Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 2013 - Busy

We headed south for Overton, Nevada right after Thanksgiving day.  We'd planned on heading south after Thanksgiving and then the weather report showed a serious week of cold weather heading across Montana so we put the spurs to the Cherokee and pointed it south!  We managed to stay ahead of the front and missed the snow and most of the biting, sub-zero cold that accompanied it.  Even then we weren't out of the woods completely.  It's still winter in southern Nevada and we had some cold nights to contend with.  This is our shakedown time with the motorhome.  We had no way to try out the amenities it had while it was parked at home because we couldn't fill the propane tank or water tanks.  We'd bought it on the assurances from the seller that "everything worked the last time that they used it."  That's the last time I'll ever do that again.  We learned that the refrigerator didn't work nor did the furnace and while the stove top burners worked well the oven did not.  The microwave works great which was good since we ended up using it when we needed an "oven" (even though a microwave is a poor substitute for a real oven).

Then came the water ... it has some leaks in the water lines that will need fixed.  Of course I'll have to disassemble part of the motorhome to get at them and like many water leaks I'll have to fix the obvious leaks first then try it with water again to find the next place(s) it leaks.  In the meantime I'm short on tools and getting even shorter on patience.

Meanwhile we have no furnace and the nights were dipping into the 20's.  We bundled up for sleeping.  We all sleep in the same bedroom and by closing the door on it we kept it about ten degrees warmer than the outside temperature.  It was a lot like camping out with a hard sided tent.

We purchased a couple of electric heaters to keep warm in the evenings and ran the generator to power them.  I had to put new fuses in most of the 12 volt circuits but overall the wiring seems to be mostly good in the motorhome.  We did learn that it will trip the main breaker if you try to run two, 1500 watt, electric heaters so we ran one through the wiring system and the other through an extension cord directly to the generator.  Gasoline was getting expensive so we purchased a portable propane heater.  It's not recommended for indoor use but we cracked a nearby window, put new batteries in the smoke/CO2 alarm and ran it indoors anyway.  That cut our gasoline bill in half
but now we were burning propane.  At least the propane was relatively quiet! 

We didn't have room to bring any solar panels with us this trip so we used a small battery charger to keep the auxiliary batteries charged up.  That way we could get power from them using an inverter so that we could run our notebook computers and Scott could watch his DVD's. 

Motorhomes evidently have very little insulation.  We decided that they were great as long as it didn't get too cold and you were parked where you could hook up to water, sewer and electricity.   We were spoiled by our "U-Haul converted to camper" with it's heavy insulation and wood heating stove!  We plan on keeping this one but we also plan on doing some modifications to make it a little more self-sustaining.  We'll keep you posted as we do.

In the meantime we still had time for some fun stuff during the relatively warm and sunny days.

Note the short sleeves and clear skies!  A welcome change from our Montana winter!

Sunrise from our camping spot.

Scott is mobile!  We bought him a small electric car to play with.  Charging it is a challenge we meet by taking it with us as we drive around.  We plug an inverter into the cigarette lighter socket then charge the his toy car's battery while driving.

The sights on one of our drives in the backcountry.

Ice along a small stream.

Lake Mead, Scott and Odie

We watched a parade in Boulder City with a friend that lives there.  It was a frosty evening!

Our power plant!  We wore it out on this trip.  It was taken in trade and had a lot of hours on it when we got it but it worked pretty hard powering the electric heaters and the motor was making some bad sounds when we headed back for Montana.

Quail that congregated near the motorhome.

They weren't happy about the two roadrunners showing up!
We had to cut our time there short for some things happening back in Montana so we headed back north in early December.  The main item on our docket was a court date concerning Scott.  Last spring his parents asked if we'd adopt him so we began the paperwork in early November.  (We wanted them to be absolutely sure this is what they wanted so we waited a few months to get things started.)  The court date was in December so we went north once more.  Everything went well.  The judge waived the 6 month waiting/trial period since we'd already had him over two years and we'd had legal guardianship most of that time as well.  He also waived the social services evaluations and counseling since it was a family adoption and we'd already had him so long.  Now, with about a thousand dollars less in our pocket, we have a new son.  We've been joking about making a country western song about the whole situation since (legally) his mom is now his sister and his dad is now his brother-in-law and his grandparents are his parents and his cousins are now nieces and nephews and his aunts and uncles are now his brothers and sisters ...!
Since we were already back we stayed for Christmas and beyond.  Christmas was good.  We couldn't get everyone together at once (there's 24 when you count everyone related by blood or marriage) but we did manage to spend time with everyone over a two day period.
Now we have an appointment with an accountant to talk about taxes.  We had a very good year financially so after consulting with our son who's had a successful business for several years now he talked us into going to his accountant for tax advice.  The appointment's tomorrow and involves terms I'm not the least familiar with but if it will save us from paying a few thousand dollars in taxes I'm all ears.
After that is finished we plan on heading back to Nevada for the rest of the winter.
Of course we've also been writing during this time.  Susan just published another one and I'm getting closer to finishing my next one.  I needed more photos so my camera has been a bit busy as well.  One of the neat things about writing is that you get to buy lots of new toys then write them off as a business expense.   
We'll keep you posted!
 We wish you all the best in the coming year!