Thursday, February 26, 2009

Las Vegas Bay, Lake Mead NRA

Thursday: (02/26) It was a grueling drive over the hill eight miles from the Sunset Casino to the campground here by Lake Mead. These long driving days have got to stop! The campground isn't very full and is quite nice. This may be a multi-day stop. We took a short walk around camp and then returned for dinner. Lou cleaned out the fridge making a stale cornchip casserole. I wasn't feeling well. Must be withdrawal from Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Bay Campsite Las Vegas Bay Campsite
Friday: (02/27) Lou got me up early, fixed breakfast burritos and we were off on a hike. We hiked down the hill from our campsite to the river. It's about a 100' descent. The brush is quite thick near the river but we persevered and made it to the rivers edge. The river is probably 2 feet deep and 50' across. It was probably twice as deep yesterday or at least recently by the flow signs and the mud. We certainly didn't expect a river but th recent rains must still be running off. We'll have to see it this river has a name, most likely the Las Vegas Wash since everything near hear has the name.

Las Vegas Bay Campsite Backyard
The view from the back of our campsite.

Las Vegas Wash At lake Mead Las Vegas Wash At lake Mead
Sunrise over Lake Mead. A view of las Vegas Wash.

Las Vegas Wash At lake Mead Flowers In Las Vegas Wash
The river is pretty big, for the desert. I got some pictures of some flowers on the bushes near the river.

Las Vegas Wash At lake Mead Las Vegas Wash At lake Mead
More views od Las Vegas Wash.

Now that the engine work is complete, Lou is busy cleaning the carpet today. I'm also very busy relaxing and enjoying the view.

The winds picked up some later in the day so Lou worked on her sewing and I worked at the computer most of the rest of the day.

Lou fixed some Thai rice noodles, asparagus and steak for dinner.

Saturday: (02/28) Today we explored. We drove North around the lake. Our first stop was at a trailhead near Las Vegas Lake where the Las Vegas River crosses the highway. we hiked down to the river and looked around.

Las Vegas Bay Campsite From Across The Wash By Gypsum Point Las Vegas Wash At lake Mead
We then headed on taking a dirt road out to Gypsum Point and a look at our camp from the other side of the river/lake (Above left). We then headed on to Government Wash to explore. Government Wash is a free BLM camping area. All the "campsites" are beside the dirt roads fingering off toward the lake. The best spots would be the ones at the end of the roads because the others would be eating dust as each vehicle passed.

We returned to the RV for luch and a nap. This exploring is tough work.

We returned to the hunt heading South to see what the Boulder Beach Campground was like. It's only about 10 miles South along the lake. It's nice but our current site at Las Vegas Wash is much nicer than anything we saw at Boulder Beach. Boulder Beach campsites are much clser together and there are more taller trees. Picking a site there whould be more difficult to find where the sun got through to the solar panels and the dish saw the satellite. We'll hang out here for a while longer.

We then headed on down to the Hacienda Casino near Boulder Dam then went over to look a the dam and how the construction of the new highway is going. Looking at the water level at the dam really shows how low the lake level has fallen. As if the long walks to the waters edge near camp weren't enough of an indicator.

We returned to the Casino for dinner. Lou needed her prime rib dinner which we shared then we started toward home. Only started though. We found the right rear tire flat on the car in the lot. The auto service was there in 15 minutes and aired it up. The Pressure Pro sensor cap on the tire was loose and leaked the tire flat. That is a problem with any of the screw on sensor systems. It's the second time we've had such a flat in the year or so we've had the system. It wouldn't have been much of a problem if I'd had the air compressor in the car. It was with the bikes in the RV. Got to get one that stays in the car. It was probably left loose by the oil change folks at Walmart when they checked the tires a few days ago. I should have checked them. Something else for the list.

The drive home was uneventful The tire remained inflated. We did manage to pass our camp road exit on the way back. Didn't seem to be a sign coming North and it is dark out.

(0301) For some unexplainable reason we're getting up awfully early recently. Lou usually does but I'm normally a night person. What's wrong with me, getting up so early?

We enjoyed cereal for breakfast then a walk around camp. Lou worked on her dolls and their clothes. I worked at the computer. It's a beautiful day today. No wind and sunny.

I fixed some Thai stir fry rice noodles with carrots, onions, red pepper, and pork for lunch. Very good. We topped that with an ice cream sandwich. Our dining entertainment was watching our neighbors try to stuff their large 5th wheel trailer into a site about 3 feet too short. Their friends have been in adjacent camps since before we arrived. They are all from Quebec so we couldn't really tell if they were cussing or not. It's all French to us. They did get it mostly in, eventually. Better than a reality TV show!

The meal caused a need for a nap or an energy drink or as I decided, both. i then worked at the computer the rest of the evening. Lou continued preparing some doll parts to fire in the morning and then some sewing.

Monday: (03/02) We got up about 7am and Lou got out her kiln and fired up the generator to fire the dolls. The firing only takes about 30 minutes after which we ran the generator another 20 minutes to put some juice back in the batteries. It will be cloudy this afternoon per the weather report so we knocked to top off our discharged batteries so that what solar power we get today will finish the job. We left it with about 60 amperehours of discharge which turned out to be just right. as the batteries were almost fully recharged when we returned home in the afternoon.

About 8:30 we were off to Las Vegas for the day. We went by the Sunset Station for breakfast. I had their $5 eggs, bacon and sausage with all you can eat pancakes. Lou had their $5 steak and eggs with hashbrowns and toast. Not additiona pancakes needed but nice cheap and excellent breakfasts. We then went hunting for an air compressor for the car. After the flat tire again day before yesterday, the second time it's happened due to loose PressurePro sensor caps, we'll keep an air compressor in the car and the RV at all times. The existing roving compressor will not be counted upon. WalMart had a couple of little compressors but the best seemed to be the cheapest, $10 compressor. it won't take up much room and can remain in the tool compartment in the car. Likewise one will remain in the RV tool compartment. But first we needed to find two good ones. The first store by Sunset Station only had two that looked like they were kicked to the store. We went by another WalMart's and found two good ones. $10 each. Definitely not worth another wait for the tow truck.
With the primary mission accomplished, we filled our drinking water bottles and got a few groceries as will as a visit to Joann's for some thread and sewing machine needles. we also noticed that gas prices had dropped a nickle so we filled up, that and the fact the gas tank was nearing empty.

