Gas and Tunnels – Oh My!

Happy New Year everyone.  2018 is sure to bring new adventures our way.  We start the new year off on day 44 of being full-time on the road.  It is really 108 days of living the full-time lifestyle, but we were a little waylaid in getting on the road.

Day 44 was a travel day.  Our time in Gulf Shores Alabama was up.  We enjoyed our stay but we were both ready to take off and see something new.  We got up and were on the road by 9:15 a.m.  Being New Years Day we weren’t sure what to expect traffic wise or what we would find open.  Traffic seemed light to normal and even though many places were closed, we didn’t have any difficulty finding what we needed.

We took our time and stopped for lunch at the Mississippi welcome center.  Due to the cold weather I decided we would go west using the southern route of I-10 rather than going north and across I-20.  I was hoping the southern route would be a bit warmer.  Maybe it was, but it was still cold.

Getting to Mississippi we had to go through Mobile, Alabama, which meant going through the tunnel.  We had no idea what to expect.  We are familiar with the tunnel going from Detroit into Canada, but that’s it.  To me it wasn’t that bad.  I have been much more apprehensive when going through construction areas or over bridges in the motorhome.

We made it through Mississippi and into Louisiana.  Our destination for the night was the Walmart in Walker.  It was about 3:30 p.m., which is a good time for us to stop for the day.  It is early enough to find a spot and settle in before dark.  We traveled a total of 233 miles New Years Day.

The Walmart parking lot was small compared to others we have been to, but we managed to find a space for the night.  When we woke in the morning we saw a couple other travelers had joined us along with a trucker.

We decided to run the generator all night for heat, not only to keep us warm but to make sure our tanks didn’t freeze up.  The temperature in the night went below 30.  It worked out well.  The noise from the generator was soothing and blocked out road noise, another plus.

Day 45 we managed to get an earlier start and we were on the road by 8:30 a.m.  Not too long after we had started our day, we needed to gas up and this was the first time we pulled a big no-no.  We waited too long to look for a good gas station that we could get in and out of easily.  The only gas station available was extremely tight and narrow to drive through. We got ourselves in a predicament. On one side was a big telephone pole.  On the other side was the gas pumps.  There was no room to maneuver.  We were inches away from both sides and to make matters worse, you can’t back up with a toad!  If it wasn’t for a really nice guy who worked at the gas station I don’t know what we would have done.  He managed to direct Clyde through the area without harm.  We can’t thank him enough.

The rest of the day went without drama.  We enjoyed the scenery going through swampy marshlands and seeing areas for the first time.

When lunch time came we stopped at the only rest area we saw all day.  It just happened to appear at the right time.  We were on I-49 going north towards Shreveport, Louisiana.

Tonight we are Staying at a Flying J gas station 3 miles from the Texas border.  We will be running the generator again all night for both heat and to keep the tanks from freezing.  It is supposed to get down to 22 here in Greenwood tonight.  We stopped for the night about 3:30 p.m. once again and drove a total of 295 miles today.

Tomorrow will be a short travel day.  We are only about 3 hours from our destination, which is a Corps of Engineering campground; Lavonia Park on Lavon Lake.  It is not too far from Dallas.  We will be staying there for a couple of weeks while we visit some old friends.

Until next time,



General Maintenance

We can check another couple of things off our to-do list for Winnie.  The people at Cummins-Bridgeway were very nice.  We had a small hick-up getting her there though.  We couldn’t get her started.  We are not sure why we are having problems, or what we are doing wrong with the battery because we had it tested when we took her in and it checked out fine.  When she wouldn’t turn over at all, we turned on the generator hoping that would charge the chassis battery enough to get it started.  No such luck.  Our son Kevin decided to put his trickle charger on it and it started right away.  Way to go Kevin.  So does that mean we should take a trickle charger along with us for the just in case moments?

We dropped Winnie off Tuesday night to be worked on Wednesday.  They changed the engine oil and filters and also did the maintenance on our generator.  They tested the batteries and we were really expecting to replace all three of them, but they said they were fine. While we were there we decided to make an appointment to have the air conditioning looked at.  They were booked up until after our June vacation.  That should be fine.  I am not expecting really hot weather that early in the season, but then this is Michigan and you never know.

I called the special order parts department at the RV center where we purchased Winnie to order the part we need for the ice-maker.  They had said it was a shut-off valve when they did the winterization last fall.  After a few back and forth phone calls the salesman decided that there wasn’t a special shut-off valve and that it was a part we could purchase at our local hardware store.  I thanked him for his help and hung up.  I am keeping the appointment I made for mid June just incase my guys can’t figure it out on their own, but I am really hoping we won’t need it.  As we are having exceptionally cold and wet weather right now, I don’t believe they will be able to work on it for a week or two.

Following behind Winnie as we brought her home I noticed we had a tail light out.  It looks like I’ve got another part to order.

