Postcard from Arizona- 7

December 2016
Benson

As I mentioned, we arrived back in Benson during a time we should have been on the road somewhere cooler. Friends from the SKP Saguaro park spent the summer in Wyoming and found they had to get above 8,000′ elevation to get some relief from the heat that seemed to grip the whole country. Wyoming is well to the north of Arizona and it was hot there too. So it wasn’t easy to be comfortable regardless your camp site during summer 2016.

The Admiral stayed healthy, but I arrived back here (via Deming) with a bad case of something and a bottle of antibiotics from the urgent care facility at the new Presbyterian Hospital in Santa Fe (by all reports it’s best to avoid St. Victims). Fortunately I was on the mend by the time we left Santa Fe and within a week or so (and to Celia’s great relief!)  I stopped feeling sorry for myself.

The heat kept us inside where we hugged the AC and awaited the ‘papers’ we had to sign to complete the sale of our house. ‘Papers’ is merely a euphemism since nearly everything was done electronically; the days of everyone showing up sequentially at the title company to sign and close are apparently gone. By mid-September we had received the wire transfer and all was said and done. It felt like we had run off the edge of a cliff ala Wiley Coyote hot on the trail of the roadrunner.

New Mattress and Recliners for the Cedar Creek Cottage

I was also whining about my back when we got back to Benson and I was (am!) convinced it was the recliners that came with the Cottage. They’re built for someone taller than I am so I can’t sit back in the chair where I can find some support for my back. So we ordered new recliners from La-Z-Boy. We had to wait a couple months and during that time my back kept getting worse and worse. While we waited for the new recliners we went over to Sierra Vista to Mattress Firm and bought a new Tempur-Pedic mattress which arrived in a couple days. This is our 3rd Tempur-Pedic so you know right off the bat we’re believers! I’ve never been happier than when I saw that mattress exit the door! After the first nite sleeping on the new Tempur-Pedic I was feeling better; after the 2nd nite on our new mattress I felt perhaps back to 90% of usual. Amazing difference.

And the culprit mattress? It was Cedar Creek’s optional high-end (which means expensive) Serta with the Trump name on it. What a piece of junk! Had we been able to order the Cottage instead of take what was on the lot, we would have ordered it without a mattress.

The new recliners finally arrived in early October. What an amazing difference. Even though the chairs we were replacing were also from La-Z-Boy, mine just didn’t fit me and there was no lumbar support. The new chair has electric everything, it fits me, has all the right adjustments, and is so good it probably rivals the invention of bread. Maybe even beer in cans, but that might be a stretch.

Travel Trailer Problems…

We had hoped to get out with the Arctic Fox before the season started here at SKP Saguaro, i.e. during the summer. That didn’t happen. Upon arriving back in Benson with the Fox we discovered we had an empty fresh water tank and a tripped GFCI (I’ll explain below). No amount of fussing on my part could resolve the issue. So we rented a nearby site and called Dave Thompson at Lightning Fast to do his magic. Thankfully his mojo worked better than mine and after 20+ hours of trouble shooting he found a flooded outside AC junction box. That solved the GFCI problem.

So, being the astute reader you are, you feel compelled to ask: what happened to flood the J-box? We left the water pump on when we left Deming. While it shouldn’t have been left on, that in itself shouldn’t be an issue. What happened to make it an issue was the extendible spray head on the faucet of the galley sink started sliding out as we drove (our Arctic Fox apparently rides like a brick!). Once it was out a bit, it started swinging around and eventually hit the on/off lever on the faucet which turned on the water. We dumped almost 60 gallons of water into the galley/bedroom area. It dried quick enough after a little mopping, but of course the J-box didn’t have any air circulating. All that water is what caused the GFCI to trip.

Before Dave could make his getaway, we suddenly had another issue- the AC stopped working. He did more digging and found a second AC junction box that was also flooded. However, drying the box didn’t solve the issue. He dug a little further and found a melted wire nut inside the AC junction panel. When the factory twisted on the wire nut which joined stranded and solid wire, too much of the stranded wire slipped away from the compression area and caused a poor connection. That poor connection finally got hot enough to melt the plastic of the wire nut and, before it fell away, it burned the remaining strands of wire. Dave cleaned the connecting wires and installed a new wire nut and we were back in business.

