First an update – I’m in Santa Fe, NM for some warranty work on the scooter. It wouldn’t start one day, and rather than drive over to Sportique in Colorado Springs I got an appointment at Centaur Scooters in Santa Fe. We were already heading to New Mexico to meet some Lazy Daze folks at Abiquiu Reservoir on Sept. 20th, then to Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta in Oct. I just had to do a little side trip before getting to Abiquiu. Good news – the problem was a failure by the starter solenoid and was fixed less than 2 hours after I dropped it off yesterday. They diagnosed it quickly and had a solenoid available to use. Also, they filed the warranty claim so I wasn’t out of pocket anything and was able to load up the scooter and be on my way. Sometimes you get an early failure on a part, so I’m not worried about the scooter. I really liked Centaur when Chris and I visited in June. We had stopped in there to look at scooters and see about putting a rack on my prior rig (which ended up not being possible). It seemed like a great mom and pop shop, well stocked and well run. They sure did well to get me on my way with no delay. So, I have scheduled my initial 200 mile service with them, before heading down to Albuquerque on Oct. 1st.
Anyway, after Leadville we moved down to Salida. We had stopped in there for a week or so back in late June, early July. There is a free BLM boondocking spot just east of town, on the Arkansas River. Leadville was nice and cool (highs were in the high 60’s, low 70’s), but really cloudy and rainy. My 85 watt solar panel couldn’t keep my batteries charged with just an hour or so of sunshine per day. So, Salida seemed like a good next stop, usually sunny, hopefully not too warm at 7,000 feet, plus we had enjoyed it before. Salida has a Walmart, dump station/water at the Chamber of Commerce and a decent laundromat. I utilized all of them on the way to the campsite, that way I would be set and not need to move for 10 days.
Chris and I unloaded the scooter that afternoon. I was really excited to have it at this spot, since the town is cool (cute with a funky vibe) and just a couple of miles away. The next day (9/6) I made a quick trip in to get something at the True Value hardware store. The next morning was Saturday and I was looking forward to scooting to the Farmer’s Market and the big Fiber Fest (yarn and roving, spinning and weaving, etc.) in Riverside Park. Unfortunately, the scooter wouldn’t start even though it ran fine the day before. Everything worked except the starter button. We checked the battery, fuses, whatever else we could see, but couldn’t find the problem. I was quite bummed.
Then, I turned on the water heater and it wouldn’t start. What is up with these failures?!? I checked it all over, researched online for possible answers, cleaned the connections, etc. When nothing worked we took the circuit board off of Chris’ unit (same Atwood model) and hooked it up to mine. It fired right up. So, it seems I needed a new board. The RV dealer in nearby Poncha Springs quoted $323 for a new one, but I ordered one from Amazon for $124. I had it sent to PakMail in Salida – they do package acceptance for $5. (Some mail can come general delivery to the post office for free, but Amazon usually ships UPS or FedEx, which can’t go to the post office.)
Later in the day I rode into town with Chris in his truck. We really liked Cafe Dawn downtown and went several times while in Salida. Afterwards we drove by the park and Fiber Fest was still going on. It was much bigger than I expected, lots of booths. There was some really nice yarn, fiber art, felted hats, lots of interesting stuff. I kept thinking how much our friend Melinda (who is on her way to Balloon Fiesta after summer in Alaska) would have loved it. I meant to get a picture, but failed. Here’s a shot I took of our favorite coffee place on July 4th:
Next on my failure tour, the batteries didn’t seem to be holding a charge, even though we had more sunny days in Salida. Checking the cells with a hydrometer showed the batteries were only 50% charged. I called my Dad and also my friend CB for advice. They are both smart engineers and had good info, things to check/do. Also, I spoke to AM Solar, the servicer for my solar controller. I decided to check into the RV park next door and plug in for a day or 2 and get up to 100%. After 2 days one battery was up to 75% and one was still barely above 50%. There must be something wrong with them. I had just gotten them at the end of August in Steamboat Springs, so I swung by Napa after leaving the RV park and explained the situation. They had to order a set that would arrive the next morning as they didn’t keep the 6 volts in stock. I asked them to put a slow charge on them and I would come by in the afternoon when ready (something I should have thought to do with the Steamboat Napa). I picked them up Friday, the 13th, and this set seems to be doing fine.
While at the Salida spot Chris and I took the opportunity to wash and wax our rigs. It takes a while using just buckets of water. The wax didn’t seem to do well on the silver/grey paint on the part I waxed, leaving swirly streaks where I applied it. Figures, everything that could go wrong was going wrong lately. Now I had ruined part of my paint. Terrific. I read online that 3M makes a restorer for heavily oxidized paints and was able to pick some up at Napa. Haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Hopefully it will work OK to restore the silver. Chris’ rig looks really good all washed and waxed, though.
When I got back to the campsite after leaving the RV park I found that my friend Carol, who I had met in Caballo Lake last year, was camping near us. I didn’t remember that she was from the Salida area. She makes really beautiful sets of cloth napkins and potholders and had a booth at the farmer’s markets at Salida. I drove in to town on Saturday to do the market and run errands. It had been raining for a few days and more was forecast, but it turned out to be a really nice morning, great for the vendors. I hoped to get some cranberry/almond/cinnamon swirl bread at the baker’s booth. I had gotten some in July and had lusted for more ever since. Luckily they had some and I’ve been enjoying it for breakfast. If you ever get to the Salida farmer’s market look for it, it’s fantastic.
I really liked Salida. It’s a good size, has a nice Safeway and a Walmart, walkable area downtown with parks and residential nearby, renovation of historic buildings downtown, etc. As I said, it’s got a funky vibe. There are a lot of cool refurbished vintage bicycles that people ride around town (didn’t get a pic), they have thrift shops with names like “Free The Monkey” and “Wanderlust Road”, and houses of different eras are intermingled, like Victorian next to a mid-century craftsman, next to adobe… I loved looking at the houses as we drove into town:
Salida’s a town that I could live in, but it’s been ‘discovered’ and real estate seems to be pretty expensive. Well, it’s a nice place to visit for now.
Just before leaving we had more Lazy Dazers roll in. John and Linda (and Sadie), who stopped to see us at Rabbit Ears Pass, stopped by on the way to Abiquiu from their home in Colorado Springs. Also, Frank and Cookie, who I had briefly met in Quartzsite, were traveling with them, so we had 4 Lazy Dazes at the campsite for the night. It was great to have a visit with them, and we all went out to Amica’s Pizza for dinner. Great pizza and company, a terrific evening. Can’t wait to spend time with them and a whole bunch of Lazy Dazers in Abiquiu over the next several days.
I think/hope the troubles I have had recently are done. Sometimes trouble comes in waves. Hopefully it all doesn’t sound like too much of a bummer. These things happen, sometimes all at once. Just the normal life of an RV’er. It’s all probably less than when I had a house to take care of – when the A/C went out a few times (replacing the whole HVAC was fun), sections of fence falling over in storms, having to fix sprinkler heads, replacing the roof, etc. You have a moment of upset, breathe, figure it out, maybe replace some piece of equipment, and move on. Literally – you move on to some new piece of real estate that offers stunning mountain views, or forests, or lakes and rivers. You move to where the weather is nice and the town is interesting. It’s all good, and I’m loving it. 🙂