Until next time,


Maintenance and Repairs

It’s that time of year when we all start to get the urge to go camping. But, first, we have to de-winterize our motor home, make sure all the routine maintenance is completed and everything is in good working order.

We knew we needed to have the generator maintained as it has almost ran the maximum number of hours on the meter.  We have owned Winnie one year now and we have no idea when the engine motor oil was changed, so that was also on our to-do list.  A call to Cummins Bridgeway was made.  The nice people there said yes, along with being able to service our generator they can also take care of our gas engine. They would be happy to set up an appointment for next week to have that done, but if we needed anything more done, appointments were being made for a month out.  We are glad that is all she requires right now.  We scheduled our appointment for next Wednesday.  Check, one item off our list.

Next, de-winterizing and getting the ice-maker leak repaired.  Last fall, when we took Winnie in to be winterized, the service people at the RV center where we bought our motor home found a leak at the shut-off valve to the ice-maker.  Instead of fixing it then, they told us it would have to be repaired in the spring when we de-winterized her.  We made a call to the service department on Friday and asked for the same service rep we dealt with the last few times.  As usual, we were sent to his voicemail.  We left a message telling him exactly what we needed.  As we expected, no return phone call.

The next morning (Saturday) we called as soon as they opened and told the gal at the service desk what we needed.  Why leave another message to someone who never returns your calls.  She told us no appointment was needed to have our unit de-winterized but to have the leaking valve repaired we needed to schedule an appointment.  The soonest they could get us in was a month and a half away! We asked why they couldn’t just replace the valve at the same time they were de-winterizing her.  We were told they would have to see what part was needed and order it.  We knew what part.  It was written on the winterization receipt.  Why pay $80 to de-winterize and then pay again who knows how much to install the part.  We were then told that we needed to order the part through the parts department and when it came in we could schedule an appointment to have it put in. Really?  (Deep breathe).  We told her to put us down for the next available appointment now and transfer us to the parts department please.

The parts department told us we would have to call back Monday as what we needed was a special order and they didn’t work week-ends.  (Exhale).  As you can guess we really wish we didn’t need to use their services.  We will call back Monday, order the overly priced part and have it installed.  Those of you who are mechanically inclined are fortunate in that you can do it yourself and bypass the hassles we must endure.

We are hoping to figure out the de-winterizing process ourselves and save us the $80.  One of our concerns is if we put water in the tank, how do we keep it from filling up the ice-maker and leaking all over?  Should we just camp without water for now and wait until the ice-maker is repaired?  We would really appreciate any advice from you seasoned RV’ers.   Thanks so much.

Until next time,


7 1/2 Months Later

Last May 10th I posted about being overwhelmed with all that is involved in owning a class A motorhome.  I was asked by my son Scott how I felt now about my abilities and on a scale between 1 and 10 how familiar am I with Winnie.  I had to stop and think about that for a bit.

I no longer feel quite so overwhelmed as I did in the beginning, but in no way do I feel like I’ve got it all figured out.  Everyday we learn something new.  Most times, unfortunately, it’s learned the hard way-like having the batteries run dry.  We had taken Winnie in to the dealership to be repaired and during the couple weeks they had her the batteries ran down.  The repair guys didn’t check the batteries and sent us on our way home.  The next week we couldn’t figure out why the batteries wouldn’t hold a charge.  We finally figured out they were dry, bone dry.  The steps wouldn’t retract and the front shades stopped working.  After adding water to the batteries and plugging her in to shore power, she is now holding a charge.  The steps go in and out, but the shades still do not work.  We haven’t figured that out yet and it is too cold to play around with them right now.

Lesson learned:  Batteries need water.  Lots of water.  Always check batteries.  Don’t take anything for granted.  The dealer doesn’t care.  They only do as little as they have to and no more.  (At least that’s how it is with the dealer we purchased Winnie from).

We still haven’t figured out when to use the inverter and when not to.  The electrical system in a motorhome is still over our heads.  The generator is still a foreign object.  I know many of those things that we haven’t quite figured out will eventually be a piece of cake.  The lightbulb just hasn’t gone on yet.

We would love to boondock this spring and summer, but we aren’t quite sure how to do it successfully.  I’m sure we will give it a try and make a few mistakes.  In the end we will figure it out and enjoy many more nights off the grid.  Our goal is to eventually be able to boondock in Quartzsite, Arizona with other RV’ers.

So, to answer your question Scott, I feel much more competent than I did at first, but I’m still learning.  On a scale between 1 and 10, 1 being where we were 7 1/2 months ago, I would say I am at a 6 right now.  I know the more we get to use her the more at ease we will be.

Remember, we are the couple who rent movies to watch and take them back unwatched because we can’t figure out how to work the DVD player.  Yep, just one or two more things to figure out.

Until next time,