After a fast, fantastic and innovative repair by 'Red' at Crown Coachworks
They no longer seem able to manufacture an air conditioner compressor for a 2004 Workhorse truck Chassis. Red called every supplier all over the USA and not one new compressor was in existence. What was even worse, no parts reference to replace the clutch, seemed to exist as well. NAPA even shrugged their shoulders and the Workhorse dealership in Edgewood NM cancelled their franchise?
Using the resources at hand at Crown Coachworks in Albuquerque New Mexico, namely the dozens of late model vehicles in for collision repair at this fantastic, immaculate little shop, 'Red' found a 2001 Chevy S-10 pickup that had the exact same air conditioner clutch. Using that information, he called the parts houses and found a new, locally available replacement clutch.
Using the latest technology recovery and recycling system to withdraw the R-134 refrigerant, showed the fact that the factory had used way too much 'dye oil' to try and fix a minor seal leak, most likely the excess oil caused the clutch to endlessly slip, which could have caused the premature failure.
Restoring the system to better than new condition within a short time, Red turned over the Motor Home to us with nice cool air conditioning. This problem originated last fall in Texas. We elected to drive home without stopping to let a dealership disassemble the unit on the trip. A great decision because of the unavailable parts that would have trapped us several hundreds of miles from home. Even the other dealers we contacted, were leery of getting parts within months. See, prayers work.
Taxiing out on the runway, we began our takeoff roll from our Albuquerque terminal on Thursday afternoon, the 27th of March. Our rotation achieved, lift off and climb out to cruise altitude was effortless. My navigator plotted our course steadily gaining altitude through the mountain pass East to Clines Corners NM, where we banked South across the plains to the alien space craft crash site of Roswell
200 milles to the South, our approach was VFR in clear weather from the North. Throttle back, set flaps, lower gear for a smooth descent and runway contact at Walmart International, Southeast from ABQ. The night was spent with a few shopping details for things we always miss on our checklist. Walmart
Friday morning refueling followed by a smooth take off and we are on our way to Balmorea Texas, two hundred miles south of Roswell. A smooth cruise South through the famous Carlsbad New Mexico, site of the world famous Carlsbad Caverns
The real 'Langtry', further East 50 miles from Del Rio, is the site of the Judge Roy Bean
We start descent, set flaps and lower the gear for our late afternoon landing at Balmorea State Park
My wifes father was one of the young CCC men that learned a trade, became a crew leader, and supported his young family during those years. Oh Brother Where Art Thou
Balmorea State Park, this enchanted little area is missed by many on their mad dash East and West across Interstate Hwy 10
Leaving the friendly fish, birds and turtles behind, we liftoff for the Big Bend country of Texas on the Rio Grande River border with Mexico. This trip is one that we needed to do, just because it covers 1,252 square miles (2,015sqkm), yep! square miles. Many people from around the world that hike and watch birds, consider Big Bend National Park 'the destination'. The scenery is wonderful if you like mountains and deserts which we do. The desolation is not for everyone of course, but to us it's beautiful.
As I waited patiently for the Ranger at the Panther Junction headquarters, to answer my questions, a well dressed tourist asked for the name of a nice restaurant on the river, where they could have an acceptable ambience, including a scenic view, during their dining that evening. The Ranger politely answered "Your Campsite"?
Big Bend National Park
The most noticeable backdrop to the lush Rio Grande River oasis, is the mile (1.6km)high mountain cliff wall on the Mexican side, facing the National Park. It overwhelms the South Eastern horizon. The shape of the Rio Grande River's Southern border with Mexico in Western Texas, forms a 'Big Bend', therefore the name. If a river oasis in the middle of the mountainous desert is your thing, definitely travel the 120 miles (193km)South from Alpine Texas
Due to the magic of the low US dollar, We finally are meeting many people from other countries. Canadian camping travelers are extremely prevalent on this trip due to the parity of the Canadian Dollar with the US Dollar. Finally they get a well deserved break and are bringing their dollars to the USA. Of course seeing a fantastic part of the world in exchange. Welcome Canada, we love you Hey?.
