You can never have enough Cha Chi’s . . .

After everything that’s been going on, today was a pretty quiet day. I was up about 10 and got started on making coffee the first thing. We both missed having our morning coffee while we were staying in the hotel. And even when we did have coffee, it wasn’t very good.

And to make things even better, Jan discovered two of Miss Terry’s wonderful Cinnamon Rolls in the freezer, and along with the coffee, made for an excellent brunch, and a nice start to the day.

Then a little before noon, we headed out on a couple of errands. Our first stop was the park office to re-up through Tuesday. Next we headed back over to the La Quinta after Jan realized she’d left some clothes in the dresser, and luckily they were still there.

Getting home I worked on some projects around the rig for a couple of hours, before finally deciding to take a nap about 3:30.

About 5pm Jan and I headed over to Cha Chi’s for more great Mexican food. They’re closed on Sunday, so we wanted to get our fix in for the weekend.

Tomorrow we hope to Skype with Brandi, Lowell, and Master Landon. Because of either traveling, or not having a good Internet signal, this will be the first time we’ve been able to Skype since we left Houston about 6 weeks ago, and we’re really looking forward to it.


Thought for the Day:

“Every man’s dream is to be able to sink into the arms of a woman without also falling into her hands.” – Jerry Lewis


Living in Las Cruces . . .

Today was the day we would finally get our coach back and be back on the road.


We had a breakfast of coffee and muffins at the hotel about 8:30. OK muffin. Bad coffee, BAD.

Then about 10am I took a load of stuff from the hotel room back to the rig and checked in with the repairs. Found out our new exhaust manifold had not come yet, but was expected shortly.

Getting back to the hotel I asked the front desk if we could stay a couple of hours past checkout time and they said ‘no problem”. About noon Jan and I headed over to Carl’s Jr. for a lunch of burgers and fries. Really good. We’ve always like Carl’s since we first ate at one up in Fairbanks, AK in 2008.

Returning to the shop, I found that the exhaust manifold had finally come in and the tech was hard at work on it, but didn’t think he’d be finished up until between 2 and 3, too late for us to head out for Balmorhea. So it looked like we’d be spending another night in Las Cruces, but this time in our rig.

About 3pm Jan and I headed out on our test drive. We did about 6 miles including a couple of miles on I-10 with no problems. I did notice the increased power on acceleration, and the better working Pac Brake, both a result of replacing the leaky exhaust manifold.

However I did notice a problem with my air pressure. It was varying a lot, and dropping way down at slow speeds. This was not normal. Before I left on my test drive, the tech had mentioned my purge valve was venting air, and I said it seems to do that when it’s been parked for a while. But when we got back from the test drive, it was still venting, wide open apparently. In fact it kept venting after the engine was off until there was no pressure left in the system.

Again, not normal.

While we were on our test drive, I noticed that Coachlight RV Park where we planned to stay was pretty full, so as soon as we got back I called and found out they only had a couple of sites left, so while the tech was looking at the purge valve, I drove the truck over to the RV park and got us a site for the night.

When I got back, the tech had run another coolant pressure test on the engine and again found no problems, or coolant in the oil. Finally, some good news.

He took the purge valve off and tried to clean it, but to no effect, so I told him to just replace it. And few minutes later he came back and said they didn’t have one in stock and would have to order it. I said OK and told him to overnight it.

Then came the bad news. It was too late on a Friday afternoon to get an order in so it would have to be ordered on Monday, and so even overnighted, it wouldn’t get here until Tuesday.


But I didn’t want to head out across West Texas and have the purge valve fail and leave me with locked-up brakes at the side of the road.

The tech then said they might have the complete kit in stock that would include not only the valve but all the filters and parts to basically rebuild the air system. He said the valve by itself was $28, but the kit was $160. I told him let’s go with the kit. Of course he came back a few minutes later and said they didn’t have the kit either.


I told the tech we would wait until Tuesday, and to go ahead and order the full kit and get it fixed right.

At that point I told him I’d check with him Monday afternoon, and with Jan following me in the truck, started to drive the rig to right down the road to Coachlight.

Note, the operative word is “started”. As in the engine would start, but the rig wouldn’t go. The air system would not build up enough pressure to release the brakes. So I tracked down the tech and told him the problem, and after a few minutes of work, he managed to bypass the valve temporarily and get us on our way.

