12/14 - 12/15: Just a short weekend at our nearby Usery Mountain Recreation Park in Mesa, AZ. This is a nice, quiet county park with wonderful desert views. The park had a short Christmas program at night, with Cowboy poetry and a 1 mile trail lit with Luminaries. We just relaxed all weekend, playing "The Golf Ball Game" and reading. I plan to write a short article on this fun game, which is great to carry in the RV. It's sort of like horseshoes with golf balls. (?) This weekend went by very quickly. Since we like this park, we don't mind paying the $18 a night for 50amp electric and water. But I disagree with the additional $5 fee to dump! Dumping should be included with the camping fee. Since I tore up my towbar on the last trip, we stopped by Camping World on the way home. I'll soon have a Roadmaster "Falcon 2" fold-up towbar mounted on the motorhome. Happy Holidays!
11/15 - 11/17: This weekend found us attending a Square Dance festival in Wickenburg, AZ. The event was held at the Wickenburg Community Center, which also has RV spots with hookups. For $12 a night, our spot included water and 30amp electric. It's still urban blacktop camping, so the location wasn't that great. But the company (Yavapai Rolling Squares) we stayed with and the dance activities were wonderful. We did have some problems with our Jeep and the towbar. For short stays, I usually strap the towbar into an upright position while still attached to the Jeep. While on an off-highway road, the strap worked itself loose and the towbar fell down - bounced a few times, then went under the Jeep. It took us awhile to get the towbar out from under the Jeep. The towbar is broke and the brackets I had made are bent. By the Jeep is fine. We're glad this happened on a dirt road while only going 15mph. We hate to imagine what it would be like on the highway at 65mph! Guess I have a reason to go get a heavy-duty fold-up towbar now.
11/4 - 11/11: We celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary by taking a trip without the motorhome. We flew down to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico. This was our third trip there, and we had as much fun as the first time. Very relaxing, with beautiful weather, great food, and lots of adventures. Pictures of this week long trip can be seen here in the Slide Show Gallery.
10/25 - 10/27: While attending a Geocaching picnic in Tucson, we stayed at the Gilbert Ray Campground in the Tucson Mountain County Park. A very nice campground in the Sonoran desert. Beautiful scenery, large spaces, and hardly anyone there when we visited it. $12 a night for RV's, includes 30amp electric. A free dump station is also on the grounds. The new dashboard was installed and looks great. Too bad it cost us almost $500 in labor (at 50%).
10/12 - 10/13: It's been awhile since we got out. We visited Larry's dad in Prescott for the weekend, staying at our favorite Granite Basin Campground. A relaxing, uneventful weekend. The motorhome goes into the shop next week to have the cracked dashboard replaced. National RV is providing the replacement dash under warranty, but not the labor cost. I'll end up splitting the labor cost with Beaudry RV in Mesa, AZ. This crack was there when I purchased the motorhome, but I got tired of fighting with National RV. Lesson learned - point out every little flaw in your new motorhome when you pick it up. That way, there's no doubt later.
8/30 - 9/8: We took off for a week long summer vacation, heading to Colorado for a Square Dancing week. We boondocked near a Love's truck stop the first night, then stayed at the Durango RV Campground the next night. The owner was real nice, but it was located along a major road and was old and neglected. $16 a night. Sewer/Water/Elec We spent the next 5 nights attending a Square Dancing fun week at the Fun Valley RV Resort near South Fork, Colorado. A very large family RV resort, with plenty of things to do. Located on the Rio Grande River, the location was beautiful. We had a blast exploring the area, visiting, playing games and square dancing with new and old friends. We had an all-inclusive price (RV site, 34 meals, dance workshops, nightly square dances, games, fishing, and parties) for the entire week of $395, but RV sites are available at $20 a night. Sewer/Water/Elec/Cable . On the return trip home, we stayed at the free national campground at Canyon de Chelly. Dry camping with nice spots, BBQ, and picnic tables, and it's FREE! Pictures of this week long trip can be seen here in the Slide Show Gallery.
