Almost a year passed since we stopped in Denver last November. And what a year. In the winter we traveled around New Mexico and Arizona and settled for a while in Southern California, in the spring we headed north mostly on the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington, in the summer we visited Vancouver Island, Vancouver (the city), and beautiful National Parks in Western Canada, and in early fall we visited more national parks in Montana and Wyoming. Whew!
8000 miles on the RV, who knows how many zooming around in the Subaru, three Canadian National Parks in two provinces, eight US National parks in eight states, one trip to Miami for a wedding, and lots of great adventures later it was time to head back to Denver for our annual pit stop.
Island Girl had been running hot when going up long grades causing us to have to drive slowly and carefully to avoid overheating. This overheating problem had been getting progressively worse, so we scheduled a thorough check of our radiator along with our annual oil change and RV chassis service right as we arrived in Denver. Hoping to get all the major RV service over with and then enjoy our stay at Cherry Creek State Park.
Meanwhile we’d made plans with many of our friends and family and were really looking forward to some quality time with them. Starting with Hector’s cousin Roy and wife Cindy who we stayed with while Island Girl was in the shop.
And we had appointments with doctors, the dentist, the veterinarian and the Subaru dealer for its scheduled service. And planned to wash the RV roof, wax the coach, wash all of the windows and the carpet. Along with emptying and cleaning the basement and all of the cabinets, and ditching anything that we decided we didn’t need (our third time doing this). And washing and treating the kayaks. All in two weeks.
It all started out wonderfully, especially our times of respite with friends and family.
And the Freightliner dealer diagnosed the radiator problem as an incorrect mix of radiator fluid and radiator fluid additive. So easy, we thought! Not so much!
When we got Island Girl back, she unfortunately ran hot once again on the way back from the Freightliner dealer. Grrrr! And we found out that this particular freightliner dealer doesn’t do “complex” mechanical jobs (now they tell us). So we made an appointment to take her in to a second dealer that we’ve used before (long story as to why we took her to the first dealer to begin with).
So five days after settling in at our campsite, we had to drive Island Girl back up north once again. And as we got ready to go we had a slight freak accident when we closed the slides. A broomstick got caught by one of our slide mechanisms and poked a hole through one of our basement doors! We have a temporary patch on the hole and will get around to a real fix eventually.
And so what was the problem with the radiator? Nothing more than ten years of accumulated dirt and crud which were limiting the cooling power. Nothing that a slightly expensive partial disassembling and cleaning of the radiator couldn’t fix. Well, it could have been much worse. Island Girl is back! And running better than ever since we’ve owned her. And we will be cleaning the radiator twice a year to maintain it.
Back with friends, our visits were great fun, with some friends coming over to visit Island Girl, some hosting us for wonderful meals, and others meeting us at pubs and yummy restaurants. We are very grateful that so many of our friends made time for us and it was great to be back in Denver.
Amazingly, especially for Hector, we often forgot to take pictures. But here are a few of our dearest friends.
We also discovered that some of our blogger friends were also in Denver while we were there. And were able to make plans with both of them. We met with Ingrid and Al early on and spent a few hours catching up on the last year. We first met them back in Tucson last winter and discovered that they left Colorado on their fulltime adventure shortly after we did. It’s crazy how we’ve only met twice but it feels like we’ve known each other a long time! Once again, no one remembered to take a picture.
We had not met LuAnn and Terry personally, but had connected through our blogs several times. Hector and I were really looking forward to meeting them and it turned out that they were staying at the same campground as we were. But we were both pretty busy. Still we were able to squeeze in a couple of “happy hour” visits. So glad we did! They are awesome!
It was nearing the end of our stay and Island Girl had a clean roof, a fresh coat of wax, was a little lighter after our cleaning out, and best of all, was not running hot! We were feeling great about having made it through most of our very long to do list.
I met my friend Alice for lunch while Hector and Angel remained at the campsite. I was so engaged in conversation that I didn’t notice a storm that blew in during our several hours at the restaurant. But when we left it was pouring rain, with a little light hail, quite a storm.
Yes, we had damage – our roof had a few dents, two air conditioner covers and the skylight over our shower were both broken, our little plastic table was destroyed and a metal one now has decorative dents, all three of our slide toppers were full of holes and, our sewer hose was damaged. Ugh.
The next day we called our insurance agent and told him that we were headed to Albuquerque so he referred us to a couple of service shops that they work with there. We chose Camping World, not because we’re great fans of their service, but in case we had to do follow-up in any other city.
Then, right before we left, we received test results from Angel’s veterinarian visit that were concerning – her calcium level was above normal. This can cause problems so we need to find the cause. I always say that they come in threes.
Then it was a race to get to Albuquerque – we had to make it by 4:30 so Camping World could inspect and document the damage before setting up camp.
Then we had to arrive at the Balloon Fiesta campground by 7 p.m. – so many rigs come to this huge campground for the event that they don’t allow arrivals after 7 each evening.
Fortunately, with our sparkling clean radiator, we were now passing other rigs instead of them passing us. And we made it to Camping World in time. The people in this Albuquerque location, both the mechanics and administrative staff were extremely professional. They inspected Island Girl, got all the information and photos they needed for the estimate and the insurance company and had us out of there in a little over an hour.
And we made it to the campground just before 7. But we were very, very tired.
So our annual Denver pit stop was a mix of great visits with friends and maintenance on all members of Camp Lopez, wheeled, two legged, and furry. But it was way too short. Note taken for planning our next time through.
P.S. Here are updates from Albuquerque on Island Girl and Angel.
Island Girl update: The roof damage was greater than we realized and she needs a new roof, along with a/c covers and skylight, a new solar panel and slide top awnings. After some gentle prodding from Hector explaining that we live in our rig, Camping World slid us in front of some other people needing repairs (no fulltimers) and some of the parts arrived the week after Balloon Fiesta.
We’ve scheduled a service appointment to coincide with the arrival of the remaining parts. And the best news: so far everything is covered and we just have our $250 deductible and our fulltimers coverage will also cover up to five nights hotel stay (with a cap of course).
Angel update: Angel started to have “accidents” in our coach while we were in Albuquerque and we initially thought it was the change in schedule (we were walking her before dawn). But things got worse, including a little blood in her urine, and we took her to the veterinarian in Albuquerque. Seemingly unrelated to the test results in Denver, she’d developed a urinary tract infection, she has been taking antibiotics and is doing better.
In regards to the high calcium, follow-up tests still showed high calcium, and we’re in the process of more tests and have ruled out some of the graver possibilities. And we’re watching her closely for additional physical symptoms, but she is in good spirits. We’ll keep everyone posted, we are worried, but hopeful.
During all of this, we still thoroughly enjoyed Balloon Fiesta at Albuquerque, it’s an amazing event – stay tuned for the next post.