My summer vacation

Liz Carmel Colorado, Family, New Mexico, Roan, Travel, Wisconsin 4 Comments

Did you miss me? Did you wonder where I was or what I was doing? Or, were you otherwise mired thigh-deep in the throes of your own end-of-summer vacation?

Roan and I left Deming, New Mexico on Monday, 22 August 2016. Destination: Milwaukee, Wisconsin to visit my sisters. We left Pegasus behind, taking the 2010 Honda CR-V.

map of summer vacation 2016

(1) LoW-HI RV Ranch, Deming, NM. (2) Motel 6 – Elk City, OK. (3) Motel 6 – Springfield, IL. (4) Milwaukee, WI. (5) Little Long Lake, WI. (6) Motel 6 – West Des Moines, IA. (7) Motel 6 – Big Springs, NE. (8) Rainbow Lodge & RV Park, South Fork, CO. (9) Moriarty, NM.


Two and a half days, 1,633 miles, and 25.5 hours later, we arrived at Mary Rose and John’s house in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Sarah braided my hair.

Sarah braided my hair.

Over the next two weeks, we’d visit and catch up; go to Sarah’s volleyball games; drink Irish Coffees with freshly-whipped cream at Rochambo on Brady Street; hang out with Anne on the cool East Side; then bounce to Teri and Tom’s place in Menomonee Falls because who wouldn’t want to spread this joy around?

And we made an impromptu drive four hours north to Little Long Lake nestled in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to see former neighbors from across the Reston, Virginia cul-de-sac.  Dana and David’s lake house was packed but there was room for Roan and me in Dana’s mom’s house next door.

Roan playing in Little Long Lake, WI.

Roan playing in Little Long Lake, WI.

On a close-to-overcapacity pontoon boat late Saturday morning — 10 people, 3 dogs, clear skies, gentle breezes — I raised my spicy Bloody Mary.

“This does not suck,” I said, “In fact this is the farthest from sucking that anything could possibly be.” This much fun every day would kill me but I was on vacation.

Then back to Teri and Tom’s for “pizza palooza” with homemade pizza dough and four types of pizza grilled to perfection because any less wouldn’t be a “palooza,” before packing up and hitting the road again.

Somewhere on I-80 westbound, I decided to drive back through South Fork, Colorado. There was no reason for me to rush back to Deming and I wanted to see where Ron has spent his summers for the past 17 years.

Southwest Fritatta

Though tasty, Ron and I would not get the Southwest Fritattas again.

Bloody Marys, lunch, and coffee in Creede; white-linen Sunday brunch with Bloody Marys (are you seeing a pattern here?) at the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte where we visited post-meal with the housekeepers and Maude, the ghost of a 21-year old woman who killed herself in one of the rooms.  Yes, a man was involved.

You think after 4,231 miles we’d stay put for a while. No such luck. The day after we got back to Deming it was back on the road to Moriarty, New Mexico, a mere 273 miles north, to look at a 2004 Safari Trek 29RBD at Kay’s RV. Nice but not The One.

Kay recommended Sunset Motel on Historic Route 66 for the night. I thought of a young and energetic Mom and Dad passing this way on their cross-country drives from LA to the Midwest.

Back in Deming for about a week now, we’re ready to go again, this time in Pegasus or perhaps a smaller coach. I’m still looking…

Liz CarmelMy summer vacation

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Liz Carmel New Mexico, Poem

Eye of Horus

Eye of Horus


If this is “The Way”
Why do I hesitate?
Why do I question?
Why do I seek my bed, cheeks damp?
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Thoughts ad nauseum
Angsting over every detail
Radio silence
Anyone home???

Flip / Flop
Dry land fish dying
Stinking up the joint as only I can

Zig / Zag
Straight line not
Disgusting dizzying mayhem maze

And this is fun?
Chasing a tail I’ll never catch?
Sisyphus’s rolling stone?
An eternity of Square Ones?
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Go with the flow?
Look for signs?
Ask my I AM?
I ain’t buying it anymore!