The dashboard of the "Roadrunner" had a small 3/4" crack when we purchased her. We didn't notice the crack for a few weeks, as it's behind the passenger sliding shelf. As time passed, along with the engine swap, this crack has grown in 4 different directions and is now almost 6" long. National RV wouldn't honor replacing the dashboard under warranty, claiming the crack appeared to have been caused by a puncture. It may have been caused by a puncture, but the crack was there when we bought the motorhome new. After discussing the warranty issue with National RV and my dealer, National RV will provide a replacement dashboard free, and Beaudry RV in Mesa, AZ will provide the labor at 50% discount. It looks like I'll still have to pay a few hundred dollars to have the dashboard replaced. Lesson learned - thoroughly examine your new RV and complain about every little thing wrong with it immediately! Take pictures and get it on the record of what was wrong before you leave the dealership. I made my claim on this dashboard almost 5 months after I brought the "Roadrunner" home. This left a gray area of who caused the crack. But the new engine ran beautifully up the Rocky Mountains to around 10,000 feet! We chugged up Wolfcreek Pass at 30mph, with "Wyle E" (the Jeep being towed) chasing after the "Roadrunner".
8/16 - 8/20: Larry's mother had cancer for quite awhile, and it finally became so bad that she decided to stop treatment and come home under hospice care. It was a very grueling month for his family, as they waited for the inevitable. We made a couple trips to visit her in California and stayed with Connie's parents. We were very fortunate to be able to spend some time with her before she passed away on August 9, 2002. We took the motorhome to Prescott to spend the weekend with Larry's family and attend his mother's funeral. We stayed in the Granite Basin Campgroundagain, which was the first location we ever took the "Roadrunner". We'll dearly miss you Mom - we love you.
7/20 - 7/21: This short weekend trip took us to Show Low, AZ to attend the White Mountain Square Dance Festival. We boondocked in a nice area near the dance hall. We don't care what most people of our age think - Square dancing is a great deal of fun! The Show Low area recently had a large fire, and it's real sobering to see the devastation that was done. Over 400 homes were destroyed. We spent most of Sunday on the way home stopping to go geocache hunting.
6/28 - 7/7: We headed out for a week of fun. Starting with the Great North American RV Rally held in Pomona, CA. We "blacktop boondocked" for 4 days, met some great people, watched some fantastic shows, and spent way too much money on new gadgets for the motorhome. Luckily, the new engine held up great for this trip. We then headed to Lake Skinner Recreational Park, near Temecula, CA. A nice, large camping park next to a large county reservoir with some good fishing. We had full hookups for $18 a night, but they also wanted an extra $2 a night for the Jeep. What's the difference between a motorhome towing a vehicle and a truck towing a trailer (especially a 5th wheel)? To the Riverside County, it's a $2 difference since we have two engines (??). The park got real busy, crowded and noisy with the Independence Day weekend crowd. On 7/5, we moved 18 miles to the nearby Escapee park, Jojoba Hills. We had heard this SKP park was real nice, and has a 5 year waiting list for ownership in a private space. It sure was nice! We stayed in a private spot, while the owners were out traveling. For SKP members only, a real nice, private site with full hookups was $14 a night. Sewer/Water/Elec/Cable. While in the area, we took a tour of the National RV factory, where our Dolphin motorhome was created. It was an interesting, 90 minute tour showing the complete construction of the National RV line. We really enjoyed the tour, and wished we took it before buying. We might have waited for the year 2003 models.
6/15: The motorhome is back home! For unexplained reasons, it had thrown a rod through the oil pan. Galpin Ford in Dewey, AZ did a great job of replacing the engine. They took extra efforts to insure everything was accomplished in high quality. So far, it's been driven 200 miles on the new engine. Let's hope I don't have THAT problem again.
6/7 - 6/9: The motorhome is still in the shop, after receiving a new replacement engine. It looks like we'll be able to pick it up in a few days. In the meantime, we had reservations at Houston Mesa Campground, near Payson, AZ for this weekend. Since we still had our Coleman tent-trailer, we took the trailer for the weekend. Boy! We sure missed the "Roadrunner"! The trailer is real nice, but we've emptied everything out. I even forgot to charge the battery after it sitting for a few months. We had a nice weekend, attending the Payson square-dance festival. We just weren't properly prepared to use the trailer. This Tonto national forest campground is nice, but too close to the noisy highway for us. $12 a night, dry.
5/17 - 5/19: With temperatures starting to get above 100º, we headed up to the high country. We stayed at the USAF recreation campground at Fort Tuthill, just South of Flagstaff. It's a small and run-down little campground, but it's in the pine trees. Military ID required. $14 Water & Elec. On our way home, we had MAJOR problems with the motorhome. While climbing a steep hill, the engine blew something. We lost all of the oil and had to be towed to the nearest National RV repair facility. Currently, our Dolphin is sitting in Dewey, AZ waiting for a new engine. After only 2400 miles, the engine blew - there's a large hole in it's side. This happened while starting to climb a steep hill.
