I ended my last post with a bit of a preview of what was to come. The first of the events since then was the New Year’s Eve Party here at Apache Flats RV Park. There could be no safer place to have a party than a RV Park recreation center. I mean, how much trouble can one get into in such a safe environment where no one has to drive. The theme of the party was the 50’s. The hall was decorated to look like a diner of the 50’s. It really looked great. The food was hot dogs and miniature hamburgers, root beer floats, and banana splits for dessert. Of course there were all sorts of other goodies to satisfy one’s eating needs. Everyone brought their own alternative beverages, so no one had a reason to not get what they wanted. The evening started at 9:00PM which is really just an hour or so before most of this crowd, ourselves included, turns in for the night. The organizers were worried that some would not be able to make it all the way to midnight. I shared that concern myself. In an attempt to keep the sleep monster at bay there were a variety of activities planned that at first seemed a bit pathetic to a tech oriented guy like me. However, they really turned out to be quite a bit of fun and everyone laughed until it hurt.
Connie had been on the entertainment committee and one of her tasks was to come up with charade topics that were appropriate for the 50’s. By the way, each of the planned events was to take up a specific amount of time in order to get us to mid-night with no real down time. So, Connie’s charades were intended to be really tough. Well, we had some really good players and we just sort of flew through the game. There were ten different charades to be played out by half the occupants of each table until all had participated in the acting part. Some of the topics were “Gone With the Wind”, “American Bandstand”, “The High and the Mighty” and “Nikita Khrushchev”. Of these four, the only one that seemed to slow the crowd down was “The High and the Mighty”. I was never much of a charades player and therefore was surprised at how well I did. I was only nine years old when the 50’s came to an end. That fact made my accomplishment even more impressive at least in my mind’s eye.
We also had an Elvis Presley contest. Sharon, the park manager came around to each table and brow -beat us men to sign up for this event. I am not sure what possessed me to volunteer as I was never a fan nor do I move very well to the beat of the music. In other words, I cannot dance. Anyway, there ended up being nine of us who were brave or foolish enough to sign up. We were divided into three groups so we did not have to perform solo. We were each given an inflatable guitar, one of which had a slow leak making it look pretty sad before the event was over. Anyway, when the music started we had to “imitate” the King playing and lip synching to one of his hits. It was absolutely hysterical. At the end of each threesome’s performance there was an audience applause vote to determine the winner of the round. In the group I was in Sharon had to do the vote a couple of times to determine the winner – we all sucked I guess. After all three groups had performed and been judged, the three group winners had to do it again so a grand champion could be named. Keep in mind that the age range of this crowd was 57 to 72 with most being in the Medicare range. I was not a finalist and that was fine with me. In fact one of the finalists who spent last week participating in the Senior Olympics accused me of slacking and therefore causing him to win the round. The second go round nearly put him down. By the way, the 72 year old was in the finals as well. It was a riot to watch.
Here I am trying to imitate the King. What a joke.
This how things started to look into the wee hours.
We also played fill in the blank from old television commercial jingles. Again, being one of the youngest people at the party I should not have done well. I got nearly all of the jingles and in too many cases before anyone else. I guess that says something for how much television I watched as an impressionable young boy.
I think everyone was surprised at how fast the hours spun by. Before anyone had a real chance to realize they were up beyond their personal bedtime it was time to pop the corks and get ready for the countdown. After the balloons had fallen and the door prizes had been claimed a portion of the crowd started to work their way back to their respective RV’s. However, there was a rather hardy group of folks with the same age range as the Elvis imitators who continued to party for a bit longer. In fact, I think all of the Elvis don’t-wanna-be types were there to the end. The end occurred somewhere around three in the morning. I think we finally gave it up because there was no longer anything to drink and it was cold in the recreation hall. Somewhere along the line the camp host who was responsible for securing the building came to me and showed me what needed to be done so he could go home and go to bed. So, officially, I was the last one to leave the party. When we talked to our fellow revelers over the next few days we learned that just like us none of them were accustomed to partying that late into the morning anymore. We certainly had a good time, but I think we all paid for it the next day. For me, it was a day on the sofa with the TV turned down a bit lower than normal so the crowd noises would not disturb my karma. Surprisingly, the entire day was not lost as had been the case in my youth many times.
