung so it actually works again 🙂  I bought a couple of the repair kits on Amazon.com.  Only two or three more to go.  It’s actually a lot of work to get the shades off the windows because the upholstered window surrounds have to come off the walls to get to the blinds.  I think I’ll take a break and do the other one’s later as time (and energy) permits 🙂  One of the shades has six (6) strings, I think I’ll save that one for last.  The other’s only have four (4) strings or less.  They just get worn out over time with heavy use and the cords start fraying or even breaking.  At least I got the worst one (condition-wise, I mean) completed for now.

Check back soon for another update… We plan on leaving here the 19th in order to get to the Alpine SoCal Rally in Newport Dunes, CA by the 20th.  It looks like Jenny & Kaan are going to ride along with us to the rally.  We’ll just leave her trailer here at the park, she’s paid up until the end of the month.  Of course, that means we’ll have to come straight back here after the rally in order for Jenny to go back to work and Kaan to school.  We also plan on visiting the “dirt farm” in Casa Grande before we leave in order to check-in on family and the dogs.  We’ll probably do that tomorrow (Sunday).  I’ll post again soon…

PS  I passed an RV Sales and Consignment lot in northwest Phoenix a week or so ago…


They have a 2006 38FDTS for sale!  This is the same coach as ours, except a year newer.


I stopped (naturally) to check it out and took lots of pictures… so if anyone is in the market, let me know and I can forward more pics and specifications.  I temporarily misplaced the data sheet that the dealer rep gave me, but I’m sure it will turn up.  It was really nice and had the same interior and all the options we have, i.e., aqua-hot, residential fridge, washer/dryer, etc.,  I sure have to wonder if I haven’t seen this Coach before at one of our rallies but the dealer rep couldn’t tell me who the current owner is.  Hmmm… anyone recognize this Coach?