Friday, September 20, 2019

Day 34, 35 - Sunriver, OR - TT

Thursday - Another rainy day in Oregon. Not as much as yesterday but enough to put off any outside projects. There was a “end of season” potluck that I stumbled onto put on by the staff. Pretty small turnout. We went to visit friends who live about a mile from the campground.

Friday - This morning, it was 38°F according to the weather app. We still hadn’t picked up an indoor/outdoor thermometer so I’m just guessing. By noon, it was in the mid-50s so off to the pool and hot tub. Pretty nice with the entertaining clouds and a couple of other people enjoying their outdoor time. One was a volunteer here at the campground and had a lot of good info on the Thousand Trails system.

Looked into a few more things on the coach. I found the outlet for the engine heater in the same bay as the 50amp shore power cord. The good news is that the outlet works and can be turned on/off from a switch on the dash. The bad news is that no current is flowing so I’ll need to crawl under and find the other end of the cord. It’s supposed to go to a freeze plug heater.

The other concern was blue smoke when cold started. According to the Internet, the most common reason was from overfilling with oil. According to the most recent paperwork, they put in 7 gallons of oil. The Cat C7 was available with two oil pans. 5.5 gallons and 7 gallons. Checking the dip stick it’s over an inch above the full mark. So need to stop at an oil/lube shop. Many of the truck stops such as Pilot or TA have them.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll be helping Dave install a stereo in his truck...

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Day 33 -Sunriver, OR - TT

Picture is Bridget’s 
Today, we left the fairgrounds and headed for the Thousand Trails campground in Sunriver. According to the GPS, the best route was on Hwy 58 south of Eugene. That sounded good to me. Before leaving, I was wondering if the engine would get hot towing the car over the mountains. I’m happy to report that the engine temperature never budged from 190°F for the entire trip. I’m pretty happy about that. I’m hoping the overheating on the first day was a fluke. We were in the truck lane anytime there was a steep uphill grade but other than that, we were able to maintain highway speeds with cruise control. The extra weight didn’t really make much of a difference. We’re still slow but that’s fine. As long as you aren’t the one behind us…

It took us about an hour to get the Prius on the tow dolly. I need to pick up a larger wrench as the bolt for the tire ratchets is around 1¼”. I also need to adjust the length of the straps holding the tires. When we arrived at the campground, we removed the car to make it easier to find a suitable site. Kind of wet today. The forecast is for dryer weather.

I think I’m going to rewire the right turn signal directly to the seven pin trailer connector. It works but blinks oddly compared to the rewired left signal. I’m guessing that some sort of electronic module is somewhere to isolate the trailer from the coach lights. Since the lights on the tow dolly are LED, it shouldn’t matter much as they draw minimal current. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Day 31, 32 - Corvallis, OR

Not much to report. I have the car dolly set up for the Prius. I am disappointed to find out that the left turn signal pin doesn’t work on the seven pin trailer connector. There were a pile of wires hacked into the connector wiring as a six pin trailer connector was “installed” using Scotch-Locks. I hate those things. I pulled all of that out and will start over tomorrow running a new wire to the seven pin connector from the left turn signal unless I can identify the broken wire.

Tuesday Afternoon - This morning I picked up the rest of the stuff that I had brought down from Fairbanks. The e-bikes didn’t fit easily into the basement storage and ended up taking a lot of space. Between the e-bikes, the kayak and the empty suitcases, the basement storage is getting full (by volume not weight).

I also ran a new wire directly from the left turn signal to the seven pin trailer connector. Without a good wiring diagram, any further diagnoses would be difficult. But for now, the turn signals work like they are supposed to. I may pick up some magnetic, LED lights to put onto the back of the Prius at some time.

Tomorrow, we are heading to the Thousand Trails campground in Sunriver, OR. We plan on staying there for ten days. Travel costs this month have been through the roof between air travel and over 5,000 miles on the road. The Thousand Trail locations are prepaid for the year so we are going to take advantage of that for a bit. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Day 30 - Salem, OR

Today was a moto-blogger meetup. Brad (Troubadour), Brandy (Trobairitz), myself, Lynne (Curvyroads), Bridget and Jerry. We met up at Marco Polo, a Chinese and Italian place  in downtown Salem. Excellent food and even better company. We arrived around 2 and didn’t get out until after 5.  I had met up with them before heading to Atlanta but Bridget hadn’t met Lynne and Jerry before nor had they met Brad and Brandy.

