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Author Topic: Long awaited retirement trip finally here  (Read 15581 times)

Lou Schneider

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #90 on: August 03, 2019, 01:24:04 PM »

One would think that in a city as large as Las Vegas that has so much RV traffic and sales, a drop receiver would be easy to find in stock, but no. I found one shop that had one in stock and it was a double - 2"/8" - something I don't need and didn't want to pay for, but had no choice. I have it installed and we will see how it performs tomorrow when we leave on the road again.

My favorite RV supply place in Las Vegas is Camp-Out at 3076 Fremont St.  Fremont St. is an extension of Boulder Highway, they're located two miles north of the Boulder Station Casino, where I-515 crosses Boulder Highway.

It's a large, old school family run RV parts store that's been there forever.  They either have what you need in stock or on the slight chance they don't they can get it in a couple of days.  Everything from soup to nuts, hitches to brake and axle assemblies, appliances, small parts, etc.

They're easy to miss because they're co-owned with the camper shell business next door.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 01:31:29 PM by Lou Schneider »

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #91 on: August 03, 2019, 01:41:55 PM »
Lou, I only checked Google when looking for places who might sell hitch supplies and they didn't show up. My wife was over there yesterday visiting her daughter who lives behind Boulder Station. I found the drop down I bought at a hitch and truck supply store on Valley View between Spring Mountain and Desert Inn. I called a half dozen other places around town who said they didn't have one in stock, or had no idea what I was talking about. I took my tow bar system with me to make sure it fit since many of these receivers are made for a specific brand and won't fit all.

Since I plan on returning to Vegas within the next couple of years, I'll remember your suggestion.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #92 on: August 06, 2019, 10:07:10 PM »
We drove to Kingman and while in the mountains, the check engine light came back on and stayed on. It has since been taken care of. Our stop in Kingman was to determine if we wanted to live there or in another town in the Western Arizona area.

We stayed at Zuni Village RV Park, a listing I saw in Good Sam. It is a fairly large city style park. The sites are level with trees on both sides, something badly needed during this time of year, and are dirt/gravel. The sites have the bare basics with old wooden picnic tables, cable that doesn't work, decent FHU's, and good wi-fi for $40 per night. There is a pool, if you get too hot in the desert sun.

Kingman, as a town, did not excite either of us on our first day there. However, about 17 miles north of Kingman on Historic Route 66 is a golf community called Valle Vista in which I have seen several homes for sale over the past few months from the MLS listings that I watch, so we drove up there to take a look. It appears to be exactly what we want if we can get used to driving 17 miles to town to get groceries and gas. On our second day, we drove to Bullhead City and Ft. Mohave, a town we had shopped three years ago on our last trip to Vegas. We found a couple of houses we could live in, but we still liked Valle Vista better, so we again drove out there and spoke to an agent. I think we will probably make that our next home unless something else comes up within the next six to twelve months.

Today, we drove to Gallup, NM on our first of five days across country, stopping for two nights in Clinton, OK for a rest stop. We drove six miles out of the way to see the meteor crater, something I have wanted to see ever since the movie Starman came out in 1984. We decided that after feeling cheated by paying $32 to see an unfinished monument at Crazy Horse, we weren't interested in paying more than $10 per person to see a hole in the ground. When we were told the cost would be $18 per person, we chose to use their parking lot for our lunch break.

The CEL stayed on all day. We are parked at a Home Depot and within walking distance to a Walmart, so I bought a $19.95 diagnostic scanner, found the light was on for the same reason - the #2 knock sensor with a non-active warning - and reset the light. Hopefully, it won't come back on since we are nearly finished with the mountains, something I will dearly miss for their beauty.

Road conditions on the drive back from Canada have been mixed, some excellent and some, the worst patches I've seen in a long time. For the most part, Montana roads are good, something I didn't expect given the amount of snow that state gets. US93 and I-15 were, for the most part, good. I-15 through Idaho was a pleasant surprise. This is a state that takes their road conditions seriously. There were several new stretches of road and a couple of 30-40 mile lengths that were under construction where they had completely taken out the road and were in the process of packing and grading the first fill of dirt as though they were laying a brand new highway. I found this refreshing compared to what other states attempt with botched patch jobs that last a year if lucky. Utah was the same - sections of road missing causing a reduction in lanes with the other side of the highway now taking on both directions of traffic.  Again, the interstate in Utah was in very good shape, as was I-15 through Nevada to Las Vegas.

The roads in Vegas were much better than they were three years ago with much less construction taking place on the surface streets.

