Teresa and I took a few days off spending time to visit with my parents in Edwards.
Since we left Edwards, it has been a crazy whirlwind of activity. I apologize for not getting this blog entry up a bit earlier.
First, we’d like to let everyone know that we have a new address, including a street address and post office box (there is no mail delivery to our property). We’ll send out a mass e-mail sometime soon.
On to the trailer…
We picked up our trailer from Ken (the seller’s RV repair guy) and was happy to find all the major plumbing problems fixed… so we thought. Ken fixed enough of the leaks to get the system to pressurize (the water pump automatically shuts off at a certain pressure). Before hitting the road, we put four new proper 6-ply tires on it. The 6 ply tires made a HUGE difference in drivability versus the 2 and 4 ply dry rotted “may-pops” that were on there. We had a harrowing drive, taking the trailer thru Denver traffic and out to Spruce Basin. Big Red struggled under the load. There was one instance, when entering highway 470 (Denver’s perimeter highway), I had the pedal to the floor, and couldn’t top 40 mph while climbing the ramp/hill. Also, in my rant for the day, let me just say… there are a lot of stupid drivers out there. Cutting someone off with such a huge load in heavy traffic is not an intelligent thing to do! But we made it out just fine.
We were staying on the partially developed property of our excavator, Pat, in Spruce Basin (just uphill and across the street from our own property) until he finishes our driveway. Uphill, he has some amazing views of the Sangres.
His property is south facing, which, in such a dry climate, means there are no trees. The dry air and intense sun simply bakes the water right out of the porous, sandy ground on south facing slopes. The location is great when the sun is shining, but not so great when the wind is blowing (which happens frequently up here). One night, our trailer was rocking, and it wasn’t because Teresa and I were getting amorous… the intense wind was rocking our little trailer. We were looking forward to getting onto our property!
So on to the trailer… ugg… what can I say? The trailer is older than I, and we knew we were bound to have some problems. The first night we spent in it, we discovered that Ken (or more likely, his workman) had done some pretty shoddy plumbing work. Many of the junctions had no Teflon tape and were very slowly dripping. While we could have taken the trailer back to Ken to have it resolved for free at the sellers expense, we just couldn’t trust his work any more. And it would mean a three hour plus drive to Denver! We decided to have it repaired closer to our new home and pay for the repairs ourselves. We found a great guy named Mark (A to Z Worry Free Mobile RV) who lives just down the road in Coaldale, CO who helped us fix up all the little leaks.
We finally had enough of the leaks fixed to take a hot shower. Damn, that was heavenly. Even though we have only 40 gallons of fresh water on board and a 6 gallon hot water heater, we found that the shower door seals you in quite nicely with all the steam, allowing you to lather up in between soakings. Teresa and I probably only use 2 gallons each to shower… and we really felt clean when done! Unfortunately, once 1972 vintage hot water heater got hot, the hot water tank started leaking apparently from a cracked tank. We still shower… we just don’t keep the hot water heater on all the time. Time for a new hot water heater! We’ve ordered it and are still waiting for that to come in… we’ve now been waiting 2-3 weeks! Backordered… <sigh>
Teresa and I set off to work on various bits and pieces of the trailer that we felt comfortable enough to repair ourselves. Teresa re-caulked just about everything in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as screwing, gluing, and lubing all the places that had come loose, unglued, or stuck. I spent three days reworking some areas of the electrical system. I discovered three melted 120v AC sockets. Someone must have thought it a bright idea to run a high wattage heater in the kitchen socket, melting the plastic and taking out power to two other sockets in the trailer’s living room. Check out the meltdown!
Thanks to Teresa’s handiwork, we have a battery “shelf” to place two more batteries inside the trailer for a total of four. Two are hooked into an inverter I mounted to provide AC power to all the sockets. The other two drive everything else.
Our water/sanitation situation was a nightmare. The way the water fill pipe was installed nearly 20 years ago, we cannot feed water via gravity directly into the tank. Mark, our RV fix-it guy, gave us some flex hose that we can shove all the way through the fill line into the tank, allowing us to get enough siphon action to get us over the hump in the water fill line. Right now, we only have a 7 gallon water dispenser used in our travels, and 12 gallon cooler for hauling water. We stack buckets, haul the 7 gallon container on top of the buckets, and, over 5-6 minutes, drain it into the flex hose via a small funnel. Then we refill the 7 gallon container from the cooler, and repeat the process… twice. It is an arduous 20 minute process to fill our tanks. It’s not so bad when it’s a nice sunny 60-70 degrees outside, but it would be hell come winter. We were getting water from our incredibly kind neighbors down the road, Lynn and Linda. While on Pat’s property, we opted for cat holes instead of dealing with black water, but have plans for a composting toilet once on our land. We dump our gray water on the ground (biodegradable soaps only of course!)
Our fridge, stove, and oven are working perfectly. It’s nice to have a freezer and an oven again. Teresa has been busy making cookies and other baked goodies. Our furnace, while old, mostly works, but is a little noisy. It’s rained a couple of times and we seem to be staying mostly dry. We found a very small leak or two which we have patched.
On top of all these issues my Acer Travelmate 292 laptop has died. (Teresa’s is still working fine). As far as I can tell, the hard drive is in fine shape, but something inside the laptop has gone awry. Ugg… another expense, another pain in the rear. I am now typing this to you on a brand new Dell Inspiron 6400. I won’t bore you with the technical details, but I did make sure it was sufficient enough for me to do my software engineering work on… and managed to keep the price under a grand.
A week ago or so, our excavator hit a significant patch clay in the path of the driveway. There’s enough clay and mud mixed in throughout the driveway that we are going to go ahead and gravel the entire 1000 ft driveway. The ground is so wet right now, there’s no way we can get the 12 loads of gravel up to the property. 🙁 More cost, more time… There’s now a chance that we won’t be able to get our trailer out on our property until spring… maybe even summer. Teresa and I went ahead and made the decision to move the trailer down the mountain and in to an RV park where we can spend the winter. We have electricity, sewer, unlimited water, wireless internet, a good cell signal, and are 15 minutes closer to everything. The only drawbacks? Not sure the wireless internet will be good enough for work, but I found that I can buy my own service here if needed. The road noise is a bit annoying as well, as are the ever moo-ing cows across the street, but it’s nothing we can’t sleep through. Honestly, it is the best decision for now. We can now wait for power, well, telephone, and internet access to arrive on our property before we move back up there. Here are some shots of our winter “home.”
This has been an emotionally trying experience, as you can imagine. We weren’t able to get on our land as planned. On top of all of that, Teresa and I have worked very hard trying to whoop this trailer into livable condition. In the beginning, by the end of the day, our forearms were aching and we were emotionally spent. We still have a fairly daunting to do list to complete prior to returning to Atlanta in November, including building a “dog house” for the generator, and a storage shed. We are learning plenty along the way. For example, we make a 40-50 minute run to town to pick up supplies, and then about 20 minutes into our return trip, we realized we forgot something. ARG! We have to be good at making lists! I’ve also learned that I am not a good plumber. Still, through all the trials, we still have magical mountain moments out here. We see deer nearly every day. The views are incredible! We’re meeting wonderful folks. And we know, once we finally have a home built, it will be a wonderful place to be.