Monday, March 30, 2015

Kitt Peak And More Issues

We left the trailer this morning and headed down to the Kitt Peak National Observatory just ninety miles out of Tucson and up to an elevation of 6850 feet.
The site encompasses 25 telescopes of various sizes including two radio telescopes on property leased by the National Science Foundation in October 1958 from the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation.  The 200-acre site was leased with the understanding that it would be use only for scientific research facilities and there would be no commercialization on site or use of the facility for military research.  Kitt Peak was picked from 150 sites in 1957 as the first location of the first national astronomical observatory.  Kitt Peak is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observation (NOAO) located in Tucson.  NOAO operates Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile and provides astronomers with access to observe The Gemini North and South telescopes in Hawaii and Chile.  The Association of Universities operates NOAO for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Many universities have vested interest in the site including the University of Washington in our hometown.

It is a spectacular site to behold as you climb to the 6850-foot mark in just 11.5 miles.  Winding up the road way (paved) around the hills and watching the valley below become smaller and smaller.  Before you started you could see one of the biggest telescopes (Mayall) against the skyline.  As you get closer you begin to realize just how big it is.  We arrived at the visitor center and went in to observe some of the reasons this place exists.  We are but a dot on the face of the universe.

It was solar observation day so Mia and I got a chance to look through one of the smaller telescopes to see the sun through two different filters.  One made it appear like you would see the moon.  It was white with a black solar spot.  The other lens showed a red ball of fire with long flare-ups jumping across the lower edge.  It was amazing.  As you can see by the pictures tonight will not be good for their evening observation program.  We didn't plan to stay until evening but it would have been fun to star gaze using one of these huge telescopes.

We took some pictures of the facility and headed back home.  It is a little cooler tonight but still ninety-one degrees here at six o’clock.  And the damned air conditioner has gotten worse.  It now pops the trailer breaker very quickly leading me to believe there is something dramatically wrong with it.  In addition to that, last night I tried to fire the hot water heater using the 12-volt ignition on the propane side.  It failed to cycle.  It wouldn’t cycle this morning when I tried it again.  I am a little dis-appointed, as we have never had issues with any of this stuff before.  I can’t get the cover off the AC unit until I can find an impact driver.  Hopefully Harbor Freight will have one tomorrow and I can get in and check the evaporator and condenser and make sure there are no obstruction (needles, leafs and such).  If that is all okay then I suspect something is causing a build up of head pressure in the compressor and it is doing what it supposed to do…shut down.  The dis-appointment comes from leaving with everything working and loosing appliances as we go.  Luckily we are leaving the heat behind on Thursday.  Let us pray that the furnace doesn’t decide to join the other appliances.

Hope everything is well and thanks for dropping by.

The Mesa Market And It Is Too Hot

We got up early in the morning on Sunday and went to the Mesa Market.  Several people in the park thought we might enjoy wandering through the place so we left Honey in the trailer and headed up so we could be there shortly after they opened at seven o’clock.  I was surprised at how many people were there on a Sunday morning that early.  The market consist of multiple rows of tents, covering the middle of a very large parking lot.  We started at one end and walked down a long row, turned the corner and walked down another long row.  This happens four times before you see the whole complex.  It reminded us, somewhat, of a trip to the Puyallup fair and all the people selling all kinds of stuff in the buildings.  There were cell phone accessories, kitchen gadgets, yard art, home art, ladies clothes, purses and handbags, wallets, furniture, tools (really cheap ones), popcorn vendors, golf cart sales, disability cart sales, an RV shop with a limited supply of items, Arizona t-shirts and sweatshirts and much, much more.  There was even a cookware demonstration.  Many items appeared more than once during out trip around the complex.

We spent about two and a half hours before we left the head home via a cheap breakfast at the local Taco Bell.  We had no other plans for the day.  When we got home Honey was very happy to see us and we noted the outside temperature seemed a little warmer than Saturday.  We weren’t wrong.  By one o’clock in the afternoon we had a temperature of ninety-three degees inside the trailer.  I decided to seek some relief and we got in the truck, turned on the AC and took a slow drive to Casa Grande where we found some water bottles with fans that you can spray yourself with to help with the heat.  When we got home we used them as we now noted the temperature was ninety-six degrees in the trailer.  It was two thirty o’clock so we dressed, turned a fan on for Honey and headed down to the pool.

I guess we were in the pool for about an hour when the gal that owns the place came to the gate and asked if any of us had pets in our trailers.  Seems they had completely lost power to the park and everything had shut down.  They were calling the local power company but weren’t expecting any miracles since it was Sunday.  Frankie’s Chuckwagon would operate in the dark but since they have and outside, wood fired grille there was no need to worry about the restaurant.  We came back to the trailer to check on Honey and disconnect the trailer from the power and wait.  It was getting really uncomfortable.  I didn’t check the temperature but I am willing to bet it was a couple of degrees hotter inside the trailer.  We sat outside under the awing with Honey and fixed hot dogs on the outside grille for dinner.

