Archives for September 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 – Tough, But The End is Near!

After a pretty crummy night’s sleep, and a big comfort breakfast at the Denny’s next door, we headed out to the towing office to get an update on the work that needed to be done. Since I stopped so quickly, we managed to avoid some really major damage, to it looks like just replacing the bearing and some other parts will do the job. We told them to change out all of the bearings, just to be safe. Then we headed out to a nearby used car dealer that had an ad on craigslist, only to learn the truck we were interested in had been sold two nights before. Then we arranged to meet the seller of another truck out at a fairgrounds venue known as West World. It was priced relatively inexpensively because there was some damage, which the seller claimed was only cosmetic. We took it for a test drive, and it rode rather hard, actually worse than the Ford, which surprised me. When we got back, we started looking more closely at the damage. Most of it was around the wheel well, which was fiberglass, and likely caused by a tire blowout, but the tailgate was off, and the seller had said that it had been damaged when the owner’s mother had jackknifed a fifth wheel. I thought the tailgate would have a dent, but it didn’t, so I started investigating, trying to get the tailgate back on, and discovered that the damage was much more extensive, that one side of the bed had been bent outwards, and the bumper was badly bent as well. He insisted the frame wasn’t bent, and it may not have been, but it certainly would have explained why the ride was so rough. We decided to go have a cup of coffee and discuss our options. This had been our first choice from craigslist, and our other options seemed only to be Dodge, which really wasn’t my first choice, but we had to solve the problem. So we found a McDonalds nearby, ordered an iced coffee, pulled out the laptop and checked out craigslist again to look at the latest list. Lo and behold, a 2003 GMC Sierra 3500 had been listed since I had checked it this morning. It was well within our price range, and the pix made it appear to be very clean. We called, then headed out immediately, to a dealer down in Tempe about 30 minutes away. They had only just listed it about 30 minutes before, and the pix had actually been provided by the previous owner, who was the only owner of this truck, and he had traded it in the night before. With only 92K miles, it was in fantastic shape. It was pewter in color, not the white which was our preference, but it actually matched the accent points on the RV perfectly. We took it for a test drive, and at once, Hubby commented on the smoothness of the ride, which was the first time he finally understood what I meant about the difference between a GM truck and a Ford (when I drove wreckers in my college years, I always preferred the ride of the GMC, and it hasn’t changed). If I’m going to be in a truck for 8 hours a day, I want it to be a comfortable ride! The dual wheels made it very stable, the diesel 6.6 would provide all the power we would ever need to easily tow the RV up any mountain, all while being able to run the A/C. It was EXACTLY what we needed, so we quickly started the paperwork. Things dragged on and on, though, the recon and detailing, so just before 4:00, we left, saying we would be back first thing in the morning with cash in hand. We had to get some hay out to the horses, and to check on the progress of the RV repairs, which we did. The horses, particularly mine, seemed to have swollen eyes from the day before, probably from too much dust flying in from the desert, so we had picked up a couple of fly masks and a bottle of antibiotic spray this morning, so we treated them before heading out to the RV. I climbed in to get our cash and a few items for the night, before heading out to the Hampton Inn, where I had reserved a much better room for the night. After dinner at Olive Garden and a quick trip to Walmart, we had an early night, climbing into a much more comfortable bed in a very clean room, which I expect (and always get) from Hampton. Too exhausted to be as excited as we should be about our new truck, looking forward to a better day tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 – Travel Day to Phoenix

