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.


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Big Band Music by Al DiMartino and his DOJO band.


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.


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).


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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).



Kansas Stop

July 9 to 10, 2019 – WaKeeney KOA, WaKeeney, Kansas

Today’s trip was uneventful. A straight drive from Odessa, Missouri through Kansas City, Missouri and on down I-70 west to Wakeeney. We’ve stayed at this KOA before and it has really improved each time.


As we were driving in, we noticed the new pool area and decided that would be our first stop after getting everything set up. The pool just opened this year and they did a super job on it and the surrounding area. Very nice.

Back to the trailer after a swim and Malcolm set up the grill to cook up some chicken, pineapple and pepper packets on the grill. He had some help via our next door neighbor’s chocolate lab – Murphy.


After dinner, we headed over to the campground office where they serve ice cream and floats each evening. We each got a double scoop of ice cream ($1.75 for a double scoop) and a bottle of water. We also wandered around the shop but didn’t buy anything.


Tomorrow morning, we’ll drop back by the office for breakfast. They serve pancakes and sausage at a pretty reasonable price, as well. Makes for a nice, hearty breakfast before heading out on the road.



Get the Heck Into Dodge

Location: WaKeeney KOA, WaKeeney, Kansas

Dates: July 28 to 30, 2017

When we were in Odessa, Missouri, we started checking on campground availability for Friday night somewhere in Kansas. We weren’t set on a particular route, but were planning on traveling across I-70 as far as Denver.

When Malcolm checked our old standby along I-70, the Salina KOA, he found it was full. Checking around various other KOAs along I-70 and up across I-80, he found they were full, as well. Though it meant a bit longer drive, we settled on the KOA in WaKeeney, Kansas and went ahead and made reservations for two nights to get us through the weekend.

We headed on over there on Friday, arriving mid-afternoon. We were assigned a large end site with plenty of grass. While we were relaxing, we decided to go ahead and plot the rest of our trip to Washington, making reservations so we wouldn’t get caught spending a lot of time trying to find a place along the way (we ran across that last year, as well) or having to drive an extra-long distance just to get somewhere with a space available.

Since we have another week and a half to get to Washington (and it’s only about a four day drive from this point), we also needed to plan some multi-night stops. We got all those figured out, so now we are set literally through about mid-September (when we’ll be traveling back across the country) as far as reservations go. After Labor Day, finding campsites gets a lot easier in most places since children are back in school and people are doing less camping.


Large grassy site 59 at the WaKeeney KOA

Once we were settled in and had dinner in our stomachs, Val was looking around for things to do in the area. Though it was 80 miles away, we decided we would take a trip down to Dodge City for the day on Saturday. We parked in a public parking lot and walked over to the visitor information center. We snagged some postcards, souvenirs and information, as well as this photo op.


We found out that a statue in front of the information center, which was covered at the time, was going to be unveiled and dedicated the next day. It was a statue of Matt Dillon and was based on James Arness, the late actor that played Matt Dillon in the Gunsmoke series on television for years.


After walking around a bit and having lunch in a Mexican restaurant near where we parked the truck, we decided to wander over to “Boot Hill” and check out the place. That is the main tourist attraction in town. Tickets and souvenirs can be bought in the Great Western hotel.


When we were walking up the sidewalk to the hotel, we passed a lady wearing a University of Kentucky shirt and commented on her fine choice of apparel. She stopped to chat for a moment and mentioned that she actually attended college at another Lexington, KY school – Transylvania University. That is where Malcolm graduated from college. They compared notes and discovered that they were at the college at the same time (for at least a year).

Our new friend invited us to go on a walking tour around town with her and some friends. We also found out from her that the widow of James Arness, Janet, was in town with some other family for the new statue dedication the next day. We got to meet Janet and chat for a bit, but she couldn’t join us on the walking tour.


Photo op with Janet Arness

We purchased tickets to wander around Boot Hill after our walking tour and set out for the tour. Charlie Meade is a long time resident of the area and is a walking encyclopedia of history in the area. He took us for about an eight block walk around the area, stopping to tell us about various people and events that make up the history of Dodge City.


Charlie explaining some history

After the tour, we said our goodbyes to our new friends and headed back to Boot Hill to look around for a while.


