Friday, April 1, 2016

March is going out like a lion. Wrapping it up, continued….


Photo by Amada Gonzales

Most tasks have been taken care of now, except van maintenance.  Seems I need to get some work done and get rid of the annoying “Check Engine” light.  Here is how the month has been going.  Wind is blowing like crazy here in Quartzsite, roaring like a lion.  I apologize in advance for the long and rambling post.

March 18 at 7:57pm ·


Today I have been going through things, trying to organize the rest of the way, gather things for the last Rock Club tailgate/swap meet tomorrow, and pack things away. Time to pack rocks away for the rest of the summer. Won't be seeing them again until November. In the process, I had my solar suitcase cover laying on top of things,and covered by a tarp.


When I uncovered it, I found some little critter in the past ten days, stockpiled a bunch of green Mesquite tree seeds just right on top of the cover. Isn't that cute? These things are as hard as rocks. I am breaking camp on BLM land and going to town to housesit for a friend.

Ella Shore Do you find it sad when you pack up to leave?

Swankie Wheels It was sad to leave my camp on BLM land, but not sad to pack up and hit the road, just exciting.

March 19

The Latino Rock Fiesta, a music event, seems to be much-a-do-about-nothing. I drove to McDonalds today after the Rock Club Swap Meet, and then decided to drive across the I10 and down Kuehn Rd... to have a closer look. I observed a number of young people using the pedestrian overpass, walking to town for breakfast, mostly couples, and then over by Loves, more people walking to cross I10 on Exit 17, and some to Loves for breakfast. Traffic was nothing compared to the annual migration of snowbirds.


If not for the tents and such, you would hardly be able to see any difference than normal. Traffic was actually much lighter then during our winter season. I think estimates of 20,000 are way off.

Some people say there is  nothing to do in Quartzsite and that always cracks me up.  Here are some things to do in the area…. and next year I will try to do those I have not yet seen.  Things to see.

I am working on condensing and packing up my trailer now. The Rock Club has a Swap Meet the 3rd Sat. of the month and today was the last one. I sold a bunch of my notecards and a few other small things. Still have a lot to do, but once the rocks are put away the rest gets easier. The rocks have to load over the axle of the trailer, and so that has to happen first. Tools have to be the last thing that goes in the back of trailer, in case I need them. Now to wash up some things, wash out the hummer feeders and put them were I can get to them, in case I want to hang them in my camp. Then to make the decision to load the kayak on the van or in the trailer (it ended up in the trailer). Think I will op for the trailer to keep it shaded from the sun. I'm getting closer.

Now, what to do with the passenger seat I did not sell??? The sun is getting too out to work outside very long. I got a headache from sitting in it this morning from 8-10am for the Swap Meet.

Thought I  might tow the trailer from MX to UT as I explore, so that if I can't get internet, I can work on projects off line when I am not hiking. There is also the advantage as I am meeting people in the trail towns, I can show them what I have... my rig, and see what storage options there are along the way.  I do have the option of leaving it here in Quartzsite at my friends’ house.  Which would be nice, when I finish the hike, it will be here waiting for me. I think I will leave it here in Quartzsite.

Lots to figure out.

Except for having Chevy look at the van and give me their opinion as to IF the engine cover can now be removed... I am done. Need to put tools away. Have a few more things to tweak. But it is all falling into place now. I am ready to hit the road and explore the AZ Trail.

I must begin studying my gear list and others I have been sent and get my gear ready... and order the other things I need. I am working on a combined list now of other AZT hiker's lists, and what I have on hand. Questions for other hikers are: 1) Is there anything on your list you NEVER used? 2) Is there anything you didn't take that you wish you had? 3) What, if anything would you MOST want to change? I'll share my spreadsheet when I am done.

March 20

Well, I have a lot to do today, so I am getting off the computer for now. Looks like my friends who worked the Fiesta have not been paid. I sure hope this is resolved to their benefit. (since this writing, they have been paid, but a week later than they were told).

Got the back of my trailer straightened out and found lots of things that were taking up space that I don't need. Actually got rid of five large Rubbermaid tubs.  Also cleared out the space where the kayak goes. It's too hot out there and sweat is dripping into my eyeballs.

March 22

I have joined the Arizona Trail Association and signed up for this VACATION!  I'm going. Anyone want to join in on the fun???? Sign up now if you do.  Volunteer Vacation 2016 – Mazatzal Wilderness.

Hope to meet with a guy this afternoon to see if he can read the van computer codes for me. Time for old Swankie to hit the road soon. Another season comes to an end and a new one begins.

Why is it, no matter how much stuff I get rid of, the trailer still fills up to the ceiling??? Kayak loaded. Rethinking STUFF!

Got to meet and visit with Jan Walker, a 57 year old women walking from Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean for 911 Awareness.

March 23

I tried to assist Jan by getting others to do some water drops (and maybe a Dr. Pepper) between Exit 45 and Phoenix... she is heading east on I-10 in the West bound lane.. I could not go to assist her, with the van problems I was having.   But police finally came along and kicked her off of I-10.  She ended up having to get a ride north to Route 60.

