Week Three @ BTA

Sunday December 5th, 2021

A small update from last Sunday, just thought that I should report that I have made it onto Miss Laurie’s naughty list, you see this is how it happened. The flow of guests was lighter than expected, and we had a surplus of volunteers at admissions so I asked our staff supervisor if there was anything I could assist with, to which he said yes I could assist him in the greenhouse, so we went to the greenhouse where he had me transplanting some greenhouse plants into larger containers to be moved from the greenhouse to outdoors to get climatized before making it to the sale racks by the visitor center. And anyone who knows Miss Laurie knows that would have been her dream assignment, so she was not pleased when I got back to admissions to cover the lunch breaks and told her what I had been doing.

Sunday was our short shift day only working from 10am till 2pm so after our shift we had a late lunch and settled back to enjoy the afternoon sun and warmth. Now I must admit that I did take a few moments to connect a 24-volt power supply to our new awning lights. As I age it seem that more things happen just to annoy me, and here is an example, anyone who makes a purchase on Amazon will know they allow you to go back in your order history and then gives you the opportunity to repurchase the same product again. So my expectations would be it would be the same as the item that I had previously purchased. So to explain, we developed an issue with our awning lights in the fall, mainly because of the mounting, so we decided to correct the mounting issue when I got a new string of LED lights from Amazon after arriving in Arizona, but unannounced to me the order again item was now operated on 24-volt instead of 12-volt as the previous set had been and I guess in retrospect it would not have been a concern for most people that were going to use the power supply unit supplied which plugs into a regular 110-volt outlet, but as an RVer that lives off grid I’m always trying to reduce our 110-volt power load so I had wired the previous string of lights directly to our coaches 12-volt batteries, that are recharged by solar.

Now while not being a huge issue, it does waste power, because every time you convert a power supply there is an energy loss. So for a boondocker like ourselves to take our 12-volt DC (direct current) battery power and invert it to 110-volt AC (alternating current) then plug in the power source and then convert it to the required 24-volt DC for our LED lights, has two points of energy loss. It’s the same when you charge your cell phone, camera, ear buds, and most other items, every thing that charges with an USB is actually charging on a 5-volts DC, so we have wired our coach to rather than charge items from their 110-volt adapter we have added 12-volt transformers that step the 12-volt battery power down to 5-volts, which saves at least one energy costing conversion. Which does add up when you consider how many items we recharge on a regular bases, the easiest way to know if there is an energy loss is to touch the adaptor while it is charging, if it’s warm to the touch it is wasting energy plain and simple.

Well it’s another warm sunny Monday and we are heading off on another adventure, we are going to meet up with Ray & Karen and take in an olive mill just a few miles away. So who knew that olives are grown and harvested all across the southern United States? Well I for one did not, but a visit to Queen Creek Olive Mill in Arizona was both educational and a wake up call for our taste buds, I learnt how olive oils are graded, we also learnt about the three different harvests and the term first press actually means first harvest because an olive can only be ground up and pressed once. The whole operation was absolutely nothing like I had expected, and extra virgin, and virgin olive oil are the two only classifications that we should buy, and from now on extra virgin is what we will purchase, and olive oil or refined olive oil are products to be avoided totally as they have been chemically altered.

The olive mill also had a restaurant, so we enjoyed lunch there before taking our tour of the mill, and they also had a selection of flavour infused extra virgin olive oils, which we were able to sample, along with some balsamic vinegars, all of which were also available for tasting, a few of which would be an acquired taste, as I’m just not sure if I want my olive oil to taste like bacon or chocolate, but I guess it would great to experiment a little over the winter, but when you live small like we do any more than a couple of bottles would seem excessive. And the other thing I learnt was that olive oil has a limited shelf life, so smaller purchases made more often would be recommended.

