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).

 

Adventures in RVing

July 7 to 8, 2019 – Shawnee Forest Campground, Vienna, Illinois

We got up early this morning to hook up the RV and head on up the road to our next stop in Illinois. It was a 460 mile trip, so we wanted to get going as soon as we could.

We were out getting things ready to go around 7:00 AM when Malcolm turned on the tire pressure monitor system as part of his routine. It started beeping about low pressure, supposedly on the front-left trailer tire. A quick check with a pressure gauge verified the bad news. So, our early start was delayed while Malcolm put the spare on the trailer and tossed the bad tire in the back of the truck.

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Being a Sunday, there wasn’t much we’d be able to do with the tire so we decided to go on ahead on the spare and take our chances. We made it to Illinois without any further tire issues. While inspecting the low tire, Malcolm didn’t see anything in the tread or sidewall area. It might be yet another cracked wheel (would be our third one). We’ll know when we get it checked.

The campground we are staying in is pretty nice. It is brand new (opened on Memorial Day weekend of 2019). The owner met us at the entrance and, finding out about our tire issues, offered to contact RV shops for us tomorrow if we wanted him to. We told him we’d let him know.

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The sites here are built on the side of a hill and, while generally level, are still a bit uphill and off-kilter just a bit. We see this a lot. Regardless, the utilities work and we’re not too far up in the air on the low side.

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Malcolm identified a couple local places that do tire work. He’s thinking of taking the low tire in to one of those places as soon as they open to see if they’ll at least give it a look to see what the issue is. If they can fix it right away we’ll put it back on the trailer.

Otherwise, if it turns out to be a cracked wheel, Malcolm can at least start contacting the wheel supplier for, hopefully, another wheel (if the replacements are under warranty). We’ll see. We might end up buying a steel wheel (like the spare wheel) to at least get us across the country so we have a spare tire available.

To the best of our recollection, today’s trip went through more states in one day (four) than we’ve done before (we’ll have to look back and see). We started in Alabama and traveled through Tennessee and Kentucky on the way to Illinois.

 

 

Rolling East – Part 2

Location: Rock Island/Quad Cities KOA, Rock Island, Illinois

Dates: Sept. 13 to 14, 2017

We stopped for the night on the way east in the Rock Island, Illinois KOA. Malcolm forgot to get a picture of the site, but it was a nice long pull-through site with fresh gravel. Easy in and easy out. He did get a picture of a fall leaf on the rear of the truck the next morning.

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After getting set up, Malcolm ran over to a nearby Camping World to buy a new LP gas detector. Our other one started going off the other night and we couldn’t get it to turn off. Though it was not out of date, we decided it may be bad (we now think it was going off due to the proximity to the cat’s litter box).

Malcolm tried hooking up the new detector in the same location and it was immediately flashing a red gas detected light (note that we shut off both propane tanks after removing the old detector). We decided that due to our suspicion that the cat box was setting it off that we would install the new one in a different location (actually closer to the gas stove/oven).

Location: Shipshewana Campground South Park, Shipshewana, Indiana

Dates: Sept. 14 to 15, 2017

We headed on our final leg east on the 14th. We had ordered some new underbelly material (coroplast) for the trailer from the trailer manufacturer (Heartland RVs). We paid for it ahead of time and had them hold it for pickup. We stopped in Elkhart, Indiana and picked it up on the way through, tossing it into the trailer for the time being.

The reason we are picking this up is that Malcolm will be replacing the underbelly material under the rear part of the trailer. When we had our hydraulic leak that we fixed last year, the fluid (essentially automatic transmission fluid) was spread all down the underside of the trailer, causing the plastic material to soften and start drooping in places. We thought we would replace the material before the current material possibly gives way and goes flapping down the road behind us.

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We drove on over to Shipshewana to stay at the campground there overnight. Since we arrived around 5:00, most all the Amish-run stores were closing for the day. We did drive down to the 5/20 Restaurant and had dinner.

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The next morning, on the 15th, we decided to take advantage of the noon check-out time and get our Amish shopping fix in during the morning hours. We first drove over to Rise ‘N’ Roll bakery for some of their tasty donuts as well as a few goodies to take along with us.

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The Rise ‘N’ Roll cinnamon-caramel donut (on the right in the picture, below) is probably what they are most famous for. They are indeed very tasty.

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After our sugary breakfast, we stopped at the E&S Bulk store and stocked up on a few grocery items. We also dropped by Yoder’s hardware and department stores.

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Buggies outside Yoder’s Department Store

After our shopping extravaganza, we hitched up the trailer and headed south around 11:00. The southbound stops will be detailed in upcoming installments.

 

 

 

 

Illinois and Wisconsin

Previous Location: Chicago Northwest KOA, Union, Illinois

Current Location: Pettibone Resort RV Park, La Crosse, Wisconsin

We arrived at the Chicago Northwest KOA on Thursday afternoon. Once we got set up, Malcolm called his high school classmate John to make plans to meet for dinner. We met John and his wife, Nicole, for dinner in Crystal Lake, Illinois. We had some great Italian food and had fun catching up.

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Campsite at Chicago Northwest KOA

On Friday, we drove to Oak Park, Illinois to take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio. It was a very interesting tour. Afterwards, we walked down the street and had some Chicago-style stuffed pizza for lunch. Then we walked around the area and took pictures of several Wright-designed homes.

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Wright’s home

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Interior light, Wright’s home

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Drafting room in Wright’s studio

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Office in Wright’s studio

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Wright-designed home

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Wright-designed home

After visiting Oak Park, we drove to Ikea to pick up a couple items we’ve been looking at. While there, we called John to see what they were doing for dinner. We drove over to their house and visited for a bit before riding with them to Lake Zurich for dinner. After dinner, we rode back to the house and visited until late before heading back to the trailer.

This morning we left the Chicago area and headed northwest to La Crosse, Wisconsin for the evening. We’ve just been relaxing here. We ran into town to pick up some groceries, but haven’t done any sightseeing.

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Site in La Crosse

The remainder of our trip west over the next eight days will follow I-90. Each day’s travel is only about 210-220 miles, making for shorter travel days.

Illinois Day 1

Current Location: D&W Lake Camping and RV Park, Champaign, Illinois

Today was purely a travel day. Since traveling from Dayton, Ohio to the Chicago area would be a long drive, we decided to break it up and stay about halfway along the path. We ended up near Champaign, Illinois.

We had gotten a decently early start, had a somewhat short travel day (266 miles) and crossed back into the central time zone. We ended up arriving at the park about 12:30 pm. Since we had all afternoon, Malcolm called the local Ford dealer and was told to bring the truck on down for an oil change. We were just shy of the 30,000 mile mark, so it was due.

With the oil changed and the air and fuel filters changed, we were on our way. We stopped by Target and Gander Mtn. to pick up some camping items and other shopping we needed to take care of. We also stopped by Culver’s and picked up a snack to tide us over until dinner. Finally, we stopped by and filled up the truck with fuel near the campground.

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Camp site

Dinner was leftovers in the trailer. Malcolm took care of a couple small maintenance items that popped up over the last couple days’ travel.

Tomorrow we head up to the Chicago area to visit with Malcolm’s friend and high school classmate John Boehm and his family. We’re still undecided on sightseeing in the area, though we do have two nights booked at the campground, though it is more than an hour’s drive (closer to two hours) out from town.