Monday, May 30, 2016

The Rant........You knew it was coming

Let me bring you back to a cold January day in Minnesota. I said to Lisa "Let's get a Jeep because we are going back to Moab". She said "Hell ya, plus it will be great to get groceries in".

Jump forward 4 months to April 27th. A day that will live in infamy. Our friends Jane and Leyman wanted to take us on a Jeep trail in the Moab, Utah, known for it's world famous Jeep trails. We weren't doing a difficult trail to say the least. We follow our leaders to the trail head, cross a small stream of water about 2 feet deep, I casually put the idea into Lisa's head that we may need a snorkel for future trails. We climb a small hill and all of a sudden the Jeep dies. It turns over, but it doesn't fire.

Leyman comes over to have a look as well as a couple of other people passing by. They pull the distributor cap off thinking it got water in it, nothing. So we tow it off the trail and continue on with our Jeeping. The trail isn't as much fun when you are in the back seat but it still was a nice drive. Thanks Leyman for driving. Then we have to get the Jeep back to town. To have it towed from the trails is $500 an hour. So I have a strap and we hook it up to Leyman's Jeep. We get to Moab with our tails between our legs and drop it off at the Moab 4X4 Outpost.

That's all these people do is work on Jeeps. I tell them the problem and leave it there thinking it is an easy fix. Days go by. No calls. After a week they call me. YAY!!!! It is alive! Can you pick up your Jeep, we can't get it going. ?????????WHAT???????? Really?????? Yah, we put in a new distributor, ignition wires, coil, crank sensor and a new RE-BUILT computer. It still won't start. I know that Jeeps started out in the military, I didn't know that they were so hard to fix, just in case the Germans ever got a hold of them. I paid the bill for all the parts ($770 worth). At least they didn't charge labor.

I then trailer the Jeep up to Price, Utah to a dealer there on Thursday(May 5th). No problem they say. Friday no call. Monday(May 9th) I call them. Oh, we think it is the computer, we will order a new one from Jeep. It will take 5-7 days. Okay, sweet because we are leaving for a job in Yellowstone May 26th. Plenty of time to fix it. One week goes by, nothing. Finally Lisa calls them the 18th of May. They say the computer didn't get ordered but they will do it now. WTF!

We moved our plans up to leave Moab, so Monday the 23rd I drive up to Price and go into this dealer. I went to the service desk and told them who I was. After a lengthy wait the Service Manager comes out and takes me to his office. (Well this ain't good). He says the computer should be here that day or the next. I said that we are leaving Moab tomorrow. I told him "if it gets fixed, I can drive from Grand Junction Co. to pick it up. I can even drive from Yellowstone, but the farther I have to drive the more pissed I am going to be". So I walked out and had lunch.

They called, luckily I was still in Price and told me it was running. Well with how upset I was they didn't charge me for the part, just 3 hours of labor. Great, how am going to get it back to Moab now. Lisa did not come with me. They offered to drive it there for me for free. (My font changed, I don't know why) I told the manger about the tires needing air. They had 18 psi because we were on the trail. I even called and left a message on his phone. The Jeep gets to Moab and they tell me the rear tire is low. WTF! Again. Idiots! Anyone ever drive on under inflated tires at 65-80 miles an hour? 

Well I am back on my blood pressure medication because the Jeep is with us. I did fill out a survey about my experience. They were not pleased at what I wrote because I got a call the next day. 

The rant is over. Enjoy the rest of your day because I feel better.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It's more than OK

The fun thing about this lifestyle is the people that you may meet. We have met so many that we now call friends.

Sunday was our last day of work at the OK RV Park in Moab Utah. We have to head north to Yellowstone for our summer job. But as we sit here waiting for our Jeep to come from Price Utah (which will be an entirely different post altogether) we have time to think.

We applied for this job last year. It was our first work-camping job and we just didn't know what to expect. We got to Moab and found the camp ground. A small family owned camp ground. The owners where so nice. They took us in and treated us like family. There are two little girls that really got attached to us and us to them. I often told Lisa "Why do they like us so much because we are not kid friendly." But they did and we enjoyed having them around.

This year we are all a year older and the girls haven't been around as much. It was probably a good thing because we have decided not to come back next year. We have decided to be on the east coast next season making our time here bitter sweet. And as of now we just don't know when we will be out west again.

