Thursday, 21 September 2017

Homeward Bound through the USA, Weed CA to Victoria, BC

27 March 2017

9:25  Left Friendly RV Park under cloudy skies. According to the internet we have a reasonable chance of getting over the passed before freezing sets in.

11:10;  15 minute pee break at the Rogue River Rest Area, I-5 Oregon

1:10 20 minute Fuel at Rice Hill I-5 exit 148. Lunch was Snacking as we drove

3:00 PM we arrived at Blue OX RV Park in Albany, OR. A nice park just off the I-5. We could have gone on for another hour or two to an I-5 Rest area but we know that tomorrow could see us in Port Angeles at a reasonable time.

RV service and Mechanic note: McKay Truck is just another exit north, full RVservice: heavy duty diesel mechanics and RV Techs. Over night is allowed outside the gate. Sani dump as well. We have had excellent service here over the years.

28 March 2017 

8:50 on the road north.

11:35 Rest Area @ MM 91 I-5 WN 25 minute doggy stop.

1:35 Lunch stop at the Goeduck Restaurant at Brinnon on the 101 up the Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound area. We were just able to park on the roadside. Food was excellent.  Back driving again at 2:10.

Entering Port Angeles we stopped on the main street heading into town to disconnect the Jeep. We then carried on to the Port Angeles Safeway for fuel wanting to arrive home with a full tank of inexpensive American Diesel.

4:00 PM we were parked on the street in the ferry line up for the night. Here we don't put the slides out or level the rig. Not too far off level for the fridge.

Here we usually find somewhere for dinner here, in previous years we have looked forward to Bella Italia for great Italian food and an extensive wine list. The past few years we have found the food has deteriorated somewhat from excellent/ superb to very good/fine. This year we decided to try Michael's across the street. Wow, what a treat! even a flight of three single malt whiskys for $15.00 US. Gillian enjoyed a flight of wines also at an excellent price.

No notes in the log as to bed time. :)

29 March 2017

Up early, entered the Ferry lot at 6:50 AM

10:25 clear Canada Customs in Victoria, Gillian headed directly home with Prana while Art detoured to Fort Royal RV Park to empty the holding tanks and fill up the fresh water tanks before carrying on home.

12:35 Arrived home, our mobile Emergency Kit full fuel and water, near full propane and empty holding tanks. 11,804 kilometers after leaving last October.

Homeward through the USA, Ajo AZ to Weed, CA

We take various routes home to Victoria BC Canada, this was this years, others can be seen in previous blog posts. The posts are based on log book entries which records starts and stops.



24 March 2017 Departed AJO AZ at 9:40, heading home hopefully via Nevada, Susanville CA and to the I-5 at Mount Shasta. A lot depends on weather. The forecast on leaving Ajo appeared favourable.

12:25 One hour lunch stop at roadside pullout on Highway 93AZ

3:00 Tried Flying J Exit 53 on I40 in Kiingman, much difficulty finding RV entrance--poor signage. Gave up and a 15:15 began fueling at the TA across the street, difficult access.

3:30 on the road again towards Las Vegas. Very heavy traffic at Boulder City, much road construction. Boulder City RV Park full. carried on towards Las Vegas.

6:00 PM arrived at Duck Creek RV Park in Henderson/Las Vegas. Nice park

25 March 9:10 AM on the road through Las Vegas heading towards Tonopah. A quick pee break for the dog at noon and at 1:30 stopped  at a rest area after passing through Tonopah. On the road again in 50 minutes

3:45 stopped at Hawthorne  for groceries and an hour later were parked at Whisky Flats RV Park next door. This in a nice clean park, we stayed here once before when howling winds forced a stop in the middle of the day.

26 March, 8:45 on the road to Fallon where at 10:00 we stopped for 30 minutes fuel and a pee break.

12:40 Lunch stop at a rest area on the CA 395, on the road again at 1:25. Cloudy weather through Susanville and at the junction of the 36 and 44 west of Susanville we ran into the first drops of rain that we had seen for months. Keeping fingers crossed. Clouds ahead beginning to look ugly.

At 3:36 we got a good wack on windshield from a rock thrown up by an on-coming truck. Nice sized star. Hopefully repairable. At 4:00 PM, about 5 Km from the I-5 it began to snow.