All in all, it is safe to say that the New Year was appropriately rung in here at Apache Flats.
Connie and I were committed to helping with a Christmas Bird Count in the area on December 27th. We were to work the area of the water treatment plant with three other people. To prepare, we participated in a weekly bird walk at the facility sponsored by three different birding organizations in the area. The preview trip turned out to be of great benefit to us as we knew what birds to be prepared to see during the count as well as getting a sense for the area we would be working. On count day we had a good time and although we spotted no rare birds and the numbers were not great due to the wind, we had a respectable count. I think the highlight of the day had to be the one sighting we had to subtract from our count. We were all watching a covey of doves eating peacefully on the ground when without warning a Peregrine Falcon came out of nowhere and snatched up one of the doves and just as quickly made his exit. I was observing the doves through my binoculars at the time and all I could see was a flash of feathers followed by an instant scattering of the remaining birds. Then as I lowered my glasses I saw the falcon some fifty yards away and leaving the scene at speed with his prey secured in his talons. It was a great sighting of nature and the survival of the fittest and swiftest.
Following the bird count there was a dinner get together at one of the local restaurants. Following dinner we tallied up the number of species seen throughout the fifteen mile diameter count circle by the numerous teams. A woman who sat at our table at dinner looked way too familiar to Connie and me so we asked here where we should know her from. As it turned out she lived in Northern Virginia while we were there and we attended meetings and functions of the Northern Virginia Bird Club together until she and her husband moved to Kansas. Another woman present that evening whom we had seen at a meeting of the local Audubon Society and read postings from on the Arizona Bird list-serv had been the president of the Northern Virginia Bird Club when we first moved to Northern Virginia. Soon after we settled in she and her husband moved to India. Now, all these years later, both couples have retired to this area and remain active birders. Before the evening was over, the latter of these two women had invited Connie and me to participate in another Christmas Bird Count here on the post the following weekend.
Again, not wanting to look bad on count day, Connie and I set out the Wednesday before the count to scout the area and see which birds were around and more importantly determine where we could go and could not go within the count area. Wednesday was a pretty breezy day causing us to work really hard to find birds. The lack of birds made it difficult to determine where we could reasonably expect to find birds on count day. So, we hoped that our fellow counters would have some idea of where to go. Well count day turned out to be even windier than our scouting day. Worse, we turned out to be the most experienced of the group with the area we were assigned. It was a really good thing we took the scouting day. Anyway, we worked hard for several hours to record virtually all the bird activity we could in our portion of the count circle. It was another day of low numbers, but we had a wonderful time getting reacquainted with these two wonderful women formerly from Northern Virginia. We were also accompanied by the president of the local Audubon Society with whom we had spent the first Christmas Bird Count Day. It was a great time for all in spite of the weather and lack of birds.
As we studied the calendar and the maps we recognized that there were a lot of day trips we had promised ourselves that we had not yet taken. So, as a not-committed-to-writing New Year’s resolution we decided to get out there and go places.
