April 2023 Update

Sunday morning, and it’s the day after “The Flavour of Arizona Festival” and also our final day of work this week. And in very simple terms I’m seriously dragging my butt this morning, yesterday was, and still feels like a bit of a blur … don’t get me wrong it was a terrific day and the five hours of the festival just flew past, but we were all exhausted after close to nine hours with no break. And I have said to everyone here, we need to just let everyone involved enjoy the success of the inaugural festival before we all start making suggestions on how to improve what was in reality a success. The largest disappointment for me was that I only got a couple of photos early on Saturday morning before the crowd got here, and I never got another photo.

So the first couple of hours this morning were spent in the admissions booth, and I would say it was a busy start to the day after the arboretum was closed to visitors the day before. By ten o’clock I was promoted to the position of “Hydro Technician” (water boy) as with the heat and the hours of daily sun increasing, the potted plants need lots of water. This task usually takes an hour and a half, and while quite relaxing in most cases, dragging a hose amongst all the visitors on a Sunday morning it is a little nerve racking. After watering I went back to the admissions booth to spell Miss Laurie and Lynnea off to have breaks before I was allowed to escape to the coach. Miss Laurie stayed to help in the admissions booth till three o’clock because the first of the host work campers are packing to leave the arboretum tomorrow. I will just say that some host volunteer campers will be missed more than others.

Happy hour today included hamburgers with the Andersons, and Lynnea even joined us for a burger and a beverage. There appeared to be an exit party going on for the leaving host campers next door, I will assume that our invitation must of got lost in the postal service. In true old fart fashion the festivities ended at seven o’clock and we retired to the coach and comfy chairs, and to catch up on some television, but we were both falling asleep so we were in bed before nine.

Monday morning and in two weeks we will be making our way back to Ontario, so I need to get some things fixed before the journey, like our refrigerator that has just quit operating on shore power (110 volts), the refrigerator has automatically switched to operating on propane some time on the weekend and I have only had time to check the power outlet circuit, and it is powered up so it would need some more diagnosing to discover the actual cause of the problem. So, after some diagnosing on the 110 power side of the circuit board I discovered burnt fuse, so after some more diagnosis I have discovered a shorted heater element as the cause of the blown fuse, and through the magic of Amazon next day delivery I already have one on the way and it should be here tomorrow.

I also published my mid-April update, and have done some work on my next installment of our vacation, which should be published late this week or early next, it is taking forever to upload photos and this next blog has a ton of photos.

Norcold heater element

So with a ping on my cellphone at a few moments to ten, USPS has delivered the new heater element for our refrigerator, so a walk to the mailbox and after a couple of quick resistance checks to confirm the new element is good, and by 10:30 the refrigerator is repaired and again operating on shore power. As you can see the old and new heater look different. That is because the new part is a Norcold original part, and the old heater was supplied by the people that I purchased the Amish cooling unit from, but they have the same resistance and are both rated for 225 watts at 120 volts. Just as a point of reference most RV refrigerators cool better when operating on propane then when they are operating on 110 volts. And as a point of interest that 450 watt draw is what makes it impractical to operate off of solar systems, and why the new 12 volt compressor systems are becoming very popular, just a little too pricey for me yet, although they will keep ice cream frozen.

How does a RV refrigerator operate?

An RV refrigerator works by absorption and a chemical reaction between ammonia, water, and hydrogen. The ammonia is heated then goes through an evaporation and condensation process which causes the cooling effect of the fridge. The ammonia is heated either by a propane flame or electric element.

Note: This is one of the best descriptions I have found, with our cooling unit instead of using hydrogen our unit is using helium which gives better cooling then the original system.

Wednesday and the preparation has started for our trek back to Ontario, the day started with a cheese omelet with sausage, then moved to Miss Laurie going to pick up groceries and me trying to patch the fresh water tank one more time. It was a windy day so no awning which made it a little warm in the sun, but enough wind to make it bearable.

It has remained blustery enough today that it was determined that Happy Hour would happen in the Clam this afternoon. Miss Laurie made chicken wing dip, much to the chagrin on Kathleen who doesn’t like chicken wings, but we explained that the dip actually has no wings but is made of shredded breast meat, and now it appears to be a favorite. We are heading into the final days countdown as we discussed our packing plans as we are only 12 days from that day.

After happy hour we headed into the arboretum to check on the new hummingbirds in the nest that we first showed you in the last update blog. Here a couple of photos that I pulled from a Gopro video, along with a few cactus bloom snaps.

