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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Wright’s home


Interior light, Wright’s home


Drafting room in Wright’s studio


Office in Wright’s studio


Wright-designed home


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.


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.


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.




West of Chicago

Current Location: Rock Cut State Park, Loves Park, Illinois

We were on the road today by about 8:30 AM. The drive was pretty uneventful. It got windier as we got further north. Only affected fuel economy a little bit. We got to Rock Cut State Park around 1:30 PM. We didn’t have any reservations, but that wasn’t a problem as the place was fairly empty since the weekend was over.

We got a nice, long 50 amp site on a small loop. This park is interesting in that there are occasional water spigots, even in the RV areas, but no individual water hookups at each site. Since Malcolm puts a little water in the tank each time he hooks up and unhooks our water connection, it turns out we’ve got plenty of water on board, so it won’t hurt to use some up. Other than that, the site is fairly unlevel from front to back. You can see in the picture that our front landing gear is extended pretty far (even with some “Lego blocks” underneath them).

Our site

Our site

Shortly after we got set up, Malcolm’s best friend from high school, John Boehm, and his three children came by to visit. They live about an hour east of here near Chicago. John’s wife, Nicole, is out in California to hike the John Muir trail this week. We had a great visit with John and the kids for two or three hours. We gave them a tour of the trailer, sat around in the air conditioning, listened to records and talked about old times.

Blurry picture of the Boehm crew visiting us

Blurry picture of the Boehm crew visiting us

After the Boehms left, we fixed dinner. After dinner, we headed to the nearby Meijer store and picked up a few grocery items and filled up the truck with diesel at $2.44 a gallon. Tomorrow, it is on to Wisconsin.

Today’s license plate count, same as yesterday – 25 of 51 plates.

License plates

License plates