Retirement trip, Part Two

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John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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911
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Cape Coral, FL
We had an outstanding day scratching another item off my bucket list - walking through a slot canyon. On the advice of Jackie MacKenzie, we drove to the Willis Creek slot canyon. I had planned on taking US89 to Johnson Canyon Rd. to Skutumpah Rd. where the canyon is located. For once, Apple Maps did me right by giving me an alternative route, taking 89 north all the way to Utah 12, the same road we took to cross the mountains in the middle of the state driving between Moab and Kanab. I thought it was a giant mistake once on the road and realizing the direction we were taking because we wanted to see the old western movie set on the Johnson Canyon Rd. on the way up. But if we had taken that way, we would have driven 30 miles on Skutumpah Rd., a dirt washboard road that was one of the worst we have been on during this trip. Fortunately, since Apple Maps made me catch that road on the north end instead of the south, we drove 5 miles on it instead of 30.

The slot canyon was all it was cracked up to be, with actually more than one slot canyon. We saw three, walking through one and choosing not to get wet by trying to walk through the other two that were started with waterfalls from the creek. One had about an eight foot drop that appeared to have no way of getting out once you fell or dropped in. For the second day in a row, we got a very good workout while walking over 3 miles.

After we turned around and began walking back, we noticed severely dangerous looking clouds and heard thunder. Since we still had to make it back through at least the longest canyon, we picked up the pace, not wanting to be in a slot canyon during a rainstorm. That's a good way to lose your life since these things flash flood very easily with a downpour. We made it back to the car before it began raining and noticed that nearly everyone else who had parked there was either gone or leaving quickly for the same reason we were.

It was a good thing we left when we did. A cold front was sweeping through the entire state, bringing high winds, cold temps, and a lot of rain. After we got back on the highway, we got hit with soft hail, splattering on the windshield. By the time we got back home, the temps had dropped 20 degrees.

We had originally planned on seeing Kodachrome Basin while we were in the area, but when we saw the storm clouds, we decided to go straight back to the coach. We'll try to see the western movie set on Johnson Canyon Rd. another day, maybe when we drive to the North Rim.

We had planned on driving to Bryce Canyon NP tomorrow but after making the same drive today, I think we'll wait another day or two and let that cold front pass through. It's supposed to get warm again day after tomorrow. Tomorrow, we'll stay south, go to the North Rim and head down 89 to see the Hoodoos and the movie set. It should make for a shorter day, something I'm sure the dogs will appreciate after being left for six and seven hours the past two days.
 

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John Stephens

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911
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Cape Coral, FL
We had a great day seeing more things in Southern Utah. We began the day driving down US 89 following Apple Maps directions trying to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I drove for about 20 miles before I realized we were going the wrong direction and should have been on 89A instead. But that was okay because we were planning on seeing the Toadstool Hoodoos afterward, so we simply reversed our schedule and continued driving east to the Hoodoos.

The Toadstools were a .8 mile walk to the first one and a total of 2.2 miles round trip after seeing several. They are really quite fascinating and there is no answer to how they got their shapes other than millions of years of wearing down to the shapes they are in. We met a compatriot from St. Louis where I was born and raised who walked along the trail with us, making the trail quite a bit more interesting.

We took a large number of photos of both the toadstools and the Vermillion Cliffs along the way. We returned home for lunch to the delight of our dogs and left again to drive to the North Rim.

We knew before leaving that the North Rim was closed until May 15th but thought we might be able to drive around any roadblock. No such luck. The road was secured from shoulder to shoulder and we had to turn around after only driving roughly half the way. For anyone interested, the roadblock was on Hwy. 67 right after it splits from US89.

We turned around to go back without disappointment because our chief reason to go there was to experience the sight of the Grand Staircase on the way back up US89. We were able to see the entire staircase, all five levels, at the LeFever Overlook. Although it wasn't a completely clear day to take the perfect photo, I think the ones we took will be good enough to blow one of them up into a larger framed print. We were astounded at the sight of all five levels of the staircase at the same time, encompassing over 100 miles into the distance. We could easily see the Chocolate Cliffs in the foreground and all levels up to the Pink Cliffs in the farthest distance. The view was incredible and possibly the best we have seen during this entire trip.