By 4:15 we had arrived at the Friendly RV Park in Weed. We had been here last year, nice little park but a bit tight sometimes for a big rig. The rig that arrive later as was parked behind us had been told that we were leaving early (What Us? Leave early?) They were eventually able to back up and go around after the rig beside us left.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The run home:

For those searching blogs for driving routes and info I'll briefly outline our route and times from PV

19 March 2017 Left Puerto Vallarta at 8:10; 15 minute stop for fuel in Compostella at 10:00 then grinding up the hill to Tepic and on to a one hour lunch break at the Toll Booth at Estacion Ruiz at 11:50

Several toll booths later we arrived at San Fernando RV Park in Mazatlan at 3:45., the new Toll Highway bypassing most of Mazatlan saves a lot of time and stress driving through Mazatlan from the south.

Note however, that south bound through Maz, the Left Turn to the road for San Fernando is not permitted. We had to continue several kilometres south to the roundabout and return north to make a right.

21 March Departed San Fernando at 7;37, fuel and lunch in Los Mochis at 12:15 (At La Pilarica Pemex just before the bridge entering the city of Los Mochis.)

Looking for La Pilarica? we left Caseta  de Cobro (toll booth)  Puente Sinaloa, Guasave, at 11:23, odometer 129799 kilometers, arrived La Pilarica at 12:15, odometer 129868 (at the pump)

Note the unusual early starts--heading home we tend to do long drives especially if there are no really great stopping spots enroute. We'd rather spend an extra day somewhere comfortable.

For an overnight stop La Pilarica is an option. There is a truck "Pension" behind the station, fenced with a security guard. A tip to the security guard is appropriate. Otherwise no charge.

Carrying on at 13:28 and 5 tolls later, we arrived at La Totonaka RV Park in San Carlos at 18:40--just getting dark. Note that on the Guymas bypass at this time of evening you will have the setting sun right in your eyes. A clean windshield is a must! We stayed here 2 nights, had a good visit with friends.

Off again on the 23rd at 8:15 heading north.

If you are using this as a route map, from Totonaka to the right turn in Hermasillo onto the bypass is 132 kilometers. Entering Hermasillo get in the right lane as soon as possible, the right turn is only a few blocks, immediately past the San Sebastion Hotel. (our time, 1 hour 50 minutes)

Watch the speed limits in Hermasillo, particularly the never ending 60 Km/H limit leaving the city.
 
At Santa Ana, we turn left. Many others continue north and cross the US border at Nogales.

12:35 Just through Santa Ana we stopped for fuel and a lunch break at a roomy Pemex for one hour.

2:30 Banjercito near Pitiquito where we must stop to cancel the vehicle permit. Note this large building is just past the railroad crossing and is on the other side of the road. There IS NO ENTRANCE FOR NORTH BOUND TRAFFIC! There is (or used to be) an access blocked of with orange cones, between the south bound exit and the south bound entrance. Go in here, stop as soon as you can with out blocking other traffic (don't drive up to the inspection booths) and one of you walk to the office for an official. One will come when convenient to remove the decal.  To leave, make a U-turn (we went through a vacant inspection booth to our left) and exit the way you came in. Continue on north (rather West) bound until you come to another customs stop. Again on the left side of the highway. Park on the shoulder and walk across to get you passport exit stamp and return your tourist card (FMM). Note: This immigration office closes at 4:00 PM. If you miss it, you can take care of this in Sonoyta right at the border but there is almost NO parking.

We got away from the banjercito at 2:50

The good news there are no more toll booths before the border! Bad news, between Puerto Vallarta and before the banjercito we paid 2,633 pesos for the motorhome and the jeep.

4:41 through US customs/immigration only 5 minutes--no ag inspection this year.

5:50 Arrived at Belly Acres in Ajo AZ (north end of town beside the Napa Auto parts--also a good heavy duty mechanic.

Many options on routes home depending on where you live! I may try to outline out route home this year. Previous post (years) will detail some of our previous routes.






Yes we made it to PV (and later, home.)



I knew we ("I" to be truthful) hadn't posted much on the way home but I didn't realise that I had left you all (both?) hanging with the mirror saga incomplete.

February 2017:

Uneventful run up the Michoacan Coast, (Yes Again!) passing the Jeep Hijack spot uneventfully this time. First stop was in the little village of Cuyutlàn just north of Tecoman.

Spent two nights at Coconutz RV Park, joining one of Gillian's friends from home along with the friends friends at a local burger joint in the village. Next day we drove several kilometers south on the beach front road to join many of them again at a house party. Great time, many new friends.

Friday morning (17th February) we managed to get rolling before 9:00 AM--8:58 to be exact. I'm still trying to figure out how we did that!



At Barra de Navidad at 10:20 we stopped for fuel, a quick 15 minute stop. Only in Mexico: Chicken On the Run?



