Indian Bread Rocks

I spent nine nights on a really nice BLM spot in southern Arizona this past week (early January 2015).  It is called Indian Bread Rocks Picnic Area and/or Happy Camp Canyon. It is about ten miles south of Bowie, AZ.

The surrounding hills are huge mounds of giant boulders and are really spectacular – particularly in the right early morning sun.  Of course, they are a blast to climb around on as well!

The area was very quiet and peaceful while I was there.  I probably saw about one vehicle drive by each day.  While I was there, I saw three or four other motorhomes nearby.  Most of them stayed for one or two nights and then moved on.  The only negative to the quiet is that the railroad tracks are way off in the distance – probably ten miles or more – and you could hear a dull rumble when one was chugging up the valley below.  A city slicker probably would not even notice the sound, it was very faint. To someone like me that loves total silence/solitude, it was noticeable but not annoying.  A very, very minor negative to a very nice spot.  There are probably about six or so spots that a bigger-rig (my size) could get into, probably that many more smaller spots.  As noted on the above site, the last cattle guard is rather narrow.  I did not have any problems towing my Jeep – had about eighteen inches of clearance on each side, but I could imagine a big rig feeling the pinch.  Hit it straight on (the road angles) and I would think nearly all rigs will fit.

The altitude of the site is right at 4000′ MSL so one can expect cool nights.  On average, the nighttime low temperature was between 30 – 35 degrees while I was there. The daytime highs were in the mid 50’s to low 60’s and mostly sunny.

Camping BLM Indian Bread Rocks Boondocking dry rock climbing

I camped near a group site that has a vaulted toilet and two BBQ pits/grills.  Nobody used the site while I was there.  The markings/information plaque are long since faded/missing. That said, the site is in reasonably good condition.  There was no toilet paper in the toilet when I arrived but within a day or two a maintenance person arrived and restocked it as well as did some general cleanup (not much to do, it appears).

Camping BLM Indian Bread Rocks Boondocking dry rock climbing

A huge positive was having a good 4G signal on my Verizon phone (three bars without amplifier) and reasonable signal on my Sprint 3G MiFi (three bars).  The Sprint connection was useable but kind of iffy (dropped fairly often and was far from fast, even for 3G.  I think it is an amazing thing to be camped on gorgeous BLM land and have a good Internet connection!

Camping BLM Indian Bread Rocks Boondocking dry rock climbing

The hiking was, of course, fantastic!  I find climbing these huge boulders to be a ton of fun.  Going up is a good workout and a bit of a challenge (I’m far from a “rock climber”) and coming down is heart pumping excitement since I’m afraid of heights and afraid of falling and then tumbling down three hundred feet of rocks!!

Camping BLM Indian Bread Rocks Boondocking dry rock climbing

I did not see much wildlife.  A good number (twenty??) of grazing cattle and a few small, pretty birds – that was it.

Camping BLM Indian Bread Rocks Boondocking dry rock climbing

Camping BLM Indian Bread Rocks Boondocking dry rock climbing

My kitten, Buddy, got outside to do some exploring and seemed to have a great time being a wild tiger on the prowl.  As far as I know, he didn’t catch anything but the excitement is in the chase!!

Who needs friends like these??

Several of my friends took a look at my new vinyl sheet flooring in Shaneeda. They all loved it but all commented that the carpet around the front seats and doghouse had to go. Ugh… just another project right!?!? So, I started ripping that carpet out…