Then we come to I-40 in Arizona. This road is a mixture of surprises with patches of absolutely horrible road sneaking up on you before you can move over, and then miles of resurfaced pavement in near perfect condition. Judy and I decided that the road through Arizona was the second to worst highway we have ever traveled thus far, the worst still being I-10 through Louisiana. I have been reasonably happy until today with the road and bridge conditions we have encountered and it seems that the northern roads are in better shape than the southern, something that simply doesn't make sense to me when the weather, snow and salt are taken into consideration.

It appears the new 8" drop hitch is working out well and makes me think we should have gotten it instead of the 10" when we bought the package. I can't blame the hitch technician because he measured the difference and sold me what he thought was correct.

Tomorrow we head to Tucumcari, NM, taking a full day to cross New Mexico as well as Arizona. These western states are big.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

Bill N

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #93 on: August 07, 2019, 08:35:04 PM »
John Stephens wrote:
"The CEL stayed on all day. We are parked at a Home Depot and within walking distance to a Walmart, so I bought a $19.95 diagnostic scanner, found the light was on for the same reason - the #2 knock sensor with a non-active warning - and reset the light. "

John I have a lot of experience with the #2 knock sensor.  Mine kept coming on frequently until I decided to have it replaced.  Wasn't very expensive but I happened to find an RV guy who did it for me as a favor when he was working on other stuff. That took care of the CEL light.............for a while. It still comes on from time to time but not near as often and is easily reset.  I was told that the initial problem was the tailpipe to manifold connection was loose (the doughnut was worn out) and I got that fixed just before I had the knock sensor replaced.  Evidently it was causing the knocking problem.  Nothing to worry much about unless you can't reset it.
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret - 1961-1981, All SAC)
305BW, 44SMW, 321SMW, 15thAF,HqSAC
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
Workhorse W22, 8.1L Chevy V8
2013 Chevy Sonic Toad
Furbearers:  Heidi-17(Forever), Cats: Grace-12 & Squeak-7, Winnie the ShihTzu - 2

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #94 on: August 08, 2019, 10:37:46 PM »
Bill, the tailpipe to manifold connection is a new one on me. The mechanic in Utah that did the scan told me that some of these sensors are so sensitive, they can pick up rough road through the tires, an out of balance tire, or another signal coming from a different wire that might be too close to the one for the sensor. But his best thoughts on the matter are what I believe to be the cause of the problem: he said that if I had bought some bad gas or gas with a low octane and then hit some mountains, the sensor might have simply been doing its job and detecting a slight knock under a heavier load. The reason I give this credence is because while in Montana and Idaho, I got several tanks of 85 octane gas because that is what a lot of the stations there sell as regular unleaded and if you want 87 octane, which is usually what I get, it is considered mid grade and costs $.20-.30 per gallon more. My last tanks have been 86 and 87 octane and I haven't had the light come back on - yet.

Yesterday, we drove to Tucumcari, NM on some of the worst roads we've traveled on so far. We stayed at a Flying J last night and got little sleep. We wanted to give the generator a rest since it had been running a good part of the day and when we went to bed, the difference in temps between inside and outside was only a couple of degrees so we cut it off and opened a few windows, thinking it would cool off within another couple of hours and we would probably need the blanket we kicked off the bed. Instead, at 2:10, I woke up sweating, got up and checked the thermostat to find the temp at 84. I started the generator back up and kicked on the air. But I couldn't get back to sleep between the truck stop noise, being unable to breath well, and a growing headache, and two hours later, I was back up taking Excedrin. Got up at 6:20 knowing that 30 miles down the road, we would lose an hour due to the time change when we crossed into Texas.

Today's trip was better even though I was getting pretty tired, mainly because Texas takes good care of their roads. There was one stretch that had us in the other direction of traffic because they were repaving the east bound lanes that lasted about nine miles, but other than that, the roads were in good shape. When we crossed into Oklahoma, I remembered someone on the forum complaining about I-40 through OK being the worst road in the country. Maybe they have made improvements since that poster made his journey, but I found little to complain about. A few rough patches, to be expected anywhere, but so far, the road has been good.

We stopped in Clinton, OK for tonight and tomorrow night to give me a rest from the road. Going by Good Sam, as I have done for the entire trip, I chose the Water Zoo RV Park for our respite. I must admit that it is the first big mistake I have made when choosing the RV parks for this trip. The front office for the park is also the front desk for the water park, and is staffed with three young girls of high school age who only know what their management tells them. The manager on duty was a young man who might have been over 21.