Guess what? Tuesday morning and it’s another warm and sunny day in Arizona, a look at the forecast shows nothing but sunshine for the next week or so, oh we may have a cloudy day here and there but only a few drops of rain in the first two weeks. So, unlike back in Ontario when planning an outdoor event brings everyone to be constantly forecast watching, here in Arizona you are normally just good to-go, with the only concern maybe being temperatures getting too high to be comfortable. Today I will be working on getting our satellite dish operating, if possible, maybe a repair on our boiler and a trip to the post office to send some items. It may also include a scenic trip up through the pass toward Globe for some photos.

Well, none of that happened, or at least not much of it. We decided to go for a drive, and we did mail some items on the way as we passed through Superior, but we decided to drive all the way to Salt Canyon on US-60 for some photos and a drone shot or two of this rugged area that we had just passed through a couple of weeks earlier. We made it right to the bottom of the canyon to see the Salt River that I suspect will become a large portion of our winter adventures, as it winds through the Tonto National Forest and will provide us with many kayaking experiences we hope. The fall colour was past its prime but there were still a few great views. Being from Ontario that is relatively flat, learning about the effects of elevation changes has taken some time to get used to while common in live here in Arizona. We had a great drive and Miss Laurie took over one hundred photos some of which are shown below.

Wednesday and we are off, onto another adventure, today we are going kayaking on Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest and is a man-made lake feed by the Salt River. We are hooking up with Ray & Karen and some others from their resort to explore the lake by kayak. We packed a lunch to enjoy on the bank of one of the many canyons that are all part of the lake, conditions were good with light winds and while there was a fair bit of power boat traffic most were respectful of our kayaks. Power boats are always our major concern as they travel fast and are not always courteous to others on the water, and while we have the right of way most never acknowledge that fact, there were a total of seven kayaks in our group, but many have different agendas, so we usually get spread out as the adventure goes on with some looking for photo ops, while others are just exploring while looking for fishing spots, whatever your desire the group all met up for a lunch break in a quiet canyon arm. Our adventure was only a few miles of kayaking but enough to wake up some unused muscles that may or may not cause some discomfort later.

After kayaking we ventured off to a Costco for more vodka (12.95 for 1.75 litres) and we purchased an air fryer, we have looked and debated for almost a year, but a sale at Costco clinched the deal and we are now the proud owners of a Nija Foodi, all I know is I want some french fries, the one thing that is difficult to make in an RV, and it’s supposed to be good for wings as well, I will report later on the wings and fries.

Thursday and we are back to work at admissions, and after three days of adventures it almost feels good to be back to work for a bit of a rest. Our shift today is 10am to 3pm just a simple five hours and the day went well, I completed my morning watering of the sale plants and this morning I even got to water the cacti, unlike what they refer to as the leafy plant that get watered every day the cacti only get watered every week or so.

I also got to look at our satellite dish to see what it needs for repair, and it appears that it has three coaxial cable connections that connect to the three LNBs, and each cable supplies power to each LNB which in turn sends a signal back the same cable to the satellite receiver. After checking the power supplies, two of the connections have a 20-volt power supply while the third does not hence causing the “No LNB Voltage” error message, so after a quick review of YouTube I was unable to find any repairs other than basic things that I was already well past in my diagnosis. So, I sent the first email of what would turn into a long dragged-out process of dealing with the “help” desk at Winegard.

Friday morning and there is a little chill in the air as we head four our day two in admissions, today is a longer day 9am to 4pm our seven-hour day, and while I need to water the leafy plants, I decide to wait until the sun is a little higher and has warmed the day a bit more. Because most of the plants are on raised tables I always end up with wet feet so warmer wet feed seemed better than cold wet feet, I also take my Crocs so as not to soak my runners like the first couple of times. Admissions was busier than Thursday but still had many lulus that allowed me time to spent emailing the “help” desk at Winegard, a couple of things that were very noticeable here first I have no idea who I was communicating with which always seems wrong to me it is more difficult to be mad a person with a name than it is just a title, and because of my very low tolerance for stupidity I hate it when they either can’t or won’t answer a very straight forward question which I had actually asked directly in my first email. I at no point asked the “help” desk for information on how to diagnose the problem, all I asked for some guidance on how to repair a no voltage issue, and after another five emails the “help” desk told me to just replace the whole base of the satellite dish an item worth nearly $2000. Now those of you that know me, will also know that I am not the kind of a guy to just say ok and fork out for a new part that by the way is not even available from Winegard right now, and I have to assume it must be part of a supply chain issue getting the Chinese made parts to assemble this made in America product. If it seems like I’m a little bitter right now it could be because it took six emails to finally answer my first question and then it was just to tell me that they won’t assist in any way … nuff said I think it’s time for a cocktail. Now not being one to give up easily I decided to ask the people on the Beaver Forum it they had ever experienced this issue and if they could send me any guidance on how to proceed, I checked as I headed for bed 54 people had read my request but not one response.

