Wednesday March 20, 2013

Came back too early!!

It's been snowing almost every day since we returned, and the driveway is cramped as shown below!

That's about a foot and a half of snow on the ground and a few inches on the slides.

Note to self: Come back two weeks later next year!!

Some trip stats will be posted later.

Sunday March 17, 2013

The RV is back in the driveway!

We got back home mid afternoon after a good run from the border, it was a very easy crossing in spite of the fact that it's March Break week. The border agent was friendly and they opened a couple more kiosks just as we arrived so we were through in a few minutes.

The camper has been unloaded and partially winterized, it will be completed tomorrow. It will then be time to go through the stack of mail!

Saturday March 16, 2013

Snowed In!!

Well, not quite, but it's one of the few accumulations of snow we've seen in our 7 years of retirement. We have a couple of inches on the ground (and more importantly on the roof of the slides) so we decided to stay for another night here in Monroe. We are hoping that the snow on the slides doesn't turn to ice so that we can retract them tomorrow without damage.

We went out this morning to some essential grocery shopping, enough food for another day. We run the refrigerator low as we get towards the border as you never know what will be taken by the border folks. Yesterday we treated ourselves to Wendy's Baconator combos as our main meal, it wouldn't be good for our systems to do that two days in a row.A Kroger store was nearby so we took advantage. Another reason to stay another day here is that Monroe's snow removal plan is called "spring", no plows or sanders have been out.

A couple of pictures:

The truck has been cleared of snow and is shown after our trip to town:

A view of part of the rest of the campground:

Friday March 15, 2013

Last Sleep in the USA!

We are in Harbortown RV Resort in Monroe Michigan, a few miles from the Ambassador Bridge crossing in Detroit. We stayed in Auburn Indiana (in a very muddy campground!) last night and during the day Al drove to Elkhart Indiana to pick up the new trailer rim. The day before we stayed in Columbus Indiana.

It has been the coldest return home in our travels during the winter, it went down to -8C in Columbus overnight and the hose froze. We are keeping the fresh water tank nearly full so that we can shower with internal water just in case the hose freezes tonight. Having said that, the camper has done a great job of keeping us warm, our two small electric space heaters are almost enough to keep the overnight temps inside the camper to mid 60's F without the furnace coming on. Since the electricity is included in the campground price it makes sense to use the furnace only to keep the water tanks warm.

The receptionist at the park indicated that snow is expected here tonight, hopefully it will be only light flurries. Looks like the camper will need to be winterized once we get it into the driveway back home!

Tuesday March 12, 2013

Making some progress!

The day was spent working on the trailer, the broken underbelly pieces were screwed down and re-duct taped, hopefully the temporary repair will hold until we get home. Al attempted to install some wood bracing but it didn't work, lying under the trailer in the cool weather wasn't easy so the wood fix was dispensed with. The spare tire lug nuts were re-torqued, a couple of the lug nuts were loose as a result of the quick tire change back in Memphis.

The good news is that a new wheel rim is waiting for us in Elkhart Indiana, it will be picked up on Thursday. It's hoped that this is the last repair required before we get home!

Monday March 11, 2013

Bowling Green KOA

We arrived here yesterday after an uneventful run from Natchez Trace. The spare tire is looking OK but the "duct tape special" repair on the under belly came apart. Today Al went to a tire dealer and got a replacement tire for the one that was shredded, he didn't get the Goodyear tire that he wanted but the offshore made replacement has the same load rating and it will work as a spare in future. It went on the rim and inflated properly but the rim itself is bent a bit from the ride down the shoulder in Memphis. The combo will do as a spare on the way home but it only can be run at lower speeds as it will bounce at higher speeds. Al has contacted the distribution company that sells the rims in Elkhart Indiana, hopefully a new rim can be picked up on the way through.

It's fortunate that there are lots of stores around, Al went to the Home Depot here to get some stuff to do a more permanent repair to the underbelly, that work will be tackled tomorrow (enough fun for one day!), it rained last night and the ground around the trailer is wet, it should dry out a bit and allow lying under the trailer to do the work.

Depending on what happens our return home may be delayed a couple of days, we don't want to cross the border into Canada late this weekend with all the returning March break folks, if we don't cross on Saturday morning we will probably wait until Monday or later.

Saturday March 9, 2013

Natchez Trace State Park near Jackson Tennessee

We arrived here yesterday after a bit of a trying run from Arkansas. When we were on I-40 going through Memphis we had a dramatic tire blow out on the trailer, the rear trailer tire on the drivers side went boom and shredded. we were able to pull over to the shoulder and we found an exit about a half mile down the interstate and we limped down the shoulder and exited. Fortunately the exit had a wide shoulder on the drivers side and we are able to stop safely and change the tire out for the spare. The blow out also caused the plastic underbelly cover to split and the plastic fender was also dislodged. Thankfully Al had a fresh roll of duct (racers!) tape, it worked well sealing up the underbelly and holding the fender in place. See, Red Green really knows what he is doing!!

The rest of the drive over here was uneventful but slow, some pothole patching slowed the drive. Today was spent resting and repacking the tire changing equipment back in the right places. We hope to find a replacement tire in Bowling Green next week.

The tire blowout was  caused most probably by some debris on the highway, Al found a drywall screw lodged in another trailer wheel, not deep enough to cause an air leak, it's suspected that a number of these (or some other home improvement stuff) did in the blown tire. The tire monitoring system did it's job, alarming about a half second after the bang was heard!