Having made the decision to look for a new-to-us truck in Phoenix, we got up early, as we had more things than usual to do. Still managed to get out before 9:30, having said goodbye to our very accommodating hostess Judy and her husband. After getting gas, we headed east on I-10, happy to finally be getting out of California (they have so many inane rules here!), stopping once for breakfast, again at the AZ border for gas, and finally in to Phoenix, stopping at the Flying J to dump, and at a Chevy dealer just to see if they had anything in their inventory (one, ridiculously priced, but I expect little else from a dealer.) Though the road was mostly flat, there were a few climbs, and it was so hot in the desert, I ended up having to put the heater on to keep the engine from overheating, but I still spent a lot of time in or near the red. I’m sure hoping we can solve this problem with a new truck! After a relatively uneventful day, things suddenly got very challenging. While on the phone trying to find a place to spend the night, Hubby called out to me that I was getting a flat tire, so I quickly pulled over and got off the phone. Turned out not be a flat, but something much worse. A bearing had gone on one of the RV trailer tires, and when I touched it after we put it on the Jiffy jack, the wheel fell off. Not good! I then spent the next hour trying to find roadside service (which I never did), eventually calling the police for their assistance (of which they offered precious little). Finally, they managed to call a wrecker service to tow it, probably to an RV place. Meanwhile, the sun was setting, and we were still on the side of the 101 freeway with the horses. We decided that I should head out to a stable (not the one we had planned on, but one that was somewhat closer in Glendale) and get the horses settled, then come back and find a hotel and do whatever needed to be done. I headed out, getting to the stable at late dusk, dropped off the horses and trailer, then headed out again. Hubby had decided the best option was to let the wrecker company take the RV back to their place, as the owner offered to repair it for us, inferring that the RV dealer would drag their feet, probably replace the whole axle as opposed to replace the bearings, and take a week to do it. Turns out they needed to bring out the big truck (the one they use for tractor-trailers), disconnected the van and got it up on the trailer (I would have liked to have seen that!). Hubby said it was quite an operation. Anyway, we met up at the towing office, then, based on their recommendation, went to the nearest hotel, a Day’s Inn on Deer Valley Rd. (a big mistake, the place was a dump and there was a spring sticking up out of the mattress. I had to put a washcloth down to keep from getting poked all night.) A $20/night motel we had to pay $50 for. But at least everyone is safe, and we’ve met the challenge again, though it took great doses of adrenaline to keep us going. We both had the shakes from exhaustion by the time we got into bed. Tomorrow promises to be a tough day, too.

Monday, September 27, 2010 – Hay Day, and Change of Plans

Having spent some time over the weekend looking for hay and for potential trucks to buy on craiglist, today we ran down to Perris Lake to pickup a load of hay (for $9/bale for grass hay with a bit of alfalfa mixed in), sweated to death getting it, but fortunately there were two guys helping us load, so it wasn’t too bad. We let them load it their own way (we usually do it, or supervise others doing), and as a result we ended up getting a few less bales than usual, but that was fine, we felt the hay was a bit stalky, though nice and green so I’m sure the horses will love it. Afterward, we took a drive to a used car dealer who had an ad for a truck on craigslist, and test drove a Dodge Ram (that was pretty nice, except it had no power windows, locks or seats, the most basic package), and a Ford 350, which had just as rough a ride as I feared it might, from past experience. They had one Chevy 3500HD, but it was too new and over budget, so I didn’t even bother to test drive it. Have spent several hours there, we left in the heat of the day and headed back to the ranch. I got back onto craigslist to see what else was available in Las Vegas, which was supposed to be our next stop. Things had changed with our client, however, and wasn’t going to be able to meet us there any more, but we still were planning on heading out that way. Out of curiosity, though, I decided to check out what there was in Phoenix, since we could just as easily go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as the north rim. The list of possibilities suddenly expanded exponentially. There were several Chevys and lots of Dodges listed compared to Las Vegas, so we made a few phone calls, and decided that Phoenix was a better idea. Hubby particularly liked it because we wouldn’t need to do much climbing, as we would have done going to Vegas. With 100+ temps, and heading across the desert, we didn’t need to stress out the van any more than necessary. Hopefully, it will be the last time!

Sunday, September 26, 2010 – Need Rest, but Stuff To Do!

