Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Rocks, Canyons and RV Roof Men

It was 9:30am when the crew arrived – three California guys in a conversion van with a work trailer in tow. Ron, the RV roof guy, climbed out of the driver’s seat and started delegating to his guys. Within minutes drills were going and pieces of my camper were being pried off. The final phase of operation “Fix-It Phoenix” had begun. Let me back up…

So, the last time I blogged we had just crossed the Arizona state line. In fact, right before I clicked PUBLISH I was ordering a Date Shake at the Dateland Travel center. The shakes are good but, like anything that has been hyped up for years, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It is an obligatory purchase if you are travelling I-8 in Arizona so, it doesn’t matter what I rate the shake, you’re going to have to buy one and form your own opinion which, in turn, will not help the next guy make a purchase decision.

We started our Arizona adventure at Lake Pleasant, a regional park just Northwest of Phoenix. The lake itself was created by putting a huge dam in the desert and pumping concrete in the ground to prevent drainage. The water in the lake was delivered courtesy of the Central Arizona Project, or CAP. The CAP is a long trench that diverts water from the Colorado River to Central Arizona so people in phoenix can have lawns, swimming pools and golf courses. If you ever make your way down to Mexico along the Colorado River, you will eventually come to a delta where the Colorado River disappears. It used to flow all the way to the Gulf of California but now it stops, a couple hundred miles short. Don’t get me wrong, the lake is beautiful, but it comes at a huge cost and represents the enormous impact humans have on nature.

The Colorado River according to a map. 

The Colorado River according to a satellite. 

Lake Pleasant

During the day it is not uncommon to spot wild burros running around in the desert surrounding our camper. At night, the coyotes come to life. They stay out of sight but they make their presence known with their unmistakable yipping and howling. Other critters that are native to this area are rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, and Javelinas. We haven’t met any of these critters but I am okay with just knowing they exist.

Our desert campsite!
While we were in the Phoenix area I was in talks with the insurance company to get our roof and water damage repaired. I was also working with a dealer who was talking to the manufacturer to get some items fixed under our warranty. If you have never dealt with an RV insurance company or an RV warranty department, you are guaranteed to live a life with less gray hairs than me. Being the persistent guy that I am, I managed to get the manufacturer to hand over a reimbursement check for a mobile mechanic that I hired in LA and they approved all of my current repairs. So, we were ready to take the rig in, we just needed a place to stay for 5 days. We dropped off our rig at the dealer and headed north.

Our first stop was in Sedona. If you are like us and you like cute towns, grand views, hiking, biking and laid back people – Sedona is paradise. It is easily in the top 3 places we have visited so far. Our stay in Sedona came courtesy of Diamond Vacations. They gave us a 3 night stay in a 2-room suite for $99 and all we had to do was go to a 2 hour presentation about their vacation club. After the presentation, they promised us a $100 Visa gift card so, at the end of the day, we were making $1 off of the stay. The sales person that they paired us with totally missed the mark. I was so bored with her that I literally stopped her and said, “Look, I want to help you. If I were selling to us, a family of full-time RVers, I might start by talking about how much we spend on camping and then play the angle of price comparison.”

She looked at me and said she was getting to that part and then continued making confusing scribbles on paper. She also spent a lot of time using the “rule of 72” to demonstrate inflation to us. She explained that buying into their vacation program today made us OWNERS and we would not have to ride the wave of inflation. We could lock in our vacations for LIFE. I have been through these presentations before and they are all the same. They do the math backwards to make it look appealing but if you simply pull out a calculator and add it all up, you are screwing yourself for life. Additionally, if ANYONE uses the “rule of 72” to explain ANYTHING to you, they are giving you the business.
Our rental in Sedona

Dining and living room too. Feels good to spread out after living in an RV for 6 months. 

We made it out of the presentation unscathed and we even managed to take most of the items from their snack basket and put them into our hiking backpack. So, armed with a backpack full of snacks we hit the trails. The trail system is amazing and it is endless. You can hike for hours or you can hike for days. On our final day in Sedona, Jessica took the boys on a long hike and I went mountain biking with my good friend, Dave. I am going to say this again just so we are clear. Sedona is paradise. Go there.
Bell Rock Trail

Taking a break at the top, listening to coyotes howl in the middle of the day. 

Things got pretty technical and well above my skill level. 

A video from my handlebar camera. 

After enjoying our last few moments in our free vacation rental, we headed to Kaibab National Forest just off the south rim of the Grand Canyon to stay with the some friends. Dave and Connie are good friends of ours that literally live on the edge of the Grand Canyon. They heat their home with a wood burning stove and they have books, music instruments, bikes and camping gear all around their house. They eat home cooked dinners every night and it really is a wonderful place to relax. 
South rim family photo

Hugging the canyon

During our stay we did some day hikes, played music together and had some amazing meals. In between the fun, I was still working with insurance to secure the funds to fix my roof. On the evening of our last full day, the money appeared in my account, Everything seemed to be coming together. To celebrate, we drank some beers, played some chess, and had some great conversations.  

One of our dinner views. 

Check Mate. I lost every match. 

Dave, cleaning house in his robe. Living the good life. 

We arrived back in Phoenix on Saturday and headed to pick up our rig. The camper has been outfitted with an electric tongue jack. I talked them into giving me a sweet deal on it while the camper was in for warranty. They also fixed the pulleys on the slide out and put everything inside back together. I pushed the button to slide out the side wall to test it out and it slid out like butter. It was so satisfying. 

We parked the RV back at Lake Pleasant, called our friends Ben and Erin and met them up at Peter Piper Pizza so our kids could play together. Ben has a daughter named Isabella who is one of the brightest and most social 5-year olds I have ever met and she fits right in with the boys. We actually closed out Peter Piper and the kids fell asleep on the ride home.

I laid in bed thinking about the awesome week we had. I thought about how some of the most amazing times we have had on this trip are when we strip down to the basics and take off for a while. It made me realize that you don’t need an RV to experience America. You can just load up the car and go. It has advantages too because you don’t have a big rig behind you everywhere you go. You can fit into some of the smaller nooks and crannies out there. I also realized that, as long as everything went well, in less than 24 hours, our critical RV issues would be completely behind us.

That brings us back to the California dudes in their work van. They do, in one day, what RV dealers do in two weeks. They bust ass and they do it right. By noon, the old roof was off and they were rolling out the material for the new roof. They use a much sturdier material than the manufacturers do and they are very liberal with the sealants. They guarantee everything for 10 years and, if you met Ron, the owner, you would be 100% confident that they are serious about this warranty.


During. notice the spot where it was rotting. 


The roof guys spent most of the day working their assess off and I am happy to report that as of 6:00PM, the Yum family is back in action. Operation “Fix-It Phoenix” was a success.

Things can be pretty tricky on the road. For most people, a broken RV is something that gets handled in the background. They go about their normal lives and wait for a call from the shop. For us, it is a 5-day road trip to see new places and old friends...and a 1 day visit from the RV Roof Man and his band of hard working gypsies.

The amazing sunset we watched after our RV was all fixed. It really felt like the universe was smiling at us. 

If you are on the road and you need roof repairs call these guys: - They work in just about any state. 
The decal on their van. They are more decorated travelers than us. 

If you are in Phoenix and you need a new RV, parts or service, check out these dudes: - Pat in service is awesome. 

If you are in jail and you need a bail, call these guys:

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