Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Broiled alive

We are at the 88 Shades RV Park
in Quartzsite, Arizona (map).

We had a great time on Saturday, swimming in the nice pool at the Wingate hotel, going to see Ice Age 3 with our nieces, and following up with dinner at Earl's and ice cream at Ben & Jerry's, all in the same neighborhood. We left the hotel after dark, and agreed to meet again Sunday morning after breakfast, since they had an hour or so to kill before their flight.

By the time we got back to the bus Sunday, it was blazing hot. After ruminating for an hour or so about where we needed to be this morning, we finally decided to just extend our stay at Westworld another night, where we had 50 amps of power, the AC's were already humming away, and we had the tub set up as a cool plunge, which, by this time, had dropped to a downright chilly 87°. Mostly, neither of us was in the mood to start loading scooters and breaking down the hot tub in 110° heat and full sunlight.

The other thing that our 110° lethargy told us was that there was no way we were going to want to fiddle around a bus garage today in even hotter (113°) temperatures poking at the turbocharger. I checked the oil seepage and the torn hose, and the former was still in the range of a few drops per day, and the latter was holding steady. We decided instead to clear out of Scottsdale today, and make for the Pacific coast, where temperatures are much more civilized. We have other reasons to want to be in California, and the current forecasts for the Atlantic hurricane belt are so clear that we are, frankly, more likely at this juncture to be called out for a western wildfire, a prospect which grows more likely by the day.

That gave us the opportunity to load scooters and drain the tub in the "cool" of the evening last night, well after sundown. I put that word in quotes, because it was still well into the 90s when we finished with the scooters, and I spent the whole time that the tub was draining sitting in it to keep cool. I saw an item today from NWS Phoenix that today's low of 92°, which would have been sometime around 5am, was a record high low (how's that for an oxymoron). Except for the tub, which I drained and inverted to dry out overnight, I had everything packed and loaded before I turned in.

This morning I called both shops and waved off any work on the bus due to the heat, and then spent well over an hour working on finalizing a route plan. It was 11am by the time we unplugged and rolled away, after which we had to stop at the office to pay for the third night (and wherein I confirmed that they were open to the public for RV parking pretty much all the time, other than major special events, and also found out that they have 400 RV spaces with electricity and water). We then rolled over to the dump station for an electrifying experience.

We did a quick roll-by of the shop where we left the Honda Metropolitan on consignment back in February, just to make sure they were still there, but we knew they would be closed Monday. We had hoped to stop in on this trip, but again the heat nixed any idea of sticking around until they opened on Tuesday. It was only a few blocks out of our way, though, because our next stop was Surprise, due west.

I knew from previous research that we would find some inexpensive diesel in the Phoenix area, and as of last night that looked like $2.19 in the very southwestern part of the city. But this morning's check revealed that two stations in Surprise, across the street from one another, were duking it out, selling diesel for just $1.999 per gallon. One of those was Safeway, where we garnered another $0.03 discount for having a club card, and so I put in 190 gallons at just $1.969, the least we've paid in quite a while. Putting that much fuel in with a single automotive-style dispenser, however, takes the better part of an hour. Thus it was that we did not hit I-10 until well past 1pm.

By this time our indoor/outdoor thermometer in the cockpit was telling us it was 113° outside, and it was rapidly climbing to 100° in the cockpit, as the air conditioner struggled to keep up. As we continued west, the sun moved from slightly behind us, to directly overhead, then to in front of us where it relentlessly pummeled the windshields, turning us into hothouse vegetables. By 3pm it was 114° outside, and 104° and still climbing in the cockpit, and we knew we had to stop before the sun got any lower.

(Added by Louise: The photo at the top shows our indoor/outdoor thermometer. Cockpit temp on the left, outside temp on the right. 115° was the highest we saw, briefly in Surprise, AZ. I was too limp to take a photo of the inside temp going over 104° later in the day...)

There are not a lot of RV parks between Phoenix and Palm Springs, and The Q shaped up to be our best option. We pulled into town around 3:30, just as the mercury hit 105° at the driver seat. For the last hour or so, we had been spritzing a mister bottle full of water at the fans periodically as a sort of redneck swamp cooler, just to keep our bodies from overheating.

There are probably a half dozen RV parks along Main Street here that are still open in the summer (and many others that are closed for the season), and we picked this one pretty much completely at random. The office was closed when we arrived, so we self-registered ($25 with AAA or Good Sam) and picked a 50-amp space facing mostly north, poised for a quick getaway in the morning. I then spent 20 minutes or so with a garden hose getting some evaporative cooling going on all the wheels, the engine bay, the roof, the awnings, and the sunny side of the bus, as well as the gravel around us out to two or three feet.

With all the AC's going full tilt on top of my evaporative cooling efforts, we got the inside temperatures down into the 90s in short order, and in an hour or so down into the high 80s. As I type this, just after midnight, we are down to only one air conditioner still running, and it is maintaining a comfortable temperature in the high 70s. It's still in the mid-90s outside, but the forecast says it will be down to a low of 86° at 5am.

With no packing, loading, or errands for the morning, I expect we can get an early start tomorrow, and do most of our driving with the sun behind us and off the expansive front glass. It will be another record scorcher tomorrow in this region, with a high around 114° again, but we should be through the worst of it by mid-day. We still need to have the turbo looked at, and I have my sights set on PEDCO in Santa Fe Springs, where it will be a balmy 85° tomorrow.


  1. hi sean, sorry you didnt make it to leo's. you would have liked that shop. it is a little warm but its a dry heat. i took the 22' awning off my coach on saturday and refurbished it and put it back on. just have to drink a lot of water.

    maybe next time we can hook up.


    tom in mesa

  2. First time I flew into Phoenix it was 8pm and the pilot said it was 102º, but it was a dark heat; it plummeted to 96º by 6am.
    B&J'S ice dream? Coldstone has a huge office building just south of Scottsdale on 101.


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