Catalina State Park, Arizona or why oh why do my trailer jacks slide?

The jump to Catalina State park wasn’t overly long, 144 miles, two hours and a bit, if everything is working…living on a moving piece of steel covered in fiberglass can tend to move around a bit, especially on those bumpy roads. Things get jarred and shaken, like a martini;) Things get loose. Before we even got to the paved road outside the campground Mike spied the drivers side front jack slowly making it’s way towards the surface of the earth…unasked. It apparently has a mind of it’s own, or it’s possessed?

We pulled over, the entire solenoid, one of four, that attaches to the metal thing-a-ma-jiggy (technical term of mine for the hydraulic box) was loose, you could swivel the solenoid, not good. I opened up the trailer, drivers side slide a bit and the bedroom slide part way to squeeze into the front to get at my plastic tote of “big wrenches”, must keep these in the pass through I made a mental note to self. Our small adjustable couldn’t do the job. I hate scrambling around in the dirt on the side of a road. I asked Mike if we could just go back to the campground and park in an open site, maybe we could figure this out, tighten it up, scare it it behaving by yelling wildly and swearing at it perhaps so we did that. Should we call a mobile tech? Way the hell out here? The adjustable was a bit large to get in there but Mike managed to tighten it so the solenoid ( not cellinoid Mike pointed out! I like phonetics!) wasn’t moving, either were the jacks. ♪♫♪ Should we stay or should we go♫♪♫ The million dollar question of the day, they were up, still up, so we decided to take a chance and off we went. Mike spent more time looking back that forwards I think, I felt ill, hate getting out on the side of the freeway with huge trucks rolling past. You can just get off the pavement but not far enough to safely stand by the 6 point leveling system to operate it, no, you have to hide under the nose and reach around with you arm while eyeing 75mph moving trucks moving towards you three feet away rocking you around with their blast of wind as they whizz past. Not fun, as I said. What about the complete idiot on his phone that might rear end you as well, no, I’m not a catastrophist but hey, some people can be stupid! I keep that in mind, so, I felt a bit ill.

We made it out the 11.5 miles to the Interstate, jacks still holding. We could stop at a truck stop or RV repair in Gila Bend Mike suggested…”It’s Sunday…” I replied. OK, nix that, let’s go for Catalina. With a lot of rubber-necking behind us for the next 134 miles from the I 8 to the I 10, which was SO busy, then down a long undulating road towards Catalina State Park we kept going. Rocket started to drool profusely on West Tangerine Road due to all the dips for water run off so we slowed down some more, we were almost there. I’m sure the cats feed off our angst, they were all very, very quiet, except for the drool. Poor carsick monkey! But we arrived!

Our first site #29 in A loop was a big pull through right near the entrance to a trail. Cat’s liked that. New smells to sniff, lot’s of birds and OMG Broad Billed Hummingbirds! These are about my most favourite hummingbird ever! Not only for their glorious green and blue feathers but that bright red beak! I sat with my camera and feeder and rejoiced watching them. A Verdin stopped by to check out the feeder as well, such beautiful little birds! Camp host stopped by to say the water was turned off, bathrooms closed, they were trying to find out why, hopefully you have some in your tank…oh dear. We are the lowest campsite on the loop, I decided to take a chance and unhook the hose from the trailer and see if the tap was still on, it was running, slowly, but running! The wonders of gravity, we managed to fill the water tanks 2/3’ds full!

Breath deeply, let the stress of the day go! Did we fix the jacks? They made it 144 miles! We had to leave the next morning by noon, we’d planned to stop at the dump station, by the time we got there, jacks were lowering again. Oh crap! I looked at Mike and said, OK, I’m walking to the office to see if I can snare another spot for the night, if they have one, we’ll call one of half a dozen mobile techs and see if we can get one out, I wasn’t willing to do the Interstate through Tucson as at times there is no shoulder to pull over on, I don’t fancy getting smushed by a truck! They had one spot #22 in the A loop, a cancellation. Whew! We ran the jacks back up, Mike had the wrench in the drivers door as well and was busy tightening the solenoid again while I went to the park office and after dumping we turned around and headed back to the A loop. A wave of relief swept over us but then I realized we only had one more night booked. As we pulled into our new site, I put the jacks down, then tried the off door slide…nothing. I could hear the motor, but it didn’t budge, this has gone from bad to worse. Can’t get at the bathroom, bed, fridge or stove. Looks like we’ll be sleeping on the sofa or floor! I searched the Arizona Parks Reservation website and reserved spots for the next two nights..all in different spots, but time perhaps to get a mobile tech to look. Then I started to call Mobile techs. Out of the four I left messages at, only two ever got back to us. Guess they are busy. One lady said she’d try to get the tech out that evening as he had one last call near us and getting the slide out was important! They lived on a trailer, she knew! Yeah. One tech called me back, yeah, I’m busy, call Lippert, get the part numbers for the solenoid and valve, order them, then call me when they are in he said…shut the fuck up, I thought. Why thank you sir. I’ll let you know. I sat outside…these little guys cheered me up. The water was still shut off, a few hours later, the power went out…but, we did get the slide out. One of the wires on the top of the solenoid had come off when Mike was tightening it, voilá, when it was reattached, all was good there…whew!