Not that a quadrice-sighted lizard doesn’t mean something but
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
Can’t you do better than that
No offense meant / None taken
F*&% the metaphors already
Give me a clear as quartz crystal sign

Make me believe again
Make me know for sure
Yeh you Universe
I’m talking to you.
Yeh you I AM
You ain’t much better
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

I’m outta here

Liz CarmelWhiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Call the curandero

Liz Carmel Avion, Mexico, New Mexico

And if I’m never tied to anything
I’ll never be free — “Finale,” Pippin

Decisions were made. There was a new New Plan.  Yesterday.

Stop looking for another motorhome of whatever size — I meant it this time — and improve Pegasus instead. Easy-to-maintain laminate dark grey wood-grain floor up front. Long-desired solar system up top.  As for spending the winter in Mexico, I’ll leave my car here in Deming and get a small trail bike with knobby tires to run around on.

Sandra liked the new New Plan:  “You won’t regret getting solar,” she said.

Stephanie was tired of hearing about the whole thing. “Let me know when you put money down on something,” she said as we watched Really and Roan take turns eating a stick in the dog park.

And then, last night, after the office closed at 5 PM, a white Dodge pickup towing an aluminum trailer that wasn’t an Airstream pulled into site 33 here at LoW-HI RV Ranch.

The second Avion I had ever seen in my life.

What the @#&*?

Was it a sign that I should buy the Avion or just the Universe messing with me?

Regardless, I couldn’t help looking towards site 33.

The Avion was still there the next morning when Roan and I returned from our walk around 8 AM.

I texted Ron: “Help! An Avion pulled into the park last night.”

Ron texted back: “Walk quickly away without looking and put cotton in ears to mute the siren song. Praying may help.” He also recommended a priest for an exorcism or a curandero (traditional Native healer, shaman, or Witch doctor).

“Are you trying to help?” I typed.

1972 Avion LeGrande

1972 Avion La Grande

I phoned Faun.

Faun said: “What does your I AM say?”

I asked my I AM: “Should I get the Avion?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!.”  Ever the Grand Instigator, my I AM is more into the Big Picture and not so strong on details.

“Well then,” Faun replied, as if that solved everything, adding, “But you feeling sick to your stomach means something too.”

Later that morning, I walked over to recycling to drop off two broken down cardboard boxes. I passed the 30s row, glancing over to now-empty site 33. Whew!

But then I saw it, parked in front of the office. Lurking, taunting me, a sleek aluminum specter. I could not resist its song. I walked up the ramp to the office just as a man with a short white ponytail came out.

I told him my tale about almost getting a 1972 Avion La Grande. We chatted as he showed me the inside of his 1972 Avion. Same year, length, and layout as the one I almost bought. Same twin beds, same mirrored walls, same bathtub. His had a dinette, “mine” had a sofa.

“My” Avion’s front rock guard had blown away in a West Texas wind storm.  Kenneth had replaced his and was willing to sell the original one to me. He knew someone who rebuilt old fridges too. We exchanged information.

Back in Pegasus’s cool expanse, I called Ron. As we spoke, I had a revelation.

“Maybe the Avion came to me here in the park so that I could see it again,” I offered. “I didn’t spend much time in the other one when the owners came through town. I had a romantic idea about it. Maybe this one came here to show me the layout and that it wouldn’t be practical for day-to-day living.”

A big maybe.

Ron explained Fritz Perls’s parts psychology. The part of me that wanted to keep Pegasus and the part of me that wanted the Avion needed to have a discussion and come to some agreement.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, call the curandero.

Liz CarmelCall the curandero

Done looking

Liz Carmel Airstream, Avion, Maintenance & repairs, New Mexico

I’m done looking.

Over the past few months, I’ve gobbled up daily email alerts from RVTrader, RVT, the Airstreams Forum, eBay, Craigslist, Oodle.

Here at the Ranch, I peeked into Paul’s Phoenix Cruiser, Jack’s Roadtrek, Barb’s Holiday Rambler Traveler.

I decided on a Class B, and then on an Airstream, and then on an Avion, and then on a large Class C, and then on a small gas Class A, and then back on an Avion…

Dizzy?  Me too.

