Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Thankful Thanksgiving

While parked at the RV park in Benson, I finally gave up & called a mobile RV tech to unravel my battery, converter, & generator issues. I’ve always loved the self-sufficiency aspect of boondocking (dry camping – without services) & we’ve worked hard at getting various systems in order to do that comfortably. Ultimately, the replacement converter Jeff installed a year & a half ago was toast. I’d suspected this since it’d blown two fuses while we’ve had it & our batteries NEVER seemed to be topped off. The new (& much more expensive) converter is a 3-stage with float capability also. My cheap portable battery tester showed them fully charged while I was plugged into electricity at the park. Time will tell.

I’ve been getting an error from the King Flex satellite dish each time I restart it after being turned off even tho it hasn’t moved. It’s as simple as unscrewing & reconnecting the cable or just picking up the dish & setting it back down to clear the error – but guess I need to call the company to see what’s going on with that. Anyway, I have disliked having to get out the step stool to reach up to connect the cable to the upper back corner of the trailer – SO, I took a new cable (thinking that would help the error – it didn’t) & ran it thru the grill of the battery box (no longer housing a battery there), up thru the seat, around the bottom of the bed, & connected it directly to the satellite controller. The fewer connections, the less chance of disruptions. NOW it’s extremely convenient.

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day, I was up, packed, & hooked up to roll out at 7:30am. Gassed up the pickup & stopped in Wilcox to top off all three propane tanks. I traveled east on I-10 a bit, then headed north on Hwy 191 to Safford AZ to come in from the east thru Globe to get to Roosevelt Lake. I didn’t want to go thru Tucson.

It was a calm but cloudy day for the trip. I plugged in a zip drive with recorded music & had some teary miles as the songs reminded me of happier times with Jeff. But they also caused some epiphanies. I imagined a conversation God had with Jeff, telling him it was time to come home, that his struggles were over, & Jeff saying he needed to stay to take care of me. God’s answer was that HE was doing that. Ironically, I FEEL Jeff’s presence with me when I’m driving & pulling the trailer, not so much when I’m parked. I’ve remembered how much I always liked driving & how boring being a passenger could be. The best part was being able to take photos as we traveled which I can’t do now. Jeff had a pretty good photographic eye & was great about slowing down for scenes he knew I’d want pictures of. The weird thing (to me) tho is that I’m seeing familiar places in a totally different way. I’m reading road & speed limit signs even. It’s like I have a young brain again that can multi-task & remember more than one thing at a time. It even feels like Jeff is looking thru my eyes - showing me the world HE saw as we traveled. (I know – I’m starting to sound even stranger than before.) But later in the day, I caught myself actually smiling when I remembered places & experiences we shared. Does that mean I’m actually healing? It’s been six weeks since Jeff’s death.

The Google maps navigator woman lead me right to Goose Campground Group Site at Roosevelt Lake. I felt like I was in a John Denver song about feeling good to be back home again when I saw the first saguaro on a hillside. I felt Jeff smile also. My friends from Mesa, Ray & Ellen (who invited me to this campout), pulled up right behind me so we got first pick of the campsites. It’s beautiful with big campsites, covered concrete patio with picnic tables on a finger of land overlooking the Lake. And all the campers in this group have dogs.

My batteries weren’t topped off tho from the drive (ach, another glitch to work on) & it was too cloudy for the solar panels to help any, so I pulled out the generator, hooked up the propane tank, pulled & pulled, & finally got it running – all by myself. Between cranking on the BAL leveler I put under the low tire to both stabilize & level the trailer & starting the generator, I may actually improve some core muscles this winter. (Besides quitting smoking, my other goal is to tone up some weak muscles.) See how much Jeff spoiled me? I got to watch a little television, run the furnace, & charge my phone, e-cigarette, & laptop – & the 140 watt inverter never screamed all night long that the batteries were too low to continue. What more could a girl want??

Thanksgiving Day was still cloudy but apparently the solar panels got just enough sun to keep the batteries up all night without running the generator at all. Yay!!. I walked Kira around a lot, meeting most of the dozen or so other dogs camped here. I talked, & talked, & talked some more. Met all the 15 other campers & about as many doggies here & shared a great dinner, with all the expected fixings. I sat around the group campfire for both warmth & companionship afterward, but had to turn in early since I was yawning so much. Think my body is still on Central time.

The sun finally came out to stay for a few days – but the solar panels didn’t seem to be doing much for my batteries. One of the campers checked them for me & found a blown fuse in one of the two 90W panels. More bad words & dirty names under my breath. He also found the special 40A fuse in the Tundra that charges the trailer batteries while traveling. It was blown also. I got REAL good at starting the generator!

I was going to stay at Roosevelt Lake until Monday morning, but everyone else was leaving Sunday & I sure didn’t want to stay there all by myself. So I hooked up & left Sunday also, going north on Hwy 188 this time to end up on Beeline – a very mountainous & somewhat curvy 4-lane highway. Thankfully I could travel along at my comfortable 62 mph without holding up traffic (too much).