With GS discount, the cost was $43 per night and the park is supposed to have free wi-fi and cable. It is also supposed to have all big rig pull through sites. Well, the wi-fi comes and goes and you're lucky if you can get more than two web pages to load before you're disconnected. The cable requires a cable box that they forgot to tell me about, and to get one, you have to give them a $100 deposit. I asked if they had a theft problem and the young girl at the front desk said no. I then asked why the deposit for a cable box, something not usually seen in RV parks. She said she didn't know; she has never been back to the RV park and doesn't know anything about it other than what her manager tells her. I returned the box without using it when I realized that I would have to tear into the home theater cabinet and take off its facade to get to the rear of the signal spitter in order to connect the cable box, and that was more trouble than connecting my Dish equipment. Unfortunately for us, we found out later that the trees are so dense around the coach, we can't receive a satellite signal, so we are doing without television for two nights. To make matters worse, the sites are poorly designed with electric and water too far forward and the sewer near the back of the coach. We have pulled it forward as far as we can to keep the power and water hookups as short as possible and then are having to use 30 feet of sewer drain. I think this may be an old park that has the old style European hookups on the other side of the coach. If that is the case, you would have to face the other direction. Also, the trees are so close to the concrete sites, it is impossible to navigate your way out without scratching the sides of your coach. In a word, this is the WORST RV park we have stayed in so far this trip and I cannot recommend it. Couple the above problems with a staff and manager that doesn't care about customer service or have any knowledge about the facility and well, you get the picture.

When we visited the I-80 truck stop in Iowa, I noticed they had different sized steering wheels. I have been wanting to go from the 18" in the coach to a 16" to give my fat gut a little more room. On Saturday, we will be staying in Joplin, MO overnight and I told Judy that the little sister of the I-80 truck stop is the I-44 stop in Joplin and I'm betting they have a similar selection of truck parts. I'll see if they have a wheel that will fit my W-24 chassis and find out how much they will want to install it.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 11:00:42 PM by John Stephens »
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #95 on: August 13, 2019, 10:38:19 AM »
I found out at the I-44 truck stop that the steering wheels they sell are for big rig trucks only and won't fit on my W-24 Workhorse chassis. So I'll look elsewhere for another one. It had been seven years since I had been at this truck stop and the first time I walked inside it, I thought it was huge. This time, after being in its bigger brother in Iowa, not so much. I just wasn't that impressed this time.

We made the drive from Clinton to Joplin without a problem. I-44 is toll from OK City to the state line and for 4 axles, it cost us $24.50. The road was good in most places.

We stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Joplin for the night. When we went in to eat dinner, we were the only ones parked in the RV parking lot on the back side of the building. When we came out an hour later, we were still the only ones parked back there, but someone had hit my right rear and torn the rear cap about a foot off the side, exposing the a/c ductwork coming up from the basement a/c. The cap is cracked in the middle, so it may have to be replaced, and the side panel over the a/c unit will need replacing. Judy and I pushed the cap back together as best we could, still leaving about a 1-" gap between it and the side panel, and tied it down with tie down straps and bungee cords to keep it from blowing off when highway winds caught it. We also duct taped the gap, hoping it would keep out wind and rain.

Whoever told me that if the first accident we had with the fire hydrant was the only thing that went wrong on an 8,000 mile trip, we would be doing good, jinxed us. The damage is so close to the first damage, I wish I could say it all happened at the same time so we would only have to pay one deductible, but that isn't possible.

The patch job we did apparently was good enough because we drove from Joplin to St. Louis the next day without issue. We arrived at Sundermeier RV park in St. Charles, MO on Sunday and experienced something never before seen by us. We were assigned a back in site because all their pull thru sites were taken. We got backed in easily and began hooking up. When I connected the sewer pipe to the sewer and began draining the black tank, it backed up and out the connector, pouring stinky brown water all over the area. I thought my connector had gone bad because it was coming out every seam and thought I would have to buy another one. But when I disconnected it, I realized it was the sewer that was the problem, completely backed up, meaning the entire length of my sewer hose was full of black tank water. I told the owner about the problem and she moved us to another spot. She asked me if I would hose down the area, but I asked her where the water was supposed to go if I did. I have never had a problem like this at any RV park I have stayed in.

Judy and I will treat ourselves to our favorite restaurants and pizza places around town while we are here for a week and see old friends. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong with the coach while we are here. We have a fairly large dog park about a half mile walk from our site that we'll take the pups to and allow them to run out some of the energy they have built up during this long trip today before we meet friends for dinner.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #96 on: August 18, 2019, 10:24:56 PM »
We left Sundermeier this morning and drove to Judy's mother's house in Palestine, IL and will stay with her for six days before beginning the trip back home with only one more campground to stay at in Cave City when we visit Mammoth Cave. Sundermeier says on their website that they are rated five stars but I don't know by whom. If you don't mind city parks, I guess it's all right, but we prefer more of a campground setting and will be returning to 370 Lakeside next time we visit St. Louis.