We would like to wish all our new friends at the OK RV Park a heart felt "Good-bye". Until we see each other again. We are very lucky for the time we have been able to spend here. This area is one of our favorites and if you have not ever been here, you are missing out. This is a great place to stay. Tell them Dino and Lisa sent you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day trip to Yellowstone


Day trip to Yellowstone? Yellowstone National Park? Are you kidding? Aren't you in Moab Utah?

Yes, yes we are in Moab and besides, Yellowstone is only 619 miles away.

Welcome to the little conversations that go on in my head. We did go to Yellowstone National park though. Our daughter Kendra has been here in Moab  so that she could get used to her camper. She has taken a job in Yellowstone and starts on Monday so we had to help her get there. We don't start our Yellowstone job till June 1st.

We got up very early Thursday morning and drove like wild banshees to get there. It's a good thing that the scenery was nice. After being there really got me excited to get up there. There is so much new stuff to see and do. We are looking forward to that new adventure.

Then we got up very early Friday morning to drive back to Moab. We stopped for a couple of pictures, so here they are.

Elk are everywhere

We left at 6am and we were up in the clouds

A steam vent

A Buffalo herd
That was the most exciting thing this week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Frustration meter is high

Lil' Blue update.

Remember that all this started April 27th. Lil' Blue (our Jeep) died on the trail. After many attempts at revival we had no luck at bringing her back to life. So thanks to Leyman and Jane, who we were Jeeping with that day, drug Lil' Blue back to town. You have heard of the "walk of shame", well being pulled off the trail is the "drive of shame".

We took it to one of the local Jeep places here in Moab. The 4X4 Outpost is the name. That is all they do is work on Jeeps. Who better to bring Lil' Blue back to life. We thought it would be an easy fix. A new distributor or maybe a coil. They had Lil' Blue for a week and they finally called me to have it picked up. They could not get it started. What? They replaced the distributor, the coil, crank sensor, ignition leads and finally a new re-built computer. That is all they get is re-manufactured ones is what they told me. So now we have $770 worth of new parts on a Jeep that still does not even start. At least they had the decency not to charge me labor.

So we picked up Lil' Blue and trailered it to Price, Utah. We were told that the place we took it to had great troubleshooters. That was May 5th. I called them on Monday because I have not heard anything from them and do you know what they told me?


They have narrowed it down to the computer. Really? They said that they would order a new one from Jeep and then take it to the Jeep dealer in Price to have it programmed. They think that the 4X4 Outpost didn't program the re-manufactured one correctly or it was just a bad computer.

Now the frustrating part. When we chose this lifestyle we knew there would be compromises. Like if things break down on the road where do you take it. It is a big crap shoot, that's for sure. You really have to put a lot of faith in strangers. When we lived in Fargo, we had built up relationships with with our car dealership and what not. In fact when we are in town I always go visit the salesman that sold us our last two pick-ups.

So when we took the Jeep to Price I had noticed that on the pick-up the exhaust pipe was broken behind the muffler and was just hanging there. It took me a couple of days to tell Lisa especially after the Jeep fiasco. Being in a small town is tough when things break. So I went to O'Reilly's auto parts and ordered a new tail pipe. They are not cheap. $218.00 for a 3 foot pipe. Wow. It would take a couple of days to get it to Moab. Fine.

I am looking at this job as being super easy to replace that. It is just held on by a clamp. A half hour at the most. But  that is not the way my life is. It is never as easy as it should be. First of all I had to take the old clamp off right? I have a socket set and I bought a new deep socket just for that job. It would not budge. Crap. I am going to have to cut it off then. I go back to O'Reilly's to see if they have a cut off tool to rent. No. But they would be happy to sell me one. Crap again. So I go back to the camp ground to see what tools they have there. Ron the owner was gone and I didn't feel right about raiding his work shop.

Then I had the idea to get a half inch to a 3/8 inch adapter and use my big breaker bar on that little f****** nut. So back to O'Reilly's I go. I get back under the truck and presto. The nut turns. Life is good again. I figured that the clamp would come off. It would have if they hadn't welded it to the muffler. Also there is a piece of old pipe in the muffler that needs to come out of there. I get the vise grip and pull. Nothing. So I then get the tool that is the universal answer to all mechanical questions. The hammer. I new it would be rusty but rusted solid as if it were welded in there. Crap, crap. I need a screw driver to use as a chisel. My mechanical guard training is kicking in now. That pipe is getting a serious ass beating now.

