Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Albuquerque, the Generator and Santa Fe

At the end of my last post, we were just getting ready to leave Truth or Consequences and head north to Albuquerque. Our generator hadn't been functional since we were at the dealership in Quartzsite, and getting it repaired "correctly" was a necessity if we expected to do any serious boondocking.

Of course, we had the solar setup on the trailer, which we could easily tap into by plugging the RV into the trailer, but we could only do that when stopped. Even so, that would provide only so much power... maybe enough to run the microwave for a few minutes, but not enough for running an air conditioner for a longer time. And it was somewhat of a hassle to get out the cord and hook up to the trailer for such a short time as it would be useful. We needed that generator fixed!

I located a factory authorized service facility for Generac in Albuquerque, so that was our next target. They don't have room for RV's to park overnight in their yard, so we had to find something close. We located a Walmart that allowed overnight parking on the east side of town, only about a mile from the service center. When I called Power Generation Service, they at first told me they were booked up, but I explained to them that we were only passing through and needed the generator fixed for our travels. They agreed to check their schedule and see if they could work us in.

Our RV and trailer at Power Generation Services, Albuquerque.

We arrived the next morning, and they got busy diagnosing the problem within minutes, starting with my thorough explanation on what we were told by the dealer. Knowing what the symptoms are is a very important part of any diagnostic operation. Then they assigned a mechanic to it and he got busy with the physical aspect of the diagnostics. It took them a couple of hours, but they determined that the generator had a bad module in it. Once that was replaced and we had power output again, we discovered that the dash switch would not shut the generator off, so they replaced a small start switch on the generator.

I don't blame the dealer in Quartzsite for not finding these problems. It appears to have been erratic, working one minute and not the next. And most dealers are not factory trained authorized service people. They aren't expected to know every little thing about every product that comes through their shop. They may know routine problems and how to repair them, but it often takes trained professionals to diagnose and locate difficult issues, especially when they come and go erratically.

When I contacted the RV dealer about reimbursement on the repair bill of $379.34, they offered to pay it by refunding the credit back through our credit card that we had used for some other charges. However, with Sharon being away on her Alaska cruise and without internet most of the time, I have no way to verify that it has been done yet. She is the one that monitors such things through her online sources, and I will let her deal with it when she returns next week. If necessary I will update this as needed.

Anyway,  after we paid the bill "out of pocket", circled the building and got back on the road, we fueled up and headed for Santa Fe. Never having been there before, we weren't sure what was in store for us, but that's what this adventurous lifestyle is all about! As we headed up I-25, we could soon see snow-capped Mount Tucheras at 13,102 feet and Mount Baldy at 12,622 feet in the distance. They're beautiful with snow on them!

Heading to Santa Fe on I-25, Mount Baldy in the distance.

We got into Santa Fe, and tried to park in what we thought was a shopping mall, just to grab a bite to eat and get our bearings. It turned out to be more of a large office complex with very tight parking spaces! We made it to the very back, where we saw a long space against a wooded area, and ate our lunch. We were able to continue on around and get back out, and we headed for the new Walmart at the south end of town, which is the only one that allows overnight parking.

While there, we tried to get our immediate plans together for what to do next. Should we attempt to try to find parking for 44 feet of RV and trailer in "Old Santa Fe" so we could do some sightseeing? Should we stop at a visitor center and gather more information first? Should we try to find accommodations for the next month at Cochiti Lake, where we might be able to drop the trailer in a safe environment and sightsee just with the RV? Would this also work for Ed when he arrives? Actually, we did none of those things... for two whole days!

We researched the options online. We knew we only had a couple of days to make up our minds, because we wanted to settle somewhere for an entire month, using the first couple weeks to explore on our own, and then me with Ed while Sharon flew out to Alaska (on 6/1) for a couple weeks. This was already the 12th when we arrived here, and since Sharon would be returning on the 14th of June, we wanted to get into "someplace" by the 14th of May. Cochiti Lake might have worked, and the price was right, but the stay length was too short, and it was a ways off the main highway, as well as being a ways out of town, plus it was on the wrong side of Albuquerque to get Sharon to the airport easily.