Auh Saturday morning and we are up and at it bright and early, our eight-hour day 8am to 4pm, and it was busier, and I discovered some of the nastiest and most demanding people come to the garden in the hour between 8 and 9, you know the type, the just do as I ask right now, and I don’t care if it’s against the rules as rules are just for the common folk. That display of attitude always goes over big with me, and I can become the most uncaring person you ever met in just a heartbeat, which I did then I played the “I’m just a volunteer card” and let her storm off in another direction in search of a more caring person. The rest of the day rolled along well it was the “Santa goes to the dogs” event, where a professional photographer takes a photo of your dog with Santa in the garden, and from what we seen, it seemed to go over well and the local humane society had dogs for adoption, with all their shots and ready to go at no charge, a great deal for anyone looking for a new companion.

I have had a difficult week putting the final touches on my “November windshield view” blog and trying to add to this blog daily to avoid a big session to close it out, but with all this emailing I was falling behind. And as I sat down with a cocktail this evening what should appear in my mailbox? A satisfaction survey from Winegard, well let’s just say I took the opportunity to express just how unsatisfied I was with both the interaction and the outcome, not that I expect anything at all to come of it. I did get one response from a fellow Beaver coach owner that said he had the same issue and ended up replacing the turret portion of the satellite dish, so my thoughts right now are I have nothing to lose by tearing it apart. and attempting a repair myself and nearly 2000 crips green reasons to try, so stay tuned for more fun with satellite repairs.

Sunday morning and I have been typing all morning, I finished off the November windshield blog and got it published a couple of hours ago, I’m close on this blog as well, just have to add some photos from our adventures this week and as we cross the noon hour mark, I’m thinking a cool vodka and tonic could help with the final edit, but I will leave that for you to judge. We have been taking advantage to some of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to gather up some items that we have needed for a while, some new Dry Bags for our kayaking adventures, Miss Laurie got some new Keens for hiking, I got a voice over microphone to redo some earlier YouTube videos as well as to add some new ones going forward.

Our group of volunteers at BTA is planning our first get together in our common area later this afternoon, most of them are working today. We are looking forward to getting to know everyone a little better, as we actually do not see each other very much while on the job either because of working opposite shifts or just because everyone seems busy. But we are happy with our shifts because today is a catch-up day, laundry, blog, and an ever-growing list of needed repairs on Thunder. And we still have tree more days for a new week of adventures. In reality I could spend a couple of days just reviewing videos and filing photos into their correct files, this week alone is more that 200 photos and over a dozen videos and editing just never ends, but that’s enough whining from warm sunny Arizona till next week:

Be well, stay strong, and get your booster shot!

Categories: Personal, Travel

5 replies

  1. Thanks for all the information and the beautiful pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great week Brian!! can you tell me the lovely plant with the beautiful deep pink flowers is it a plumarius?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brian I have a feeling that you have been on Laurie’s naughty list before and I am sure you will get there again. Your report and great pictures give us great insight into your winter activities. Thank you for all the information.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do vaguely remember being on the naughty list before, but I try to avoid it when ever possible, especially this close to Christmas because I’m not sure Santa knows where we are and Miss Laurie is my best bet for any Christmas goodies … jus’saying

    Like

  5. It was labeled as a “Crimson Star Desert Rose”

    Like

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