Btw, Dave Thompson (like Wayne Tedford) doesn’t charge for figuring out what’s wrong. Both of them only bill for repair labor plus parts.

… and Truck Problems

On the (very!) hot trip to Santa Fe, the truck managed to overheat on the last grade into Santa Fe. I saw the warning light pop on, then immediately went off as we started dropping in elevation. Dodged a bullet.

I took the truck to Capitol Ford in Santa Fe where they found nothing wrong with either the cooling system or the AC (which no longer wants to cool below about 80° F). Seemed like the dealer didn’t want to mess with the truck.

Then on the (only slightly cooler) trip back to Benson I saw nearly the same thing- the engine temp started climbing on the grades and came very close to boiling 3 times. We thought about throwing more $$$ at repairs but opted for replacing the truck since I’d lost confidence. Took a couple months to do something, during which time I haunted the CarMax web site plus a couple others looking for a recent Ram 2500 with a Cummins diesel.

Ultimately I found we could buy a new 2016 Ram 2500 with all the bells and whistles from Larry H Miller in Tucson for the same price as a used truck from CarMax. I knew CarMax was pricey, but… really?! So on the day after Black Friday – the Saturday following Thanksgiving – we traded our F350 for a new Ram 2500.

You’ll have to trust me on this: don’t ever buy a vehicle anywhere near Black Friday! The crowd was a nightmare. We arrived after lunch and didn’t leave with the new truck till after 10pm. Aaaarrrrgggh!! Luckily we had 2 great sales people (Victor Cortez and Nick Bourn) who nursed us through the long wait and we left happy. This appears to have 17″ wheels with duals in the rear; ours has 18″ wheels with single rear wheels. But the color and model is right.

2016 RAM 2500 megacab

I did have to make a promise to the Admiral: no ^%#@!@ mods to the new truck! So far, still not broken in, I see mileage at least as good as we finally got from the Ford and all I have to do is point it down the road. What a relief! At this point I see no reason to ever break my promise. We have since added a 4-panel folding hard tonneau so we can carry things in the bed without tieing down.

Thoughts on the Arctic Fox

The Arctic Fox is a decent travel trailer but all the owner hype about how well insulated it is appears to be just that: hype. It was hotter than normal in Santa Fe and the AC ran from about 9 each morning to well after dark. RV’ing friends say the best they expect from an RV’s AC is ( inside temp =  outside temp – 10° F ). If it’s 100°F outside, that means about 90°F inside. That’s close to what we saw. Using the awning helped early in the day, but the awning does nothing for the roof during mid-day or (thanks to the site we were in) all afternoon. So as poorly as it worked, that’s about as good as it gets. The only solution is higher elevation. I believe the culprit are the 2 skylights- they’re like solar heat collectors. I believe adding several solar panels to the roof may be of help by keeping the sun off.

Our Arctic Fox 28F has a decent layout, but it’s a long way from the spacious accommodation we had with the Montana. Still, there’s good storage inside and out and the finish (ignoring the peeling nose cap) is pretty good. The nose cap is a disaster. It’s a grey primer with a logo decals and a clear-coat over the top. Within 6 months the clear coat had peeled about half way down the nose. When the rest falls off we’ll see about getting it painted.

The only other big complaint is the (almost) queen size mattress. We could do with another Tempur-Pedic, but I think we’ll have to think about a cheaper no-name brand solution.

I’d like to add some solar panels and bigger batteries- that little 80 AHr 12 VDC battery that came with the trailer makes me nervous since there’s no way to operate the slides or extend the landing leg to hitch up if the charge drops too fast while in storage. Doing any boondocking is unlikely for us since we use water at an alarming rate. This is just for storage, emergencies and the rare overnighter without power.

Photos

They’re coming. Been lazy about getting images transferred from the phone. Mea culpa!

About bruce10b

An RVer, on the road full time and wintering in Benson, AZ.
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