1-6 JAN, WETUMPKA AL -- As has become our routine, we started the new year wrapping up holiday visits with our kids and grandkids. Our RV site this year at Swayback Campground North of Wetumpka was a very peaceful location except for one night when we had the local fire brigade invade the campground at 3am after another RVer called them to inquire how do deal with a possibly malfunctioning CO detector. I guess they were all bored at that hour as they responded with half a dozen vehicles to check it out! Our cost at Swayback for two months at the monthly rate was apx $12/night. We delayed leaving a few days longer than we had planned in hopes we would be able to close on property we are trying to buy for location of an RV site, but it didn't happen. The lawyers have been working for two to three weeks on the access easement ...seems the one that was originally attached to the property was not properly transferred in subsequent sales, and they are hammering out a new agreement with surrounding property owners. So, we'll have to deal with the closing long distance. We had also hoped to bring another car back with us that had belonged to our younger son, but it refused to start a couple days before departure so it went to the repair shop and we left without it.
7 JAN, WEST MONROE LA -- With temps projected to plummet into the teens for the first time this winter, we left Swayback Campground at 8:45am, went by McDonalds in Wetumpka for breakfast sandwiches, and headed West. We had been hearing advertising for a new Velveeta hamburger at Hardees that the co-pilot wanted to try, so when lunchtime came we found a Hardees we could park close to ...bummer. The hamburger was nice and thick, but not all that tasty. Guess we will stick to Whataburger for our burgers! At the Flying J in Pearl MS we took on 49 gallon of diesel at a very nice $2.92 a gallon ... great price. We also refilled the LP to the tune of 15.5 gallon for $4.50/galon. At 5pm we arrived at Pavillion RV Park in West Monroe LA. We have stayed here before, and knew their sites are relatively flat, and that our lack of leveling jacks would not be a problem. This is a Passport America Park, and the PA rate is $20 per night. It got down in to the 20's overnight, but the really cold temps came after we were back at home base in East Texas. We left Pavillion about 8:45, found a McDonalds right across I-20 for breakfast, and were soon headed West again. Just before arriving back at homebase we refueled at one of the cheapest fuel stopes around, a Cefco. The first diesel pump I tried was putting out fuel at a slow trickle, but after moving to another pump we quickly got 42.5 gallon at $2.83 a gallon ...love the dropping prices! Now to get the RV unloaded and into service to get the leveling jacks repaired.
12 JAN-3 FEB, TYLER TX -- We made a service appointment at a facility near our home just after Christmas when the problem with the leveling jacks occured, so took the coach in early on Monday morning January 12 to get it checked out. A week later when I called to check on the progress I found they had not even looked at it yet. The end of that week, when telephone conversations gave me little confidence they fully understood the system and problem we had experienced, I dropped by with a page from the service manual. Most of the service guys were out supporting an RV show so little or no work was going on. I did get to speak with the tech who had been working on the coach and found that replacement solenoids had been ordered. He welcomed the sheet I gave him (I had provided the system service and repair manuals earlier, but they apparently had not looked at them). The first week of February I called to inquire on the progress and to tell them I needed to pick the coach up on Thursday AM as we were hosting a rally about 20 miles up the road. They told me the leveling jacks were repaired and working fine, but they had not yet got to the roof sealant I had also asked them to R&R as the sealant was on order but not yet received. I told them I would pick it up on the afternoon of Wednesday February 4, and return it on Saturday am so they could do the sealant repair. When I arrived I found the coach in the service yard with the generator running, the lp furnace running, and the big diesel running at low idle. Outside temp was in the 50's. I stepped inside and kicked it into high idle before I went into the office. When I asked why it was sitting idling with the generator running, they told me "we just pulled it out." I told the service tech about the need to set high idle when sitting and idling indefinitely to ensure sufficient oil pressure and oil to the turbo ...he had no comment. I paid for the jacks repair which included just 1 hour labor over the three weeks it had been there, and when hooking up the toad noticed there was hydraulic fluid dripping from the engine hydraulic tank ...the cap was extremely loose and the top of the tank was covered with fluid. This system is totally separate from the jacks hydraulic system they had worked on, so why did they mess with this tank? Just to be sure, I checked fluid levels in both the engine tank and the tank for the jack system ...both were good. I put both caps on securely and cleaned up the mess, then latched the engine access door which they had left loose, and headed home so we could load the rig for the rally that started the next day.
5-6 FEB, GLADEWATER TX -- Late on a cool Thursday morning we hit the road to the NE for the 40 minute drive to Gladewater TX where we were hosting the bi-montly gathering of the Ramblin' Rose Chapter of WIT (Winnebago Itasca Travelers). We left home a little later than we normally would due to attending a funeral, so a couple of the other regulars arrived ahead of us. We got a site next to the small group facility at Antique Capital RV Park, settled in, and got the building set up for the group. That evening we had the normal potluck, games, picture puzzles, and socializing. On Friday we had the chapter meeting, then lunch on the leftovers from the potluck. A few folks ventured out in the cold weather to visit some of the local antique stores, and Friday evening we all went out to eat before returning to the rv park for more games and completion of the new puzzle we had started on Thursday. We all had a good time, and on Saturday morning we led the departures so we could drop our motorhome off at the service facility on our way home so they could finish what we took it in for a month before. Cost for two nights at Antique Capital RV park at the rally rate was $25/night.
7-20 FEB, TYLER TX -- Back to the service facility on the way home to drop the rig off so they could finish the sealant work they didn't get to during the month it was parked on their lot. We did use the leveling jacks at the RV park and things seemed a bit rough but they extended and retracted on command so I blamed the rough operaton on the uneven terrain. This time I left a sheet attached to the steering wheel telling them how to set high idle if they decide to let it sit and idle for some reason, although there is no reason they should. About mid-week after I returned it to them I got a call telling me the sealant that had come in was the wrong color and they had reordered, so it would be a couple more days before it was ready. This was February 11 or 12, one month after we had originally dropped the coach off for our "appointment." On February 19 I called to check on the progress and was told "he is working on it right now so it should be ready any time." After looking at the severe winter weather warnings for the weekend, I called on February 20 to tell them I really needed to pick the coach up before the weekend as it was not prepped for freezing weather. I was told it was done except for removing the tape used to keep a clean edge on the sealant, so I told them I would pick it up on Saturday morning, which I did. This service location has no inside facility, and very little of the lot is paved. With all the recent rain (one reason it took them so long to get the sealant repaired ...they had to wait for a couple of sunny days), there was a bit of dirt/mud tracked inside to the cockpit. There was also a dark hand smear on the light cream colored leather of the copilot seat. While setting the coach up in the cover at home I found both the engine access door and the generator access door were not latched, and the safety pin that prevents the generator from sliding out while driving was not in place. Then when I activated the leveling jacks I noticed the jacks-down lights were behaving out of order and as they contacted the ground the coach seemed to be moving strangely. I stopped leveling and retracted the jacks, which caused a lot of popping and jerking. I then went to the manual leveling sequence and found that activating the two front jacks caused the right front and the left rear to go down! Storing them, I tried the rear jacks and found the right rear and left front were activated! I realized that the repair tech had crossed the wiring when he installed the replacement jack solenoids. I studied the sheet I had given him for a moment then swapped connections between two solenoids. That got both the two rear jacks and two front jacks operating together as they should, but with the controls swapped. So, I corrected the two connections I had swapped, and swapped the other two. Success! All now works as it should. I will call them next week for a little discussion, and will most likely try another service location next time I need one. The crossed wiring should have been obvious to the tech if he had truly tested the system. Forty days at the service facility for 9 hours labor ...ridiculous.
