Archive for July, 2011


Strange Despondency

A tree turned to shadow

It whispers my name

Yesterday was my 58th birthday and it’s no longer a horse that I wish for when I blow out the candles, it’s a home. I yearn to come home and settle into a good book, cook dinner—maybe have a friend over, grow a garden, nurse a fallen bird, fix the garbage disposal, paint the walls, maintain the plumbing, fix a chip in the floor, install a new garage door—bring it on.
I worked at the Four Seasons Biltmore banquets where for 8 or 11 hours straight we’d clean, polish, set-up the dining room, unroll the cables, wire up the equipment, bring in the tables, the chairs, the decorations, plants, flowers, silver, crystal, fold the napkins, align the place settings with precision detail, you get the idea, then serve, then take everything down, clean up and put everything away; I mention this because people have told me having a home of one’s own is too much work; having a dog friendly B&B, which has become my dream, especially,  is too much work. Well, I’m not suggesting it for them, it’s for me! I long for a place to unwind, to create, to breathe. A place of my own. I don’t want neighbors within shouting distance, don’t want to share walls, don’t want cars zooming by. I want land. Space, stars, water, wind, trees, critters. How long have I wanted this? Forever. In my childhood it was a ranch with horses—a place where I could teach people the love of animals and how to live harmoniously with the land.
Ranch

Could I still have a ranch... a forest... a river

Really I haven’t changed; instead of horses, it’s now dogs.

Searching for land and a home

I worked as a planner for both the City and the County. I have an inside knowledge of things that can go wrong with a parcel. Also the same inside knowledge of how to fix it. I helped a friend build his own home on Greenfield Ranch . . . it was off grid. Developing the power, water, septic, food, wildlife, I shared. We made cold boxes for food storage, filtered water from the hand constructed dam, installed deer fencing and below ground irrigation for the fruit trees, waded through thigh high mud in the winter and designed passive cooling in the summer. My friend taught me about solar and wind turbines, prolific compost gardening and cooking. We boiled water on the potbelly stove for our baths. We made our own bread, canned the veges we didn’t consume, there was time for art and appreciation of sweeping leaves. Boredom and burnout were never issues. The morning was full of beauty, the night full of wonder. I don’t understand people who prefer apartments and pink skies, who crave the security of strangers in their midst, who need the convenience of a 24-hr shop 5 min away.

A piece of land I loved

I named this Hero's pond but did not purchase it.

I studied animal science, agriculture, animal production, farm management, then ecology, biointensive organic gardening, environmental planning, biology, electronics, geography… then I lost it and instead of art; computers, multi-media, business, public administration, TESOL and mediation.

Flowers

Could I create a garden like this and invite you to share?

 

I only have a little bit of money. No safety net, no backup funds. This journey with the dogs and the recalcitrant LT is to find a rural home, ideally with B&B potential, or perhaps a community. It is all I want.


Let There Be Power

The converter and battery minder are shot. Frans spent the entire day puzzling the bizarre misbehavior and workings of power in the LT and explaining it to me; then came up with a brilliant plan to circumvent the impasse by installing a power supply behind the faulty converter. Being the sort who frets, imagining complete system failure or maybe flames springing form the air conditioner like Medusa . . . I opted for a new high-end converter. The unit in there is from System Monitors in Winnipeg, which makes sense since Leisure Travel is Canadian. The company is defunct, so by consulting my magic genie (the Internet!) I ordered a PD4060 60 Amp Inteli-Power Mighty Mini Power Center from Best Converter along with a 30-20 twin and 2 twin 15 fuses. The model I ordered is their pick for dry camping, more expensive at $207 than others but it has a boost mode to bring the battery quickly up to power and offers desulfation—basically a few hours plugged in will prepare and protect the battery for running when I’m off line as opposed to several days which is what my current (non-operational) unit would be doing. Yes, it occurred to me that I might want to replace the house battery with one of those golf cart types; however since the battery in there is barley over a year old, I’ll wait and see how everything works out.