We drove the jeep on over to the Hot Springs
Another little quick trail trip from the 'birdwatchers' park campground of Rio Grande Village
A mine in Mexico, at one time produced lead and zinc ore. It was transported by a six mile tramway cable system across the river and into the USA refinery with ninety large metal buckets in constant travel on the cables. It lasted from 1915 to 1919. The cables and one remaining bucket are still visible on the ground at one area. Engineering ingenuity and hard work, financially backed by private enterprise is amazing.
Daniels Ranch, nearby was run with the purpose of growing produce for market. The land was leveled precisely and irrigated with a big river water pump station, into ditches. All of the manual labor for this small agriculturally intense area was obviously from Mexico. Bird calls are everywhere along the many shaded trails. Dozens of Wild pigs
The Rio Grande Village
Countless trails including a deck walkway through the swampy wetland, go in every direction. The friendly little park store has emergency items including fuel, to sustain the impulse oriented, ill equipped camper. The National Park Service, as we have experienced it, has done a great job in keeping the wild and unpredictable areas for our enjoyment.
Leaving by the Eastern entrance toward Marathon and Del Rio
The Southern interstate highway 37 from Pleasanton, leads on to Corpus Christi
North Padre Island National Seashore
The Final Four Basketball Playoffs were in progress for the weekend. Over 60,000 fans were expected. Lots of people downtown at The Alamo
Corpus Christi looks familiar from a few days ago. Gaining altitude on the high bridge after crossing the JF kennedy Causeway
As we see everywhere these last many years, the National Park service is improving each area we visit, thank Mr. Dirk Kempthorne (see comment #2). The newest buildings constructed last year and the years before, are being augmented by a new 'mobility accessable' ramp and observation deck to go over the dunes to the beach.
No longer are the physically impaired, denied access to this natural wonder of evening Ghost Crabs
A short 10 mile (16km) drive south along the 68 mile (109km) wave swept beach, interspersed with walking, looking for at least one more unique shell to add to our collection, accompanied by three nights of wind rocking us to sleep, and we were ready to head on to a less windy and less humid area.
As mentioned in last fall's blog about North Padre Island
One fantastic 'once in a lifetime' sight was the rare Biolumenescent
After washing the salt from our rig, at our favorite truck wash near Flour Bluff
The free, no waiting lines, Texas State Ferry
We returned to Rockport
Goose Island State Park offered shoreline sites, but we opted for a nice night, tucked into the trees with the squirrels and birds, where the absence of wind let us sleep without rocking. This park, like most Texas State Parks, is really great for fisherman. No charge for a state fishing license if you stay on the shore or docks.
Goose Island State Park
Upon the arrival of a fisherman's boat, Pelicans line up for the fish guts near the ramp cleaning table area. Two nights, with a day trip back into Rockport, a fish lunch at the famous 'Big Fisherman' restaurant back South of town toward Aransas Pass, and we returned for another nights sleep in peace.
During this trip, my NetJet
Bluegoose23 has famous Kin from the days of Texas forming a Republic under Stephen Austin
Fuel in the Walmart at Port Lavaca
Galveston Island State Park
I talked with one of two Ontario
For many years it was not that way. During the previous years, we took advantage of the low Canadian dollar, touring the Puget Sound islands as well as Vancouver Island
Two nights and an excellent trip into Galveston
and watching as they ply their now rare trade before we prepared to leave this Pirate Island of Jean Lafitte
As we crossed the park entrance highway with the sun shining, no wind, we impulsively opted to stay one more night. This time facing the Gulf waters Watching the lights of one lonesome shrimp boat weaving back and forth across the gulf waters in front of us at night.. Hiking the beach a few times, and the wind is back. Oh well, tomorrow we head inland toward San Marcos. Leaving this site of the Worst Natural Disaster in US history
Galveston Island state Park has wireless, this allowed me to start the post you are reading. Wireless is slowly being added to the parks we visit. Mixed emotions about that tempting amenity in the serenity of the parks. Most of these parks do not even have cell phone service, isn't that wonderful?