We returned home and the sky was fully overcast and it was quite warm. I fixed some spagetti while Lou fixed some Mandarin orange and shredded broccoli slaw. All quite good, especially the slaw.

Vultures In Campground
We took a walk around the camp and watched the vultures, 13 of them hanging around the same tree they seem to visit each evening. After dark we also heard something we haven't heard here before, and it was only near our RV, nowhere else in the camp, cicada bug(s).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Las Vegas, RV Oil leak Fixed, Car Towed

Monday: (02/23) Up early to go back to the repair shop. The oil leak persists. I was there when they arrived at 0730. About 0815, the mechanic looked at the leak and tightened the fittings. I was off by 0840. I went over to a nearby shopping center and wiped the hoses and all the oil I saw off the underside of the RV. That isn't easy because the coach sits so low. I have to raise it on leveling blocks for easy access.

I then took it for a short drive and rechecked it. No or little improvement. I returned to the shop. They re-examined it and ask me to return tomorrow and they will replace some seals. It's a good thing I'm retired and am not in any hurry. I worked at the computer programming while I waited, much the same as any recent morning.

I returned home to the Sunset Station and advised Lou I was back. She was out examining more thrift stores.

I usually access the Internet using the HughesNet satellite system on the RV. I decided to try the WiFi signal I saw from the Sunset Station Hotel. It allowed complementary access. Now that's the way it should be. Thanks Sunset Station. Using their access saves me some power and is faster. These hotel Internet services are usually a pay as you go service.

Today has been mostly broken cloud cover. That's much better for solar generation that yesterdays continuous thick cloud cover. Since I've been back here in Las Vegas and even since Lou returned, we haven't used the generator at all until yesterday. It wasn't actually necessary but when I tested the generator after I put it back together I just ran it a while to fully recharge, it was running nice and smooth for a change.

Lou returned and we enjoyed leftovers for lunch. Baked potatoes and a little steak form Jerry's dinner and some more steak from yesterday's breakfast.

We move the valuables out of the RV to the car and I changed the air filter in the car, something I haven't done before. Quite interesting getting it out and in, requires removal of far too much stuff.

We spent most of the evening chatting with some of our neighbors from St George, Ut,  Waid and Cheri. They were originally from Seattle but are now retired and living in St George.

Our supper was sauteed asparagus and some cheese. Very good.

Tuesday: (02/24) We got up at 6am and, though it would normally be shower day, we deferred the shower because I'll probably be crawling under the RV later to test the leak repair. We had breakfast of pancakes eggs and sausage and bacon at the casino cafe for $4.99. It was good and quick.

We drove on over to the shop at Desert Inn and Maryland by 0730. After the usual morning car shuffle to clear room for the RV and get access to what they were working on they got to work on the RV. It looks like it may take a while. I'm working away at the computer and Lou's reading quite comfortably inside the RV while they tinker below. I wish them and us luck today.

About 10am, Lou took off to visit the Aardvark Clay shop. The first attempt to stop the leak failed so about 11am, I saw the mechanic walking away from the RV with the steel oil lines. Looks like they're getting serious. About 2pm they were back with parts and shortly said it was ready. Lou had returned shortly before they finished. She helped me back the RV out of the lot and I pulled around the corner to wipe everything down underneath so I can be sure there are no leaks. It looks like they may have got it stopped. That's the good news. After four visits to the shop the leak is stopped. We may finally be able to get out  of town, but not too far until we're sure the patches hold.

And then there was some bad things that happened. Lou's car was stolen from the garage parking lot while I was wiping up under the RV. At least  that's our opinion. The clerk of the convenience store or the garage manager called to have her car towed because they said it was abandoned there all day. She had just returned after a four hour absence about 20 minutes previously. As she was walking back to get it she saw it leaving on the tow truck. She complained to the clerk at the store that shares the site with the garage.  The clerk claimed it was there all day and called to have it towed. So we called the posted phone number and they said they didn't tow it. Now, loosing that car wouldn't be quite so bad if it didn't contain everything of value that we had moved to it because the RV was being worked on. After a couple of attempts to contact the towing company and not getting any results we called 911 and reported the car stolen. About 10 minutes later the police called back and gave us the phone number of the towing company. We finally found the impound lot and inquired about getting the car back. When they said it would cost $200, needless to say we were not pleased. We asked for a copy of their authorization to tow and a copy of the laws authorizing the tow. The attendant got huffy and said he didn't have to provide anything. We explained he did and said the police might be able to help. He than demanded we leave. We did call the police. About 10 minutes later the attendant came out and gave us some of the information requested just as the police showed up. The police went in looked at the information and logs that they wouldn't show us and said it was a legal tow and that if we disagreed then it was a civil matter not a legal one. How odd. We paid the extorted fee and requested the police standby to receive the stolen property report if anything was missing  from the car. Nothing was. We were finally on our way $200 more poor and with much higher blood pressure. Just before 5pm. Now, because of an incompetent clerk at the store we now have to sue the store and or garage and  likely the towing service and the police for the illegal tow. It is more than obvious that someone somewhere is getting kickbacks. According to the police, if there is a sign that says they may tow they can for any reason even just to get the kickback. It doesn't matter if it was legally parked or you were doing business with them at the time. I tend to think that isn't actually the case and will check on the actual law tomorrow. They evidently don't realize how much free time I have. I've spent days working to get a $5 parking fine returned because it was unjust. If something is unjust it makes me mad enough to spend any amount of time to correct it. Of course, that is the current opinion and reality may settle in tomorrow.

No Trespassing Sign Tow Away Sign
The offending signs. These are posting in the parking area of the mini mart and garage parking lot. The place was open for business and we were an active customer if leaving $700 there is active.

Desert Inn Mini mart Toad After The Tow
The mini mart above left, Our car survived the tow without noticable damage other than greasy hand prints.