For those not familiar, my RV is a Fleetwood Pace Arrow Class A motorhome which is a gasser. This means that it has a gas engine (as opposed to diesel) that is situated in front between the driver and passenger seats and is enclosed by a cover that is lovingly called a doghouse.  The carpet is glued to the doghouse and is not terribly easy to remove.  Making it worse, the hinges and latches were riveted to the cover thru the carpet. And dirty??  Wow – very nasty. I was actually glad I pulled it out but I knew installing new carpet would be a serious pain in the rear.  To remove the latches, I had to cut the rivets off from the backside. This was not easy and ended up being accomplished with wire snippers, screwdriver, and vice-grip (low-tech).  Of course, this is all much easier with the seats removed.  I elected to leave the seat bases in place (carpet goes over them) and remove both seats from its base.  This requires removal of four nuts (plus unbolting the seat belts) and is an easy one person job (as opposed to removing the bases which is a two person job and much more work). After the normal removal of hundreds of staples, scraping, and cleaning; the real work started. RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit The doghouse is a fiberglass “box” that was attached to the floor with sheetrock screws.  These screw heads were sticking up all around doghouse, at least a quarter inch. Additionally, there were a bunch of other screws who’s only purpose seemed to be holding carpet down at the 90 degree “bend” where the floor and doghouse meet.  I could not stand that.  So, I removed all these screws and replaced the ones that were holding the doghouse in place with truss head screws which fit nearly flush.  Another problem I noted was that the carpet was installed “into” the joint where the doghouse and cover come together.  This was preventing the cover from closing completely and the rubber seal doing much of anything. RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit Dynamat The first thing laid on the floor was a layer of dynamat insulation in the cockpit area.  My goal was to provide some amount of insulation from heat/cold but mostly to eliminate some road/engine noise while driving.  I really wanted to apply a layer of this to the doghouse but I could not imagine how I would get the carpet to stick to it so abandoned that idea.  I will later experiment with putting the dynamat on the under/engine side of the cover – not sure it will stick there (hanging and exposed to lots of heat). RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit The carpet padding was next – pretty simple. I’m really not very good at getting carpet installed in tight spaces with lots of nooks, crannies, and angles so this whole process was very time consuming and laborious.  That said, I took it as slowly as I could and tried really hard to make it look good.  I quickly gave up on the idea of using a single piece of carpet. Instead, I focused on one large piece on the passenger side and another on the driver side covering as much of the floor as possible.  This is easy on the passenger side but the driver side has a lot more angles so this is pretty hard (for me).  Eventually it was done and time to attack the doghouse. My initial approach on the doghouse was to stare at it and hope the carpet would jump on, conform, and glue itself on – kind of a Jedi mind trick thing. After waiting a good bit of time, this did not happen so I went with plan B. I started on the part of the doghouse that is firmly attached (not the cover) and worked my way around fitting the largest pieces possible.  All of this was then glued in place with contact cement.  After drying, the carpet was trim around the cover/door. RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit The doghouse door/cover was the real challenge – lots of angles.  I took one large piece of carpet (which wasn’t large enough – use plenty of carpet) and started fitting at the top. Working my way down the sides and cutting the carpet where it would not conform to the shape.  I then used the heat gun to warm the carpet and sort of mold it in place.  This worked to some extent in that it helped the carpet lay flatter than it wanted to on its own. RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit Contact cement and I do not usually get along very well. Typically, the cement likes to get onto a whole bunch of things that I don’t want it on – I’m not sure why.  This time, I took it very slow with this cover.  I marked on the cover the area that would be glued first.  Due to the shape and all the little slices, I could not properly fit the entire carpet all at once – at least not with my skill set.  I applied glue to the cover and pieces of the carpet that I wanted down first.  This was then applied to the cover. Once set, I began fitting the little tails of carpet – trimming and fitting them as I went along and cementing them only after the previous pieces were stuck down and I had achieved a tight fit.  Finally, small pieces of carpet were fitting to fill the few remaining bare spots.  The carpet was trimmed at the joint of the cover such that it no longer prevents the cover from closing all the way.  Now the rubber seal is ‘engaged’ – hopefully the engine noise will be slightly decreased. RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit I am very pleased with the results!  It is not perfect but for me, it is pretty good.  If one looks hard enough, a few of the seams can be seen but from a couple feet away, it looks very nice! I used a pewter colored transition to the vinyl flooring that looks pretty good.  In hindsight, I wish I would have left enough carpet to do a foldover and staple which is what I did in the bedroom.  No matter, it looks a thousand times better than it did before.RV Motorhome Carpet Install Replace Doghouse Cockpit

Even my friends like it! However; they are now telling me the wall paper needs updated. They are not allowed in my RV any longer….

