The Long Road Home

Still catching up on our travels. This post will bring us from Washington state all the way to our home base in Florida, with a couple changes of plans along the way.

We had a pretty quiet trip all the way from Washington state to Kentucky. Here are pictures of most every stop along the way.

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Night 1 – Aug. 18 – Spokane KOA, Spokane, WA

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Night 2 – Aug. 19 – Deer Lodge KOA, Deer Lodge, MT

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Night 3 – Aug. 20 – Hardin KOA, Hardin, MT

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Night 4 – Aug. 21 – Douglas KOA, Douglas, WY

On night 5, Aug. 22, we stayed in the Strasburg/East Denver KOA in Strasburg, Colorado. We failed to take a picture of that site, but you can insert whatever generic picture of an RV in a crowded campground with gravel sites and barely any vegetation.

Also, starting in Wyoming and continuing through Colorado and Kansas, we had a lot of windy travel. It wasn’t terrible (in other words, not too gusty), but it was fairly strong and will play a part later in our story.

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Night 6 – Aug. 23 – Wakeeney KOA, Wakeeney, Kansas

Note the water puddles in the above photo. We just missed the rain, chasing it across eastern Colorado and western Kansas.

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Night 7 – Aug. 24 – Country Gardens RV Park, Odessa, Missouri

We started catching up with the rain by our stop in Odessa, but it wasn’t too bad. It had moved on by the time we got there and it was a pretty dry night.

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Night 8 – Aug. 25 – Shawnee Forest Campground, Vienna, Illinois

We drove in pouring rain most all day on our way through Missouri. St. Louis was the worst – driving through downtown on I-70 through pouring rain. We were fortunate that it was Sunday and not too much traffic. Still, it made for a rather tiring driving day. We were glad that the rain stopped long enough for us to set up the trailer without it raining on us.

We rolled into Kentucky on Monday the 26th. We had a two-night stay booked in Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park. There were a limited number of spaces available. We later found out that there were two different horse shows and a dog show all happening there both during and towards the end of the week.

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Our truck was due for an oil change so we called ahead to a dealer in Frankfort, Kentucky (about 25 miles away) and set up an appointment to have that done on Tuesday morning.

On Monday night (after another rainy day), we were getting ready to go out and see Malcolm’s brother playing with a band in Lexington after meeting him for dinner. Val pulled out a box with shoes that she was going to wear for the evening and found that the box had a little water on top of it. The box was in a cubby built into the closet in the front cap of our trailer.

We felt around and didn’t really feel much else in the way of water, so Malcolm decided there wasn’t much we could do at the moment but he would climb up on the roof in the morning and check it out. Fortunately, the rain was almost done (just spotty showers here and there). We headed on out to enjoy our evening.

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Big Band Music by Al DiMartino and his DOJO band.

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Visiting with Al DiMartino (left) and Malcolm’s brother David (middle – holding sax)

After we got back to the trailer, Val heard a funny noise in the bedroom and found that water was dripping from the ceiling wall outlet for the bedroom TV onto a hat she had sitting on the dresser. Malcolm pulled the outlet cover and some water dripped out and then quit. We left the outlet hanging out for the night. A trip up top was definitely needed the next morning.

The appointment for getting the oil changed was at 9:00 and we needed to leave about 8:30 to get there, so Malcolm climbed up on the roof before that to assess what our problem was. That’s when he found that our roof membrane had come loose and lifted while we were traveling – most likely helped along with the strong wind across the mid-western portion of our trip.

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The roof material pulled back from the center of the front cap, leaving a big gap for water to enter the front cap from above. That explained the water in the closet (directly below this seam).

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The air needed somewhere to escape, so it managed to pull the roof material out from under the front air conditioner and proceed to tear some flaps in the material (one flap was completely gone). This is where the water probably entered to travel in our ceiling to the electrical outlet. The plan now became a trip to an RV dealer for appropriate materials to repair the roof after the oil change.

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The forecast called for a chance of showers late in the afternoon (which, fortunately, did not happen), so time was of the essence to fix the pulled seam and the hole in the roof material. We stopped by an RV dealer and picked up a roll of Eternabond seam tape and a tube of self-leveling sealant. Malcolm patched up the hole in the roof material in front of the air conditioner with several strips of overlapped Eternabond tape and sealed the front cap seam with the self-leveling sealant.

We wanted to give the repair a good chance to set before we hit the road, so we managed to book two more days in a different spot at the Horse Park campground (there were literally about seven spots left).

Overnight on Tuesday, Malcolm realized that he had patched the roof and it shouldn’t leak if it rained. However, the roof material was still loose and stretched. If we hit the road with it fixed as it was, the roof material would probably lift and tear up what he had fixed already. Therefore, we needed some way to keep the roof material from billowing up on the way home (a two day trip).

