A Few Random Updates – Cracks, Ovens & Dog-Surfing

For the kitty lovers out there…Rand lounges in her favorite AM spot

I figured it’s about time I update all you folks on our goings-ons. As of today we are tentatively looking at travel plans (probably Utah-bound) in the next month or so, all depending on various items which will become clear to us in the next few weeks. Yes, I am being deliberately vague and mysterious and will remain so until we decide what we’re doing. Not only is it far more exciting (for you as a blog reader) that way, but it’s my privilege as a woman and a free-lovin-open-wheelin nomad to have no definite plans. And while the weather remains THIS perfect in San Diego, we’re staying until the itch hits us to go….which it will….just not quite yet…

With that perfectly clear, I’ll update you on a few (no doubt) exciting going-ons that we’ve had here:

1/ Our CR-V Cracks Up

The CR-V cracks up

We had a rock hit our CR-V in Desert Hot Springs back in November which left a small, but definite crack in the window. Being conscientious folks we immediately called Safelite (who we’ve had excellent results with before) to come out and repair it. In 97% of cases (and no I’m not making that up…I was actually quoted that precise number) the crack is filled effortlessly and you’re on your way. In 3% of cases the crack-fill fails and actually grows. Well, guess which side of the equation we ended up on? Our barely visible bullet-hole grew to a long and very prominent 3-inch crack. Darn it! Safelite offered a discount on windshield replacement, but at the time we weren’t willing to spend either the time or $$ to get the window replaced so we decided to leave be until we couldn’t take it anymore.

Safelite repairing the windshield…they always provide great service

Which fast-forwards us to this week. Our pet crack had by now expanded to a handy 7 inches and was visibly growing by the day so I decided the situation was getting dire. Off to Safelite to get it replaced. All-in-all an easy and very satisfying solution. Safelite take care of everything for you, offer a lifetime guarantee on the seal and do an excellent & efficient job. Wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.

P.S. If you’ve followed the blog a reaaaly long time and are wondering about the foot-long crack we got in the RV windshield in Wyoming our first year out…beyond all expectation it is STILL HOLDING! At some point we’ll no doubt need to replace the windshield, and when we do we’ll probably use one of the RV glass specialists in Eugene, OR but until then….let it ride, let it ride.

2/ Our Microwave/Convection Dies…AGAIN!

YET again we have a hole where the microwave/convection should be!

If you were following the blog last year you may have remembered that our microwave/convection oven crapped out in the middle of a rib-roasting right before we reached Florida. Well, it happened again. We’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the fault of our inverter, and this has been supported by other bloggers & commenters. You see we have Magnum-2000 Modified Sine-Wave Inverter/Charger that we use to run our AC electronics & appliances while we’re boondocking (i.e. not hooked-up to shore power). The inverter’s job is to take our 12V DC battery power and convert it to 120V AC power. There are 2 main types of inverters on the market -> Modified Sine Wave and the much more expensive Pure Sine Wave:

  • Modified Sine Wave (MSW) Inverters “approximate” the sine-wave shape of AC power, but do it in a “blocky”  manner giving a step-function-shaped output which can be somewhat noisy too.
  • Pure Sine Wave (PSW) Inverters provide a nice, smooth output which is pretty much exactly like the quality of power you’d get at home.
Diagram showing the approx. difference between a MSW & PSW output

For most small, basic electronics MSW is fine, but for sensitive items or big appliances with motors or compressors like refrigerators, air conditioners and microwaves it can cause damage over time (read more about inverters here and here). Our big, ol (and did I mention expensive?) Sharp R-1894 Microwave/Convection is a beast of a machine and always sounds like it’s “struggling” when we run it off the MSW inverter. Although we don’t use it much in the boonies, I have no doubt this is what has caused its’ now twice-early demise. It’s still under warranty so we are getting it fixed at a local shop, but we will likely think twice about using it while boondocking in the future, and if it tanks again we’ll probably yank it out and replace it with a cheaper (and much smaller) microwave. We rarely use the convection oven anyway (we have a propane oven for roasting/baking which we use constantly) and this one item is not worth the $$-upgrade to a Pure Sine Wave Inverter….at least not yet…
Lesson Learned.

3/ Polly Learns To Surf -> Sort Of

I deem thee….surf doggie!!

