Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Travel, Power and the Lawn Chair Lady

We had a long day ahead of us. We started in a famers field, supposedly an RV park. It was a pleasant place, I have to admit, with a horse and an earthy aroma. However, the power situation was kinda funky. It had half a dozen spots with full electrical hook ups, up to 30 amps. Impressive! However, after some investigation and disappointment, the "park" actually had 30 amps of total power serving the entire facility (field). For the two rigs, that's 15 amps, or the equivalent of each getting a household extension cord worth of power. The power wasn't properly grounded, so my rig wouldn't use it at all, while my buddy took a chance. I have enough solar and battery power for a couple nights, so no big deal.

The next morning, we needed to drive five hours to the wonderful town of Patzcuaro. The options were: A) the free road, which would be significantly shorter, toll free obviously, and would use about $70 less in fuel. Or B) The toll road, which would take the same amount of time, use a lot more fuel, and cost an additional $70 in tolls, a total of $140 more expensive. We took the toll road.

The reason we took the toll road is mechanical sympathy. Whenever I take these free roads, with their undulations and potholes, with an average speed of around 30 miles per hour, my trailer gets beat up badly. Really badly. It was a pay me now or pay me later situation, as I wondered what would be next to rattle apart. As I explained to my buddy, if given a choice, I will now always take the toll road. He initially was going to take the free road, but decided to join us.

The toll road was wonderful, some of it completely new and smooth. We entered the state of Michoacan, known for its lack of resources and really bad roads, but the toll road delivered. We were treated to beautiful mountains, with occasional rock escarpments you might see in Moab, Utah. The tolls were damn expensive and the gas got guzzled, but knowing we would arrive in one piece, nerves intact, was worth it.

We ended up at an RV park a mile from Patzcuaro. RV parks are always a crap shoot. We blocked the road in front and quickly met the owner. My wallet was empty from tolls and he told us don't worry about it, pay later. We signed up for a week and went to find a spot. The area around Patzcuaro is in the hills, and this RV park was on a hillside, not great for RVs. I backed into my spot, checked my LevelMate Pro app on my phone and I was a bit disappointed. I was off by an enormous six inches on one side.

36 blocks per wheel is impossible

Being off by six inches might as well be six feet, as stacking enough blocks becomes a bit impossible. I'm pretty sure I don't have the 72 necessary blocks and I'm also pretty sure they wouldn't fit under the wheels. I started looking around for rocks to stack and other options when my buddy stepped in and told me to let it go. These spots won't work for us. We moved a bit farther down where it was flatter and started backing in. Immediately a woman in a lawn chair next to a little trailer began complaining. 

"Oh, he (the owner) only lets vans park there." she said. "Oh, really?" We continued backing in. A lot of RV parks have full time residents who either live there or are around for a season. She was clearly unhappy these rigs, much bigger than hers, would be her new neighbors. 

The new spot was only off by a couple inches, which was perfect. We did what we could to give lawn chair lady as much space as possible and jumped into action. We have a group of four at the moment so we handed out tasks. While setting up I heard indistinct grumblings over by lawn chair lady.

"Did you know your neighbor is kind of a bitch?"

"I am aware."

All the little things of setting up the RV went into motion; disconnecting from the truck, setting up sewer connections, putting down stairs and putting out slides, and then the power. Power in nearly every RV park in Mexico is simply bad. The question is whether it's good enough to use. My tester showed open grounds on every nearby outlet, which in the US would be a reason to move, but in Mexico is the way it is. 

My rig has a Power Watchdog device that monitors incoming power and pronounces whether it will allow it or not. In this case, I was notified the open ground was a problem, but workable. The voltage was also too low. The Watchdog would disallow incoming voltage while it was too low, check every 90 seconds, and when it went back up, allow the power in. That permitted me to run the air conditioner last night and this morning our batteries are at 100%, charged by that power. Power here is good enough, unlike the farmers field the day before.

The RV park owner wandered over to talk to us, probably at the insistence of lawn chair lady. My buddy started talking to him in Spanish and instructed me to finish getting my rig set up quickly. We needed to be finished setting up so it would be a huge inconvenience for us to move spaces, if the owner capitulated to lawn chair lady. It worked out fine and we're in a lovely, wooded, hillside park for the next week. It's a great place for day trips throughout the region.

We've been on the road for five weeks. 

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