Bruce said he’d do the install, so now I wait. Package should arrive in few days.

Oh, it turns out I had to order a HTC micro-USB TV Out Cable for the Droid, it’ll be here in a few days too. So we’ll be here for Thursday’s Channel City Kennel Club  Canine Ambassador’s program at the Goleta Boys & Girls Club, lucky Mason will be getting another yucky bath. Usually Olympia goes but she’s just finishing her heat.

Discombobulated

Decided to show off how I could plug my Droid into my flat screen to a friend who dropped by—he usually drops by to visit the dogs. At the same time I was charging the RV to test the refrig and had the power cord plugged into the house. Flicked off the bungee cord and swung the TV around pleased with how well it moves, pressed the power button and Walla, Nothing! No signal. Unplugged the AC, signal came back. Once I took an entire 3 years of electronics, I excelled but then found I could not get a job—that was the beginning of the dot.com crisis in the Bay Area. You’d think I’d remember a few things from those days, but no, my memory is full of holes. But  found this: in order for the RV to run the 12V appliances it must step down the 110V with a converter and transformer….it’s complicated. My little LT is not doing that right. It vacillates and overcharges; the DC Voltage is also screwed up… it should be 12V or 12.5V but where it comes out at the plugs it’s only 11V and strangely the front DC plugs retain a charge of 10V after the power is turned off. Something is wrong! It showed up on the TV since the TV is very sensitive – who knows what damage is being done (or has been done) to the other electrical components… maybe why I’ve had to replace so many.

 

RV Converter Box

The Electrical Center well hidden and non-removable under the bed

Frans has his head stuck in the back corner of the beast trying to get the converter out. He can probably fix it but it doesn’t want to come out….it’s apparent that it was built with the philosophy of once in, forever in. It was depressing watching and worrying about scratches and how my sick electrical system will be restored. He’s going to try a fix by rewiring without removing the box as it appears to do so involves removing the entire back seat-couch/bed. More later, as things progress.

RV Electrical Box

Something gone wrong

Below is my packing list, but first I want to comment on washing and waxing an older RV. The LT badly needed a cleaning; the City of Santa Barbara is fond of Jacaranda trees. In the summer we get purple rain. Yes, the trees bring glory and stately beauty to the town but if you have them lining your roadway you quickly come to know them as little devils bombarding yards, sidewalks, gutters and, of course, the cars with thick carpets of leaves, pods and tree litter. The purple rain is highly sticky leaving indelible little black dots on paint. The LT suffered; it does not fit in the car wash ( Jacaranda’s are great for the car wash business.)  My little RV was very dirty, so I decided to wash it. It helped a little; tried gentle soap, more aggressive dish soap, then scouring power—not much luck. Little black dots everywhere. I scrubbed and scraped with all the tools I could muster, then my fingernails … little bits would come loose. I headed for the auto supply store for more and stood there aghast. Every part and piece of the car (or RV) has a different collection of bottles and potions, arrays of clothes, sponges, applicators, cleaners, polishers, waxes…I’m sure you’ve seen it, or maybe not, maybe you use the car wash like I do for the Ford. I bought the recommended products. To make a long story shorter, I tired a bucket full of stuff collected over several days. Today (two days ago now) I slaved away with rags, buffers, stepladder, and the bottles.

I noticed something, standing, kneeling and perching on the stepladder with the empty bus whizzing by every 20 minuets, not one neighbor offered a hand, not one offered a power buffer, not one came by to say, oh, this is what you’re doing wrong, not even one came by to say hi. The ones that talked to me were dog walkers. They were friendly, oh, it looks great, Jamie. Wow Jamie, are you STILL working on your van? Hey, Jamie I want one of those RVs!  The dog walkers know me, Olympia and Mason by name. It was good to see so many pooches getting out.

The LT is shinny now but far from perfect. Who knows what the top looks like—I couldn’t reach even with the ladder. In the evening when I went out to walk Olympia and Mason the LT sparkled along with all my neighbors cars—that was nice, although, I did ask myself why it mattered.