The first place we went was a place called Whitewater Draw which is about thirty miles east of here. The big deal about this place normally is all the Sand hill Cranes who winter over in the area. There are some 30,000 of these magnificent birds in and around the area. They forage in nearby fields by day and return to draw to roost at night. Even during the mid part of the day there are thousands of birds there. In the afternoon flights of hundreds of birds come in like returning fighter jets to an aircraft carrier. They come in huge waves, one behind the other. It is amazing to watch. This season there has been a second attraction in the area. As many as forty (although we would challenge this number as being exaggerated) barn owls have been reported roosting in the willow trees that skirt the ponds. The day Connie and I were there we counted somewhere in the low to mid twenties. It was really hard to get an accurate count for a variety of reasons. First and foremost they do a really good job of blending in with the surroundings. Second, it is impossible to get real close on the water side due to the width of the ponds. Therefore, most of the viewing must be done via a spotting scope. From the distance it is hard to get to the second and third layers into the grove of trees. Third, since the weather was unsettled (there was a huge thunderstorm that rolled through while we were there) the owls did a bit of moving around. Finally, it is very difficult to determine which birds observed from the backside of the grove of trees were different from those viewed from the waterside. At any rate, there were a lot of barn owls in a very compact area. We also found four great horned owls roosting in the same area.
The oddest of our sightings that day had to be the Say’s Phoebe with huge white wing bars. Everything about this bird said “Say’s Phoebe” except the wings. There is no other bird it could be. In the end we decided it was a Say’s Phoebe that was for unknown reasons different. We watched the postings on Arizona Birds to see if anyone else noted it, but we saw nothing. Fortunately for us there was another couple who observed the bird with us and they came to the same conclusion we did. Finally, someone mentioned the leucistic phoebe on the list-serv.
There were some 38,000 Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw this year. Here we cans see a few hundred of them.
We also saw several Great Horned Owls
This is the odd looking Says Phoebe we saw.
My favorite birdwatcher.
Our next adventure was to explore the Coronado National Monument. First a little history and geography review to introduce this section. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Coronado came through the area on his mission to find the golden cities that had been described by a priest who had only seen them from a distance. I suspect the priest’s vision was compromised by something other than the sun because as we all know no such cities existed. Coronado invested a lot of time and lost a lot of resources in his search and although he never found his treasure, his expedition played an important role in the Spanish influence seen in the southwest. Coronado National Monument is on the southern end of the Huachuca Mountain Range. Fort Huachuca is situated along the northern face of the mountains and spans most of the west to east distance of the range. Our exploration would take us to the pass going from east to west on the southern end of the range where we found the monument and an interpretive trail along the ridge to the extreme southern point on the range. At the end of the trail we had a clear view to the east and could see the U. S. /Mexico border very clearly. From the trailhead we could follow the border to the west as far as the eye could see.
After spending an hour or so on the trail and stalking sparrows and juncos we returned to the car and went on down the west side of the of the pass into Montezuma Canyon. We picked a beautiful, bright, sunny day for this adventure, so we were able to drive slowly with the windows down watching and listening for birds. We stopped along the way at the mouths of several canyons where we birded with more intensity. We followed one or two of the canyons up into the mountains to see what we could find. Since we had spent so much of the early part of the day at the top of the monument, we were trying to bird the valley and canyons during the mid part of the day and of course the birds were none too active. However, we did record some nineteen species during the walk/drive. I suspect the bird of the day that day would have had to have been the white-tailed kite. We drove the distance from south to north along the western exposure of the Huachuca Mountain Range all the way to Parker Reservoir where we turned back to the east and worked our way back to the west entrance to the fort. We arrived just at dusk both tired and absolutely pleased with our day.
Looking Southeast into Mexico. If you can blow this up you will see the border.
Looking South-southwest into Mexico. The border is the dark green line in the lower right.
Just another boring sunset getting started.
A tree full of Turkeys.