Gulf Coast temperature is quite a bit cooler than past years. Low 50's this morning, must be that global warming thing. The bullfrogs are silent in their ponds. The birds are hunkering down in the rushes. We are running the heater in the morning. Yep, definitely cooler this year.
Brazos Bend State Park
What a shock, massive trees hanging with Spanish Moss
The count is stable for this reason. Population control by natural means?
Two nights stay, were no where near enough for this big beautiful 5,000 acre park. We will definitely return for more of this interesting place with many trails and 'gator lakes' on the next trip.
One interesting note was that picture of the 30 foot long gator on the internet? It came from this park. Bicycle paths are in all of the Texas State Parks, as well as many hiking trails. Deer should be the Texas State animal, they are plentiful and of many exotic varieties, 'White Tail', 'Red' and 'Axis' including the Asian
Fuel costs are starting to climb with the oil price. We left with costs at just over 3 dollars a gallon and it is now at 3.21. Not too bad yet. That will seem cheap in the very near future. Back in the mid 1960's, when fuel costs were at 35 cents a gallon, I earned less than a hundred dollars a week at a very high paying job, that's a little more than two dollars an hour. Sort of puts it into perspective now doesn't it.
Lockhart State Park
A nice cheap place to play golf. The first tee presents a 7 degree wide window with trees and a fishing stream, over a hundred yards away to shoot through. The Ranger said that thousands of balls are hidden in those trees on either side of that par three hole. The floods bring many of them down to the interesting CCC built Dam near the commons park.
The big swimming pool is closed until Memorial Day when kids from all around will be there to enjoy it. We watched an Osprey
The Walmart parking lot is our choice stopover. The next day was spent taking in the ambiance of many local shops with great food and brew pubs, including some with various trophy game and deer mounted on the high walls. An Asian
The hundreds of feet thick limestone covering all of Texas from the Cretaceous period, is quarried and used to continually build new buildings to exact period specifications.
After two nights stay with Fredricksburg Walmart as our gracious host, not wanting to overstay our host's pavement, we restocked our foodstuffs. A well made 14 dollar Winchester, titanium nitride coated, lockback folding knife, caught my attention as a hiking companion.
I ended up impulsively buying a little, wonderfully engineered, 25 dollar 'Ray O Vac' 3 watt L.E.D. two double AA, pocket flashlight with a lanyard. Also a little 12 dollar, 6 L.E.D. headstrap light. Both are the most amazing small lights I have ever owned. Considering our purchases helping to cover our stay, the next morning we lifted off for Kerville about 25 miles away.
The Kerville-Schreiner City Park
Inks Lake State Park
I met our tent camping neighbor, Sardonius. We talked extensively and the next day I talked him into sharing a two person Kayak. He and I paddled across the lake for the closest of many dams. The wind came up and with Sardonius in the front, catching the whitecaps coming in over the prow, we turned and paddling furiously through the choppy waves, just made it back to the dock in time.
Great upper body workout he remarked. Great teamwork I thought, having never been in a Kayak before. Sardonius had rented a one person unit that morning so he was our expert. Fun to meet interesting people along the camping trail, just like in days long past.
We slowly drove around the park after dusk. A quiet, spiritual time, parking on the shallow dams and listening to the enchanting chorus of frogs and a Whipporwill
Two varieties of bass are living here and are protected along with the catfish, forget your fishing gear here. One night was fine, seeing as my wife is not able to hike extensively, which, along with the Lost Maples, is this mountainous, pretty little parks main theme.