My advice is don’t bother waxing your own RV. Pay whatever amount is needed and have it done right. The dog walkers sometimes commented on it being too much work, like work is a bad thing. I don’t agree, work is good, it’s actually fun and it beats the gym for exercise, but when it’s not rewarding then it becomes un-fun. My LT has been neglected. It came that way—the previous owners did not wax it. When you add wax to baked-in un-waxed paint there will be problems: streaking, hazing, muddling, stains that won’t come out, little black purple rain dots that won’t come out, decals that loose paint and smear, scratches, paint chips, rust spots. . . The real solution may be a paint job with new decals.

Here’s what I’ve packed…. Of course little things change.

From The Rear, Under The Couch/Bed:  Under The Couch/Bed Front:
The fill-in bed board, table combo that came with the RV Endless Breeze 12 V Fan
Soft-sided dog crate Dog life jackets, my life jacket and shorty wetsuit
Wire 8-panel exercise pen Two kennel covers
Wire dog crate with crate pad Beach supplies
In The Back On The Sides:   Extra throw Rugs
Umbrella stand, Dog pillows
Umbrella,
One roll-up chair (the second chair is underneath in the cargo hold.)
Large white tarp
Large blue tarp
Cargo Hold: Cargo Hold Outside Locker:
The other chair Sewer hoses and fittings
Lots of tools Gloves
Jumper cables Garbage Bags
Camping supplies
Rain gear
Back Cupboards:
Extra caballing for TV and Amateur radio Linens
12V pump Blankets
Inflatable raft Pillows
Books Tray table, table covers
Laptop computer Heavy rain jacket
Shoes – including all weather hikers and sandals
Socks
Rear Open Top Shelves: On Top of each of the Rear Side Seats:
Extra glasses Small soft-sided kennel (Olympia’s)
Remote controls Comfy dog pad (Mason’s)
Roll-up beach mat
Flashlight
More dog toys
Reading light
Under Rear Side Seats: Other Side:
Emergency fresh water Fresh water hose
Black plastic bags Extra cabling for something
LT Manuel that came with the LT (had to fit it in somewhere)
Bathroom: Closet:
Towels, wash clothes Sun tent, secured to the wall
Toiletries (soap, toothbrush, brushes, etc…) Outdoor carpet, secured to the wall
Special RV TP and holder Small demjbe drum (for practice)
Digesters Clothes, some hanging, some folded in case (would like to put a shelf over this.
Laundry soap Undies in case
Laundry bag
Poles for interior tables—strapped to wall
Under The Kitchen Sink: Under The Kitchen Sink:
Bottom Shelf: Top Shelf:
Dog food Dish drainer
Dog dishes Cleaning supplies
 Dog treats Bags
Dog grooming supplies Duck tape
Masking tape
  Lemongrass Mosquito repellent candle
Cupboard Over Sink: Drawer Under Sink:
Food Small tools (screwdriver)
Vitamins Wine opener
Tea maker Bottle opener and stopper
Sandwich bags Scissors
Paper towels Matches
Mosquito cover for food Striker
Roll out pantry:
Dishes
Silverware & Utensils
Glasses
All cooking supplies, pots and pans, etc.
Open Upper Shelf – Front Place where old TV was removed
Dog toys Upper section:  hats
Tennis ballsDoggy bags Lower section: electronics (GPS, Satellite Radio)
Extra leashes
Light flashers for dog collars
Extra dog comb and brush
Matches and pot holders, clean-up rags
Front cupboards over dash: Driver side:
Passenger side: Sunglasses
First aid and medical supplies (canine and human) Tour books
Art pad, art pencils, colored pencils, watercolor kit and watercolor book Chewing gum
Tylenol
Lip balm
Note pad
On Drivers Panel: On Engine Block Pocket:
Wireless cell-phone adapter Work gloves, Miscellaneous
Behind driver’s seat: Pocket next to driver door:
Storage for conversion board that fits on passenger seat for dogs More maps
More tour books / road atlas Pocket by cabin door:
Dog hair remover Water bottles
No spill water dish for the dogs.
Wish List:
Inflatable KayakSide awning (sun and rain)