The next morning we got underway just at dawn and drove out the west gate retracing our route back to the south side of the mountains hoping to get to one of the more promising looking canyon trails before it got too late to find birds. Initially we overshot our objective due in part to the presence of a group of hunters parked where we would have parked and also due to our poor short-term memories. We probably drove twenty minutes to half an hour longer than we needed to before we got back to where we wanted to start our hike. When we did get back, the hunters were still milling around telling hunting stories, I guess. We told them we intended to be birding in the area, but we did not want to be shot at. They laughed and told us they were leaving and that we could have the area to ourselves. We packed up our stuff, locked up the car and took off towards the opening in the fence where there was a sign telling about the riparian restoration area the fence was protecting. Through the fence and down the hill we trekked to the water’s edge. We looked downstream and upstream and saw no clear trail in either direction. We felt the birding would be better upstream so we made our way along the bank of the stream under a bridge to get to where there was no trail at all. We eventually worked our way up the bank only to find the road where we had parked the car and of course we were still within view of our hunter friends who we are sure must have thought we were not normal as we had made a tough walk out of what was an easy walk along the road. And, of course, for our great effort we saw no birds.
We continued along the road for about a quarter mile and then turned off into a fenced off area that was part of the reclamation project. We continued up the canyon for a half mile or so walking along a well maintained trail that offered easy footing but no birds. Finally along a dry creek bed we stopped and watched several small groups of Mexican Jays, Juncos and Flickers pass through. When that spot quieted we turned back towards the car although we found a slightly different way back hoping to improve our count somewhat. When we got back to the car we ate lunch and then pressed on down the road towards the west to a former town site we wanted to visit as it had been described to us as sort of a ghost town. Of course we drove slowly so we could bird along the way. We had not gone far when a Border Patrol officer passed us. He waved as he went by and then after getting in front of us he flashed his roof-top light bar. We thought he was just saying thanks for letting him by. However, he pulled over and got out of his vehicle and walked back towards us. I took that as an indication I should stop, which I did. As it turns out he was looking for a white Jeep Cherokee that the Border Patrol had been looking for all morning. We had seen the vehicle early in the day and provided all the relevant information to the agent. He thanked us and was on his way leaving us wondering why they were looking for the jeep and its occupants and whether or not we would see any of them again.
A bit further down the road we spotted a bird that looked to be a bit different than any we had seen since getting here. After a lot of study through binoculars with not much success in identifying the creature I got the spotting scope out and took a closer look at what was a Lewis’ Woodpecker. That would be the sighting of the day.
We finally got to the turn-off for the old town site and started up a not too great road. We eventually came to a fork in the road and I took the better looking one. Another mile along the way and we were forced to turn around due to an impassable section for our Subaru Forester. We followed the other fork and eventually got to the town site which could not have been more than a few hundred yards from where we had turned around on the other fork. The two forks formed a loop in the road. At the town site we found a small herd of cows, some buildings that had collapsed and a not so old house that was obviously abandoned and now being used, we suspected, by illegal border crossers as a waypoint along their way to a better life. There was evidence that people were using the area and there were countless tire tracks from big four wheel drive vehicles such as those driven by the Border Patrol. So, I suspected that one group rested there and the other group makes frequent visits to the sight to see who might be there. If the cows could just talk.
We did see a life bird while snooping around the town sight, the Arizona Woodpecker. As impressive as finding a life bird was that I recognized it on sight and boldly said, “That’s an Arizona Woodpecker.” A review of the book confirmed my call. My day was made.
Needless to say the remoteness of this site and the evidence of what appeared to be illegal activity at the sight made Connie feel a bit uneasy about spending too much time there. Actually, I felt uneasy, while Connie was downright uncomfortable and wanted to leave soonest. So, without taking the time to further explore and see what other birds may be in the area we walked back to the car which was far enough away to be out of sight and out of hearing were someone to have hotwired it. We found the car just as we had left it and obviously made our way back along the less than fun road without incident.
When we got back to the main road we turned back to the east and crossed back over the pass at Coronado National Monument and returned to the fort from the east with short stop along the way to look at a new restaurant we had heard about. More on that later.
