Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daphne Dolphin Gets a Physical Exam


I had to drive to Red bluff today for a black and gray water dump; while I was at the Durango (fancy schmancy RV Park) I also bought propane.  I'd planned on leaving early this AM to get the dump over with; but there's a ferocious wind blowing and I'd hoped it would let up.  It didn't - so I left at about 10:30 and drove very slowly on the wind-swept I-5 South to Red Bluff.  Daphne felt like I was in a ski boat - waving from here to there.  I was extra careful; and many other drivers were too.  It will be interesting to watch the news and see the speed of the wind gusts - must be in the 80-100mph range!

The plan was to dump and then head for estimates on work needing (and possibly needing) to be done on Daphne.  I've been organizing an Excel list of wants and needs all throughout my RV odyssey - December until now.  When I arrived at Redding I-5 RV, which is actually in Anderson, CA, I carried my MacBook Pro into the parts and service office and informed the service manager, Chris, that he might like to carry a notepad while we reviewed my list of concerns.

As many of my RV friends know, there are two BIG items I need to be really happy traveling with Daphne.  First, I really need an awning; I really swelter in my little tin-can of an RV when it's hot outside.  Even though I stay almost always in RV parks, there certainly seems to be a shortage of shade in most of them.  I've outfitted the side cab and side windows with reflective sun screens; but I'm still confined in a small space and it gets mighty hot.  Secondly, Daphne Dolphin is not built to haul anything, in terms of wheels, to be used when camped in one spot for a time.  I have a Wal-mart special bike I bought right after I entered Mexico in January; it's pretty lame and not very safe to ride on Mexican roads.  I've been dependent on the kindness of fellow campers to get to grocery stores, etc.
So, these were my first two questions I posed to Chris.

Right off the bat, I was disappointed.  Chris explained that it is NOT possible to install any kind of apparatus like a trailer hitch or a Jayco shelf that could be used to carry an electric bike or scooter.  [I own a brand-new-never-been-used Schwinn electric bike.  I had an RV bicycle rack installed on Daphne - and then was told that it could not support the weight of the electric bike; so that nice new Schwinn sits in my garage at home]!

Then he had his 'awning guy' check out  Daphne for an awning.  Well, he said it is NOT possible to install a regular RV awning as there is no support mechanism and if a regular awning were to be installed, it would surely rip out of the side wall of the rig.  It would be possible to install a 'box awning' of only 10 feet in width for a minimum cost of $975 for the awning and who knows how much for labor at $110 / hour!

So, I had Chris give me estimates for basic repairs and needs without including the awning or Jayco rack or trailer hitch and found that the basics would cost about $1K at best.  That's not including a small generator or solar panels (which I'd like to have) or any cosmetic kind of work like new shades, carpeting or vinyl flooring, etc.

I'm feeling pretty bummed - but I also know that "more will be revealed", as they say.  I came back to my son's house and shared that I'd like to be able to use them as sounding boards for my rambling about what and where I go from here.  I have learned that often the best thing for me to do when there are big decisions to be made - is NOTHING.  I need to just let all the problems, possibilities and potential rewards mull around in my head for a while.


  1. Before my husband and I spend anything over $100 we talk about it, mull it over, pray about it and do nothing for 24-48 hours. The bigger the decision the longer we take. I hope it all works out for you. I too dont do well with the heat and enjoy our awning. I'm wondering, if you only use the bike when you travel, would it be possible to take it back for a refund and apply that to something that would fit on the rack?

  2. Thanks for the comment and advice, BJ. When I said the bike is new, I meant "unused." I ordered it and it was delivered while I was in Guatemala for 18 months - not returnable now. And, I'm looking forward to riding it - even if only when I'm 'home' in CA. I have always exercised a good deal and am now suffering with a bad knee. So, I'd like to ride until my knee hurts then turn on the motor!
    I am right now just waiting, meditating and passing things by my kids - they're great sounding boards. It's interesting that no matter what I come up with as a answer, part of the response will be from input of others. Have a great day.

  3. Hi mary-pat, bumpers can be reinforced to carry heavier loads. See a black smith or similar shop for the work! Good luck, jack

  4. Does the front end of your Dolphin have enough support to carry your bike instead of the rear end? As for the awning, maybe there are stand alone awnings that you can put together...try REI. If all else fails, try a beach umbrella...I use that when I am camping or fishing.

  5. Hi Rita:
    I do have a beach umbrella I bought on the beach at Sayulita. It does help some, but I have to be really careful if I prop it between my side door and the rig because I've had some strong wind gusts and was able to take it down before I think it might have ripped out. I know awnings have to be monitored too - I'll learn as I go. I will check about a bike rack on the front - that's never come to mind! These comments are so helpful. Thanks

  6. Like Rubbertramp said, the rear bumper could be reinforced for your bike. You also need helper spring to prevent sagging of rear end under that load.
    There is 10x10 canopy sold in Walmart for under $100. Could be handled with one person. Tie down are also provided but of light duty, but could easily be beefed up for medium wind. But like all awnings, you should take it down if strong wind are in the forecast.
    I like Toyota truck. They are designed to last and save gas. It could easily get over 10 mpg under heavy load. American engine don't design the same way. But gas saving might not be on top of your list. You could read Andy Baird blog 'travelling ....... in 7 mpg' to get some insight.
    Part time rver Desert Diva has experience with two Toyota type RV. She loves RV friend. Visit her site, may be you could find more info before you decide to change your rig.

    1. Hi Tom:
      I was just reviewing some old posts and noticed your comment - I hadn't seen it before. Sorry for the delay in thanking you. I'm going to be gathering more info next week about how I can solve the awning and electric bike-carrying based on your suggestions. Thanks again.