FIRE WARNING -- While picking up our coach from service I noticed this one parked on the lot ...very curious. Looking closely, you can see scorch marks above most of the windows, the door, and at the galley cooktop vent. The slideout topper awning is scorched, and the windshield and driver window were so black on the inside they were virtually impossible to see through (the other windows on this Winnebago product have a very dark tint anyway). The owners found it in this condition when they went to get it out of storage. They apparently had a small space heater plugged in inside the coach to keep it from getting cold, and the heater caught something on fire. As the coach was sealed, the fire smoldered in the carpet and furnishings until it finally smothered itself. The inside is reportedly totalled, and the coach had to be towed in. Space heaters should be used in an rv only with extreme caution AND ONLY when someone is in the rig and awake to monitor it. Leaving a space heater running to keep the inside of the coach warm is somewhat fruitless anyway as the plumbing that really needs to be protected is below floor level. The only practical way to get heat to those areas is to run the LP furnace, and the tragic thing about this fire is that this particular coach is built with heat outlets from the LP furnace in those critical areas! If the owners had simply left their LP furnace set on 45 degrees or so, it would have used little if any electricity, and it would have kept the water pipes from freezing. Another option when plugged into electric power as this coach obviously was is to put auto trouble lights or other incandescent bulb fixtures in the critical basement compartments. Just make sure the bulb cannot come into close contact with any combustible surfaces, and a simple 60 watt or larger bulb will keep a small basement area surprisingly warm. We use incandescent bulbs (auto trouble light/shop spot light/can light) like this often in sub-freezing weather. Frankly, the best way to avoid freezing pipes when in storage is to drain the water lines and blow them out with compressed air and/or add RV antifreeze. That would cost just a few dollars for the antifreeze and perhaps 30 minutes time. NEVERleave an electric space heater running in an unoccupied RV, OR in an RV when the occupants are sleeping. To do so is an open invitation to disaster.
19 MAR, SAGINAW TX -- After a couple of days loading, we hit the road Westward just before 11am enroute to Saginaw TX just NW of Ft Worth. Along the way, we took on 39 gallon of diesel at the Flying J on the East side of Dallas at a cost of $2.66/gallon after our 3 cents per gallon "RV Club" discount was applied. Back on I-20, we turned Nortward through Ft Worth on US287 and arrived at Fowler's RV Park just North of Saginaw about 2:30pm. We have stayed at Fowler's many times. It is nothing fancy, but has the basics and the basics work. This time we found the North boundary of the park has been fenced, cutting the back-in sites on that side of the park to just over 40'. In the past we have been able to park the car sideways in front of the motorhome, but no more. The fence has caused the water & electric to be at the extreme rear of the site, and the sewer in the middle (which eliminates the need for all the 4" pvc they have had to help people reach the sewer connection. We had no real place to park our car, but the side to our right was vacant so we used it for the night. While in Saginaw, we visited family members, going to look at their new home to the North near Rhome TX, and going out to dinner in nearby Decatur to help celebrate their wedding anniversary. After they get moved in, they plan to install a 50a outlet so we can park by the house! The picture here of the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur is an great example of the many picturesque court houses in small towns around the state of Texas. Cost for one night at Fowler's RV Park was $30.
20-22 MAR, LUBBOCK TX -- We managed to pull out of our back-in site and get the car hooked up about 9:30am just as it started to rain, and rain it did for about the first 50 miles of our 300 mile journey to Lubbock. That got the motorhome and car quite dirty. After figuring out that the Toad Charge system we installed in Alaska in 2013 is no longer working to keep the toad battery charged, I have figured out how to put the 120v battery charger under the hood of the car for a trickle charge while towing. The only requirement is that we run the motorhome generator, which we do much of the time anyway in order to run the house ac/heat pump while driving. When we stopped at Subway in Seymour for lunch, I took advantage of the end of the rain to get the battery charger set up while the co-pilot walked across the street to get our lunch. We arrived at the Flying J in Lubbock just before 3pm, took on 56 gallon of diesel at $2.66/gallon, and then made our way to the Loop 289 RV Park on the West side of town. We stayed in this park once about 7 years ago. Since then we have stayed on the North side of town when we stopped here to visit family, but since they have moved to the South side of town we decided to return to Loop 289. This is a nicely kept park with several nice pull-through sites, and very conveniently located to Gander Mountain, Cabela's Outpost, and Costco. We had a good visit with family, enjoyed Sunday Worship at Quaker St Church of God, and made a visit to the very interesting Buddy Holly Museum. What appeared to be an electric power problem turned out to be a loose connection on the motorhome end of the shore power cord ...an easy fix. On Saturday we discovered our heat pump/ac unit was acting up, so first thing Monday morning we called a local authorized service center. Billy Sims Trailer Town worked us in, and found that the outside blower motor installed at United RV in Ft Worth just 13 months ago was again bad ...and they also discovered that the #2 compressor was not wired properly. When blower motor was replaced, the pc board in the unit was also replaced, requiring all wiring to be re-done. This is the second time we have had work done at United RV in Ft Worth, only to find out many months later than something was not wired properly ...guess it is time for us to take them off our list. Billy Sims had all required parts in stock, and we were on the road by 4pm. Our cost for three nights at Loop 289 RV Park was $25/night with Good Sam and payment by cash/check discount.
23 MAR, CLOVIS NM -- Getting on the road at 4pm rather by mid-morning brought a slight change in plans. Rather than driving the 350 miles to Santa Fe so late in the day, we decided to drive 2 hours to Clovis NM, then to Santa Fe the next day. About half way to Clovis we began to experience a very strong head wind, and found the motorhome was having increasing difficulty in maintaining normal cruising speed. We also noticed some brief hesitation on acceleration when leaving some of the small towns along the way. Suspecting the engine fuel filter might be clogged, we decided as long as we could maintain a highway speed over 60mph, we would push on the remaining hour to Clovis. Since we crossed into the Mountain Time Zone, we gained an hour on the drive. After arriving at Traveler's World RV Park on the West side of Clovis, I got the spare fuel filter out and changed it before dark, making sure the engine was primed and running normally. Traveler's World is a decent park with about 50 spacious gravel pull-through sites. There were a good many more long-term residents there this time than we have seen in the past, but still several sites open for overnight travelers. We got a good rest at a cost of $28.65 for the night with Good Sam discount.