Don's DI Auto Service Desert Inn Mini mart
More views of the Desert Inn Mini Mart and Don's DI Auto Service. While we might have recommended the Don's DI Auto Service prior to our fourth visit and the towing of our car, we wouldn't recommend them now. They did eventually fix the oil leak and they didn't complain about having to do followup repairs, the towing leaves a sour taste.

Silver State Towing Yard Illegally Parked Tow Truck (Red Zone)
Silver State Towing is obviously now a reputable business. Their yard is shown above left and one of their several illegally parked trucks out in front of it. The LV Metro PD are not to good either since they didn't and don't ticket the illegally parked vehicles even when they were pointed out.

We returned the RV to the Sunset. I hope they don't tow it. We had dinner at Friday's and went to the Fremont Street Experience for a while for Mardi Gras. The Don McLean American Pie video on the roof on Fremont Street was excellent.

We found something that has been missing from the Show In The Sky at the Rio. One of my favorite entertainers was the whistle blowing stilt walker. She was down on Fremont street doing her thing there now dressed as a 10' tall fairy.

We returned home by 11pm. The visit downtown helped lower the blood pressure. I do hope the leak is fixed because we don't want to ever return to Don's Di Auto Service.

Wednesday: (02/25) More Don McMuffins for breakfast. While Wade and I chatted much of the morning, Lou and Cheri went over to the the thrift stores for a visit. Just before lunch I moved the RV down to Sunset Park. Lou drove the car. We looked around and found a good spot to park big enough for the RV to be within the parking spot and not in a red zone. We're kind of paranoid. We noticed lots of people all around the park throwing Frisbees. Kind of odd. There were also lots of metal posts with chains hanging from them all around the park. What were they. I finally couldn't resist and ask one of the groups if they were playing golf with Frisbees. They were. It's called disc ball. It's played exactly like golf. They even have different Frisbees for different purposes much like a bag of clubs. Putter disks.  Drivers. Discs to curve right or left. They carry a bag of of disks around like a golf bag. It looks like a lot of fun.

Anyway, we had chosen a parking spot next to one of the tees and in the path of one of the holes. The course director asked us to move. We said we searched all over and this was the only suitable spot due to all the red curbs. He called the park ranger and got permission for us to park else where. After the RV was set up Lou stayed and worked on her dolls using the kiln to fire them as needed.

I went on a tour. First stop was the place that had our car towed. I got the owner's name to make a refund request for the towing fees.  Next stop was the police department. The Desk sergeant advised that towing companies are regulated by the Attorney General's office with a phone number and a probable address. I went to the location which was the State Office Building. I visited the Attorney General's office and got the name address and phone number of  the person that regulates the operators at the Nevada Transportation Administration. I drove over to their office and spoke to an investigator and filed a complaint against the towing company.

Evidently this is just a big scam going on in Las Vegas as in many other cities. One of the local TV channels is making a lot of reports exposing these shenanigans. The tow operators evidently pay finder fees to the owners/employees that call in the towing requests. All this is really meaningless to us because you still have to pay up to get your vehicle and getting the money back requires a lawsuit. Something is wrong here. Is it just me or does this look like it has  to involve elected officials and government officials as well? This may take a while!

I returned to the park and we packed up and returned to the Sunset Station Casino for dinner at the buffet, a two for one night and to stay the night. It will be nice to escape these buffets.

Thursday: (02/26) Final preparations to leave today. We did our laundry and then had breakfast at the Fiesta Casino on Lake Mead Blvd. We did our final grocery shopping and then hooked up and headed on over to Lake Mead. Not too sure exactly where we'll camp but there is a campground by the lake just 8 miles East of where we are.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Las Vegas, RV Repairs

Saturday: (02/14) I left the Gold Coast Casino and went over toward the Sunset Station again. Lou is on her way back and will meet me there. She was worried that the heavy snow on Highway 58 over the Tehachapi mountains and the fact the road was closed last night might delay her but today its quite nice.

I stopped at Trader Joe's for a few things and at Walmart's as well for some extra oil. I may have a bit of an oil leak in the RV. Seems I'm loosing a lot of oil and it's not being burnt on the inside? I don't see any puddles though.

I tweaked the computer all day waiting for Lou to arrive. She arrived a little after 4pm. We had dinner at the Guadaljara Restaurant in the Casino. We each had the Pollo Enrique Relleno.

Sunday: (02/15) I fixed a couple of Don McMuffin's for breakfast. Lou looked around the stores nearby including the thrift stores. I tinkers on the computer a while until she called and said she found some wool shirts at Savers. I met her there and picked out three good ones. Greak selection for $6-10. We stopped by the local IHOP restaurant for breakfast. Dinner was a salad. We tinkered at home the rest of the day.

Monday: (02/16) I did a little search for a place to get the RV oil loss fixed. I decided on Don's DI Auto Shop On Desert Inn near Maryland. I called and they could see us today for a free estimate. That was faster than I planned. We planned on the brunch buffet this morning at the Sunset Casino. 2 for 1 so we couldn't miss it. We are cheap, and love it. After breakfast we unloaded the expensive stuff from the RV and took it over to the garage. We went ot a nearby laundromat and did our laundry and then looked around the mall on Maryland at Desert Inn nearby. After a while the garage called and said we had a leaky oil cooler line. They could fix it tomorrow.

We took the RV back for the night. I visited the WWW truck stop and did the tank duty  and then headed over to the Gold Coast for the night. We visited both the Gold Coast and the Rio casinos in the evening but turned in early. no need for dinner because brunch still lingered.

Tuesday: (02/17) We got up early, had to use an alarm clock, a very rare use. We drove over to the Don's DI Auto Service to get the leaky oil line replaced. They open at 0730 and we were there. We left it in their care and headed over to Sam's Town for breakfast at TGI Friday's restaurant. They have a normal breakfast for $3.99. No buffets today. We also walked over to the new Eastside Cannery Casino to see what it was like. Nice and new but not many people there. Next stop was across the street to Walmart. I need a new thermometer for the outside window of the RV. I blasted the old one apart when i washed the RV a couple of days ago. They didn't have one so it's on the list. We also tried to get an oil change in the Volvo but they couldn't handle a Volvo, something about an unstocked odd oil filter. oh well!