When we were paying the bill, I noticed that Jerry had the same brand of wallet that I’ve been using for years. Big Skinny. It turned out the five of us had the same brand. We figured that they sell them at many motorcycle shows. Bridget has never been to a motorcycle show so she didn’t have one. I thought it was unusual. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Day 28, 29 - Corvallis, OR

I had to switch sites this morning and I think it may be a nicer site. Only 30 amp power and no sewer connection but it’s next to trees and a nice garden. On Saturday morning, Bridget arrived at the Eugene airport with two dogs and a smelly cat. It took them a bit to locate the dogs in Seattle which delayed their flight for a bit. Now time to sort and unpack all of the stuff I brought down. It has been challenging to find things in the many containers and bags.


There is an OSU football game today and this is one of the parking lots and shuttle stops for the stadium. Quite a few cars and the shuttle stop is just a few hundred feet from where we are parked. The garden is nice with grass just a few steps from the door. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Day 27 - Corvallis, OR

From the picture, you may be able to tell that it was a photo-light day. Ran a lot of errands to Home Depot, Petco, and Fred Meyer. Plus a stop at Starbucks. I picked up a drop hitch ball mount for the coach plus one for the Prius. I figured that if we ever needed to just move the tow dolly around, having a 2" ball on the Prius may be handy. There was initially some confusion on my part as the coach has a Reese Class V hitch. According to the Internet, the Reese class V hitch has a 2½" receiver. But when I measured it, it still uses a 2" receiver. The Prius has a 1¼" receiver and according to Toyota, it has a towing capacity of zero. I installed the hitch mount back when the car was new so there would someplace to attach a tow rope in case it got stuck in the snow. I also needed to borrow large wrenches from my brother-in-law since, for some reason, I didn't bring any large wrenches with me. Large as in for a 1½" nut.

Other errands were to find kitty litter and some random hardware to fix the passenger electric shade. I still need to replace the batteries in several TPMS sensors but haven't found my battery supply. But then again, I haven't looked very hard either. Tomorrow morning, I need to move to a different site here at the campground as they are completely booked up due to an OSU home football game.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Day 26 - Corvallis, OR

Today was a short driving day so I figured that it would be a good day to get the front valve stems replaced. I stopped at the Les Schwab in Albany, OR. The shop is first-come-first-serve so there was a couple of hour wait. That’s fine with me. I have time. They are equally puzzled about what can fail with a valve stem.

Later - The front tires have some balancing beads installed. There is a plastic “filter” to keep the beads out of the valve stem but it was broken and jammed inside the valve stem. It would break off the tip of any valve core installed which adds to the jam. I had them remove the beads and install new valve stems which should eliminate the problem. $131 price seemed reasonable for the amount of work performed.

At about 2:00, I arrived at the fairgrounds in Corvallis. They are letting me stay in a full hookup site for the next couple of days but will be moving Friday morning to a water/electric site. This place is going to be full as there is a home football game this weekend. BTW, no problem going under the railroad trestle. And I now have my 25’ tape measure. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Day 25 - McMinnville, OR - HH

The hardest part of today’s drive was going through Portland. The GPS said the “best” route between Baker City and the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum was through downtown Portland followed by stop & go along 99W. The museum allows overnight RV parking with the hope that you will visit the museum. Since I arrived around 3pm, there is only a couple of hours before closing so I probably won't be visiting the museum this time. We stopped here last April and not many RVs then. Today, there are around a dozen or so.

It has been raining for most of the drive but it's looking like it may be clearing up. I had heard that it was really hot here but that isn't the case right now. It's a very pleasant 69°F. With a window open plus the screen door, there is a nice breeze blowing through. 350 mile today and only about 50 miles to Corvallis tomorrow. My reservation at the fairground campground begins tomorrow. There were some crazy drivers today. The worst were the ones (multiple) staring at their phone while merging onto the interstate. I'm happy to report that the air horns on the RV work and seem to do a good job getting their attention. It seemed to get worse the closer I got to Portland.