I stopped in Scottsdale at AutoZone to get new 40A fuses for the Tundra – but the old one tested good. OK, I got two extras just in case. Then I finally made it thru all the traffic of the Phoenix area to my cousin’s house in Sun City West on the northwest edge of town for a couple of nights – plugged into electricity. It’s always so nice hanging out with my cousin who’s more like an older brother to me. He lost his wife some years ago & his mother (my mother’s sister) had dementia much like my mom. We had some great talks while there. The morning I left, I checked that my batteries were fully charged, plugged the special 40A fuse into the Tundra, started it up, & checked the battery charge again. It was charging – so at least it was working now.

I traveled without incident to Quartzsite AZ, & promptly stopped at Solar Bill’s to have my bad solar panel checked out. Long story short, a nice RVer at Benson hooked up the newly charged battery I picked up in Wilcox that I didn’t have hooked up there ‘cause they were super busy & I wanted to get on down the road, but he reversed the wires connected to the batteries coming from the solar panels. It blew out both controllers – so that was an expensive lesson. I now know exactly which one goes where & why. (Any lead with a fuse attached should be connected to the positive battery post – not the negative post.)

I’d been thinking for a few months about getting the $180 long-term visitors pass at Quartzsite since there isn’t much on my agenda for the winter. Even tho there’s tons of free boondocking places, I didn’t want to HAVE to move if I didn’t want. Plus fresh water, dumpsters, & dump stations are free with the pass. So that’s where I’ve landed – for months if I want, or if the cool weather continues, I may head to Imperial Dam LTVA north of Yuma to check that out. I parked near John of Jon's Journeys because I’d meet him a couple of years ago at the fiberglass rally here. Another Casita is nearby also, so I feel like I’m amongst friends. Hearing the I-10 traffic at night tho reminds me of Jeff’s trucking days & the times I spent with him at truck stops. I’ve reorganized the back of the pickup shell by hanging things on the inside of the utility boxes so I have more floor space & can more easily access stuff. Kira & I have taken numerous walks around the area & I’ve managed to read several e-books. B U T – I can finally charge my two AGM-31 12v batteries (that were each reprogrammed with a long, slow charge to remove the cap they develop over time) from solar panels on a sunny day, propane generator at night & cloudy days, or hooked to the pickup either being towed or (as a last resort) simply battery cables from the pickup battery directly to the trailer batteries. AND – I actually know how to do all this correctly myself. Considering the nights have mostly been in the low 40’s with a few in the 30’s, keeping up with propane will likely be a constant task (I can handle that by myself also.)

I’ve had numerous conversations with other men & women who’ve lost a spouse so I know I still have months (or years) of healing to do. I think it’s odd tho that my memories of Jeff during the last year as he got weaker, sicker, & quieter aren’t the ones that kick so hard. Mostly I’m just glad he’s not in pain anymore. But those older memories of the things we did & places we went kick up even more memories of other loved ones who are gone & of just being younger & more active with another set of priorities. It’s a whole blizzard of sadness that usually causes me to get up & do something constructive or go somewhere. Am I really moving on or just ignoring the pain? Just when you think you have your life figured out & stable – everything turns upside down!

I’m somewhat surprised at how totally at home & comfortable I feel at Quartzsite although I spent all summer wanting to be back here in the winter, so at least I know there is where I want to be for now. Although I’m not camped at Dome Rock where we always parked, I’ll be OK there in February in a little different location there with a plethora of other eggs around me. In the meantime, I’m just exploring the town & being open to new experiences & people. I’m trying to continue the adventure that Jeff taught me to love.


  1. Wow, big learning curve. Now you can do it. Good resting time.

    17 more radiation treatments - feeling affects already, mild burning so far and vitamin E is helping at this point and resting a lot. Wish the weather would get lousy (when not driving back and forth daily to Las Cruces though) so feel better about staying inside so much.

    Take care my friend and enjoy your time.

  2. Nice sunsets! Glad you are in a good safe place.
    It's great you are learning so much. Enjoy the desert.!

  3. You deserve to feel as strange as you want! We found after losing our son (6 months ago) that the incredible grief slowly transformed into realizing how deeply we loved him, and those memories are mostly positive.

  4. Glad to hear your doing ok,,,sent you a friend request on Facebook.

  5. Glad to see your doing good ,,be safe miss chatting with you at Compton next season.

  6. You have come so far in such a short amount of time. Look at all your problem solving skills you have retooled just in this post! Going to have to miss Quartsite this year so enjoy for me...Blessings in the new year Glenda!

  7. I have been reading your blog off and on for a few years, never posted before. I am so very proud of you. I was widowed at a young age and it does my heart good to see you going through the steps and becoming stronger. It will amaze you what you are capable of. Keep up the good work. Another Glenda.


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