We stopped at various thrift stores, Rv stores, hardware stores etc ending up in North Las Vegas at Jerry's Casino for lunch. It's one of our favorite restaurants here. We each had their special steak and shrimp dinners served all day for $7.99. Excellent shrimp and the best steak I've had in a long time. It was only 2pm and they had baked potatoes. We had leftovers and took a slice of cheesecake to go, no room. When we had just sat down, the garage called to say the RV was ready. That was fast.

After lunch we headed over to get the RV and then returned to the Sunset Casino for the night. We worked at cleaning up the RV vacuuming and dusting. Carpet cleaning will have to wait until tomorrow if it's sunny.

TV reception here at the Sunset Station is very good, much better than the un-watchable signal last night at the Gold Coast. We're up on a hill here so no obstructions. We enjoyed TV the rest of the evening.

Wednesday: (02/18) Lou and I were enjoying an easy morning. no rush to do anything. We intended to go over to WalMart to get some carpet cleaner. While we were still thinking about starting to do something, brother Ernie called. he's in town for his break and after settling in was going to come over to meet us here at the Sunset Station Casino. Lou and I went over to Walmart and got the spray carpet cleaner, checked on getting an oil change at this location for the toad. They had plenty of the oil filter we needed so I'll return later with the car since we were walking.

Ernie arrived and we all had breakfast at the casino buffet after which we walked across the street to look at the Galleria Mall. Neither Lou nor Ernie had been there before and we needed to walk some after the nice breakfast. Lou continued to look around including getting some things at JoAnn's fabric. Ernie was off to do his usual home visit stuff and I took the car over for the oil change. Another needed task accomplished. I'm so proud. I then went over to Camping World and talked to them about the generator. It looks like there's no easy fix. I need to get my hands dirty. It only has about 10 hours on it since the last service which included a fuel filter. Having another service seems wasteful and costly. it seems to me that it is most likely the fuel filter so I'll just need to find it and replace it. It probably was a defective filter with some debris in it. Fortunately, it works well enough most of the time.

Ernie came by for dinner and we went over to the Sweet Tomato's Restaurant nearby. it seemed like tome for a salad.

Thursday: (02/19) Ernie came over and experienced a Don McMuffin for breakfast.

Ethel M Chocolate Factory
We then went over to the Ethel M candy factory. Odd place for a chocolate maker to setup camp, in the hot desert, but here it is a short distance from the Sunset Station Casino. The "M" is for Mars, the big candy company. Ethel M is a high quality candy maker like See's.

Candy Facrory Cooling Tables Finished candy bars
They have a factory tour

Ethel M Cactus Garden Las Vegas Ethel M Cactus Garden Las Vegas
and a nice cactus garden. It was an interesting stop.

Ernie had other tasks as did Lou and I so we went our separate ways after the tour. Lou and I finally stopped by a Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market. We see them everywhere around these parts and had never stopped. They are a market something like Trader Joe's. We also visited a nice statuary shop. When we got back to the RV it was time for popcorn for lunch. I found the stash of popcorn the other day while cleaning out a cabinet. Then, with full tummy, it was nap time.

Later I worked on this blog, email and other computer tinkering while Lou visited some more of the nearby shops.

Ernie came over to meet us here at the Sunset Station Casino for dinner. We all went over to the Guadalajara restaurant. Ernie hadn't been there before and we had to show him the place.

Friday: (02/20) We got up early and drove both vehicles down to the Wild Wild West Casino on Tropicana East of I15. We met Ernie who treated us to breakfast at the WWW. We also enjoyed a long shower in his room. Ernie is returning to the road again this morning. We left the car and set out in the RV. We want to be sure the thing holds it's oil.

Our first stop was the newly reopened Costco on Martin Luther king Blvd near downtown. You might ask WHY? Well, it is a new Costco Bussiness Center. there are no hot dogs, no jelery, no pharmacy. Not really too much of the normal Costco fare. But, if having to buy mayo by the gallon or chilli by the six-pack then or simply anything in too large a quantity then this is the place for you. You can but it by the gross here or by case quanity only here. You can also by the industrial deep fryer, comercial grill and all sorts of other stuff suited to a business needs like a dozen identical salt and pepper shakers. It includes a full copy and printing center and office supplies. Interesting place. It's evidently intended to take on Staples and restaurant suppliers. We then headed out Ranco Drive stopping at several of the Station Casinos along the way as well as a Savers. We also Stopped at K-mart to get some Lock&Lock storage boxes. These are the refrigerator storage boxes we have standardized on because they can be dropped without any danger of leaking. The bigger containers are excellent for storage which is what caused the curreent need. I needed more containers for the additional space in the cabinet that contains the much saller satellite modem and equipment.

We made our way to the brand new Aliente Casino in very North Las Vegas. It's a new Station Casino that has an Art Deco motif, kind of a nice change of pace for the all too common western,  spanish or glass wall designs. Unfortunately, all these casinos visited today are not really RV friendly. Very little uncovered parking, narrow isles and too many islands. The only two Station Casinos that seem to be big rig friendly are the Palace Station and the Sunset Station.

We stopped a a community park for a while and I raised the front of RV and wiped down the oil as best I could so that any continuing leaks are apparent. There was a puddle on the fron axle frame. When we stop we still see a small puddle but the 60 miles today have only used approximately 1/8 of  quart, much better than before but probably still a leak. We returned to the WWW and picked up the car and returned to the Gold Coast Casino for the night.

Dinner was leftover dinner from last night.

Saturday: (02/21) Breakfast was yogurt and canned  grapefruit. We drove back over to the Sunset and left the RV. We then drove over to the Green Valley Ranch Casino in Henderson, a couple of miles South of the Sunset. It's another Station Casino and is situated next to a village like shopping center. We walked the Casino and had lunch at the Turf Grill. Lou had a grilled cheese sandwich and fries ($3). I had a grilled hot dog with chilli, cheese and fries ($3). Both came with a deli dill pickle wedge. A nice cheap and very good lunch. We walked the mall which had a Mutts In The Mall Day today. Lou managed to discover why that isn't a good idea and spent some time cleaning her shoes. Also a good demonstration of why waffle stomper shoes shouldn't be worn near dogs. There were some cute dogs though.

