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December 26, 2006: This is a travel day toward Las Vegas. We have show tickets for the evening of 12/28. In the way we finally stopped to take a photo of the mighty Saguaro cactus which is found only in the desert of Arizona and Mexico. We saw them in several areas of Arizona as we have traveled around the state. Saguaro Cactus, tallest in the US
Here was a surprise. This is a dead Saguaro. These look like very strong hiking sticks inside what used to be the trunk of the Saguaro. Apparently these provided the trunk strength and perhaps the tubes to bring water into the top of the cactus.
After arriving at Cattail Cove State Park (below) we took ourselves for a hike around the area. We found this narrow crevice in the local sandstone where flood waters have cut this path in the stone. It was just wide enough for us to squeeze between the rocks. Hiking in a crevice
Our campsite at Cattail State Park on the east shore of Lake Havasu
Hard to photograph Roadrunner We saw, for the first time, the Roadrunner. This bird is curious but very fast and difficult to photograph.
December 27, 2006: On the way to Las Vegas ... here's the London Bridge found in Lake Havasu City. Great breakfast at Juicy's Cafe (best breakfast in LHC). We didn't make it to Las Vegas, instead, we were drawn to Lake Mead and ended up camping right on the shore at Boulder Beach. London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
The new Highway 93 December 28, 2006: This is the morning of the day we will attend a performance of KA. The performance begins at 6:30 pm so we took ourselves and Morgan to view the Hoover Dam. On the way we saw the incredible construction project of the new bridge to support Highway 93 over the Colorado River. This will replace the old highway which takes the driver directly over the Hoover Dam. There is a beautiful parking garage at the dam to allow visitors to walk the dam. Unfortunately, they have strict rules, NO DOGS on the dam and no dogs left in vehicles.
Hoover Dam
The reason we are in Las Vegas

We did the best we could to take photos and leave.

We are in Las Vegas to see KA. It was an incredible show performed on two stages which were move hydraulically to many different positions. The show contained many acrobatic performances and dances and is something beyond anything I've seen before combining music, dancing, acrobatics following a simple storyline. While waiting for the show, we visited the MGM Grand, Tropicana, New York New York and Excalibur Casinos and we didn't gamble a penny. The MGM parking garage was very handy and easy to access and exit.

The location of KA and the parking garage we used.
Why most are in Las Vegas
Morgan finds a Joshua Tree December 29, 2006: After a late start (if there is such a thing while on a vacation), we traveled toward Boulder City in search of a laundromat. We found diesel but no laundromat and decided to try the Escapees park in Pahrump, Nevada. We wanted to visit that park anyway as a potential place to put our names on their waiting list. On the way, Morgan found a Joshua Tree so I had to take her photo next to the tree. Pahrump turned out to be a much larger city than I had thought. It was spread across a large valley and had many major shopping areas. We did stop and talk with the nice folks at the "Pair-a-Dice" Escapees park. I told the nice lady that we really only wanted to use the laundromat. She said the laundromat

was for register guests only. I asked about registering for the boondock area which was free for the first night. We could do that she said, they would be happy to have us stay. I said (being honest), "as soon as we are done with the laundry, we'd be on our way". She was not happy with that answer. I suggested that she give me directions to a laundromat since we were new to the city. She very carefully drew us a map to a laundromat. The park looked nice, clean, all gravel except for a few concrete pads. We chose to go to Wal-Mart instead and Gwen bought the few things she needed for the next couple of days so we didn't have to do the laundry. You'll have to tell me what you think, should I have just registered for the boondock area, then left when the laundry was done without saying anything? I'd hate for our membership number to be "blacklisted" at these parks.

We did finally make it to Death Valley just as the sun was setting behind the mountains. We decided to stay the night in Furnace Creek and do some exploring tomorrow morning.

