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).

 

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Missouri Showed Us

July 8 to 9, 2019 – Country Gardens RV Park, Odessa, Missouri

When we got up this morning, Malcolm planned on taking our trailer tire over to a local tire shop to have them check to see where it was leaking. Knowing they would just spray soapy water over it to check for leaks, Malcolm decided to make up his own soapy spray with a spray bottle we already had. It just took a few seconds to find that our aluminum rim was cracked inside the rim.

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This is the third rim that we’ve had do the exact same thing. This is also one of the replacement rims they sent to take care of the previous cracked rims. Malcolm decided to drive over to a local tire place to see if they happened to carry standard steel rims like our spare tire is on. They didn’t but recommended us to backtrack back to Paducah, Kentucky (about 30 miles the wrong way) and a place there would probably have it.

We decided to instead just drive on toward our next destination on what we had (no spare available) and count on roadside assistance if we needed it. Malcolm looked up several RV dealers near our next destination to call once we got there. We packed up and headed out.

We arrived at our destination in Odessa, Missouri without incident and set the trailer up around 3:15 PM.

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Malcolm called the first RV dealer on his list and they indicated that a nearby tire store, OK Tire, almost always carries rims of all types so they always send people there, instead. Malcolm called OK Tire and sure enough they had a rim in stock. They even said if we brought our current tire and wheel over that they could swap the tire to the new rim for us right away. Malcolm headed down the road to the tire store.

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Once there, they jumped right in and started working. 15 minutes later, Malcolm was driving away with a new rim with our tire mounted on it. All for $63 (rim, mounting charge and metal valve stem).

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Now we’ll have a working spare in case we need it along the rest of our trip west. Once we’re settled out in Washington state, we’ll decide how to proceed with wheels. We should be able to get the aluminum rim replaced under warranty, but how many more times will we possibly have to go through this?

 

Heading Back East, Part 2

Dates: Aug. 7 to 9, 2018

Location: Lake Mitchell Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota

On our first full day in Mitchell (Aug. 7), we drove about an hour northeast to the town of DeSmet, South Dakota, otherwise known as “The Little Town on the Prairie”.

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We stopped into the gift shop and signed up for a Laura Ingalls Wilder tour.

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Laura Ingalls Wilder tour and gift shop

The tour started next door at the Surveyors’ House, where the Ingalls lived for a while during their stay in DeSmet.

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Upstairs bedroom at the Surveyors’ House

We also toured DeSmet’s first school house.

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From there, the tour group traveled a few blocks away to visit the house that the Ingalls built in DeSmet.

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It was a very nice tour. Our tour guide did a great job. After the tour, we bought a few souvenirs and headed downtown in DeSmet to grab a sandwich for lunch and look around a few of the shops. We headed back to Mitchell later in the afternoon and back to the trailer.

The next day (the 8th), we drove to downtown Mitchell and walked up and down the street, stopping in a couple stores along the way. We didn’t go into the Corn Palace (we’ve done that before), but looked around their gift shop which has moved from inside the building to across the street.

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We also did some other shopping in town before heading back to the trailer for the evening.

Dates: Aug. 9 to 10, 2018

Location: Onawa/Blue Lake KOA, Onawa, Iowa

Our next stop was in Onawa, Iowa at the KOA. Directly across Blue Lake from the campground was a state park campground. Both were fairly busy. The KOA is a nice park. We left the truck hooked to the trailer and enjoyed sitting outside for a while in the evening.

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Dates: Aug. 10 to 11, 2018

Location: Country Gardens RV Park, Odessa, Missouri

Our next stop was at the Country Gardens RV Park. We’ve stayed here a few other times along the way. They have a store with a huge selection of cheeses and other treats, some of them from various Amish areas. We stocked up on cheese and some sweet treats. We left the truck hooked up to the trailer here, as well.

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Dates: Aug. 11 to 12, 2018

Location: Hinton RV Park, Sikeston, Missouri

Our next stop was in Sikeston, Missouri. We’ve stayed at this campground before, as well. It’s a pretty nice campground and just a mile from one of our favorite restaurants – Lambert’s (the home of throwed rolls). We drove by Lambert’s on the way to check out an antique store and saw a huge crowd waiting for dinner (at 3:00 PM).

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We came on back about 3:30 and put in our name and got a number. It was a two hour wait to eat, which was pretty accurate – we were seated about 5:30. The food is worth the wait, though. The main reason for the huge crowd was that there was a rodeo going on later in the day.

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Before leaving the park, we made sure to empty and clean out all our gray and black tanks since our next stop is in the Nashville area and there are no sewer hookups there.

