135. Cool/Cold Nights

Fri., 5/7/21

Got up on time this morning as I intended to drive, for me, a long distance this day. It had been 10-11 days since leaving Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, VA without refilling water or dumping the waste tanks. So I wanted a place this evening where I could water up and dump out. It was cold and heavy rain and I didn’t want to have to get wet setting up and the weather/radar maps showed running out of the precipitation around Sandusky or so. Not too many acceptable parks in the area so I decided to head for the Washtenaw Co. Fairgrounds south of Ann Arbor, MI. 50 amp service, water and a dump station, on the route and $25.00/nite.

Since there weren’t any events scheduled, the ‘office’ such as it is wasn’t open but they furnished the combination to the gate lock so I could get in and out and instructions to shove a check under the office door. It was sunny the last portion of the drive and the lock combination worked so I had a place to crash and to handle the ‘pump and dump’.

Entry gate and magnified in the background is my rig parked up agains the fence.
I’m not excited with Mexican food but usually am happy with nachos, Mexican in name but not in origin. A few miles away in the town of Saline there was a BBQ restaurant and the had BBQ nachos on the menu. Chips topped with smoked pulled pork, smoked baked beans, melted or unmelted cheddar cheese, sweet bbq sauce and sour cream. Delicious!

I spent my time here taking care of a couple of chores on the rig, watching rain, more rain and even more rain and ‘enjoying’ a weekend of daytime temps in the 40’s and nighttime in the low 30’s. I called to see if I could find cg vacancies at some campground around Grand Rapids without much success. I’m due into Wabasis Lake CG on the 17th and checking with them found I could add 4 nites on the front end without violating their max 15 day stay policy. So I reserved 4 more days at Wabasis and decided to stay here at the fairgrounds until Thursday morning. Meanwhile, I’ve had zero company here at the fairgrounds.

I probably have no need to take on more diesel in Michigan or for the next 2.5+ months (I’ll be volunteer camp hosting at MI State Parks for June and July) so I wanted to see how advantageous the TSD fuel program has been for me. (TSD is a trucking company out of Texas which accepts drivers of diesel RVs as associate drivers. We are issued a company EFS Fleet Card for significant discounts for diesel fuel at T/A and Petro truck stops). My stats since January 1, 2021 are: 870.89 gallons; $2,626.08 total pump fuel prices or$3.015/gal average; $471.43 in discount for an average discounted diesel price of $2.474/gal or a respectable discount of $0.54+ per gallon.

Approx net operating cost per mile, including the fuel for a couple hundred hours of generator plus AquaHot water and furnace usage equals approx $0.48/mile or $16.40/day.

I’m sorry. The above paragraph is the banker in me.

Tues., 5/11/21

My vaunted Aqua Hot system stopped working a week or so ago. The diesel burner is not turning on so the only heat I have is from the air conditioning heat pumps. Those basically reverse the ac system. When cooling, the ac pumps cool air into the rig while exhausting hot air into the great outdoors. Simplistically, when on heat, the hot exhaust is funneled into the rig. Inherently inefficient, it is more so when the system can find no heat in the great outdoors to consolidate and pump into the inside. It’s also inefficient as the vents are in the ceiling and so what heat there is generated is already at ceiling height rather than released via a floor register and gradually rising upwards and warming more cubic feet. Heat generated via reverse ac is also very dehumidifier and thus feeling less warm and uncomfortable to your nasal membranes. Aqua Hot is a more humid heat and flows from floor registers.

As the outdoor temps decrease into the 40’s, the heat pumps stop working. It’s been a cold May with nights consistently close to freezing beginning in Pennsylvania and continuing nightly thru New York and to/in Michigan. As the interior temps decline to 62, 61 etc degrees at night, I can get quite chilly and it’s hard to get up in the mornings to a cold motorhome. As superior as is Aqua Hot, it has a drawback. The price for the system is very high and so is not in use in very many rigs – probably 2% or fewer. Most RV shops and dealers don’t know what it is and have no clue about servicing same.

I decided to get it fixed. I don’t think it’s a major problem but I don’t know enough to do it myself. There were only 2 authorized/trained servicers in NY, 4 in PA, 2 in OH and 5 in MI. The one on the eastern side of MI was far north of Detroit near LK Huron – a different direction than what I want. Another was located in Traverse City. There were two in Holland, MI and one was a mobile repairman. Independent type contractors are so much easier to deal with than dealer shops so I thought I see if I could get him to look at mine and teach me as he did his magic. I called this morning and he promised to call me back late afternoon. Thinking about waiting in Ann Arbor area for his call seemed like a bad decision. Far better to use my day to move closer to Holland so I’d be available quickly if he was agreeable to service the system. So I packed up and was on the road by 11 am.

