Monday, July 9, 2012

“Fix-it-up” out West – Part 1

No, it’s not the latest dance step…

We spent our summer out west this year – doing lots of RV repairs and spending some wonderful time with our kids/grandsons!

On Friday, June 8 at about 10:30 a.m., we pulled out of the Hot Springs KOA and rambled south.  The day was fairly uneventful till we got south of Bridgeport, Nebraska on Hwy. 385.  I was driving and commented to John that this road didn’t look as bumpy as it felt.  A glance at the air leveling monitor was a little disconcerting – red lights when there’s only supposed to be one little green (travel) light.  Oops – something’s wrong…  Long story short – after numerous failed cell phone calls to the Country Coach tech in Junction City, Oregon – while parked on a 2-lane highway shoulder - we managed to get some more air in the front level height valve, pull the correct fuse and limp our way into Sidney where a mechanic at Floyd’s Truck Service was waiting for us.  Now we know how military folks feel when riding in a tank!

Floyd’s got us in on that Friday afternoon, checked things out & got the part ordered.  By early afternoon on Saturday, June 9, we were back on the road with a new level height valve and a re-packed front wheel bearing on the driver’s side front tire that the tech had noticed.  Whew….  that might have been ugly further down the road.

We dropped down to I-70 into Colorado, stopped at the airport to pick up our oldest son, Eric who was headed home from work, and pulled into Dakota Ridge RV Park in Golden around 5:30 p.m.  Hooked up quickly and headed out to take Eric home and get hugs from Kari and the two little grandsons!  Jonah, at not yet 1, wasn’t too sure of us at first, but warmed up soon.  Great to see those two little guys again!

We stayed in Colorado for the next 15 days and had a wonderful time with Eric, Kari & the boys.  We went for walks, spent a couple days at the KOA in Ouray where we worked the summer of 2010, saw Dinosaur Ridge, went to Elitch Gardens water park, toured the Coors Brewery, enjoyed Kari’s parents surprise 45th anniversary party and had a wonderful dinner at their house on another evening.  We also enjoyed a sunny mid-day excursion in downtown Golden; had a fun evening dinner with some of our Class of ‘07 compatriots and their friends, including a visit with Bill, Leslie & Hank at our rig afterwards; and enjoyed a day with my brother, Mike, who was on his way to the airport after a work trip.

Here’s a few pictures:

P1130656                                                          Ken & Harriet at their surprise party

P1130703                               Dinosaur tracks

P1130714                                                         Jacob at Dinosaur Ridge

P1130729                                         Jonah showing off new teeth

P1130788                                                                     Jacob at Elitch Gardens

P1130802                                         Jonah & Darlene (Derick’s mom)

P1130804                                             Mike demonstrating proper use

On Monday, June 25, we packed up and headed west.  On the way, we decided to get the engine brake looked at.  It hadn’t been working properly and we preferred to have it for going over the Blue Mountains on the way to our friends, Curt & Diane’s.  (Truckers and RVers are familiar with “Cabbage Hill” on I-84 and are extra careful there, as with many mountain passes.  “Cabbage Patch”, as we like to call it, is a total descent of 6% grade for six miles.)

So, we called ahead and got an appointment at Elk Mountain Diesel in Rawlins, WY.  We pulled in there at about 1:30 p.m.  And, left three days later….  The tech thought he had the engine brake fixed but, in the process, discovered a cracked exhaust manifold.  Sure ‘nuff, it was cracked.  Part ordered (eventually – the parts gal wasn’t exactly a ball of fire), and we checked into a local motel as truck stops don’t usually let one stay in their rig inside the shop at night.  Wow.  Rawlins is sure an exciting place.  Not.  We got bored quickly but survived.

We pulled out of Rawlins at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 28 (we weren’t about to spend another night here…) and got as far as Phillips RV Park in Evanston, WY before we called it a day at 8:30 p.m.

We were on the road by 8:00 a.m. on Friday, June 29 and managed 435 miles before we pooped out.  We crossed into Utah, Idaho & Oregon so it seemed like a pretty long day!  We did have a fun stop for lunch in Twin Falls, Idaho with RVing friends, Bob & BarbAnna.


We had planned to be at Curt & Diane’s long before the holiday weekend, but the best laid plans went you-know-where!  We tried in vain to find a place to park in Ontario, OR, but the Wal-Mart parking lot was definitely not RV friendly, Home Depot did not welcome us, and all the RV parks were full (surprise, surprise!)  So, we ended up at a Pilot Truck Stop.  Hot and sandwiched between 2 reefers.  Doesn’t get much more fun than this…

On Saturday, June 30 at around noon, we pulled into Curt & Diane’s.  The engine brake had proven to still not be fixed, so we had unhooked the car at Deadman’s Pass rest area before venturing down Cabbage Patch.  All went well and we were entertained watching a trucker smoke his brakes big-time before he made it to the bottom.  I’m sure he wasn’t quite as entertained…

We spent the next week at Curt & Diane’s having our usual good time with good friends!  It was fun to see their new house and all the changes since we were last there in 2009.  We also enjoyed the Pendleton Underground Tour and a day trip to Palouse Falls State Park and Wallowa Lake.

P1140007                                         Our house…

P1140008                                         …and their house!

P1130892                                                              Palouse Falls

P1130897                                  John, Diane & Curt at Palouse Falls

On Sunday, July 8 we headed south for our Monday appointment at Country Coach in Junction City, Oregon.  We parked with the other “repairees” and started gathering things we would need for the next few weeks as homeless folk.

This morning, July 9, we went through our to-do list with the tech, moved our clothes, computers and medicines to the car and began our temporary life as hobos.  At least we have wheels…