Since we had stayed at a very nice KOA in Kingman just recently for only $330 a month, we checked with the closest one to the airport. But they wanted $540 a month for a site, and I knew we weren't going to pay that much, so Ed certainly wouldn't pay their boondocking rate, either! I called every campground on the east side of town, and none of them (except one) met the combined requirements of both Ed and ourselves.

Since we had already shot a whole day at Walmart in Santa Fe in coming up with a plan, we decided to stay there a second night, although we still didn't get out to see any of the city as we had originally planned. We can already see that dragging a trailer around all the time is going to hinder our sightseeing plans!

The first night wasn't bad. We had about two dozen other traveling vehicles near us, from people in cars, to van-dwellers, to normal RV's, and it was fine. Everyone respected each other, and the quiet hours... other than some non-RVing idiot on a crotch rocket peeling out in the parking lot at nearly midnight! But the second night, I could have strangled another RVer!

Some ignorant old fool in an old diesel pusher pulled up right across the drive from us, put his living room slide out into the driveway side of his parking space, and continued to run his diesel generator... not just during the daytime... but all damned night! By the time we went to bed our eyes burned so bad from the exhaust fumes that I was tempted to pull out and go to the other side of the lot. But unfortunately, a car dweller pulled into the only vacant spot between us and the island in front, blocking us from moving forward without a lot of jockeying, and someone else in a pick-up truck parked just as close behind the trailer!

What do I look like, a mother hen?

Why do other RVers have to congregate so close to other RVers that they can hear them snore (or do other things) at night? They don't need to park against my bumpers just to feel safe at night! I AM NOT going to protect them! I tried to stay as far off the main driveways as I could, all the way against the west property line where there was nothing but a gravel embankment... but being the first one there, everyone else seems to think I am holding a spot for them and they have to congregate around me!

Maybe the answer is to park in the noisiest, busiest thoroughfare in the whole parking lot, making sure I block access to any spaces behind me or in front of me, as well as on either side of me (to the best of my ability). And if some SOB with a generator thinks he is going to come in and park next to me, I plan to leave immediately! There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for other RVers being so rude as to park that close, or run their generators and pollute the environment with their noise and exhaust fumes around other people! I can only imagine what the people in cars, trucks and vans had to put up with that night that are closer to the ground than we are! It's a wonder some of them weren't asphyxiated!

If you want a run a generator in a parking lot... then get the hell away from other RVers that are there for a peaceful and quiet night's sleep! And for those that think they have to have air conditioning 24 hours a day... you're "camping" for Heaven's sake! Get used to breathing some cool natural nightime desert air with low humidity! On both this occasion as well as the first one in Truth or Consequences, it was down in the 50s by bedtime and into the 40's by morning! There is no need for an air conditioner after 6 PM!

We haven't even run our own A/C unit yet this year, despite the temps being into the low 90's on rare days! Ninety isn't that hot with low humidity! Open your windows and your ceiling vents/fans and get a breeze through your coach! Besides, it only hits that for a couple hours in the afternoon, and then it slides right back into the 40s and 50s at night! Tolerate it for a couple hours in the afternoon! It will do your lungs good!

There isn't anything on an RV that you have to run a generator for, other than an air conditioner or microwave! EVERY RV has enough on-board battery power to use either 12-volts or to power an inverter for everything else you need to use! It will continue to do that for days without starting the engine to recharge if you don't abuse your power requirements! If you have to run a generator, then find a place to park off by yourself, because I can guarantee you that no one else wants to listen to it or smell your fumes!

