Sunday, March 7, 2010

Busy Time at Desert Hot Springs

We had planned to leave California when our stay by the end of February. But Barbara's surgeon wanted to see her again in early March. So we scrambled to find a accommodations to stay in the area a little longer. We could stay at TT until the 28th. We arranged to bring the coach back to the place we bought it on the 1st of march as they had agreed to repair the ram for our generator slideout that was leaking hydraulic fluid. We were just going to park on the street or a casino lot but we arranged to pay for an additional night at TT. We made a number of calls and managed to get a week at Desert Pools through RPI.

We ended up spending all day at the RV lot getting the Ram repaired. They had to take it out, take it to a hydraulic shop, then pick it up when it was done and re-install it. We were a bit anxious as we had a busy day planned the next day and didn't want to be stuck overnight at the RV dealer's. It worked out that we get into Desert Pools just before dark.

The next day was one of our most hectic. Our new coach had a tv satellite dome. When we tried to use it we found that it was a very early model that would require software upgrades and an older style converter box. It would also require a technician to set it up. We called several mobile satellite facilities in the Palm Springs area and were unable to find anyone to do the set up that we wanted. Dennis found a number for the TracVision district manager in Lake Havasu Arizona with the thought that we could go there if needed as we headed east. The manager said that he comes to the parks in the Palm Springs area and could set up an appointment for us. But he warned that he felt that we would not be happy with it as it is outmoded technology, analog rather than digital, and not very reliable. He offered to sell and install a new one for a discount price and we decided to do that. We had scheduled him to do that on tuesday morning at Desert Pools.

In the meantime we were contacted by a potential buyer of the bus. He seemed very interested but would not be able to actually buy the bus until he sold the pickup that he had for sale. We were planning to leave the area in a week so we didn't have much time if we were going to make the sale. Dennis said that we would consider taking the truck in trade; our thought was that a late model pickup should be a good trade in for a new car which we were planning to buy. The only time that the potential buyer, Robert, could come was on his day off which was Tuesday. So we were scheduled to meet with him at about the same time as the satellite installer was due. Fortunately there are two of us. Barbara was there to meet with the installer while Dennis met with Robert to look over the vehicles. Robert showed up with four young children. He looked over the bus and Dennis looked over the truck. They tentatively agreed on a deal. Dennis' reservation was that Robert did not have a title, only some paperwork that seemed to indicate that he owned the truck. Dennis said that he would only do the deal if the DMV verified that Robert in fact owned the truck. Robert expected that that would be a frustrating experience, but agreed to it. So we went back to the Monaco until the new dome was installed, then Dennis and Barbara, Robert and his four kids drove over to the Palm Springs DMV. When we arrived the 7 of us got in the line outside the door of the DMV. After we got in the door and got close enough to the clerk, we realized that this line was just one to tell the first clerk the general nature of our visit so that she could assign us to another line. When we got to her she gave us a stack of papers to fill out while we waited and told us that some of our questions (like can they verify for us that Robert indeed owns the truck) could be answered after we go through the next line. So we filled out the papers the best that we could and waited for our number to be called. The kids were getting restless and irritable as they had left home at 7 a.m. and it was now mid afternoon. We finally reached the second clerk, who seem overwhelmed by the transaction involving 2 vehicles, one of which lacked a title and the other was titled and registered in another state. She was irritable and unhappy with our paperwork that was not completely filled out. But she finally processed the transactions. Robert suggested that the registration for the truck could be transferred which would save us some money, so we did that rather than get an out of state permit which we later regretted.

We returned to Desert Hot Springs and took possession of our 2005 crew cab F350 pickup truck. And Robert took the bus and left. Dennis called the insurance and was told that since the truck was registered in California it had to have California insurance. We didn't like that as the California insurance was expensive and we could not get a multi-vehicle discount as they wouldn't do that for vehicles registered in different states. When they asked for address we gave our Florida address, they said they can't insure a vehicle without an address in the state it is registered in (even though our California title had our Florida address on it). So we gave the address of the Palm Springs TT and told them that any mail sent there would be returned to them (it doesn't really matter as we do all our business off the internet). At this point we were too tired to be happy about having sold the bus, or sad about it being gone after owning it for 12 years and living in it for 2 1/2.