Our next adventure was a drive up Carr Canyon. Mind you we have explored a lot of canyons since we got here. Each is unique. Carr Canyon offers endless switchbacks on a one lane gravel/rock road with the occasional turnout to look at the valley. There is plenty to see at each of those overlooks. For reasons I cannot explain, I took not one picture. It may have been because I was worried about staying stopped for too long. At any rate, we slowly, first gear only, worked our way up the canyon past one campground to a second that was also the end of the road. Once at the upper campground we stopped and did some looking around. We were just below the snow line at about 6,000 feet. The air was crisp and there was absolutely no bird activity. We probably spent half an hour at the campground. I noticed there were a lot of hiking trails that took off from various areas around the campground climbing even higher up the mountain. We finally started working our way back down the canyon listening and looking for birds. Between the two campgrounds we stopped at a wide spot and walked into the woods looking for birds. We were rewarded with a few woodpeckers and flickers, but not much else.
All told we spent about four hours in the canyon. It was a wonderful place even without a lot of birds. We enjoyed being the only two humans within miles and paused long enough to enjoy the view and the quiet.
On our way back to the fort we stopped at that new restaurant I mentioned above to get the phone number and hours of operation. Still more to follow.
One of the weekly functions that happen here at Apache Flats is a Friday evening Happy Hour. Sharon, the manager, comes up with a new theme for the event each week and sometimes one of the couples in the park acts as hosts for the event making them responsible for setup and cleanup as well as keeping the masses entertained. Connie and I volunteered early on to be hosts so there was no great act to follow. Our theme was a get to know one another theme requiring everyone to introduce themselves and their spouse and tell a bit about themselves. It was a good starting point to get to know some of our fellow campers. We have since had Taco night, clean out the nearly empty bottles night and numerous potlucks to keep people coming back. I have to say that these events have really made some close relationships among the majority of the couples staying here.
I mention this because we have spent hours at these events getting to know and making some great new friendships. I could go on for countless pages on this subject, but I would rather just let these new relationships enrich our lives and as time goes on I am sure many of the names from this grand adventure will work their way into this blog when we meet up again in other places. As a preview some of the names are: John and Dee, Sharon and Otis, Bob and Karin, Connie and Bernie, David and Sam, and Mack and Hoa to name just a few of the wonderful folks we have gotten to know here.
Now, the new restaurant. Before I get too far, I have to retract an earlier comment about the local restaurants. I think I said that although many had good or better than good food, all lacked in ambiance. Well, that statement was just wrong. I failed to recognize what the Southwest ambiance really is. As we have experienced these same restaurants over and over, I have come to appreciate that they do in fact have an ambiance. Part of the problem in the early weeks we were here was the closeness to the holidays. Almost all the good restaurants were catering to holiday parties and possibly not showing their best side. Since the New Year, we have noticed a marked difference in the service and atmosphere of nearly all the restaurants we have visited. But, there is a new four star, by whose standards I am not sure, restaurant in town and of course we tried it out. We were first impressed that when we called for reservations the hostess was happy to make them for a Sunday evening, indicating that they may be needed. When we arrived at the restaurant we were struck by the décor and the professionalism of the staff. As it turns out the restaurant is owned by the same couple who own and operate a coffee shop in the area. This place is a huge step up from any coffee shop I have been in.
Connie and I made our first visit on the third Sunday the place was open. However, even that is a stretch. They had a couple of weeks of “by invitation only” soft openings to make sure everything worked well before actually opening the doors to the public. We found the menu to be fresh and varied. We also found it to be a bit pricey which could be a problem in this area. Our first dining experience was one of mixed feelings. The ambiance was wonderful, the service was impeccable, the food was to die for, but not everything on the menu was available. It seems they were still sort of feeling their way in the world and did not quite get it right as to how much of some menu items they would need to get through a weekend. However, we were impressed enough to vow to return. More later.
Our next great adventure was a road trip to and a hike in the Chiricahua National Monument. This trip was an organized trip for anyone from Apache Flats who wanted to attend. Our group leader was one of the camp hosts, Dee and her husband John. We had a signup list and we did a wonderful job of car pooling so all vehicles had at least four people in them.