The initial though was to wrap a couple ratchet straps around the front of the trailer and tighten them down. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would get us home. As Malcolm looked on the internet for alternative ways to hold down the roof material for travel, he ran across someone in a forum post that mentioned that they had a dealer screw down some stiff material across their roof in several strips to at least get them home. The also mentioned that temporary fix worked for several more years before they sold their trailer.

Malcolm had an idea, so the next morning while we waited for check-out time to move our rig from one spot to another (giving whoever was there time to leave), we went back to the RV dealer to get some more Eternabond tape and self-leveling sealant. We also went to Lowe’s and picked up some metal pipe strap and some wood screws and washers.

Malcolm screwed down several strips across the roof and covered each one with Eternabond tape. It isn’t pretty and really wasn’t well sealed (yet) as Malcolm doubled over the “flaps” on the roof material and pinned it down with the strips, but it worked well enough to get us on down the road. Malcolm checked on it several times during the trip to make sure it wasn’t pulling up. We were also blessed with dry weather.

The following photos may make you shake your head and maybe there were better ways to do this, but hey, sometimes you gotta do what you can to get home.

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To make up for our extra day in Kentucky (we cancelled the second day of our second spot – feeling comfortable enough with the repair to continue on) we planned only one stop on the way back to Florida – in Cordele, Georgia.

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Cordele KOA – Cordele, Georgia

We were hoping our roof patch would hold tight so we could just head on home and it did. But, we didn’t quite head on home. We made it to Cordele just fine. However, there was this matter of hurricane Dorian.

The evening we stopped in Cordele, Dorian was still heading west and strengthening into a category 4 hurricane. The track at that time was indicating it would cut straight through Florida as a category 4 or 5 hurricane, putting our home right in the center of the action. We made the decision that evening to head over to our son’s house in Panama City, Florida, and wait out the hurricane. There was still a possibility that the hurricane might even hit that area, so we were all on alert.

We parked next to David’s house to wait out the storm and see what was going to happen. We brought a bunch of stuff inside to sleep in the guest room, ironically enough on the couch bed that we had taken out of our trailer and donated to our son. We plugged the trailer into an outside outlet on David’s house to keep the refrigerator running.

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While we were at David’s, we celebrated Malcolm’s 60th birthday. Originally, we were going to be home for the birthday and had a couple nights booked at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. We cancelled that reservation when we decided to avoid the area due to the hurricane.

We had a nice dinner out at a pizza place with David and one of his roommates and later had birthday cake at home.

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While we were at David’s house, his next door neighbor offered to let us use his 50 amp electrical hookup that he had run for his own RV (but wasn’t ready to use himself just yet). We hooked up the last couple nights were were there and ran the air conditioner to keep the rig cool. We also stayed in the trailer the last night we were there as the couch bed was making Malcolm’s back hurt.

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With hurricane Dorian now heading up the east coast and Florida being out of danger, we said our goodbyes and headed on home on Thursday, September 5th.

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Forgot to mention that while we were at David’s house, Malcolm went out and bought another tube of sealant to seal the areas of the roof where the roof material was doubled over under the tape to keep water from finding its way in those areas. For now, the roof seems well sealed.

We contacted a company that comes out and rolls on new rubber roof sealant and got an estimate of $6,500 to fix it. We’re waiting to decide on how to go about having it repaired long term, but for now the temporary fix is holding fine and we don’t plan on going anywhere with the trailer the rest of the year (unless another hurricane heads this way).

 

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Colorado Stop

July 10 to 11, 2019 – Fort Collins North / Wellington KOA, Wellington, Colorado

We had our breakfast this morning at the Wakeeney KOA – pancakes and (for Malcolm) sausage. Very tasty and a great way to start a travel day.

The trip from Wakeeney to Wellington, Colorado was pretty uneventful. One one of our stops along the way, we parked next to this big EarthRoamer RV. Very impressive looking (and very expensive).

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We arrived at the Wellington KOA around 3:00 or so mountain time. This is our only stop with 30 amp service (the campground is full), so we ran one air conditioner at a time and cooked on the gas stove instead of our induction cooktop. Life is rough at 30 amps.

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Malcolm found his buddies that he met at this campground last year.

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Tomorrow we head on up into Wyoming.

 

Smooth Sailing On West

Dates: June 9 to 11, 2018

Location: Lafayette KOA, Scott, Louisiana

We ended up staying through to Monday morning. On Sunday, we met our friends Andy and Joanna Grimes for lunch since we missed coming on over on Sunday to camp with them.

On Monday morning at 7:30 Malcolm called the local Goodyear dealer and found that they had two tires in stock that we needed for our trailer. They told us to come on over and they’d take care of us, so we packed up the trailer, hitched up and headed over.