The rest of the week went a bit easier. We had planned to go with Oland and Meralee to see the desert in bloom. We decided to take the new truck to see how it would run for a longer trip, and to give Barbara a chance to drive it as it is a very large pickup and our plan was for her to drive it to Arizona while Dennis towed our Toyota behind the coach. The truck ran well. We went through Anzo-Borrego State Park. We in fact saw the desert color - the color was green. Contrary to the newspaper article that had predicted that this would be an excellent time for a visit to this area we were to early to see the desert in bloom. We drove on up to the mountain town of Julian which is famous for its pies. We stopped at the Julian Pie Company and had a lunch that was pie centered. The pie was every bit as good as we remembered it from a visit several years ago. On the way back we stopped at a couple of casinos and got complimentary player's cards and managed to come out with a few dollars. We also stopped at the Jojoba Hills Escapees Park at Aguanga which is one of the nicest rv parks we have ever seen.

During the rest of the week we played pickleball a couple of times (Barbara played for the first time since her surgery), and visited with Brian and Judy who are Thousand Trail pickleball friends who happened to be in the Desert Pools park at the same time. We also got ready to head to Arizona which we had been anticipating for some time, but had had to delay because of Barbara's medical care.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Staying on in Palm Springs

Apologies to our readers. If you are still here you are very patient. We have been busy and at times distracted. We will try to catch up with some brief posts to cover each stop since we last blogged. Then maybe we can get back in the habit to keep up.

We returned to the Palm Springs TT park for the last time this season. We came in on the 7th with a 3 week reservation but we anticipated that we would leave the area a few days before the 3 weeks was up . But on the 8th Barb had a followup visit with her surgeon and he wanted to see her on March 1st. So we started looking for a place to stay here a little longer. We are now planning to be in the area until the 8th of march. In the meantime we have apparently run into a dead end in selling our bus this year. We advertised briefly and have had a few individuals interested but it does not look like we will see it before we leave. We have arranged to store it and plan to return next winter and advertise more aggressively to make a sale.

In the meantime we are having a good time. We went to a play "Menopause the Musical" recently. Even Dennis admitted that it was surprisingly well done and enjoyable. One of us (bet you can't guess which one) even took up the invitation to come up on stage and dance the finale with the cast.

Dennis has been continuing to play a lot of pickleball. He and Oland have gone hiking in the desert a couple of times.

We've been able to work in a little sightseeing. We took a few hours to drive the Palms to Pines Highway up into the mountains to the south. We didn't get near the snow line but there was a definite climate change as we went from a pleasant sunny day around 70 degrees to perhaps 40 degrees with a vicious wind blowing. It gave us a sense of the winter that we have been missing.

Last Thursday we went with Oland and Merilee to visit the Living Desert which is a zoo and botanical gardens in Palm Desert. After several hours there we were tired from the walking and hungry so we adjourned to the Elephant Bar for a great meal.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Who's Fault

On the 26th we made the big move from Desert Hot Pools to Catalina Spa. The distance is only about a mile. So it is the shortest move that we have ever made. Still it turned out to be surprisingly time consuming. It seemed that we spent about half a day packing and getting ready, going to the new park and getting parked and set up. We often get a head start the day before by packing up and putting things away. And we took it slow as we are still getting familiar with the new coach. We almost forgot to put down our rooftop over the air tv antenna, as we didn't have to do this with the MCI which had an omnidirectional antenna that did not need to be raised and lowered. And Dennis took some time to check the air pressure in all of the tires and put a few pounds of air in several of them. By the time we got set up in the new park it was mid afternoon.

When we got to Catalina Spa we were told that that there was an emergency preparedness meeting in the afternoon and that we were welcome to participate. We remembered that they were having something similar to that in December when we were here. What's that about? Well, we were informed that the San Andreas fault runs through the back corner of the park and that this is considered a high risk area for a major earthquake risk area. Well we stayed in the cheap sites in the front of the park, so we are maybe 1/3 mile from the fault. So we guess that we are safe, right?

This park has the most active pickleball program of any park in the area and now has 6 nice courts, up from the 4 that were here on our last visit. Pickleball and the natural hot water spas and swimming pools are the major attractions here. Barbara is frustrated that she is not able to participate in pickleball or use of pools or spas while she is recovering from her surgery. Dennis has been able to take advantage of both on a regular basis. There is a senior games scheduled in Palm Desert including pickleball events. Dennis decided not to attend as he has been having some residual problems with his back. He has found that he can play regularly as long as limits his play each day to a few games but he felt that this type of tournament might be too much for him for now. But he has enjoyed playing with a number of the players practicing for the tournament.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recovering at Desert Pools