I remembered that a few years ago, while waiting for a camping spot to open up at Holland State Park, I stayed a couple of nights at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds and it was quiet, level sites with good 50 amp service and water so at a rest area I got online and paid for two nights at the Fairgrounds. Pulled in and got a spacious pull thru protected from the heavy winds.

As promised, the serviceman did call me back and I told him I was now in Holland having driven across the state in hopes of getting his service and that I could bring the rig to him if he wanted (I had googled his business address and saw it was a house in a heavy residential area and he probably wouldn’t want a motorhome in hid driveway). He said Weds (tomorrow) wasn’t possible but maybe Thurs. I asked if first thing in the am would work and he said ‘yes’. He wanted info on the setup etc so I took pix and texted them to him. Yippee, I’ll get it fixed without the typical repair facility excuse that ‘this is the really busy season and we’re booked up solid for 2 months’.

To celebrate this small success and to commemorate Sharon’s birthday, which would be tomorrow, I went and got our most favorite ever pizza that we used to get nearly every summer weekend when going to our boat in Grand Haven – Fricanos Pizza – but from their Holland outlet. Fricanos is the most unique pizza I’ve had. Only pizza is served, no desserts, no nothing else. One size – 12” and your choice of only 5 toppings on the thinnest crust I’ve had (but not cracker-like). Their cheese blend melts down from literally a 4” high pile to nearly disappearing and their custom home made sausage is unmatched. I order it ‘crispy’. You either love it or absolutely hate it and since it’s been in business since the 40’s and has at times been voted ‘Michigan’s Best’, I guess more like it than don’t.

Weds., 5/12/21

Leftover pizza for breakfast!

Thurs., 5/13/21

It was a very cold night! The AquaHot mobile repairman came by at 8:30am this morning. Several issues but all easily fixed. One was the radiator cap was leaking. New cap solved that but getting at it isn’t easy. The boiler etc is located in the middle of the bus front to back but also in the middle side to side. It’s sits between the frame rails.

Passenger side. Arrow pointing to the radiator cap.
From the drivers side. Diagnostic/operating lights to the left; coolant overflow tank on the right. Leaked coolant has covered the floor of the bay.

The cap is on top of the boiler and the access doors, both sides, are the narrowest doors on the bus so the job is on the knees, shoulders barely fit into the bay and the work area is 3 feet+ in. After the cap was replaced, it was found that the plastic coolant tube, running from the boiler to the overflow tank, was split so that was fixed. Part of the problem is that I also used the bay for some storage which hampered my being able to see the coolant tank level and the lights. In addition with the coolant tank mounted where it was and my knees being what they are, it was next to impossible for me to even add coolant. So I had him re-site the light panel and the coolant tank closer to the bay door. Since the coolant tank still needed to be mounted higher than the boiler, it is still difficult to pour extra coolant in if needed so he gave me a small hand pump to use. Hopefully with better access and tools, I’ll be able to monitor this better myself. And now that it’s fixed and I have heat no matter how cold it gets, I’m guessing warm Spring nights will now arrive and heat won’t be needed😃😎

All repaired and put back together by 11am so I headed out to Wabasis Lake Campground a bit north of Grand Rapids. I have a campsite (actually 3 as I have to move twice) there until I’m due at Silver Lake State Park as campground host for June. Speaking of… if anyone has any kids craft ideas now would be a good time to tell me. With Michigan’s controlling Governor, it looks like a ‘no contact’ hosting gig. I was thinking of “take away” crafts that could be put in a zip lock bag and the kids to take it back to their own campsite and bug their parents. I stopped at one of those Dollar General type stores for ideas. One thing that looked like a good possibility were packs of little plastic cups with various colors of water paints with a small paint brush. [Wondering if I’d also need to get something for the little buggers to paint or just let them paint the sides of their own campers🤡😼👹 such that their parents would have a precious camping memory😂😎]. Anyway, I’m open for ideas and if you have one, an Amazon link.

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2 thoughts on “135. Cool/Cold Nights”

  1. Be on notice that it just might be considered very inconsiderate or even illegal to post pictures of Fricano’s pizzas on line! I couldn’t stand it, so in desperation I printed it out, put it in the toaster oven to warm it up and…well, it didn’t work so good. Drat! I guess we’ll have to visit in person…probably Doug Fricano’s place up in Comstock Park.
    Congratulations for arriving safely at or near your summer destinations!


    1. I don’t want you to feel bad or anything (😃😃😃😃) but I actually bought two pizzas and finally it hit the dust tonight. Three suppers and two breakfast – I guess I can’t eat as much anymore over the years. Seems like 30-35 yrs ago when heading to the boat for the weekend and buying 4 pizzas, they were maybe $4 or $5 each. Now it’s two for $28. AND WORTH EVERY PENNY


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