We cut our day short and made it back to the coach and the very happy pups in only 1.5 hours. Tomorrow, we plan on driving back up north and see Bryce Canyon. We have been told the best time to visit is at sunrise, but we have no plans on getting up at 3AM so we can make it up there by the time the sun starts coming up.
 

John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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911
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Cape Coral, FL
Yesterday's trip to Bryce was unexpectedly short. Since so many people had built it up to be the best of the five national parks in Utah, I guess we expected to have a full day of adventure. Instead, the park essentially has one attraction - the canyon itself - and little else. At least that is what we found by taking the park shuttle that had only four points to stop at providing different angles and looks of the same canyon.

I will say Bryce Canyon is one of the strangest sights I have ever seen, with all its spires and hoodoos. While I use the word "strange," it is also one of the most beautiful parks I have visited, just a bit different. But riding the shuttle that completes its rounds both in and outside the park in a mere 50 minutes, means that unless you're going to hike along some of the trails down to the bottom of the canyon, taking pictures at the top where the shuttle lets you off gives you a fairly brief day of touring the area. We got photos so astounding, we will probably be able to blow up at least one or two into 24x36 wall hangings. And while the time to drive there was the same as the time we spent there, we really didn't mind having a short day after spending four days in a row hiking considerably more than we thought we ever would. This park was no different in that respect, with us hiking a half mile from one shuttle stop to another point for more photos.

Overall, I must rate Bryce NP in the middle of all the parks we have visited, not in the top three. And I certainly felt that Arches and Zion were much better to visit.

Last night, I drove back to Johnson Canyon Rd. to get into dark sky country at midnight but still didn't have the chance to see the Milky Way. It just began to rise when nature called and I had to drive back to the coach. I know it would have required an additional two hours for it to rise high enough in the sky to get any good photos.

Today is cleaning the coach and taking the dogs to the groomer so we'll have a clean house for at least a day or two. Tomorrow, we drive to Las Vegas. In the last week, we have visited the Big Five in Utah and I have received a much different opinion of this state. It is without doubt the most diverse in landscapes.
 

Jayflight

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Jan 22, 2021
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Great read,, We did Bryce by vehicle, at our own pace. The trails are easier than the ones in the Grand Canyon and a bit cooler too. There are so many shots at different angles in Bryce that we could not settle on one ourselves.
 

Loose Nut

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May 4, 2021
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Cochise Stronghold... or damned near it.
No, I have driven this coach for six years all over the country and this is the first time I have encountered winds like this that were sustained for so long.

Haha, join the club... reminds me of a day spent fighting howling crosswinds on my way through Texas. Stopped for the night in Texarkana, and went to a bar right there by the truck stop... clientele were mostly truck drivers, so I started talking to a couple of guys who had experienced the same trouble. As we enjoyed a few cold beers at the bar, one hand said:

"IT WAS LIKE I WAS MAKING A HARD LEFT TURN FOR THE LAST 500 MILES..."

I always thought that was pretty funny, especially since I had been doing the EXACT SAME THING, LOL. Sometimes, when that sort of weather interferes with your trip, it's better to simply jump off and take a break, as the weather will surely change (and high winds will eventually cease), but truck drivers don't always have that luxury in time management, lol.

Edit: Oops, now I see that your trip has progressed, but that line of yours struck a chord, lol... CHEERS!!!
 
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John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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911
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Cape Coral, FL
Last Wednesday, we took the pups to the local groomer in Kanab, gave Cameron and Mandy baths, and turned Toby, the Rough Collie, over to the groomer. He had never been groomed in his five years, although Judy and I do a pretty good job on him regularly. The groomer agreed and said that although it took him 3.5 hours to do the job, he was much easier than expected. When finished, Toby looked great. Anyone needing grooming or self serve bathing of your pets can expect good service and professionalism from Leighton at the Kanab Dog Wash.

