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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Lake Chelan

Aug. 11-18, 2019 – Lake Chelan State Park, Chelan, Washington

On Sunday the 11th, we made the trip from Gig Harbor to Chelan, Washington to spend a week camping with the family. They had pulled their trailer over the day before since their reservation overlapped ours. We spent the week doing all kinds of fun things. Here’s the week in pictures.

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All set up and ready to camp

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Chalk drawing on the patio

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More chalk drawing on the patio (safety first)

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Goats at a nearby produce stand

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Violet feeding a goat

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Lake Chelan

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Floating in the water

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Someone (Malcolm) didn’t use enough sunscreen

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Licorice ice cream, anyone?

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Or cotton candy?

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Chasing bubbles in the sprinkler

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Mini Golf

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Family Portrait with our matching shirts

We had a fun week, but alas, our time to pack up and head back south and east arrived on the morning of Sunday, August 18th. We said our goodbyes and headed on down the road. Our next blog post will summarize our trip towards home.

 

Camp NanaPa

Aug. 4 – 11, 2019 – Gig Harbor RV Resort, Gig Harbor, Washington

Prior to driving out west to visit with family, our daughter told us that our oldest granddaughter, Violet, was going to “big girl camp” for the first time this summer. The idea came up that we would host the younger granddaughter, Scarlet, for the same week at our RV for Camp NanaPa.

Sunday, August 4th

Shirts were designed and made up with our Cricut machine and fun activities were planned for the week. On Sunday the 4th, after dropping Violet at big girl camp, Elizabeth and Cole dropped Scarlet off with us at the trailer.

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After Cole and Elizabeth left, we discovered that they forgot to leave Scarlet’s booster seat for the car. So, we drove (carefully) to the local Target and picked one up.

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Having a car seat meant we could then drive safely to the local Papa John’s, where we picked up dinner for opening night of Camp NanaPa.

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Monday, August 5th

On Monday, our fun activity was making tie dye shirts. Each one of us did a different design. After tying up the shirts with rubber bands and dying them with the dyes we bought at a craft store, we wrapped them up and put them in baggies to set for a couple days.

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We went out later to get ice cream at DQ. Afterwards, Scarlet wasn’t too impressed with their outdoor playground (nor were we), so we set out in search of a nearby park with children’s playground equipment. We found one in Gig Harbor that was fun to play in and fun to explore.

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Of course, no camp would be complete without sharing in the responsibilities of keeping things neat and clean. Taking the trash to the dumpster became a daily ritual.

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Tuesday, August 6th

We spent most of the day just hanging around camp, but headed over to Elizabeth and Cole’s house in the afternoon for some swimming time.

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That evening, Malcolm and Cole went to a movie while Nana and Scarlet headed back to Camp NanaPa. Cole dropped Malcolm off at the trailer after the movie.

Wednesday, August 7th

Wednesday’s fun outing was heading over to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. We spent most of the afternoon there, visiting all the different animals and aquatic life. Malcolm got a bunch of pictures on the big camera and put them on his photo gallery. Click this sentence to go see them.

A trip to the zoo wouldn’t be complete without some ice cream.

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Or playing in the sand.

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Or seeing your picture on the wall at the aquarium.

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After our zoo trip, Val washed and dried the tie dye shirts.

Thursday, August 8th

We all put on our tie dye shirts and walked to the entrance of the RV park to wait for the trolley (a bus that looks like a trolley) to ride to downtown Gig Harbor for the farmers market.

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Scarlet got a mermaid balloon sculpture at the farmers market and we picked up a couple items there to take back to the trailer.

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Friday, August 9th

Since Violet’s camp ended on Friday, we decided to take Scarlet home on Friday afternoon. We waited until Elizabeth, Cole and Violet were on the way home before we left, so they would have time to hear about Violet’s week before Scarlet arrived home.

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Once at the house, we looked at some of Violet’s pictures and heard some of her camp stories before we left. Elizabeth, Cole and the girls were heading out on Saturday morning to Lake Chelan, so there were still things to pack in their camper. We would head out there on Saturday to camp with them. That’s the next post, coming up soon.

 

 

 

Family Time

July 14 – Aug 8, 2019 – Gig Harbor RV Resort, Gig Harbor, Washington

Laziness strikes again. So here’s a bit catch-up post.

We’ve generally been visiting with family up here in Washington state. We’ve either been going over to our daughter and son-in-law’s home or sometimes the family’s gathering spot out on Fox Island. We’ll touch on some highlights.