On our return we looked at a garage sale and a couple of open houses. While Lou continued or intensified here examination of the nearby thrift stores I spent some time on the computer among other things doing this post.

We drove back to North Las Vegas to Jerry's Nugget Casino for dinner, again. We watched a couple of CSI Miami episodes on DVD the rest of the evening

Sunday: (02/22) Lou saw a sign for a $4.99 steak and eggs breakfast here at the casino. Lou loves steak and eggs, or any steak. She inquired and learned that that it required the casino's Boarding Pass as the players club card is called here at the Station Casinos.

We've survived all these years without joining any of these clubs even though we do frequent casinos. We thought that we don't gamble enough to benefit. Our total points at then end of the first day was 5, 3 of which we were given for getting the card. If we had gotten it when we arrived we probably would have more than a couple of dozen points. It takes 1000 points to start to be useful (good for about a $1). But we were wrong. It provides two things that will be useful to us even though we don't gamble much. It provides the discounts at their restaurants and it provides a win/loss statement when needed. That might be useful to prove losses if we do gamble and do win. Taxes are on winnings minus losses. We were always concerned about having to fill out the applications but the only information they wanted here was the drivers license as ID. Almost too simple. We'll see how much it really does benefit us.

Anyway, Lou got her cheap breakfast which was very good. We also had dinner at the buffet in the casino for another discount. We're now a little richer because of the $2 savings each on the buffet and the probable $3 savings each on the breakfast. Every little bit helps!

The day was otherwise spent mostly relaxing at home. I did look at the oil leak again. It is still present. I wiped the hoses again. I also looked at the generator. I tried to find the fuel filter and have to conclude there is none, at least nothing from the gas tank to the carburetor. Luckily the generator ran better after the search. Maybe it will heal itself?

Lou went over to Super Cuts and got a hair cut. It's much shorter now.

We enjoyed a Will Smith movie on "MyTV" called "Enemy Of The State". It was very good. There don't seem to be many good movies on broadcast TV anymore.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Las Vegas In The Rain

Sunday: (02/08) I've been below most of the recent rain storm until now. Now I'm in the thick of it. I arrived at The Orleans Casino again. Our home away from home for Las Vegas now. This report may get boring if the others aren't already. I tinkered inside most of the day. The rain from last night hasn't really been to present though it was overcast much of the day. There was the occasional sun burst through the clouds though.

Monday: (02/09) I caught the I215 freeway and circled around Las Vegas to Henderson and the Sunset Station Casino. I checked with security and they allow overnight stays by RV's in their lot.

Sunset Station campsite
They have an area marked off with large spaces but no signs directing one to them. I had already found them but the security guard recommended them as well. I took a stroll around the nearby shopping centers. The casino is surrounded by every chain store imagine. I wanted to visit a couple. I stopped at the Costco to resupply a couple of things best found there like our blue towels. I stopped by Walmart's and got oil. The RV is using a lot recently? I need to keep a better watch on it.

For dinner I looked around in the casino. There was , of course, the Feast Buffet (too much). There was Hooters (humm!), there were several fast food places, Quisno's, Fatburger's, Sbarro's Pizza, and Panda Express. Why? Who wants to escape to Las Vegas for the same junk food found everywhere. There were several "fine" restaurants, the kind with table cloths, Capri Itallian Restorante, Oyster Bar and Sonoma Celler. I don't care for table cloth restaurants. And of course the Cafe and Viva Salsa. I finally decided on the Guadalajara Bar and Grille. Good choice. They have the best salsa bar I've ever seen and all 10 or more are excellent, though many too hot for my taste. You help yourself to the salsa and chips. I ordered a combination chilli relleno and a shredded beef burrito. It came with rice and beans and was excellent as well. Every thing seems home made and they must eat here as well because it was sooo good. I'm adding this to the return visit list.

Tuesday: (02/10) Another day at Sunset Station Casino. It's really quite quiet here compared to The Orleans, only a couple of other RV's. I didn't have breakfast, wasn't at all hungry. Last nights dinner stuck to the ribs, I guess. Walked over to Best Buy across the street and bough a secure jump drive. My existing jump drives have no security if lost. I tinkered with it setting it up and did other computing and programming most of the day. It was gusty most of the day, cold but no rain. Just before dark I took a walk around looking at some of the stores previously not visited. and for a potential place to eat dinner. I returned to the Guadalajara Bar and Grille in the Sunset Station Casino for dinner. I had a Pollo Enrique Relleno which was a piece of chicken stuffed with spinach and all stuffed into a poblano chili and turned into a relleno. Very good. I think I like this place!

After dinner I did my duty and invested a $1 in a slot machine. It actually took a while to digest it this time, unlike normally. That's my gambling investment so far on this visit.

I then returned to the RV and watched the remaining NCIS (darn), and the Mentalist. These are a couple of the TV shows I do like to watch.

Wednesday: (02/11) The sun was out and it wasn't as cold as the weather reports predicted, or I'm getting used to the cold? I cleaned up myself and drove across the street to the Best Buy lot. I cooked another Don McMuffin (Quartzsite sausage patty, fried egg, cheese on an English muffin. I think I like these things. I popped the dish up and am tinkering at the computer. One task was to find the location of a DIY car wash to get this RV cleaned up. It really shows that it's been in the desert, in the dust and rained on. I also needed to catch up on the blog posts.

About 2pm I went over to the spray wash on Warm Springs South of Eastern. They said they had a big one for RV's. Well sort of. They do have two with high clearance but getting to them isn't easy. i wouldn't want to try with anything longer than my 30' rig. They also aren't any longer so it's a choice of which end to wash. I washed off the dist fairly well for about $5 in quarters. You get 30" for $.25, not bad but time does fly. I then went over to the Gold Coast. it's across the street from the Rio. I had dinner at the Gold Coast at the buffet. I walked across the street to the Rio and checked on their Show In The Sky, which I like. I wanted to see it again before it closes due to the recession like most of the shows in Las Vegas. Something about a loss of discretionary cash? Unfortunately it's dark Wednesdays so I caught the shuttle to the Strip. I walked along the strip looking at the casinos. Most are pretty bare. It is mid week but looks like most are only 1/6 of normal crowds. I stopped by a tix4less shop and got a ticket for a show. 1/2 price is good. The Tropicana's Folies Bergere is closing after an almost 50 year run and I've never seen it so I did tonight. It was very good. How they do so much in such an old small house is amazing. Of course the technical and historical aspects were my only interest. I was too late to catch the shuttle back to the Rio. Though they say they run until 1am, they don't. They quit at 1am so the last bus leaves before that. I should have asked. It's not really far to walk across the freeway back to the Gold Coast but it wasn't planned.