On Friday, I attempted to replace the kitchen faucet. It should have been an easy job. Taking the old faucet out took a total of three minutes and we ran it up to the local Menard's to buy one that we had picked out the day before, only to find out it wouldn't work. We found another at the same price in a different finish that would do the job and headed back to the coach. I installed the new faucet and couldn't get the cold water to not leak regardless of how tight I got the fitting, and I didn't want to overtighten the fitting since it was plastic. After working on it for two hours (it should have taken 10 minutes), I gave up and called a mechanic who told me his workers would be going home in a little over an hour. Judy and I unhooked and got the coach ready to travel in a record 10 minutes, leaving behind our sewer hose and the Dish locked to the picnic table along with our car, and drove 5 miles to the shop. The mechanic met us as we were opening the door, climbed underneath the sink, felt the connector and said he's be back in a minute. he returned with a plastic grommet and told me the old one apparently fell out of the connector and I would have never gotten the connection to stop leaking without it. He finished my job in five minutes and charged me $40, an expensive grommet, but an invaluable education.

The night before that, I replaced the hardware under the bathroom sink that controls the stopper because the old had rusted out. So now, both of our faucets are working for the first time of the entire trip.

I have a concern because when I went to leave the mechanic's shop, the living room slide that I had set out so he could get underneath the sink wouldn't retract. I couldn't get any of the slides to move; no sound came from the pump, as though we had an electrical connection problem. But when I walked back in the shop to get the mechanic to look at the problem, it worked just fine so we don't know what caused the issue or if it is going to return.

Another electrical connection that has gone bad is the center speaker of my 5 channel home theater system. I troubleshot it down to knowing it's a wire and not a connection, and since the system is located in the dining room slide, I'm not going to try to find the problem. It will be easier to simply replace the speaker with a sound bar hooked directly to the television and use the other four speakers for the cab stereo. I'll pick up an inexpensive one tomorrow and work on it.

I find it interesting just how much wind can play a role in gas mileage on a long trip. When we headed out west, we ran into a lot of head winds that robbed us of power, and we suffered through getting 5.8-7.0 mpg per the engine computer readout and a 6.8 mpg per my own calculations. I haven't done the caculations yet for the way back; I'll wait until we get home to do the final figures, but the engine readout has been running 7.8-10.2, at least a 2 mpg difference just because we now have tail winds instead.

Speaking of gas mileage, our cost for gas is going to be considerably less than what I budgeted because I figured the average cost would be $2.80/gal. While we were in Wyoming, Montana, Canada, Idaho, Utah and Nevada, the price per gallon was $2.80 or higher, but the other states we have traveled through have seen prices ranging from $2.04 in Oklahoma (the cheapest) to $2.62 in Illinois, thus far. I also miscalculated the amount the generator would take because we haven't used it as much due to the colder weather in the northern states. This has allowed us to take this trip for considerably less cost than we thought it would. Of course, we now have to add $1,000 inn insurance deductibles, so the final cost of the trip may be close to what I originally thought.

Judy and I have mixed feelings about this trip coming to an end. On one side, we'll be glad to get back into our house with six times the room and a yard the dogs can run in, but on the other side, we really have enjoyed this trip and don't want it to end. But if I decided to go full time, it would have to be in a bigger RV.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #97 on: August 23, 2019, 10:43:27 AM »
I did some research and found what CNET considered to be the best sound bar for under $200, a Visio with built in subwoofers,, albeit small ones, for only $98 and available at the local Walmart in Robinson, an eight mile drive from where we are staying. We drove there and bought one, got it back to the coach and dug out the instructions, not even bothering to unpack the box. I'm glad I didn't. I had planned on putting the sound bar on the top face of the cabinet that contains the electronic gear, right where the center speaker that went bad is located. I failed to take into consideration the fact that the bar has to be slid onto its mounting brackets from the top, and I don't have enough room. There is no other place to put it either above or below the television, so it was returned and we'll simply use the speakers inside the television when we watch it. Not the end of the world, although I am a fanatic about music quality and have a good home theater system at home. I'm thinking if we keep this coach for as long as we plan and take the long trips we have planned, it might be a worthy investment to buy a small 5.1 system if I can find speakers small enough to mount on the walls out of the way.

