Sunday, January 22, 2017

It's a Brand New Day and We're On Our Way

As you read in my previous post, we still need to get our license plates, etc., and our deadline is July 7. It’s a brand new day, and we are on our way!

It was June 25th when we headed north. For part of this distance across Texas, we retraced our route. From Livingston, Texas, we got on 59, bypassed Corrigan taking their outer loop. As we cut across country, we took 287 to Crockett to Elkhart, then 84 to Fairfield and Mexia, and 171 back to Hillsboro, where we had spent one night at the Walmart on our way south.

What?  No Overnight Parking Here This Time!

There was a sign in their parking lot that said no truck parking, but according to the app we used, RV overnight parking was ok. It was after 8:30 PM when someone knocked at our door. The new manager at this Walmart had called a wrecker service to remove all trucks and campers from the lot because the trucks were tearing up their asphalt.

Remember, we still have no clearance lights at this point. The sun had gone down. It was dark. However, we had no choice but to get in gear, turn on our headlights (and tail lights) and move on. Our closest overnight alternative was the TA truck stop off I-35, where we parked among the big semi trucks, and listened to the hum of generators during the night.

Cutting across country, we continued on 22 out of Hillsboro to Meridian, 6 to Hico, Dublin, and Eastland. Somewhere before we left Texas, we crossed Lake Whitney, where the flood waters were still very high as we crossed the Corp of Engineers dam site.

Flood waters were very high as we crossed the Corp of Engineers dam at Lake Whitney.
Search Continues for Place to get a Wheel Alignment

As we drove across country, we continued to search for a place that could do a wheel alignment on the motorhome. A place in Breckenridge that worked on semis said they could do it. We made an appointment for the next morning and spent the night in the dirt lot adjacent to the Walmart Parking Lot where we had parked prior to getting the manifold repairs done on our way south. It was obvious the next morning when they had us drive in their alignment bay, all flat surface, that they did not know what it took to align a Chevy P30 chassis. It was not until they got their tool out and got down to look at the wheel that they realized they were not equipped to do an alignment for us. It was here we decided to wait until we got to Rapid City, South Dakota.

Time to Sit Back and Enjoy the Drive...

We were following 183 to 283. From Breckenridge, we headed north to Vernon, and into Oklahoma on June 27 where we stayed in the Altus Walmart parking lot for the night.

Oklahoma welcome sign
June 28, we followed 6 North and were surprised to see mountains in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma 6 and mountain where our route veered right
According to the map, the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, NWR, had Baker Peak at a height of 2,423 feet. After we turned left on 152 East and North at Sayre on 283 North, nearly half way up the state, we saw on the map that the Washita National Wildlife Refuge was located east of us. After stopping for a quick sandwich in Shattuck, OK, we continued to Dodge City, Kansas, where we boondocked at the Walmart.

While there, we noticed that the right trailer tire was low. The next morning we had it checked at the Walmart Tire Lube Express. They discovered the rim had a hole in it which caused the low tire. They did not have any rims to fit the trailer, so we asked them to put on the spare, and added replacing the rim to our list for South Dakota.

By the way, I guess we got what we paid for. The rims with tires on them were purchased on the internet for $50 per tire and rim.  If you have been following my blog, you know we already replaced both tires when we came through Casa Grande, AZ. Thinking back, I think we were fortunate to get this far without a problem.

June 29, we traveled north on 283 from Dodge City, Kansas. Opportunities to take a variety of miscellaneous photos were everywhere along the way. First there was the windmill farm. The dark part of the photo in the foreground is a cornfield after it has been harvested.

Windmill Farm
As we entered Jetmore, there was the white granary silos.

White granary silos at Jetmore, Kansas
Then there was more farming country, with bales of wheat straw.

Bales of Wheat Straw
Ness City was one of the small towns we drove through with an interesting building where the sign at the door said Ness City Bank.

Ness City street scene
Ness City Bank
Remember you can click on any of the photos to see an enlarged version, and 'x' out of it to come back to the blog.

Then came the scenic area before we got to Wakeeney with Cedar Bluff Reservoir and State Park.

Scenic rocky area
After passing the rocky mounds on the roadside, we came upon a rocky building, which could have been a church or school. It had no markings identifying it.