A couple of pictures:

The plastic rivets on the fender skirt are history but the blow out didn't break the plastic, duct tape (almost matches!) is holding the fender in place:

This is what the tire looked like when it came off the trailer:

We have had more than our share of "issues" on this trip, hopefully this was the last!

Tuesday March 5, 2013

Village Creek State Park, Wynne Arkansas

We are just about 50 miles west of Memphis Tennessee in eastern Arkansas. We like to stay at this state park, it has full services and it's very comfortable. We will be here for 3 nights and we will move into Tennessee. Next week is the March break week here, hopefully we will get into the parks in Tennessee without any problems.

It's always nice to see nature here, two deer made an entry near the RV, they even stayed around long enough so that Al was able to put the telephoto lens onto the camera and take a couple of shots:

Monday March 4, 2013

DeGray Lake State Resort Park, western Arkansas

Just a short blog entry to indicate that we are here in Site C-77 (so we don't forget this nice lakeside site down the road!). We are here for a night before heading to east Arkansas.

Sunday March 3, 2013

Enjoying some springlike weather!

It warmed up overnight and it's almost 20 degrees C today, the lawn chairs are out and we are enjoying the warmer weather. Staying in the trailer isn't a chore but it does get tiring after a few days.

One thing that we enjoy about coming north in March is that we get to enjoy a couple of springs, here in east Texas the trees are starting to come out in bud:

We had no problem getting our desired site as we are one of a very few campers, the ranger at the entry kiosk indicated that there are more staff than campers at the park!

The grass is starting to come back:

Lots of space around us, but we haven't seen any deer coming to eat grass:

We are off to western Arkansas tomorrow!

Saturday March 2, 2013

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, Pittsburgh Texas

We arrived here yesterday from Ranger Texas where we stayed for a night. The runs to and from Ranger were quite long at about 450 km. each, this time we tried the southern bypass (interstate 20 and the LBJ freeway) through DFW, it didn't seem much easier than going right through Dallas and Fort Worth on interstate 30, the bypass had lots of merging traffic to contend with. Next year we may try another campsite between Ranger and west Texas to break up the miles.

We will stay here in Bob Sandlin for another couple of nights before we head east.

The other thing we will do next year is stay down here for another couple of weeks to let the weather warm up a bit on our way back home. Although someone on an internet forum indicated that it's been the coldest winter in the south-west sone 1978/79, it's 30 C in Borrego Springs California right now compared to about 11C here in west Texas. Maybe we are just weather wimps!!

Wednesday February 27, 2013

Monahans Sandhills State Park

We arrived here yesterday after a short run from Carlsbad. We left a little late, the temperature dropped to -8C (!) overnight and there was a hard freeze, the water hose to the camper froze requiring a delay until the temperature warmed enough to wrap up the hose without breaking it.

Yesterday it was warmer here in Monahans and we had some "outside the camper" time for the first time in a couple of days.

We decided to stay here for two nights so that Al could make a visit to the Petroleum Museum in Midland Texas. It's a 100 mile round trip from here, Al checked on an RV forum about campsites in the Midland area but with the current boom in petroleum exploration and extraction in the Midland area all the RV parks are full of oilfield workers. With the speed limit on the interstate at 80  MPH (!) those miles go by very quickly.

There was another (primary) reason to go to the museum as well, it houses the Chaparral Museum. A bit of a history lesson:

In the mid 1960's Al and his friend Fred Mueller were high school students interested in car racing, they both joined the Canadian Race Communications Association (CRCA), a volunteer organization who provided track marshaling services to car race tracks in Canada, most notably at Mosport in Ontario. A track marshal's job is to provide track services (flags, track cleaning, first aid and rescue services) to assist the race drivers.  The mid 1960's were the time of the Can-Am series of races that provided some exciting and very fast cars.

One of the preeminent racers of that time was Jim Hall out of Midland Texas. He is a mechanical engineer (probably with some oil wealth in his family) who was the father of modern aerodynamics in race cars, he was the first to install moveable wings at the rear of his cars to increase the down force and thus increase speed. From Can-Am cars he progressed to endurance racing (LeMans) and even developed a car that won twice at Indianapolis before retiring from the sport.

Al and Fred enjoyed a few summers of watching Jim Hall dominate the track at Mosport before they went on their separate ways to university, Al taking engineering and Fred going into aerospace studies.

The visit to the Chaparral museum brought back many memories of those good times.

A few pictures:

The museum has working examples of the various Chaparral cars, apparently Jim Hall comes back to the museum periodically to run the cars around the roads at the complex! One of the cars even has Texas license plates. The picture below is the version of the car that raced at the Can-Am races at Mosport:

This is the Indy car that Won at Indianapolis:

Jim Hall quit the Can-Am series after he developed the car below. It has two fans at the rear and shrouding to increase the down force on the wheels. It is said that the fans develop enough down force that the car could be held upside down on the ceiling! Because the car was much faster and would beat any competitor, the rules were changed to ban the car design from competition!

Did I mention that the real purpose of the museum is to show and learn about the oil business? Everything that you want to know about the industry is available here. The picture below is a blow out preventer that stops excess pressure from destroying oil rigs:

Lots of old machinery and trucks! This company was one of the early ones that used rifle shells remotely detonated in the well casings to start the oil flowing up to the surface.Before that they used dynamite!

They have an outdoor display of all kind of oil derricks and associated equipment:

Just some perspective of the size of the equipment!

In case you want to learn some more, here are a few Links:

The Midland Petroleum Museum website, Click HERE:

Information about Jim Hall HERE:

The Canadian Race Communications Association HERE:

For the previous page of this trip click HERE: