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).

 

Here, There and Everywhere

Location: Washington State visiting Grandchildren

Dates: Mar. 27 – Apr. 2, 2018

Once we were back from the beach trip, Malcolm and the girls worked on their pinewood derby cars for Awana. Malcolm and Violet both got sick shortly after we got back. Not sure about Violet, but Malcolm had the flu (we never got around to getting flu shots).

Violet’s car won 2nd place in her division for design. Malcolm’s car won first place in the adult division for design. None of our cars were terribly fast, though, but they at least made it to the finish line. Violet was home sick the night of the race, so Nana raced in her place and accepted her award.

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The rest of the week we all just had fun. Malcolm tried to work as much as he felt like even though he had the flu.

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Eventually, on Friday, Malcolm went to the doctor. They determined he had the flu and gave him a prescription for flu meds, though they wouldn’t guarantee that they would do any good since he had the flu longer than 48 hours. (They did help some).

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Cole came home from India on Friday afternoon. Elizabeth went to the airport to bring him home. He caught up on his sleep over the weekend. Malcolm was still sick on Easter Sunday, so he stayed home while everyone else went to church.

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The girls had an Easter egg hunt on Sunday afternoon. Scarlet sorted all her candy out by type.

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On Monday, Malcolm was feeling better. We spent the day getting ready to fly home. Our flight left late in the evening on Monday and arrived early morning in Orlando on Tuesday.

Location: Our RV Lot at Deer Creek RV Golf and Country Club

Dates: Apr. 3 – 6, 2018

We flew in to Orlando early in the morning on Tuesday, the 3rd. We picked up our car from the parking lot and headed home. We slept very little on the plane, so we slept for a few hours once we got home. Later, we headed across the street and brought Callie home from our neighbors who were watching her while we were away.

We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday catching up on laundry and getting the trailer ready for travel. On Friday morning, we hooked up the trailer to the truck and headed out for a couple weeks in Nashville.

Location: Tifton KOA, Tifton, Georgia

Dates: Apr. 6 -7, 2018

Our first stop on the way to Nashville was Tifton, Georgia. We had some slow traffic in Florida due to the heavy spring break traffic mixed with a tanker truck that had crashed and caught fire.

Location: Holiday Travel Park, Rossville, Georgia

Dates: Apr. 7 – 8, 2018

Our second stop was in Rossville, Georgia (just outside of Chattanooga). We again hit traffic due to a traffic accident and generally heavy spring break traffic south of Atlanta.

Location: Nashville KOA, Nashville, Tennessee

Dates: Apr. 8, 2018

Today’s journey from Chattanooga to Nashville took less than 3 hours up I-24. It was a generally smooth drive. There was a lot of spring break traffic again but it generally moved well.

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We’ll be here for two weeks while Malcolm works in the office here.

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Big Trip West – Day 2

Current Location: Holiday Travel Park, Rossville, Georgia

We hooked up this morning and hit the road a little after 8:00 AM. We drove on up I-75 and decided to stay on I-75 north through Atlanta. Traffic was a bit heavy, but not unbearable. We made it through just fine.

We stopped for lunch at a truck stop near Dalton, Georgia. We backed into a site along the back and ate lunch in the truck, watching the trucks drive by to go to the fuel pumps. When we were done eating, we noticed a couple trucks in front of us and not really moving. We had debated filling up our truck there after lunch.

Malcolm ran back to the trailer to throw away our trash and use the restroom before closing up the trailer. The truck that had been stopped in front of us for a while looked like it was going to back into another space on down from us. Malcolm could see a lot of smoke rising from the area of the fuel pumps, but figured it was an older truck spewing a lot of exhaust.

It turned out that a truck in line for fuel had caught fire. A fire truck was already there hosing it down, but we decided to turn out the way we came in and get fuel elsewhere. Various other fire vehicles were arriving as we were leaving and they were blocking the entrance for any more trucks to come in. Lots of excitement. We just got back on the interstate and stopped for fuel on up the road.

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Site 117 at Holiday Travel Park

We arrived here about 3:00 this afternoon and got all set up. Though the actual campground is in Rossville, Georgia, we are in the general Chattanooga, Tennessee area (literally 1/2 mile south of the Georgia/Tennessee border).

While the air conditioners were doing their thing cooling down the trailer, we drove across the interstate to Camping World and picked up a few things we needed. We bought a pair of LED lamps to replace the ones in the dining room fixture and found out they were too dim, different sizes and even different colors though they were both packaged as the same bulb. Malcolm drove back over and returned them. We’ll order the correct bulb(s) off Amazon later.

We ate dinner in the trailer and generally just relaxed. Tomorrow we head on up to Lexington, Kentucky to stay at the Kentucky Horse Park for eight days.

 

 

Big Trip West – Day 1

Current Location: Tifton KOA, Tifton, Georgia

Today was the official start of our big trip out west for the year. We’re heading out to Washington state by way of some stops in Kentucky. Our first stop will be in Lexington, Kentucky. Looking at the route from Orlando to Lexington, we felt three days would be best for the trip. As such, 1/3rd of the way there is approximately Tifton, Georgia.

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Our empty site in Florida. The car remained there, under its new cover.