Scenic rocky mounds on roadside
Deserted rock/brick building with no identifying sign
Coming up on our left was a white country church.

White country church located between rural towns
We knew we were in more farming area when we saw a red combine in the field and met two huge combines on the two-lane highway. Back in the day when I was growing up, we used to have a combine, but it was not self-propelled like these. My dad pulled it with a tractor.

Combine harvesting in farm field
Two huge combines we met on our route
Closer view of combine bringing up the rear
Overall, trees in the landscape were scarce. Corner fence posts constructed of concrete and supported with concrete were a common scene between the fields. We saw a couple John Deere tractors. They had tall wheels on the rear with the two in front as far apart as the rear ones. Even when I grew up on a farm in northern Indiana, I do not remember ever seeing any John Deere tractors like these.

This was the second John Deere of this type we saw on our route.
We met this John Deere tractor just after we passed through Norton, Kansas. We also saw Black Angus cattle grazing in the fields.

Black Angus cattle
When we entered the town of Norton, we went west, left on 36; at that point, 9 and 383 were detoured and routed with 36. We turned right/north at Oberlin on 83.  I almost missed the sign when this Nebraska welcome sign appeared. (Sorry about it being a little blurry.)

Nebraska welcome sign
Free tourist camp courtesy of the city of McCook, Nebraska 

What a pleasant surprise to find a free tourist camp. This one in McCook was in memory of Dr. Frederick Merrill Karrer who served the city council from 1956 to 1965 and also as mayor. The camp had a dump station, seven sites with electric, and a nice building for showers.

Free tourist camp
In memory of Dr. Frederick Merrill Karrer
We had the pleasure of meeting another traveler, Rick LaValley. and sharing conversation. He shared a watermelon, very tasty. Later we invited him to heat his supper in our microwave and we ended up sharing great conversation until 10:30 p.m., when we said our good-byes.

Here we are parked at one of the sites.
Stress Cracks on a Bracket Supporting the Solar Panels

This was the first opportunity since we left Dodge City that I had to photograph the solar panels after John had to strap them to keep them in place, so we did not do any more damage. Too much uneven pavement with ups and downs caused a stress crack that eventually broke the brackets on one side of the trailer holding the solar panels.

Solar panels with the red straps John added before we left Dodge City, Kansas
We left McCook via Route 34 on June 30th. Many places had three or more rows of pine trees on a minimum of three sides of their buildings. Since we experienced some wind gusts, we figured the trees were a protection from strong winds.

We followed 6 to 61 as we closed the gap to Ogallala, Nebraska, then 26 along the North Platte River. This was a beautiful drive, but as we continued, views of the river were fewer and farther between. As the road turned, corn, and more pine trees appeared. The next scene looks off in the distance toward Lake McConaughy, and some scenic rock on the farthest side.

Looking toward Lake McConaughy; scenic rock in distance.
The North Platte River came into view only a few times from high spots spots in the road. Train tracks followed along the highway. Cars full of coal were eastbound.

Eastbound train with cars full of coal
We took 385 at Northport. As we got closer to Chadron, we saw evidence of a forest fire.

We were 19 miles from South Dakota when we boondocked overnight at the Walmart in Chadron. We were hoping for a red sunset, with the sky over Walmart. Too many dark clouds appeared, so I settled for a nice view of Walmart at 7:29 pm after lights came on in the parking lot and their sign lit up on the front of the building.


Evening Skies over Walmart in Chadron, Nebraska
We stayed a second night, July 1st, at this location, to give the rain a chance to let up. We were 85 miles from Box Elder, South Dakota. In the next post, we are welcomed at Americas Mailbox!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

If it's Not One Thing, it's Another...

The last time I posted about full-time traveling in our RV was before June 1st when I left to join my sister to tour Alaska, while John and Angel stayed with the RV in New Mexico. Before I left, we had located a Generac dealer in Albuquerque to work on our Generac generator. After submitting the invoice to the dealer who sold us the RV, they reimbursed us for the full amount of the repair. They thought they had repaired it, but could see from the invoice that it needed additional attention.

Campgrounds vary like the weather... 

A campground along Route 66 located in Edgewood, east of Albuquerque, appeared to be the most convenient to the airport and conveniently located near the interstate with a Walmart across the interstate.