So it now looks like we’ll be here until Tuesday, at least.

A little before 6 Jan and I headed over to El Comedor for another really good meal of Mexican food, That’s one good thing about staying here a few extra days. They’ve got some great Mexican restaurants here, and the way things are going, we might get to eat at all of them.

We got back to the rig about 7 and settled in. We’ve still got some stuff to put away after living in the hotel for 5 days, but it’s good to be home.


Thought for the Day:

"Fathom the Hypocrisy of a Government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured… but not everyone must prove they are a citizen." – Ben Stein


A Little Bad News . . .

This morning we had a late breakfast and called it lunch.

It’s Thursday and it’s Turkey and Dressing Day at Cracker Barrel and Jan needed her cornbread dressing fix. Remember, If it ain’t cornbread, it ain’t dressing.

Our cats, Mister and Emma have really taken to hotel life. They normally avoid each other, but they’re OK sharing the king size bed. Don’t know what they’re going to think going back to the rig tomorrow.

Mister and Emma at Hotel

Later I went by Rush Truck Service to check in on the rig. They still found no coolant in the oil after yesterday’s test drive and still have no idea how it got there in the first place. They also did another pressure test on the engine while it was hot and found no further coolant leakage anywhere.

The system stayed pressurized without losing any coolant. So we’re back to square one on this problem. I’ll just have to keep a close eye on it for a while. They were working getting the exhaust manifold gasket replaced, and said they still expected to have the rig ready to go by 4:30 this afternoon.

But then about 3pm Clayton called with a little bit of bad news. The exhaust manifold is cracked and will need to be replaced. They will have the new manifold in tomorrow morning and expect to be done about noon. We’ll see.

About 4:30 we headed back to Cha Chi’s for a repeat of last night’s delicious meal. I again had a 3 item combo plate, but this time substituted a chicken flauta for the tamale. Just as good as like night. Even the rice and beans are good. Especially the beans. They’re the lumpy kind of refried beans, with whole beans mixed in.

Cha Chi's 1 adfd

Jan had a repeat of last night’s plate with a chile relleno and a soft beef taco.

Cha Chi's 2

Cha Chi’s is definitely on our list when we come back to Las Cruces next year.

Heading home, we stopped off at the Wal-Mart right next door to the hotel for a few things before getting back to the room for the night.

Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be on the road to Balmorhea, TX.

Mega Millions is up to $540 Million Dollars!


Thought for the Day:

It doesn’t matter how often a married man changes jobs, he always has the same boss.


Good News, so far . . .

Today started out with breakfast at Denny’s. Much, much better than yesterday’s IHOP fiasco, believe me.

In other news I decided not to win last night’s Mega-Millions drawing, to allow the prize to rise to the largest amount in world history, $500 million.

That’s Half A Billion Dollars!!

After breakfast Jan and I drove over to Rush Truck Center to check up on our RV repair But when we got there Clayton and our RV were both gone. He had taken it on a test drive. Yeah!

About 20 minutes later Clayton pulled back into the lot with our RV. And after taking to him, it turns out things were a little different than we thought.

First off, the engine stopping had nothing to do with coolant in the oil, or my thinking I had run out of diesel. The problem was one of those UNKNOWN codes that my Silverleaf couldn’t read. It indicated a fuel sensor problem on one of the engine fuel rails. Replacing this sensor and adding fresh oil got the engine up and running with no problems. It started with no further priming. And apparently ran just fine, EXCEPT . . .  but back that in a minute.

But now the problem is, where did the coolant come from? They still don’t know. That’s one of the things that the test drive was supposed to look at. But by the time we left, the tech still hadn’t checked the oil for more coolant, but Clayton said he’d call me later this afternoon if they found a problem, and he never did. So I guess they didn’t find more coolant.

Clayton said they’ve occasionally heard of this happening, and apparently never happening again. At this point I don’t think I want to spend big bucks to tear into the engine without having some idea what the problem is.

So unless they found something else today or tomorrow, I’ll probably just start checking the oil every day we travel and keep a close eye on it.