Thursday and today was a waffle morning, Miss Laurie is still working on the batter mix and ‘today’s waffles were some of the best so far. So, today I fired up Thunders GPS system to start to layout our route home to Ontario, and after a few hours of updates and a couple of tweaks, the route has been pretty much been decided. And while not the route I was thinking, it is the the most practical route, with less secondary highways and more interstate highways, but with over 2000 miles to cover and period of ten days to accomplish it, this is the best route.

The photo above is the Google maps version, while the Garmin GPS has a few small variations on the day 1 of the route by day 2 they are in sync, and I’m liking the Google route better because it involves a previous untraveled piece of US-60.

Well our second last weekend to work and while not spring break busy, it was still a busy weekend, with most of the visitor arriving in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat. Yes we are getting the Arizona warmth that was missing most of the winter, but by early evening the desert cools off to make an excellent temperature for happy hours.

On Friday our phones and social media went crazy, apparently there was an email released to this years guests at LHR (Lake Huron Resort), mentioning that we will be returning to the park this summer, this had actually been arranged since late last summer, but the announcement had been kept under wraps. Again a very touching and emotional day for us here in Arizona with so many people reaching out, and we have been referring to our return as going home. We are looking forward to our return, and while we are not there for opening day, we will be there by the middle of May.

Dinner tonight was prepared by Chef Tom, with the assistance of his Sous Chef Kathleen, they treated us to an evening of great conversation as well as a variety of yummy items, steak, chicken, shrimp, sausage, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, asparagus, multiple cheeses, and a baguette. And we cooked and baked on their rouquet, a new experience for me, and it was a lot of fun, I’m not thinking it is a real practical appliance for our lifestyle, but certainly was and would be a great memory maker. There could have been some wine as well, we sat and chatted long enough that we had to turn on the lights.

It is evenings like this that leave such great memories of this lifestyle, this will be the last meal shared in “Chez Clam” for this winter, it has been a savour for a number of planned dinners this winter, and after it was taken down Kathleen said she was sad, that’s when Tom explained to her that “Chez Clam” was a seasonal eatery.

This morning I have taken down the Clam and packed it away in the coach basement, as we need to be packed up and ready to roll out by Thursday afternoon. We are working Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and are hoping to hit the road early on Monday, so it will be a busy week.

This afternoon we headed to “Joe’s Farm Grill” for a meet-up with Ray & Karen, which will be our so long for now as a week from now we will be a few hundred miles down the road. Tom & Kathleen, joined us for lunch as well, this is one on the restaurant’s featured on Dinners, Drive-in’s & Dives, their claim to fame is their garlic fries, and the fries are one of Miss Laurie’s favourites.

We also are doing our last grocery shopping before starting our trek north next week, so a quick stop at a Costco and a Walmart, we didn’t make it back to the coach till 7:30, almost missed The Voice another one of Miss Laurie’s favourites, but because we stream our tv, I was able to start it from the beginning, a excellent feature.

Tuesday and this morning I have started to pack the toad, tow bar mount has been re-attached, the rear seat folded down and I have started to pack the rear seat area. I have also mounted the the roof rack back on the toad, mounting the kayaks is only done after the truck bed has been loaded as the front bed cover won’t open with the kayaks in place.

Today is our Host Volunteer, thank you dinner at Porter’s Saloon in Superior, the restaurant owner is graciously suppling the meal and we are responsible for the cost of any beverages. It is kind of a sad time because of all the good-byes, as all the volunteers prepare to move on to their summer projects. The dinner is planned for four o’clock, we are going there early for a bit of a happy hour with Tom & Kathleen, before the rest of the crowd hits.

It was great to sit and talk with the other volunteers, but it was even more special to spend time with the staff members that are our contact points with the arboretum. Speaking with these people away from the operation of the arboretum allows us to learn so much more about them and their lives. The people attending were on the education side Tom & Kathleen, Jim & Miranda, and the director of education John. On the visitor centre Jim & Pat, Laurie & myself, and our manager Lynnea, there also was Emily our volunteer coordinator as well as Shelbie the assistant director of the arboretum. Absent were Paul & Anna who had left the arboretum already and Margo who apparently just doesn’t partake in social gatherings I guess. It was a wonderful evening with Emily bringing a cake to finish off our dinner, we were back in the coach by six, I finished off the week 10 vacation blog and Miss Laurie went for a walk in the arboretum.

I’m attempted to take a time-lapse of the evening sky tonight I will let you know how that works out tomorrow.

Wednesday morning, well my time-lapse was not bad for the first try, I didn’t catch any of the meteors, because I think I had too much light pollution from our rat lights. I will try again tonight by setting up the camera further away from the coach. I will report tomorrow on the results of tonight’s attempt.