I wrote a list of “Must Haves”:

  • Maximum length of 30 feet
  • One slide (two better)
  • Bathtub
  • Oven — I bake
  • Interior height of more than 6.5 feet — I touch the ceiling in Pegasus when doing sun salutations.
  • Desk space
  • HWH automatic leveling system — Yes, I’m lazy.
  • Washer-dryer or space for one — Yes, I’m spoiled.

I searched for motorhomes that had all of the above. Few did.

Sunday — I drove 337 miles to Mesa, Arizona.

Monday — I looked at motorhomes at Desert Autoplex (2001 Bigfoot), Camping World (2004 Chinook), Always RV (2006 Winnebago).

And I stopped at Lazydays RV in Tuscon on the long drive back to Deming where salesman Greg tried to tell me that there was no market for a 41-foot diesel pusher like Pegasus in the “low income region.” I looked around. Marble floors, not one but two fountains in the lobby, a long row of over-sized service bays out back. No market for Class As here? Really? I left shortly thereafter.

Thursday — I spent the day at Borman Honda in Las Cruces, an hour-drive away. The InvisiBrake supplemental braking system on my CR-V had shorted the brakes. After three years. Was this a sign that I should go back to looking at trailers (one engine) or just bad timing? Deciding on the former, I came home and deleted all the searches except for Avions and Airstreams.

Round in a circle back to square one. (Downsizing…again)

Friday — I sent a couple of emails and texts.  I was ready to do the deal.

Dr. G. loved the 1984 Avion Triple Axle 34-V:

“ This is the obvious choice. Identical to the one my uncle had and my parents just sold theirs.  Without question this is the trailer and the condition is fantastic. The 34-V is the best full time and the 1984 has the best build quality. Buy this one.”

I didn’t buy this one. While gorgeous and perfect, the 34-V was bigger than I wanted. Combined with the truck needed to pull it, the length would be no less than what I have now. More an even swap, albeit to one engine, than downsizing.

Saturday — I almost bought the 1972 Avion La Grande. The owner replied to my text:

“I am really having a hard time letting go of the trailer. But what keeps tugging on me is selling the Avion to someone who will love it as much as I do. And I am thinking that would be you. We had a family meeting last evening and we all agreed.”

It almost was me. I loved the feel of the Avion. But where would I put my computer? My printer? A microwave? And I didn’t like the twin beds. I could picture the trailer in Mexico but day-to-day living was another story.  True — I could keep Pegasus and my car for a while, but the idea was to downsize, right?

Today — I’m done looking.

If my new home is out there, it can find me.  But just in case….

I created a new search on RVTrader.

Liz CarmelDone looking

Bees can’t swim

Liz Carmel Airstream, Avion, Mexico, New Mexico, Roan, Travel

“Bees like to land on the edge of the fountain and drink,” Gary, maintenance master extraordinaire and former Seattleite told me.

“Guess this one fell in,” I said.

“Guess so.”

As was his wont, Roan was playing in the fountain, cool water soothing dry paws after our morning walk through the rocky desert.

The bee in question was on its side, paddling frantic figure eights.  I lifted the small blue net off the white nail on the white pole holding a white hose.  (Gary is nothing if not meticulous.) Scoop — the bee was airborne. I lowered the net near some greenery, easing the bee out. I watched as it dried its feet and wings.

Earlier that morning I had seen my first rattlesnake. (Ron saw several in the spring. Is that why he went north or could it be the 100-plus temperatures here in Deming?).  I’ve wanted to see a rattlesnake as much as I didn’t want to.  The only ones I had seen were roadkill.

Roan and I were were taking our usual route through the still-born subdivision across Country Club when I saw something about three feet long stretched out in the middle of the sandy path. Roan stopped and sniffed. What was it? As my mind found the answer, I shouted “Roan!” and pulled him away just as the snake roused and coiled, sticking out a forked tongue. I heard a soft rattle. A safe distance away, I looked back.  The snake was beautiful —  sandy speckled yellow-green.

Mojave Rattlesnake (Photo: Steve Byland)

Mojave Rattlesnake (Photo: Steve Byland)

Based on my research, I think what I saw was a juvenile Mojave Rattlesnake (one snake sighting and I’m an herpetologist).