We returned to Desert Pools for a 2 week stay on the 12th. Barb had seen the surgeon for her first followup visit the day before. And he said that she was doing well. She asked if she could drive and he said for short distances as long as she wasn't taking pain medications. So we decided that she would drive here from thousand trails rather than hook the car up and take it off. Our first move in the new motorhome went well. We find ourselves taking our time as we are not familiar with how things work. We have various questions that we are getting answers to from other coach owners, manuals, and the internet. Dennis spent a fair amount of time sorting out the tv cabling which is unfortunately undocumented. He got it so that we can use the "cable" connection to bring the signal to our front tv. But we can't use our second reciever in back through that connection as there is only one co-ax cable to come in, so we are running cable to our bedroom though an engine access port at the back of the bedroom. Inelegant but it works. We replaced the old tv in the bedroom with a flat LCD tv we brought from the bus. We spent a couple of days coming up with a way to install the tv in way that would be functional and reasonably attractive. We are satisfied with the result. It is not bad looking if you don't look too close. We will do something similar replacing the old tv in front with our other, larger LCD tv from the bus. But we will probably have it done professionally as this will be easily seen by anyone coming in and probably not the place to be experimenting. The Monaco has a Trac Vision Dome installed. We assumed that this would be a simple matter of hooking it up to our Direct tv receivers, but no such luck. It was not clear how to do it, even after browsing the manual. So we called the company. After going through a rather complicated voice mail system, we got to tech support who when we told him the model, said "Are you sure, thats a very old system." He said that it could be done but would be difficult. We would have to get an old Direct tv receiver that has a "low speed data port" and a software update would have to be done, but he said that it could not be done by our Vista computers. His advice was to find an installer and have them set it up for us. Of course, we tried ourselves. It turned out that we had an adaptor that would connect a usb from one of our computers to the 9 pin connector from the dome. But the computer would not recognize the hardware and we could not find a way to enter the command. So we called a a local installer who said essentially "that thing is an antique, you would be much better off to buy a new one from us." We thanked him and decided to keep using our tripod for tv for now. We have come across the name of another installer who we will contact for a second opinion.

At the same time we are trying to sell the MCI bus. It is parked at the consignment lot where we bought our new coach. But we have not signed a contract to sell it. The owner has admitted that he does not know how to price it and he clearly is much less familiar with buses as opposed to manufactured rv's. For now, he lets people look at it asks them to make an offer if they are interested. But it is clear we need to try some other approaches. We have listed it on the internet and had a number of requests for pictures and more information. Unfortunately most of these are in distant parts of the country. So we are listing in the Southern California RV Trader magazine with the hopes that we will get someone local and interested. Oland also took some flyers we made up to Quarzite & made them available to some individuals with interests in buses. So far we have not had what we would consider a serious offer. But we have had some deals proposed, perhaps reflecting the quixotic nature of bus conversion fans. The latest is a trade of the bus for a semi tractor and 53 foot flat bed trailer. This may well be a good deal but it seems like it would create more problems than it would solve.

Barb is generally doing well in spite of an allergic reaction to steri-strips. She saw the doctor again and he is happy with her progress. She is generally doing better day by day. She was able to get away from using the pain medications quickly. She finds the decreased activity level difficult to tolerate. She has been going for walks around the park and plays various card games at the activity center.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rebuilding Barb

For many years Barb has suffered with back pain, shoulder pain and arm pain due to the size of her breasts. For whatever reason she finally decided enough was enough and saw a doctor in Palm Springs and inquired about the possibility of getting this fixed. Dr. Hayduke is a local plastic surgeon. He submitted the pictures and paperwork to our insurance company and after several weeks they approve the procedure.

The morning of Jan 7th 2010, Barb, Dennis and Merralee headed to the hospital when Barb underwent a 4 hour surgery. She did well and didn't look non the worse for wear when she came to room she would be in overnight . Julie was also there to greet her. I is wonderful to have such wonderful friends who would spend that much time for me I truly feel blessed. Before heading into the OR, Dr Hayduke came by and told Dennis and Merrilee he need to spend some time marking my body. After he left the room, Dennis and Merrilee both said that he looked like he was 12 years old. When he returned Barb told him this and he said that he was really 13 and that his mom drove him to work. Barb really felt so much better when he said that. lol He is a really good surgeon.

Barb has been resting and improving in our new motorhome, her recovery will take about 6 weeks. Dennis has been absolutely wonderful (still not much of a cook) he has been taking care of everything, even the laundry.

Thanks to all of you who stopped by at ttn palm springs. Barb is looking forward to seeing all of you really soon.

