Just about everything we’ve been doing the last few weeks led up to yesterday – Saturday, July 17th. Caprock High School’s 40th reunion dinner dance was held at River Breaks Ranch located just outside Amarillo. We’ve been to “planning” meetings that doubled as parties, helped the committee by donating funds and items for the silent auction, helped decorate, set up, clean up, and just had a good time getting reacquainted or acquainted for the first time with lots of classmates and their spouses. I’ve had a lot of fun, and I know Jim has really, really enjoyed reconnecting with all of these friends.
At lunch on Friday we met one of Jim’s very best friends from those days, Mike, his wife, Rhonda, Mike’s brother, Gene and his wife, Connie for lunch at a local burger place. Jim and Mike, along with several others, shared many “adventures” in their high school days. Mike and Rhonda now live in Spring, Texas and they drove up here on Thursday. It was great fun to see them.
Rhonda was getting ready to take a picture of Jim and Mike Friday evening when I got this one:
Friday evening was the “Meet and Greet” event, and I watched Jim’s face light up over and over as he shared memories with many of the classmates who’d arrived to attend the 2-night events. When the crowd cleared out, we helped get the clubhouse cleaned up and un-decorated. Yesterday morning we went out to the ranch and helped get the room all set for the dinner. We spent the afternoon napping and relaxing, trying to catch up on a little of that lost sleep from the past few nights so we’d be fresh and energetic for the night’s festivities.
Late yesterday afternoon, about an hour before time to leave, I took the dogs out for a walk before I started getting ready to go. Just as I was walking back to the Castle, I heard some popping noises. At first I thought someone nearby was slamming compartment doors. But when I got back inside, I kept hearing the noises and looked out a window to see if I could tell what was going on. My “something’s up” radar was alerted. Suddenly I saw a man running towards our coach, and then he was knocking on our door. When I opened the door, he yelled that we needed to turn off our electric because the pole behind us was popping and fire was coming out! I yelled for Jim to come out and went outside to investigate. Before I went out, I glanced at our electrical control panel and saw that our inverter was on.
Of course, a crowd was gathering around this junction pole behind our coach. I made sure someone had notified the office, then started asking what people had seen. The pole in question has our electric meter and what looks like a junction box on it, but our electric cord is plugged into a separate box on the other side of the coach and didn’t appear to have been affected. Apparently, the junction box on the back of the pole was the source of the popping and fire. Jim was outside by this time and checking our surge protector and saw that our electric meter was still turning and that we had our power back on. Evidently, when the equipment in the junction box started arcing, we had a momentary power loss, which was at the time I looked at our panel and saw the inverter on.
The park manager (may be owner, I’m not sure) arrived and started looking things over. We were trying to figure out what to do about our own situation when a fellow from the next rig over showed up with a screwdriver and started to pry the junction box open – not a good idea! The popping and flare was immediate! I guess he didn’t think the situation was safe (well, duh!) so he decided to pack up and leave. He’d just gotten there, so there wasn’t much to pack up. Just as well, we didn’t need him trying to “fix” anything! The manager made some calls to get someone out to make repairs. Meanwhile, our power was on, although I think there were a few rigs that still didn’t have power. He offered to move us to another site, but we explained we were leaving shortly for this reunion and didn’t have time to pack up and move right then, we wanted to wait and see if the problem could be corrected.
We went back inside to discuss what we should do, when another neighbor from a couple of sites over knocked on our door. He asked if we’re Escapees, and said that they are too. He talked with us for a few minutes, explaining that he he’s a retired electrician. We told him the timing of this was really bad, since we were about to attend this reunion dinner. He offered to watch our coach and take care of the dogs for us so we could still go. We were hesitant, but finally decided to take them up on the offer. At this point, our power was still on and everything was working fine. We hoped that repairs could be made without affecting our power, so the dogs would be ok, and that Doug and Judy wouldn’t need to do anything.
We left a key and our cell phone numbers with them and went on to the reunion, asking them to call us if anything happened. Sure enough, Doug called and told us the electrical contractor had come and turned our power off to fix the bad equipment. They didn’t have all the necessary parts to make the repairs, so our power would be off until Monday. Everyone else’s power was restored, just our site was without it. We offered to come on back home, but Doug said no, it’s a special night, you just stay and have a good time. They went in and got the dogs then, took them over to their rig and took care of them until we got home.
Ok, so at this point, we are thinking, where did these Angels come from? What wonderful people! We had not met Doug and Judy Plummer before this happened, and here they are, offering to take care of our furkids so we could enjoy a special night. They are the perfect example of the spirit of Escapees and we can’t begin to thank them enough! We did leave the party a little early and got home around 10:15. Doug was waiting for us, and the dogs were happy! We got them home to our hot Castle and opened all the windows and vents to cool the place down. Luckily, Amarillo cools off at night!
This morning, we both had the same idea – let’s not move to a different site if we can get an extension cord to plug in to the site next door. We figured the coach that eventually got parked there was leaving this morning since they hadn’t unhooked their car. We were correct, those folks pulled out right after 7:00 A.M. We went over to the office and spoke with the managers. By the way, these people are the exact opposite those at our previous park here in Amarillo. These people are making sure this situation is handled and that we’re happy. We explained our idea and that seemed to be fine with them, so they provided us with a 30-amp extension cord to plug in next door. They placed a cone over the cord so no one will drive over it and blocked that site from being rented out tonight. They also promised they will be on top of the contractor and power company first thing tomorrow morning to make sure the repairs get made so we can be back on our 50-amp service.
I took these pictures this morning. The box on the lower left side of the pole is where our electric meter was. The box on the opposite side is the one that had the faulty equipment in it:
This is a close-up of the burned box. The burn marks on the side are where the “helpful” neighbor stuck his screwdriver (he’s the one who packed up and left, thank goodness):
Our temporary power cable:
So today, we are sung and cool with one air conditioner running on a 30-amp service. We had some opportunities to better understand the workings of our electrical system as we adjusted to the reduced amperage. We’ve really been “all or nothing” with this coach since we purchased it in 2008, this is the first time we’ve run with 30 amps. This morning before we had electric, we still had all the windows and vents open. When the sun came up, we turned on the vent fans to create a nice breeze. This was working great with our solar panels easily keeping up with the load. However, when we plugged in to the 30-amp service, our batteries started losing their charge right away. We turned off the 30-amp breaker and the batteries recharged from the solar. Jim turned the 30-amp breaker back on and we watched the battery charge go down again. We finally figured out that the fans run on DC power, and the 30-amp service is not enough to keep the batteries charging with that load. When we turned the fans off and started the air conditioner, the batteries went back to a full charge and all is well. So now we understand that on solar, we can’t run our air conditioners, and on 30-amp power, we can’t run the vent fans. Good things to know!
Pictures from the reunion -
River Breaks Ranch entrance:
Ellie and Vickie:
One of the entertainment opportunities at the ranch is “horse racing” , where play money is handed out and you can “bet” on the horses. The crowd is getting ready and the horses run:
Vail, one of the classmates who graduated with Jim, is a designer now. She made this quilt from old t-shirts from Caprock High and the Amarillo area:
Another classmate, Donny Hickmott, (Walking Horse Gallery) is an accomplished artist who painted this picture of a Longhorn:
The quilt and the painting were donated for people to buy an “opportunity to win” with proceeds donated to Caprock High School for a scholarship.
Browsing the table full of silent auction goodies, another money-making project for the scholarship fund:
Mixing and mingling:
What a special night, filled with Adventure, Friends, and Angels!