Door screens

Cool pads for dogs

 

A Quick Note

The fellow with the Coach House called. His 1998 RV at 60,000 miles has needed a new engine and that engine is having troubles. Cost $7,000 for the engine; so I shouldn’t complain about all my repairs. He does have an awning, what brand is unknown and interestingly, he has no handling issues. I noticed his tires were a good bit wider than mine. His 245, mine 225. Since I didn’t drive his and the design of the Coach House is a bit different I can’t say if the extra width is a good thing or not.

I happen to have a RV Buyers guide from 1997 this is what I found built on the Dodge  Camping Van Conversion ranging in price from $32,000 to $53,000: American Cruiser, Bonanza Coach, Coach House, Coachman Saratoga, Jayco Camper 5, Leisure Travel, Pleasure Way Excel-TW, Roadtrek Popular 170, Roadtrek Versatile 190, Sportsmobile EagleSTAR 101, Sportsmobile RB-50, WeisCraft Crafty Camper, Xplorer 236.  Wow, I didn’t realize I had so much company!

Packing sill to come. . .

How much does hair grow in a year?

I looked this up today and came up with around 6 inches a year but hair can grow more or less than that.

Yesterday I had a haircut; in an ordinary life this would be no big deal. Mine has not been ordinary and the haircut was significant. I wanted to do it since my hair had become so long I was sitting on the ends. I didn’t dare go outside without braiding it. It’s also gray and in places white. Even braided people would stop me to comment on how long my hair was. Actually most of these comments were in awe…as in wow, I couldn’t grow my hair that long when I was young and now that I too have gray hair (or colored hair) it won’t grow at all. I never knew for sure if was surprise that I would do this or some sort of youth envy. My generation worshiped long hair. My dad however always wanted me to cut my hair short. My hair looked terrible short, its naturally wavy and has cowlicks so when it’s short it goes in many directions at once. It looks silly unless a lot of time and product are applied both of which I’m opposed to. I have the kind of hair that hairdressers love, whatever they do to it (other than cutting it short) I can simply shake my head and it looks perfect. It doesn’t look perfect when I neglect it and that’s what I had done. I stopped cutting it the day my father died. I didn’t so this on purpose.

My long hair

Do my dogs wonder why my tail is on my head?

messy hair

My hair at its absolute worst - not even braided properly

I would have told you I stopped cutting it after my father’s death but I would never had said that it was a plan or that it meant anything. My hairdresser who was amazed by my story (and the length of my hair) asked me what my father had to do with it, that’s when I remembered how he’d tease  and cajole me about cutting my hair. He’d give me one of those, why aren’t you beautiful, looks that only a father can impart. My relationship with him was difficult, painful, scary but his death was annihilating. Part of me felt maybe he deserved so much pain and suffering and it was not my business to interfere but the bigger part of me would have done anything to make his agony stop. Who was in more pain, him or I? A friend told me I was enmeshed, which was expected since I had not gone through years of therapy to heal from my past. Whatever.

I remember (now) that his wife (not my Mom) kept having her hair done, short, of course, in beautiful styles and gorgeous color while my father wasted away in a care center that ought to have been condemned.  I’d look at her hair and want to scream.

Yesterday Britta cut it. Her arms couldn’t reach to the ends but she didn’t complain. Oh, it’s still long and still gray but I can wear it down now.

My visitors

Site visits shot up today, random? curious? no one left a comment. . .

P.S. Van is back in front of the house….  I’ve been polishing it.

P.S. S. Have found the answer to the trip.

P.S.S. S. Am teaching Olympia a cute trick using the clicker and my blue balance disk.