On Thursday, we drove to Las Vegas, encountering no issues along the route. The engine is once again having minor problems when trying to climb grades, missing once in a while, but nothing as bad as the first day we had on the road. I noticed after getting to Vegas that the tailpipes are showing black rings on the outside, making me think the engine is running too rich. I would think there may be issues with the O2 sensors, but if so, they should be triggering the CEL, which isn't happening. The engine sounds and acts as though it is running good except under heavy load. The only thing I can think of doing is having a complete diagnostic run on the engine, probably when we get home since it appears most RV mechanics are booked for a month or more in advance.

When we got into the Oasis RV Resort in Las Vegas, we weren't setup for more than an hour when William from Fixin' Dixon dropped by. He stayed for 4.5 hours trying to determine what was wrong with our furnace, checking the propane pressure and resetting it because it was too low, checking for leaks in all appliances, and doing everything he could without removing the furnace to no avail. We decided the best thing to do was essentially rebuild the furnace with new igniter, burner and control board. He ordered the parts and returned on Sunday, repairing the furnace properly.

When he pulled the igniter, he told me it was the original one and was quite corroded. That means the guy from Back Woods RV Service in Versailles, IN who charged me $160 to install a new one ripped me off. The burner also was quite rusted and may have played a part with the furnace not lighting. There is a possibility the control board was still good, but I didn't want to pay him the labor charges to reinstall the furnace and then possibly having to take it out again to install another part.

William was, in my opinion, a very good mechanic trying to keep RV'ers on the road without making them feel like they were being gouged. His charges were very reasonable and he is a very personable individual. I will recommend him to anyone needing service in Las Vegas. He is an approved vendor at Oasis Las Vegas, and that says a lot.

Since getting here, we have been busting our budget by going to all our old favorite restaurants. We have seen a lot of old friends and Judy was able to see her daughter, grandkids, and her great granddaughter who just turned a year old for the first time. We have one more day to try to squeeze in all the eating spots we want to get to and do a little more shopping.

A very good and longtime friend of mine that I used to work with while living here will be joining us for six days when we leave town on Thursday. We will be traveling to Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, and then up to Yosemite for a week.

Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort has changed a bit since our last visit in 2019. The park is running down, a terrible disappointment. All of the landscape lights around our site and several others are broken and appear nowhere close to being repaired or replaced. We are right next to the laundry and bathhouse. Normally, we don't use either since we are self contained, but Judy decided she wanted to wash the heavy blanket on our bed since the dogs have laid on it a lot while they were very dirty, but when she went to the laundry, she found every single washer to be broken and out of service. Not a good way to impress your guests and get return customers. This however, is not enough to keep us from returning. As long as their rates don't go too much more, we will come back whenever in the area. Although, I noticed on our travels today that Road Runner RV is offering insanely low rates - about a third of what we are paying here, so that's something to look into for the next time.

The pandemic did a real number on this town, possibly worse than most other places in the entire country regarding their economy. And now, the casinos and restaurants are trying to makeup their losses from last year with a passion. There are no more loss leaders to get people in the door. When I lived here, it was cheaper to dine at a casino than it was to go buy groceries and fix your own meals. Not any more. If I had any ideas of moving back here, the cost of housing and general cost of living I have seen has dissuaded me completely. There is no way I could afford to live in this town. The cost of gasoline has risen $.30 in less than a week since we got here and it appears there is no end in sight. We were under $2.00/gallon in the SE part of the country on the way out here, but I'm seeing $3.69/gallon prices for regular right now and in some stations, more than $4.00/gallon for premium.

The weather has been a bit warmer than the average for this time of year, but we expected that. It's supposed to get to 99 or 100 on Friday, but we'll be gone by then, probably needing that repaired furnace while in the Sierras.
 

phil-t

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Jul 10, 2017
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Ogdensburg, NY
Maybe, hard to tell what the electronic control module would try to do to make up for fuel issues. Another thought, have you tried disconnecting chassis battery to reset the ECM?
 
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jackiemac

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Scotland
John, if you've not done it before, hike up the Moro Rock Trail in Sequoia for spectacular views. It's not difficult.
 