A little history lesson is appropriate. I have stolen the next few paragraphs from the National Park Service Brochure titled Chiricahua.
“From the early 1400s southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico have been home to the Chiricahua Apaches. Of the four main bands, the Choknen band lived in and around the Chiricahua Mountains.
“They were traditionally nomadic, hunting large game and gathering edible plants. Superb warriors, feared and respected by neighboring tribes, the Apaches fought relentlessly against European colonization beginning with the Spanish in the 1500s. They quickly learned to handle horses and weapons acquired from the newcomers. After Mexican independence in 1821 and encroachment by settlers and miners, a state of war existed. Led by Cochise and Geronimo, they raided pioneer settlements but were never able to stem the tide. In 1886, the Chiricahua Apaches surrendered. Ultimately they were settled on reservations in Oklahoma and New Mexico.”
Dee had promised a great breakfast along the way, so we all left our rigs hungry in anticipation of the cinnamon rolls as appetizers that would clog arteries to bacon and eggs with hash browned potatoes just to make sure your heart was in the right state for the hike that would follow. I don’t think I even had a cup of coffee before we left the campground. I was certainly ready for a big breakfast.
Dee’s promised restaurant had gone out of business, but would not learn that until we pulled into the parking lot and gazed at the empty building with annoyingly empty stomachs. Of course that was the last known restaurant before the National Monument, so we were doomed to an early lunch followed by a tough hike and no follow-on meal. Poor Dee took a lot of grief from all of us. She probably got the most grief from those who could most afford to skip a meal now and again. What made it all the worse was her constant reminding us of the great cinnamon rolls that we could only wish for. We all love Dee, so we continued to give her a hard time all day long.
Chiricahua National Monument, established in 1924, offers several miles of hiking opportunities. Most of the trails and roads throughout the monument were built or upgraded by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. We had chosen to visit the visitor center and watch the orientation film and then drive to Echo Canyon Picnic Area and take the Echo Canyon Loop Trail. The picnic area is at the top of the canyon. That means one first gets to walk down to the bottom of the canyon and then back up to the top on the opposite side to complete the loop trail. The entire loop was some 3.9 miles long. However, given the ups and downs it seemed like a much longer walk.
The Chiricahua Mountains are somewhat unique by the way they were formed. Some 27 million years ago the Turkey Creek Volcano spewed ash over 1,200 square miles. The ash particles melted together forming layers of gray rock called rhyolite. Cooling and subsequent uplifting created joints and cracks in the rhyolite. Weathering by ice wedging and erosion by water enlarged the cracks. Weaker material was/is washed away leaving behind an endless variety of spires, balanced rocks and other shapes. I was really pretty much awe struck by the endless shapes of the spires. I took nearly 200 photographs during the hike. I have included only a few here in the hope that at least some of you will some day come to see what we saw. For those unable to get here, these photos are our gift to you as you travel vicariously along with us on our journey. Our hike took us down some 350 feet before we started the climb back to the parking area. Given all the stops for photographs, it was a reasonable hike with sure footing and no really hard passages.
Shoot, by the time we got back to the parking lot we had nearly forgotten that we had not gotten breakfast.
That hike was sort of the last hiking hurrah for our stay at Fort Huachuca’s Apache Flats. Although we would have another two happy hours and a wonderful breakfast at the campground, the rest of our stay here would be rather routine with one or two notable exceptions.
Quite the balancing act. There are hundreds of these formations throught the memorial.
Connie and I are at the base of this formation to give an idea of the massive size.
Sometimes erosion is a good thing.
It is difficult to get a feel for just how big an area these formations cover.
Early in our visit here we bought tickets to see the New Christy Minstrels perform in a benefit for the Arizona Folklore Preserve. The day before the event I went on a ten mile run with two of our new friends. After the run we were sitting around cooling off and we got to talking. During the discussion I learned they too were going to the benefit. When I got home I told Connie that I thought it would be a good idea to join up with the other couple and then do dinner after the show. Connie agreed, so I went back to see Tammy and Ernie and ask them what they thought of my idea. They agreed and we made an afternoon and evening of it.