1996 Dodge Freedom Wide Leisure Travel

The day I brought it home

No buyers guarantee with this baby – I bought it from a friend with only her good word. Right now it’s back at my mechanic ATG. Two people told me it shouldn’t be making the clicking sound like it’s doing and frankly since the new serpentine belt the handling seems off, wagging again although Jamie at ATG told me the belt could not be related to the power steering even though I’d been told by a few people that it could indeed be caused by a loose belt……so who’s a woman gonna believe? It’s not only my namesake I saw at the mechanic but I spotted a Dodge 3500 Freedom Wide Coach House in the lot! It’s a little newer than mine but has the same seats, layout and looks uncannily like mine. I left the owner a note–hope they call, would love to chat with them!

Asked again about the loose steering, this time I was a told there is a way to tighten it but it’s not standard procedure. Am keeping my fingers crossed that they will do it!!!!

So back to the story….

Frans would complain that I rarely drove or started up the Leisure Travel. In the Fall and Winter  of 2010 -11 this was true—I considered my purchase a nightmare, a pocket drain—why oh why had I bought this  @#$%$$$$. It wouldn’t start half the time I needed to move it. Parking on my street is enforced, with us neighbors needing to move our vehicles twice a day on school days for the kids to ride their bikes (in 20 years I’ve only seen a handful of kids on bikes; it’s far more dangerous with the huge empty buses speeding on our narrow street every 20 min and parents picking up and dropping off kids and us neighbors shuffling cars than to simply leave things be, but it’s the way it is. Good intentions and bad planning is the norm.) So the LT was parked around the corner where I only had to move it twice a week for street cleaning although I’d move it Fri evening to claim a spot in front of the house…no way would it fit in the driveway. Frans devised an interior battery switch so I wouldn’t have to go into the rain to flip the battery on/off with the pulley switch in the outside battery compartment. His first creation sported flashing lights and dials—it was driving my bad eyes crazy and draining the cab battery. (I received a new jumper cable as a gift.) Fortunately he re-did the switch box. I love it now, nice and simple. I insisted on a new cab battery—Frans put that in.

NAXA TV mounted in a Class B RV

TV secured to the wall for driving

Frans likes to be creative as he’s a retired engineer. When he’s done tinkering he always asks, “Where is my RV?” Believe me many times I would have liked to be free of it but I was rapidly approaching the point where a sale would put me in the red with more money invested than I could recoup. Under protest he took out the old 13-inch tube TV. It was a mess having to saw off the protruding portion of the wooden box where it was nestled on the ceiling in-between the driver and passenger seats. I’m so glad it’s gone, I was constantly hitting my head on it. I replaced it with a 15.5 Naxa LED 12 V DVD flatscreen and a articulating mounting arm installed in the back near the bed/couch. It’s good except for one little white stuck pixel… still have to fix that. The space of the old TV is now storage for my electronics. Frans also installed extra DC jacks.

Took it to a body shop to have the door seals replaced and to find out why the windows wouldn’t open and to have the privacy door fixed. They kept it for 2 weeks burning $50 of gas on road tests. I called every day, nothing. Finally went to pick it up for my Phoenix trip. The service rep spent a few min explaining how they had taped it here and there and driven on the fwy—the noise starts at about 50 mph—and the noise would still be there. He motioned the mechanic over to explain it to me. The mechanic readjusted the driver door… took him about 20 seconds as he was talking to me; with a straight face he looked me in the eye and said, “you know the door seals really should be replaced.” I crocked; they wanted $185!!! My screaming moved them. Not good to have a middle-aged female standing in their lot with arms waving around looking reckless. They rescinded the bill. Just before I left it was pointed out that there was a little locking pin holding the windows shut.

I had Frans cut the locking pins off all the windows with one of his mysterious tools from the garage.

Drove the LT to Phoenix for a dog show with Olympia and Mason. Traveled great and the cabin noise was somewhat reduced, but very hard to handle in the high wind.

I had filled the water tank but nothing would come out.

March 30, 2011 Bruce’s Auto Repair: water pump replaced.

June 9, 2011 Took it to ATG for an oil change and a trip check. $316… needed the front brake rotors resurfaced. Complained about the wind noise and asked if they could do the door seals. Also asked, if they could, please…please…. please tighten the loose steering. They made a note.

