Tag Archives: problems

Reflecting on our 2017 Adventure

IMG_6081.JPG Our 2017 Adventure had both ups and downs.  It was a year with several unexpected expenses that included a broken windshield and various camper repair projects.  Later on we decided it was time to put new tires on the camper.  At four and a half years they still looked good but camper tires are notorious for failing at about that age.  We also ended up putting new tires on the truck, but, sorry to say, that came after a major tire failure that did damage to the truck.  Not long after that the truck ended up in the shop for a bigger repair.  After working through the issue with the warranty company, the repair ended up costing us hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.  Still, it was an expense that hit the bank account pretty hard.  The lesson learned wasn’t a new one, but still hit us in the wallet: when it rains it pours.

2017 also brought some medical issues our way, some are still ongoing.  That reminds us of another old lesson made new: life happens, even when you are living the RV dream.

20170319_175836.jpg During the year we tried a bit different approach to travel.  Rather than moving every 1-2 weeks during the months when we aren’t volunteering we decided to slow down in the early spring while we waited for warmer temperatures up north.  We spent a month on the Alabama coast, then another month near Knoxville, TN.    The result was mixed.  The month in Alabama wasn’t bad at all.  We were in a park that had lots of winter people and lots of interesting activities.  The month in Tennessee, so close to the month in Alabama, seemed longer.  The campground was crowded and the weather was wet.  All this added up to a less than enjoyable stay for us.  Lesson learned: be careful when scheduling longer stays to be sure the campground/area is worth the lengthy stop and don’t schedule longer stops too close together.

While we were in Indianapolis we were joined by our son and family for a few nights.  The camper was really crowded.  Still, it was fun seeing our loved ones and accommodating our “guests.”  None of us would have enjoyed this set up for a longer stay, but for a few nights it was great and we would happily do it again.   The lesson learned is that changing things up for a special occasion can be fun even if it is inconvenient.

We enjoyed family a couple of other times during the Adventure, spending a week near Jackie’s brother and his wife, Jim and Phyllis. This was followed by a couple of stays near Jackie’s family in Iowa.  Then in the fall, my sister Susan joined us and traveled with us for a couple of weeks.  These family times are a real bonus and make traveling even more fun.  Same lesson: it’s a real bonus being with family and friends.

We always enjoy worshiping with the various congregations we visit in our travels.  This year we especially enjoyed the Church of the Nazarene in Summerdale, AL.  Being that this was one of our longer stays we got to know the folks a bit rather than just being one or two Sunday visitors.  Then, we finished the year by filling in for a month for a pastor friend of ours in Denison, TX and then accepting an interim assignment (still ongoing) at Baytown, TX.  A good lesson is that while being a perpetual church visitor is always interesting, nothing takes the place of being part of a worshiping community.

20170511_122726.jpg During 2017 we towed the camper nearly 5000 miles, visited 17 states, and stayed in 34 different places.  This year, when we arrived in South Dakota we completed visiting all 50 states (although not all in the RV).  We started and finished the year volunteering on Battleship Texas.  This marks our fourth season of wintering in this unique location on the Houston Ship Channel.   We are still working on our 2018 Adventure and expect to continue our journeys in this New Year.

2017 – Lake Texoma Thousand Trails – Gordonville, TX

20170921_183701.jpg In spite of Texas late September summer-like temperatures, we enjoyed our stay at Lake Texoma Thousand Trails, Gordonville, TX. We were last here in May, 2013 and the campground is about the same as it was then. We appreciated the ranger giving us a list of vacant full hookup, 50 Amp sites that were available, I think there were 8 or 9. We picked the one that looked good to us and settled into a large, level, gravel site. There’s a $3 a night surcharge for 50 Amps – in fact, the power pedestals for those sites are padlocked until the surcharge is paid. This Thousand Trails has both a large “family” pool and Activity Center and a smaller Adult pool with spa and Adult Activity Center. There are many annual campsites that have been improved in various ways by the residents. A surprising number of the residents light their sites at night with “running lights” whether or not they are present. However, if a person arrives looking for a 30 Amp full hookup site they would have many nice spots from which to choose. The roads in the campground are typical Thousand Trails: read rough and pothole filled.