When you see a route on the map that looks short, ask the locals about it. The drive over the mountains from Kerville was a little hairy in the rig, with mostly first gear and multiple, extremely tight switchbacks on a narrow two lane paved road, our rear wheels in the ditch and the fronts just barely in the lane. We gradually rose upward into the 20 foot (6m) visibility, cloud mist hiding the road ahead and hiding the scenic valleys below.
Motorcycle campers love this scenic drive loop through 'The Hill Country'. The endless waves of touring bicycle groups, attests to this areas scenic desirability. Their little trailers and pack tents cover weeks of travel. Special low recumbants are unique with their windscreens and large rear wheels. Their little camps all go to bed early after supper.
Garner State Park
Definitely make reservations in the peak season for this big park and its many amenities for families and everyone else you can imagine. Numerous Cabins as well as full RV hookups or tent sites are filling this massive, bird and squirrel rich, recreational area. The river and it's dams are just one great attraction for fishing and tubing, kayaking, pedal boats and canoes are provided for rental. Hiking is supreme. As the T shirt motto says, "Bring a compass, it's awkward when You Have to eat your friends".
Abilene State Park
After dark, I shined the brilliant little 3 watt Ray O Vac L.E.D. pocket flashlight, at a tall water tower where we had at dusk, watched black vultures roosting in safety for the night. Though over a hundred yards away it showed them sitting on the highest rails. Amazing little product from Walmart.
South Llano River State Park
Birds, wildlife, bicycling and hiking are the main features. Bird blinds are strategically placed throughout this large park, donated in gratitude to his beloved State of Texas by a man who loved the land. If you have always wanted to see a few dozen Painted Buntings
Of course along with dozens of it's other colorfully feathered friends including the Indigo Bunting
As in all federal and state parks, signs are everywhere cautioning about feeding the wildlife. "It encourages DEPENDANCY and attracts undesired visitors, overloading the environment". Now that is a concept!
In this park, little waterfalls and bird feeders are placed in front of the 'bird blinds' to attract them within camera and viewing range. The painted Buntings end up raising the Cowbirds young, laid in their nests. Seems like 'dependancy' is a learned habit?
As we lifted off from this fascinating little bird watchers park, to cruise Northwest towards home, the now familiar sight of the horizons covered in thousands of 'Wind Turbines' situated among the Oil Pump Jacks and cotton Fields, we are reminded of how progressive this massive state is.
Crossing the New Mexico-Texas State Line and continuing to climb in altitude over the limestone caprock toward home, Roswell NM came into view in the late afternoon. Walmart is our old friend here. Fuel costs are now at 3.45 average. After casually strolling the store looking for other little gems, like the little 'pin on' 3 dollar ball compass and the .94 cent stainless steel lockback folding knife (doesn't rust at the Gulf) in the sporting goods department, and always the auto and RV section, the evening was about to get a little hairy weather wise.
The temperature dropped 40 degrees within 10 minutes as the wind shifted 180 degrees, now coming from the North. The Motor home was rocking furiously in the 57 mph breeze. Lowering the 'landing gear' to just contact the pavement helped. A 24 foot camp trailer, seeking protection from the wind, parked in our 'lee'. Many other rigs formed a tight group with us, to weather the night in the friendly Walmarts lot.
Morning brought calm of sorts. After a trip into the Walmart store for a breakfast of McDonalds and great hot coffee, we hightailed it for home, 200 miles to the Northwest away. Climbing over the canyon pass into ABQ, then we throttle back, set flaps and lower gear for a smooth landing at our home field, then clean out and wash the rig, crawl into bed for a nice home sleep, five weeks from our departure date. Foot tall lawn gets mowed in the morning. Now the plan is to set up our next trip, usually a couple of trips with our young granddaughters when school lets out.
They enjoy getting away from parental controls for a week. Too bad we can't take them to see more of this great nation more often. "One Nation Under God". In spite of it's imperfections, I would not have it any other way 'AMEN'.