Visiting My Parents – One Year Into My Journey

April/May 2015

A little over a year after I departed on this journey with no end, no final destination, I came back to where it all started – my parent’s house.

Earlier in the month I had celebrated my first nomadiversary – a year that has exceeded my expectations and brought great experiences my way – so it seemed fitting that I should come full circle. Plus I had to get some stuff done. You know, a honey-do list where I was both the honey and the to-doer.

Armed with a long list of things I wanted to get accomplished, most of which were annual maintenance items on my house, I rolled into my parent’s place for a two week stay. Two weeks of driveway camping (you know, the free kind) in a beautiful location. A time to pause and take a breath. Or so I thought. How wrong was I?

Front yard view from roof of parent's house

Front yard view from roof of parent’s house

backyard

Backyard

Staying Busy

My Lance travel trailer has been trouble-free for the entire first year. Never did it require a trip to a dealer. Never did it give me pause for concern. Well, that is until I noticed it was suffering from slide wear that seems to plague a small percentage of Lance slideouts. But I am getting ahead of myself…

Coming from an aviation maintenance background (a few careers ago), I am aware of the need for preventative maintenance on machines and houses that roll down the road. I try to maintain things in the attempt to steer clear of a preventable mechanical mishap. So I studied the Lance owner’s manual and made of list of the recommended annual maintenance items. And I added to it things that I wanted to look at. The end result was a fairly extensive punch list that I needed to get done in two weeks time.

My parents also had a few things they wanted me to help with around their house. Not nearly as long of a list as I came with, but important items nonetheless.

And I wanted to do a few things in the area. You know, relaxing types of things.

Boy, was this going to be a busy week!

House Maintenance

My parents live in the Phoenix area, which tends to heat up come April. So when I rolled into town at the end of April, things were getting toasty. The kind of toasty that allows you to do stuff outside only in the morning, otherwise you tend to sweat a lot. So this left the mornings to be productive – working on the house, hiking, or doing something else outside.

I ended up spending a lot of time working on my trailer/house. Everything from giving the exterior a good cleaning, to repacking the wheel bearings, to tightening all the exterior hardware, to crawling under it to make sure all is good, to doing a bunch of little things I had been wanting to get around to. By the time the two weeks were up I was over working on my rig. I swore I would never let all this stuff build up again, instead hoping to do a little at a time over a much longer period of time. We shall see how that works out…

Shortly after I departed Austin I looked under my slide and noticed abnormal wear on the bottom of it. I was aware of a potential issue with slide wear from my poking around the Lance owner’s forum so I knew exactly what I was dealing with when I saw the wear on my slide (the part that pops out to give more living room inside).

There are three sets of rollers that the bottom of the slide rolls on as it is being extended and retracted. These rollers come into contact with the plastic (or whatever it is) coating on the bottom of the slide and can wear through to the underlying material. The front most slide rollers were doing this on my trailer, so it was an issue that needed to be addresses ASAP before it became a bigger issue.

My year warranty had expired a month or two before I noticed the issue, but I was hoping that Lance would do the right thing and pay for the repair. After some back and forth with one individual in the company (via email), I received a phone call from someone who could make these kinds of decisions and was told the issue would be covered by them. They were sending the repair kit to the dealer that I purchased it from. Fortunately said dealership was by my parents, where I currently was, instead of me being halfway across the country. Lance just assumed I was still in the area. They have no idea I am nomadic. Fortunately I was in the area. Sometimes it is all about the timing.

Bottom line is that the repair was made at no charge to me, hopefully fixing the issue once and for all.

Hiking

I stayed with my parents for five months before hitting the road, in which time I connected with a Meetup group for hikers. They do a hike up South Mountain in Phoenix every Thursday night which I went on most weeks during my five month stay. I was eager to connect back with them the two Thursdays I was in town, so I did, spending two great evenings hiking, catching up, and doing the after hike beer and food thing.

typical view from south mountain hike

Typical view from south mountain hike

About 10 minutes away from my parents is Usery Mountain Regional Park, which has many miles of hiking trails through the desert. It also has a very awesome campground, where I took my house on its maiden voyage over a year ago. But I wasn’t here to camp, but rather to hike, which I did a couple of mornings. There is something about hiking around the desert in the early morning, before it gets toasty enough to roast you.

Dentist

I hadn’t been to the dentist in several years so I joined my parents on a trip to Algodones, Mexico to have my teeth cleaned by a dentist they have been visiting for years. The trip south of the border is an all day affair, so we left very early, drove across the border and did our thing. Our thing consisted of my parents getting some new glasses, the trip to the dentist where I got caught up in my dental work, and the required trip to a restaurant to enjoy some authentic Mexican food.

We drove across the border to make it easier getting around for my parents. In their car. Cause mine is still worth something. 🙂

Algodones is very much a town primarily set up for Americans to come over and have dental work completed and to receive eye exams. And to buy stuff to clutter up their homes. And to eat good, inexpensive, food.

It is a safe place and one never feels at all worried. I guess the guys with automatic weapons, who look all of 13 – the guys, not the guns – are supposed to make one feel safe. Whatever it is, I had zero problem driving and walking around. The area depends on the gringo so they make sure you feel welcomed and they take good care of you.

Driving into Mexico is no big deal. They just wave you through. Going back over the US border is a different story. You need your passport and patience. The line to drive back over can be a bit long, snaking through Algodones. The street merchants know this and take full advantage of it. You are offered the opportunity to purchase whatever you may have forgotten to get. You get very good at saying no thanks.

Food

A trip home is always highly anticipated cause my Mom can cook. Unfortunately her excellent cooking skills didn’t rub off on me, so I take full advantage of getting some great home cooked meals when I can.

Beyond my Mom’s great cooking, they also enjoy treating themselves every now and again. While I was there this time, French bread was ordered. As in bread from France, overnighted so it was almost like being overseas. Tasty bread. Delicious bread. Did I mention the bread was outstanding? And I was fortunate enough to leave with a loaf of my favorite, to go with the scones my Mom baked for me. Yeah, I can get a bit spoiled by eating this way. Thanks, Mom!

We also hit up a couple of local places, including a food truck rodeo that wasn’t in existence last time I was in town. And I do love a good food truck! Though my experience with these paled in comparison with the trucks in Austin, but it is great to see the food truck scene growing in Phoenix.

Good sized food truck rodeo

Good sized food truck rodeo

Before I knew it, my two week trip to visit my parents was over and it was time to head out. Two things I learned – I can’t build up such a long to-do list as it ruins the experience of being there, and I shouldn’t go this long between home cooked meals.

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