Visitors Don’t Keep Us From Our Projects

Saturday, 23 August 2014
Gulf Waters RV Resort  — Port Aransas, Texas
Temps: Hi 89F (32C) / LO 81F (27C)

Hot and humid continues to rule the weather in Port Aransas.  Enough said on that topic!

Let’s see, where was I when I last posted on 10 August?  Oh yes; Mui was still overseas, getting ready for his return trip to the US.   And I was stuck in Port Aransas with an electrical problem.  Luckily, a temporary solution was found to keep things going until the ATS (automatic transfer switch) could be replaced.  I was able to share that information with Mui before he boarded the long, long flight back to Houston the next day.

His long travel day ended up being even longer than anticipated.  First it was a one-hour weather delay leaving İstanbul; then it was storm-delays in the Houston area.  As you can see from the above map, the Turkish Airlines flight had to go through some gyrations before a window in the passing storm allowed it to land at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.  The good news — or so we thought initially — was that the storm had delayed his flight to Corpus Christi as well, so he managed to transfer to Hobby Airport in plenty of time.  But then, that flight kept getting pushed back.  Finally, at 10:30p, after having been on the go for 26 hours, he threw in the towel.  He asked Southwest Airlines to transfer him to the first flight the next morning and he went to a nearby Marriott for a good night’s rest.

We’ve been busy since Mui touched down at Corpus Christi International at 10:30a on the 12th.  Yes, planning our New Zealand trip has been part of that busy-ness, but Mui’s not one to sit for long, so he found some “projects” to do as well … overseeing the installation of the new ATS switch; replacing the motor for the windshield’s daytime MCD shade; trimming and pruning some of the overgrown plants around our pad; and keeping the lines with Amazon humming with this, that, and whatever.

Dale from Southern Style RV Service returned on 18 August to install the new ATS Switch.
[Sorry about the size of the photo; Mui’s camera was still set to shoot small jpegs!]

Mui also installed insulation in the cabinets and closet [thanks for the idea, Pam] — we’re already seeing positive results from this … the ice cream bowls aren’t dishwasher-hot and the chocolate bars are no longer gooey ;-)  Oh, and he worked on one more project; but I am going to write about that separately so I can put the post on the Phaeton mods page.

The insulation may not look pretty, but it helps …

… to keep the worst of the heat out.  And we think it will also help with the cold this winter.

Now what about those guests I mentioned in the post title.  Well, it’s not what you think; and no, we weren’t rude to them by continuing to work on our projects ;-)

First came a baby turtle that was no more than 2½ inches (6 cm) long.

The baby turtle sought refuge under our rolling umbrella stand …

… but moved out from under it and headed towards the Yucca plant I
watered hoping to get it moving into the shade and off the concrete.
Eventually, it made its own way back to the pond that fronts our pad.

Next came a green heron … a juvenile by the looks of it.

Unlike the Great Blue Herons that frequent the pond to hunt,
this green heron was just interested in surveying his surroundings.

Oh, and I saw a pair of caracaras on the beach a couple of times.  No photos, though; I leave the camera at home when we go out for our morning exercise walk.

And that’s a wrap for now; I’ll be back with a post about Mui’s latest Phaeton mod soon.

Two More Days … Was it too Much to Ask?

Saturday, 10 August 2014
Gulf Waters RV Resort  — Port Aransas, Texas
Temps: Hi 89F (32C) / LO 82F (28C)

Two days — actually, a day and a half — and Mui would have been home to deal with this afternoon’s electrical emer-
gency.  But no, the transfer switch had to short out today, leaving me powerless — in the ways that matter on a Texas summer day … NO A/C.

Before I tell the story of my emer-
gency … let me assure you that all is well now.  The A/C is on and has already cooled the coach down to a comfy temp.

The Automatic Transfer Switch is the open box with all the wires and other geegaws.      

It all started with a power flicker.  It didn’t last long, and the control panel immediately showed the system in inverting mode.  I had a general idea of what to do, but got on the phone with Mui to verify the steps with him first.  Luckily, he was at dinner with his mother, and I was able to reach him … a few more hours and he would have been asleep.

