Thursday, September 29, 2011


We’ve moved on from a great stay in Baker City, and I have a fun story from there which I will write and post in a day or two .  First, though, some good news on a couple of our dysfunctional items, and on thoughts on your comments on my prior post:

Our water heater problem is fixed!  It took two stops: the first at the officially certified Suburban water heater repair shop in Boise, Idaho, where they diagnosed our problem as a major meltdown of our AC electric system (we didn’t try to talk them out of this ridiculous idea, since we have already lost faith in their ability to help us); the second to Boise Valley (not mentioned on Suburban’s list of authorized repair facilities), neighbor to - and recommended by - the first place. 

Dave Duncan at Boise Valley RV accommodated us immediately when we showed up in mid-afternoon.  Very personable,  he is one of those guys who has been working with RV’s forever, and you immediately feel he will stick with the problem until he finds it and fixes it.  Within an hour, our water heater was working.  We stuck around long enough to make sure it was indeed fixed, paid the bill, and went on our way.  YAY!  Oh, and Odel got a free t-shirt in Boise Bronco orange (blindingly bright), which is is wearing proudly as we sightsee in Boise.

(Here is another plug for  Please, please review your good and bad service experiences there, and don’t forget to check it out before you pick a service facility.)

While in Baker City, our almost-two-year-old Garmin 255WT GPS died, unable to load its map.  We still had a couple weeks left on our Geek Squad Black Tie Protection Plan, so we headed over to the Boise Best Buy while the water heater repair was underway.  They don’t bother repairing 2 year old GPS units, so we qualified for a swap – our non-functional unit for a new, equivalent GPS. 

Soon after buying our first GPS, I decided that there was one feature ours didn’t have that I would pay extra for: route optimization, the ability to add several stops to a route and have the GPS arrange them in the most logical order.  So, instead of wanting a new “equivalent” GPS, I wanted a new, improved GPS, with the capability to add and rearrange many stops.

For an extra $30, we were able to turn in the non-functional GPS and upgrade to the unit I wanted (which was on sale).  We walked out the door with a new Garmin 1450 LMT with free lifetime map updates, route optimization, up-to-date maps and points of interest, and other goodies made possible by technical advances in the past two years.  We are very, very happy with that result.   While we don’t rely on our GPS for route planning when moving the motorhome (though we do plug in the final route when we have checked out all our usual sources), we’ve come to rely heavily on the GPS when we are in the Jeep, navigating unfamiliar roads.  I’m having a great time playing with the new GPS here in Boise, discovering several new features we will enjoy.

Now, a couple of thoughts on your comments on my last post:

Don’t worry about our windshield.  The crack is off to one side, vertical, not in our line of vision, and has already run from one edge to the other.  We have reported it to our insurance company and we keep an eye on it, but nothing about it changes.  We aren’t worried that our windshield is going to fall out.

Several of you have suggested a residential refrigerator, and we have considered that as a possibility if our current refrigerator requires costly repairs.  Though we boondock infrequently, we DO boondock a week or so at a time once or twice during the year, and don’t want to lose that capability.  Because we boondock so infrequently, and because our motorhome came with a humongous generator which needs to be “exercised” at least monthly to keep it in tip-tip shape, we have never invested in a solar system.  With our current setup, we can boondock for 36-48 hours in moderate weather without recharging if we run our water heater and refrigerator on gas and turn off the inverter when we don’t need it.  Before we would switch to a residential refrigerator, we would need to figure out whether we would still have reasonable boondocking capability (meaning: no need to run the generator more than once a day for an hour or two).

Croft, thanks for the laugh with your refrigerator comment.  We have had BOTH doors fall off (not at the same time, thank goodness)!  That’s a shock, isn’t it?  And of course the entire door has to be replaced because the little hinge that broke is an integral part of the door… sheesh.

Speaking of residential refrigerators and general RV problems, I can’t sign off without mentioning our blogging friend Judy (Travels with Emma).  She had a residential refrigerator installed last winter, and her blog is a great source of information on the process (click Upgrade Update and Refer Update Part Two to read her posts about the replacement).

Judy is now experiencing the mean mother of all RV problems: her RV’s computer mother board has failed.  Read her recent posts (beginning here, with her post from September 12) if you want to put minor RV problems into perspective!