We've made it to Death Valley
Death Valley from the valley floor
Traveling through the valley December 30, 2006: After spending the morning viewing the Death Valley Museum and visiting with Mike at the Sunset Campground, we were on our way through the valley. This is the best time to be traveling through Death Valley. The temperature was in the mid-60's but still felt very warm in the direct sunlight. The climb out of Death Valley was steep with many switchbacks. You can see the valley in the distance, below.
Steep climbing out of the valley toward Bishop The valley in the distance.
We are driving toward US395 and Bishop, California with the intention of staying the night just north of Bishop. The Sierra Nevada Mountain come into view with Mt. Whitney, tallest mountain in the lower US in view ahead. After passing through Lone Pine and then Independence, we were within 4 miles of Big Pine with another of the The California Sierra Nevada Mountains come into view.
Les Schwab trailer tires blew out. Again, there is no reason. I've always double checked the pressure, tires are not heating up, road is smooth. I can only think these are bad tires. I had to call 911 to get assistance since I don't have a spare ... my spare is the first blowout I'm taking back to Les Schwab. I did call my new car club, Continental Car Club, to get help from their assistance line first.
they were of no help. 911 connected me to "Bob" in Bishop (about 16 miles distant). Bob could only come get the rim, return to Bishop to replace the tire then bring the tire back to the trailer. Bob did give me the name of two tire dealers in Bishop who could replace the tire at the location. The first had a broken truck and the second had surgery the day before and couldn't move his body.
I returned the call to Bob who gave me a number for a tire dealer in Lone Pine. About an hour later, Casey showed up and in ten minutes, had the tire replace and the trailer ready to roll again. The fee amounted to more than $500. I'm hoping the "Continental Car Club" will pick up at least half. During our wait time, I called Les Schwab in Grants Pass to ask how I can get back to Oregon on these tires since I still have two left. They had no explanation of the failing tires but said they would replace all four when I returned. We agreed to lower the pressure to 100 even though the sidewall had 110 printed on the side. We drove on to Bishop for dinner then drove until 9 pm when we pulled off US395 onto what turned out to be a one lane, little used gravel road for the night.
December 31, 2006: New Years eve day found us parked on a one lane road which we could not see the night before. We heard no traffic during the night even though we were not too far from US395 as you can see below. I don't think anyone used our little one lane road during the night but just in case I had set our
reflectors up against the steps. This was much different than Arizona with the morning low temperature at 19 degrees. It should be since we are on the eastern side of the Sierras and at 7,500 feet. Still, we kept relatively warm in our trailer. All the sage is covered with frost. This is a travel day to Reno, Nevada.
January 1, 2007: We have a special treat during our Arizona trip to visit with my son Ben and his wife Kim in Reno for New Years Eve and New Years Day. My other two children are also visiting Ben. From the left is son Joe and his girlfriend Kim, kneeling is daughter Mindy with Ben's dog Jackson, Ben's wife Kim, then Ben, Dale (myself) and Gwen, followed by Morgan. I can't believe we played games on New Years Eve and actually enjoyed them. I thought Gwen was the only game player but this night proved me wrong. Everyone got "loot" for Christmas including Gwen and I.
Overlooking Reno Nevada
January 2, 2007: We are camped at the Gold Ranch Casino and RV Resort in Verdi, Nevada while visiting my son and daughter. Today was a special day to visit with Mindy and Gunnar (her dog). We had lunch in downtown Truckee, California where Mindy lives. If you click the Reno photo above, the photo will be enlarged.
January 3, 2007: Today was a travel day leaving Verdi, Nevada with a goal to get as far as we can before the bad weather closes in. The weatherman is predicting terrible weather on Thursday. We started at 8am and "held our breath" hoping the remaining two Les Schwab tires would last until Susanville, 82 miles from Reno. Les Schwab in Susanville
Tom does expert installation We pulled into Les Schwab at 10am and agreed on an upgrade tire to replace the first blowout and put the spare tire back into it's place under the trailer. Tom did the service, putting a new TOYO tire on the rim then putting the spare back in place. I also asked Tom to balance the Bridgestone tire which was mounted on the road by Casey. Tom found that the valve stem on the Bridgestone wheel was broken and about to cause a serious problem.

Now I am back on the road with the spare back in it's place, an upgraded Bridgestone and TOYO tire and two of the original tires. I plan to replace the two original tires with TOYO tires but will wait until I reach Oregon so I don't have to pay sales tax. So what adjustment did Les Schwab in Susanville give me for the tire blowout? The TOYO tire was $199 plus mount and balance. The original tire was $156 plus mount and balance. It cost me $50 which included the new tire, put the spare into place, new stems for the TOYO and Bridgestone tires and balance for both. I've had the tires for exactly 2 years and was given 100% credit on the return. I feel pretty good about this support. Let's see what happens when I return the other two and the second blowout. Hopefully, I'll get credit for all three tires which will help to pay for the Bridgestone tire.

