Our 10-year-old coach was pretty well broken-in and maintained by the prior owner. After 2 years owning the coach, there were some needed updates that finally came time to address at the beginning of 2018. Bruce does most of our repairs and upgrades himself (like replacing solar), but there are just some things that are more efficient for experts to focus on.
- January – Awnings and slide toppers: A couple of the slide toppers were replaced earlier. Slide toppers are fabric covers that protect the slide-out rooms from debris and rain. The main awning fabric was next in line. A mobile vendor at the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally in Indio, CA replaced the awning during our stay. A rally is a gathering of members with events, entertainment, educational seminars, vendor booths, and RVs on display.
- January – Fogged Windows: Four of the windows were fogged so we had those removed, cleaned, and resealed by another mobile repair guy that we met at the FMCA rally. We arranged for him to come to our site at Desert Hot Springs on a Friday after the rally. He removed the windows, took them to his shop over the weekend and replaced them the following Monday. Of course, that’s when a windstorm reared up so the temporary plastic coverings on the window openings were flapping around and we had to work around the window parts stacked all over the place for a couple of days. The resulting visibility improvement was worth every annoyance.
A crack in the roof was discovered when washing the coach so we rearranged our schedule to go to McBride’s RV Repair in Chino, California. They also looked into a few other issues while we were there. McBride’s was excellent to work with. They were respectful of our “live-in” status and our need to stay in the RV. They provided electric and water, along with a sewer dump when needed. We had a gate key so we could come and go as we liked. McBride’s made the process very pleasant overall.
- February – Roof Crack: Yeouch! The repair required patching and painting so we had some clear-coat failures on the roof caps done while they were at it. Painting required us to be away from the coach during the day for four days. McBride’s pulled the coach out of the paint prep/booth each evening so we could stay in the coach at night.
- February – Jack Foot: One of our stabilizer jack feet needed to be adjusted after punching through the sandy crust at Mojave. It was a pretty easy fix, thank goodness.
- February – LP Furnace: While at Mojave, the rear LP furnace stopped firing. Since the morning temperatures were near freezing, we pulled out the ski wear to keep warm until the repair was made! I thought ‘following the sun’ meant moderate temperatures. I’m sure glad we had the warmer clothing stuffed in that closet “just in case”.
- February – Expired Wet Bay Recall: During the furnace repair, McBride’s found that the warranty work to replace the defective wet bay floor had never been done by the prior owner. The wet bay floor which houses all of the tanks (fresh water, black and grey tanks) had rotted and nearly disintegrated. The warranty/recall had expired just after we bought the coach and we had no idea! Tiffin would give us a deal on the repair but that meant driving to Alabama to have the work done. Even including fuel costs to drive to Alabama, it would be significantly less expensive than the estimate McBride’s gave us. We were headed to Alabama until Tiffin recommended a West Coast guy, Hollingsworth Family RV Repair, who gave us a good price. His earliest appointment was about a month away. In the meantime, we carefully managed the timing of filling and emptying tanks to reduce chances of the floor breaking through.
Living in a repair facility at McBride’s was a little weird. The techs start work very early and the sounds are unusual so we woke too early every weekday. Generally had to be ready to meet with techs or leave the RV by 7:00 am. It’s unsettling to have repairs being done in the living space (just like a regular house) and we were glad each night when the workers closed the gates for the day.
Exploring near-by McBrides in Chino, California brought some unexpected adventures. The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino has a great display of mostly working vintage aircraft that we enjoyed. Of course we had to go to Flo’s (airport) diner for breakfast beforehand! Temecula CA is a cute town that we visited on a cold, rainy day. The town is known for it’s vineyards and wine tasting but a hot cup of coffee was a better option for us that day. We went to Riverside CA for lunch and some brews at Wicks Brewery. A visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda was very interesting. A visit with our son Ian, in Fountain Valley was a nice day trip too!
The budget was pretty well blown with the unexpected repairs to the roof. Our travel plan was adjusted once again to be near Sacramento, CA for the wet bay repair and to keep our fuel costs down. March in Northern California was pretty rainy and more reminiscent of Oregon springtime.
We spent a week in Winters, CA then a couple of weeks in Isleton, CA. Winters was a nice town that had a great vibe, an epic playground, a guitar making studio, and gorgeous scenery. We would definitely return to Winters again. Our stay in Isleton, CA was below the dyke holding back the Sacramento River. We enjoyed all the birds, including huge flocks of what looked like terns and some owls nesting in the trees across from our site. The locals aren’t as fond of the huge flocks of birds that create a smelly summer; they call it the “island funk”. There are hundreds of boats moored nearby so it is probably loud and crazy during summer, as well as smelly. We lucked out that our early spring visit missed the funk and was nice and quiet.
- March – Wet Bay Replacement: Phil Hollingsworth had completed many wet-bay recall repairs before and knew how to do it. We went to Flag City RV Park in Lodi, CA where they allow on-site repairs. The repair was very complicated and the floor was much worse than it looked initially. It’s a good thing it was repaired before causing dangerous issues on the road!
A complication from our son, Ian’s, transplants required urgent and intense hospital treatment right after his 31st birthday at the end of March 2018. While Bruce stayed in Lodi, CA, for the wet bay repair, I drove the Jeep six hours south to be with Ian in UCLA Medical Center. I stayed at a hotel operated by the medical center to be within walking distance of the hospital. While at UCLA, we strolled over to the ICU to see some of the nurses that had cared for Ian before and after the transplants. The medical staff love to get updates from patients but, they were really shocked to see Ian’s dramatic recovery and only recognized his parents. After he was released a week later, I got Ian settled back at his house and drove “home” to a nice county park in Riverside CA where Bruce had moved the RV after the repairs were complete. Ian’s doctor advised him not to travel so Megan would be the only addition to our family trip to Mexico.
Being with Bruce (instead of the hospital) on our 15th Wedding Anniversary April 5th was sweet. A happy bike ride around Rancho Juropa County Park in Riverside, California and a lunch date at a place that makes bacon-fat popcorn was as much excitement as we had energy for!
Ian was recovering fine and our reservations at Rancho Jurupa could not be extended so we had to move to our next scheduled place in Pahrump, Nevada. Pahrump is near Death Valley, not too far from Las Vegas. The location was nothing special except for the clubhouse and pool. This was to be a first stop meandering our way back to Tempe to prepare for our flight to Mazatlán, Mexico.
Cindy’s Beating the Odds
Two days after getting Ian out of the hospital in early April, my youngest sister, Cindy, was hospitalized with a brain tumor and had surgery a few days later. Our parents were traveling so there was a lot of angst to make sure Cindy was supported and that we were all in the loop. Cindy did well coming out of surgery and rehab. She’s a fighter with an awesome sense of humor! Having been through horrendous medical challenges with our son last year, I still find it difficult to know what to do to in these situations so I sent her non-slip socks, ha ha!
What to do?
Despite being torn about where to be and what to do, we decided to proceed with our 15th anniversary trip to Mexico which had been scheduled for over a year. We would fly to Mexico from Tempe, Arizona and then take the RV north to Oregon afterward. We were able to stay in touch with Ian and the rest of our family during our trip, thanks to our cell plan that automatically includes Mexico.
The Mexico trip was beautiful and is covered in a separate post.