The Mojave Rattlesnake is found in extreme Southern New Mexico. It lives in desert or low grassland habitats, often on flat terrain. The Mojave rattlesnake is often greenish-gray or olive green, with a white belly. Its venom is highly potent.

Apart from snake-sighting and bee-saving, what else have I been up to?

Driving Mr. Lee: "The Road Trip"Well, I drove Lee and his 2015 Itasca Navion iQ to Chapin, South Carolina a week ago. It took us four and a half days to cover the 1,748 miles. I flew back to El Paso where Brian picked me up. We had lunch at the historic Rosa’s Cantina on our way back to Deming.

Living in the mini motorhome made me appreciate Pegasus more. Despite rumors to the contrary (Downsizing…again) I’m not ready to say “goodbye” to my flying war horse.   Still, I can’t picture Pegasus sunbathing on the Mexican beaches.  The new, new plan:  get an inexpensive trailer and tow vehicle and store Pegasus and the Honda CR-V here at the Ranch.

My search has shifted from Airstream to Avion — the other aluminum trailer. Built from 1956 to 1990, many consider Avions better made.  I consider them more in my price range with larger tanks. Dr. G., who maintains the Avion Travelcade Club website, is helping me look.

Dr. G. advised me to sit in a trailer alone, really look around, and wait for the trailer to speak to me. “If you get the message that you should own the trailer you will bond with it. It needs you to love and care for it. If it tells you to run you had better thank it and leave it there.”

1972 Avion La Grande

1972 Avion La Grande

I saw a 1972 Avion La Grande in person this past Monday.  I had contacted the owners a while back and forgot about it.  They emailed me out of the blue on Sunday:  They were driving through Deming on their way home and did I want to see the trailer?  I did and did, meeting them at the 5R Travel Center.

What happens next is anyone’s guess, me included.

Liz CarmelBees can’t swim


Liz Carmel Airstream, Insurance, Mexico, Money, New Mexico

I’m downsizing. Again. As much as I love my home, Pegasus is feeling cumbersome, like a big, gorgeous, costly anchor.

I wanted to go to Milwaukee but diesel to drive the 1,600 miles would cost about $960, conservatively estimating five miles to the gallon at $3.00 per gallon. Almost $2,000 round-trip. As much as I want to see my sisters, I could stay here at the LoW-HI RV Ranch for nine months for two grand.

And then there’s our plan to spend this winter in Mexico. We’ll start in Puerto Peñasco aka Rocky Point aka Gringolandia due to its heavy U.S. and Canadian winter population.  We’d move as our whims blew.

I can go down to Mexico with Pegasus — lots of large Class As do it all the time — but the thought does not appeal. I don’t want to be stuck in an RV park.  I picture myself on the beach; it’s not Pegasus I see on the sand.

And so, I began looking for a Class B, a van conversion for my non-RVing friends. I could store Pegasus and my car here at the Ranch. But then my insurance renewal dropped, a boulder in my Inbox.

When I asked my agent why the premiums went up 17 percent, she said, “Liz, unfortunately, insurance claims are at an all time high and every company is facing rate increases.” A familiar refrain. Molina Healthcare — which doesn’t even cover me outside of Wisconsin — said the same thing after increasing their rates 20 percent.

To cut costs, I could drop down to one engine. But, if I have to get a trailer, there is only one choice — the Airstream. As Ron would and does say, “I’m a sucker for beauty and form.” Ditto Doc.

Airstream Flying Cloud

Airstream Flying Cloud Series. I’ll look for a 25- to 28-foot trailer.

Jackson asked:

Why do you want to buy an Airstream? In your view, what are its pros and cons? Just curious.

To which I responded:

Pros: Beauty, simplicity, modern design, easy to tow, an active and enthusiastic community, the manufacturer is still in business, 80% of Airstreams ever made are still on the road (or so I’ve heard).

Cons: Higher cost relative to other tow-behinds, no slides.

I’ve looked at a few trailers and fifth wheels over the past three years being on the road. The Airstream is the only one I get excited about. It’s an emotional response, similar to finding the right house.

