Garden District

I need a GPS for the bike, but I’ll get back to that.

New Orleans, what a great place. On my first trip into the city I took the Canal Street Ferry from Algiers Point to Canal Street. The ferry is free, but no longer takes vehicles – passengers only. 20131216_114849_Morgan St

New Orleans from the Canal Street Ferry on the Mississippi River
New Orleans from the Canal Street Ferry on the Mississippi River

As soon as you step onto Canal Street you know you’re in a different world. The energy. The scents – fine food, fine cigars and pot pull you in. After warming up with a little gumbo, I took the St. Charles streetcar into the Garden District for a foot tour of the district and the cemetery.

Tombs at Lafayette Cemetery One
Tombs at Lafayette Cemetery One
Leaving beer for the jazz great
Leaving beer for the jazz great
Former home of Anne Rice in the Garden District
Former home of Anne Rice in the Garden District

I’ve got photos of 30+ homes, including the famous – Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, the Mannings, Nic Cage, but damn if I know which is which.

The famous Commander's Palace in the Garden District. Apparently, I needed better attire to dine here.
The famous Commander’s Palace in the Garden District. Apparently, I needed better attire to dine here.

I grabbed a shrimp po boy and a cigar, Romeo y Julietta #4, back along Canal Street, then headed back to camp.

A GPS Would be Nice

Back on the other side of the river I headed back to camp. Now it’s 16 turns and about 12 miles back to the state park, but two turns in I found myself on a bridge back across the river and wound up in the central business district – a maze of one way streets, closed streets, high  rises, and construction. It took about half an hour and 4 stops to check my phone for directions to make it back to the bridge and then back across the Mississippi.

I’ve grown dependent on being able to use the phone GPS in an unfamiliar place. Not being able to do that on the bike can be tough.

 

First 100 Days

Well, it’s actually 105 days, but still it seems like a good time to take a look at the start of the journey.

What’s Working

Fun. I’m having a great time, and I’ve really enjoyed most of the places I’ve been. The northern California and Oregon coast stops are my favorites so far. Even in San Antonio, where I landed during freezing rain, froze my water hose and ran out of propane, I still managed a visit to the Alamo and the River Walk.

Space. I’ll admit I was a little concerned that I’d start to feel claustrophobic living in the RV full time, but I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, when it’s time to get a new motorhome I’m sure I’ll opt for something smaller and more nimble.

Communications. Verizon 4gLTE rocks and has had me covered everywhere. I’m using a MiFi device from Millenicom with a 20gb/month limit that I haven’t gotten close to yet. When I want to watch TV I’ve got Dish network.

Motorcycle. The late SOA and now my BMW C650GT add a lot of fun to just getting around town. The only time I’ve really needed a car, I already had one (I’d rented a car to shop for a new bike).

Needs Improvement

Dog. Keira’s behavior when I leave her in the RV has been discussed several times. It looks like we’re at $1,900 in damages so far. The latest is breaking my backup monitor which she broke off the dash mount last night. That does not count anything I’ve spent on calming or training.

Repairs. I’ve spent more on repairs than I’ve budgeted. The $590 fuse put me over the top for the quarter. Since then I’ve also replaced the chassis (starter) batteries, and have either a bad slide out controller, bad house batteries or both that need to be addressed.  None of this counts the as yet unrepaired dog related damages.

Budget. Even taking out repair cost, I’m over budget by 15%. I’ve spent more on fuel than expected and I neglected to budget for propane. There’s also the amortized cost of buying a new motorcycle.

Trailer. Trailer number 2, a Kendon SRL, is ideal for someone who uses the trailer occasionally and needs to store it in as little space as possible.  That’s not me. 80% of the time it takes to set up after arrival or prepare for departure is trailer. It has eBay or Craig’s List in its immediate future.

Having a Cold One in Texas

A cold one in Texas
A cold one in Texas
Yes, that too. But seriously, it’s cold here in San Antonio. Freezing rain overnight, low 30s, light rain and wind this morning. Winter storm Cleon (when did we start naming storms, I thought that was just for hurricanes) has knocked out power for 200,000 in Dallas, 250 miles north of here. Looks like it will be too treacherous to travel until, at least, Monday. Maybe I’ll see how the River Walk looks with a little ice.

San Antonio

Las Cruses

Las Cruses (“The Crosses”) was named for the crossing of the north/south and east/west trails here. Today its the cross roads of I-25 and I-10. An area of the city, Mesilla, was once the capital of Arizona and New Mexico.

Mesilla plaza a national historic landmark.
Mesilla plaza a national historic landmark.
Basilica of San Albino
Basilica of San Albino
Famous La Posta restaurant. Very nice inside and the New Mexico cuisine was excellent.
Famous La Posta restaurant. Very nice inside and the New Mexico cuisine was excellent.
Former capital of Arizona and New Mexico now sells Billy the Kid trinkets made in China.
Former capital of Arizona and New Mexico now sells Billy the Kid trinkets made in China.

I’ll be continuing east in the morning.

Old Dog, New Tricks

I’ve spent the last two weeks in Tucson working with Keira and our new training aid, the Treat & Train.

The Treat & Train (formerly Manners Minder) allows you to dispense a treat by remote control from up to 100 feet away. The idea is that eventually I’ll be able to reward her for lying down calmly inside the RV while I’m outside and condition her that my leaving is good.