About an hour north Art noticed that the electrical / battery bay door kept swinging open. At the first safe area we pulled off the road to investigate.  We were luck not having to wait too long--these places are few and far between on this stretch of the 200. A couple of new holes drilled, he was able to reset the bracket a bit closer to the latch and we were good to go. For insurance he also added a screw to which he hooked a small bungee cord. (In retrospect, the bungee wasn't needed.) Having foregone a lunch stop, though we snacked a bit on apples etc. en route, we arrived at the  Puerto Vallarta Trailer Park at 3:15.

Here we would stay a month, Art and Gillian both taking Spanish classes at our friends language school: http://spanishschoolvallarta.com/  Art took Level 2 (for at least the third time) while Gillian did Level 3. This meant that at least one of us was home with Prana during the heat of the day. We really need to do our Spanish classed at the beginning of our Mexican stay instead of at the end!

 We also contacted Velvac to order a new mirror glass. We should have time to get one shipped from the USA and install it. No fun driving with that little convex mirror.

Art was pleased when the package arrived from Velvac. Until he opened the package to find that they had sent the wrong glass, we got a new convex mirror glass, with the mounting bracket for the rectangular glass. A quick phone call and the correct glass was sent by expedited shipping at no cost to us. It was easy to install, we were ready to move on.


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Leaving Z

14th February, Valentine's Day. And yes, Art had remembered! In fact he bought Gillian more chocolate than vice versa!

The last week we have been tidying up and putting things away getting ready to go. To be fair, Gillian does 90% of the work, Art not having the strength, flexibility or stamina these days. This year we were well in time, not mad rush the last day.

Yesterday the side curtains went on the Jeep as did the towbar, bike rack and Art's Pedago electric bike. Oh--and tire pressure checked--all 6 still up to spec!

Today was the chairs, awning sunshade, ground mat, plus putting everything inside away where it could travel safely and without rattling and crashing around. Oh, and of course, putting the dinette into bed mode to make room for the dogs' soft crates which they travel in.

Since we would be leaving early in the morning, (the alarm would be set for 6:00 AM!) while Gillian walked the dogs Art moved the motorhome from its spot to a more accessible place, sideways across 4 small spaces alongside the driveway and facing the gate. Then he connected the Jeep ready for towing. This would allow for bring in the slides, retracting the stabilizers, filling the air suspension bags, and the air brake system checks, all of which required the diesel engine to be running. Better at 5:00 PM than 6:00 AM!

We were done, showered and dogs fed in time for dinner. Not cooking tonight!

Dinner tonight was in the El Manglar Restaruant, excellent as always, goodbys to the staff and neighbours and back to the rig to make our lunch for tomorrow. we were in bed and asleep at a reasonable hour, though of course Tia woke us up a few times.

15th of February, a few hours short of three months since we arrived.

6:00 AM the alarms went off. Glad we don't have to do that everyday! Tia got her meds (an hour before breakfast) we got our breakfasts, dogs walked, then they were fed, then another short walk. 

Art had hoped that by not putting the jacks down for the night the air would come up quicker. It did, but not as much as hoped. The air suspension had settled a bit overnight. There is obviously a slow leak somewhere. However it only took a few minutes longer and the neighbour behind us was already up and about. We were out the gates at 7:30. Art had hoped for 7:00 but no big deal. 

The road north was in reasonable shape, though it is narrow in many spaces. The Michoacan coast is very rocky, on the edge of the mountains; lots of curves, twists and hills. About 400 kilometers, Art guesses six to eight hours with minimal stops.

At 9:35 Art realised that he probably shouldn't have had two cups of tea at breakfast and drunk another two on the road. Fortunately at the Playa |Azul junction there was room to pull over to take care of that problem! We had done 118 kilometers in just over 2 hours. Though we were through the built up area of La Mira, which stretches almost from the city of Lazaro Cardenas, we hadn't yet hit the hills and tight curves. Yup, gonna be a long day!

For note taking purposes, an hour later we were at the kilometer 65 marker, just north of Nexpa. Averaging about 60 kph.  Another 15 kilometers further we passed the location of our incident of three years ago. Glad to get that behind us!

Here is a snap shot of the GPS as we traveled the really twisty bit.




As we went past "Zapote Tizupan Centro Ecoturismo" what was known as "Kilometer 103 and a half" consisting of a restaurant, pool, camping and RV Park, we had confirmed what we had heard: It had burned down. Three more or less separate building, it looked a bit suspicious. There had been some internal conflict and arguments about the development of this spot, within the Ejido.  Too bad, it had been a good stopping place.

12:25 Two hours later, at Maruata, we took a 10 minute P break for the dogs. Our average now 53 kph.

