We are still wandering the Sonoran Desert, rather slowly and without much mileage, which is a good way to go. There are many subtle pleasures of the desert, and a primary one is taking the luxury of ignoring time and society while picking up a lot of dust on your boots. So we’ve hiked and explored, cooked dinner over an open fire, watched moonrise, and many other completely inconsequential things that encourage a relaxing of the spirit. That’s a good vacation.
However, with the holidays behind us, the world is once again getting to work and so I am being swept up in the tide of obligations once again, ready or not. Business will take us further down the road before we return to home base.
Dan and Marlene, our friends at Mali Mish, blogged about a nice park near the Palm Springs area. We’ve avoided that area in the past because of the prevalence of overpriced, snobbish (“Class A Motorhomes only”), and age-limited commercial campgrounds. But it turns out that in nearby La Quinta there is a fine county park up by the foothills, called Lake Cahuilla County Recreation Area.
I can second Dan and Marlene’s assertion that Lake Cahuilla is a fine place to stay while you’re in that area. The “lake” is actually rather small, calm, and artificial (it’s a reservoir). Swimming is not allowed. But the scene is very pleasant and the campground is friendly. Sunsets, as we discovered, can be spectacular. (Water and electric sites seem to be unaffected by the larger California state budget crisis. Still $22.)
In the previous blog I mentioned that it was time to do something about our repeated tire problems. The solution I chose, based on recommendations of people who have a lot of experience with Airstream tires, was to switch to Michelin LTX M/S tires, specifically the LT235-75/R15. We took a look at all five tires (including the spare) and the tally was two bad tires (broken internal belts), one questionable tire, and two good ones (the Carlisles we installed last September). None of them, by the way, had been patched.
The Michelins are considerably beefier than the Load Range D “Special Trailer” tires they replaced, with deeper tread and much more durable construction. They are Load Range C, but don’t get alarmed by that. The load rating for each tire is 1,985 pounds at 50 psi, which equals 7,940 pounds of total weight-carrying capacity. We never run that heavy and we use tire monitors to ensure that we stay at optimum pressure.
The downside, of course, is that this is a monstrously expensive experiment. The bottom line was about $700 with installation, balancing, new high-pressure stems, California environmental fees, and tax. If the tires last two years without premature failure, I’ll be money ahead compared to the amount I spend on replacement ST tires, not to mention the hassle. I’m told the Michelins will wear longer in addition to being more resistance to belt failures.
A lot of people have tried going to a 16″ Michelin XPS Rib tire, and I considered it as well. But the Michelin LTX allowed me to avoid changing the wheel rims, which cut the cost of switching considerably. They also fit better in the Airstream wheel well. Whether this change will solve the problem of the constantly-failing ST tires remains to be seen. I’ll report as we go.
While we had the wheels off, we had the opportunity for a brake check, too. The Kodiak disc ceramic brake pads were, as always, wearing more on the outer pad than the inner, and it was time for replacement. It has been a year since the last wheel bearing re-pack as well, so I decided to plunge in and get it all done at once. It has been an expensive service stop, but adding up everything we did in 2009 and this early 2010 session, we are still within annual budget we set for service and maintenance when we were full-timing ($2,000 per year).