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Ready for new shoes

They had us in and out the door in a little over an hour, so we continued on our way north and west pretty much on schedule. The plan is to get two more tires put on in Washington to match the new Goodyears on the left side if nothing happens along the way (it didn’t).

Dates: June 11 to 12, 2018

Location: Texas Rose RV Park, Tyler, Texas

We found this little RV park near the interstate in Tyler, Texas. Malcolm called ahead and talked to the owner who happened to be out of town at the time, but gave us instructions to check ourselves in and pay for our spot with the envelope drop. Using our Passport America card, the price was only $20 for the night.

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The campground was a bit older and had lots of longer term residents, but it was kept very neat. For the sites on our circle, the campground even provided a fairly new charcoal grill and a plastic tote with charcoal and lighter fluid in it if you wanted to cook out. Nice little touch.

Dates: June 12 to 13, 2018

Location: Cedar Valley RV Park, Guthrie, Oklahoma

We stayed in this campground in Guthrie (no pictures). Their Passport America rate was $18 for the night. It was a quiet park, but rather old and decently kept. It was fine for an overnight.

Dates: June 13 to 14, 2018

Location: WaKeeney KOA, Wakeeney, Kansas

This KOA is kept very neat. They serve ice cream in the evenings and offer pancake and sausage breakfast (we took advantage of both) for a reasonable cost. They’ve been filling up every night during the week as there isn’t much else close to the interstate through western Kansas.

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Dates: June 14 to 15, 2018

Location: Fort Collins North / Wellington KOA, Wellington, Colorado

This KOA was fairly nice, as well. We had a nice, wide concrete slab to park on. When we were rolling in, there were storm clouds over the front range of the Rockies. They eventually blew in, bringing lots of wind, but no rain.

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Malcolm found a couple friends in the pasture adjacent to the side of the campground where the tent sites are. Several of the campers were enjoying our visitors.

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Dates: June 15 to 16, 2018

Location: Buffalo KOA, Buffalo, Wyoming

Due to re-scheduling our stay here and then scheduling it back, we ended up with the last available site that would fit our rig – a really nice patio site. It was only $6 more than what we would have paid for the site we originally booked.

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It was a little windy as we arrived here and it was blowing in cool weather. The temperature was around 70 degrees when we arrived and fairly quickly dropped into the low 60’s. Overnight, it was around 50 degrees. We ended up turning on the furnace in the morning. We also did a little antique shopping in downtown Buffalo.

Dates: June 16 to 17, 2018

Location: Deer Lodge KOA, Deer Lodge, Montana

When we arrived in Deer Lodge, it was around 50 degrees and drizzly rain. It stayed like that all night. We had the furnace on overnight.

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Snow on top of the nearby mountains

Deer Lodge is one of our regular stops. The owner came out and gave us a hug when we arrived. It’s not much of a park, but she keeps the place very neat and tidy.

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Dates: June 17 to 18, 2018

Location: Spokane KOA, Spokane, Washington

When we arrived in Spokane, the temperature and weather had improved considerably. It was sunny and in the 70’s when we got there.

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After we got there, we contacted our friends Tim and Emily Rohrer. They were in the area and agreed to meet us for dinner. In addition to Tim and Emily, Tim’s parents, Bonnie and Doug, also joined us. They recently just started full-timing and were traveling with Tim and Emily.

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Dates: June 18 to ???, 2018

Location: Washington State Fair Campground, Puyallup, Washington

On Monday, we rolled into Puyallup and set up at the fairgrounds campground.

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Now it’s time to visit family. We’re actually keeping the grandchildren for a couple days as Elizabeth and Cole are out of town. Elizabeth flies back in on Thursday.

The trip here from Florida was 3,435 miles. There are more direct routes than what we took, but we wanted to visit folks along the I-10 corridor, so that added a couple hundred miles or so. The following map shows the approximate route here (note the other trip earlier this year to Tennessee and Kentucky is on the same map).

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Mile High Fun

Location: Strasburg/East Denver KOA, Strasburg, Colorado

Dates: July 30 to Aug. 2, 2017

We arrived in Strasburg, Colorado on Sunday afternoon after an easy drive from WaKeeney. Strasburg is, according to the sign outside the KOA office here, about 35 miles east of Denver.

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We had tried to get a campground closer into town, but they were all very full. The Strasburg KOA wasn’t a whole lot to look at, but they’re working on various improvements, including new sites along the back. Our site was pretty nice. It was wide enough to park the truck next to the trailer and deep enough we could have parked it across the site in front of the trailer.

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Note the red stripe on the artificial turf. It appears as if they got a good deal on some turf removed from a football field somewhere. There were various stripes and hash marks on different pieces throughout the park. Great way to repurpose. Once we were set up, we generally just relaxed on Sunday evening.