And so, despite previous plans to summer in the Rockies (Rainbow bound), I’ll be staying here in Deming where the only thing rising is the temperature into the low 100s.

As I do with any desire, I’ve begun shooting tendrils of intent out into the Universe. To be more specific, I’m researching and searching — RV Trader, Craigslist, the Airstream Classifieds. I’ve appealed to self-affirmed “crazy” Vince at A to Z Motors near Napa. I sense that he could be my ace in the hole.

And I’ve contacted a few dealers inquiring about trade-in values for Pegasus. Needless to say, the amounts quoted disappoint quite given all the money I’ve put into my home since Spring 2013. I’ll pocket the dealer mark-up, thank you.

So, that’s where it stands now dear friends and readers.

I began living as a full-time RVer to go with the wind. I’ll downsize — again — to continue to be able to follow the flow.

Liz CarmelDownsizing…again

It’s only money

Liz Carmel Family, Maintenance & repairs, Money, New Mexico, Work, Writing, Yoga

I didn’t want us to be that family. You know the one: kids nitpicking over Mom and Dad’s stuff, nickel and dime-ing each other to death. Family ties being re-defined in terms of spreadsheets and dollars and cents.

I didn’t want us to be like that and for the most part we haven’t been since Mom and Dad died in 2013.

But recently something’s changed, something I’m not proud of.

I’ve become what I’ve so despised and judged in others — someone who cares about money, or the lack thereof.

What’s changed? Let me count the ways…

2/29/16 – $622.11 – AutoNation
4/19/16 – $419.46 – Spartan Motors
4/21/16 – $1488.34 – Rincon Truck Center
5/10/16 – $204.98 – Jimmy’s RV Repair
5/10/16 – $94.00 – Amazon
5/16/16 – $750.81 – EPDM Coatings
5/24/16 – $332.29 – Spartan Motors
5/24/16 – $860.70 – Cummins
6/2/16 – $150 – Gary

TOTAL: $4922.69

Add on another grand or so for E & M Auto Repair for Pegasus and to re-fix my car’s air-conditioning, the same A/C that AutoNation “fixed” back in February. A/C is good to have when it’s 90+ degrees.

money raining on man holding umbrellaWhat do the ubiquitous “they” say — when it rains it pours? Consider me drenched already.

So, what to do? Run for cover, find someplace dirt cheap to live, hope that major expenses are behind me. And start making money.

And so yesterday, I asked Gary about his experiences working for Amazon — they hire RVers for the Christmas season. He’s done it for several years. And I navigated to the Workamping for Amazon CamperForce website.

But, even as I clicked my way through the online application, it didn’t feel right. I withdrew my application halfway through the process. Nevertheless, I signed up for a free jobinar on the CamperForce program for June 14, Teri’s birthday, Flag Day.  Dad used to tell Teri that people flew the American Flag just for her.

So, Amazon is out. What’s “in”?

What does my heart say?

– Work on your book
– Continue to teach yoga
– Post more of your t-shirt designs

And so that is what I will do.

In the past, I’ve avoided saying “I can’t afford it.”  As we all know, we can afford to do what we want to do. And, often, as in the case of my yoga teacher training, when we’re on the right track the money magically appears to supports us. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience.

I don’t want money dictating my life.

Let it pour.

Liz CarmelIt’s only money


Liz Carmel Death, Family, Maintenance & repairs, Money, New Mexico

No somewhere over the rainbow for us, at least not this month (Rainbow bound).

The good news — the engine overheating on ascending grades (1907.80) was likely caused by a totally gunked-up radiator. Mike at E & M Auto Repair on Pine Street blew out the radiator from all angles and sent me on a test drive out towards Adobe Deli.

“There’s a slight grade on the way,” he said, “Lay on the throttle as you go up — it’s steeper coming west — and watch the temperature.”

Done and done. The highest the temperature got was between 175°F and 200°F. One problem fixed.

Which still leaves cracked exhaust manifolds, a leaking air bag, and a turbo oil supply line to replace. After waiting a few days to hear back from Kenny at E & M, I called.

“What’s the word on the parts?”, I asked.