We had no problem getting a satellite signal and our Verizon signal was a solid 4G.

20170925_094859.jpg Our arrival day at Lake Texoma was a difficult travel day for us in which a tire on the pickup came apart, doing considerable damage to the pickup. As a result the pickup was in need of repairs and we needed to travel to Houston to pick up our car so we would have transportation during the repairs. The campground management worked with us as we dealt with these unexpected, unwelcome circumstances. We did shorten our stay by a few days as we needed to time our relocation days with the repairs.

20170921_104144.jpg One strange coincidence is that the last time we visited Lake Texoma Thousand Trails we had a tire begin to delaminate as we traveled. We had to stop and buy two new tires. Here we are four years later and, as we traveled to the campground we had a tire (likely one of those bought on that day in 2013) come apart, forcing us to stop and buy four new tires. It almost makes us afraid to schedule Lake Texoma Thousand Trails again!

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2017 – Shortstop: Holiday RV Park, North Platte, NE

20170911_190101.jpg We had an unexpected stay at Holiday RV Park in North Platte, NE. As we traveled across I80 our F350 pickup had a problem that needed attention. We spotted this campground and decided to stay there while our pickup visited the local Ford dealer. This campground is very convenient to those traveling I80, located right on the frontage road. In spite of its nearness to the interstate, the highway noise wasn’t especially objectionable. All the sites are pull-through with full hook ups, including cable. Park WiFi was pretty good. There’s a pool that looks nice. The campground is sandwiched between some commercial buildings and a motel. Walmart and most any business you need is just a few minutes away. The sites are close but not tight. I felt that it was overpriced, in fact, the price I paid matched our highest nightly stay of the year. However, in this case it was all about location. Happily, our after a few hours in the shop and a swipe of the credit card our pickup was road ready again.

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2017 – Water Alarms

IMG_0030.JPG Here’s an inexpensive add on that might save some money by detecting water leaks early. We put one of these alarms in the bay of the 5th wheel. The other is under the kitchen sink. Hopefully, they are unnecessary and will never be used. However, just one event in which we are given early warning will make these water alarms worth every penny. We got them at Lowes.

2016 – New Air Conditioner Project

20160621_120731.jpg Our surprise  change of plans means we’re “enjoying” our first Houston summer since retirement in 2013.  It’s also our first extended hot/humid stay in our 2007 Hitchhiker II.  Of course, the weather isn’t unexpected.  After all, we lived in this area for many years.

While we’re ready to cope with the “summer swelter,” apparently our Hitchhiker isn’t.  It’s wired for two rooftop units, but only has one and as an uncommonly hot June arrived the comfort level in our house, well, let’s say it wasn’t so comfortable.

My first effort at keeping my cool was putting Reflectrix on several of the windows.  It makes the camper feel a bit cave-like but it does help.

Unfortunately, not enough.

My second effort was to close off the vents in the bedroom and keep the door closed.  The idea was to keep all the cool air I could in the kitchen/living room area.  I think it made a difference – at least it made the bedroom hotter.

So, unfortunately, not enough.

My third effort was buy a portable air conditioner.  These units have a big dryer-like hose on them that vents the hot air and humidity out the window.  The 10,000 btu unit we got was pretty loud and, if I put it in the closed-off bedroom it worked okay.  However, downstairs still got uncomfortably warm.  Not only that, but the unit we had tended to spit water at us.  I decided it was not only lacking in cooling ability for our needs but was probably somewhat defective.  I took it back.

We still didn’t have enough.

My fourth effort was to call an a/c guy to come in and evaluate our rooftop unit.  By now I was starting to think my only hope was adding the second rooftop air conditioner.  He thought my air conditioner could use a good cleaning and that it might help a little.  However, he warned us that our air conditioner was, after all, a 2007 (or earlier) model.  Freshly cleaned or not it was getting close to going to the air conditioner retirement home.  Maybe, he suggested, it was time to bite the bullet and go for a new one.

A few days later, with the wallet somewhat deflated, our Hitchhiker has a new 15,000 btu air conditioner.  I’m not sure how it will do come August, and it may be that we will have to deflate the wallet even more for a second unit, but for now….

….I think we have enough.