Thursday: (02/12) The weather is nice but has broken clouds. Here at the Gold Coast there are only a couple of RV's and trucks and one reason may be the noise. Seems like there was always something talking, trucks, ??. I didn't really get too interested and find out what it was but I may change positions in the lot for tonight. I moved over to another shopping center on Maryland for the day. Breakfast was another Don McMuffin. I basically just worked at the computer all day.

In the evening, I walked across the street and watched my favorite show, the Show In The Sky at the Rio. It's free and a pretty good show though not as good as it was a couple of years ago when I wrote this blog entry and here. It just seems too McDonald's like or unimaginative now. They also don't use the technology to the advantage the old show did. The only have three different shows now instead of the 6 or more they used to do. There is no street carnival intro to the show with jugglers, mimes and stilt walkers as before. Most shows are 6 girls and 6 guys and they now have live male and female singer as part of the group. The old show had 4 guys and 6 gals and all caned music but the old music was much better as were the dancers. In one of the three shows they go all out and have 6 guys and 12 girls. They robbed some girls from the overhead gondolas and don't run them around the room until after the main part of the show giving some of the dancers a chance to get on the gondolas. Still the best (free) show in Las Vegas. Ah, I like free!

I spent the night in the Gold Coast parking lot again tonight.

Friday: (02/13) I pulled out and went by the Springs Preserve just up the road on Valley View. I've wanted to look it over. But, It's not RV friendly and I only wanted to see the free trails at this time but didn't find and easy way so this remains for another visit. I went to the Meadows Mall nearby and looked around, bought tho obligatory valentines card and candy and tweaked the computer all day.

It changed from sunny to foggy or at least very low gray clouds and the wind began heavy gusts. About 6pm I went over to Jerry's Nugget Casino in North Las Vegas for dinner. Actually the purpose was cheese cake. they make the best. I had another Mexican combination chili relleno and beef burrito. pretty good and plentiful. i stopped half way through to get the cheese cake which i also only ate half of. Nice half dinner.

I then returned to the Gold Coast parking lot and went to the Rio for another look at the shows. When i returned late in the evening it was time for the rest of the cheese cake.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Senator Wash LTVA

Thursday: (02/05) Pulled into the Senator Wash LTVA (Long term Visitor Area). It's near Imperial Dam, I think, just West of the Yuma Proving Ground and North of Yuma. I think it's in California but I approached from the Arizona side and didn't see a sign. Since it was well after dark when I arrived, I didn't see much so will explore tomorrow.

Senator Wash Campsite.JPG
Friday: (02/06) I was a late riser because of a late night working at the computer. I'm a night person and the late arrival didn't help. Sometime after 1am I heard an odd sound. if I hadn't come here partly for that reason I might not have recognized it. A burro was nearby making a racket. When I turned off my light to be able to see outside it immediately stopped and wasn't heard again. I did hear the coyotes though. Neat to be in the desert.

I walked around the area and picked what I thought was a better spot. I didn't drive around the campsite with my headlights on when I arrived at 10pm, would have been a little impolite. I leveled the coach and raised a set of the solar panels and then fixed a sausage Mc Muffin or more specifically I cooked some of the sausage and made patties. I then fried an egg and toasted a couple of English muffins. A little pepperjack cheese topped off the breakfast. The second muffin had peanut butter and strawberry rhubarb jam. The neighbor arrived home and introduced himself and pointed out that his brother in law had been parked near where I was parked and his trailer sank in the soft dirt. I'm a few feet away and I haven't noticed any sinking. The rain may arrive tomorrow so iI'll move someplace else tomorrow.

Flowers At Senator Wash LTVA.JPG Flower At Senator Wash LTVA.JPG Flaky Dried Dirt On The Road.JPG
After breakfast I took a little walk. It turned out to be quite a little walk, about 7 miles. I looked around the nearby campsites. Fund some flowers. The white one is interesting. The plant looks like a lazy grass like cactus but hatches a cluster of white flowers. On my walk down a road from the cam the mud was caked and rolled into what lookedd like leaves of dirt. I also visited a solar store in the middle of nowhere nearby. It had better prices than the dealers at Quartzsite, but who doesn't
At Imperial Dam.JPG Marsh At Imperial Dam.JPG Colorado River Leaving Imperial Dam.JPG
I then walked the opposite direction looking at the beginning of the All American Canal where the Colorado gets quite a bit smaller. There is a maze of water control gates, weirs and marshes. The Imperial Dam wasn't very tall. I crossed the river a couple of times and never saw any state line signs for either direction. Odd, neither state is proud enough to advertise?

Saturday: (02/07) A moonless, cloudy night. I was nicely asleep.
I was awaken about 5:30 (the sun doesn't rise until much later here in Western Arizona) by a single brea of one burro just outside. One brea and then no more, Must be like gas, once released, all is OK. I dressed quickly and went outside. I can't see anything. The only other sounds are the clopping of the hoofs as they stroll and an occasional harrumph. Except for one. A couple of times it made a lot of loud clopping like it was running in place accompanied just before by what I thought might be it rolling on the ground. and then there is the owl-like hooting of the doves and the very loud rush of water from the nearby Imperial dam. Interesting night sounds. I could not get a view of anything but weak shadows except with the flash of the camera.
I didn't feel like traipsing off into the dark mostly because it is the desert and there are sticky things out there but also because of poop, burro poop. I still hope for a daylight sighting. I'm normally not a morning person but I got up this morning because I'll be leaving this morning and wanted to see the burros. I didn't really see them but did hear them.

Breakfast was leftover corned beef hash. Home cooking goes a long way. I packed up and pulled out exploring the other campings sites further down the road. We will be returning here for a longer visit sometime.