In total, I was able to install new flooring throughout the entire RV for approximately $600.  The vinyl sheet and tools were about $250.00 The carpet, padding, and tools were also about $250.00. The trim (all new) and extra carpet for rugs was about $100.00.

RV Flooring Replacement

The old carpet and linoleum in Shaneeda had served valiantly but it’s time had come.  It was matted, dirty, torn, stained, and just nasty – very nasty.  I wanted to keep putting it off but I couldn’t – it was time to replace the flooring.

For many months I have agonized over whether to install carpet, vinyl sheet, or cork laminate.  My motorhome is weight limited so a light solution was required.  I really like the feel, warmth, and quiet of carpet but I hate the way it seems to attract dirt and sand.  I love vinyl for it’s simple installation, easy cleaning, and resistance to dirt/stains but it can be so cold.  The cork laminate was hugely attractive in terms of warmth and quiet but the installation and cost were not. Cork is also not quite as resistant to water as vinyl.  What to do…

A trip to Lowes helped me to find a vinyl sheet color/pattern that I liked (Armstrong Sedona Clay Stone, Ashton Collection) and I discovered that the new options are rather thick and cushy – not thin and hard like linoleum.  I liked that but realize it isn’t padded carpet. The final straw was learning about the “lay flat” installation.  It does not require a bunch of adhesive. One simply lays the vinyl down and apply double-sided tape under the edges.  VERY simple!  I was sold.

Removing the interior is a bit of project since everything is bolted down pretty well.  The couch, recliner, fold out table, dinette table and chairs all had to be unbolted and removed. Next came all the trim, heater vents, and other small items.

First thing on a Saturday morning I started ripping out the old flooring.  The old carpet and padding was quick to come up – just pull, cut, and rip.  The linoleum was much more work.  It had been glued down so it came out in small pieces and lots of scraping was required.  Fleetwood installed the linoleum before the cabinets so they were sitting on the flooring.  I cut the linoleum as close to the cabinets as possible and left what was under them.  The carpet (and some of the linoleum) is held down with staples – lots and lots of staples.  By far the most time was spent crawling around the perimeter with vice grips, needle nose pliers, and small screwdriver pulling all of these staples out.  There are literally hundreds of them and this is a very time consuming process.  However; like many things, the preparation is very important to the final product so I took my time and got all of them out.

RV Motorhome Flooring Vinyl Sheet Linoleum Carpet Laminate

The two items that caused me to pause and contemplate what to do were the bolts for the recliner couch seat belts. All of these bolts have their heads welded to steel plate under the floor and protrude up thru the floor. I am getting rid of the old recliner and getting something more modern so the bolts would not be reused.  I cut these four bolts off and ground them flat/level with the floor using a hand grinder.  The couch seatbelt bolts were up against the wall and I couldn’t decide what to do so I left them.  They are out of the way so should be fine.

RV Motorhome Flooring Vinyl Sheet Linoleum Carpet Laminate

The vinyl sheet comes in twelve foot widths. The inside floor width of my Pace Arrow is seven and a half feet wide. So, I purchased one eight foot piece and one seven foot piece.   I started in the living room, laid out the vinyl and started trimming.  I was a bit nervous about this step as I could imagine really screwing it up.

I started by aligning the sheet against one wall, making sure the pattern was straight and then trimming the excess material but leaving a bit of excess.  This allowed me to get the sheet laid down and mostly “fit”.  I then came back around the perimeter doing a close trim. The instructions say to leave one quarter inch of space so a super close fit is not desired.  Easy enough.