24-29 MAR, SANTA FE NM -- After a good sleep in Clovis, we were on the road by 9:45am. By the time we reached I-40 in Santa Rosa, we were again experiencing a very strong headwind. But the new fuel filter did the trick, and we had no problem maintaining normal cruising speeds. After a stop at the Subway in Clines Corners for lunch, we turned North. By the time we reached I-25 East of Santa Fe we had escaped the strong winds. We arrived at Los Suenos de Santa Fe RV Park about 1:30pm. While in Santa fe, we enjoyed visiting Loretto Chapel and the "miracle stairway", and spending money in the shops around the beautiful plaza area downtown. We spent parts of three days in exploring the Plaza area, admiring both the beautiful Native American turquoise jewelry we like so well, and the SW adobe architecture of the businesses and surrounding residential areas. One day we went with family members from Albuquerque to check out a remote property they recently bought in Rio Arriba County, and another day we drove a loop through the village of Chimayo and Espanola, and then through one of the many reservations in New Mexico toward Los Alamos and back to Santa Fe. Our chance visit to El Santuario de Chimayo, was the highlight of the day. This historic church, built on ground believed to have curative powers, is 200 years old this year. The beautiful little adobe church and surrounding grounds and open air worship area behind the church on the river bank is the destination of thousands of pilgrims each year. Although called a "resort" in their literature, Los Suenos is a fairly average gravel rv park with old utilities lacking the normally required breakers on the obviously old power outlets. Although quite average, like most visitor-oriented things in Santa Fe, the prices are quite above average. The cost we paid for a week is almost what we have payed many places for a month's stay, and twice what we paid the following week in Albuquerque! The normal price for our pull-through site was just over $50 ...with only 30a power and a sewer connection too high off the ground to allow normal hook-up. (But the water pressure was very good!) Add to that $50 a 15% lodging tax and at full price you would pay $57.50 for this site ...almost $20 higher than the nearby Motel 6 was advertising for the night!!! ...and Motel 6 provides linens and room service!!! We paid the "7 nights for the price of 6 weekly rate" minus a 10% Good Sam discount, but since we stayed just six nights our cost was just over $50 per night. Not a price we would want to pay often, I guess we can survive it for a one-time visit.
30 MAR-5 APR, ALBUQUERQUE NM -- Taking our time for departure, we left Santa Fe at 11am and headed South to Albuquerque, an easy one hour drive. Headed West on I-40 out of Albuquerque we stopped at the Flying J for 59 gallon of diesel at $2.59/gallon. The fuel islands were quite busy, but we got in and out fairly quickly in spite of the crowd and arrived at Enchanted Trails Trading Post & RV Park on top of Nine Mile Hill West of Albuquerque at 12:40. There are three RV parks at the top of the hill. We have stayed on the South side of I-40 several times, and chose the North side of the highway this time to give us a chance to check out this park. The trading post has been here for many, many years, and added the RV park in the 1970's. In addition to the normal RV sites, they also have on display two classic Hudson cars and a number of restored vintage trailers they offer for overnight rentals. We had a pleasant week in Albuquerque visiting friends and family, discovering a few new places to visit and re-discovering old favorites. And of course, we made our normal shopping trip to Palms Trading Company to view the jewelry, pottery, and other art. On Easter Sunday, we enjoyed worship with the people of Mesa View UMC. At the weekly rate, our cost at Enchanted Trails was just over $23/night.
6-8 APR, AMARILLO TX -- We pulled out of Enchanted Trails just after 9am and made a quick stop at Camping World on our way to I-40. The 300 mile drive to Amarillo was very pleasant, helped along by a very strong tailwind that had us sailing along pretty easy. The only rough part of the drive was a stop for lunch at the Subway in the TA Truck Stop on the East side of Santa Rosa ...the strong wind blowing across the parking lot made being outside a bit unpleasant and dirty. It was at this stop that we pretty much abandoned the Toad Charge system we put on the car in Alaska to keep the battery charged while driving. It worked fine for about a year, then began acting up. The company tells us that the lights on the controller indicate a bad connection, but after all connections have be re-done it still acted the same, with the end result that it did not charge the car battery as it was supposed to. And now, after more work on the connections, there are no lights on the controller at all. So to keep the battery charged I use a trick I learned when in deep need a few years ago, running an extension cord from the motorhome electric compartment where it is plugged into the engine heater outlet. Then the battery charger goes under the hood of the car, and we run the motorhome generator and flip the engine heater switch inside to keep the car battery on a trickle charge while driving. After sailing along I-40, we crossed into the Central Time Zone and arrived in Amarillo about 3pm. We had thought about staying in one of the newer RV parks on the West side of town, but at the last minute decided to bypass them and stay at Overnite RV Park on the East side of town where we stayed once several years ago. In Amarillo, we had a good visit with friends we worked with nearly 40 years ago, and took the time to check out a few famous locations ...primarily The Big Texan Steak Ranch on the East side of town and The Cadillac Ranch just West of town. The steaks at The Big Texan were great as was the ambiance, and the nose-down Cadillacs were interesting ...as also were the RV parks 1/2 mile in both directions. The Oasis RV Park Resort to the West of Cadillac Ranch has a Class A Motorhome planted nose-down in the dirt, and the Cadillac RV Park to the East has three vintage Cadillacs gently parked on ramps in a nose down attitude. AND we confirmed that our choice of Overnite RV Park was a good one ...at least we have some trees and grass for less $$!! At the nightly rate with 10% Good Sam discount, our cost at Overnite RV Park was $31.50/night.
9-11 APR, FARGO OK -- After leaving Overnite RV park just before 10am, we stopped a mile East at Flying J for 44 gallon of diesel at $2.56 a gallon, then we were on the road Northeasterly, fighting a strong crosswind. On 2 lane US 60 in Oklahoma, it was very intimidating watching the semi in front of us fight the wind, sometimes to the point that it almost looked like his trailer was going to go over. We arrived in Fargo OK at 1pm, and found Boggy Creek RV Park on the NE side of town. It is a little park with 11 sites, gravel, and a couple of trees. Other than the mainline of the Santa Fe railroad a few hundred yards North of the RV park, it is a very peaceful place. We had a good visit with family in the area, and briefly checked out things at the family farm. Our cost for four nights at Boggy Creek was $20/night.
12-16 APR, ENID OK -- We left Boggy Creek RV Park apx 1:25pm after attending worship at the United Methodist Church. After a brief stop at the Subway in Woodward, we headed on East to Enid. On arrival at Highpoint RV park at 3:30 we found a sign saying office opened at 4:30pm. We called the park number and the guy who answered said he did not know if they had anything available until he came in at 4:30. By 4pm there were two other rigs in the drive, and apparently they had reservations and called as the guy came and opened the office early. We got what appeared to be one of just a few available sites, and by the time we were hooked up saw at least 3-4 other rigs arrive. We had a good visit with family in Enid, and made a visit to Ramsey's Everything Store ...one place you don't want to miss in Enid. The last night we were in Enid we had a serious rain storm ...we didn't get a report of how much rain fell, but our family member's rain gauge was FULL ...that is a LOT of rain in one night!! With Good Sam discount, our cost for five nights at Highpoint RV park was $25.20/night.
17-21 APR, GUTHRIE OK -- Just after 11am we left Enid for the leisurely one hour drive South to Cedar Valley Golf & RV park just West of Guthrie. We spent five nights at Cedar Valley where we enjoyed visiting family, checking out at few antique stores in the area, and eating at Lucille's Restaurant in the little town of Mulhall where they serve great food, have live entertainment weekly, and celebrate Lucille Mulhall, "the World's First Cowgirl." Our cost for five nights at Cedar Valley (with Passport America discount for one night) was $31.50/night.