Sorry no pictures yet of the after, and of course all you know the before.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Our New Home

We got all of the paperwork done and were able to move into our new motorhome on December 30 and 31st. In spite of all of our prep work and we could not complete the process in a day. It was very difficult. Merralee offered to help and we told her that she could probably help best by taking care of Roxie while we moved which she did. That certainly made it easier. But there was a lot to move and a still a lot to throw away. You wouldn't really think that an RV could hold so much as when you try to move it all in a day. But we were taking our time and doing it in an organized fashion. But as the process went on it seemed increasingly disorganized. In any case we had essentially everything moved by late on the morning on the 31st. But we were still putting things away, hopefully where we could find them later. And we were waiting for the dealer to install the a new kitchen faucet that had been promised as part of the deal. Finally, we were ready to go, but the fuel tank was reading low and we thought that we should fill up first. So by the time we drove to a truck stop and put in nearly 90 gallons of diesel fuel, it was after 2 o'clock when we got back to our site at Thousand Trails.

To say the least we were exhausted. There were a few little snags in setting up for the first time. No real problem, just things that we were not familiar with. We had a fast food dinner and very little energy. There was a big New Years Eve party that we had planned to attend. But Barbara was ready for bed by 8 o'clock. Dennis walked up to wish a Happy New Year to Oland and Meralee, John and Debbie, and a few others, then returned to the motorhome to have a glass of wine and watch tv until he was too tired to stay up.

Here are some pics of the new coach.

Our new home.

This is the entry to our new home. We are both very pleased with the coach.

This is the living area and we were able to seat at least eight people and could also seat more.

This is the dinning and kitchen area, love the counter space and the very large with an icemaker fridge.

This is the bedroom, I really love the quilt that was left for us.

Guess this is the best space, Dennis has his own location with a pocket table for his computer. It is really nice to have that.

Some have asked why we decided to get a new motorhome. 'We have long argued that our bus was as sturdy a vehicle as you would see in an RV park. It has been a good and reliable vehicle on the road. But we have seeing a lot of newer RV's with the slideouts that make them seem like more liveable space. That was our primary motivation for looking for something newer. And although we have been able to work things out, we have found that it is often difficult to find someone who is willing and knowledgeable to work on an old bus when on the road. That has been a source of concern for Dennis who is not known for mechanical skills. And there are systems and conveniences that are available on newer RVs. While most can be added to a bus conversion, they can be difficult and costly, especially if you hire someone to do it. So we had been thinking for some time in a tentative way about finding another RV. Our first thought was to buy a fifth wheel as that appears to be the way to get the most living space for the least money. And we looked at a few. But we like traveling in a motorhome and the idea of having a large truck for a daily driving vehicle did not appeal to either of us. And the cost of a new or near new fifth wheel and and new or near new truck to tow it was still expensive. So we looked at the idea of what we could get in a motorhome for something in that price range or less. We were convinced that a new motorhome that would meet our critera as fulltimers could not be found in this price range. So we started looking at older motorhomes that were larger, had good reputations and in our view well built. We believe that we bought at a good time as the market has been down for the last couple of years which has made prices of used units more favorable to buyers. We were a bit surprised to find one as quickly as we did that we both wanted as we had somewhat different criteria in mind.

By the way, is anyone looking for a deal on a used MCI bus? We still have ours and are putting it on the market.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Palm Springs for the Holidays

We returned to the Palm Springs Thousand Trails Park on the 20th of December. This is starting to feel like our home base. We may be spending more time here than originally anticipated. We will be here now through the holidays. Our friends Oland and Meralee came in a couple of days later. Their friends John and Debbie who we met at Catalina Spa came in as their guests. The six of enjoyed good times and a lot of good meals over the holidays.

Dennis had a few head bangers in John and Deb's rig, so Johns gave him some protective head gear.
This was a very nice Christmas dinner the park here had their dinner about 5 days before the holidays. John and Debbie hosted a breakfast for all of us and it was wonderful.

This is my very very best present this year, aren't they great.

During this period Barbara has finally been completing her physical therapy. She finished therapy first on her foot and needed a few more sessions on her shoulder. The good news is that it all has gone well.

The holidays this year are a bit of a hectic time. But not in the usual way. We are buying a new motorhome. And there are a lot of details involved. And the process is complicated by doing things long distance. We are dealing with a bank and credit union in Ohio and vehicle registration in Florida. We have been going through the bus sorting through everything and deciding what we can get rid of and what we need and want to keep. As with any move we are finding things that we had forgotten about.

Our new motorhome is a 2000 Monaco Dynasty. Like the MCI bus the Dynasty is nominally 40 feet in length. More technically the Dynasty is about 6 inches longer, 6 inches wider and 6 inches higher than the MCI. It has more interior living space primarily as a result of 2 slideouts. A trade off is that we have less space in the outside storage compartments under the floor.
This photo is absolutely pre boob job. More about the new motorhome later.

Our planned moving day is December 30. We will go to the dealer and park the coaches side by side and move everything from the old coach to the new one. If we do not complete the process in one day we can stay the night. We will finish and be in the new coach for the New Year.