Aug. 12, 2018

Location: Seven Points Campground, Hermitage, Tennessee

We rolled into Nashville about 12:30 PM after noting that our campground has a 2:00 check-out time and a 3:00 check-in time. We decided to waste time by stopping at the Cracker Barrel on Music Valley Road (and parking in the mostly empty parking lot for the shopping center nearby).

We had a leisurely lunch and then drove on over to the campground, arriving around 2:00. The people that had been on our site had literally just left (we passed them on the way in), so we could head on back and set up. We have a very shaded and wooded site.

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After setting up the trailer, we headed out to get some shopping done, then back to the trailer to cook dinner and go through our mail via FaceTime with our daughter. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing.

Malcolm will be working in the office here in Nashville the next two weeks.

 

Throwed Rolls

Location: Hinton RV Park, Sikeston, Missouri

Dates: July 26 to 27, 2017

We left Kentucky for Missouri on our trip westward. We picked Sikeston not only for the distance from our last stop, but also because it is the home to the original Lambert’s Cafe, billed as the “home of throwed rolls”. We pulled into the Hinton RV Park, which is only a mile or so from Lamberts and got all set up.

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After relaxing in the rig for a bit, we headed on down the street to Lambert’s for a very filling dinner.

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Lambert’s Cafe

The “throwed rolls” part comes in when someone brings out a cart of huge yeast rolls from the kitchen. That person will stand at the end of the dining room and throw rolls to people that raise their hands. If you miss, just grab the next one that flies by. Of course, you can ask that they just bring you a roll or go get one on your own in case your catching skills may be lacking.

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Sample roll (not throwed)

Malcolm took a whole box of leftovers with him (Val ordered a little lighter meal). While you are eating, people come around and offer you “pass arounds” – which are additional side items such as fried potatoes and onions, black-eyed peas, macaroni and tomatoes and fried okra.

After dinner, we relaxed in the trailer for the rest of the evening. Malcolm got in a little work, as well.

And We’re Here

Current Location: Kentucky Horse Park Campground, Lexington, Kentucky

“Here” would be Lexington, Kentucky, where we were heading after leaving Washington state 9 days ago. We’ll be here at the Horse Park campground in our favorite spot for a few days. Here’s a rundown of the rest of our trip here:

Once we left Sioux Falls, South Dakota, we decided to just drive as far as we felt like and stop for the night. As we were heading south on I-29 we decided to stop just after crossing into Missouri. Malcolm found a nice sounding campground (Rock Port Riversedge Campground) on our Allstays app and we just drove in. It was fairly full, but the super nice couple that run the campground found one open spot for us – perfect.

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Parked next to the cornfield in Rock Port, Missouri

It was sunny when we arrived in Rock Port, but it was rainy the next morning. We drove on south on I-29 to Kansas City, then turned east on I-70. That’s about when we ran out of rain and the skies turned sunny.

We realized in the last couple of days that we were going to have more days than miles, so we changed our Kentucky reservation to arrive on Thursday instead of Friday. Given that, we divided the drive from Rock Port, Missouri to Lexington into three fairly even increments. For Tuesday night, we ended up at another nice campground find – theĀ Lazy Day Campground in Danville, Missouri. It was a really nice campground and had the bonus of giving a 15% discount to Escapees members (like us).

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Lazy Day Campground site.

We left Lazy Day on Wednesday with the intent of staying the night in Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park campground in western Kentucky. We entered the campground mid-afternoon to find the office closed but instructions to grab an envelope, find a site that isn’t reserved, drop money in and deposit the envelope.

We drove around the campground and found that the only empty 50 amp sites had the power post located 50 or more feet away from the site. Our power cord wouldn’t reach that far. We then decided to drive around and look at the 30 amp sites. About the time we found one that looked suitable, a gentleman in a plumbing company van stopped to tell us that there was a water leak in the park and that most of the park water was going to be off overnight. We decided to look elsewhere since all the sites were fairly unlevel, under low hanging branches or other issues.

We ended up Wednesday night in the nearby Paducah / I-24 / Kentucky Lake KOA, run by a very nice older couple. Given the For Sale sign outside of the campground and their age, we figured they were ready to fully retire. We left the truck hooked up to the trailer for the night and headed out in the morning. The gentleman that owned the place stopped us and thanked us for stopping through.

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Our KOA site

Today we headed up the road to our final destination here at the Horse Park. We had reserved our favorite site based on previous experience with the site. The nice thing is that it is the last site on the row with our door facing the large expanse of grass between our site and the main road. Plus, it is in the back part of the park, so less traffic going by.

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Most of our front yard here at the Horse Park

Plans for the long weekend are to visit the Horse Park, head over to Paris, Kentucky for the Secretariat Festival, visit with Malcolm’s aunt and uncle, have dinner with some friends of ours that live in the area and visit with Val’s sister and family.

Monday morning we head down the road to Chattanooga for several days at a Heartland Owners Club rally being held there.