The Boot Hill display is a replica of what the main part of town looked like in the 1800’s. The buildings all burned in a fire in the late 1800’s and more modern buildings took their place. This replica was erected in the 1950’s and is run by a non-profit organization to let people see what life in Dodge City was like back in the 1800’s.

After touring Boot Hill for a while, we wandered up the hill behind it to the Boot Hill Distillery. We took a nice tour while we were there and Malcolm tasted some of their products. The distillery has only been in operation 3 or 4 years, so their aged products (i.e. bourbon) were still aging and weren’t yet available for tasting.


The distillery building was the old city building for Dodge City for years before being abandoned and falling into disrepair. The distillery purchased the building and fixed it up (and is still renovating parts of it).


Our tour guide explaining the grain delivery system

As a matter of fact, the working part of the distillery is in the section where the fire trucks were parked originally. There’s even a covered hole in the ceiling where the fire pole used to come down from the upstairs portion (now converted to offices).


Some of the distilling equipment

After the tour and tasting, we headed upstairs to their bar and gift shop and purchased a t-shirt before leaving.


First runs of bourbon aging

After the distillery tour, we headed down to a restaurant called Central Station, which is located in the old freight train station in Dodge City, and had dinner in the dining car. We mainly had a light dinner of sandwiches. After dinner, we headed back to the campground, about an hour and a half drive, arriving right around bedtime.

On Sunday morning, we took advantage of the pancake breakfast the campground serves each morning and filled up with pancakes before we hit the road to our next destination in Colorado.

Back in Salina

Current Location: Salina KOA, Salina, Kansas

We left Colorado Springs this morning and headed up US24 to I-70, then east out of Colorado and into Kansas. We stopped for the night at the Salina KOA, which we stayed in on the way out about a month ago. Since the rest of our trip back to Nashville is taking a different route than we took getting here, our route will be a figure eight. Salina is the crossover point.

It was pretty much a quiet travel day today. The wind picked up about the last hour and a half of the trip. A preponderance of wind turbines bore out the fact that wind is pretty typical in this area. We must have passed dozens of wind farms with dozens of turbines in each one.

A couple other factoids:

  • We passed the 35,000 mile mark today, about 50 miles west of Salina.
  • Malcolm looked in his grandparents’ travel log that he compiled and found that they stayed at this same KOA at least twice – in 1984 and 1987.

Just a couple pics from today.

Typical Kansas

Typical Kansas

Our site

Our site

Great day for license plates today. Traveling across I-70 and it being almost a holiday weekend (and end of the summer travel season) helped, I’m sure. Total states spotted: 33

License plates

License plates

Kansas – The 26th State

Current Location: Salina KOA, Salina, Kansas

Well, it is the 26th state we’ve camped in, at least. Last night, we were looking at options for traveling from Wichita Falls to Colorado Springs, where we were planning on visiting friends and staying an extra night. The most direct route was on US 287, US 87 and US 64. The closest interstate route was back up I-44 to Oklahoma City, I-35 to Wichita, Kansas, I-135 to Salina, then I-70 west.

The latter route, though 200 miles longer, was the one we decided upon. The main reason for the longer interstate route was somewhat selfish in a way. Malcolm wanted to be able to add a Kansas sticker to our state map, which has been stagnant for almost a year at 25 states. The other reason was just a gut feeling about staying on interstates.

As it turns out, there is a really bad storm front rolling off the Rockies through Denver (which had tornadoes) and Colorado Springs. It plans to be sweeping down through that area, southern Kansas and into Oklahoma tomorrow. That would have had us right in the middle of it tomorrow since we would have been in the Amarillo area this evening. It would also put us driving through parts of it on the way into Colorado tomorrow afternoon.

We’ve decided to head on north on US 81 and catch interstates until we can join up with I-90 in the Iowa and South Dakota area. We’ll try to catch Colorado Springs on the way back through in a couple weeks. We would rather avoid a bunch of weather if we can.

After we got set up here, we headed down the road to the grocery store and picked up a few items and filled up the truck while we were there. The KOA here is pretty nice and very reasonably priced. They have a teepee you can stay in that is pretty neat.



Not many states on the license plate game today – 24. Must be the route. That, and we weren’t paying as much attention to plates today.

License Plates

License Plates