We are conserving our gasoline while at Judy's mother's house since we are in Illinois with some of the highest gas prices we've seen on the entire trip. Fortunately, it is a little cooler here than it was last year when we ran the generator 24/7, only turning it off every couple of days to check the oil, and we ran the gas down to tank and the generator shut off. We had to drive the coach to the nearest station to get more. I didn't want to repeat that performance this year since Illinois' gas tax doubled. Yesterday, we only ran the generator a few hours to recharge the house batteries to make sure I can use the inverter at night for my CPAP. I checked the tank level this morning and found it to still be at ⅝, so I know we'll be able to drive to Evansville, IN on our way to Mammoth Cave tomorrow  where the gas is $.60/gallon less.

We have also conserved our LP, knowing we cannot refill the tank due to the accident that will not allow its door to open. We have heated the water when the generator is on and since it is a one year old heater, the tank holds heat very well. We don't use the LP unless the generator is off and the fridge switches to LP and we haven't used the stove at all.

We have been down to ⅓ tank of fresh water for days so we are taking showers every other day. At the same time, the black and gray holding tanks have shown ⅔ full for days, so we're careful about how much water we put in them. It doesn't seem to matter how many Porta Paks we throw into the black tank when it gets this full; it is going to smell and make the entire coach smell until it is emptied. I have checked All Stays and found a Flying J about 58 miles away on our way to the cave. We'll dump our tanks and pick up fresh water there but their gas prices are almost as high as here so we'll wait until we get to Evansville where the prices are much lower to fill the gas tank.

When we get to Singing Hills, our next and last campground of the trip, we'll hook up for the last time. Two nights there while visiting the cave and our destinations will be completed on this trip. Three more days on the road after that and our trip will be over. I have made an appointment with an awning specialist in Tampa to repair the bad slide topper over the dining room. We won't deploy that slide until it is repaired for fear it could cause additional problems to the slide. I have also made an appointment with North Trail RV in Fort Myers for September 3rd to get the coach in for collision repairs. This will give me enough time to clean it up and out after we get home on the 28th to have it ready to be put in storage after they finish their repairs. I expect them to keep the coach for a month.

I have made a mental list of things that will need to be repaired or replaced before our next trip, but most has been done along the way during this trip. I will need to buy a new thermostat and replace the one we have because the slide switch for the a/c - heat - off has decided not to work anymore. We have kept the switch set to a/c for the past month and when we want to turn off the generator, we set the temp up to kick off the a/c. That isn't something I want to deal with on the next trip. I also am thinking of replacing the battery boost solenoid because it hasn't worked since I bought the coach almost five years ago. Other things that we have lived with are the passenger's map light not working and not needing a new bulb. I figure it's another relay gone bad and I'm not willing to pay a mechanic another $800 to find it. And the fog lights don't work, probably due to another relay gone bad. Something else that we can probably get by without. Overall, the coach is in pretty good shape for being almost 15 years old.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #98 on: August 24, 2019, 09:39:38 PM »
We made it to Singing Hills RV outside of Mammoth Cave near Cave City. Judy tried to start a load of laundry and found the four year old Splendide w/d combo would not turn on. At all. Tried all settings, no luck. Checked breaker, all good. Checked electrical with extension cord to outlet we knew worked, no luck so we know the problem is within the unit itself. If anyone has any ideas about why it may have stopped working, please share. We had some rough roads on the way here but nothing we haven't seen before.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

Ernie n Tara

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #99 on: August 25, 2019, 08:50:40 AM »
I can't address your specific problem but Splendide has an excellent web site including a downloadable technical manual that is very comprehensive. It does include troubleshooting info and exploded views.

Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

2011 Winn Journey 34y
2012 Jeep Rubicon - Dozer (orange - kinda)
2006 Jeep Wrangler

RedandSilver

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #100 on: August 25, 2019, 05:27:19 PM »
We made it to Singing Hills RV outside of Mammoth Cave near Cave City. Judy tried to start a load of laundry and found the four year old Splendide w/d combo would not turn on. At all. Tried all settings, no luck. Checked breaker, all good. Checked electrical with extension cord to outlet we knew worked, no luck so we know the problem is within the unit itself. If anyone has any ideas about why it may have stopped working, please share. We had some rough roads on the way here but nothing we haven't seen before.

On my w/d combo sometimes if the water pressure is too low it won't start.  I then turn on my water pump along with the
water from the park and then it will start putting water into the unit and run normally.

I've read most of this post and I hope you plan on telling us how much this trip cost you.
It seems to me that your spending a lot of money fixing things on the motorhome - on top of what you spent before you did this trip.

Good luck from here on out and I hope you make it home before your broke.  ;)
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp
West MI Summer   Central FL Winter

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #101 on: August 25, 2019, 08:35:06 PM »

I've read most of this post and I hope you plan on telling us how much this trip cost you.
It seems to me that your spending a lot of money fixing things on the motorhome - on top of what you spent before you did this trip.