As you can see below, we came across snow on Highway 89 between Burney Falls and Mt. Shasta City. The snow is heavy enough to cause the rear wheels to slip even with 2,500 lbs. pin weight. I put the truck into four-wheel drive which solved the problem. Once we reached Interstate 5, the road was wet but no snow. Now we found ourselves in Oregon one day before we really wanted to return. We chose to drive on to Canyonville to stay at the new RV Resort at the Seven Feathers Casino, then return to Grants Pass tomorrow. This was the longest travel day of our one month trip, 8am to 6pm with two hours in Susanville for the tire exchange. A total of 384 miles.

A fitting end to a vacation in Arizona
January 4, 2007: The last day of our month long trip to Arizona found us in the hot tub of the Seven Feathers RV Resort in Canyonville, Oregon. We had to give this a try before breakfast. After getting 3 cents off per gallon of diesel using our new "Players Cards" we drove south to Grants Pass to visit the Les Schwab tire company who sold us the original 4 trailer tires. Justin (on the left) and Pete (on the right) The hot tub at Seven Feathers RV Resort
Justin replaces the valve stems. Pete installs the new TOYO tires.
replaced the two tires remaining on the trailer with two new TOYO tires. Now I have the one Bridgestone tire provided by Casey from Lone Pine and one TOYO coming from Les Schwab in Susanville and two TOYO tires coming from Les Schwab in Grants Pass. I still have the General tire as the spare. Grants Pass Les Schwab gave me 100% trade in on all three tires I returned (one blown and two removed). Remember, these tires are $199 each so about $44 more than the original tires. They calculated they owed me about $93 which I gladly accepted and will apply toward the cost of the Bridgestone tire. I don't see how they could have supported their product better than this.
back at Applegate Mobile Park

After the tire change and grocery shopping I took the trailer to the weigh scales to be sure the trailer is not overloaded and causing the tire problem. The new tires are rated at 3,042 lbs max weight. Here is what I learned. The total weight on the two trailer axles is 10,700 lbs. The front axle weight is 4,900 lbs and rear axle is 5,360 lbs (I know, this does not total 10,700 so must assume having one axle on the scale and one off the scale is not an exact method of knowing the axle weight). I'm going to "interpolate" and say the front axle actual weight is 5110 lbs and the rear axle is 5,590. In both cases, the axle weight is well under the 6,082 lbs. maximum. Of course, a better method is to weigh each individual wheel but I don't trust this scale to do this accurately. This method satisfies me. Now for the weight of the entire trailer. The rear wheels of the truck weigh 7,750 lbs., a previous empty truck weight was 3,350 lbs but I'm adding (conservatively) another 100 lbs because I'm hauling a generator and some other items not previously weighed. So 7,750 - 3,450 = 4,300 lb pin weight. That's much more than I thought we had (must be Gwen's sweatshirts, Ha!). So the trailer weighs 10,700 + 4,300 = 15,000 lbs. As it turns out the GVWR for this trailer is 15,000 lbs so our rule of throwing two things out for every item brought into the trailer is a good one. Now, what about the truck. The GVWR for the truck is 12,500 lbs. The front wheels weigh 4,360 lbs and the rear wheels (when towing) are 7750 lbs. equals 12,110 lbs. I'd say we need to get serious about eliminating weight. Anyway, the popping tires were not overloaded.

February 22, 2007: Update concerning the Continental Car Club roadside service insurance. I have received a check from CCC for the full amount of the roadside service minus the cost of the tire. It took them a while to process and two phone calls asking about their progress but the has finally arrived.

January 6, 2007: Gwen has finished our final accounting for the Arizona trip. This is what we have learned:
Beginning night: December 8 Ending night: January 3 Total nights: 27
Miles driven: 3,664 Diesel: $1,061.72 $.29 per mile
Camping Fees: $425.23 Propane: $83.79 Misc. Fees: $41
Grand Canyon Train: $300 KA: $200 Total Entertainment: $500
Restaurant and Groceries: $490.00 Total: $2,601.74
US 395 in south of Carson City next to the Walker River Frost at our campsite just south of Lee Vining on US395
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