Up until now there had been no rain but as I hit the the road (S24) toward Yuma, it started to sprinkle turning into rain the further I went.  I drove by the Paradise Casino in Yuma, actually across the river in Winterhaven, California, They allow a nights stay in their lot but the lot is in what they called gravel and I call dirt, soon to be mud and RV's can only park in the gravel so I continued on. Choices may differ on a dry day. I continued West on I8 to the road to Oligby and toward Blythe. There are lots of places to camp along the way, unfortunately, the soil here is more sand like then gravel so getting out may have to wait for a few dry days so I continued.

About 20 miles South of Blythe I suddenly felt water on my leg and arm. Water started gushing in from the top of the drivers window. The rain was heavy and blowing from the Southwest against the left side of the coach. The front of the left gutter drains right above the window. Not much to be done. I moved the stuff  that was stored to the left of the drivers seat and sopped up the incoming water as needed with a towel. When I got to Blythe I pulled in to the Ace hardware store. It's well stocked. It was barely sprinkling now. I looked at the outside of the window and found that a big chunk of caulk was gone and another section pulled away. Either could be the source. The front cap joins the side wall at this point, right under the drain spout. Who thought of that? I didn't think I was going so fast as to strip the caulk off the RV. Of course, I could have shaken it off on some of the rough roads. I went inside and got some black silicone caulk.   The area that needs re-caulking is a faux window, a black section above the driver side window made to look as tall as the windshield, about 12" long. I dried it off and hoped the rain would hold off a while. It didn't really. I stayed in the lot giving it a chance to dry some. I was at a well supplied hardware store so I went inside and looked for things to make a shelf for my new satellite equipment. The old system was so much larger and would be wasteful of space and the new equipment needs to be secured to not bang around in transit. I was looking for wire shelves, plastic shelves with holes in it or ? I finally decided on "?". I cut a ventilation hole in the side of the cabinet that had a muffin fan to cool the old system. The new system seems like it will cool itself and the noise of the muffin fan is undesirable. I decided to make three verticle bars using a piece of 1/16" aluminum bar 3/4" by 4'. Each bar was cut to fit the cabinet and included a 3/4" leg at top and bottom for fastening with a screw. Two bars are placed behind the modem away from the side wall of the cabinet and opposite the ventilation hole. The modem was placed against two bars and the dish positioner next to it with the third bar holding it in place against the modem. It was all padded with vinyl tape and anti-slip rubber shelf padding. The two power supplies were tied to the wall on either side of the vent hole. A little dressing of the cables completed the job. Looks good, seems like it will stay cool and provides much more and easier to access storage in the remaining area. The system even worked after the rearrangement!

New Motosat System Final Installation.JPG
It was 6:15pm when I finished. I caught Highway 95 north toward Needles. where I stopped for a little dinner of corned beef hash, just about gone now. Good for breakfast lunch or dinner or all three. I arrived in Las Vegas about 10:40pm and pulled into the Orleans Casino lot which was supprisingly full. I got the last good RV spot. A pretty good drive today. No further leaks to report.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quartzsite, Az, Week 4

Monday: (02/02) Lou and I did the wash and returned home and had breakfast. I had cottage cheese and fruit while Lou and Dawn had cottage cheese and squash with brown sugar. To each their own. They were then off to the bingo game. I walked over to Satellite Advantage and arranged to bring the RV in tomorrow. The Internet system still isn't working. I also took advantage of their Internet to post this.

I worked on the system more and called Motosat, my new provider, and he was able to change my transponder assignment but still keep me on the same satellite. He said it wouldn't take effect for 15 to 20 minutes. It didn't work for me tonight for the couple of hours I continued to try.

Lou and Dawn have been busy packing the car for their departure. Quite a project to get it all to fit. hey look a little like the Clampets headed to California

I warmed up the dinner. Left over pepper tofu soup with fondue and warm bread. All enjoyed outside under the stars. No campfire tonight though since we've managed to burn all the wood.

Tuesday: (02/03) We were all up early. Breakfast was some maple granola. After breakfast, Lou and Dawn headed off toward home. The back of the car was filled with the collected stuff. Te inside of the RV has much more room now. Lou will return in a coupe of weeks.

As their dust was settling, I started working on the Satellite communications problem again. What problem? It locked right on the satellite now that the new transponder assignment finally took effect. I then had to re-register the modem, all new stuff to me but quite simple to do. My old Ground Control NAP always just worked but it was too slow. The new modem increased my speed from like dial-up to like DSL speeds. Really nice. I called Satellite Advantage and told them I got it working and wouldn’t be in for them to fix it. It was just AWFUL being without the connection these past few days.

Don's Finger On The Mend.JPG
When I got up this morning, my problem finger hurt. It looks like a new cyst has formed adjacent to the recently completed surgery. Oh joy, something to do when I do return home. By then I should have lost the remainder of the fingernail and should know if there is going to be a new nail just before they slice it up again.

Lunch was a leftover corned beef sandwich. I ended up tapping the computer keys all day. I needed to catch up.

About 4pm, I moseyed over to Trina’s for a couple of her $1 burgers and a vanilla milk shake. On the way over, I noticed that one of the RV vendors, Paul Evert, had closed down and all his RVs, about 100 were gone. He was the RV peddler immediately adjacent to the RV show. How do they do that? He has a lot in Laughlin and one in Bullhead City, both about 100 miles away. That is fairly close but still seems like a lot of drivers are needed.

When I got back to the RV, I tidied up the yard some. I put away most of the chairs, the tables, and picked up the patio mat. I may leave here Thursday?

I worked at the computer some more then settled in for the night by watching an NCIS episode via AOL videos online. It worked perfectly. The speed is nice but may be a problem. There is a thing called FAP (Fair Access Policy) for users of satellite Internet systems. It keeps one user from hogging all the bandwidth. I guess I was a hog. I managed to reach the limit of my FAP and was throttled down to the minimum for the next 24 hours. Darn. In the 5 years that I’ve had my Ground Control NAP with its Hughes 4000 modems, I never reached my FAP, even with all evening heavy use. I guess my new limit is about 300M whereas I believe it was 500M before. The new modem is much faster and evidently I used a lot more than historically for me. Live and learn. It’s always something! I watched some of my Perry Mason episodes on DVD the rest of the evening.