The show was wonderful. The troupe had a remarkable blend of music history, humor and downright excellent music to keep the entire audience thoroughly entertained for just over two hours. Of course most of the audience was around and reaching adulthood when the originals were in their prime. I am sure the event was quite nostalgic for many. As one of the youngest members of the audience, I could remember most of the music even if I was not quite sure I could remember ever seeing the group in my youth. I likely had seen them on television as they performed as regulars on the Andy Williams Show which was a staple in our household.
Following the performance we went back to that new restaurant I mentioned several paragraphs ago. It was a bit of a gamble because we were there on another Sunday evening, but I felt it would go well. As we entered, I could immediately see that the place had been “found”. They were busy enough that they had opened a second dining room and although neither room was filled to capacity, both were doing quite well. As for missing menu items, there were only two and one of those was a fresh fish. Being that we are as far from the ocean as we are that was no great surprise. The other was the most expensive item on the menu, so I was saved some money. The service, even with them being as busy as they were, was superb. And once again the food was just too good. Our server was in no hurry to push us out the door, so we lingered over our dinner and wine while getting to know Tammy and Ernie even better. We will miss this couple, but I am sure that theirs and our nomadic lifestyles will allow us to run into each other again down the road.
We have spent most of the rest of our time here tying up loose ends and getting the coach ready for travel again. I crawled all over and through the machine looking at those mechanical components that don’t like being still this long and also looking for signs of animal damage to things like wires and hoses. I found everything to be just fine as far as the chassis is concerned. I topped off the air in the tires, a rather large task, but a really important one. I ran the engine for a little while just to make sure it will start when we leave and having watched several guys put out rather large smoke screens upon engine start-up, I was somewhat anxious to see what nearly three full months of not running had done to ours. As it turned out, the engine fired on the first rollover and there was virtually no smoke visible out the rear. It purred like a rather large kitten.
There was also a bit of unscheduled corrective maintenance as the electric element of our water heater failed. As I would learn during the troubleshooting, there is a lot more to it than a simple thermostat and element. I had to test several components to determine what had failed. It turned out the problem was a circuit board. The water heater had a two year warranty therefore, the replacement board cost me nothing. However, after installing the new board the heating element still did not get hot. I spent several more hours on the floor taking electrical readings, pulling my hair and swearing to myself that this just shouldn’t be this hard. Finally I discovered that half of my incoming service had tripped at our site’s breaker box. I had not noticed the loss, because the only two circuits on that leg are the water heater and the engine block heater which is only used when the temperature falls below 20 degrees. I had tripped the breaker early on while trying to learn what had caused the original failure. I had unwittingly been aided in my attempt to make my life harder by the electrician who had installed out inverter and moved several circuits from the main breaker box to one that now supplied power either through or from the inverter. He had left a dead ended circuit connected to half of the double wide breaker that uses the other side to provide power to the water heater. I had closed that side, tripping the breaker outside without knowing it. The good news of this tale is that the circuit board was in fact bad, so no lost effort there and the water heater is now working well while the dead circuit is now no longer attached at either end.
All the patio furniture is stowed leaving only the inside of the coach to prepare for the road. We intend to leave here on Tuesday, January 29. We are not travelling far for our first leg as we want to do some birding on the other side of the mountains to our west. Then we start a rather slow roll to San Diego stopping in Casa Grande and Yuma along the way. We arrive in San Diego on February 8 and will spend a month there.
I will try to do better at more frequent and shorter entries. Sometimes, though, the fun gets in the way of chronicling the same. A note for Chuck: I tried to use some new words this time making your list a little longer.
We will miss all the people we have gotten to know here, but mostly we will miss these magnificant sunsets.