Being in San Diego encourages one to act like a San Diegan, and of course that means hanging loose, beach-bumming and surfing. Paul was a workable surfer back when we lived in the area, but Polly never  mastered the art. Given there is both dog-surfing, dog kayaking and dog-paddle-boarding in the area we decided it was time to introduce the girl to the sport. So, off we went to our fav spot at Fiesta Island for a romp in the water. Now Polly is a rather skittish doggie and it always takes her time and lots of positive encouragement to learn new tricks (it took a year before she enjoyed swimming), so we knew this was going to be an event.

But all-in-all she did amazingly well. We had few rocky starts and some suspicious and rather unbalanced jumps on the board, but in the end she did manage to get and stay (somewhat) on and even had a few strokes of Paul paddling next to the board. It wasn’t exactly big surf, and I can’t quite claim that we  “hung 10”, but they DO say the toughest part is getting up the board and that she did….so a surfer dog I now declare her to be :)

And with that I leave you with just one last thought….or rather one last picture. Should you wonder what we’re doing or where we are, just imagine we’re lounging luxuriously in the motorhome hanging out in near-perfect temps right by the water.

It’s a darn close approximation anyway :)

Polly eyes the surf-board suspiciously
If you’re wondering what we’re doing…well this is it!
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. Elsa says

    Very nice shot of the elusive Rand. I have a big crack in my windshield that I still have to deal with. And here I am in the VI with a dog that won’t swim! I guess I’ll have to get some pointers from you! Jenny has lost .8 lbs in 2 weeks. Seems way too fast, but her energy is great and she’s eating well.

    • Spencer says

      Did you say you are in the VI? We are in St. Thomas…. Strange to find other RV blog readers here in the islands. But we know what “rock fever” is!

    • libertatemamo says

      Hi Elsa,
      For Jenny you want to target no more than 1-2% of bodyweight lost per week. If she’s losing faster than that you should consider upping her food, at least for now. It’s always dangerous for bigger cats to lose too fast. This site is a good resource for weight-loss in cats:
      We’ll have to get Polly & Finn back together so she can teach him how to swim :)

  2. says

    Glad you didn’t wait on the crack. We see too many people driving around with huge cracks. We think that is just crazy!
    Rand is such a beauty…so peaceful. And Polly deserves a nap after all she was put through. You two can throw a nap in there every so often also. Enjoy your Sunday. ~wheresweaver

    • libertatemamo says

      Rand is definitely a “meditative” cat. She LOVES to sleep, usually in hidden spots and likes to go out walking at night. A very reclusive girl.

  3. Ginge, Richard and Libby says

    It was fun reading your entry today. Our solution to the inverter/microwave/boondock problem has been to keep the unit unplugged as a matter of course. That way, we always have to be totally conscious of where we are before we turn on the microwave. And so, we never do. We live with three propane burners whenever we boondock, which is a lot. A new propane oven which was just installed by the miracle boys down in Eugene will now take care of that problem.

    As an aside, Richard has just reminded me that his hearing aid battery recharger will not work on the MSW inverter. The error light on the charger keeps coming on, but when we are plugged in to shore power, there is no problem.

    Regards, Ginger

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, I think we’re gonna have to leave it unplugged too. We really don’t use it much while boondocking (only for re-heating), but I think that combined w/ the MSW inverter it’s been enough to fry it over the course of the year.
      I LOVE your renovations. Hope we get to meet-up again so I can drool over them in person.

  4. says

    Sorry to hear about your windshield and your convection oven. We have had to replace our convection oven as well, but ours was due to a wiring issue. If you and Paul have some time and would like to get together again before you or we head out, please give us a shout. Would love to see you both again.

    P.S. Both Paul and Polly look pretty cool on the surfboard.

  5. Luke Alexander says

    We have the Sharp Micro/Convection in the 07 Diplomat. When it dies, we take it to a shop in San Jose, CA and they fix it overnight. Great place. If yours breaks and you are up this way, try http://www.jhappliance.com/
    We always run it off the genset, if we are boondocking.

    • libertatemamo says

      THANKS for that link! Each time it’s broken we’ve stuggled to find someone to fix it, and it usually takes at least a couple of weeks. Here in San Diego there is only ONE shop that fixes Sharp believe it or not!
      So cheers for that excellent recommendation.

  6. says

    We like the way you all keep problems in perspective, & know you all will back get on top of things in short order. Sadly, Gari & I buried her 28 y/o Morgan horse gelding under the Maple tree out back last week :( The upside is that we enjoyed that wonderful horse Destiny everyone of those years and now we have one less thing holding us on the farm… dreaming of pulling chocks here too…

    • libertatemamo says

      Awwwwww…so sorry to hear about the loss of Morgan. It’s always heart-wrenching to lose an animal.