22-26 APR, DURANT OK -- Leaving Cedar Valley about 9am, we headed Southward in moderate rain. After a stop at the Flying J in Edmond for 55 gallon of diesel at $2.39 a gallon, we finally ran out of the rain at Springer OK just North of Armore. We had lunch at a Subway just off I-35 near Springer, then continued on South to the US 70E exit where we turned East toward Durant. We arrived at the Choctaw Casio KOA RV Park South of Durant at 1:30pm. This was the gathering place for folks attending the SMART SMW Regional Muster. Members of the OKs, Texans, and Alamo Chapters gathered for their annual meeting, and welcomed a few guests from other chapters, for a total of 28 RVs. The Choctaw Casio and adjacent KOA RV Park are fairly new facilities. With wide and spacious concrete streets and sites, this is not at all your average KOA campground. We had a great rally in the beautiful meeting facilities, although with all the recent rain a game of horseshoes would have been a bit difficult as you can see in the picture on the right ...the "pits" were "pools"!! We did have a brief bit of rockin' & rollin' going on one night when the area was hit with 60+ mph winds, heavy rain, and some light hail, but damage to the facilities and the RVs was minimal. We had an LED vendor at the rally, and took the opportunity to upgrade several more of our light fixtures to LEDs. Now we have just a few left before we will be totally LED'ed. Testing one bulb we replaced revealed that the incandescent bulb pulled 1 amp. An older LED replacement we had pulled .25 amp, and the new LED pulls just .16 amp. With several bulb replacements, that drastically reduces the load on the RV hosue batteries AND allows the charge to last much longer. Not only are the LEDs brighter, but they also reduce heat inside the RV as some of the 12v bulbs burn so hot that they tend to melt the fixture lenses. On Saturday our group went to the casino for the buffet meal, but after finding that the normal price of $9 per person jumped to $28 per person on Saturday nights, many of us found cheaper options in the casino or nearby. Many took a little time to play the slots, some seriously and most for amusement. On Sunday morning we worshiped with the folks at the United Methodist Church in Calera just a couple of miles South of the casino. We enjoyed looking at the old sanctuary, moved many years ago from the old air base at Paris, Texas. The architecture was quite familiar to us, reminding us of many old military chapels we were in over the years. On Monday morning we pulled out at 8:30am. After a stop for 49 gallon of diesel at $2.59 a gallon, we arrived back at our home base just after 12 Noon. There was a lot of rain while we were gone, so there is much mowing to be done!! At Choctaw Casino KOA, our cost with the rally rate was $30/night.
7-9 MAY, GARRISON TX -- A weekend meeting of the Ramblin' Rose Travelers (local chapter of WIT .. Winnebago International Travelers) at Camp Tonkawa Springs near Garrison, Texas got us to load a little food and a few clothes for the 62 miles trip SE-ward. We stopped at a Walmart along the way for a few items, including a couple of sub sandwiches for lunch. We arrived at the campground about 2pm, the last of the group of 9 coaches. It is a small group, but we have good fellowship together. Camp Tonkawa Springs is an interesting location in the country about 15 miles N of Nacogdoches. There is ZERO Verizon reception (AT&T reportedly works ok), so we rely on the good camp WIFI while there. Text messages can sometimes be sent and received also ...but NO voice calls. One attraction here is the herd of deer that live in the compound, which is something of a wildlive preserve in addition to being an RV park. There are 30 or so deer, plus several Guinea Hens roaming freely with little fear of the intruding humans. It is not unusual at all to look out the window of your RV to see anywhere from one to 20 or so deer lying on the ground napping, or grazing through the area. The picture here was taken with a cell phone from apx 15 feet. On Friday we made a visit to Xtreme Paint & Graphics on the North side of Nacogdoches to discuss a possible upgrade of our motorhome headlights and some paint repair, then met the rest of the group at a local buffet for lunch. We had a good time with the group, playing games and working on a unique "in the round" picture puzzle. Then when we were preparing to depart on Saturday morning we discovered our slides would not retract ...the electric motor that runs the hydraulic pump would not kick in. Because our cell phone would not work, we borrowed an AT&T phone from another member of the group to talk with Coach-Net. They got a tech on the line who advised that low fluid could cause our problem, and he indicated he would email the instructions to manually retract the jacks and slides. We have that information anyway in our manuals, and also knew that the jacks would most likey retract on their own as all that requires (as long as the solenoids are working) is the springs. So we retracted the jacks, and then when we tried the slides again they worked as normal!! After we got back to home base we checked the hydraulic fluid level (must be checked with both jacks and slides in the retracted/stowed position), and found it was low. After adding a full quart, it was at the normal level. So the problem appeared to be due to low hydraulic fluid, apparently not properly restored after work we had done on the system in February. Note to self ...if the slides will not retract, don't panic until you try again with the jacks stored. Our cost at Camp Tonkawa Springs at the rally rate was $22.50/night.
13-17 MAY, RAYNE LA -- We left home in heavy rain around 8am, headed for Rayne LA and the SMART South Central Regional Muster. Around 100 miles South we had pretty much run out of the active rain, although the threat remained. It was apx 260 miles, with only a few miles in LA on narrow, two-lane roads at 55mph. We had a great time at the SC Regional, although it was a wet week. We selected our parking spot very carefully as it was on grass, and much of the ground had standing water. We picked a spot on the end of the row that was relatively high/dry, and backed in to park. All went well until we tried to put down the leveling jacks and extend the slides ...nada. The bedroom slide went out about two inches as the pressure bled off the hydraulic system, but the pump motor would not run. After a few sharp wacks upside the head, the motor ran long enough to get the slide back in the stored position. At least they are stuck IN this time rather than being stuck OUT!! So we spent a somewhat cramped week with both slides in. The ground was level enough that not having the jacks deployed was not really noticeable. Deciding that the electric motor that runs the hydraulic pump had died (we rebuilt it about 18 months ago in South Dakota on our way back from Alaska), I emailed my favorite Winnebago parts place to find out parts availability, and after receiving their reply called to order a new motor at the tune of $284. This has been an expensive week for RVing as the night before we left home we discovered that the three house batteries were overheating and off-gassing. We replaced them at a cost of $296. All this is just the cost for parts ...thank goodness I can do much of the labor involved in keeping the motorhome running!! We had a great time with all the SMART members who traveled to the muster, and even won a couple of door prizes ...one a bit of cash that might pay the tax on the new hydraulic pump motor!! Waking early on Monday, we hit the dump station and were refueled (66 gallon of diesel at $3.79/gal) and on the road at 8am. We ran into rain about half way home but it didn't last long. After refueling again (39 gallon at $3.69/gal) in Troup Tx, we arrived home just after 1:30pm. The SMART muster was held at the City of Rayne RV Park just off I-10 near the Civic Center. Our cost for parking was $20/night.