Of course it didn’t start off smooth. It took 3 days before she would take a treat that I put in the machine’s bowl by hand. Then, the first time I had the machine dispense a treat (there’s a little motor noise) she bolted and hid in her crate, shaking, for 30 minutes. It didn’t get any better over the next two days.

Not wanting to give up I started a counter conditioning program. Basically, starting with the machine as far away as possible and sitting with Keira on a leash, I remotely triggered the Treat & Train while putting a treat directly in her mouth (here is a video of someone who actually knows what she is doing counter conditioning an aggressive dog – Dr. Sophia Yin Counter Conditioning ). Each session we got closer to the TnT. After 18 one minute sessions over three days Keira now loves the TnT.

I’m working through all the basic skills training that comes in the excellent manual and DVD first to give Keira a good foundation and she’s doing very well. She especially loves to “target.”  So, you can teach an old dog new tricks. After that I’ll work on counter conditioning all her departure triggers (keys, shoes, door, motorcycle starting, riding away). It’ll be a long term project, but I think it will work and the payoff is big.

Time to head east.

Flagstaff NAU Visit

I made it to Flagstaff before the snow and had a great two day visit with Kylee. The dorm room looks great – they have a lot more space than they did move-in weekend. I also got to ride some mountain roads on the new bike. Weather was beautiful, highs in the low 60s and overnight lows in the high 20s.

When I went to leave the RV would not start. I cranked it long enough to get a dead battery also.  My roadside assistance sent out an actual mobile diesel mechanic from Freightliner. He worked on site for about two hours. None of the theories worked (e.g. clogged fuel filter – diesel fuel can gel in cold weather – WTF???). No codes in the computer. Glow plugs hot. Anyway I wound up getting towed to the Freightliner service center.

Waiting in the lounge with the truckers and other RVers was fun and a little terrifying. Great stories of the road and the truckers are amazingly tech savvy.  On the other hand, some of the truckers waiting had already been there a week.

At the end of the day the service consultant told me the ECM (the engine control module, the computer) was not responding. They would take it out and bench test it in the morning. I spent the night at a motel and when I returned in the morning they told me the ECM had tested OK on the bench. An hour later they told me they found an inline fuse, spec’ed for 20 amps, that had been replaced some time in the past by a 10 amp auto reset circuit breaker. They put a 20 amp fuse in and the engine started. Parts $0.61, labor $590.00 and I’m on my way.

Mobile Again

After 25 days, the repair on the RV is finally done and I’m out of Bakersfield. There’s probably nothing wrong with Bakersfield, but I really only wanted to spend a day.

Why so long? Camping World’s collision center repaired the damage I caused and the damage they caused in two days.  The leveling jack, however, had to be ordered and took 10 days to come in. When it arrived it was the wrong part so we had to wait another 12 days. The actual repair took 2 hours.

I was worried about the dog, so I kept this drive short going only to Barstow. Keira was actually fine on the drive, sleeping in her hutch the whole way. We’ll move on in the morning.

New Ride

My new 2013 BMW C650GT
My new 2013 BMW C650GT

On Tuesday (10/29) I drove down to LA to check out some bikes for sale. Ultimately I bought this BMW C650GT at New Century BMW.  Of course, I’d driven the rental car there so I couldn’t bring it back with me.  On Thursday, with a bit of logistics (drop Keira off at daycare, take a bus to LA, taxi to the dealer) I was back to pick up the bike.  They spent a few minutes going over the controls and gauges with me, like you’d expect on any new vehicle and I was on my way back to Bakersfield.  Yes I’m still stuck in Bakersfield.

It’s a 110 mile ride, 90 of which is freeway, so in less than 2 hours I was back at the RV park.  I don’t know of any mountain roads near here, so I just rode around the city for a few more hours.

Best Bakersfield day by a long shot.

Hound of the Bakersfields

Still chillin’ here in Bakersfield.  Latest word on the leveling jack is that it should arrive at Camping World Friday or Monday.  Still a while before I can run.

Transportation

Camping World gave me a check for SOA.  I’ve been to all of the motorcycle dealers in town (both of ’em) and followed up on  all the Craigslist adds (one).  I rode a BMW C650GT and a Honda Gold Wing GL1800, both good rides, but the colors (bright red and Mountain Dew yellow, respectively), well I just couldn’t.

At this point I’m still getting around in the Chevy Spark I rented from Enterprise.  It appears to have a top speed of 60 MPH, maybe a safety feature.

CW is still working on the trailer (bent axle, bent wheel chock), and is waiting for the replacement ladder to come in to finish up the  body work on the RV.

Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog, Cryin’ all the Time

Many thanks to those with suggestions for Keira’s separation anxiety, but so far there is no effect.  I’ve tried the Thundershirt, Remedy, Quiet Moments biscuits, benedryl, distracting food toys (e.g. kong).  Keira still goes into full alarm mode within seconds of me stepping outside and keeps it up no matter how long it takes.

Dash surfing. Yes she's overheating, but not because she's locked in a hot RV. A/C is on and it's 72 inside. She's exhausted from running full out, whining and howling for the last 10 minutes.
Dash surfing. Yes she’s overheating, but not because she’s locked in a hot RV. A/C is on and it’s 72 inside, 79 outside. She’s exhausted from running full out, whining and howling for the last 10 minutes.

I’m pretty worried about her.  I don’t know how much stress she can take.  I’m seeing doggie xanax in her future.