Tucson Mobile Repair called back late in the day, a husband and wife team who live on a trailer with their kids as well, she told me Sean would be there shortly. He did arrive, looked at the solenoid and connection, we hooked the trailer up to the truck, ran the jacks up, d’you think they would drift down, no, suddenly the bastards are shy! ARGHHHHH! It’s most likely the solenoid he said, electrical, intermittent. He took the part numbers Mike had already gotten from Lippert, took a photo of the solenoid for good measure and said he would check if we could get the part locally here in Tucson or Phoenix. They are a pretty common six point leveling system. We thanked him profusely, I went back online trying to find another spot for a few days while he looked for parts. I found two spots, in B loop, one for following night, and one for Wednesday night, that gave us two days, so we had to move a few hundred feet, no big deal, it will be a nice surprise for the cats…”We’re HERE already?!!!”

The next morning we slept in a bit, the cats were fascinated, looking out the back window at the giant rodents of unusual size! The round-tailed ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus), known as “Ardillón cola redonda” in Spanish, live in the desert of the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. They are called “ground squirrels” because they burrow in loose soil, often under mesquite trees and creosote bushes. They are omnivores. The bulk of their diet is green vegetation, especially in the summer. They also eat seeds and insects (ants, termites, and grasshoppers). Most of their foods are chosen for high water content because of the shortage of available water in their environment. The average water content of the food they eat is 80%. That should make them good and juicy Rocket was thinking! Until they saw the Road Runner! Gamora said she could take him, until she got a bit closer and decided maybe it was a tad large, with a great BIG beak! Ha! These guys. Reminds me of a Gary Larson’s Far side cartoon!

We hooked up, just before noon, check out time, and moved over to the B loop. site #40. Jacks stayed up, OK, that is good I thought. We’ll wait to hear from Sean about parts. No call. This loop had a lot more people feeding birds so there was a flutter as soon as I put my suet and feeder out, along with the hummingbird feeder.

We decided to do a grocery run, Ace hardware, Sprouts, Total Wine (I needed to restock big time! Stress is equal to increased wine consumption!) while waiting to hear from the mobile tech. Then it was time to come back, put the groceries away, grind up a new batch of cat food and then sit outside and watch who was watching me!:)

Not only the male Broad Billed Hummingbird showed up, but the Mrs. as well. She’s more understated but oh those blue fluorescent tail feathers are gorgeous! The Traveling Mewberries couldn’t figure out where the rodents of unusual size went as soon as they went down the steps! Ha! They would sit and watch me as I photographed the hummingbirds, it appears I was safe enough to them to come out and nibble on the grass!

Still no call, so I called. Ok, I’m a wee bit impatient! She said she had emails out to different suppliers, one didn’t have the parts and she was waiting to hear back from the other….back to waiting!

The morning’s were cold, -3° celcius. There is still snow on the top of Mount Lemmon, a wee bit chillier up there I bet! By noon, we had to move once again, we walked over to site #4 around 11 a.m., it was empty so we decided to shuffle once again! Jacks did not drift down…

I needed to go for a walk, waiting for calls was getting to me. Feeling bummed out at the silence. I figured I could find a Gila nesting in a saguaro somewhere out there to cheer me up. All you have to do is listen, and then watch from where the laughing hyena noise is coming from! A large fire in October 2020 burned through the campground and surrounding areas. The Mesquite and Palo Verde trees are coming back slowly, some older branches no, the saguaros seemed to survive, full of monsoon rain water but it’s not a pretty landscape, it feels desolate and dry, it is! The Gilas did cheer me up, a couple of riders mosied past on a pair of fat quarter horse buckskins. All night long I was going over in my head “What can we do if there are no parts available, or can’t be shipped overnight?”

I went back to the trailer and took to my DRV fixes and repairs group on Facebook and put drifting jacks in the search area. A few posts came up, then as I scrolled down the list I saw a picture of a fix. We can do this! Tie up the jacks! With rope, or chain, or something! There were photos! Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier! It means we could move down towards the Ajo highway. There were no sites available from Thursday through Sunday here in Catalina! I felt better!

There was a TINY juvenile Broad billed, half the size of the other adult I’d photographed. So friggin’ cute, not a lick of sense in his head, he buzzed me, and the cats as if to say, back away from that feeder lady! I own it! Then he had to sit on a branch and rest. A young Gila was slowly working her way towards the suet feeder, chatting quite loudly the whole time. It was nice to have so much life around us.

Yes, that is snow on the top of Mount Lemmon. It was -3° celsius this morning way down below here at the campground, a wee bit chilly!

It was an hours drive from Catalina State Park to Justin’s Diamond J RV Park off the Ajo Highway, they had room for us for two nights, then I’d cancelled the reservation at Kartchner Caverns to go next door to Diamond J, Desert Trails RV for the weekend into Monday, thinking we might get the solenoid.

In the morning, the RV tech’s wife called. No parts available locally, Lippert did not offer overnight shipping, in fact she said it could be anywhere from seven to twenty two days to get the solenoid….what did we want to do? We are not willing to wait, with this new way of keeping the jacks up we decided we will move on and figure it out as we go. We thanked them, did we still want to order them, they could ship them to us? No, I said. We’ll wait until Knoxville where the DRV dealer perhaps can figure out exactly what is going on. I rigged up ropes tied to the inside jacks. When we hooked up I wrapped them around the bolt that holds the foot on, said a prayer to the RV gods and goddesses and we hooked up. Held our breath…got out of the site, past the dump and park office and out to the light, jacks still up! We were good to go! Goodbye Catalina State Park, it was a fun if somewhat stressful stop but we’re moving on! We asked the tech’s wife if he could call back to discuss different ways of keeping the jacks tied up, perhaps he could come out to rig something up with a chain, he never returned the call, no big money or expensive parts, very sad, business nowadays it seems. Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of jack fixes and the road that goes East Amigos!

Goodbye Catalina State Park

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