July 15

We headed over to Elizabeth and Cole’s house to visit with the family. Malcolm wandered across the street to visit with an old friend.

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Of course we caught up with Cole and Elizabeth. (Photo credit: Scarlet)

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July 17

We headed over to Fox Island to visit with Cole’s grandmother Shirley. Elizabeth and the girls came over, too. Malcolm worked while we were there, along with one of his buddies.

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July 18

We stayed at the trailer while Malcolm took care of some important maintenance. When we were unhooking in Florida to start our trip this way, Malcolm found that the end of our power cord had a burnt looking terminal.

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It turned out to actually have been caused by what was probably a loose connection at the trailer’s connector. The red insulation on one of the hot wires was fairly burnt.

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On the way west, we ordered a replacement cord end and trailer connector, upgrading to a heavier-duty SmartPlug setup that others have recommended.

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Malcolm took his time, but was still done in a little over an hour. We really like the new setup a lot better. It is touted to have much better contact area and seems very sturdy. It is also marine-rated, so very well sealed.

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July 20

Elizabeth drove over to the campground from Fox Island, leaving the girls with Cole. The three of us wandered around the art festival in downtown Gig Harbor.

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We browsed the arts and crafts, had lunch and took advantage of a photo op.

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After that, we all headed back out to Fox Island to visit with family for the rest of the afternoon. Malcolm kept Lulu entertained.

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We took the girls for the night. They came over and made cupcakes with Nana.

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July 23

Malcolm got the new wheels we ordered on the way out here and put them in the truck. He also took the wheels and tires off the trailer and threw them in the truck as well. He took the whole setup over to the local tire place for them to switch our tires over to the new wheels.

Besides our one wheel that had cracked and allowed air to escape, Malcolm found another wheel on the trailer had a cracked spoke on it. That pretty much made our decision to switch to steel wheels seem like a pretty smart move (we hope).

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The tire store had the tires done in a couple hours.

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We headed back over to the trailer and mounted the new wheels back on the trailer and put our spare back up in the spare tire carrier.

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We hope the steel wheels work out a lot better. We think they will. They carry the same ratings as the aluminum rims. Several days later, we decided not to mess with the aluminum rims (sell them to someone or whatever) and just took them to a local metal recycler.

July 24

We met Cole at the Museum of Flight over in Seattle. The family had a special pass so that we all got in free to see the Apollo space exhibit.

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Violet wore her “space suit” to the event.

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They had several interactive things the children could do. Violet had fun with the 3D printer pens. (Dad and Grandpa may have also joined in the fun).

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Scarlet insisted on one more picture before we left.

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July 27

Elizabeth and Malcolm had a daddy-daughter birthday thing by heading to the Goodguys Car Show at the Washington State Fairgrounds.

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Malcolm took his camera and got lots of pictures of Elizabeth posing with various vehicles.

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Malcolm and Elizabeth also got to cruise around with some of Cole’s cousins in their vehicles that they were showing. It was a long but fun day. They went to the car show in lieu of the traditional horseback ride and Elizabeth’s allergies won’t allow her to do that activity any more.

August 1

Even though Elizabeth couldn’t go on a horseback ride, Violet was more than willing to go, so she and “Pa” had a grandfather-granddaughter horseback ride for their birthdays.

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After the ride, you can feed carrots to your horse so we brought a fairly big bag of carrots. Since there were so many, we split them between our two horses, the horse of the trail guide that went with us and the resident pig.

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August 4

Violet celebrated her birthday by going to “big girl camp” for the week at the local YMCA camp. Cole and Elizabeth dropped her off at camp, then brought Scarlet by our place for a week of “Camp NanaPa”. We’ll fill you in on our week of hosting camp in a couple days after camp is over. But here is the happy camper with her two leaders all in their matching camp shirts.

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And We’re Here

July 14 – Gig Harbor RV Resort, Gig Harbor, Washington

Today’s trip was somewhat uneventful, but very rough. I-90 from Snoqualmie Pass to east of Seattle is very rough and bouncy. A lot of things shifted in the trailer but nothing appeared to be worse for the wear.

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We arrived here just after 1:00 PM PDT. We checked in and backed into our site. We spent a while arranging and unpacking stuff after the trip, then loaded things into the truck and headed over to visit with Elizabeth, Cole and the girls. We ate dinner with them and headed back to the trailer afterwards with a stop by the grocery store on the way home.

Now that we’re here, we’ll post about once a week to let you know what we’ve been doing while we visit here.