    • libertatemamo says

      We had SUCH a blast. We’re thinking of re-trying this week with a full-size paddle-board. You can rent them right here in the Bay where we’re staying. Should be fun!

  7. Lisa says

    Hi guys! Hans and I LOVE Utah in the spring (and the fall)!. What a drag about the micro/convection. My home oven died today with two giant pans of lasagna to bake! Luckily we have a great mobile repair guy…he saved the day! Glad you’ve been enjoying your stay in San Diego!

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh man, WHY do these things always fail right when we’re in the middle of a big dinner? Our last failure was ALSO in the middle of a dinner (with guests planned). Thank goodness for our propane oven.

  8. says

    Loved reading your stories this morning. Bob knows about PSW and MSW (look at the way I use those acronyms – I feel smarter already), but it has been all greek to me. Thanks for the lesson.

    Looking forward to seeing you.

  9. Pat H. says

    Hi Nina,
    We have just installed a sweet 636 Watt Solar Charging system (as we prepare for full-timing) but—
    Some nice power/inverter questions for you:
    1) Do your small electronics (phones, camera, laptops) have any issues while charging when plugged into AC supplied by your MSW inverter? There seems to be great discussion about burning out the little DC chargers with MSW.
    2) Do you have one of those little inverters that plug into a cigarette lighter type DC power port to supply AC that your DC chargers can plug into rather than turning on the large inverter charger? The inherent draw of simply turning on the Freedom 458 to charge a camera or running/charging a laptop seems wasteful especially in a boondocking situation.
    3) Because of the possible damage to the microwave when using MSW it sounds like you do not advocate powering the microwave in this manner. How foolish is one to start the generator for the sole purpose of running the microwave? Once again, this seems wasteful.
    4) I would think that cooking on the convection mode on the Microwave would be impossible while on inverter power due to the massive draw to create the needed heat. True?
    5) Is the simple answer to the convection microwave issue this: forget about using it while boondocking or go buy a PSW inverter/charger?
    6) I am having difficulty figuring out what we would need AC power for beyond the microwave, television and associated satellite equipment, and electronics charging purposes in a boondocking situation. What do you plug in on a regular basis? How does your TV do on MSW?
    Thanks for sharing your experience,
    Pat H

    • libertatemamo says

      I’ll try to answer as many qs as I can:

      1/ Yes, we do power electronics (esp. laptops) from the MSW and yes, we do seem to burn through chargers a little faster than we did previous to RVing. I haven’t been particularly worried about it since chargers are cheap, and we haven’t gone through a ton (we’ve replaced 2 chargers in 4 years) but the MSW seem to have an effect.

      2/ We don’t carry any small inverters, but know others that do. What we DO have are cigarette chargers for all our smaller electronics (phone, MiFi, iPads). The only thing we really turn on our big (centralized) inverter for are the laptops & TV.

      3/ Yeah, I don’t really recommend using the microwave on MSW – it just sounds like it’s dying and we’ve had to make repairs twice. I personally also think that turning on the generator is a bit of waste for such a minor event. You want to run the generator for longer times when you turn it on (at least 1/2 hour, preferably 1 hour under load) so that it gets up to temp. Running it for shorter times is not really good for it. My preference? Forget the microwave and just heat-up whatever you need on the stove or in the oven (if you have a propane oven). Yeah it may take 5 mins rather than 1 min, but you’re boondocking & have the time. There’s NOTHING we can’t make or reheat on our propane stove/oven.

      4/ You can use the convection mode sure…the thing will work, but power draw will be big so you can’t use it for long (it’ll run down your batteries pretty quickly and your solar won’t be able to keep-up). Plus on MSW it will sound like the microwave is dying.

      5/ Either or. My preference is forget the microwave altogether, but you can certainly also buy a PSW inverter. Microwave will run normally on PSW, but you’ll still be faced with a big power draw everytime you use it (there’s not much you can do about that), so you can only use it for short timeframes. Is it worth the cost of a PSW inverter just for a few mins of microwave time? That’s up to you. Of course over the long haul a PSW inverter is better for ALL your electronics so there are other advantages. It’s a pricey little upgrade though.

      6/ I think you’ve got it covered. We mostly run laptops & TV/Satellite off the MSW inverter (all do fine). Occasionally we’ll run the printer and even more occasionally I’ll run my hair dryer (on low). Beyond that we have cigarette chargers for everything else. Our fridge, stove & oven are all propane plus we make our daily coffee using a stove-top espresso maker (uses no electricity).

      Hope that helps!


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