“I’ve called a couple of my suppliers and haven’t heard back from them,” Kenny replied. “I can’t get a straight answer.”

Kenny and I decided that I would order the parts. Which left another quandary — which parts would come from Spartan, the chassis manufacturer, and which would come Cummins, the engine manufacturer.

I thought I had it all figured out and parts ordered from the right place until I took another look at the part numbers on Rincon Truck Center’s estimate. It looked like Cummins part numbers began with the number “3.” But I had ordered the exhaust manifolds — part numbers 3937477 and 3943841 — from Spartan. Which explained the mark-up.

And I had forgotten that I was a Cummins Power Club member which entitles me to a 10-percent discount on parts.

So I’ll be back on the phone first thing Monday morning with Matthew at Spartan and Ivan at Cummins in El Paso to get it all worked out.


We’ve been on the road for three years.

About 2 PM on Sunday, May 5, 2013, Pegasus et al headed out of the Northern Virginia suburbs of D.C. heading west.  I eased 50-plus feet of vehicles through the narrow streets of a Fairfax neighborhood, taking my time to get by cars parked on either side of the curvy road.

Once on I-66 heading towards the Beltway, I felt more comfortable but still like I had swallowed a hive of pissed off wasps. I merged left onto I-270 north, REO Speedwagon’s “Time for Me to Fly” playing on the radio:

Time for me to fly
Oh, I’ve got to set myself free
And that’s just how it’s got to be
I know it hurts to say goodbye
But it’s time for me to fly

My home of 25 years faded in the rear view camera on Pegasus’s ample beige dash.

Fast forward three years to May 2016. What has happened in those 36 months? A lot.

  • Several family members died: Mom, August, Dawn, Carol, and Sue (“Dear Sue”).
  • I became a great aunt twice.
  • I discovered that living full-time in a motorhome isn’t a mode of transportation, it’s a lifestyle.
  • I’m not a tourist — never have been — just ask my sister Cathy about my five minutes in St. Peter’s Basilica.
  • I learned with the help of the husband of fellow yoga teacher trainee Parul, that “home” (“When I think of home”) isn’t about where the best weather is — it’s about relationships. Yes, I am a bit slow at times.

Which brings me back to Deming, New Mexico. I have friends here, the area is familiar, and there’s wine and margaritas.  I’m OK here.

And when it’s time to leave, I’ll be OK there too.

And OK is good.

It’s all part of the journey.

Journey on Dear Reader.

Liz CarmelDeming-bound

Rainbow bound

Liz Carmel Colorado, Maintenance & repairs, Money, Music, NaNoWriMo, New Mexico, Writing, Yoga


I’ve been in Deming, New Mexico for two weeks now reconnecting with old friends over margaritas, teaching and practicing yoga, working, cleaning, and writing.

I teach yoga on Wednesdays and Saturdays to a dedicated quartet; designed and launched the LoW-HI RV Ranch website; and spring cleaned.  Roan, the carpet, couch, two chairs, and car got much-needed scrubbings.  My teeth are next in line; a cleaning in Palomas, Mexico costs $35.

And I sold a few items: a too-big-for-my-hands acoustic guitar and a too-big-for-my-coach 45” Visio TV I’ve been hauling around. I still want to sing so a small keyboard may be in my future.  Anyone in the market for a gently-used red Kenmore Progressive canister HEPA Vacuum?

I started Writing the Memoir 101, an online workshop through Writer’s Digest University. I wrote 53,563 words of a very rough first draft during National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) in November 2014. But the words are disjointed, the structure nebulous, the theme nonexistent. The assignments and deadlines will force me to focus.

Assignment 1: A narrative summary of the memoir you want to write, including its scope, its structure, its tone, its audience, its theme, why you want to write it, why now, and what your plans are for the book when it’s completed (500 words).

Assignment 2: The Cast of Characters for your story, with a brief description of each one’s relationship to the central character and role in the story (maximum 500 words); a brief scene that reveals your memoir’s setting (500 words).

And I’m waiting to take Pegasus back to the shop — two shops to be exact. Jimmy’s RV Repair on May 10 to address a short list of miscellaneous repairs that shouldn’t be too costly or involved. Then, E & M Auto Repair on May 16 to fix what’s causing the engine to overheat and to repair the cracked exhaust manifolds.