4-5 JUN, BULLARD TX -- With a mere 12 miles to travel, we left home about 12:15 for Bushman's Camp near Bullard, Texas for a gathering of the Ramblin' Rose WIT folks. It was a short drive, but included probably the worst "driving disaster" we have yet experienced. Lesson learned is that if you think twice about storing a heavy pot of food in the microwave while driving, DON'T DO IT! The dutch oven containing the makings for the evening's Mexican Cassarole went flying out of the oven at the second turn of the short drive. It glanced off the counter top and landed on the thick rubber kitchen mat on the tile floor, launching about 2/3 of the contents all over the floor with some splatters reaching as high as the ceiling! Had it not been for the mat, the ceramic tile floor and/or the porcelian clad pot would likely have been damaged. As it was, we simply had a large pickup job to do on arrival ...and the motorhome smelled quite tasty all weekend!! We had a good time with the group, but had to leave them for half the day on Friday to make a medical appointment in nearby Tyler. On Friday afternoon we swapped the Honda "toad" out for the '88 ASC McClaren Mustang. Some of the group were interested in seeing the car, and since we live close by it was easy to arrange to show it off. The McClaren would make a great matching "toad" for our motorhome, but desecrating the front end to install a towbar baseplate would be somewhat sacrilegious. If we ever do tow it behind the motorhome, we will do it on, or in, a trailer. After supper and a drop in the scorching humid temps, one member enjoyed riding along when I took it back home and swapped back to the Honda. Then on Saturday mornning, we were headed back home with the motorhome. Bushman's Camp is easily the nicest RV park in the Tyler area, with very nice concrete and beautiful grass. Our cost at Bushman's Camp at the rally rate was $21 per night.
26 JUN-4 JUL, LAKE BRIDGEPORT TX -- On a hot Friday morning, we set out Westward for the North end of Lake Bridgeport a bit West of Chico TX with plans to be in place for the arrival of our son, d-i-l, and g-kids the following day. They had made arrangements with family members to spend the week prior to July 4th at their lakeside cabin. We have parked the motorhome above the cabin by the road a couple of times in the past, and this time decided to swap ends to put the entry door on the cabin side ...it worked out very well, and we were able to put out our little "doggie yard" so out little dogs could feel at home also. It was a rather uneventful week ...which was the plan. The excitement for the week was a drive into Decatur for a family birthday dinner at Sweetie Pie's Ribeyes, during which the Huskie puppy from Alabama made hash of the window blinds at the cabin. The pup is a nervous one, and prone to seperation anxiety ...she really chewed up the metal blinds! Oh well, now the cabin has a new look with blinds that allow more light in! Unlike previous visits when the lake has been a minimum levels, the lake this year is at maximum height ...in fact, just a week before we arrived it was well above normal and getting to the floating dock would have required wading waist deep water on the submerged walkway! We had a relaxing week, with a little fishing, boat riding, and some swimming thrown in along the way. There were also several days when we exercised the big smoker/grill beside the cabin. During the week we were visited by a trash raiding Racoon almost every, and by a curious Roadrunner during the day. On the night of the 4th, there were lots of fireworks in the area, with the highlight being the very extensive show put on by the neighbor just 100 yards across the slough ...it was an awesome show, and a great climax for the week. Our kids left for Alabama early Sunday morning. We departed just behind our hosts a couple of hours later, arriving back at home base just after 3pm after a stop for 77 gallon of diesel at $2.49 a gallon for the 450 mile round trip.
15-17 JUL, WACO TX -- On a Wednesday morning, we set off for Waco apx 155 mi SW ...actually Elm Mott just North of Waco where the I-35 RV Park & Resort is located. We were hosting a muster for the SMART Texan Chapter. The summer heat discourage many from attending, but we had a total of 6 rigs who came to enjoy the fellowship. One of us had to return to Tyler for a medical appointment on Friday morning (it took 3 months to get the appointment, and re-scheduling would have taken another 3 months), but that didn't interfere much. The group enjoyed the free breakfast provided by the RV park every morning, a potluck, evening games, and visits to the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame & Museum and our newest national monument established just a week ago, the Waco Mammoth National Monument. One or our folks also enjoyed the free driving range, although it was a bit warm and windy for optimal golf! On Thursday night the group went to George's Restaurant for an incredible dining experience. If you are hungry when passing through Waco, you will greatly enjoy George's just off I-35 ...the chicken fried steak full order will feed you for more than one meal for sure!! We left the RV park about 9am on Saturday morning, stopping for lunch at Subway along the way, and for 47 gallon of diesel on the West side of Jacksonville at $2.69 a gallon. Going cross country from Jacksonville, just after making a rough road transition in the tiny, tiny town of Mixon, our tire pressure monitor alarmed telling us a rear dual on the motorhome was at 46 psi and losing air. Normal psi is 100, so that did not sound good!! We stopped mostly on the road to check it out, and could hear air escaping and then found a hole in the sidewall on the inside of the tire. The GPS said we were nine miles from home base. After some thought, considering the fact that the tires are almost 7 years old and we planned to replace them before the next trip anyway, we decided to drive SLOWLY and try to make it to home base rather than calling road service. (I was SO VERY HAPPY that I had not yet replaced the old tiresw!). The emergency flashers on the motorhome would not work, so we turned on the flashers on the towed car. We stayed under 25 mph for the nine miles on two-lane roads, and made it home safely. The next day we called our local tire shop and they confirmed they had four new tires in the size we need to replace the four 7 year old rear tires (the 2 fronts were replaced 2 years ago). Then we found a mobile tire service who could come out and replace the damaged tire with an older tire we had in the shop so we could safely get to the tire shop. Amazingly, the service guy did not even remove the wheel from the motorhome!!! ...he jacked up the motorhome axle with an air jack, than raised the frame/body with another air jack to get clearance, and the dismounted the bad tire and mounted the good tire without removing the wheel ...amazing! The show cost us $75, and considering the heat and humidity, it was worth every penny!!! The puncture looked like a slot-shaped screwdriver puncture. We have other commitments this week, but next week we will get four new tires ...estimated cost $600 each!!! Yikes!!! Our cost for three nights at I-35 RV Park & Resort was $32/night.
30-31 JUL, AUSTIN TX -- On Thursday morning I got a text from our son in Alabama asking if we could pick up a car for our grandson in Austin. He rolled his Isuzu VehiCross about 10 days ago and they had been looking for a replacment. They settled on a used Toyoto FJ Cruiser, and found they were cheaper in Texas than in their area. After loosing out on several that sold just after they located it, they found one that had just hit the market and got a deal started. Our schedule required us to get it picked up and back home before Sunday, so we put a few things in the motorhome and headed for Austin. Wednesday was the hottest day of the year here, and Thursday wasn't any more pleasant. We went online and found an RV park right next to the dealership, made a call for a reservation, and arrived there just after 4pm. Shortly after 5pm we went to the dealership and took the FJ for a drive. It checked out well, so I called our son and he faxed the final paperwork sealing the deal. The dealership still had a few things they needed to finish up on the FJ, so we made arrangements to pick it up on Friday afternoon. On Friday morning we did a little shopping, then went to Easy Street Recumbents to check out a recumbent trike. They didn't have the one we wanted to check out assembled yet, but we did get some good info. Back at the dealership in mid-afternoon, we picked up the FJ and took it to the RV park. This one is the special Trails Team edition and has had some very neat accessories added to the special package. Unlike some 4-wheel drive vehicles, it is truly set up for some serious 4-wheeling. On Saturday morning we were on the road by 8:30am headed back to home base, arriving just after 1pm. The RV park we stayed at was Austin Carefree Lonestar Resort. It is a nice park with gated entry and pretty tight roads & sites ...typical of the KOA that it once was. We had a pleasant stay there. With the 50% military discount for one night, our average cost for the two nights was $33.75/night.