Good luck from here on out and I hope you make it home before your broke.  ;)

Surprisingly, we have spent less money on the coach this year than any other since buying. We've had this coach since 2/15 and have spent over $26,000 on it. This year, we had the two repairs to start the trip at HWH and Winnebago. HWH was anticipated, Winnebago was not because the cruise control didn't go bad until we had already begun the trip. Those two repairs set us back about $1,300. We had to buy a new hitch umbilical cord and emergency brake release cable, and we chose to buy a new hitch drop receiver. Those items totaled $325. I've had two repairs on the road, both minor. The first was to diagnose the check engine light - $85 and the second was the faucet repair - $40. I don't consider the purchase of the new faucet a big deal because before the handle broke off, we had talked about wanting a new one with a pullout sprayer anyway and planned on replacing the old one.

Going forward, I anticipate the slide roller repair to cost around $350 and I'm hoping my insurance company will allow me to have the RV repair center who does the collision repairs to look at the w/d combo to see if the hit and run accident we had may have caused the problem. If not, I'll pay for the diagnosis. The deductibles for the two accidents are going to set me back $1,000, nearly more than anything else on this trip. Total all this up and we've got $3,100. It cost me more than that the last time I had the coach into my mechanic last year after our previous vacation so we're thinking this has been the best year we've had since buying the coach. We really were hoping on getting by spending less this year than in past years and we have, believe it or not. Prior to this, we have averaged spending $6,500 per year on this old coach. When we bought it, we really thought low mileage was going to allow us to get by cheaply for the first few years. Little did we know that age has more import than miles on a ten year old coach.

We went to Mammoth Cave this morning and had a great tour of parts of the cave we haven't seen before. We are now enjoying our last night in an RV park for this trip. The next two nights will find us dry camping until we get home on Wednesday. Hopefully nothing else will go wrong with the coach.
John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

John Stephens

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #102 on: September 01, 2019, 02:16:51 PM »
I haven't submitted any blog entries for the past week because when we got home, we had no internet for the first two days. Signing up for Comcast's vacation plan means you have to be without service for at least 3 months and although we got back on the 28th, we couldn't get service until the 30th. So this entry may be a bit long to cover everything that has happened and address some information others have wanted.

When we left the Mammoth Cave area, we ran into increasing temperatures and humidity. We expected that, having lived in SW Florida off and on since 1982, but the difference in climate after being out west for almost three months was more drastic than we anticipated and we made up our minds that we want to change climates as soon as possible. The problem we have at the moment is not knowing what the economy is going to do for the next couple of years. If we go into another recession, it might be best to sell our house quickly before the market crumbles and then wait until it bottoms out to buy something else, hoping that won't take too long. The coach may have to play a part in that since it will be difficult, if not impossible, to rent with three large dogs.

The trip back took three days, as planned, seeing us stop in Morrow, GA the first night and stay at a Cracker Barrel. The second night, we had planned on staying in another CB in Lake City, FL. However, we changed those plans because Under the Sun RV Awnings in Tampa said they could repair the slide topper on our way home the next day but wanted us there no later than noon. Not wanting to take any chances with traffic or road work, we chose to drive to Gainesville, about 45 minutes further than Lake City, and stay the night there. We made it to Tampa in plenty of time, even with a pouring down rain much of the way.

One look at the slide topper told the owner of Under the Sun that there was nothing wrong with the roller, as the mechanic in St. Louis had told us. He showed me that the spring on one end had failed and allowed the pin to gouge the hole in the end cap wider to the point that it was loose and sloppy, thereby allowing the roller to drop down too far onto the flange of the slide. He replaced both springs and end caps along with the fabric since it had been scored pretty badly and nearly ripped in one place. While we were there, we had him replace the fabric on the bedroom slide topper since it began ripping about two years ago and we knew it was only going to get worse. We knew having a mechanic do the work in Fort Myers would be triple the charge, at least, and this guy specializes in this work so we were confident the work would be done right and at a good price. My mechanic charged my insurance company over $2,000 to replace the fabric and roller in the living room slide last year. Under the Sun did both slide toppers' fabrics and the other work on the dining room slide for a total of $673. More than we were hoping, but all of our slide toppers are now new along with the awning, so hopefully, we won't have to worry about them for another few years.