After confirming with the GWRVR office that the power wasn’t off throughout the resort, I set to work.  I shut off the 50A breaker and started the generator to get the A/Cs going.  The system showed inverting.  I waited.  The status did not change.  In the meantime, I asked the campground handyman to change out the 50A breaker.  When that was done, I turned off the generator and plugged into shorepower again.  No go; still not budging from inverting.  OK, let’s try the 30A breaker.  Still no go.  I shut the inverter off, and powered it up again … nope, no change.  I even checked the fuses; no problem there.  I suspected the problem might be with the automatic transfer switch, but since I wouldn’t be able to do anything to resolve it if that was indeed the problem, I didn’t open the box … some things are better left to the professionals.

My big issue was the A/Cs of course.  Can’t live without them in the sweltering August heat here in Texas … not even at the beach.  Both units were clicking on, but that was it … no air.  I called a fellow-Phaetonite to see if he had any thoughts.  He verified the steps I had taken, and came to the same conclusion I had — time to call an electrician … and on a Sunday to boot!

You can clearly see the short in the transfer box in this close-up.

I gathered my laptop and cellphone, and sought refuge at the GWRVR office where I could at least work in air-conditioned comfort.  The first call went to voice mail; I left a message.  The second company didn’t answer at all.  The third one — Southern Style RV Service — answered.  The tech was booked solid, but the lady on the phone asked me to explain the problem and what I had done, and promised to call the tech — who, it turns out, is her husband.  She called back a few minutes later … “Dale considers having no A/C an emergency, but he can’t be there until 4:00p,” she said.  No problem, I can hangout for another two hours at the office.  In the meantime, I started searching for a hotel — plan B in the event I couldn’t remain in the rig overnight.

Dale showed up shortly before 4:00p.  He listened to my description of the issue and the steps I had taken to rectify it; he looked at the inverter; and then — just as I expected — he checked out the transfer switch box.  Yup … there it was — the short that was the cause of my problems.  Since friends had experienced a similar problem earlier this year, I was hopeful that Dale would be able to do a by-pass to get power into the rig to run the A/Cs.  And that’s exactly what he did.  Half an hour later, I was signing my name on the dotted line for today’s work — payment to be made after Dale completes the installation of the new automatic transfer switch I’ll be ordering from Tiffin first thing tomorrow morning.  Expedited shipping should have the switch here in a couple of days, and all should be back to normal soon after that.

The cables Dale disconnected to by-pass the transfer switch are capped
and waiting to be reconnected when the new automatic transfer switch arrives.

Phew!  Could have been worse, I suppose.  But I still would have preferred not having to deal with this little emergency today.  I can’t say enough good things about Southern Style RV Service.  Turns out, Dale and his son — if Dale’s the surgeon, his son is the surgical nurse — were working on some rigs somewhere south of San Antonio when they got my call.  He could have just said he couldn’t make it down to work on the Phaeton.  But no; he drove all the way back to Port Aransas to help me out.  I appreciate it — especially since he’s going to have to return to San Antonio to finish the job up there.

Considering this is my first time alone in the rig, I remained surprisingly calm in the face of today’s little emergency.  Yes, I did utter a few choice words at first, but then I buckled down to getting the problem resolved.  I think I even managed to impress Dale with my succinct summary of the problem and what I’d done to diagnose the issue.  Too bad this blog post isn’t just as concise ;-)

Today’s experience was yet another reason to be glad I am in the familiar surroundings of GWRVR.  Peter, the handyman, had checked on me just yesterday to make sure all was well in Mui’s absence, and he stopped by several times today to make sure things were progressing smoothly towards resolving the electrical issue.

And, knowing that our Texan friends, the Zs, were just a phone call away helped my peace of mind immensely.  I knew they weren’t above hopping in the car and coming down to GWRVR had I asked them to do so.  It’s nice to have people around who sincerely care.

As for Mui — he proved himself to be his usual calm self when I called about the emergency and helped me walk through my diagnostic steps.  Many thanks; but, “get your butt home, Mr Mui” before I have to deal with another emergency — like a full black tank ;-)

On another note … other than today’s emergency, life alone in the rig hasn’t been bad at all.  Until Friday, I was able to maintain my morning and evening walks, but the humidity has been a bit too much for me to venture out for exercise these past couple of days.  I do get to sit in the breezy shade when I take a break from researching and planning for our New Zealand trip — made good headway with a bare-bones plan for South Island … have plenty to discuss with Mui when he returns.