6-7 AUG, GLADEWATER TX -- It was a very hot Thursday morning when we loaded a few items on board and headed 37 miles North to Antique Capital RV Park in Gladewater for a meeting of the Ramblin' Rose WIT group. We arrived at 11:30 and were parked and hooked up by Noon. A few others had arrived so we loaded up the car and drove about a mile to Tele's Mexican Restaurant for a quick lunch. We enjoyed the two days with the group, and joined with several other people on Thursday night to hear a singing pianist who the park owners apparently met on a cruise ship. He was pretty good, and could do a wide variety of music styles. Buying tickets to the show at $15 each got us a $5 per night discount on our campground fees. On the drive back home on Saturday we stopped at Cefco for 28.5 gallon of diesel at an incredible price of $2.19/gal. With the discount, our cost for the two nights was $20 per night.
3-4 SEP, TEXARKANA TX -- After a month at home base during which we got the annual service accomplished on the motor home, we headed out on a Wednesday morning on a 121 mile drive NE to Whispering Pines RV Park just West of Texarkana, TX where we joined with the Ramblin Rose chapter of WIT for a chapter rally. Whispering Pines is a very nice park with good concrete and beautiful grass. The meeting room is also nice, and we had a great time eating, socializing, playing games, and putting together puzzles. Utilities were good, and the free wifi worked great. Our cost for the two nights was $27 per night.
5 SEP, MERIDIAN MS -- On Saturday morning we got away about 8:30am, heading SE towards Shreveport, and then East. Around lunchtime we stopped for a Subway lunch and fuel in Calhoun LA. We took on 58 gallon of diesel at $2.46 a gallon. Back on the I-20 and headed Eastward it was about 3:30 when there was a very sharp and loud "crack" noise on the left side of the motorhome. Other than two vehicle going West in the other lanes, here were no other vehicles close to us. About 5 miles down the road we pulled off on an exit ramp to see what had happened and discovered the outer glass on a dual pane window was shattered. There was a small hole very close to the center rib on the window, very much like a bb gun or pellet gun would make. We called the Mississippi Highway Patrol to let them know just in case something crazy was going on. They had no trooper in the area and had no other such reports, so took a telephone report and said they would watch the area for other events. We headed on Eastward, stopping for the night about 4:30pm in Meridian at Bonita Lakes RV park. We have stayed here several times when passing through. They have very nice concrete pull-through sites with easy in and out for big rigs. The utilities were great, but although the WIFI connected it would not work. Our cost for one night with Good Sam discount was $27.
6-13 SEP, WETUMPKA AL -- On Sunday morning we left Meridian about 9:30 headed Eastward. We normally don't travel on a Sunday, but the rally schedule in Texarkana kind of pushed us into it this time. We need to arrive at our property in Alabama with plenty of time to do some tree trimming as we make our way down the driveway. We bought the property last January and got the water, electric, and septic set up during January and February. This will be the first time we have had the motorhome there. After stopping for a Subway lunch in Selma and fuel just North of Montgomery (60 gallon of diesel at $2.24 a gallon ...love the dropping fuel prices!!), we arrived at the property about 12:45. The turn into the drive was unexpectedly tight as it is more than a 90 degree from a two lane road into a narrow gravel drive. We share the first 100 yards of the drive with house that is between our property and the road. With the left front of the motorhome pushing weeds on the side of the drive, the towed car narrowly missed the power pole on the right and we were in! Up the hill toward the house we had to stop and cut several branches that were too low and close. Then after we turned onto our portion the drive we had to cut a few more. About that time our grandson arrived to help. We piled the cut branches on top of the towed car went past the trees into the clearing and on to our RV pad several hundred yards West. After positioning the motorhome, we checked the new power outlets with a multimeter. They passed with flying colors so we hooked up power. Then we disconnected the towed car and drove a short distance away where we piled the cut branches for later burning. In the picture to the right, the trailer to the left of the motorhome is parked where a second RV could be parked for hookup. Next time we put some gravel on the driveway we will put some there too. It was pretty warm so we decided to hook up the water and sewer in the morning when it would be cooler. The next morning when we tried the water hydrant the water tricked out and then stopped. We checked the underground shut-off and found it was on. The meter is out at the road about 1/4 mile away, so we will check it later. We don't have our curb key with us anyway... On to the sewer hookup. There are two sewer connections, but we could not get the cap off either one. we didn't bring our big pipe wrench this trip ...you always need the tools you left at home. Out the drive headed to town we stopped to check the meter and found the water flow turned off there. On to town we bought a curb key and a wrench to help remove the sewer caps. On the way back in we used the new curb key to turn on the water and heard water surge through the pipes ...good deal! Back at the site we found the water flow good, so hooked up the shore water hose to the motorhome. Then to the sewer ...even with the new wrench it was too tight. We called the guy who installed the septic for ideas. He said we needed a really big pipe wrench and he would send someone by to help ...that help never came. After another day of trying various wrench & cheater pipe combinations I got out the drill and saber saw, drilled a hole through the caps, sawed them into quarters, and then with hammer, screwdriver, and water pump pliers the caps were removed in pieces. Finally we were able to connect and dump the almost full black and gray waste water tanks!! The next problem was that both sewer connections were apx 6 inches above ground level rather than the 2 inches I had requested. Six inches works for a travel trailer and many gas motorhomes, but rarely for a diesel motorhome with air suspension that drops the coach when parked. One of the connections had enough pipe between it and the fitting below that I was able to saw the fitting off and put a new fitting on, dropping the connection apx 2 inches. That should work. To make it what it should be I will probably just dig up the big Y, cut it off the sewer pipe, and install a new one without the risers that should not have been installed to begin with. That would make both connectons about right, a couple of inches above ground level.
14-16 SEP, PERRY GA -- On Monday morning about 9:30am we were all hooked up and headed out for the SMART National Muster in Perry GA. Going out the drive we headed to the right and downhill rather than the way we had entered. While we were there I mowed the property, and mowed two passes up the wide side of the drive to give us more room for the sharp turn in from the uphill direction. It was an easy turn downhill. The only hitch with the downhill route is that the pavement ends 1/2 mile below the driveway, and there is apx 3 miles of dirt road. It is in very good condition and was not very dusty today, but we still had a good red dusting on the rear of the coach and the toad. It was apx 165 miles East to Perry where we arrived at Fair Harbor RV Park about 1:30 (having lost an hour when we crossed into the Eastern time zone). Fair Harbor was the location for the pre-muster gathering of the Nomads chapter, and for the annual meeting of the Board of Directors. With Paul's terms as At Large director ending after 5 years, that is one thing we won't have to schedule for the BOD meeting next year!! Fair Harbor was a nice RV park with sometimes working WIFI, and some sites a bit off-level for larger motorhomes. Their meeting facilities were great. Our insurance company sent out an adjuster to take a look at our broken window and to find a repair shop. He took all our info, and we never heard from him again! But we had a good stay for three nights, with very pleasant mornings after the recent cool front took away the severe heat. Our nightly cost at the rally rate was $33 per night.
