- Laurie Mrdjan
Heading Out For Our Next Adventure
The week of 1/23/2023 was a rough one.
Tuesday at 6 AM in Brenda, AZ started the final push over the edge into taking the next step on our search for a new home. We are lucky enough to have received what we need, when we need it, whenever we are thinking of making big changes. This has been constant in our ten years together.
The prior week I’d been searching for four-seasons, full-time livable RVs with space for an office. On the weekend, we visited the Quartzite RV show. We found the Ember RVs and chose the 2023 221msl. I found two in Alabama and started working on the better priced unit. This week happened when we were considering the offer presented.
The power cut out as I attempted to log into work. My laptop stayed on because it has a battery but my monitor turned off and so did our satellite internet. I texted my manager and as Dom had just awakened; I advised him of the power outage, allowing him time to plan for work. Turns out he wasn’t feeling well. He inspected the dish, pedestal, and connections in the freezing weather despite this. He checked the fuses and found nothing damaged or tripped. We worried that a power surge had fried our converter. The microwave worked, but not fully. Dom consulted the web and observed a regional failure that the energy firm wanted to solve by 10:30 AM MST. Meanwhile, we took the generator from the truck and plugged in the camper. They restored the energy temporarily, but the Dishy wasn’t reconnecting. The RV show and people boondocking in Quartzite caused the extra traffic.
Dom headed to bed for more sleep. I worked from my phone’s hotspot using our Weboost and waited for the dishy to reconnect. It didn’t reconnect to the satellites after an hour. I advised my manager that I’d take a half day of PTO. The power came back on around 2 PM MST. Thanks to our propane heater, we at least stayed warm.
Wednesday started the same as Tuesday. The power glitched four times during the day, but this time we started our back-up plan immediately. With the first blacked out, we plugged into the generator, and setup our AT&T hotspot. We had confirmed a powerful signal before paying for the service. Along with our Weboost, we stayed connected to work even though our dishy was taking two to six hours to come back online. Thursday the power went out 6 times, and we were past our limit!
Our ability to work was treading downward and causing us stress. We heard from other seasonal campers that power disruptions in the winter were a common issue, despite what the office was telling us. The snowbird population increase of Quartzite from 1,000 to over 1,000,000 people, plus the RV show ended up putting an enormous strain on the power supply of the old desert towns. We later learned that two large groups staying at our campground were using massive electric heaters after being told that it was forbidden. It was the final straw for the old power system and caused rolling blackouts. We decided we’d run our generator the entire day to keep working without disruption. The campground office told us that, since it was not an onboard generator, we couldn’t run it while electricity was available. Despite ours running quieter than the onboard generators near us, or the furnaces. It infuriated us.
Solar would’ve allowed us to disconnect from the outdated power grid on the fritz and meant no disruptions to our work. We contacted the dealership in Alabama and told them we accepted the offer. The trip amounted to three or four weeks of time. We were 1,870 miles away and can only travel on weekends.
The plan was to leave Saturday morning and drive to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Stay and work for a week, then leave the following Saturday for Oklahoma. We planned to visit our friends we’d met on the road for the night and leave Sunday morning for Bentonville, AR. Stay there a week, then complete our trip on the weekend to Alabama.
Saturday morning we woke up at 5 AM, finished packing, and hit the road. During our stop in Flagstaff for lunch, it was 39°, which was the high for the day at 8,000 feet. We left as fast as possible. Between Flagstaff and Albuquerque, we stopped at a rest stop, and while using our bathroom; I kept hearing a strange, metallic, thumping noise somewhere in the camper. Assuming Dom had forgotten to secure the spatula in the outdoor kitchen, I asked him about it. Whenever I shook the camper, he could hear it too.
We got on our hands and knees, peered beneath our RV and discovered the source of the noise. The freshwater tank support beam was hanging on the driver’s side axles. We knew this support was an issue before we bought the RV. Everyone on the Facebook group had complained about it coming off. There was no washer or nut on the small screw. The screw on the driver’s side snapped. We had a mobile RV repair company replace the screw on the passenger side and add another for extra reinforcement two years ago. Three zip ties went on the frame, connecting it to the support beam to secure it for the rest of our trip. Next week, we would deal with it more permanently in New Mexico.
After dark, we pulled into, what is so far our favorite campground in New Mexico, the Route 66 RV Resort and set everything up for our stay. We hoped for rest, quiet, and strong internet.