Now for the EXCEPT – Clayton said both exhaust manifold gaskets were leaking. I had already figured out that I had a leak in the exhaust system somewhere since my Pac Brake doesn’t work as well as I thought it should. Plus I’ve never been happy with the engine power when accelerating up hill from a dead stop.

Clayton also said that the pressure test yesterday showed one leaky radiator hose that was only going to get worse, and should be replaced at some point.

I told him to go ahead and replace the gaskets and the hose, and get it out of the way. He said the hose would have to be ordered and would be in tomorrow morning, and said we should be ready to go late tomorrow afternoon.

I figure we’ll just wait and leave for Balmorhea on Friday morning.

After finding out things were looking up, Jan and I headed back to our room for more of the hotel good life, basically doing nothing, but again reading and napping. Jan’s read 4 or 5 books since we got here, and I’ve 4 or 5 really good naps. We’re both happy.

For dinner we wanted to try Cha Chi’s. Clayton, the manager of the truck repair center working on our RV had recommended it, and online reviews certainly reinforced it. So about 5 pm we drove over there. And unlike a lot of good Mexican places, this wasn’t some hole-in-the-wall place, but a very nice restaurant in a small shopping area.

Cha Chi's

Not only was the food delicious, but the prices were great too. A 3 item combo plate (in my case, two enchiladas (counts as one item), q chile relleno, and a tamale, with rice and beans was only $8.50. And according to Larry, our waiter, everything is made inhouse, tortillas, tamales, etc.

It certainly tastes like it. We may even come back tomorrow.

When we got back from supper, we had these email pictures from our daughter-in-law Linda, of our granddaughter Piper’s prom invitation.

Piper Prom 1Piper Prom 2

Piper Prom 3

Pretty inventive way to ask her and looks like he got a ‘YES’ check on it.


Thought for the Day:

Injustice consists of treating equal things unequally and also of treating unequal things equally. – Aristotle


Still Living the Motel Life . . .

Since we were a few minutes too late for breakfast at the hotel, (I thought they said 9:30. It was 9.) we decided to head across town to IHOP.

Big mistake. Worse IHOP meal we’ve ever had. Pretty much everything was either uncooked, and/or cold. Next time it’s either Denny’s or get up earlier.

Leaving IHOP, we stopped off at Rush Truck Center to pick a couple of things up and plug in the coach to shop power. Clayton, the manager said they were just starting to look at the coach and he’d let me know as soon as they knew something.

So Jan and I headed back to the room for an afternoon of doing nothing. We read and napped, and then read and napped some more. Jan worked on her recipe file and I read and napped.

Did I mention I napped?

Finally about 4:30 we headed out for dinner after a quick stop at the rig to check in. Clayton said he was getting ready to call me with what they found so far.

They removed the oil pan and found about two quarts of coolant in the oil.

They then over-pressurized the cooling system and except for a couple of very small external leaks around hose connections, no coolant showed up anywhere.

The Tech even joked he wondered if someone just poured coolant in the oil. He also said they found no sign of oil in the coolant. So whatever’s leaking is only going in one direction.

So tomorrow they’re going to put the pan back on, fill it with oil, get it running, and see what happens.

The good news is, that so far, there’s no bad news.

For supper Jan and I decided to check out Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a national chain that’s been around since 1941. But somehow we’ve never eaten one.

And we should have. It was really very good. Good sauce, good meat, good sides. And free ice cream for dessert.

Leaving Dickey’s, I dropped Jan off to get her hair done while I read my Kindle in the car. Then it was back to the motel for the night.

Maybe tomorrow we’ll get some more news.


Thought for the Day:

There are three kinds of people. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what the hell did happen,


Stuck in Las Cruces – Still

To recap: Yesterday as we turned off on Exit 135 into Las Cruces, NM, my engine sputtered a few times and then quit. We were just cresting the top of a hill that precedes a long sweeping curve down into Las Cruces. Although it was fun steering the coach without power steering, we were able to coast a little over 3 miles before being stopped by a red light. At that point I was able to pull off onto a side street that had a wide shoulder that kept us out of traffic.

Thinking that I might be out of diesel, I unhooked the toad, grabbed my 5 gallon can from the bay, and drove right down road to a Fina station, and by making two trips, got 10 gallons of diesel into the tank.

I then spent the next 30 minutes running through the re-prime procedure, but with no luck. So it was on the phone to CoachNet. They made some calls, and then told me they’d  have a wrecker out in about 45 minutes who would tow us to the repair lot. Though being Sunday, no one would be there until Monday morning. And after telling me it would be 45 minutes, the wrecker showed up in only 30 minutes. Great service from CoachNet.

Well, after a somewhat fitful night sleeping in the lot outside Rush Truck Center here in Las Cruces, I checked in with the shop when they opened at 8am. I was still under the assumption that I might be out of diesel, despite the fact that my Silverleaf computer dashboard said I still had 35 gallons in my tank, plus the 10 gallons I had added.

After getting my data, a tech showed up about an hour later and tried to get the engine started. By pre-filling the Lift Pump Filter, and using a small amount of ether, the engine started up after about 10 seconds of cranking.


The engine ran about 3 minutes and then quit.


Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

A second attempt did exactly the same thing.


The tech then started checking some things, and pulling the engine oil dipstick, discovered coolant in the oil.


Not Good.

Next step was for them to tow the rig into their shop lot using a forklift. The facility manager Clayton said it could be something as simple as a water pump or cooler gasket, (BUCKS) but it could also be blown head gasket or a warped head. (BIG BUCKS).

But it could also be a cracked block. (REALLY, REALLY BIG BUCKS)


Clayton said he wanted to let the Cummins rep look at it first, hopefully later in the afternoon. Since we couldn’t stay in the rig, Jan and I packed us and our two cats off to a nearby La Quinta (They take pets).

After lunch and a nice nap in the room, we drove over to the shop about 4:30 to check in. Unfortunately the Cummins guy still hadn’t shown up, so we’ll have to wait ‘til tomorrow to find out what’s what.

Stay tuned.


Thought for the Day:

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not. – Mark Twain


Stuck in Las Cruces . . .

Engine quit coming into Las Cruces this afternoon.

Got towed in by CoachNet to repair shop.

Will know more tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

Last Day in Tucson . . .

Brandi called yesterday to tell more about the video of Landon helping his daddy mow the grass. She said Lowell had gone out to mow the backyard, and she and Landon were watching from the patio. All of a sudden Brandi said Landon turned and ran back in the house.

Brandi said at first she thought he was scared of the noisy mower. But in just a second he reappeared from the house dragging his toy mower behind him.

He wasn’t scared. He just wanted to help daddy.

Hopefully we’ll be able to Skype from Las Cruces tomorrow afternoon. Our Internet signal has been too slow here in Tucson

The RV Park here at the Pima County Fairgrounds is closing tomorrow partly because they’re starting to get ready for the Pima County Fair that starts April 19th.

They’ve already started bringing in the Porta Johns, and lot of carny trailers are showing up.

Tucson Fair Porta Potties

And what’s a fair without a leafy green elephant,

Tucson Fair Green Elephant

or a giant ice cream cone.

Tucson Fair Ice Cream Cone


Terry was feeling better this afternoon, and also probably suffering from a touch of cabin fever, so she was ready to get out of the rig.

So heading out about 1:30pm, our first stop was Harbor Freight Tools. I wanted a heat gun, and they had one on sale. I’m tired of trying to heat shrink tubing using Jan’s hair dryer, and this will fix the problem. Of course I also found a few other things I just had to have. I mean, it’s Harbor Freight Tools, right.

Our next stop was Wal-Mart where everyone needed something. Then it was down the road to Bookman’s used book store. Jan was looking for one last book in a Charlene Harris’ series, and she finally found it here.

Then it was back across town to pick up Nick’s cousin Bev to take her to dinner with us. We decided to have one last meal at Luckie’s Thai for some more great Chinese food.

And of course, more great leftovers.

On the way to Luckie’s, we passed an Ace Hardware and stopped in to get a TV splitter for Bev’s home TV.

We had our usually delicious meal at Luckie’s before finally heading back to Bev’s place. While we were there, Jan introduced Bev to Pinterest, while Nick and I checked out hooking Bev’s bedroom TV to her cable system.

Leaving Bev’s we got back to the rigs and called it a night.

And on another note, the war is not yet won. When I checked my traps after we got home tonight I found two more mice in my traps.

Darn it!

Tomorrow Jan and I plan to head for Las Cruces about 9:30, and Nick and Terry will move down the road to another RV park for a week or so before heading north.


Thought for the Day:

Camping . . . nature’s way to feed the mosquitoes.


Nothing so far . . .

No mousies were found in any of my traps this morning, so maybe I’ve finally thinned out the herd.

About 11am, the park host lady showed up with a Priority Mail package from our daughter Brandi. Really glad it came before we have to leave on Sunday. The box contained our mail, and at the bottom, a nice surprise – a couple of boxes of Girl Scout Thin Mints Cookies. Hmmm!

Later Jan fixed us a great lunch of cheddar cheese and bacon quesadillas, using the Oscar Meyer Pre-Cooked Bacon. Really good.

And of course, a few Thin Mints for dessert.

A little after 1pm, Tom and Barb Westerfield pulled out of the fairgrounds, headed for Las Cruces for a few days. We’ll be there on Sunday too, so maybe we’ll be able to get together for dinner.

After Tom and Barb left, I worked outside for a while around the rig. I cleaned the rig windshield and then adjusted the new wipers I installed recently, so they’ll track better. Then I caulked around the bottom of a couple of windows to see if I can eliminated the stains that come down from there.

Lastly I tidied up a couple of bays and washed them out. That was about it because it was pretty hot out in that sun.

After a short nap to rest up, and since Terry was still feeling under the weather, Jan and I headed out a little after 5pm for dinner and some shopping by ourselves.

Jan had been wanting to eat at Red Robin for a while, so we first headed up just north of downtown to the Tucson Mall area. Red Robin is another of our favorite burger chains, and their burgers come with all-you-can-eat steak fries as well.

Jan always gets the Mushroom Cheese, and I usually go for the Burn’in Love Burger with jalapenos and chipotle mayo.

Leaving Red Robin, we stopped off at the Sam’s Club a couple of miles away for kitty litter and a few other things before getting back home about 8pm.

Nick came over a little later and said that Terry was feeling a little better, so hopefully she’s on the mend.

Tomorrow’s our last full day here in Tucson, and our last time to see Nick and Terry for a while, probably until late August in Celina, OH for the Eastern Gypsy Journal Rally that starts Sept. 3rd.


Thought for the Day:

It is not worth an intelligent man’s time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that. – G. H. Hardy


Two More Down . . .

+ one.

When I got up about 10 this morning I found two more mice in my traps. But they’re getting smaller, so maybe I’m working my way thru the herd.

About 10:30 our friend (and GMAC Insurance Agent) called with a computer problem. This was the first day of the big Good Sam RV Rally up in Phoenix and she was having a problem with printing from their 2nd computer. Luckily I was able to get her problem fixed over the phone and get her going again.

With Miss Terry still under the weather, Nick and I headed out a little after 1pm to get gas, make an Ace Hardware run, and then a stop at Fry’s Market for some groceries, and some Mega-Millions lottery tickets for tomorrow night’s $290 million dollar drawing. (crossing my fingers . . . and toes, and eyes . . . and . . . )

Getting back to the rig, I decided to take a nap before we headed out for supper.

We picked up our friend’s Al & Adrienne at their home in Voyager RV Resort and headed over to the Silver Saddle Steakhouse for dinner. This will be our last get-together for a while until maybe later this year.


Silver Saddle has been voted the Best Steakhouse in Tucson a number of times, and after eating there again, it’s easy to see why.

You can watch your steak being flame broiled over the open-pit mesquite grill that sits off to the side of the dining room. The steaks come out perfectly done, with that slightly-burnt crispy edge that meat get when its cooked over an open fire. Really, really good.

Silver Saddle Grill

We’ve known Al and Adrienne since we met in Fairbanks, AK in 2008, and have been good friends ever since.

Al & Adrienne at Silver Saddle

When we got back to the rig, we found an email from our daughter Brandi showing our grandson Landon helping daddy mow the grass. Very cute.

When I checked my mouse trapline about 9pm I found a third mouse in my traps. I can’t believe all these have been living in our rig. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe they’re coming in from the outside.

I think I’ll put a trap out in our water bay tonight, since it’s the only place they could be getting in the rig.

We’ll see.


Thought for the Day:

All marriages are happy. It’s the living together afterwards that causes the problems.