Week sixteen @ BTA

Sunday March 6th, 2022

Sunday 5:05 am and I’m up, much to Mr. Sam’s delight, a fresh new bag of treats, actually the last bag that made the trip with us, and most likely will not last till the return trip back to Canada. My lap time was limited as we seem to have another uninvited guest, and appears to be getting Mr. Sam’s attention in the drivers area, so right now much of his time is spent looking up under the dash, we will hope this visitor leaves before he becomes Mr. Sam’s play toy. Breakfast this morning was a bowl of cereal, a cup of perked coffee with a wee touch of Irish Cream, along with some old fart vitamins to try and keep me healthy, and then off to help open up for what we hope will be a busy Sunday.

This morning there was a “Bird Walk” one of the many different guided tours offered at the Arboretum, the bird walk starts at 7:30 so it requires staff to be in early to cover their entrance to the park, so the visitor center was open when we got there, and Laurie helped open the store while I maned the admissions booth until around ten o’clock and when Laurie relieved me so that I could water the sale plants which is now over an hour long process. The second shift relived us at noon, so we packed up and headed back to the coach, for some lunch, today was a small  charcuterie with a cold beer.

There is a get together planned this afternoon at the grotto in the Wallace Garden , it is planned for around five this afternoon, as this is the last week for Trish & Peter, as they are leaving at the end of this week and heading back to their sticks and bricks on the east coast, and we try to get all the volunteers together on the last Sunday of each month, and as much as we all live in the same area, we don’t seem to get together, for what ever reasons and there are reasons, but at least everybody seem to play nice once a month. This gathering was not Miss Laurie’s doing, so that was nice that someone else took the initiative to plan it.

So we are going to Tom & Kathleen’s for some snacks and a cold beverage, before going to met up with the gang, just two months left in our commitment here at the Arboretum, and because the volunteers as a group have not been very social, there have been splinter groups, but on the whole, it has not been a close group at all, and that is ok, it was not designed to be a social event, seven couples from across the country brought together for a five month volunteer position, working different tasks throughout the park, we learnt more about Peter & Trish this evening as they prepare to head back to Massachusetts.

We returned to the coach at six thirty, and barbecued some chicken for dinner, as we watched 60 minutes, American Idol, and a YouTube video before turning in. The weather is turning around, and we didn’t turn on the electric heater tonight, we also didn’t open a window either.

Monday a much better 6:30 start to the day, much to Mr. Sam’s chagrin no early treats today and I was punished with no lap time, no, he headed straight to the warm spot on my side of the big bed. But that’s ok, I Finished up the revised “February Windshield View” and set it to publish on March 1st, I knocked off today’s Wordel, and Miss Laurie prepared french toast made with panetone, before we prepared to make a Costco run to Mesa.

The Costco we go to is always busy, and today was no exception, we found most items that we needed, I picked up some new shorts, not as cheap as the last pair but still only $17 per pair, a box of beer (Kilt Lifter) which has become the go to cold beverage this winter, more cereal, some meat and other necessities and we were back to the coach at the Arboretum shortly after noon. Tuna salad on a chobota bun for lunch, and then somehow, we made it over to Tom & Kathleen’s coach for a couple of cold beverages. We decided to head into the arboretum at five o’clock to inspect a hummingbird nest located near the Smith building, then headed to the Wallace Garden to see the Joshua tree that is out in bloom, because of the height of the tree it was almost impossible to get nice photos, so we may try again with the drone on another evening to get a photo.

Burgers on the barbeque for dinner tonight, then catch up in what the Russian idiot has been up to today, then just some regular television, before catching up on a few YouTube videos and turning in near ten o’clock, no heater again tonight but still not warm enough for open bedroom windows yet.

Tuesday and it’s the 1st of March, 5:45 and Mr. Sam and I are both up for totally different reasons, mine nature induced, Mr. Sam’s strictly food motivated. Unlike last week our overnight temperature was 52°F (10°C), again no heater overnight, and I got enough lap time to get through today’s Wordle before Mr. Sam headed to the bedroom as Miss Laurie got up. I decided to head to the arboretum for a walk shortly after seven o’clock, there was a easterly breeze, but not a cloud in the sky, we are still a few weeks early for the start of the cactus bloom.

