Friday, February 24, 2012


We are parked outside of B&B Coach Works, in Las Vegas, Nevada (map). We arrived here Wednesday afternoon after a short drive from Lake Mead; we came out the southwest entrance, which swung us within a couple miles of Las Vegas Bay (now dry) where we dumped and filled our tanks at the Park Service campground.

That campground was surprisingly busy. I say this because the very similar campground at Callville Bay was only about a third full, even in the middle of the holiday weekend, and Callville at least has a functioning marina, a store, a restaurant, and access to the water, albeit a long walk away. Las Vegas Bay is so dry that the boat ramp and marina there closed years ago, and there are no other facilities. Only dry camping is available, for $10 per night, although there are water spigots, restrooms with running water, and a dump station, and the roads are paved, unlike the graded gravel at Government Wash and the other free spots around the park.

Nevertheless this campground was more than two thirds full, and our presence at the dump station immediately attracted a crowd, reminiscent of that scene in the Robin Williams movie RV. I've expressed my annoyance here before of people who insist on asking 20 questions about Odyssey at inopportune moments, often without even a hello or other small talk first. Dumping the tanks, an already unpleasant task, is just such an inopportune time, and of course when you are standing there in the dump station, gloved hands and all, you are trapped by anyone who walks up -- it's a fiddly business and you can't just walk away or go inside. We hightailed it back out of the campground just as soon as our sordid business was done, not even waiting for the fresh water to fill any further than it did while I was handling the other end.

We half expected to pass the charred remains of a vehicle on the park road on our way out. That's because we spotted a plume of greasy black smoke rising from somewhere in that direction as we were packing up to leave our lovely little camp spot on the lake. We were first worried that it was actually another rig in Government Wash on fire, so I hoofed it up to Government Point, the high ground in the area, to see whatever I could and phone it in if necessary. No need, as by the time I got up there I could already hear the sirens converging on it from both directions.

Distances are deceiving in the park, and the fire turned out to be a good ways from Government Wash. I figured it to be on the park road, either on the way to Las Vegas Bay, or out towards the northwest entrance station, where we had come in a few days earlier. It must have been in this latter direction since we did not pass it on our way out. It also takes emergency equipment a very long time to get to most of the park, and it was a good ten minutes between when we saw the plume and when the apparatus arrived on scene -- I could see one rolling down Lakeshore Road across the lake after I reached Government Point. It only takes a moment for a vehicle to become completely engulfed, and I'm sure there was little left by the time firefighters arrived.

Scorch marks in the asphalt around the park are reminders that this is an oft-repeated scenario here in the desert. Although typically this is more common in the summer months, when daytime temperatures skyrocket, and fires due to overheating engines or smoking brakes can start more readily. In any case, we hope no one was hurt in this particular episode, and we're also glad it did not delay our exit from the park -- when these things occur on the narrow two-lane park roads, they can be closed for hours, and it can be a long, long way around if they close the road.

In any case, our drive was uneventful and we arrived here at the shop a little after 1pm. Owner Gary came out to look at the damage, and we also talked about some other issues such as some water ingress at the bathroom window. We decided to get started on the work first thing in the morning, and we opted to just spend the night here to facilitate that. Gary had us position the bus so that the sun would be off the damaged skin for most of the work day.

Wednesday evening Ben and Karen picked us up in the Mini and we headed over to a local Ethiopian restaurant called Blue Nile. They had already emptied out their fridge for their Hawaii trip, and we were glad to get a ride out of this industrial neighborhood for the evening. I also wanted to debrief Ben on the cooling system work on his generator before they left town. We had, of course, already said our good-byes up at the lake, since we had not figured on being back here, but it was good to see them one more time before their early morning flight.
Yesterday morning technician Joe got started on drilling out the rivets retaining the "belly band" trim where the damaged skin meets the lower part of the coach side. He re-riveted the detached skin after applying some sealant underneath the edge, and stripped and repainted the belly band while it was off the coach. In the afternoon after the paint dried he was able to reattach the trim and apply some sealant around the edges; from the ground the repair blends seamlessly with the rest of the coach.