Though we’re both still tired, we have so much to do to get ready to leave tomorrow, though we’re now considering waiting until Tuesday, just because we have so much to do. Spent the better part of the 100+ degree day putting together the new hitch we got from the manufacturer, after having discovered some cracks, and the fact there’s a lifetime warranty. They sent us a new one last week, so we had to reinstall it, which essentially meant rebuilding it. We were thoroughly exhausted and drained by the time we were finished, but we were enormously grateful for the manufacturer. We have always loved this hitch (and Equal-i-zer) because it all but stops any sway, whether it’s a 60 mph crosswind or a passing tractor trailer, and were delighted to discover the warranty covered it. Having only deepened our exhaustion, we definitely decided to wait until Tuesday to leave.

Saturday, September 25, 2010 – Work/Pickup Day

Once again, I spent the day working and sweating (temps VERY hot here, many records being broken in the Southland this week), before picking Hubby up at the Ontario airport. He had managed to get an earlier flight for the first leg of his journey, but missed the early connection at DFW, so he ended up coming in at his 6:00 scheduled flight anyway, enjoying a nice meal of his favorite fish and chips at the Irish pub where we usually dine when we’re there. Glad to get him back safely! Had a pleasant evening, both of us still feeling exhausted from the busy week.

Friday, September 24, 2010 – Work/Phone Day

Spent the working on the computer and on the phone with Hubby as he made it through his day of separation. Glad to hear things at home were fine, other than the expected dead bugs and mouse droppings. He watered all the remaining surviving plants and missed me appropriately all day, as I did him.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 – Rare Day of Separation

Hubby had to fly to Nashville today for a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and to check in on the house and pick up mail, etc. His flight left just before 1:00, so we got him to the airport by 10:00. He arrived in DFW with just 15 minutes to catch his next flight, which was kind enough to wait for him. Arrived just a few minutes late in Nashville, but told me it was a flight from hell, surrounded by kids on the first leg, and then on the second leg, he opted to sit in the last row because some woman was traveling with her kids, but for some reason the kids were up front and she was in back, and since Hubby was so late, she took over his seat. He didn’t want to be next to screaming kids anyway, so it was just as well. Then, after they pulled away from the gate, the pilot came on the PA and said they were returning to another gate, no explanation. Afterward, in flight, Hubby asked what had happened, and the flight attendant explained that they had removed that mother and her kids because she couldn’t keep them under control! Too bad Hubby didn’t know that earlier, he could’ve had the whole row! Anyway, he was just glad to be amongst adults, albeit in the last row. I called the hotel and had the shuttle sent, and off he went. He found a hotel next door with a restaurant for dinner (but they had no brandy!) so he went to bed without his usual nightcap. Meanwhile, I spent the afternoon doing laundry (at last a laundry that takes quarters and was clean!), grocery shopping (we’ve fallen in love with the “Fresh and Easy” chain), before coming home for the evening, all the while talking with Hubby on the phone on a regular basis. Miss him already!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 – Back to the Ranch

Left the hotel about 10:00, went to Coco’s across the street for breakfast, then headed back toward the ranch. Stopped at a Dodge dealer to test drive a Ram 3500, which the Midas guy had recommended we do before making a decision on a truck. Top of the line new truck was a nice ride, but $60K is a bit over-budget at the moment. Pretty nice ride, though, I’ll have to check it against some others. The dogs were thrilled to see us and to get out of jail, and even the horses nickered a greeting when they saw us. Exhaustion swept over us as it always does after one of our intense workshops, and we were in bed just after sunset, as soon as Hubby was packed for his trip tomorrow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010 – Pool Day

Sat by the pool for a few hours and got some sun, then checked out the room where we would be conducting the workshop, rearranged some furniture and got everything ready. To bed early, as the workshop starts early tomorrow and Tuesday. Nothing horse related, so that’s it until we get back!

Saturday, September 18, 2010 – Move over to Hotel Day

Got the dogs settled into the stall they will be occupying while we’re away, then headed out for the Midas where we are getting some work done on the van. From there we took a cab to the Hyatt-Orange County, where we relaxed the rest of the day.