This was this past weekend in Quartzsite. Yep, nothing to do here. Latino Rock Music Festival.

Rock Fiesta 2016: 'You could barely move'

An attendee said:  “Let me just emphasize that by the end of the night, I could barely move through the crowds while trying to use Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram so our 12 News audience could be part of the fun as well.“  

In the meantime, my silly boy, Richard Bailey, is contact juggling and drinking beer at the same time... in Ireland. He has spent most of the month in Ireland working and vacationing.  His wife joined him for the last days he was there.

March 24

Note to self: Stay away from fiberglass insulation. I helped a friend yesterday and got some in my eyes, on my skin, in my lungs. Had an asthma attack during the night. Am now trying to STOP this COPD episode. Going to bed with hot tea and my AZ Trail book. Hope I don't get a secondary bacterial infection in my lungs while I am trying to cough one up. Darn. I don't get sick from being bad, I get sick from being good and doing good.

March 25

I am going to be "unfollowing" some of the people and also some of the groups I follow now. Since I will be away from Quartzsite about six-eight months, I don't need to keep up with all the local news. I will mainly be posting on my blog as I am able to get an internet signal and get to my computer or some other computer. I will resume using my SPOT O.K. notifications and can put 9 other people on that list, they will mainly be folks who can support me along the AZ Trail, so they will always know where I am. I will have ONE Facebook contact who can repost updates letting others know I am o.k. and approximately where I am. This is just a heads up. There just won't be time to keep up with Facebook that way I have been doing.

OK, I am off to tackle the engine cover and see if I can get it off without having to tear out my newly built battery box/cabinet. I think I will only need to trim off the top shelf of the cabinet to be able to move the cover enough. We will see.  (well that didn’t work)

I thought I may have to cut the top purple board back... from right under the orange extension cord to something about like this...... where the black camera cord is laying.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels Ha, she said!!!!

Swankie Wheels There it is, the glove box/drink holder and the engine cover/dog house/ engine cowl. If a mechanic needs to get in there, can the cover move with the purple battery box cover in the way? Or do I need to redesign the purple cabinet???

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels Pulled the lower dash covers off... before... driver's side.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels ...after - driver's side...

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels Before - passenger's side...

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels after. passenger's side...

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels Glove box/drinker holder, before

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels ...location for glove box/drink holder... after it is removed, front of engine cover. Yuk, the dust, it is really black, not tan.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels Unlatch engine cover, and move it... I can not move it... it won't budge.

Swankie Wheels And even if I cut the top of the purple box back, I don't think it will move enough to allow access to the engine.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels The most I can cut off the upper left corner of the purple would be two inches, and most likely to do that I am going to have to take the whole purple box apart. I think the thing to do is take it to someone who has removed these covers and see if they can jimmy it around so work could be done. That shouldn't cost too much for someone to look at it with me, since I have everything but the purple box out of the way.

Swankie Wheels View backing away a bit into the isle. The far corner is the one I mention above that a the most I could only cut 2" off of. The corner closest to the lens I can cut back about 10-12" which would be about where the passenger seat would have been anyway. I think I need someone else to look at this before I began cutting anything.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Swankie Wheels Looking at the purple box from the floor in the isle.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

There just seems to be no way around this, the purple box must come out and be rebuilt and pushed a foot farther back. Below is the new arrangement.


In the end, I had to take the whole box apart and rebuild it, moving it backward one foot, and mechanics at Chevy have now looked at it, pulled the cover off, and moved it around to be sure that it will clear enough so work can be done on the engine, if needed.  That’s a big relief.

I have signed up for the first week of May to work on this maintenance project and will be hiking the entire trail in early fall.

Carl Brown Sr's photo.

Well, my goal for the day has been accomplished, I got everything removed from around the engine cover to determine if it could be opened without me having to pull or redesign the battery cabinet. I am pooped. I didn't break anything and am sure I can put it all back together again, but I could not budge the engine cover and think I will get some professional advice on if it can be removed with the purple cabinet in place or how much I have to change things to be able to give mechanics access to the engine. Ugh. I'm tired and depressed and hungry. I'm gonna go eat now.

Swankie Wheels Food can make a person feel much better. I'm conjuring up a re-design.

Swankie Wheels Well there is just no way that engine cover is gonna come off with this box in the way. I have decided to move it to the rear by 12", and then sit my refridge on top of it, even with the freezer you see in this photo. The farthest left battery will then be in the door way of the side door, but not blocking any more space than what I am already used to. I mocked it up in Photoshop.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

Douglas Rykerd: Bummer that you have to redo it. I hate when we think a project is done, and then we have to redo it because we didn't foresee an issue with something seemingly unrelated. Happens to me more than it should ; )

Swankie Wheels Now, I only hope they can jiggle that engine cover to get at whatever needs gotten after, cause I am gonna be pissed if I have to take all this out again.