I was worried about the next step.  Getting a seven foot wide by twelve foot long piece of vinyl to line up with the piece already on the floor, get a good seam, and somehow trim it to fit in very last couple feet of kitchen, hallway, and bathroom.  I started by figuring out how much length I needed and cutting the whole sheet to that size (down from the twelve foot length.  The remainder was unrolled in the hallway and large cuts were made leaving lots of excess but trying to achieve an approximate fit.  This worked pretty well.  The vinyl sheet instructions (from Armstrong) are pretty clear on how to seam the material. You basically overlap it and then make a straight cut thru both pieces, remove the excess material and then double-sided tape the underside.  This worked great and the seam is nearly invisible.  Final trimming in the hallway and bathroom took lots of time as there are so many little nooks and crannies.

RV Motorhome Flooring Vinyl Sheet Linoleum Carpet Laminate

The entry steps were next.  I really wasn’t sure how to approach this area so I just started – sometimes that is better than overthinking it.  I cut pieces of vinyl sheet for the step treads, then the risers, then a piece for each side wall.  For some reason, the sidewalls nearly defeated me – took me half a dozen attempts to get it right – good thing I had lots of extra material!!

RV Motorhome Flooring Vinyl Sheet Linoleum Carpet Laminate

Finally, I made a pass around the perimeter installing the double-sided tape.  The result is very nice.  I really like the new look – I really like having the old torn up and stained mess gone!

I have not yet decided what to do about trim so that part of the project is unfinished.

A real negative to this project is that the carpet in the cockpit and bedroom now look REALLY BAD!!  I thought they were bad before, the new floor has made them worse. What to do….

Big Spill 2014 – Broken Arm – Update 3

I am very happy to report that the broken arm is healing fairly well.

I’ve been going to physical therapy twice a week for several weeks. Arm strength is increasing though my tricep is still incredibly weak.  Range of motion is still rather poor but improving.  I can now touch my face which is helpful. Arm extension is pretty limited.

I still use lots of ice packs in an effort to eliminate the swelling which, I think, will help the range of motion.

The arm is feeling good enough that I broke out my mountain bike a week ago and went for a short ride (four miles). After two days, there were no ill effects so I went for a ten mile ride.  Yay!!  It felt wonderful to be back in spandex and on a bike! :-)  Of course, I was pretty shaky and the weak left arm caused the right arm to compensate – that was about the only thing that was sore the next day.  If I hold my arms just right (kind of elbows down), you cannot tell anything is wrong.  With an elbows out position, the left arm doesn’t straighten so looks a bit odd.

I am very thankful for all the prayers that I have received, my surgeon, hospital, ambulance folks, all those that helped as I laid in the middle of the road, physical therapist, and the successful healing process – THANK YOU!!thanks god praise grateful

It is far from over but at least I feel semi-capable again.  It is amazing to me how much one’s life can change in an instant.  Please do not dismiss or waste good health – not everyone has it and it doesn’t last forever!

Note from JD: Update 1 is here, update 2 is here.

Big Spill 2014 – Broken Arm – Update 2

Sadly, there just isn’t much going on right now so not much to post about.

I can tell you that having a broken arm (humerus) really stinks.

I’ve been making frequent trips to the doctor so he can keep tabs on the healing process. He seems happy with progress so I am too.

All of the staples have been removed and I am now in a brace that allows some movement of the elbow.  The x-rays are always interesting – still plates and screws, guess that won’t change.

broken arm humerus screws titanium plate Physical therapy starts later this week.

broken arm humerus screws titanium plateMy friends and neighbors have been HUGELY helpful!  I had meals delivered for the first couple weeks after surgery – thank you so much!!  Several friends have made grocery store runs for me and have been shuttling me around to doctor appointments. Thank you – thank you – thank you!

Except for not being able to do any of my hobbies – flying, cycling, kayaking, etc… things are reasonably normal now. Work, read, sleep – and sleep a bit more. I do a lot of sleeping these days, except for when I am unable to sleep and then I just toss and turn.

My bikes stare at me all day long. They desperately want to get outdoors and run but I am unable.  I have very limited range of motion and nearly no tricep strength, never mind pain.  Cycling is simply not possible right now – I apologize my dear bikes.

The big slice is looking better. It will probably be a conversation piece for some time to come (this photo taken just before half of the staples came out).

broken arm humerus suture staples cut