We left this morning around 8:00 AM and headed up the Florida Turnpike and picked up I-75 south of Ocala. It was a busy but uneventful drive up I-75.

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On the Road

We stopped at the Georgia Welcome Center on I-75 for lunch. As we pulled in to the truck and RV section, Malcolm spied this shady spot on the end.

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Shady Lunch Spot

After lunch, we headed on up the road for about another hour to Tifton, Georgia. We checked into the Tifton KOA, set up the trailer and cranked on both air conditioners (temperature was around 96 degrees outside).

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Tifton KOA – Site 44

Malcolm worked for a while after we got set up and while the trailer was cooling down. When we checked in, the lady at the desk mentioned that their walking trail wound around pastures with horses and cows. Of course, Malcolm’s ears perked up at the mention of animals, so he wandered out later in the afternoon for a short visit.

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A Couple of Malcolm’s new friends

We decided to try out the pizza place for dinner that was recommended by the front desk staff. The food was delicious. We also filled up the truck with fuel while we were out. Back at the trailer, Val loaded up the washer with a load of laundry. When we get to Lexington, we won’t have a sewer hookup (Kentucky Horse Park) for eight days, so we’re getting our heavy water usage in before we get there.

Back Home Again

Current Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

On New Years Day, we all piled in the car and headed down to the YMCA. They were giving out free t-shirts (nice ones at that) for the first 1,000 people to show up. We all got t-shirts (even us, though we were visitors). The girls, Cole and Elizabeth went swimming while we went walking on the track.

We generally just relaxed on Sunday and Monday. On Monday afternoon, Cole came down with a cold. The rest of us went out to dinner at Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que.

On Tuesday morning, Cole was up early and headed to work. Violet started back to school, too. We walked out to her bus stop with her, though we didn’t have to walk too far – her bus picks her up at her driveway.

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Violet heading off to school.

With Violet off to school, Scarlet wanted to get Happy Donuts for breakfast, so we headed down to Puyallup for a little breakfast treat. We bought an extra for Violet and brought it home so she could have it the next day.

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Donut breakfast.

Violet asked if we would pick her up from school instead of her riding the bus, so we all headed over to wait on her to get out of class.

We told the girls goodbye on Tuesday evening since Cole was going to take us to the airport on Wednesday morning on his way to work. It meant we would be at the airport a couple hours early, but we didn’t mind. As it turns out, he felt terrible the next morning and decided to stay in and get over his cold. Elizabeth ended up running us to the airport, which meant we could leave a little later and tell the girls goodbye again in the morning.

We had a mid-morning flight from Seattle to Atlanta, arriving around 5:30 PM Atlanta time. We took the shuttle back to the Holiday Inn that we stayed in on the way out since our car was parked there. Rather than drive back to Alabama really late (close to 3 hour drive), we stayed in the Holiday Inn again. We ate dinner in the restaurant and relaxed in the room, since Val was coming down with a cold, as well.

On Thursday morning, we had breakfast in the hotel (included in the room price), packed up our stuff into the car and drove back to Montgomery. Once we got into town, we went ahead and stopped by Costco for a couple items, filled up the car with gas there, stopped by Target for a couple items and Whole Foods for some spices. After lunch at San Marcos in Montgomery, we stopped by Winn Dixie to get milk and juice then on back to the trailer to unload.

Once we got everything out of the car, Malcolm checked on our RV toilet. It had been backed up before we left, so we had poured some RidX down the toilet to see if it would eat up the backup while we were in Washington. No luck there. Malcolm headed over to Lowe’s and bought a toilet snake and got the clog cleared with that and the garden hose. He emptied the black tank and flushed it really well.

Apparently while we were away, the Asian Ladybugs were swarming and looking for a place to hide for the cold weather. When Malcolm opened the storage door on the sewer tote, he found a couple dozen ladybugs hiding in the hinge. So far, we have only found one inside, so we’re hoping that the trailer was sealed up well enough to keep them out for the most part. We’ll find out when we go to bring in slides to move next week.

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Ladybug stowaways

Today was a cold and rainy day. Malcolm spent most of the day working. Val packed up all the Christmas stuff and we made a pile of things to take to our storage unit. We took our empty suitcases over to storage and picked up our Christmas storage boxes and brought them back. We made a second trip a little later and put away the Christmas items and brought out the winter/spring stuff.

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Important winter/spring decorations.

After the two trips to the storage unit, we were pretty much set for the next couple months. We also brought back our t-shirt collection to sort through for our 2016 t-shirt quilt. We also filled up an empty propane tank in preparation for the cold weather then next few nights.

With freezing rain and sleet forecast for after sunset this evening, Malcolm ran out one final time to pick up a couple items we needed for dinner. After dinner, we curled up in front of the fireplace and kept warm with hot toddies. Val went to bed early to work on shaking off her cold.

Malcolm made reservations for us in Panama City next week. We’ll leave on Monday for there and will be in various places in Florida through at least mid-February. This year we have solid reservations in Florida, so no questionable campgrounds or one-night stays. We have two weeks at Walt Disney World, and one week each at two separate Florida State Park campgrounds. We’ll wander our way back to this area late in February.