March 26

Sometimes I surprise myself. I got the batteries out today, and hooked up outside to keep my refridge and freezer running. Got the battery box rebuilt so there is more room up front to removed the engine cover. Got it all done, and the refridge and freezer moved back inside the van. Running power using jumper cables tonight. Will move batteries back in place tomorrow, and tidy up some wiring. Most likely will get another pair of jumper cables to run from batteries to invertor and fuse panel. Didn't think I could do all that in one day. 1) photo before the re-build and 2) space now, after moving the battery box back a foot.

Swankie Wheels Here is my new arrangement for invertor and fuse panel. I will tidy up the wires tomorrow.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

A nesting dove has been watching me work all day. Right over my camp is a nest. It looks more like a net than a nest. I looked up a couple days ago and could look right through the nest and see the egg and the yoke inside, with sun shining through. I'll try for a photo tomorrow.


March 27

Once I begin my "hiking" adventure, it is unlikely I will get much computer time. So, please know that when I do turn on the computer, it is unlikely I am going to look through hundreds of "LIKE" notifications.... which means I will most likely stop looking at any notifications. As it is, I have only 30 likes each time I turn the computer on, and that is several times a day.

Solution: If there is a way to stop ALL notifications I may do that. If not, I may deactivate my Facebook account for the duration. I have to compulsion to want to look at all the comments and notifications... and it won't be possible.

I have made some changes to what "notifications" I will receive and from who. I have also revised my blog page to bring information on the Arizona Trail to the forefront so it's more noticeable. I am working on a Wish List of gear I will need to get for the hike, but it is still under development.  There is a tab at the top next to the HOME tab.   I have also moved the "donate" button to the top right corner, in case anyone wants to help me get gear.

Swankie Wheels Except for having Chevy look at the van and give me their opinion as to IF the engine cover can now be removed... I am done. Need to put tools away. Have a few more things to tweak. But it is all falling into place now. I am ready to hit the road and explore the AZ Trail.

Time to get back up there today and slap the last of my paint on the platform. I don't have enough to cover it all, but am going to use up what I do have. Now I have the panel so it tilts up and it has not been painted under the panel since it was installed six years ago. Going to use up the paint in that area.

Then I worked on a better way to tie down the t.v. antenna... since the blue strap is needed for the kayak and it sings in the wind. Got that done, plus drilling a hole in my roof to feed the coax through. Got it plugged. It was a good day.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

It was a very windy day today in Quartzsite, but I managed to get a lot done. Looks like I need the following done to my van: change fuel filter, replace an O2 sensor or fuse (hope it is just a fuse), and get spark plugs checked/replaced. Ouch.  Was NOT the fuses.

Stanley Ptak: Charlene, if you don't have this website, bookmark it. I find it invaluable when travelling. If I'm on the road on a Tuesday night I have to watch NCIS. I'll go here, put in the zip code or the city, state location and it will shoot an azimuth to the transmitting tower and get you distances and an idea of the signal strength. I can then point my antenna right on, and then search for the signal. If I'm in range, all is well. If not, I'll just drive to a closer location.   You may want to add this to your blog. Stanley Ptak sent me this:

The Digital TV Transition: Reception Maps

Digital Television (DTV) is a new type of broadcasting technology that will transform your television viewing experience. DTV enables broadcasters to offer television with movie-quality picture and sound. It can also offer multicasting and interactive capabilities.

After working on my t.v. antenna and connection yesterday, I did a scan for channels in town and got none. So, last night I drove back out to my campsite in La Posa North LTVA and tried again. I tried with van facing west and got nothing, then north and got nothing, and decided to watch a DVD instead. This morning I turned the van facing south and I got channels. A month or so I got the t.v. working here and got six channels (5 digital, 1 analog). 2 of the five digital were Spanish. This morning I got 10 channels only 1 of those analog, and 1 Spanish. Pretty cool. Nice to sit at my desk and work and have news or programs playing at the same time. I feel so civilized. lol

April 1, 2016

I am in Parker AZ waiting for Chevy to get a new O2 sensor in from CA.  Turns out the fuel filter is inside the gas tank and the cost of replacing it would be over $500.  Turns out I don’t need a tune up and spark plugs, a job that would cost $650 (that’s what all the work on the rebuild of the battery box was for, ha ha).  It’s just a bad sensor.  Cost of the computer diagnostics and new O2 sensor is about $300.  What a relief.

And in conclusion:

Just a reminder, I do not read LIKE notifications, I just click them off. If you want me to know you like something I post, PLEASE use your words. I will read all comments. I may "unfriend" people who continue to LIKE too much stuff. If you believe I am being unreasonable, please "unfriend" me on Facebook and just follow my blog instead. Most of my posts will be there, not on Facebook, for the rest of 2016. Thank you.

Sorry for the rambling.

Thank you for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link.

Help me a little if you can by donating to my equipment fund for the Arizona Trail hike, in the Fall 2016.  I promise to pay it forward.  There is a PayPal donation button in the top right corner, but I realize people using phone may not see that so I am repeating the button below. You can see a list of gear I need at .

Contribute to Equipment for the Arizona Trail Hike.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.