The resident dragonfly of Site 408 entertains me when I sit outside in the breezy shade.

As for Mui … his brother-in-law was laid to rest on Monday.  Since then, he’s done a couple of handyman type projects for his sister while she is busy accepting condolences from the large circle of friends and associates who have been popping in daily.  He begins his return trek to the US with a flight from Ankara around 1:00a CDT tomorrow morning.  If all goes well, he’ll be home around 10:00p — fingers crossed.

Time to Fess Up

Saturday, 2 August 2014
Gulf Waters RV Resort  — Port Aransas, Texas
Temps: LO 78F (26C) / Hi 83F (28C)

We left the RV park at NAS Corpus Christi and moved to our own site at Gulf Waters RV Resort (GWRVR) on Monday.  We’re back in Port Aransas, Texas … home sweet RV Pad!  It definitely feels like we’re back home now.

The temperature here was cooler this week — it didn’t go above 90F (32F).  And with the breeze, it felt much cooler.  I am on the patio at the moment — in fact, the picture to the right is the view from my chair.  It’s 7:00p and the temp is 82F (28C).  The weather website says it feels like 87F (31F).  Maybe in the sun.  But I’m here to tell you that it sure feels a lot cooler in the shade — I wouldn’t be lying if I said that a light sweater wouldn’t go amiss right about now.

Of course, today’s comfortable weather is due to a cold front that brought rain to the area this morning — much needed rain, I might add.  I’m sure things will warm up soon enough and I won’t be singing such a cheery tune.  Then again, who knows with Mother Nature anymore?  Everyone in Port A told us the winter was unusually cold the first four months we were here.  Maybe summer will follow suit ;-)

Those of you who know me personally — and readers of long standing — know that I can’t abide hot temperatures.  Combine that with humidity, and I’m pretty much hiding indoors round the clock.  If that's the case, why on earth would we be in Texas in the summer?  Several readers suggested in comments left on the previous post that we should turn the Phaeton’s nose north and get out of dodge.  Well, it’s time to fess up and tell you why we’re here and why we’re staying put.

Left: A hibiscus bloom from our overgrown hedge;
it sure went wild while we were gone for a month and a half.

Right: Ring-billed gull with a treat!
(I haven’t been taking photos, so I got a little desperate and dug into the archives.)

We’re here because we need to plan and prepare for our next multi-month vacation!  Yup, another non-Phaeton trip is looming on the horizon.  This one will be a winter trip — some might say a summer trip since we will be heading into the southern hemisphere.  I’ll share the details later, but a big part of this vacation will be a road trip around New Zealand — six weeks to be precise.  Road trips in an unfamiliar country require lots and lots of research and planning — much of it on the computer.  Which is why being in a hot spot in Texas is really not so onerous.

As it turns out, it’s a good thing we’re at our home-pad since I’m here all by myself — at least for the next 9 days.  You see, we got a call yesterday that Mui’s brother-in-law had passed away during the wee hours of the day (Turkey is 8 hours ahead of us).  He woke me up at 5:00a to give me the sad news.  Ergin had been quite ill and bedridden for a while now, so his passing wasn't entirely a surprise — but sad nonetheless.

So, Mui flew out of Houston last night and is at his sister’s house in Eskişehir already — that’s a 50-minute plane ride from Corpus Christi + a 7-hour layover in Houston + an 11-hour plane ride to İstanbul + a 1-hour layover there + a 1-hour plane ride to Ankara + a 3-4 hour layover at the bus station + a 3-hour bus ride to his final destination.  He called me at 4:45p CDT today; 00:45a his time on Sunday — I’ll let you do the math on how long his trip took!  The funeral is Monday, so he made it there in time to offer moral support.

It was bad enough dealing with an emergency that had overseas ramifications without Mui having to worry about me staying behind in the Phaeton in some unfamiliar campground somewhere.  Sometimes the decisions we make turn out to be a good thing for more than the reason for which the decision was made initially.