Wednesday: (02/04) I fixed some corned beef hash for breakfast and then worked at the computer for a while. Seems like a trend? I got the bike out. Actually, the first one I got out was Lou’s. They’re in zipper bags. I decided to cart hers back in and get mine out. Shouldn’t have. I always have to air the tires up before use, especially after a prolonged non-use. My front tire valve stem had a leak, not the valve but about a ¼ inch down on the stem. It was a pressure sensitive leak. It kept about 20 lbs in the tire but I need 50lbs so it needs replacement. I should have used Lou’s bike.

About 11:00, I headed over to K&B Tools and picked up a couple of things, nothing I really needed, but I will, someday. I then had an ice cream cone while I watched some of the vendors packing to leave. Many more are gone.

I walked over the hill to the auto parts store looking for a new tube for the bike. No luck but they said the hardware store had them so off I went. They had lots of tubes but not my size (20x1.5). It seems the universal 20” tube size is for from 1.75-2.5. Not an exact fit so I’ll wait. Across the street from Herb’s hardware is the Palo Verde Restaurant. I had lunch there, some creamed broccoli soup and a slice of peach pie ala mode.

2007 HR Admiral SVE  30' Full Slide Motorhome.JPG 2007 HR Admiral SVE  30' Full Slide Motorhome.JPG 2007 HR Admiral SVE  30' Full Slide Motorhome.JPG
I then walked toward home but on the way looked at the RV4Less Lot at the corner of Central and Main. They fluffed up their lot and brought in a few new coaches. One was a 2007 Monaco Admiral, 30’, full slide with 5k miles.

2007 HR Admiral SVE  30' Full Slide Motorhome.JPG 2007 HR Admiral SVE  30' Full Slide Motorhome.JPG 2007 HR Admiral SVE  30' Full Slide Motorhome.JPG
It looks good. Fortunately, Lou isn’t here to look at it so no worries on resisting the temptation. Big coach for a 30 footer with a nice floorplan!

Last night it never got cold and today it got up in the 80’s again. The weather is interesting.

Just before sunset, I climbed on the roof and lowered the solar panels. It wasn't easy. I usually park with the nose to the West but this time i was parked with the nose to the East so we looked into the trees. I had to raise the panels to the opposite side (right side) I learned that the cables to the panels are a little short so more Mickey mousing was needed to get them up and therefore more un-Micky mousing to lower them. I then put away the remaining outside stuff. The lounge chairs hang on the ladder so they had to wait until the panels were lowered. The tire covers weren't needed any longer because the sun was down. Now if I can only remember to lower the dish in the morning. That's why a walk-around is always needed.

Dinner was chili with pepper jack cheese.

I watched some John Wayne movies and tested the Internet every now and again. It's neat how quickly the new system is ready for use after turn on. When I tested it at 1045pm, it was back to full speed so I started to do my best to cause another over limit. Needless to say, I didn't get to bed early.

Thursday: (02/05) I was up a little late and relaxed a while before taking my shower. Around 1120 I left our home of the past 3.5 weeks.  I stopped by the General Store Market and got some sausage to go.

I then filled the LPG tanks across the street. I sometimes don't pay enough attention. I have to wonder if I didn't experience a third world deception though. In Mexico I understand they still have to manually clear the gasoline pump meter before each use, and they often don't clear it  just to allow the sale of the same gas a couple of times. Anyway, I didn't check the LPG meter when the guy started to fill the tank. Now, I really may not have needed to fill the tank but I wanted to help the local economy if possible. The tank meter showed a little below 1/4 full. The attendant managed to put 17.5 gallons in the tank. On the last fill up, the meter needle was no where to be seen, a very empty tank. The attendant on that fill-up was able to put 16 gallons into the tank to fill it. That level of fill is the norm. So, if they were both the same full when through, why more gallons into a fuller tank? A mystery, but actually everything is relative. How full is full, how empty is empty. It may be that most attendants only fill the tank to 3/4 full thinking that the meter reads real tank level rather than normal tank level. I think (hope) the meter actually reads an adjusted full at 80% of full which is the recommended fill, the point that the stuff comes out the bleeder valve. I hope that is true. I believe the tank size  is 24 gallons? If that is true, then 17.5 may be accurate and the previous record fill of 22 gallon was possibly accurate, though a bit over filled. Just as likely, both times , the meter wasn't reset after filling a 5 gallon tank for someone else. So, I need to remember to check the meter. Of course, since I didn't, I had to assume it was accurate. As usual, it is actually more likely that it was accurate and I'm confused.

Now back to the normal blog.

I then headed on South to the dump site and took care of business with the tanks after which, I had lunch before departing. About 12:15 I headed off toward Yuma. I did a little shopping. One important item was new tubes for the bike. WalMart had some proper sized tubes and they included built-in Slime, the leak stopper stuff. Our bikes require Slime to make a trip out and back on the same air fill-up. I also picked up a few other things not available in Quartzsite. About 7pm, I filled-up the fuel tank and then headed over to something I saw on the way into town, a Golden Corral Buffet. I had dinner there and managed to treat it more like dinner rather than a challenge.

At several of the stops I made in town, I raised the satellite dish and browsed the Internet to find things. It also was a good test of the new system. The first time I tried, it didn't connect. I suspected it was on the wrong transponder and it was. Since the last manual transponder change by Hughes, they changed it again. It worked fine this morning in Quartzsite.  Hughes newer modems, not my old 4000 modems, can be reset to use different transponders (frequencies) as needed to manage the network traffic. They can do it on the fly. All works well until the dish is stowed and re-aimed. For some unknown reason, the dish controller can't read the modem and reset it's own settings to match. I can't even imagine why the firmware doesn't do it. It's obviously possible because an external program has that capability but doesn't do it automatically either. Seems like some integration is in order. Now that I've bought my equipment, it can now be fixed and make mine obsolete. The other two raises of the dish worked perfectly.

I headed back North to the Imperial Dam area and Senator Wash LTVA for the night.