5/3 - 5/5: I hade "hitch itch" again, but we needed to stay close to home. We checked into Usery Mountain Park, located in Mesa, AZ and is ran by the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation. It was FANTASTIC! The campground only had a few occupied sites, and we had beautiful views, nice weather, and it was quiet. Connie got a thrill feeding all of the local wildlife. The large, level sites are far apart. The only negative I could find was they charge an extra $5 to dump, in addition to the daily camp fee. $18 Water & Elec. (Would have been rated 5 stars if the dump was included in the fee.)
4/13 - 4/14: Wanting to get away for the weekend, we headed for Catalina State Park, AZ. Connie wanted to sew this weekend, so electric hook-ups were required. We were disappointed that the camping area for this park was UGLY! The landscaping was mostly ironwood trees, and they all looked dead. There were no full hook-up sites available, so we gladly decided to move on. Somehow, I read the map wrong and we ended up going to Benson, AZ. Other than it was farther than I wanted, we didn't care where we went. We spent the weekend at the Butterfield RV Resort. Only 3 years old, it had plenty of space and all of the amenities. We enjoyed the pool, hot tub, and BBQ's. A nice place, other than the whistle's from all of the nearby passing trains. $20 (with 15% SKP discount) Sewer/Water/Elec/Cable.
3/15 - 3/17: Itching to get out, we left after work on Friday and spent the night stopped in a casino (forgot the name) parking lot south of Tucson. We joined 3 other RV's for the night. The next morning, we moved to Patagonia Lake State Park near Patagonia, AZ. At first, we were told the campground was full. We bought a day pass, entered, and looked around for a free site. We immediately found a couple empty dry camping sites. We grabbed one, then I found a couple hook-up sites that were being vacated. We grabbed one of them and finally settled down. It wasn't soon and the ranger was there to upgrade our day pass. A nice campground along the lake. I wouldn't mind staying here for a couple weeks. $17, Water & Elec. We've had the MH out these few times without any problems, except we got another small chip in the windshield on this trip.
3/29 - 3/31: We visited relatives in Casa Grande, AZ for Easter weekend. Since there is an Escapee (SKP) Co-Op RV park here, we thought we would give the "Rover's Roost" a try. For our first experience with an SKP park, it sure started off with a bad taste. We arrived at 6:30pm, but the office closes at 5:00pm. The description of the park states "boondocking only after office hours". This was fine with us, because that's all we wanted. But the manager on duty sure gave us a strong admonishment for arriving after 5:00pm! He repeated it over 4 times, even after I apologized. This sure wasn't the friendly, SKP hugging welcome we expected! We stayed two nights in the nice park. Everyone else was real nice and we didn't have any problems. We're sure the night manager just has a gruff personality. Boondocking is free. RV park is for SKP members only.
2/23 - 2/24: We took the new MH out for it's initial shakedown to Granite Basin Campground. This National Forest campground is in the Prescott National Forest near the Granite Mountain Wilderness. $10 a night, dry. Beautiful area with many sites for larger RV's. Luckily, we didn't have any problems with the new MH. However, I did forget to unlock the Jeep's (our Toad) steering column before towing it. The MH pulled to the left while driving (that should have realized something was wrong then), and I tore up the Jeep's front tires a little. No serious harm done - just a good lesson learned.
2/27 - 3/3: Really getting the travel bug, we took a few days vacation for this short 5-day trip. The first night, we boondocked on Mittry Lake, north of Yuma, AZ. A real nice setting, we joined a few other Escapees along the lake. Wish we could have stayed longer here. $0, 10 day limit. We moved North for an hour to Quartzsite, AZ. Connie needed to watch a favorite TV show, so we pulled in to the Paradise RV Court. $19 (w/ Good Sam discount), Sewer/Water/Elec/Cable. Old and next to the freeway. For the last two nights, we moved North again towards Lake Havasu. We stopped at Buckskin Mountain State Park near Parker, AZ. The campground was already full, but we got a spot in their "cabana" area. The MH couldn't get level, and we had lousy 20amp electric service that wouldn't even power the microwave. The next morning, we moved over to a normal site with water and 30amp electric. $17 a night, Water & Elec. Guess the MH is broken in now - we got a 1/2" chip in the windshield during this trip.