After the rough road to and from Aravaipa Canyon and the broken belt, we discovered something else. But it took a while. First we had to take a trip out to Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area for the night. This is a miniature version of the sand dunes near Yuma.
And this one also features camping, bathrooms and two well-maintained hot tubs! These tubs fill from an aquifer using a solar pump. This means that the tubs drain each night, and begin to fill up when the sun comes up. So we woke up and took fresh, hot baths in the hot tubs. And we were the only ones around!
We noticed that the battery charge was beginning to drop. So Mike unfurled the solar panel and plugged into the sun. The power of the sun was providing our bath, and getting our rig ready to go for the day. More than we could have known.
After an hour of sun, we decided to roll into Safford and hit Auto Zone for a spare belt. Clearly this is something we should keep on hand, and since it is a Ford Contour part we can get them at any parts store. The drive in was uneventful and we pulled into a carefully selected space in the back corner of the parking lot. I would let the dogs out while Mike bought the belt. He turned off the key and it made an odd shut down sound. So, he turned the key to start it back up- and it was DEAD! CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.
Remember when I mentioned that the belt had frayed into strings and unplugged stuff. Well, one of those strings must have wrapped around the alternator shaft. It stayed just long enough to toast the alternator and then came unwrapped again. That alternator may have given up, but the spare battery system had stored enough power to get us to a campsite. Then the solar recharge gave enough more juice to get into town. But there we were, stalled at Auto Zone. Those kind folks called every shop in the area. The nearest alternator was in Tucson and would arrive by truck at 10AM the next day. We would be camping overnight at Auto Zone in Safford, Arizona.
Of course, what else to do when you are stuck in a parking lot- but go to the movies! We walked to the town theatre/internet cafe. Guardians of the Galaxy in 3D kept us entertained and gave the dogs a long-awaited nap.
The weather was mild and the chosen parking space afforded some privacy, so we set up camp and made the best of it.
The next morning the delivery truck arrived as scheduled. Mike was able to change the alternator and the electrical connection in less than 45 minutes. He also did a full inspection of all CV bolts, fluids, etc as Geneva packed up camp. The dual system (with a new alternator) had enough charge to start the van right up! The gauge showed it was charging and we were on the road again.