17-21 SEP, GEORGIA INTERNATIONAL FAIRGROUNDS/AGRI-CENTER, PERRY GA -- On Thursday morning we were exepecting an overnight shipment of refrigerated medication, and needed to move to the fairgrounds for the SMART National Muster. The RV park said they would call us when the medication arrived, so about 10am we moved two miles East to the fairgrounds. This is a very large facility that handles some huge RV rallies, so our small group of apx 200 rigs had plenty of room. There were other activities going on in other areas of the fairgrounds, but caused us no problems. We were parked in clusters scattered over several parts of the fairgrounds near the buildings we were using. Our parking spot was on very nice grass, more level than the site in the RV park had been, and had full connections with 50a electric, water, and sewer. Out our door, we had a view of I-75 about 1/4 miles away ...just far enough that we didn't hear the traffic noise. On arrival a crew was washing and waxing the RV next to us. It had been some time since we had washed our coach (especially the roof!), so we got on their schedule for the price of $2.50/foot. When that includes the roof, that is a good price, and very soon our motorhome was looking quite sparkly!! After getting set up and paying the wash crew, we headed over to the registration area. We had a great time at the National Muster, renewing and creating friendships, going to seminars, meetings, and social events and strolling through the vendor and chinese auction areas. And we started planning for an RV caravan to precede next year's National Muster in Amana, Iowa. We will be the tail-gunner rig on a caravan following much of the Northern half of the "river road" along the Mississippi River.
22-28 SEP, WETUMPKA, AL -- It rained heavily most of the night Monday, and on Tuesday morning was misting/sprinkling off and on. From what we saw none of our rigs had trouble getting off the somewhat soggy grass onto pavement. We left Perry about 10:30 GA time. After a stop for 45 gallon of diesel at $2.35 a gallon, we arrived back at our Wetumpka property about 12:45, gaining an hour back as we crossed in to the Central Time Zone. We were here this time just a week, but managed to get 6 Crape Myrtles planted, arranged to have another coat of stone applied to the driveway and parking pad, and had a cookout to break in the new grill we planted in the ground two weeks ago. And with $20-some dollars of 4" PVC fittings, we dug up the two sewer connections and re-did them. It came out great, about two inches above ground level as we has suspected it would. After two visits to Jimmy's Car Stereo shop in Montgomery, we also managed to get the radio/cd player replaced in the motorhome. Two weeks ago we helped our grandson install the original Pioneer sound system back in his FJ. When we picked the car up in Austin the dealership had replaced the battery and then were unable to get the fancy sound system working again because it had a password they did not have. Their solution was to install another Pioneer sound system (it wasn't new ...apparently was removed from another used car), and to give us the one they could not get working. Our grandson bought a software key online to reset the password, so we swapped out the sound systems, cracked the code, and got it working. He wanted the fancy one since it had a gps built-in, so our deal was after helping him get it installed we could have the one the dealership installed to replace the one in our motorhome that we recently discovered would no longer play CDs. The Pioneer system we installed is not a 6-cd changer like the original system, but it is a cd/dvd player with aux and usb inputs. It should work great for us. Happy grandson!! Happy Papa & Nana!! Everybody wins. :)
29 SEP, SIMSBORO, LA -- After arranging for another layer of gravel to be laid on the drive & RV pad, and spraying some Roundup on some growth coming through the pad, we hit the road about 9am headed West toward our Texas home base. It wasn't long before we discovered that we were a bit premature with the celebrating over the new radio/CD/DVD. Sometimes the CD/DVD player acts like it is not there, and then refuses to eject the CD it won't play. But the radio portion works great as does the USB input for mp3 files. We made a lunch stop at the Subway at the Toomsuba, MS exit. We have stopped here a few times, and last time when we asked why they left the bacon off our normal sandwich the answer was, "We don't put bacon on anything." Several email to Subway HQ and the restaurant manager assured me that they do indeed put bacon on sandwiches when requested, and they did not understand why we had a problem that day. Today, with no mention of our earlier experience, our sandwiches received a double dose of bacon ...guess we are even now on bacon! We had short bursts of heavy rain off and on all day, and after a stop for 43 gallon of diesel at 42.16/gallon, we stopped for the night at Antique Village RV Park just off I-20 at the Simsboro LA exit. We stayed here once before on a bitter cold January night, and decided to try them again. After calling ahead, we arrived at 5pm, picked up a map at the closed office, dropped a check in the drop box, then headed to the site they had told us was ours on the telephone. D49 was well beyond B28 where we parked before. B28 was easy in and out, but somewhat off-level. We found D49 perched on top of a small hill beside another large motorhome that was obviously long-term. After parking As we pulled into the site we looked for the way out and saw that it was a "too tight to make it" turn to the right through the trees down onto the road. Walking the dogs later we also found that we could go through the unoccupied site directly in front of us and then make a tight and steep right exit down to the road. Although you supposedly cannot back a car on a towbar, we have found that we sometimes can if we do not move the steering wheel from how you arrived. That was our preference the next morning and it worked to get us enough space to make the turn into the wider exit. Yesterday we noticed that the turn signal indicators on the dash were not visible when the turn signals were on. Suspecting a connector that came loose under the dash several years ago we were able to find it and get it reconnected after reaching our home base in Texas. When we raised the hinged portion of the dash to install the radio/CD player, it apparently caused the connector to come loose. Our cost for one night at Antique Village RV Park at the Good Sam rate was $22.50. After a stop for 44 gallon of diesel at $2.04 a gallon, we arrived at our home base just after 1pm.
15-19 OCT, RHOME, TX -- After attending a women's conference in Dallas, Jean decided to visit a friend for a week. One week turned into two weeks, and we decided I would pick her up in the motorhome and go on West about 50 miles to visit her sistes. So, on a Friday the dogs & I loaded up the motorhome, attached the Honda to the towbar, and headed for Dallas. Since her friend lives in Irving, there was no pretty way to get a 40' motorhome towing a car into the dense urban neighborhood, so through Dallas we went. Thinking the 635 loop might be better than going through the heart of Dallas we took it ...it was horrible w/very narrow lanes. After picking her up in Irving, we headed on West to the countryside North of Ft Worth between Rhome and Decatur where her sister and husband recently bought a home. They just got a 50a RV connection wired a week ago, so we knew we would have power. I made sure we had a full tank of water, we knew we could last a week or so without water & sewer connections. We had a good 4 day visit, taking 8 sacks of books to a used book store and visiting Richardson Bike Mart in Frisco where we adopted a new Sun EZ Trike for Jean. She has always thought my Catrike tadpole trike (two wheels in front) was a bit extreme, but she likes the delta trike arrangement (two wheels in rear) and loves the red color! But it has been pouring rain since we got back to East Texas so she hasn't got to ride it much yet. On the way back to East Texas we took 114 into the heart of Dallas, then I-30 East to US80. Although traffic was still heavy, it was a much better route than 635 AND was about 20 miles shorter!! When we got to Terrell we stopped at the Outlet Mall for lunch at Applebees and a visit with an Air Force friend we had not seen in over 20 years. He had aged some, but of course we had not aged at all! :) Shortly after hitting the road again we stopped just East of Canton for 56 gallon of diesel @ $2.29/gallon, then departed I-20 for US highways the rest of the way back to home base. Between our return from Alabama/Georgia and the trip to the DFW area, we finally got the shocks replaced on the motorhome ...and we turned over 100k miles on the odometer just 10 miles before reaching home base! Before a lot more traveling we should get an alignment, and we also hope the replacement window ordered three weeks ago arrives in time to get it installed before we head out to be with our kids and g-kids over the holidays!
