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.

 

 

Nashville and Kentucky

Dates: Aug. 12 to 25, 2018

Location: Seven Points Campground, Hermitage, Tennessee

On the weekdays during the two weeks we were here, Malcolm worked downtown in his office. He rode the train in every day. Some days Val dropped him off at the train station and other days he drove the truck over and left it there all day. Val worked on various sewing projects.

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The Morning Train

The weather was nice most days. It rained one morning as Malcolm left the trailer but had fortunately stopped by the time he got to the train station.

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Barge Traffic in Downtown Nashville

Over the weekend, we did some antique shopping at a couple places in downtown Nashville. One specializes in mostly mid-century to 1970’s items. It’s always fun to walk through.

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We also did our laundry at a laundromat over the weekend so that we could catch up on our clothes washing since we don’t have sewer hookups at the campground. We did hitch the trailer up over the weekend and took it to the dump station and back to the site on Saturday morning.

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Mid-stay tank clearing

On the last workday, Malcolm left the office a little early and caught the first train out of town at 4:20 instead of 5:05, getting off at the first station where Val picked him up. We went out to dinner at a pizza place nearby before heading back to the trailer to start packing it up to leave.

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The Last Train Ride

On Saturday morning, the 25th, we hitched up the trailer and dumped the tanks once again and headed from Nashville to northeast Kentucky, where Malcolm grew up.

 

Dates: Aug. 25 to 28, 2018

Location: Ashland/Huntington West KOA, Argillite, Kentucky

We arrived at the KOA and set up the trailer on Saturday afternoon.

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KOA near Ashland, KY

After relaxing a bit, we drove into Flatwoods, Kentucky and had dinner at the Giovanni’s Pizza restaurant where Malcolm often went when growing up in the area. They had the usual pizza buffet set up. We added side salads to our meal along with the restaurant’s special red salad dressing (very similar to a Catalina dressing).

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On Sunday morning, we went to church with a couple of Malcolm’s classmates at Advance United Methodist church in Flatwoods. After church, Malcolm’s classmate Margaret King drove us over to the Chinese buffet for lunch. We had a great time visiting with Margaret and eating lunch.

We spent Sunday afternoon relaxing at the trailer. It was pretty hot outside and we just felt like sitting inside and doing nothing.

This morning (Monday), we drove out in Greenup County and visited the two covered bridges that are still standing. Both have been rebuilt to some extent over the years, but one is still in active use for light vehicles.

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Bennett’s Mill Covered Bridge

We also drove to the Greenup Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. You used to be able to take a tour of the locks and watch the barge traffic moving through, but you can only view it from the river bank now. We walked down to the bank and watched for a while, taking a few pictures.

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Tugboat heading to the locks

We drove on into Ashland and had lunch at Panera Bread followed by a shopping trip to Joann Fabrics. From there, we drove around town for a bit then headed back out to the campground to change clothes for a dinner engagement. On the way, we stopped at Crisp’s Dairy Bar, a local favorite, and got some frozen treats.

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We headed back into town and met several of Malcolm’s high school classmates (and a couple of their spouses) for dinner at Blazer’s restaurant in Ashland.

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We had a great visit and a pretty good turnout. Malcolm’s classmates decided after the last high school reunion last year that it would be fun to get together on a more frequent basis, so they go out to dinner once a month now as well as some other special get-togethers.

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The Dinner Crowd

We sat around and visited until about 9:00 when everyone started heading for home. We said our goodbyes and headed back out to the trailer to get ready for our trip tomorrow. We’re heading to North Carolina for the Labor Day weekend, with a stop tomorrow night in Wytheville, Virginia.

 

Quick Weekend in Kentucky

Location: Kentucky Horse Park Campground, Lexington, Kentucky

Dates: Apr. 21 to 23, 2018

After leaving Nashville, we made a quick two day stop in Lexington, Kentucky for the weekend. Some of Malcolm’s high school classmates and their spouses decided it would be fun to get together to watch some horse racing at Keeneland Race Track on Sunday afternoon.

We stayed at the Kentucky Horse Park since they had open spots available for the weekend. After we got set up, one of Malcolm’s classmates brought over the group’s reserved seating tickets since she couldn’t attend. We volunteered to stand out front of the race track and hand out the tickets.

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Once we got set up in our spot, we did a little shopping in the campground store. The only thing we picked up was a small box of bourbon balls (Malcolm). We also ran to Kroger to pick up some of our favorite beverages and a few groceries.

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Back at the trailer, we headed down to Lexington to eat at one of our favorite restaurants – Ramsey’s Diner. Of course, we both had our favorite – Hot Browns and Ale 8s.

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On Sunday, we got dressed up and headed out the door somewhat early. To pass the time, we wandered around the Horse Park gift shop, before driving on to Keeneland.