This morning’s walk showed some trees that seem to have burst into leaf almost overnight, and that new growth is almost incandescent in the morning sunshine. A walk filled with the song of many birds, and the glow of the morning sunshine, highlighting plants in the Arboretum.

Phoradendron californicum:

This is a common sight in the Sonoran desert, often mistaken by some people as some type of a birds nest. Often referred to as desert mistletoe, it is a leafless plant that gets its moisture and minerals from its host plant while preforming its own photosynthesis making it a hemiparasite.

It has a inconspicuous flowers and produces clear to red berries that are eaten by the Phainopepla, a bird that has the appearance of a black Cardinal, and while they eat the berries, they cannot digest the seeds, so they are spread by the bird to other host plants through their droppings.

While the berries are considered edible by humans, depending on the host plant, the mistletoe plant itself is poisonous to humans … so I’m going to pass on trying the berries as well.

There is still lots of blooms on multiple different species happening in the arboretum, with most the bloom still being on the aloe in the “South African Exhibit“, that also attracts many of the hummingbirds to that area, we are now seeing different hummingbird species, as the spring migration begins.

I made it back to the coach shortly after eight o’clock, Miss Laurie prepared fried eggs for breakfast and I proceeded to replace the vinyl insert on the gutter that runs the length of the coach, the gutter is an aluminum extrusion that is used to attach the roof and the wall of the coach together, so under the vinyl strip there are pop-rivets and screws, there were signs of rust which would indicate moisture, it is the same vinyl strip used in the extrusions on the side of the coach that make up part of the hinge for the basement doors, so I replaced a couple of shrunken pieces on the left side of that extrusion as well. I should have enough left to replace the vinyl on the right-side gutter as well. But with the temperatures climbing up near 80°F (27°C), I will tackle the right-side another day.

The big news for the day besides being March 1st, or Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gra, is that we have a ferry passage booked to get onto Vancouver Island for May 12th 2022. We decided to go with the Blackball Ferry Lines out of Washington State on the recommendation of RV people that make this journey often, the route to the ferry is much more scenic, and most the traffic is is that of the ferry users coming and going, unlike around Vancouver City in British Columbia, where traffic is often very heavy. It also allows us to load as one connected unit as opposed to having to disconnect the toad to board the Canadian ferry, it’s a few dollars more but will be a lot less aggravation.

Also, on the good news front, as of yesterday we only have to have a negative antigen test one day before our departure from the States as opposed to the more expensive PCR test done 72 hours before travel, there is also a new “ArriveCan” app that we need to use to re-enter Canada now, but I have a little more than two months to figure that out.

Dinner tonight was a Jambalaya with shrimp, sausage, grilled peppers and brussel sprouts, on a bed of rice, it had some heat but was very good, then some television to catch up on the Putin’s un-provoked war, then on to the season ending episode of 1883 before watching the end of the “State of the Union” address by president Biden, then prepared for bed. And it still amazes me just how broken the American society is, so much negativity, so much divide, so very very sad to watch the destruction. Glad we will miss much of the negativity this summer as America prepares for the midterms, and the restrictions being put on the voters in Republican States, kind of like all the voter fraud lies from the last election, so it appears, if we can’t win we’ll just try and restrict the voters until we do.

Wednesday and a very early start to the morning, a nature call at 4:10, and I was greeted by Mr. Sam, with anticipation of his morning treats, and after no lap time yesterday, I thought what the heck, I can knock off today’s Wordle then crawl back into bed. But the Wordle was just a two guess one this morning so I thought just a couple of paragraphs of the blog before returning to bed, but just as I was going to head for the bed Mr. Sam came back for some additional lap time.

Well I never made it back to bed, which is ok, as it is a beautiful sunny day starting and we are expecting the temperatures today to set new record high temperatures around the State today, hard to believe we got snow just a week ago. Toast and eggs for breakfast this morning, catch up Vadiot Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, which will destroy the Russian economy as the world starts to isolate Russia. Yes another egotistical leader that will end up destroying his own country, because he was scared of who knows what … a real “Wack-Job“.

