Sunday, November 3, 2013

November!?! What Happened to October?

One of our training days with Kelly
Repairing a barricade
Well it's the 1st weekend in November and we're back to work. We started our volunteer position the last day of September, then the closure started October 1st. We were allowed to stay in the volunteer campground within Lake Mead NRA during the closure, but all access to the rest of the park was restricted. We couldn't walk or hike the trails; couldn't drive through the park; didn't have access to the lake; nothing! All of the park entrances were barricaded and Rangers were stationed at each entrance to keep unauthorized visitors out.
Yes that's snow at the Las Vegas Ski Resort
near Mt Charleston

Joan and I tried several different things to stay busy. We took a weekend trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah where we saw lots of fall color. We took a day trip to Mt Charleston on the northwest side of Vegas; even saw snow on the roadside from a light dusting earlier in the week. Did you know there is a ski resort in Vegas? We didn't until we drove to the top of Mt Charleston.

I did lots of little maintenance jobs around the MH; adjusted the drivers and passenger captain's chairs that had started to loosen up on their floor mounts; replaced a couple of door latches that had broken; took down the cabinet doors in the bathroom, re-stained them to cover some scratches and polished the hinges that were starting to show some rust. But my biggest project was to change out several of the fluorescent overhead lights with LEDs. I found a thread on IRV2 from a guy who had changed out his lights and decided that would be a great project since I had 2 lights that appeared to have ballast problems. I ordered the parts online from EBay for $46; which included 30+ feet of LED strip and enough connectors to replace 10 or 11 lights. I opened the light fixtures, removed the fluorescent tubes and ballast cover, then cut the +/- wires from the ballast. I replaced the ballast covers and began working on the LED strips. I cut sections of the LED strip to the same length as the fluorescent tubes, attached the connectors, then used the backing tape to stick 3 LED strips into each fixture. Then I connected the +/- wires in the light fixture to the LED connector wires. Voila...we have light...a clear white light that turns on immediately and doesn't flicker. And the LEDs are rated at 100,000 hours of usage, quite a bit longer than the old tubes...and quite a bit cheaper too. All in all I replaced 20 tubes (@ $4-$6 ea), got better and brighter light and still have materials left over for less than half of normal bulb replacement would cost. And that's not counting the cost of any ballast I would have had to replace.

Temple Bar - Arizona

We've been back to work for 2 weeks. We took 2 days of additional training and we've been on our own since. So far it's been fun. We've seen places in the park that very few folks get to see.

Cottonwood East - Lake Mojave
Some days we drive 50 miles just to get to the area where we're working; then another 10 miles on secondary roads just to get to the back country roads. Then it's 30-40 miles of back country roads looking for disturbances that we record and attempt to restore if possible. The shortest day was 80+ miles total round trip; the longest was 180 miles.

Some of the wildlife we see 

And what's really great is that driving these back country roads is what we used to do on our days off; using our jeep and our fuel. Now we get to use the park's 4-wheel drive vehicle and gas. It just doesn't get much better than that!

Joan's BFF from Seattle, Teri came into Vegas for a couple of nights and Joan took advantage of that time to show her some of the sights we've been enjoying during our stays in Lake Mead. Joan and I started the day by getting up early and driving across town to see the Vegas Balloonfest.

There were 15 different hot air balloons and they coordinated their launch so they were all up at the same time.

Can You See the Moon?

We got some great pics.

Southwest Diner
A Triple D in Boulder City

Then we picked up Teri and took her to one of our favorite Diners, Drive ins and Dives eateries Southwest Diner for breakfast. Then the girls took off to visit Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam and a tour of Lake Mead. Last week we went out to lunch with friends we worked with in Oregon. Terri and Mel were in town on their way to Arizona so we joined them at Arizona Charlies for lunch. A couple of days later Allan and Sylvana came into town after closing their campgrounds in California and we met them at Sam's Town to catch up. Joan and I know that our families back in Florida worry that we're out west all alone, but it's not like that at all. We've made so many new friends in the last 18 months that we never have to be alone unless we want to.

That's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.


  1. So glad you are enjoying your "job" ...must be so much fun to travel on all the back roads! It is a beautiful area from the little bit we saw. Great shots of the balloons!

  2. I like the idea of changing out the florescent lights with LED's, might be another project in my future. Be safe out there in the desert.


  3. Glad to hear things are back on track with your job. We stayed at Sams Town while we were in Vegas. We are back on the east coast with family and friends, will move to Clearwater FL the first of Jan.

  4. This does sound like a perfect job for you two...driving the back country with someone else's vehicle and gas!! Jackpot!

    Good to know you are keeping busy with lots of new and old friends. Let the good times roll!

    Love the photo of the balloon and the moon!

  5. Gosh, where to begin. Your job sounds great! And the Balloon Fest -- what fun! And it's amazing how many friends we make in this lifestyle. Keep on keeping on!