Called the recommended body shop, was told that door seals were no longer made for the 1996 Dodge Ram 3500 van – this was only on the drivers side. I took the bait, well, I asked, what do you suggest. Nothing! That was the answer… I said things that weren’t very nice and hung up.

Took it Master Motorcrafts after calling half-dozen other body shops with no luck. The fellow at Motorcraft inspected at the door seals, taped the wing windows and went for a test ride with me. No, it didn’t need new door seals since these were still soft, he didn’t recommend them because the new aftermarket ones caused problems. Maybe the white exterior body trim that was puckering loose might be causing the wind noise. He suggested I try that first. Amazing, no charge!!! And a very nice guy – he really liked my old Dodge van; said the chirping noise was probably the serpentine belt or the pulley. I’ll definitely return when I need them.

Took it back to ATG on June 22 2011; the noise I’d told them about (but they had ignored other than writing it on the intake sheet) was getting louder… Needed a pulley and I agreed to have a new serpentine drive belt installed: $177 (the old belt is safety tucked away for emergencies.)

At last. . . Bill’s RV…. Had the water filter replaced, the generator serviced and the sewer hose replaced. Trim never arrived. Still no awning but today I found a better idea than a $400 bluetooth radio … I ordered a wireless device for $35 (thank you Amazon) that will allow me to plug in my Droid for wireless music and hands-free phone calls. It will be here in a few days… and then I’m off.

I received the wireless transmitter yesterday. One has to find in a station with no interference but it works great. I tuned in Folk Alley on my Droid, climbed in the bed in back and relaxed.

Next….   Packing

Hi Everyone

Okay Mom says trip is delayed again…  this time it’s because of me, can you believe that! She tells me I started my Season. . . is that a new game, something to eat–I don’t know, we’ve been staying home a lot.

My Lagotto Romagnolo

Olympia in her summer haircut

Here I am in my summer do. Grooming can be such an ordeal.

Kisses, everyone…

later, signed me, Olympia

I was hysterical about the extensive repairs suggested by the Dodge dealer, this vehicle was a rolling wreck! How could I be so naive? 80 year olds look so sincere. What was a rear differential, a front engine crank seal, a downsteam oxygen sensor, a throttle body? Kind words could not calm me but like doctors, mechanics aren’t always right. I called around town—no, they couldn’t possibly fit my beast on their service bay. In pity, Ian’s recommended Automotive Technician Group (ATG) in Goleta. I left it there for a week or so. The bill was $2,061. The day I picked up it was a lot less than that but the water pump sprung a leak in their lot as it was waiting for me come get it.  Repairs: oil change and filters, throttle body cleaned, new oxygen sensors, power steering flush, new spark plug wires, cooling system flush to remove the mucking, and then, a new water pump, thermostat and because everything was off, a new timing chain (preventative due to its 100,000 miles. That decision took a plethora of phone calls. I continued researching and wearying my friends to explain auto mechanics to me. My friend Gary e-mailed me info. . . A mobile RV mechanic in the North County laughed in awe when I told him how much I was paying in Santa Barbara.  ATG couldn’t do anything about the steering… this is the way these big vans handle, it’s fine you’ll just have to get used to it…they wrote it down, customer complains about loose steering and excess cabin noise.

The invoices pile up

The "perfect" RV

I could still make it part way across the US, I was using a cane now and taking eye drops and starting to eat. I began to check the cabin, the rear air conditioner started up for about 2 min, sputtered a bit then spooned off into a pathetic whirling sound and stopped pumping air forever. It was summer and I’d need the cabin cool for the dogs. The seller had guaranteed that everything, especially the air conditioner worked like a charm. A bad, evil charm. I fired up the propane and to my delight the furnace heaved out some toasty air, no luck however for hot water. So off to Ventura RV Service 40 min down the road I went, it was September 03, 2010 – the van was still a white-knuckle drive. Left it there for three weeks. The shop replaced the water heater and seals for $743. They made a nice note about the air conditioner – they didn’t handle those window types and yes the steering wheel was sloppy. They dropped it off next door to Associated Tire. Bless them!!! They installed wheel spacers and of course, had to redo the alignment. I’d been looking for wheel spacers everywhere – I was unable locate a single shop in Santa Barbara who could do this. Cost $211.