Today I’m going to Gold Canyon to help Ray re-wire the batteries on his fifth wheel trailer, he added three 100 amp lithium batteries some time ago, and he also added a higher amperage converter/charger, the intent was to allow them to boondock a few days at some NHRA race events, but as it appears that they will need to do more boondocking this summer because of the lack of full hook-up on some of their travel routes. Ray has no Solar, but he does have a pair of 2000 watt generators to operate air conditioners and recharge the lithium batteries that are required to operate the residential style refrigerator.

What he had discovered was that if his 300 amp/hr batteries were at 50% (150 amp/hr) it was taking hours to recharge them, so when he asked me why, I explained that there had to be a voltage drop between the 85 amp converter/charger and the 300 amp/hr batteries. After checking, Ray discovered a 0.8 voltage drop and while that does not sound like very much, that amount, when charging 12 volt batteries it is substantial. Without the voltage drop it should have taken just a little more than an hour and a half for his 85 amp converter/charger to recharge his 150 amp/hr batteries from a 50% charge, in a perfect world an 85 amp charger running for 1.5 hours should put 127.5 amps (85 X 1.5 = 127.5) back into the lithium batteries.

Now you may ask why isn’t that happening? Let me try to explain, the 85 amp/hour converter/charger is what is referred as an “Intelligent” charger, what this means is that the charger itself can detect what type of battery it is connected to, allowing it to determine the proper charge pattern and rate. All of my research has brought me to believe that the charger determines the battery type and therefore the charge rate based only on voltage alone, so here is where that voltage drop comes into effect.

Our task today is to reduce the number of connections in the charging circuit, then also increase the size of the wire in that circuit as well, that technically should reduce the voltage drop allowing the “intelligent” charger to detect the true battery voltage and allow it to recharge the batteries more quickly. One of the main misconceptions when discussing the charge level of a battery is that a 12 volt battery is 12 volt when 100% charged and 6 volts when 50% charged, but the reality is that a 12 volt battery is 12.6 volts when 100% charged and 12.06 volts when 50% charged, that’s what makes that 0.8 voltage drop very important and enough to cause the charger to not charge the batteries properly.

Well we had a few hiccups with todays project, but nothing that we were unable to overcome, and the initial results seem to have proven my theory. There were a few items had to be ordered to complete the the project, so a plan was made to complete the task next Wednesday. With only one battery presently connected to the circuit, Ray has already seen a marked improvement in the recharge amperage produced by the charger, as we are hoping to cut his generator run time in half or more. After some lunch we headed back to the coach and we’re able to get in before the gate closed.

We had a beverage with Tom & Kathleen for happy hour before retiring to the coach, for a chicken sandwich, and just some regular television before turning in at nine o’clock for a well earned rest.

Thursday and again I’m up for a call of nature at 4 am, in fact Mr. Sam didn’t even get up for his treats, I knocked off today’s Wordle on the second guess again, seems to have been a very good week so far, touch wood, I have caught up on the blog as well this morning before heading back to bed, just to wake a couple of hours later to the snoring of one Mr. Sam who was now curled up on Miss Laurie’s side of the bed.

A pepper omelet this morning for breakfast, along with a fresh perked cup of coffee, kind of a day of rest, I seem to have a few aches and pains from yesterday’s fun, it’s a warm sunny day in Arizona 82°F (25°C) so I decided today wasn’t going to be a good roof day, but it is getting warm enough that running the air conditioner is not too far in the future. Some of you may remember that last fall before we left Ontario that I purchased a couple of “SoftStart” units for the air conditioners on the coach, so today I unpacked them and started to do some research on how to install them.

Miss Laurie is painting some Lake Huron stones, while I watched some how to YouTube videos, on the SoftStart units, seems like simple enough operation, most videos say 30 to 60 minutes, I will get more into the specifics of its operation when I install them, seeing the difference on the meter will be the most effective method of showing the benefits of these modules. I heard another truck pull in so I headed up to help unload another truck load of plants for the sale.