A bit further on at the town of Aquila we came across an Indigenous peaceful protest against the Federal Government where the highway was blockaded by heavy trucks and equipment. Mostly the southbound traffic was being held up; we were able to move on after just a short delay.

Once through the delay we were behind a couple of cars and a very heavily laden gravel truck and a couple of vehicles behind us. The truck driver occasionally signaled that it was safe to pass, even though we could see nothing and the cars all took advantage of it leaving us directly behind the truck.




Followers of the blog may remember a year and a half ago when entering Mexico he had managed to shatter the glass of the right hand mirror and successfully taped it together. Later, in Zihuatanejo, he had a glass shop cut another mirror which he glued over it. It had lasted quite well, though it was beginning to vibrate a bit. He had planned to replace it last summer but. . . . .  





Eventually, the truck driver signaled again that we could pass so Art pulled out, had a look and could see far enough (as long as a fast car didn't come around the distant corner too soon) though the road was narrow, absolutely no shoulders and the trees and bushes right to the edge of the highway. Concerned about the sharp edge of the road as we passed the gravel truck Art didn't notice how close the mirrors were to each other. Gillian warned "Watch the mirrors!" Art glanced right as he heard a slight "Tick" and the main glass of the right hand mirror was gone. This is what remained. With a bit of adjustment the small convex mirror would serve for now.







A couple of hours later we left Michoacan and crossed into the state of Colima and by 3:35 we had arrived at Coconutz RV Park in Cuyutlan.

403 kilometers in 8 hours. 50 kph average (including stopped time of about 20 minutes) To be generous, say 55 kph average travel speed.

Last Three Weeks in Z



The days passed quickly, not sure why--we certainly weren't very busy! Other than trying out a few restaurants!

I'll try to get back here and post a few more photos and a few more details but since it is now well into February I had best get onto posting details of our departure and the trip up the coast to Puerto Vallarta (Where we are now as I write this!)




Meanwhile, here is the Orelio, the Chef from El Manglar Restaurant, harvesting a fresh banana leaf from the mangrove (manglar) estuary for one of their dishes, fish filet in banana leaf.









Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Is There an Electrician in the Family?

Oh yes! There are a couple. But they are 5000 kilometers away!

The new voltage regulator has arrived! Got a call yesterday afternoon from Electronica Mitron saying that it had come in, took the Jeep into centro and picked it up this morning.

Now to transfer the input and output cables from the old unit to the new one.

While getting ready to start Art had a closer look in good light at the EW50 and was able to see signs of damage--one small part looked like it had over heated and there were sooty like deposits on the inside of the cover and on the outside of the fan vent. With no schematic and no schematic not much to be done. Art sent an email to the company, we'll wait and see. The warranty runs out before we get to Mazatlan, but there is a Home Depot in Puerto Vallarta. As I said, wait and see.

The Ecowise unit is much more high tech--mostly electronics, the SOLA BASIC mostly transformer with some solid state switching and control.




The EW50 was set up for very standard connections. Hot, Neutral and Ground input connections on one side, and Hot, Neutral and Ground output connections on the other. Two large openings accommodated the two large gauge three wire cables.



But! The SOLA BASIC had only three connections in total; Hot in, Hot out, and a single neutral. Ground? What ground? This is quite common in Mexico. Art did notice that the electronic circuit board had a small gauge green wire going to a nut on the metal box. So here was where he attached the two grounds from the input and output cables. He had to splice the two neutrals together (as shown on the diagram provided). He had his soldering gun and heatshrink tubing to do a reasonable job. He also had to pare the cable cover right back and was just able to get the six individual wires through the small hole. Cable clamp? No room! A few wraps of PVC Tape and a cable tie for a strain relief and we were good to go.

Plugged in, breaker turned on, no smoke! This will be a re-do project when we get home and have the tools and space to work on it. So far it is working in that the power is coming through, though the inverter did have to come into play when the AC started up, the SOLA BASIC didn't correct fast enough for the compressor startup voltage sag. We'll see how it does with the high voltages overnight.

Well it works well enough on the high voltages though unless there is a good load it idles somewhere between 108 and 112. And it boosts the low voltages up to a reasonable level (about 115) BUT it is much too slow to going into boost mode. 108 is the minimum allowable voltage for the heatpump.  The Xantrex is still having to go into invert mode to start the compressor. Once that is done the voltage is usually somewhere between 112-115 with the heatpump running.

Concerned with the inverter switching on and off so much under high current load I eventually took the SOLA Boost 4000 out of circuit and stored it away. The heatpump will sometimes start if the morning line voltage is approaching 130V. We will move north to Puerto Vallarta soon and hopefully will be able to do without the air  conditioning.