  1. Thanks for the shout out, but it's too bad half of it is about problems. :(

  2. The difference in cost between an RV fridge and a regular variety would go a long way to pay for a solar installation... Just a thought. I know sometimes it is annoying to be getting too much unsolicited advice...

  3. Just catching up after being buried in other life for a few days. So glad your fix-its are getting fixed, now I have to go back and read the "rest of the story"

  4. Welcome to Boise! There is quite a bit to see here if you've never visited before. From the recently renovated Capitol building downtown to Bruneau Dunes State Park (I'm told the winds hit both sides just perfectly so that the dunes barely change from year to year) to Hells Canyon to the historic town of Idaho City (along with several other ghost towns in that area), there is enough to keep a person busy for a while.

    We moved to Idaho eight years ago, and it was here that we rediscovered our love of camping and then discovered a love for the RV life. We don't full-time yet but hope to one day. In the meantime, we find plenty to see in our adopted home. Enjoy your visit!

  5. Glad to hear the minor problems got fixed. I'll wait to hear about how you like your Garmin. I call my Garmin Garmeana because she'll send me around the block if I ask her to route me to the store I am parked in front of.

    No advice to offer ....I get mine from you!


  6. I just hope Odel has a green or yellow T-shirt to wear when you come to Eugene next. The orange simply won't do LOL!!

  7. Hey....
    Am seriously thinking of going to Nairobi and Kampala early next year so found myself reading a few posts at KF about ANK. Just now read your post, Laurie, in the M.A., We Hardly Knew You thread and felt intimations of that old "kinship" I used to feel with you. Mostly, I just felt like stopping by to wish both you and Odel well. Take care and safe and happy travels, Jill

  8. Glad your trouble are almost all solved..It would sure be nice to have a residential fridge, but it will never happen in our Hiker...
    Our Tom Tom needs an update, but sometimes it's cheaper to just get a new GPS.....

  9. The free lifetime maps are the way to go. Mexico maps are now included free with your first map update.

  10. Glad you are all fixed up and on the road as happy campers!
    We need a new GPS and want one that we can add stops too. We also want one that tells us what lane to get in BEFORE the darn interchange comes up. Thanks for the info on your new one. It will help us when we start looking...which is going to be sooner than later I am afraid.

  11. Oh Lori, just got a chance to catch-up on your blog. Believe it or not it cheered me up:) Feeling a special kinship--in the rv issues area. On this trip OR to MO--we have also gotten a crack in the front window, had major over-heating problems going over the MTs (coolant problem), Jeep battery died completely, as well a few other minor annoyances ....well you get the picture. And yes 80% is way good!

  12. Appreciate the great link that rates RV service. What a great tool.

  13. Our refrigerator stopped working in our RV. We contacted a certified Norcold service technician while in Las Vegas. The RV Park did not allow technicians in the park before 8 am and the technician had other appointments. He called us from the gate and told us to turn the refer off, disconnect from shore power, disconnect the batteries and leave it off for 15 minutes and reconnect. This process resets the refer computer. He waited at the gate while we followed his directions. Reconnected everything and started the refer, it worked! This was over two years ago and no more problems.

  14. Glad the issue was a minor one and solved easily!! Like you said in your other blog post there's usually something going wrong on these big, bouncy machines of ours. I like the 80/100 comment from the last post too...that's a good way to look at it.

  15. Not having a water heater in your house can make life hard, since it is tough to use cold water for showering during winter, even in the normal days. I always make sure that our water heater is in good condition to avoid that kind of trouble. Good thing you got a great repair shop to solve your problem. That is quite an adventure to fix your dysfunctional item.

  16. Yay to a working water heater! Mine was borked months ago because of the electrical causes too... and I think the old age played a factor as well. It just decided to stop being a water heater. LOL. Oh, I hope you can fix your RV dilemmas soon!

  17. Oh my! What a pain! A broken water heater is a real inconvenience, especially in the winter. When ours broke right after Christmas, we almost didn’t want to take a bath. Good thing it only lasted for two days. Anyway, it’s great that your heater is fixed now. I suggest you have your entire plumbing system checked before the cold season to avoid that kind of trouble again.
    Darcy Wallingford