It was a bit of a lazy afternoon, Mr. Sam and I sat outside on the patio watching the hummingbirds, making their way around the aloe blooms in the garden beside our coach. We have now got some rufous hummingbirds as well as some black-chin hummingbirds, to add a little competition to the anna’s hummingbirds which have enjoyed the feeders all to themselves over the winter. After a dinner of barbecued chicken, rice and some Swiss Chalet sauce, we went for a short walk through the park

Our walk time was short before another beautiful Arizona sunset, we finished the evening with the next two episodes of the marvelous Mrs. Mazel, before turning in for the evening, no heater, even windows open in the bedroom overnight.

Friday a 5:30 start to the day, Mr.Sam was ready for his morning treats and I got some lap time with Mr. Sam before he moved to the big bed as Miss Laurie got up. Another amazing sun rise, but Miss Laurie thinks she has enough photos of sunrises already (kind of like Lake Huron sunsets). It’s a bowl of cereal and a one cup of coffee morning, as we start at 8 am this morning, there is a weather front rolling in, so windy, with a few scattered showers for today and tomorrow.

Our admissions booth has had another update, the addition of a second terminal to check in members, should help speed up the check-in process during the busy times. Today was not busy with only a few more than 450 visitors today, so Miss Laurie helped label sale plants this morning while I worked admissions, the Laurie worked admissions while I watered all the sale plants.

After a lighter day at work, we made it back to the coach, shortly after four o’clock, to kick back for a while, Miss Laurie made chicken Quesada’s for dinner, we also had some home made salsa, made by Chris one of the fellows we work with at the Arboretum. Then we caught up on Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine, now this “Wack-job” is censoring the press in Russia, claiming “Fake News”, it’s been a couple of years since we have heard that line. After all he wouldn’t want the Russian people to know why their country is being even more isolated then ever and as western stores are closing up as the Russian Rouble is now worth less than an American penny now.

Putin is such a tyrant that he is having his army attack residential housing, schools, hospitals, making him one huge piece of human waste! So explain to me if you can why are some Americans still going on about how great Putin is? On the other hand, most seem to be the same republicans that are also support of the white supremist, these are things that make me stop to ponder what the hell are they thinking?

Saturday a little later start this morning than normal, Miss Laurie was already up, so when I gave Mr. Sam his treats, he was off to the recently vacated big bed, so no lap time for me this morning. We had a few showers overnight, not enough rain to even be measurable, and there is a 5% chance for showers today, the winds have laid down, but the temperatures have also went down with a high of 66°F (17°C) forecast for today. A bowl of cereal, a cup of fresh perked coffee with a splash of Irish Cream, and out the door for a eight o’clock start again this morning.

We are expecting a very busy day today, with no less that 7 arboretum planned events, as well as a wedding, plus all the regular visitors, this could prove to be a very hectic day. And it did have some hiccups this morning, it is wonderful that all these event are planned, it is just a shame that they don’t bother to tell admissions where the events are happening, or whether the event ticket includes arboretum admission, little things that maybe the admissions booth should know, just a few more growing pains, that will need to be worked out.

All in all it was a good day, our visitor count was just over seven hundred today, the second admissions window is helping relieve some of the line-ups but because the second window doesn’t have a credit card machine, which has caused some issues for members with guests wanting to pay with a credit card. Again there seems to be a bottle neck when it comes to credit card machines with only three being available one in the membership office, one in the store, and one in the admissions booth. There is a need for at least two more machines, again just growing pains.

By four o’clock we were ready to get our feet up, to catch up on the Ukrainian war with the Russian “Wack-job“, before Miss Laurie made some pizzas in the Ninja air fryer, they are so good that there has not been a pizzeria craving for some time. So with our new work schedule we have one more eight hour day to go, so expect this to be an early evening. We just caught up on YouTube videos and Miss Laurie headed for bed by nine o’clock, and I’m just finishing up this weeks blog.

Be well, stay safe, remain strong Ukraine

Blog 407

Day 1615

One thought on “Week sixteen @ BTA

  1. Great to hear that you both had a good week.
    Beautiful to see all the new vegetation coming to life.
    And been meaning to also thanking you for great meal ideas .
    Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

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