Some of the folks that were in the pool with us were going to get together for a fire at their place.  We sat with three other couples and talked about all kinds of stuff, some serious and some just nutty.  We stayed until nine-thirty, ate popcorn our host made and had a really good time.  When we came home it was hot and still no power.  We spritzed ourselves with our newly purchased water bottles and attempted to lay down to go to sleep.  I could not sleep even as tired as I was.  I sat up and noticed the lights were on at the main building so I dressed and went outside to hook the trailer back up via my surge protector.  The protector makes you wait 128 seconds while it measures the voltage coming from the line and if everything is with the parameters set in the protector it turns the power on to the trailer.  It must have been around ten-thirty when the power came on and I went inside to turn on the AC and finally cool the trailer some.

I finally got to sleep but it was very restless.  The low temperature last night was in the seventies and it made for some hot sleeping.  I got up at five-thirty, showered and sat down to right this blog post.  We are leaving after breakfast to go up to Kitt Peak which is a National Observatory, ninety miles outside of Tucson.  We have been told the temperature there can be twenty degrees less that Tucson so it could be more like a Seattle summer day.  The temperature here is supposed to rise to ninety three today and slowly start to bleed off into the upper eighties for the remainder of the week.

I made a reservation Saturday for a park in Camp Verde, Arizona.  It will be our central location from April 1 until April 9th.  We plan to visit as much of the area around Flagstaff as possible from this location.  I still haven’t decided if we will continue up to Utah or go east to New Mexico.  Whatever we do, I hope to escape the super hot weather at least for a while.

Hope all is well and thanks for visiting.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

How Hot Can It Get

Solar power in Arizona seems like the right thing to do.  With the amount of sunshine available most days of the year it only makes sense to have a solar array on your roof.  But, here in the Phoenix area there is a war going on between those who sell and install the solar arrays and the local power company.  There are many houses with solar panels installed on the roof but not as many as you might expect given the incentives to do so.  Part of the problem here is the power company’s bottom line is suddenly taking a hit as more people opt for solar power and the power company is required to purchase any excess power from the solar arrays.  Since most of the installers of solar power are not affiliated with the power company the company has proposed increases in the cost to connect to the grid as well as paying less for the excess power and higher rate charges to solar users.  There are other issues but it comes down to a state with lots of sunshine, customers who want solar independence, and a power company whose bottom line is and will continue to shrink if they don’t do something to recover their lost revenue.   There is a lawsuit pending and it will be interesting to see the outcome.  Nearly every government group offers incentives to conserve.  Add up the cost including the new rate charges from the power company less the incentives and it doesn’t seem to be such a good idea.  Many are now waiting for the outcome of the lawsuit.

It gets extremely hot in the desert unless it decides to be very cool.  We have been here in the KOA Park in Picahco for several days and the temperatures in the area are reaching record numbers.  Our expectations for this region at this time of year were mid to high 70’s with some eighty-degree days.  Instead we are getting upper eighty-degree weather with this week forecast to be in the lower nineties.  We have already hit that ninety number a couple of times.  The RV air conditioning unit is not made to perform under these types of conditions.  It will eventually cool down the rig a few degrees but nothing seems to cut through the desert heat.

We have a few things that help during the day.  We close up the trailer and put reflective foil over all the windows and in the vents whenever we are gone.  If we are home we just shade those windows hit by the sun and leave the vents and other windows open.  It actually cools better if there is a slight breeze and the temperature is in the nineties than it does if we are in the eighties and closed up.  Most of the time we are gone during the day.  We then have the air-conditioned comfort of the truck or whatever place we happen to be visiting.  Unfortunately we must return to the trailer and find a nice, hot box waiting for us.  We put down the awning, but often the winds dictate whether or not you can leave it down and with the exception of using the microwave to cook we choose to cook outside over our little propane grille.

We have discussed what we would have done differently were we to purchase the trailer after this experience.  I am sure we will encounter more heat along with humidity as we head to the northeast this summer.  One of the things that I have often laughed about is a trailer with outside kitchenettes.  I will laugh no more and can obviously see the need for keeping anything hot out of the main trailer during these warm days.  Right now, I am considering having a Fantastic Fan installed in the kitchen vent.

Today the weather forecast for the valley is ninety-six degrees and it is off to an early start.  Mia has a seminar she will be attending this morning and I suspect we will spend the remainder of the day just hanging out.  We are thinking about spending some time in Phoenix tomorrow.

I originally didn’t want a slide in the trailer we purchased.  Having spent eighteen days in our trailer has led us to the conclusion that we should have opted for a slide even if we purchased the same size trailer.  That extra twenty-four to thirty-six inches of space would come in very handy.  It would make a huge difference if our dinette slides out just the short twenty-four inches.  Space is always at a premium but when one of us is cooking the other one can’t be moving back and forth in the small aisle between the stove and the table.  Plus, we like to exercise each morning before we leave and floor exercise would be much easier.  I just didn’t like the reviews of so many folks who had issues with slides.