I adore wheel spacers!!! For the first time I could actually stay in the lane –  with the new shocks and tires my safely was improving. Can’t recommend Ventura RV, however, when I picked it up they told me I should sell, my RV was old and worn (not to mention way too little to fit it with the norm. ) My request for cleaning and inspection of the water system – ignored.

September 15, 2010–north to Serna’s Central Truck and RV Service – Mom found this place. I wasn’t easy to live with at this point, still broken-hearted and now feeling trapped by this troublesome beast…. sure didn’t get the leisure part. I was crying on a lot of shoulders – or rather shrieking at anybody who would listen. Frans drove the LT the 2 plus hours to Serna’s, I followed in my Ford and bought him a nice breakfast at yummy Ellen’s Pancake House in Bulteon. Tough as he is, he too thought it was dangerous to drive. We argued, he said it wasn’t loose steering but sway. Serna’s kept it a couple of weeks and installed a rear sway bar, $954, including mounting brackets, labor and shipping. The cabin AC was kaput – the compressor worked but the unit had no freon. They wrote a nice comment on the wind noise and had nothing at all to say about the awning I wanted.

Took it to Bruce’s, he couldn’t do anything about the air-conditioner, the cabin noise or the loose steering . . . this is the way these big vans handle, it’s fine you’ll just have to get used to it… Cost $0

Nice piece of ribbion

A little color to lift my spirits

Researched air conditioners and bought a Frigidaire from Amazon. Frans ripped out the old one, it sat on the table in the back patio for eons – it weighed a ton and being perched in the top rear of the RV it did nothing for the handling problem, the new one was significantly lighter. He installed it with a little wood framing strip for the bottom. I fussed over that little strip, it was rough and splintery…finally I pasted a piece of ribbon to the underside so when I look up from the bed I see a nice decoration.

September 28, 2010 Took it to Big Brand Tire for suggestions on the loose steering…  they were sure  it was the alignment—it wasn’t …  I’d hoped for a steering dampener, I’d read about his device and was imagining how it would lock onto my slippery steering wheel and give it  clout. They dropped the front tires to 50 psi and said it was good to go. It helped but still not enough. $0.  (FYI the RV is rated for 80 psi in the back and 65 in the front.)

Fall was turning serious, lowering the sun and bringing early darkness.  The windshield was covered with hundreds of circular scratches each one reflecting gigantic starburst glare in 3D, virtually blinding me. Took it to Tri County Auto Glass for a new windshield, $249. It took three tries as the first 2 windshields installed were defective. I love my new windshield! October 1, 2010

October 21, 2010:  Figueroa Brake & Alignment. Wow!!! Had both front end – upper and lower ball joints replaced and a new steering stabilizer shock installed. $1,305. My LT can now be driven with one hand, one finger actually but the steering is still way too loose. The mechanic explained that it was a messy job requiring specific training which most shops lack. He was one of only two shops in Santa Barbara that could handle such a job. I’d called the day after I dropped it off to check on progress, NO, I was told, we don’t have your van, you never came here and we don’t know who you are. My head went crazy, I was sure I’d been scammed. Sure all I did was move the LT from one shop to another but to have it swiped was my breaking point! I drove around frantically, not seeing the road at all, the shops blurring into one trying to remember where I had put it. Finally quite by chance, I was driving erratically; I found it, exactly as I’d left it. Apparently the Yellow Page ad for Superior Brake and Tire had never been updated and Superior who I had called was not about to tell me of their competitor. Figueroa had broken away to become independent. Of course, it had to be aligned for the third time.

I’m going to save the rest of the repairs for Part Four: It’s Too Late To Give Up Now