Billboard sign for Route 66 campground
Their monthly rate also appeared to be the best rate. However, a KOA it was not! It turned out to be the worst experience we ever had at a campground. The water in the entire area, even the filtered water available from across the street at the Walmart, was terrible, but this was no fault of the park.

Full-time Traveling continues...

It was June 14! On this leg of our RV travels, we were on a mission with a deadline. Our vehicle plates needed to be renewed by July 7, and we had only three weeks left.

We had established our address with Escapees in Texas; therefore, Livingston, Texas, was our destination. We planned our route so we did not have to go through any major cities and could also miss any areas that had flooding due to the recent rains. Our first night we stayed in the Walmart Parking Lot in Roswell, New Mexico.

Over night stop at Walmart in Roswell, New Mexico
Continuing in a southerly direction, we went through Brownfield, Texas.

Loud Noise coming from the RV 

As we were driving along, the motorhome developed a very loud noise (and I do mean loud) coming from under the engine cover. After locating a Chevrolet dealer approximately 135 miles west of the outskirts of Fort Worth, we parked in a dirt lot adjacent to the Walmart parking lot that night in Breckenridge, Texas. The next morning, Carsten's Chevy in Breckenridge was very efficient and diagnosed the problem as an exhaust leak in the manifold, and replaced the exhaust donut for $108.80.

Continuing on across Texas

Earlier, the south had a lot of rain. There was still evidence of the flooding in Texas at Lake Whitney when we crossed the Corp of Engineers dam.

Evidence of flooding as we crossed Lake Whitney Corp of Engineers Dam
Our last night before arriving at the Escapees Park in Livingston, Texas, we boondocked in the Hillsboro, Texas, Walmart parking lot.

Rainbows End Escapees Park, Livingston, Texas
If it's not one thing, it's another! 

My, oh my! After checking in at the Escapees RV Park in Livingston, we found our screw-together chain links connecting our safety chains to the RV definitely needed to be replaced. We bought an extra set because with our low clearance, it would only be a matter of time until we had to replace them again.

Screw-together chain links that had to be replaced
Rub marks on links of safety chain 
Next, our air conditioner stopped working, so we made an appointment to get it in at West RV and Auto. Our appointment was set for mid week and the temps were reaching 100 degrees fahrenheit, with about that much humidity! We resorted to running fans to keep air moving, until we could get it in to be fixed.

More RV Repairs!

West RV repaired the air conditioner and while there, we also had them replace the front shock absorbers, so the front end would not bounce so much going over bumps. This all came to a total of $507.51. They also called our attention to inside wear, not good, on both front tires.

Cooks Tire Center in Livingston replaced both front tires, but they were not equipped to do an alignment on our Chevy P30 chassis. The bill for the tires came to $411.22.  Attempts to find a local facility equipped to do the alignment were futile. We would have to locate a facility to do the alignment after leaving Livingston.

The next item of business was the process of getting new license plates. When we went to the license branch, they told us we had to go across the street to get an inspection, then go downtown to pay taxes, and then come back. They asked if we had a trailer. The trailer, they said, could be done on another day. This was already turning out to be more trouble than we had anticipated, but we went across the street to get the motorhome inspected. Because the clearance lights did not work, they would not pass us on the inspection.

What should we do?

Wow! Could this be a red flag? We were not planning to do any night driving. The next day was the 25th, and it was still very hot -- too hot to troubleshoot why the clearance lights were not performing! The 25th was the day we had planned to leave, and we still had seven days before our plates expired. At this point, we decided seven days were enough time to head for America's Mailbox in Box Elder, South Dakota, and revert to our original plan of establishing residency there as our home base. One of the advantages of signing up with America's Mailbox is for a fee, they would do the leg work to get proper title work and license plates for us. Escapees do not offer this service. However, we did have to get our own driver's license, not a problem.

In my next post, we are headed for South Dakota. It's a pretty drive and I do manage to capture some interesting photos along the way. Thank you for reading my blog. If you'd like to be notified of the next post, enter your email in the appropriate box at the top right of this blog, and don't forget to go to your inbox and acknowledge that you have signed up to receive this notification. It is strictly for your convenience. We respect your privacy and do nothing with your information.

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