The pipe won that round. So I head back into town and buy a real chisel this time. I then get back to the ass beating for round two. I think that I have all the rust busted loose now. I grab the vise grip and start working it around the whole pipe. Finally. It pops out of there. I grab the new tail pipe, slap it in there, tighten the clamp and I am done.It only took 4 hours.
This pipe got an ass whooping!

New tail pipe.

Now I said that we made compromises when we started this lifestyle. One big one is that I had a garage full of tools and a garage to work in. I don't have any of the tools I would need for any kind of maintenance at all. So when this kind of thing happens I have to go out and buy specific things to get what ever job I am doing done. I could have bought a cut off tool for $50.00 but I would have only used it once. It wasn't practical. So I struggled a little harder but still got the job done. Besides time is what we have most of in this lifestyle.

Well it is Miller time now that I have worked so hard today. :-)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

House hunting RV style

We have owned our fifth wheel for 5 years now and have full timed in it for 2. When we bought it, it had everything we could have ever wanted in a fifth wheel. We spent a lot of money on it. A lot in our eyes any ways.

As you live in these RV's you start to find their short comings. You start to make lists in your head as to what the next one is going to have and have not so that if you ever change you change for the better. That is what we have been doing lately. There are not a lot of RV options in Moab Utah. So our searches have been on line. Our new list of options and improvements is long.

So to the World Wide Web we went. Looking at everything out there in a 600 mile radius of Moab. Narrowing down the options to certain brands and manufacturer's. After hours and hours of searching we had finally narrowed it down to one manufacturer that met our quality standards and options that we wanted. We set a budget of how much cash we were willing to part with (after spilling tears over the loss of our cash) and what we thought we could get for our fifth wheel (hopes really). We know we aren't going to buy new. New rigs that we are looking at can be anywhere from 60,000-150,000 dollars. Not in our budget.

But there is a thing called depreciation. So for our budget and the quality that we want the RV's where going to be in the 2010 to 2011 range. Our thinking is that these RV owner's have taken care of their rigs because they were upper quality and any issues that have arose in the last 4-5 years have surfaced and they have taken care of them. Win, win.

The brand we chose finally is Cameo. The Carriage line in fact. There where a couple of floor plans we liked.
Our web search found a few with in our area of operation. The first being in Grand Junction Colorado. So off we went. It was at a small RV dealer. We went over it with a fine tooth comb and a magnifying glass. The beauty of this is that we know so much more than we did starting out. You can see up grades quickly and minor cosmetic flaws easily. What to worry about and what not to. It was a good RV, bbbbuuuuttttttt, the price was considerably higher than any other of the same style and model around the country. Talking to the dealer we found out that it was on consignment and the owner wanted a lot for it. Good-bye.

We found some more in Phoenix and Tuscon at some very large mega dealers. Road trip!

The two in Phoenix weren't at the dealer yet because they had a show that weekend. So off to Tuscon we went. The one at the mega dealer there had just been sold. Damn! They tried to push us to something different but no. We know what we are looking for. So we went to the mega dealer across the street. No Cameo but they had a Redwood. 2013 in fact for $40.000. It was a beautiful RV. It had everything we wanted. We have seen those on the road and always felt they were nice rigs. Over $100,000 new.
This is not the actual rig but it is similar.
It was the end of the day so we said we would be back in the morning for another look. So we jumped on the information highway. More research. The RV was beautiful but there was one thing that kept gnawing at us. The price. Every 2013 Redwood we found on line was at least $60,000. Even NADA listed it at $54,000. Either we found the deal of the decade or there was something wrong with that one. We are not gamblers and our gut told us something was wrong. Good-bye. Back to Phoenix.

They had 2 Cameo's. One sold during their weekend show but the other was there and we went through it. They are built nicely and the price was much better. So we pulled the trigger and signed an offer.
The Cameo we looked at was similar to this.
Buying vehicles is very stressful for Lisa. You can actually see her loosing hair. She has no finger nails left. When all the smoke cleared from the negotiating table we walked away empty handed. They low balled us on ours  or maybe we just felt ours was worth much more than they did. I mean if they can sell one camper at $15,000 below book value couldn't they wheel and deal a little better with this one? 

So we still have our fifth wheel and we will make it work for as long as we have to. Who knows, the Tampa Super show is only 10 months away.

Time to do some stress drinking.