Today was our exit interview with Emily and Shelbie, pretty standard interview with all the regular questions, and of course some discussion of our observations and thoughts for changes. The issues at the arboretum boil down to a lack of communication, between all departments, which most likely starts with the director. We have been here four months and in that time, the director has made no attempt to speak to or acknowledge us in any way. Being a no show at yesterday’s thank you dinner, but that certainly did not surprise us at all, even after they planned the dinner to fit into her schedule … jus’saying.

We wandered back to the coach through the Wallace garden where I snapped a few photos … here they are.

The Arizona temperatures are back to what I remember from last year, the days are nothing but sunshine, with temperatures in the 80’s (30’s) with a light breeze, and a nice cool down when the sun sets. That’s why I didn’t accomplish much on the packing up process today, but fear not I’m not that far from being able to roll

Thursday, and I have another night time-lapse, I’m still not happy with the results, on this clip the battery went dead on the GoPro, so it ended before sunrise, I had a battery pack plugged into the GoPro but if the GoPro battery gets fully charged, then the supplementary battery shuts off, more planning is required. The difficulty is that the clip will only be ten minutes long but requires the camera to be on for nearly ten hours, and I still had too much light pollution from the coach.

So I was up and out of the coach early this morning, getting to the packing process before the sun and heat, as this is our last day off before our departure, but there is just so much that I just can’t pack up until the last day, but Sunday has a forecast temperature of 97°F (36°C), so Sunday afternoon will not be the most desirable time to finish packing.

Saturday at the arboretum and there was a group of volunteers from Intel here today, they were helping with some weeding after the wet winter the arboretum staff just couldn’t keep up. So this group offered some needed assistance. And they were treated to some arboretum hospitality with snacks and drinks, and activities for their children, and the gratitude of the garden staff.

The visitor counts are starting to drop off, less than six hundred visitors today, and with the temperature reaching 95°F (35°C) today the majority of the guests were visiting before noon.

The last dinner, (the last supper seemed inappropriate), was at the Silver King Smokehouse, one last chance to exchange stories of the most recent happenings with the Andersons’. And we were lucky enough to have the company of Emily, kind of a going away present to end our winter of volunteering. Emily was our volunteer coordinator, a task that should not be difficult, but I’m thinking this year it was a huge task, as we seemed to have an abundance of higher maintenance volunteers. There is no easy way to say, other than some of the volunteers this year were looking for some sort of a resort type atmosphere. So I must commend Emily for her patience in handling the senior adult day care situation that seemed to be prevalent here this year.

Sunday morning, the last day of April, our last day of volunteering, the day the Anderson’s are pulling out. It will be a day of mixed emotions, it will be difficult to see Tom & Kathleen leave, along with our part time adopted dog Lucy. It would have been a long winter without the Andersons just across the road, but we never say goodbye, it’s just we will see you down the road.

We have a half day to work today, so just a few hours and then complete the packing up process, as tomorrow is our departure day. So lots of thing happening today. Tom & Kathleen pull out early today so there will likely be a tear or two this morning, at 7:40 the Anderson coach was running, we said our so longs to Tom, Kathleen & Lucy, and by a few moments after eight they were heading west on US-60.

The arboretum was not too busy this morning, I worked the admissions booth till 10:00 then headed off to water all the plants at the visitor centre, then covered the admissions booth till everyone had been for lunch. Now I’m headed back to the coach to start the final packing of the toad and coach, but it’s damn warm here today, so I’m working outside a little bit then enjoy so a/c inside the coach, then work outside again. So far the windshield sunshade is off, the tire covers are off, the barbecue is packed away, Bucky our mascot beaver is packed away, all the chairs and tables are packed.

And while cooling off my typing away on this blog, I would love to publish it late today or by tomorrow morning before we roll down the road. Next trip outside will be the removal of the rat-lights, then I think the front of the box of the toad will be complete, then comes the kayaks on to the roof rack, the bike rack, then just a few odds and ends. Miss Laurie is doing the last laundry, our last long showers for a couple of weeks, then start Thunder and roll of of the tire blocks, fold up the mats and call it a night. The final disconnect will be tomorrow morning, and hopefully on the road by 8:00 am.

Ok Thunder is still on the tire blocks, but everything else is pretty much done. So tomorrow morning showers, breakfast, then start the coach, dump the tanks, add fresh water, then lift the jacks up, disconnect sewer, power, and water, and back off of the tire blocks. Store everything away, pull in the slide and we are ready to back out of our spot, head down to the parking lot, hook up the toad, say our so longs and then head east.

As we finish off our last few shifts here at the arboretum, the coach is now packed and it is a time of mixed emotions, on one side we are glad to heading back to Ontario, new adventures and catching up with friends, while on the other side there is real sadness leaving all of our Arizona friends.

Ontario here we come!

Blog 477

Day 2035

5 thoughts on “April 2023 Update

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