Since there were still a couple hours left in the day, we pulled the inside trim off the bathroom window to see if we could find the leak. It turned out to be wicking up from the bottom past the outside trim through a small gap, so Joe also pumped a bunch of sealant into that as well. He wanted to leak-test this after a full night of drying, and with the inside trim, which provides the mechanical retention for the window, still off, we needed to just stay put until this morning. We should have the testing done and the trim back on here shortly, and then we will head out for parts unknown.

Those parts will not be far from here, though, because we have agreed to return Monday. After we got the source of the water intrusion addressed, I asked Gary if he though he could replace the damaged wall in the bathroom -- the water has been soaking the wood between the insulated skin of the coach and the finished inside surface, and there is some bucking and rot. They have another project they need to get out of the shop today first, but he said they could look at it on Monday if we stick around.

So at this moment we are contemplating where to spend the next two or three nights. We can head back behind Paris, or just a block from here at the Orleans. A bit further afield are Arizona Charlie's where we stayed last week, or possibly even the Elks lodge. We'll try to have a plan before we actually pull out of the driveway, but if not we'll stop at the Orleans while we work it out.


  1. Whenever people start trying to chat you up while dumping the tanks just pull out your best cousin Eddie impersonation "Merry Christmas, shitter was full". They'll walk every time. Especially if you have a stinky cigar, robe and combat boots on.

  2. I suspect you're just way too polite Sean. I can out-rude just about anybody. The lookie-lous may ask one stupid question but if I'm not in the mood they usually don't get around to asking the second one. I recall one time when one said something stupid while I was buying fuel, I responded with something rude and she drove off in a huff. She didn't drive far though because Marilyn was in front of the coach doing something so she stopped to say "He must be a real treat to travel with!" to which Marilyn responded "Actually yes, he is."

  3. Cool. You're right next to a biker-friend of mine who moved out there a few years ago from NY.

    I know what you mean about being trapped by inquisitive strangers. That happens to me on the motorcycle a lot.

    Thanks for your great comments about clothes. I enjoyed and learned from them. Have a fun weekend!

  4. Sean and Louise, I have been reading your blog for several years now and really enjoy reading it.

    What I don't understand, why be rude to someone asking questions about Odyssey? It is a very unusual motorhome so people are going to be curious about it as you know. How would somebody start a conversation without bringing up the motorhome first? It's just natural to talk about the elephant in the room!

    You are used to Odyssey but for many folks, it's their first time to see such a work of art! :o)

    I have antique car that I drive around occasionally ('64 Rolls Silver Cloud III) and even after owning it for 14 yrs, I still get questions from people all the time. I'm never rude but the first questions is always, 'what year is it?". Even though it does get somewhat tiring, I'm never rude.

    Chill out and be nice, people are just curious.

    Mark in Palm Springs.

    1. @Mark,

      Thanks for your comment and for following our blog.

      I'm always polite and friendly when folks start a conversation with the socially acceptable and standard polite greeting, "Hello, how are you?" This phrase indicates right up front that someone understands the social contract and is a person with proper boundaries. "What the heck is this thing?" or worse, "How much did that cost?" are pretty rude openers and have gotten really old when encountered almost every day for over 7 years.

      I hope your beautiful car continues to be a source of pride and pleasure for you.

  5. Understand the water frustration and leaks in these things. Last one we had was where the satellite antenna was attached. They're like driving your living room down the street as you well know. When we got to Benson, our toad covered with oil from a leaking oil filter. Could have been knocked loose by a huge pot hole we hit at 55 mph going around Little rock. That's kind of hard to believe though. I think the people we had change the oil didn't install the filter properly. Like, they didn't lube the gasket before they installed it. That bump also took out axle cover on the right side. Had them both taken care of, now we have windshield wipers that have just stopped operating. Just got to Mesa this PM, so haven't had a job to check out the wipers, yet. Tomorrow PM I guess. Have a feeling the motor is toast, but really not sure until I see if it's getting current or not. It's warm here by the way.
    Was cold every night in Benson, close to 32 and average day times of about 60-65. If we didn't love the 3700 feet and country around it, we wouldn't go though. Gonna spend a month in Mesa and warm up enough to go home. Stay safe..........
    Cya EdT


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