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Once at Keeneland, we stopped to take a picture of Val’s outfit.

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Once inside, she bought a hat to go with the dress. Definitely dapper and race day stylish.

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We ate a nice lunch while Malcolm looked over his picks for the races. He made a few bets but quit when he reached his limit of losing ($20).

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Quite a few of Malcolm’s classmates showed up and a few couldn’t make it. Here are many of them. Some were out wandering around when this picture was taken.

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We’ll put some more race day pictures in at the end of this post. We left with about two races remaining to beat the crowds and to drive across town to visit Malcolm’s Aunt Mary, Aunt Margaret and Uncle Jerry. We had a great dinner with them and talked until very late in the evening.

While we were there, our youngest daughter, Scarlet, decided to FaceTime with Nana. She got an extra treat of seeing some Great Aunts and Great Uncle.

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We headed back to the trailer late and got up the next morning (Monday the 23rd) to head back toward Florida.

Location: Holiday Travel Park, Rossville, Georgia

Dates: Apr. 23 to 24, 2018

Stop 1 of 2 while traveling back to Florida.

Location: Tifton KOA, Tifton, Georgia

Dates: Apr. 24 to 25, 2018

Stop 2 of 2 while traveling back to Florida. Should be home tomorrow (April 25).

More pictures from Keeneland from “the big camera”.

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Military Appreciation Day at the Track

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Heading on Home

Location: Horse Cave KOA, Horse Cave, Kentucky

Dates: Sept. 15 to 16, 2017

After leaving Shipshewana, we traveled south to approximately the midway point to Wetumpka, Alabama. That, generally, is the Cave City, Kentucky area. We chose the KOA in Horse Cave, Kentucky. Since we went shopping in the morning and left Shipshewana fairly late in the morning, we arrived in Horse Cave around dinner time.

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After getting the trailer set up, Malcolm noticed that there were several farm animals in the area behind our site. Of course, he had to go investigate.

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There were a couple horses, quite a few roosters and chickens, a couple donkeys and miniature horses. Malcolm found that the donkey, especially, loved to have his ears scratched.

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The roosters were crowing when we got up and going fairly early the next morning. We left the campground around 7:30 am.

Location: Fort Toulouse Campground, Wetumpka, Alabama

Dates: Sept. 16 to 18, 2017

We drove on from Kentucky to our old standby in Wetumpka. Our favorite site was available and reserved for us already when we got there. We got our new propane fire bowl out and tried it out, even though it was very warm and muggy outside.

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Also, our golf cart was all cleaned up for us. We plan on leaving it here for about another month so it will be here when we come back in late October for Frontier Days. We plan on trailering it down to Florida with us after Frontier Days, in early November.

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We stayed in Alabama two nights so that we could go to our old church on Sunday morning. We saw lots of people we hadn’t seen for a few months and had lunch with our good friends, the Miltons.

We were up and moving slowly on Monday morning since we were driving a shorter distance.

Location: Pineglen RV Park, Panama City Beach, Florida

Dates: Sept. 18 to 19, 2017

We headed on down to Panama City Beach for an overnight, staying in another of our old standbys. We even got our favorite site on the end of the row.

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We did a quick grocery run, then waited for our son, David, to get off work at around 6:00 pm. He met us for dinner at Salt Water Grill which was fairly close to the campground. It was a great meal. We also handed off various items we had picked up for David on our travels. We said our goodbyes in the parking lot as he had to get on home and get some sleep.

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We stopped on the way back to the campground and filled up the truck with fuel. We hit the road fairly early on Tuesday morning so we could make the long-ish drive on down to our home base in Davenport.

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

Dates: Sept. 19, 2017 to sometime in October

Our drive on I-10 east and I-75 south went smoothly. There was slightly more traffic than usual as some stragglers were probably still flowing into the state after escaping from hurricane Irma. We didn’t have any problems finding fuel along the way. We filled up about halfway home just to make sure.

We pulled into our spot around 4:00 in the afternoon. We did just a little clean-up, uncovered the car and made sure it would start and warmed it up for a bit to charge the battery. We pulled the golf cart out of the shed and got a few things organized between the sheds and the trailer.

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Malcolm decided that Wednesday morning was going to be spent cleaning bugs off the front of the trailer. The love bugs were out in full force in Florida. Their guts are rather caustic to paint, so we need to get that knocked off as soon as possible.

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We’re glad to be back home. We drove around the neighborhood in the golf cart to see some of the damage that we had already seen in pictures. It wasn’t too severe, but a few people did lose their big RV ports. We also had a nice sunset to finish welcoming us back.

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We’ll be here until late October (about a month) when we’ll head up to Alabama for a couple weeks for Frontier Days. Malcolm has jury duty some time early in October.