3-5 NOV, RED SPRINGS, TX -- On a Monday morning, after Jean's doctor appointment, we left home base a bit after noon for the 27 mile drive to Jellystone at Whispering Pines RV Park & Cabins. They have a Tyler address, but are just down the road from the little community of Red Springs. We are hosting a muster for the SMART Texans chapter, so went a day before start day. By supper time there were two other rigs there, and just as we were getting into the car to go out to eat the cell phone rang to let us know that there were two rigs outside the gate wanting in ...Jellystone is a gated park, and the office closes at 5pm. So we walked over to the gate and used our key card to let them in. We picked out a couple of sites to park them in and found the next morning that those were the sites the park had assigned to them! So they joined us to drive to Bodacious BBQ South of the park at I-20. We had a good dinner at Bodacious. The next day the remaining rigs arrived in time for our social hour. The weather looked like rain, but didn't until the last day. The temperature was just right to enjoy being outside. The next morning we found that most of the outlets in the meeting room did not work, so moved our coffee pots and breakfast sandwich machines out on to the deck by the pool where we had a very pleasant breakfast. On Thursday we had some heavy rain, but it was intermittent so we were able to get around without getting too wet. Thursday evening the group went to The Lindale Landing restaurant just West of nearby Lindale for a great meal. It is an all-you-can-eat Catfish place, but they also serve a variety of other dishes. We had a great time, and got some planning done for the regional gathering next April that the chapter will host. Our cost at Jellystone was $30/night.
6 NOV, MURCHISON, TX -- On Friday morning, we checked out of Jellystone and headed apx 30 miles West to the countryside near Murchison TX where we joined a gathering of the Ramblin' Rose Travelers already under way. They had heavy rain the day before so we walked the area before parking to pick out a high firm site where we wouldn't sink when we pulled in. Friday evening the group went to the Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant in nearby Athens TX. We had a good through short visit before heading back to home base on Saturday. Our cost at Stayway Ranch RV park was $25/night.
NOV, WHITEHOUSE TX -- Between trips we let the motorhome at the local Southern RV dealership for replacement of the window that was broken on our trip to Georgia in September. It was expensive, but insurance paid this time. And it is nice to have a motorhome built by a manufacturer that can and will still provide unique parts like this for a 12 year old motorhome! After the window repair we went to Rush Trucks to have the front alignment checked. Their conclusion was confusing. The tech verbally told me everything was good but that they were unable to get the camber adjustment bolts loose ...but even though they didn't have the specs for this axle (why not??? ...it's a common big truck axle!! ...and they couldn't call Spartan for the specs?), it looked good. I noticed later that the written ticket said the camber was "out". So I guess that was $90 down the drain. We'll have to find another shop that can do the job. Competent repair places are getting hard to find.
3-4 DEC, BULLARD TX -- On a Thursday morning we set out for Bushman's Camp about 12 miles from home base to join in a gathering of the Ramblin' Rose Chapter of WIT (Winnebago International Travelers). It is a small group, but we have great times together. We were tired as we had been loading the motorhome for several days so we can leave from Bullard and head to Alabama to be with our children & g-kids for Christmas and New Year's. Bushman's Camp is a very nice park, but our tiny group got bumped a bit for a classic trailer crowd gathered for a Christmas party. They had some really cute trailers, and really put on the show with lights and decorations. We were put in back-in sites rather than the nice long pull-throughs, and were moved from the meeting room to the pool room for our second day's social activities. It worked out all right ...maybe we should have turned it into a pool party in the heated pool!! It was chilly at Bullard this time, getting down to 34 degrees both nights we were there. We enjoyed our group lunch at Traditions Buffet in Tyler, and had our gift exchange and social time at the RV park. Our cost for two nights at KE Bushman's Camp was $42.
5 DEC, MERIDIAN MS -- On Saturday morning we woke early, so were on the road headed East by 8:30. After a few dog-walk stops and a Subway for lunch, we stopped at Flying J in Pearl MS for fuel and LP. We took on 56 gallon of diesel at $2.23 a gallon, and 13.7 gallon of LP at $3.10 a gallon plus tax bringing it to a total of $3.27 a gallon. We arrived Bonita Lakes RV park in Meridian MS just after 4pm, and were hooked up to electric as darkness closed in. Our cost for one night at Bonita Lakes, with Good Sam discount, was $27.
6-31 DEC, WETUMPKA AL -- With just over 150 miles left to drive, we slept in a bit and didn't get on the road until close to 10am or so. We made our normal stop at the Subway on the NE side of Selma but decided to go the the KFC for a good old fashioned fried chicken Sunday dinner, and to eat in the restaurant. We arrived just before the church crowd, and were seated with our food when the lines got quite crowded. It was a boisterous and friendly crowd, and they were still carrying on as we said our goodbyes and headed out the door. The GPS took us a slightly different route from Selma to our Alabama base camp this time, but we decided it was a good improvement, and will likely repeat that route bypassing Prattville in the future. Just North of Montgomery on US 231 we stopped for fuel at the Entec ...normally the cheapest in the area. We got 38 gallon of diesel at $2.20/gallon. We arrived at our property about 1:45. On hooking up the electric we noticed our EMS SurgeGuard was having difficulties connecting to the electric. Out came the multi-meter and we discovered a problem with one leg of the 50a power connection. The 30a tested fine so we connected to it. After gettig settled in we called the electrician who did the electrical installation last Winter. He sent a tech out the next day and found the almost new 50a breaker was bad. After he had to go to town to get a new one, he returned just after dark and got us back up and running. We had spent about half the day putting out Christmas lights, so got to light the place up good! We had a good ...though somewhat wet ...December visiting our children and grandchildren, and lunching with friends in the area. During a ten day period in late December we got somewhere between 15-20 inches of rain, causing our new 1000 gallon septic tank to back-fill with ground water. Between rain storms and bad weather warnings, we got our Christmas shopping done, trimed low branches from a few trees along the entry drive, and sprayed weed killer at any green things tough enough to attempt to grow through the new driveway gravel. And one day our grandson helped us replace the topper awnings on each slide-out with new awnings from Tough Top Awnings. The measurement intructions and online ordering process was very easy and shipment was fast. This is the third topper in 12 years, the first at 5 years and the second 3 years later. The new ones should last much longer than the others did as they are much tougher material. We had only one night below freezing during December, and were wearing short sleeves on Christmas day. As is our tradition, we parked the motorhome in our son's driveway on Christmas Eve for two nights. We had a good time with family, holding our own candlelight service on Christmas Eve rather than venture out in bad weather, and a joyous celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ ...a great end to the year.
RV TRAVELS SUMMARY TO DATE...
...Back to last year's travels... -OR-
...On to next year's travels...
AK, AL, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS,
MT, NC, NB, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WY = 38
PLUS Canadian Provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Yukon Territory
back to Our RV Travels... ..... back to Our Retirement Home...
back to The Empty Nest HOME...
...Back to last year's travels... -OR-
...On to next year's travels...