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John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
Posts
911
Location
Cape Coral, FL
Maybe, hard to tell what the electronic control module would try to do to make up for fuel issues. Another thought, have you tried disconnecting chassis battery to reset the ECM?
Haven't heard this one yet, Phil. I have been guessing the problem is the ECM and have thought of getting the one that Ultra RV sells that has over 400 different settings from the factory model, hoping it might take care of the problem. If a battery disconnect will reset it, I'll give it a try. I thought they had a memory to avoid this happening when you changed the battery.
 

Old_Crow

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Nov 20, 2016
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2,395
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Mammoth Lakes, California
Just a thought on the engine problem with the coach. My V10 had an intermittent misfire along with poorer than normal fuel mileage. I changed out the boots between the coils and the plugs and the problem went away. I changed the fuel filter at the same time and the old one was so plugged, I was amazed that the coach would run at all.
 

John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
Posts
911
Location
Cape Coral, FL
Wally, if I was going to change the plug wires, I would also change the plugs and simply give it a full tuneup. I think I'll be lucky if that is all that is wrong. I'm still thinking O2 sensors may be the culprit.

Phil, I tried your idea of disconnecting the battery to see if the ECM would reset. It did not. I didn't think it would work because I have had to have them reset by the dealer.

We hit the road yesterday and drove to Sequoia RV Resort in Badger, CA. It was a long day on the road, the longest we have planned at 375 miles. The last 35 miles on Hwy. 245 was some of the worst road I have ever taken in this coach and I strongly recommend anyone who has an RV longer than 33 feet not to stay at this park. We have been told in order to leave the park and travel to Yosemite on Sunday, we will have to take this road another 13 miles.Upon traveling on it today, we decided the only way we'll make it is to have Judy drive the car ahead of us as a spotter car or sorts so I can use both lanes to get around some of the hairpin curves and switchbacks. My biggest worry, however, is the fact that the trip up this road is anywhere from a 4% to 10% incline and the engine still is not running well.


We drove through Sequoia NP today and enjoyed the scenery. Jackie, sorry, but we didn't hike where you suggested because by the time we walked down to the General Sherman tree and back up, we were so tired, we didn't want to do any more walking. The trees are impressive, to say the least. Tomorrow, we'll drive through King's Canyon.
 

garyb1st

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Dec 31, 2010
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Southern California
John don't know if you're still experiencing CELs, but if you are, here is our experience. IIRC, our coaches have the same engine. We were experiencing CELs a few times and our mechanic looked at the same things. Cleaned Mass Air Flow sensor, checked O2 sensors, cleaned K & N air filter. Every thing checked out. But we were still getting lights. While researching the problem, I came across a number of owners who claimed the K&N air filter was the problem. I had our mechanic replace with a stock GM paper filter and the problem went away. Traveled almost 1500 miles since so I'm pretty sure that was the issue.

We never had any rough engine issues and seemed to have plenty of power on our West Coast grades. While I say that, we bought the motorhome used and I have no idea if it ran better when new.

I see you're considering an Ultra Power package. FWIW, our motorhome has the Ultra Power chip but it was done prior to our purchase. Again, I can't say if or how it effected power or fuel economy. We've never gotten much more than 6 mpg over the 20,000 miles we've driven it. But we're West Coast and for the most part have traveled in mountainous areas. The chip supposedly increases HP to 400 and torque to about 500. Our engine has the Allison 1000 transmission and we're close to the max torque rating of the engine. When the Ultra Power package was done they also replaced the plugs and plug wires which is highly recommended if you're running on stock wires.

If you're still in the Las Vegas area and have time, you should consider a day trip to Red Rock Canyon. Also, if you haven't driven the road from the Valley of Fire State Park to the Lake Mead Recreation Area near Boulder City Nevada, it's another great day trip. I know you're a planner so may not have time, but the Forest Service Campground near the entry station of the Lake Mead Rec Area is hard to beat and while no hookups, for $10.00 a day, (geezer rate) it's hard to beat.

Hope you're enjoying part 2 of your retirement trip.
 
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