We moved into our new-to-us 2013 motorhome while we were still parked in the driveway at the house, so we had used everything except the shower. During our first week, camped at a full-hookups RV Park in Pinetop, AZ, we discovered that we couldn’t control the water temperature in the shower. We called a mobile repair place and they installed a new shower faucet, and, while they were there, they hung the smoke detector and recommended a great place for burgers.
After the week in Pinetop, we were rested, everything was working and we were ready spend some glorious and quiet time in the high desert of western New Mexico in Datil, pronounced Date-l, at a Bureau of Land Management area 140 miles south and east of Albuquerque. No water or electricity, so we had filled the fresh water tank with 20 gallons and knew that our solar panels could store enough energy for us to run the lights, the water pump, recharge our electronics, and anything else we needed. I had no ATT signal but Marika had a few bars with Verizon so we were able to check in with my Dad to tell him where we were.
It was only $5.00/night, and there was even free wifi at the main check-in booth with a bench out front so you could sit and get online. Our campsite was close enough to the building that we were able to get a signal in the RV if no one else was on.
It was so peaceful to be in the middle of nothing, to hear song birds and the wind in the juniper trees. We walked the nature trail, played stick at the vacant group campground, and Marika even baked cornbread in the RV oven to go with the chili that a neighbor at the previous campground had given us. One morning I sat in my camp chair under a piñon tree and read an entire cottage mystery.
We stayed two nights, then continued along Hwy 60 across the wide open desert toward Albuquerque. After only a few miles into the drive, the transmission pump for the car was beeping. The pump keeps the things lubricated in the engine so we can tow it with all four wheels on the ground. As soon as e reduced our speed it stopped. And then it didn’t beep at all.
We stopped at a repair place just to be sure, to check the car’s transmission fluid and all looked fine, so off we went. No more beeping. Just a smooth and easy drive the rest of the way through the gorgeous open valleys with a panorama of fat clouds and blue sky.
We pulled into a dirt lot in Magdalena and made sandwiches, walked around with the dogs, and switched drivers. I drove the rest of the way to camp just north of Albuquerque along the Rio Grande where we pulled into the WRONG space number because I did not double check the reservation. No big deal, except that one of the leveling jacks was stuck in the almost down position, so we couldn’t move.
At first we thought there was something wrong with the hydraulic jack system, and we freaked out. But then, with a closer look, I could see that the foot of the jack was actually jammed between some rocks in the asphalt slab. And there was no way to move it under the weight of the RV.
Again, we called a mobile repair person and they came the next afternoon, jacked up the RV and dislodged the jack from its stuck position.
It seems that the kick-down jack was just stuck on the asphalt because there wasn’t enough clearance for it to drop all the way down. Because when the jacks were installed, the RV was empty, with no water, no stuff, no people, and now it is heavier and lower to the ground and the jacks need to be adjusted so they have a little more clearance to drop.
That’s all. Easy solution. No big repairs. Just a big service bill, but all is well again. And we made an appointment at a repair place in Albuquerque to check out the system and hopefully, raise the jacks a bit to give us more clearance.
One friend commented, “so maybe this is everything going wrong and things will be perfect again.”
To me, this is perfect. Because this is life. Things are bound to break, get stuck, not work the way you expect. The question is – how do you handle it? Do you get cranky, mad, self-deprecating, impatient with your partner, or can you find a way to distance yourself from the problem so that you can find a solution and move on.
Once we were able to breathe some space between what had happened, we were ready to enjoy the rest of the day. After a quick snack-lunch, we drove into Albuquerque to the REI so that I could get some new hiking shoes. We drove home on the back roads, through undeveloped stretches of high desert, with the Sandia Mountains towering to the east and the sky, so big and wide and blue all around us. We stopped at the Fiesta taco truck for nourishment, had some too-sweet ice cream for dessert, then headed back to camp to walk with the dogs.
The next day we enjoyed a lovely day tripping day: a stop at the Corrales Community Market for tangerine lip balm and blue corn tortillas, still steaming in the bag. Then a drive up into the Sandia Mountains to the Tinkertown Museum that showcases a single man’s wood carvings of miniature towns and scenes and circuses and so much more.
I had attempted to visit Tinkertown last year on my solo trip, but there was absolutely no parking for the RV, so I left. I was thrilled we were doing it on this trip. And together.
Marika loved it as much as me, pointing out the carved vultures perched on the roof and the random birds on the roof tops in the Western scene. We could have stayed much longer, but we were meeting a friend in Madrid (pronounced Má-drid), an abandoned coal mining town along the Turquoise Trail Scenic Highway that has been resurrected by artists. The three of us had a fun time catching up and checking out the local art.
The two-lane highway back to camp stretched across the open high-desert landscape, the wide sky filled with fat white clouds, and the foot-high grasses along the shoulder were blowing in the breeze.
That evening we took the dogs down to the Rio Grande for some free running and stick throwing and, as the sun went down, thousands of bats flew out from under the bridge where we were standing, and filled the air. Canadian geese flew higher in the sky, honking and flapping, and we just stood there, watching, in happy awe.