Arizona is heating up, literally. It was time for our semi-annual trek from our winter home in Arizona to our summer home in Colorado. As we were preparing to leave Arizona, fires were burning in multiple locations. Additionally, fires were burning in Colorado, some with such intensity that they were reported on the news in Arizona. Extreme fire danger warnings were issued for Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. We were leaving the frying pan and going into the fire…
The cover photo and this one show a fire in New Mexico, northeast of Albuquerque. It was the first of two fires we saw, with the second one being within an hour’s drive of our home in Colorado.
The best laid plans…
We planned to leave on a Friday. However, two factors delayed our departure. First, incredibly high winds were predicted for Arizona and New Mexico on our planned exit day. I expressed concern to Alan about traveling on that day, but he was confident that “we’d be okay!” I think God knew Alan needed a hefty prompt to change our plans… so He arranged that…
We loaded up the horses, the four dogs, and the humans and headed down the driveway. Alan drove the new-to-us RV, towing the Honda. I was in the truck, pulling the bumper pull horse trailer. I went first, stopping long enough for Alan to lock the gate to our property. That’s when he saw the leaking antifreeze… We circled the block and returned home. We didn’t go anywhere that day. And it was a very good thing, because the winds were insane. We would have been insane to travel. We wouldn’t have gone far. Lesson learned…
There was a leak in the radiator hose. Alan bought a new hose and two new clamps. We replaced as much antifreeze as the coach would hold. While he toiled, I hung out with the dogs in the rockin’ and rollin’ RV. The wind was fierce and the dogs were not impressed.
The next morning we repeated our routine of the previous day. However, there was an annoying warning beep eminating from the coach. Alan thought it was related to having requested a “regen” after the radiator issue. But 20 miles into our journey, the beeping continued. We stopped and perused the manual… turns out it was an emissions issue. Numerous phone calls to various sources assured us that we could drive the coach with an emissions system problem, as long as we could live with the throttling back of the engine that would result. We had to get the coach home, so we continued on…
Before we left Arizona, I had Alan install a camera system inside the horse trailer. When we pull the trailer with the coach, I wanted to be able to actually see how the horses were doing. I found it very interesting to watch traffic go by through the trailer windows, from the perspective of the horses!
Not long after we resumed travel that first day, Alan abruptly pulled over. Apparently, multiple items were falling behind him. The residential refrigerator, which does have a locking mechanism, had come open. There was yogurt and veggie dip and lots of food items all over the rug. We realized that one of the screws holding the lock on the fridge was stripped and loose. I cleaned it all up, and used a dog leash to tie the handles together. Onward ho…
The engine was definitely throttled down, and we struggled to even average our planned speed of 65 mph. Hills presented a challenge. When Alan turned on his flashers, I turned on mine as I was towing the horse trailer. About 75 miles from our planned stop in New Mexico, Alan abruptly pulled off the interstate.
Antifreeze, antifreeze, and more antifreeze
Apparently, he saw a sign for a Horse Motel, and given that he had just noticed the engine seemed to be running hot, he exited. We added another three gallons of antifreeze. There was no indication that any had leaked out. We discussed stopping for the day, but we decided to press on. With the addition of the antifreeze, the engine seemed happier and so we limped into our planned destination 12 hours after we left. We had traveled 400 miles…
The next morning, Alan was not happy to see a puddle of antifreeze underneath the coach. Sadly, the new clamps he had purchased to secure the new hose had failed. He unhooked the trailer from the truck, made an emergency run to an auto shop, and purchased yet more antifreeze. Next, he replaced the two new clamps with the one old one, and added the antifreeze. We had 370 miles to go that day.
Amazingly enough, the beeping stopped that second day. Apparently, the emissions issue does have something to do with antifreeze, and once the engine pulled in sufficient antifreeze (and it wasn’t leaking out!) we were good to go. It was a darn good thing the engine worked normally on Day Two, as we had some major hills to contend with in New Mexico.
Long days for the dogs
Our old dog, Leah, is a rescue. She was apparently badly abused before we got her, and she’s quite claustrophobic. She’s not our best traveler, and I usually give her a little chemical help in dealing with her anxiety. Towards the end of Day Two, I was going crazy listening to her panting in the backseat of the truck, even with meds on board! She moved over to the more spacious coach with Alan and finished the trip with him.