As it turns out, maybe a bit of karma bit this guy in the behind, because the next morning, he couldn't get his living room slide back in! He shouldn't have had it out (sticking out into a driveway) in a Walmart parking lot to begin with, but when I saw two service techs with a truck working on it the next morning, I almost went out and clapped my hands! It took them an hour to get it back in, and then he had to follow them back to their service facility for some (likely) expensive repairs! That's what happens when you don't have enough brains or common sense to know how to boondock in a Walmart parking lot without disrupting everyone else's safety and peace and quiet!

That being said, I am done "fuming" about this!

As it turns out, we did find another place in the southeast side of Albuquerque to park for a month that could accommodate both us and Ed, and we don't even have to get on the freeway to get to the airport. But sometimes convenience comes at the price of other things. This will be a good reminder of why we never stay in places that are "too cheap". But I'll save the details for the next post.

The weather here at 6700 feet of elevation has been great... ranging from a couple of rare 30-ish nights to a couple of rare 90-ish days. Most days this month will be in the upper 80s with overnight temps of low 50s by early morning... great sleeping weather. We always have a nice breeze, and as said previously, we have seen no need to run an air conditioner... yet. A couple of mild storms have rolled through, the strongest one just last night. We got some heavy rain between 7 and 10 PM, and some lightning, but then it quit.

Next month will start the monsoon season, which often brings short afternoon storms, sometimes beginning with a high winds and a lot of dust. We'll be gone before then, but could very well come back in the middle of the season. We've never been at higher elevations during monsoon season, so we have no idea how altitude affects it. I guess we'll find out. Hopefully, it's just a desert thing.

I have gotten a few texts from Sharon (on rare occasions when her TracFone works up there) to let me know she is having fun in Alaska, although I'm sure it didn't start out that way. Her first flight on the 1st, was supposed to get her to Seattle, and then another flight on to Fairbanks was supposed to arrive at just after midnight on the 2nd. Well, as sometimes happens, the airlines over-booked and ended up putting her up in a Red Lion Hotel for the night... what there was left of it. With barely 4 hours sleep, she had to be up early in the morning for her next flight. She didn't arrive in Fairbanks until 2:15 in the afternoon. That's where she met up with her sister and a couple other friends on this same itinerary.

Their first day was a rest day, anyway, and then they were to have some local sightseeing tours before heading for Seward by train to board the cruise ship on the 6th. But over this weekend, I also saw on the news that another cruise ship, the Celebrity Infinity, came into the dock at Ketchikan much faster than it should have (possibly due to high winds pushing it) and it did several million dollars damage to the dock and put a gaping hole in the side of the ship!

Thankfully, this is not the ship she will be on, and Ketchikan has other docks, although this one that was destroyed is the largest of the bunch, reserved for only the largest ships. The ship Sharon will be on will not arrive there until the 11th, so hopefully, they will make necessary arrangements by then. If the ship cannot find a suitable dock that can accommodate its size, they will likely use smaller boats to get passengers to shore and back. The repairs to the dock could take months, and even extend into next year!

The final docking will be in Vancouver, where there will be a couple more land tours, and then Sharon will fly back to Albuquerque on Tuesday the 14th... via Chicago. Yeah, I know. Since when did airline routing ever make sense?

Here at "home", Ed and I haven't had much time to do any touring (yet), but we have something in mind for tomorrow. He has been working on finalizing an audio project for a customer, and I have been trying to catch up on blogging and other things. We only have a week left, so if we're going to do any sightseeing, we had better get to it! Today is the 6th, a Monday. We leave here next Tuesday.

As is usual for me, I won't write about the place we are staying until after we leave, but I should have the report of that next week sometime. Sharon and I will be leaving for Texas immediately after I pick her up at the airport, and then we will be on the go nearly every day until we return from Texas and settle in again somewhere in the west... at a high elevation and out of the heat and humidity. I'll post as I can, but that's all I can promise.

As always, thank you for using our links to make any purchases, from which we might make a small referral fee from the vendor.

Until next time, stay well and travel safe.

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