Sunday, March 12, 2006

Good Sams Arizona State Samboree in Casa Grande

We took our first trip in the Chieftain to the Good Sams Arizona State Samboree in Casa Grande, Arizona on March 9-12. Having only driven the Chieftain home from the sales lot this was going to be a great driving experience for us. We were really looking forward to actually using the Chieftain instead of dreaming about doing it. We had visions of setting things up: putting the mat and lawn chairs out, unrolling the awning, putting up our neat red-white-and-blue awning lights, hoisting the new hypno twister, and meeting lots of interesting people.

We got the Chieftain out of storage after sanitizing the water tanks with bleach and checking things over carefully and drove it up to our house in Sun City West. There we loaded it up with our supplies and clothes for the Samboree on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Our good neighbor, Marilyn V., got to take a tour of our new toy and really liked it. So with the TiVo set and ready to faithfully record the KU basketball games we headed down Grand Ave to I-101 to I-10 and on to AZ-287 east out of Casa Grande. The driving went surprisingly well although going down I-10 at 65 mph in a huge vehicle that occupied what seemed like a lane and a half was initially terrifying. Seven kept reminding me not to take out the car beside us about every 5 minutes. I finally found a good visual reference point in front of the vehicle and concentrated on it, ignoring everything else going on around me. That was the only way I was able to stay in my lane consistently. White knuckle time, especially through downtown Phoenix. It was comforting however to know that people were afraid of ME because I was driving a big, honking, vehicle that could crush them if they didn't get out of the way. Good thing.

We pulled into the Pinal County Fairgrounds and got assigned a spot to park. Our spot was in RV Siberia - at the end of a row. There were several things about the site that were bad: everyone walked their dog outside our front door, no trees, no other RVs blocking the wind that was more or less howling in from the southwest, it was 50 miles from all the activities, and a great view of some gutted trailers. But, what the hay, we were here, we were excited by everything - our RV, the Samboree, all the people, etc.

We headed on over to the registration booth and got our paperwork, official Marti Gras beads and a number. The number, on a wristband, was our ticket to events and the 100s of prize drawings. The list of activities was actually kind of mind boggling at first. Games, seminars, and all kinds of events from morning to night. Looked like it was going to be non-stop fun.

When we got back to the RV to set up we began to realize that our spot at the end of the row was bad. The wind was blowing. Usually wind is not a big problem but in the Arizona desert it is because wind carries dust - lots of dust and it was blowing at us in 10-30 mile gusts. Out the window went plans for setting up the awning, mat, lights, and chairs. We were going to be confined to the RV or inside of buildings unless the wind went away. We did get the hypno twirler set up and almost immediately that we had made a mistake purchasing it. It was too small. It was cool, but small. We were concerning about the length of it, 6 feet, and got the smallest they had. Bigger is better. We hooked up to the 30 amp service but didn't hook up to the water. Seven, who worked for the Arizona Water Quality department, contacted a friend of hers still working there for a quick assessment of the quality of Casa Grande's water. To put it bluntly, their water stinks.

Samborees are places where people are hell-bent on having fun and they do. We participated in a Sequence tourney, a washer board tourney, helped our local Good Sams club, Kactus Sams, with their booth in carnival, enjoyed the ice cream social, attended a campground presentation, looked at some new RVs, went to a safety seminar, and did a lot of other interesting things. We met and talked to people from all over. Good Sams people are down-right friendly.

On Saturday it began to rain. That's good. We haven't had any rain in the Phoenix area for 140 days or there abouts. A little rain is a good thing in the desert. Settles the dust and all that. The problem was that it didn't stop raining. Our RV was slowly sinking into the mud and was surrounded by 3-4" inches of water. We were concerned. People started pulling out and leaving. One guy evidently forgot that there was an one-two foot deept ditch running down through the middle of the fair grounds and drove right into it. He somehow got pulled out. We finally decided it was time to move and we moved to higher ground. Someone told us about Wal-Mart boots (grocery bags fastened over the shoes) and we wore those any time we left the RV. A lot of the outdoor events were cancelled or moved inside. We missed the bean bag baseball game that was held indoors. The golf car rodeo had to be cancelled.

Sunday morning we got up to welcomed sunshine. The storm had moved on and things dried out in a hurry. We ate a good breakfast and got ready to break camp. Our old spot at the end of the row was still under water though so we were glad we moved.

We decided to forego the interstate and take the back way to Tempe where we would visit Son #2, the Drewmeister. We drove down Arizona 87 to Elliot Road where we turned to go to Tempe. We had a lunch in the RV with the Drewster, who was impressed with our new toy. We let him drive it 50 feet down the parking lot. He is, after all, still a wild and crazy teenager. Then after getting updated on Drew's progress at college, girl friend, job, and other things, we went back on the road down I-10/I-101 and home. And a good time was had by all despite all the little set backs that kept us from realizing our initial vision. ('good time was had by all' was always appended to every report of activities in a little social newspaper column we used to read a long time ago). The only bad thing was that TiVo failed to record the KU basketball games for some reason.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hoisting the Hypno Twister

We fell in love with wind socks and twisters during our Quartzsite trip. An RV parked near us had one up like the ones on the left. The spinning twister allowed us to find our way back to our RV until we got used to where we needed to go. They just look cool.

We ordered a patriotic Hypno Twister from Fun with Wind along with a 16 foot telescoping pole. The next problem was how we were to going to attach it to the RV. I surfed the web for solutions. There are lots of flag holders on the market and they can cost big bucks. Some are even made from composite materials. Woo-woo.

After thinking about how much money we had invested in the Hypno Twister and the pole we thought: well, enough is enough on this project. We came up with a simple design for a holder that is made out of a foot of scrap 2"x4" and 4 5" carriage bolts I had in the garage. Total cost is probably around $1.50. I spent about 20 minutes making them. The ladder on the RV and the poles are about 1" in diameter.

I drilled 2 1" holes about 1 1/2" inches apart. Then I drilled 2 3/8" holes in the ends all the way through the piece. Finally, I cut the bracket through the center of each hole using a saw with a 1/8" kerf. The RV ladder will go through one hole and the pole through the other and then I will tighten them down.

Brainstorm: If I made the holes that will hold the flag larger so that they could accomodate a piece of plastic pipe with a 1"+ inside diameter and one end closed then the flag could be inserted or removed from the holder easily without having to
undo the nuts each time.

Of course, that would make it easier for some deviant to take the pole and the flag or wind sock though. Or I could drill a hole in the pipe and the pole and put a lock through both and solve that problem . (Why do we have to nail everything down? Wouldn't it be easier to shoot people who steal things like a stupid pole and a ultra-useless hypno twister? Just kidding, of course. )

Brainstorm Update: While at the Samboree in Casa Grande I saw two such pipes attached to the ladder using strips of metal (can't think of the name of it) that is used to hang pipe with. Given a choice between the two methods my idea is cheaper but the pipe idea is better except that the pole will rattle around in the pipe if it is too big and annoy the h--- out of you when you are trying to sleep.