We left Tampa at 2:30 and got home at 5:30 after dumping our tanks at the local Love's truck stop. The house was still standing and appeared to be in one piece. The first order of business was to take down the hurricane shutters we have put up before leaving, but because Dorian was, at that time, expected to cross the state and possibly come our way, we decided to leave up the shutters on the east side of the house, just in case. But then, we discovered another issue that needed immediate attention when Judy realized we had no water. We are on a well and septic system. The city is currently running new utilities through part of the area just south of us but we have been told we will not see the utilities and accompanying assessment for another ten years, which is fine with us since we don't want to pay the assessment and plan on selling the house in plenty of time before then. We had our regular water company who takes care of all things related to the well come out and replace one of the well switches in March. But while we were gone, that switch rusted out completely, to the point that the contacts were rusted together. When Judy realized we had no water, I had already flushed a toilet and used the pressure in the lines that had been there for months. But because the switch had gone bad, it blew the GFCI. I reset the GFCI and the pump came on, refilling the pressure in the lines to the house. But instead of shutting off at 50 psi as it was set to do, it continued to run until it buried the gauge at 100 psi, and still wouldn't shut off. I had to unplug it before it either blew a line or tripped the GFCI again. By that time, it was too late and I was too tired to run to Lowe's and buy another, so I waited until morning and replaced the switch. I knew the old one was still under warranty, but the company would charge me a $70 trip charge to come out and replace it, while a new switch was only $30 and something I had done before. It was cheaper to do it myself.

The only other thing we have thus far found wrong with the house was my iMac will not turn on. Still under warranty, I took it to the shop and they asked if I had a surge protector for it. I told them yes, a good APC. They then asked how old it was. I told them I thought about 15 years. They told me more than likely, it took a surge from a lightening strike and didn't stop it from going to the equipment because surge protectors only last for so many strikes before they go bad, and if mine was 15 years old, it is probably worthless. Something I didn't know, but now do. Time to buy new ones for both the computer equipment and the home theater.

Aside from what was already mentioned regarding the slide topper and the Spendide, nothing else went wrong with the coach on the way back home except for a tire problem. As stated previously, I really think we did well this trip, all things considered. I budgeted for $3,200 in repairs to the coach and the total we spent, not counting the deductibles for the collision work and whatever is wrong with the w/d was $3,257. We got very lucky with the 5- year old tires and will probably have to get at least two new ones before the next trip because I noticed two days away from home that the right front tire is cupping badly, telling me the alignment is off. I'll wait until next spring to get new tires so I can check the rear tires and see if they are exhibiting any signs of dry rot or sidewall cracking. If they still look as good as they do now, I'll try to get another year's trip out of them and only replace the fronts. I'm going to have to some research and find who sells Toyo tires in this area. I have read too many bad reports on Michelin XRV tires to want to spend the money on them when the Toyos are almost half the price and have a six year warranty, from what I have been told.

For those interested in knowing what the cost of this trip was, I'll break down a few line items for you.

The coach needed repairs when we started, so take that with a grain of salt when I say the total cost of coach repairs was $3,257. This included a new drop hitch receiver, something that normally would not be needed to purchase, and new hitch umbilical cord and emergency brake release. The initial repairs from HWH and Winnebago were $1,300, so on the road repairs and service was actually pretty minimal and we felt extremely fortunate that we had no problems that actually put us off the road for any length of time.

The cost of RV parks and camping for the entire 90 day trip was $2,920. This was low because we dry camped whenever we were "on the road" between destination with only a few exceptions. I consider this to be costly simply because I don't like paying more than $45 per night for a site and try to keep it below $40 whenever possible. But when you're going to popular destinations such as Yellowstone and Glacier NP's, you're at the mercy of supply and demand and are going to have to pay a premium price for a site. Out of the 13 weeks were on the road, we stayed in RV parks roughly 8 weeks and dry camped the rest of the time.

When I budgeted for this trip, I wanted to keep groceries separate from dining out, and incidental expenses separate from both. I quickly found out that wasn't going to be possible because when shopping at Walmart or Target, we weren't going to take the time to determine what was grocery cost and what was not. So when I totaled up the cost of groceries and dining out, incidentals were added in. The total we spent on food and incidentals was $3,885.

Misc. items such as park entries and souvenirs came to $373.

And the biggest cost of the trip, as expected, was gas, with a total cost of $3,902. That included gas for the car, and we put on over 4,000 miles on the car running around. The mileage on the coach for this trip was 8,600, while I had anticipated it to be 8,200. That tells me I made a few wrong turns, but it also includes side trips such as the one to Tampa for the topper repair and driving around parking lots trying to figure out how to get out. I budgeted $4,400 for total gas and expected the average cost to be $2.80/gal. The actual average was $2.597, meaning we saved roughly $100 just in the price. Also contributing to that $500 savings under budget was the fact that the coach averaged 7.15 mpg, while I had estimated it would be 6.5. This takes into consideration the gas the generator used and subtracted from the total. I estimated the generator used .5 gal/hr of use and we used it for 175 hours.