Summer in Deming where daytime temperatures spike into the upper 90s does not appeal. But where to go when you have no place to be? I sent an email to a few full-time RVing friends who would know:

I’m looking for someplace to spend the next several months. The ideal place would be inexpensive, in a rural area but close enough to stores, and in a temperate climate.

Beverley urged me to head up:

No matter where you go, this is supposed to be a hot summer. Going UP in altitude is your best bet, or head for the Pacific Northwest and get on the beach or near the beach.

Ron responded as I knew he would: South Fork, Colorado — 500 miles north and 4,000 feet up from Deming. Ron’s been spending summers in South Fork for 17 years.

South Fork it is. Assuming all goes well at the shops, Pegasus et al will be rainbow bound on May 22.

Rainbow Lodge & RV Park in South Fork, CO is located about 500 miles north and 4,000 feet up from LoW-HI RV Ranch in Deming, NM.

Rainbow Lodge & RV Park in South Fork, CO is located about 500 miles north and 4,000 feet up from LoW-HI RV Ranch in Deming, NM.

Liz CarmelRainbow bound


Liz Carmel Arizona, California, Indiana, Maintenance & repairs, Money, New Mexico

Continued from “Children and fools”

I just dropped $1907.80 and now this?

Roan looked up from his preferred traveling spot on the floor between the driver and passenger seats. “Check engine” light on. Piercing buzzer. Not unfamiliar sounds or sights. But this time a small red light on the engine temperature gauge joined the party.

Earlier that morning, I left Rincon Truck Center in San Clemente, California, beginning the 680-mile drive east to LoW-HI RV Ranch in Deming, New Mexico. It felt good to be on the road again, again.

But less than two hours in, as we climbed a long 6-8% grade into the mountains of eastern San Diego County, the check engine light went on. I glanced down — the red engine temperature light indicated a temperature of over 250°F.

Watching the gauges

Watching the gauges

I pulled over on the narrow right shoulder on a desolate stretch of I-8. No tow trucks here. I turned off the engine, turned on the hazard lights, grabbed the phone, and walked to the back of the coach. Neon pink coolant spewed out of the top of the plastic reservoir onto the asphalt. At least it wasn’t hydraulic fluid.

Rincon and I did some terse troubleshooting talking temperatures and hoses and RPMs.  They said the only thing they could think of was that the fan wasn’t putting out enough RPMs.  They couldn’t check because they don’t have a Dyno.

And so I paid $1907.80 for an incomplete job?

Rincon had diagnosed two problems:  the coolant temperature was getting too high which they traced back to a leaking fan motor and empty hydraulic reservoir. And the exhaust manifolds were cracked.

The cracked exhaust manifolds were an old problem, first identified in October 2013 at a Cummins shop in Mishawaka, Indiana. Having just spent $792.14 to replace the fuel pump, I elected at the time not to spend an additional $759.26 on a non-critical repair.

Rincon quoted me a “worse case scenario” price of $1583.01 to repair or replace the cracked exhaust manifolds. No thanks. I made an appointment with E & M Auto Repair in Deming for May 16. The hourly labor rate was $50 cheaper.

The cracked exhaust manifolds could and would wait. The fan motor could not.

Thanks to helpful folks on the iRV2 Forums, I learned a lot about Pegasus’s ISC-350 Cummins engine and saved a couple of hundred bucks by buying the fan motor directly from RV Chassis Parts. Rincon would have ordered the motor from the same place, tacking on a 54-percent markup in the process. Yes, I know — Southern California is expensive.

Four days and $1907.80 later, the fan motor was replaced, four gallons of hydraulic fluid poured into the bone dry reservoir with the extra presented to me in a five-gallon electric blue bucket, the engine cleaned, and we were back on the road.

The engine overheated again in Texas Canyon, Arizona and on a lesser grade east of that. Each time, I canceled cruise control, tapped the six-speed Allison automatic transmission down to first gear, dropped my speed to 40-45 mph until the red light blinked off, and continued limping east.

Liz Carmel$1907.80