Hope all is well and thanks for visiting.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Prison, Anyone

As we traveled about the central Arizona area it soon became apparent that there are a lot of facilities with high fences, ribbons of razor wire, concrete buildings with narrow slotted windows all over the area.  There are sixteen prisons run by the Arizona Department of Corrections and several of them are in and around the area that we have been visiting.
In addition to the ADC complexes there are several U.S. Border Patrol Detention Centers in the area as well.  These detention centers are for immigrants caught crossing the border between Arizona and Mexico as well as other immigration issues.  

The freeways around these facilities warn drivers not to pickup hitch hikers with street signs.
Often you will see inmates (we assume trustees) working in various places along your travel route.  They wear orange jumpsuits with ADC on the back and can be seen working along the Arizona highway system doing various jobs.  There were inmates at the Silver Mine in Bisbee cleaning up and removing trash.  We saw a couple working in Tombstone under the watchful eye of an armed Sheriff. And they help non profits like Habit for Humanity building homes.
Perhaps it is the stark areas in which these facilities have been put that make them stand out as you drive by.  In Washington there are 12 facilities and frankly I haven't seen or paid any attention to any of them.  Perhaps the countryside just absorbs them in and I don't see them as much as I do when I am driving down a long, flat highway in a desert with very little vegetation or hills.

I went to another baseball game at the Peoria Sports Complex yesterday.  The Mariners played the Kansas City Royals and lost 3-0.  I must say that Felix looked good until he gave up a double and then a sacrifice fly for a single score early in the game but he pitched six innings with only two hits, his longest outing of the 2015 spring training season.  Jeremy Guthrie threw 5 2/3 innings of two hit baseball for Kansas.  Mariner reliever Danny Farquhar gave up a two-run single from Ryan Jackson with two outs in the eighth inning. 

I had an incredible seat up a few rows and to the left of home plate.  The sun was out and it was in the nineties at game time.  While I didn't have shade for the first hour of the game, it was a relief when it arrived in the fourth inning.  I was mighty hot by then and couldn't touch the arms of the seat without feeling some heat.

One last thing before I go.  I don't think you can get away from traffic no matter where you go unless you just stay home.  Leaving the Peoria area to drive home after the game I ran into rush hour traffic on the I 10.  No accidents, just a lot of slow downs and stops for no real reason, just like Seattle and L.A.  I felt like I was on the brakes more than the gas all the way through Phoenix.  Once through town and heading south it opened up and the 75 mile an hour speed limit was attainable.  It took an hour and fifteen minutes to drive up in the morning and two and half hours to drive home.  I stopped to get some dinner as it was past dinner time.  When I got home I immediately changed into my bathing suit and hit the pool for an hour before coming home.

All in all a very enjoyable day.  Friday, Mia leaves me and Honey at the trailer while she goes to a huge Quilt Guild show in Mesa and I will be looking for places for us to stay in the Flagstaff, Sedona area as we intend to move sometime next week.

Hope all is well and thanks for visiting.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It’s Wednesday and today started out better than yesterday with my doing more laundry.  I had two more loads to do this morning so I went down early to get it done before the heat hit us.  I got the washers loaded and started and went into the TV room and found the morning paper and fresh coffee.  I had some coffee and read all the news as the clothes were being washed.

We stuck close to the trailer all day and I did a couple of small repairs, replacing a broken shade holder and a couple of other things.  We went down to the pool early in the afternoon since we had a reservation for dinner.

This KOA park has a small restaurant attached to it that is run by the folks who own the KOA.  I am told that people come from miles around to enjoy dinner at Frankie’s Chuckwagon.  He is open Tuesday thru Sunday and the small building with outdoor seating looks to seat around forty people.  They are very busy during the four hours they are open.  His specialties are steak and ribs.  While he has ribs during the winter he has stopped doing them for the last month and a half.  The park closes the last day of April so he stops smoking and doing them as his supply runs out.  We were told he is a fantastic steak house and if you go away hungry it is your own fault.  Reservations are suggested so we have a date at five to see if it lived up to the hoopla.

I had a 6 ounce sirloin that at the time it was delivered looked awful small but it came with a dinner salad, cowboy beans, biscuit and a baked potato and by the time I finished eating it didn’t seem so small.  It was very good, cooked on an outdoor barbeque over real wood and seasoned with just the right amount of pepper.  Mia had the same thing and I was afraid she wouldn’t like it because she doesn’t care for peppered items that much but she loved it.  She wasn’t too big on the beans.  They offered chocolate cake or coconut cream pie for dessert and we each took a slice of pie.  We probably gained back some of the five or six pounds we have lost since we hit the road.  A splurge is okay but now it is back to eating to a little less.

I went down the road to a Pecan tree grove as the sun was setting and took pictures.  These trees are planted perfectly straight no matter what angle you look at them.

We spent the evening resting and preparing for my day in Peoria at another Mariners Spring Training Game on Thursday.

Hope all is well and thanks for visiting