The difference in driving the coach with the car being towed four down rather than on a tow dolly was not only much more comfortable and easier to drive, it also contributed to the gas mileage. When coming back in flat Florida, the computer's average for the last 50 miles showed a consistent 8.4 mpg, whereas with the old tow dolly, I never saw it get above 7.5.

The bottom line is that I budgeted this trip costing $13,577. If you don't count the $1,000 deductible I'll have to pay to get the coach repaired from the two accidents, our actual costs for this trip totaled to $14,338. We were low on gas, high on dining and about even on coach repairs. The costs of camping were slightly higher than we thought because we weren't sure where we were going to stay for the week we toured the state of Wyoming. Total cost was roughly $800 higher than I anticipated. Anything less than 10% is acceptable.

Takeaways from this trip: we were getting on each other's nerves before the end of the trip, telling us it might have been a little too long. We now realize there is no way we could full time in this coach with three large dogs; the coach is simply too small. It was very difficult on the dogs, having to go weeks at a time without the ability to run off leash. They made this trip with flying colors, staying out of trouble, not chewing anything up they shouldn't, and only having one accident inside the coach the entire trip. We have decided that future trips will be limited to 8-10 weeks and if we have the resources, we'll take two trips per summer instead of one, with a month in between to decompress. We had mixed feelings about the trip ending, but we were both happy to get back to a large house, a large backyard for the dogs, a large shower you can bend over within, and a toilet area where you can pull up your pants without hitting your head on the wall in front of you as you bend over.

Given the restrictions that were placed on us due to the accidents, I think we did pretty well. We conserved the LP and used the stove very little once we realized we had only 20% of the tank remaining so it could be used for hot water and making sure the fridge would run if we didn't have the generator on. We were unable to use the electric water heater when on the generator because it is on the same circuit as the #1 a/c compressor, so trying to use both at the same time would trip the breaker.

I am tired. I drove every mile we put on both the coach and the car - almost 13,000 in 90 days. And I am finally tired of the road, something I haven't felt before this, probably due to age. Before I take the coach into the shop for repairs on Tuesday, I need to wash the last 30 days of grime off of it and check the caulking around the main vent in the living room because I felt moisture on the ceiling a couple of days before we got home, and I have to clean it thoroughly before putting it into storage. I can tell right now that aside from driving it to the shop and then from the shop to storage, I have no interest in driving it again for a while. I am sure I'll get back in the mood soon, but not as quickly as has been done in past years after shorter trips.

One of the biggest and most important takeaways from this trip was meeting new friends and seeing old ones. Because along with seeing new places and sights, we planned on seeing people we either had never met before or hadn't seen in a long time. Jackie Mac and Steve were outstanding companions while we were in Yellowstone and our lives are richer for having them as friends. We met online friends for the first time after talking to them for the past three years that live in Montana and are one of the largest and most responsible Collie breeders in the United States. We saw old friends from Las Vegas and had dinner with grandchildren and a soon to be son-in-law, and lunch with a daughter we hadn't seen in years. And we planned the trip to take us back to the Midwest where we are from to see old friends in St. Louis, dine at our favorite restaurants, and see Judy's mother and siblings in SE Illinois before heading to Mammoth Cave. We feel fortunate that we have friends and acquaintances we enjoy seeing throughout the country, so we can plan our trips to see them along with new sights we have never seen or not seen in a long time.

We have decided instead of traveling west again next year, we will do the next trip we had planned, taking us up the Eastern Seaboard to visit the major cities on or near that coast all the way up to Maine. We will then cross over into Canada and reappear at Niagara Falls. We will do this trip next year rather than waiting until 2021 because we plan to sell our house in Florida and move west sometime within the next two years, dependent on the economy. We'll see the eastern areas while we are still here in Florida, making the travel much shorter and less expensive. When we move out west, we'll have the chance to see more of the areas out there we want to visit, again at a lesser cost due to distance.

To those who have followed these posts, thank you for your interest. If you have any questions regarding our trip, please ask.

John
Cape Coral, Fl.
2005 Winnebago Adventurer 38J
2018 Chevy Equinox

muskoka guy

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Re: Long awaited retirement trip finally here
« Reply #103 on: September 01, 2019, 09:03:48 PM »
I really enjoyed reading your journal of your trip. The Yellowstone area and upper mid west states are about the only area of Canada and the lower US I have not visited. Your account will be helpful in planning my trip there in the near future. I have just returned from two months in NFld, the Maritimes, and north eastern US. The Bay of Fundy was my favourite thing on the east coast. Watching 40 ft tides go up and down is amazing. Cheers