Speaking of the dogs, three long days in very tight quarters is tough for a young Border collie. Kara did great, though, notwithstanding a little bit of hassling the other dogs. There is not room in the coach for everyone to have their own pillow! Mica is super anxious when traveling, convinced we are going to leave him somewhere.
Lodging in Colorado Springs
Our second night was spent in Colorado Springs at Norris Penrose Event Center. This is a beautiful facility for equine competitions. We were the only overnighters there. We had been debating whether or not we’d dry camp or hook up. We decided, after our challenging couple of days, to hook up. However, there was no site level enough for our huge coach without requiring leveling blocks. We pulled up next to the barn on relatively level ground and dry camped for our second night.
A wonderful young man named Daniel manages the Norris Penrose facility. He told me he planned to have his dirt movers level the ground so other folks did not have any issues. We would not hesitate to stay there again if there were better accommodations for large RV’s. The horses had roomy and warm stalls.
What is RAIN?
When I let the dogs out that second night, I heard and saw water draining below the steps of the coach. After having spent several days worrying about fluids leaking from the coach, I panicked and shouted for Alan. “Is it raining?” he inquired? Well, heck, yes it was. It had been so long since I had experienced rain that I truly never considered that the precipitation falling from the sky had anything to do with the water flowing off the bottom of the coach!
We had a mere 140 miles to do on Day Three. We planned it that way because Denver traffic is horrible, and we had a lot to do to empty the RV and leave it at the storage facility. Neither our LQ trailer nor the coach will make it up the hill to our Colorado home. We took our time getting off that morning as we hoped to avoid morning rush hour.
When we turned on the coach that morning to warm it up (the diesel engine takes a while!), the dreaded beeping reappeared. There was a Walmart within a mile, so Alan tended to a sewage dump while I went to WalMart to purchase yet more antifreeze. It didn’t take much more than a gallon that day. The beeping stopped.
A flat tire
We arrived at the storage facility mid-afternoon on Day Three. Somehow, we managed to find room to pack all of the food from the fridge into our already overloaded vehicles. Alan climbed into the truck and I started following him in the Honda. That is when I noticed the flat tire on the left rear of our dual axle horse trailer.
We stopped at Big O Tires in Loveland and discovered there was a piece of razor blade stuck in the tire. At least that was better than our last tire debacle! We decided that I would take the Honda and head on home. Alan had all of the critters, but I had no room for the dogs in the Honda. The animals all had to hang out at the tire shop.
It is a gross understatement to say that I was beat by the time we got home. As I am writing this blog in real time, that “get home” day was two days before this blog posts. Alan is the Energizer Bunny, so he stayed up late that first night watching ever-so-exciting YouTube videos about operating the coach! The dogs and horses were ecstatic to be back at our mountain retreat.
However, there is one drawback to this place versus our Arizona place… there is no dog door. We are trying to remedy that. However, in the meantime, we have to let everyone out. Mica has a genetic GI issue and is frequently in dire straits. He had to go out numerous times that first night home. We awoke yesterday morning to evidence of very serious-looking diarrhea on the deck and in the dog run.
I drew blood and submitted it to CSU. He possibly has, as I suspected, a “mild” case of Hemorragic Gastroenteritis. I dealt with this with my previous Border collie, Reilly. In her case, it was stress induced. I guess Mica felt the stress of the last three days as well. The bloodwork is somewhat equivocal. This is one case where I wish I didn’t know what I know… For now, I’ll just watch him.
The horses had mostly shed out in the warm April Arizona temperatures, so they are blanketed for the chilly nights here at 7300 feet. The sun is extremely warm during the day, and nighttime temps will be warming up very soon.
An exceptionally bad fire season is upon us
We are very glad to be back in Colorado, but very worried about fires. As of this writing, there are over a dozen fires burning in Colorado. Arizona was even worse when we left. The night before we arrived, there was brief snowfall on the mountain. We very much appreciate any moisture we can get here. As I look out my window while I write, I can see snow on Long’s Peak.
The local news that aired as I was putting the finishing touches on this post discussed the wildfire emergency preparations that were being made by the zoo in Colorado Springs. As difficult as it can be to rapidly move horses or cattle away from a raging fire, can you imagine the logistics of moving zoo animals? Apparently, this is the driest April on record in Denver.
Wherever you live, I hope you are safe. For those of us in fire-prone states, the predictions are that we will have a very rough fire season. Please have an evacuation plan in place.