Sunday, February 26, 2017

Field to Feast

Field near Yuma
Yuma, AZ advertises itself as the sunniest city in the US.  It is probably true, but I wouldn’t
want to live there in the summer with 3 digit weather in the teens, or more.  Winter is great for tourism and also for agriculture.  I will get to the agriculture in a bit.  I wanted to start with the tourism.  There is a surprising number of things to do in Yuma.  On each trip we make through Yuma on our way back to Southern California we have partaken of the tourism bit.

I don’t know how much Roger covered on our first few trips but I know he didn’t cover the trip we made last fall.  With Betty’s guidance we made the short trip into Algodones, Mexico. And guess what we did? Yup we bought our medicines and paid about half of what we would have paid in the U.S.  We also bought a few tourist items and ate a delicious lunch there.

On our trip to take possession of the Forza we took a Field to Feast tour.  Yuma is the vegetable and lettuce capital of the U.S. in winter with the Salinas Valley in California being the same in the summer. Yuma takes advantage of its agricultural title by offering the Field to Feast tour of research fields that are part of the University of Arizona and the culinary skills of the students at the local community college.

Betty washing hands & doning gloves & hair net

First we had an excellent lecture by a University of Arizona professor that does animal poop research at the agricultural facility. Yup, you read it correctly, poop research. She referred to the lessons learned from the well known food borne illness case at Chipotle Grill. Now field workers must go through a highly regulated process of hand washing, gloving, donning disposable shoe covers, masks, hair nets and beard nets. The process is similar to what we used to do in order to perform office medical procedures. The buses transporting the migrant workers tow trailers with port-a-potties and washing stations.If animal poop is found then the UA professor is called to investigate and regulations require that no vegetable is picked within a five foot radius of the poop.  The professor found that the best way to sterilize the vegetables is with UV radiation, which Yuma gets plenty of.  Unfortunately that knowledge hasn’t made it into the regulations yet.  Our food is not irradiated because that is a highly unpopular procedure so instead food is wasted.  Well they do plow it under immediately to help fertilize the next crops.  A lot of money goes into scaring away any wild animals, including birds.  People are also not allowed anywhere near the fields.

After the lecture we road a farm worker’s truck over to the research field and picked vegetables for our lunch.  We also got to pick some for ourselves, but as we were travelling into California the next day we gave ours to Betty.  If you were city raised kids like Roger & myself you have no clue what most vegetables look like in the field so I am including pictures with the accompanying signs. However, I still don't think I could recognize lettuce versus Kale versus other vegetables.

Workers harvesting lettuce
After the field experience they took us on a narrated bus tour of the fields which finished at the community college.  The field laborers work very fast. For example with celery, they do everything from picking the celery, cutting off the inedible parts, putting them into the bags you buy them in, boxing them and putting the boxes on a truck to be hauled to market.

Solar panels cover the parking lot

The lunch was held at the community college where solar panels, like many other places in Yuma, covered the parking lot.  The lunch was very good, made, of course, with just picked vegetables.  I would love some of the recipes they used or concocted.

The next day we headed back into California and into a heavy rainstorm which we avoided until we got to Indio.  The back road from I 8 to Indio along the Salton Sea travelled through the Imperial Valley where California’s winter crops are grown.  It was a nice drive until we hit the rain.  But guess what?  There wasn’t any leak.  We lived in our “travel rig” until our new 5th wheel arrived.  But that is food for another story.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Drip, Drip, Drip

We were so happy to get the Monaco.  It was 45 feet long and 7 more feet to live in.  We loved the diesel engine because we didn’t have to get fuel every day.  We did have a challenge trying to find a station that we could get in and out of, especially if we were towing our car.  We had a trucker’s atlas because we couldn’t navigate some of the narrow, winding roads.  We were often limited to traveling the Interstates.  Not all campgrounds could handle a rig 45 feet long.  But the positives of the rig were really strong until…….the end of the drought.

Our first significant rainstorm was in Washington after we got back from Alaska.  The leak seemed to come near the front air conditioner so we took it to a nearby RV repair where cracks in the seals on the roof were resealed and the gasket around the front air conditioner was tightened down.  Yes, we had had an occasional leak in the roof before then & had taken it for repairs but then there was no more leaking for a while.  We had it looked at & “fixed” in South Dakota once and that seemed to work for a while.  We even learned how to tightened the seal ourselves, which also seemed to work, until the heavy rainstorms came this winter in California, signaling the end of the drought.  

We took the rig into to the trusted RV repair we always used when we lived in Redlands.  They made multiple repairs and even used a smoke test which seemed to indicate the leak was coming from the front air conditioner.  We replaced the front air conditioner. Then came another downpour and guess what?  It leaked again.  

Do we have anger towards the RV repair services?  No!  The source of leaks in RV’s are notoriously hard to identify.  But we couldn’t tolerate the problem anymore.  At the worst, we had up to 10 plastic containers out catching drips. Roger got up one night hearing a new drip, drip, drip sound and had to get another plastic container.  We needed to move on.

We did have anger, but it was directed towards the dealer that sold us the rig in the first place.  I had asked the salesman if there were any leaks and he indicated the Monaco was too good of a rig for that, or some such nonsense.  When we look back we both think he was hiding knowledge of a leak.  We should have had paid an expert to look at the rig before we bought it.  We knew better, but didn’t follow advice given in RV blogs and forums for buying a used rig.

So we decided that when replacing the Monaco we would buy new, not that buying new keeps one from having problems.  The quality control in building RVs isn’t very good. We have always liked the floorplans in Winnebago motorhomes so we drove to the only local dealer we could find, down in San Diego.  We wanted to buy a smaller rig for our summer travel so we weren’t so limited as to where we could go.  We did decide to get a diesel engine.  The dealer was able to give us a fair amount in trade in on the Monaco despite the leak, so that covered most of the loan.  We bought a 35.5 foot Forza 34T.  It has only 1 small bath but a great set up for watching TV.  There are 2 slide-outs, one on each side.

We were able to take out-of-state delivery in Yuma, AZ where we also visited Betty. But that is for another story.  By taking out-of-state delivery we are able to pay the fees in & register the rig in South Dakota, which is our domicile, or home of record.

They gave us about 8 hours to move our belongings from the Monaco to the Forza.  Fortunately I had moved a fair amount of stuff from the Monaco to our shed.  The shed was filled to the brim.  Our son Chris, who lives in San Diego, helped us with the move.  Thank goodness he did because we would never have made it otherwise.  Also, the guys who drove the rig to Yuma moved the stuff in the basement of the Monaco to the basement of the Forza.  

After driving to Yuma and taking possession of the Forza we drove to the RV park where we had made reservations.  One needs reservations in Yuma during the winter months because the population of Yuma doubles in winter with snow birders and RVers.  Betty had us to dinner that night after we at least got the rig organized to sleep in.  The next day we  spent organizing the rest of the rig.  The following day we took a Field to Feast tour with Betty, but that is other Yuma story.