While we were at WaKeeney, we contacted some friends of ours, Phil and Mary Ochoa since Val knew they were in the Denver area. They had found four tickets to see The Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. They asked if we’d like to join them if they bought the four tickets (the show has been sold out for a long time). We said yes.

On Monday, we left fairly early in the morning and got some shopping done around the greater Denver area. We ate lunch at a mall near some of our stops. After our last stop, we contacted Mary and she said she was finishing up a doctor appointment. We hung out for a couple hours at a nearby Starbucks, where she came to meet us.

We stopped by the grocery to pick up something to take to the concert for dinner, then picked up Phil. We left our truck at their house (they full-time in their RV, but still own a house in Boulder that they rent out) while they drove us to the venue in their car.

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Waiting for the show to start

The show was great. The Red Rocks Amphitheater was as great a venue as we had heard it was. We were far enough back that the music wasn’t super loud, but close enough to still see the stage.

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Our View

We stayed until almost the end of the show, but slipped out a little early just as The Steve Miller Band was getting into their encores. We beat most all the traffic out that way.

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One of the Red Rocks at night

By the time the Ochoas dropped us off to get our truck and we drove back to our campground (about an hour drive), it was nearly midnight and we were wiped out. It was a very fun time, though.

On Tuesday, Malcolm worked most of the day. Val worked on some of her projects, as well. Malcolm took a break from regular work to climb up on the trailer and apply some self-leveling sealant on some existing seals that were starting to crack from weather.

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We cooked dinner out on the grill Tuesday evening and got most everything packed up for the move on Wednesday. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will all be travel days, with single night stops on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Sightseeing in Colorado

Current Location: Colorado Springs KOA, Colorado Springs, Colorado

This morning, we had breakfast in the trailer then got together water bottles and drinks to stay hydrated in this thin atmosphere and headed out the door to Manitou Springs. It’s a pretty nice little town up on the hill and the location of the cog railway that goes up to Pikes Peak. We drove up to figure out where we were going later for the railway ride, then headed back down into town and found a parking space.

Seems most businesses in Manitou Springs open at 10:00, 11:00 or noon. Since we were there around 9:30, we walked around for a while, checking out what various shops were around and reading various historical markers. As we strolled up and down the street, various places starting opening up so we browsed a few shops. We picked up t-shirts for our quilt and a few other souvenirs. Around 11:00, we headed back to the truck and up the hill for our cog railway ride.

Once parked, we picked up our tickets and headed down to the snack bar to get a bite to eat. We had pretty good sandwiches brought in from a local cafe. We sat on a bench and ate lunch while waiting for our railway car to arrive. We boarded a little before noon and headed up the mountains to Pikes Peak. We took pictures, shopped the gift shop, grabbed a snack for the ride back down and rode to the bottom. The ride each way is a little over an hour. By the time we got back to the bottom, it was a little after 3.

We hopped in the truck and drove around a bit and ended up driving the loops at the Garden of the Gods. We stopped here and there and took pictures. We also, of course, stopped at the gift shop (which was huge) and found a few items for gifts, as well as post cards.

After Garden of the Gods, we drove aimlessly in the general direction of Colorado Springs and found a Hobby Lobby. Val remembered she needed a couple things from there, so we stopped in. Malcolm walked next door to Office Depot to pick up something we needed from there.

While in Hobby Lobby, we heard from our friends Tracey and Roger Ellmers and figured out a place to meet for dinner. We had a great Mexican meal at Jose Muldoons. We chatted and caught up for a while before saying our goodbyes after pictures on the front porch of the restaurant.

Once we got back to the trailer, it was time to start putting things away and prepare for travel. Tomorrow, we head generally east across I-70 and will probably end up somewhere in Kansas tomorrow evening.

Here are a bunch of pictures from today.

Sign in Manitou Springs

Sign in Manitou Springs

Tracey and Roger

Tracey and Roger

Sign at the Cog Railway Station advising conditions on Pikes Peak

Sign at the Cog Railway Station advising conditions on Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

Stop to switch tracks to let other trains pass us

Stop to switch tracks to let other trains pass us

Wildlife

Wildlife

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

View on the way up to Pikes Peak

Made it to the top

Made it to the top

Our ride

Our ride

View from the top of Pikes Peak

View from the top of Pikes Peak

View from the top of Pikes Peak

View from the top of Pikes Peak

View from the top of Pikes Peak

View from the top of Pikes Peak

On the way back down, the train car in front of us

On the way back down, the train car in front of us

More scenery on the way down

More scenery on the way down

Bighorns at the top of a hill in Garden of the Gods

Bighorns at the top of a hill in Garden of the Gods

Scenery in Garden of the Gods

Scenery in Garden of the Gods

Scenery in Garden of the Gods

Scenery in Garden of the Gods

Scenery in Garden of the Gods

Scenery in Garden of the Gods