Since I am parked on pavement, I took the opportunity to measure the height. Since I only have a 10’ tape measure with me, I had to measure in steps. 11’5” to the top of the awning bracket which is above the top of the edge of the roof. The A/C units are 13” high. So I guess the brochure listing of 12’9” is probably close enough. There is a railroad overpass that I need to under tomorrow that is 13’4” so I should easily clear it. This coach is around 5” lower than the 5th wheel. BTW, nice view from the windshield…

Monday, September 9, 2019

Day 24 - Baker City, OR

Today was 360 miles from Snowville, UT, to Baker City, OR. Followers of this blog may recognize this campground as the one that Bob and Karen stayed at back in 2012. Wow! Was it really that long ago... I called this morning from a rest area and they had one site left that I would be able to fit into so I went ahead and reserved it. Some (Bridget) may ask why not dry camp. It's hard to do when there isn't another person to be looking to see what is ahead. There was one Harvest Host but they wouldn't be open until Wednesday. No Walmarts, Cracker Barrel or Cabella's that allow overnight parking and the rest areas allow 2-hour parking only. So, RV park it is.

It isn't hot at all which is what I was expecting. In fact, 63°F with a slight breeze almost feels chilly. Maybe anything after the southeast feels chilly. It rained again while on the road but not the gully washer that was in Wyoming. Only a bit more to go. I may stay at a Harvest Host location tomorrow. The only one near here is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Lots of Oregon Trail signs along I-84. This one was next to the jacuzzi at the campground. They had hot tubs on the Oregon Trail?

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Day 23 - Snowville UT

I got an early start from the KOA campground in Laramie this morning. It went down to 42°F last night so I tested out both the heat pump in the front A/C unit and in the middle of the night switched to the two propane furnaces. All of them are controlled from the single thermostat control in the kitchen area. I'm not sure where the temperature sensors are actually located. Anyway, they all worked fine.

BTW, the refrigerator worked fine on propane last night and all day today. The upper compartment of the freezer is below 0°F so all works great. I was originally thinking of stopping in western Wyoming but shortly after passing Rock Springs, I ran into a storm. Lots of rain on the road. At least most of the bugs are now washed off the windshield.

After filling up north of Ogden, UT, I found a small RV park in the tiny town of Snowville. Shortly after setting up, the wind picked up and now the rain is really coming down here. Due to the wind, I brought the large dining/living slide in since the wind was blowing right under the slide topper. The wind died down after the thunder and lightning show. Now, it's just rain.

This is the view from the front windshield at the campsite. Not too shabby. At least until the storm came. Right now, I can see the trees but the mountains are lost in the low clouds and rain. Just in case, I turned everything off in the coach but the power never went out.

457 miles today. My reservation in Corvallis doesn't start until Wednesday so I have plenty of time to get there. Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah so far. Idaho and Oregon tomorrow...

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Day 22 - Laramie, WY

I left the Cabella's parking lot a bit before 9. Very relaxing place assuming that you aren't bothered by trains. I'm not bothered. It was a very pleasant 64°F but warmed up to about 87° by early afternoon. I-80 is in horrible shape at the eastern end of NE with expansion joints every 15' or so. After about 50 miles of this, the passenger sunshade let go. I cut the wire and will repair it when I get to OR. I did pick up some 5-min epoxy when I stopped at a Walmart to pick up some groceries. When I stopped in Laramie, the refrigerator indicated a propane fault. I suspect that this is from the really strong wind blowing into the vents on the side repeatedly blowing out the flame. It's working just fine now on propane and has been since leaving GA. I did not have the generator running today as the high winds were blowing the generator exhaust towards the cabin air intake.

When I arrived in Laramie, WY, I filled up at the Love's truckstop and when I was leaving, there was a KOA campground sign across the street. That sounded good to me as I was pretty tired from fighting the wind. Wind gusts to over 40 mph according to the highway signs. And it was from the west so it was a quartering to full headwind for much of the day. Add to that the elevation change from Nebraska to Wyoming (2200' to 8640') and it was a hard day for a vehicle shaped like a brick. The gas mileage for today was only 7.3 mpg. A drop of about 1.5 mpg from before. On the long grades, I would have to consciously slow down to keep the engine water temperature below 215°F. I think the cooling system may need to be looked at.

Trying out the heat pump tonight. It’s supposed to be in the mid-40s tonight. 367 miles today. Only 1126 miles to go on this leg of the trip. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Day 21 - Kearney, NE

Wow! It’s been 3 weeks already.

This morning, I thought that it would be a good idea to check the tire pressures. The valve core on the first tire I checked wouldn’t reseal. If I had them handy, I could’ve simply put the TPMS sensor on but that didn’t occur to me until later. I called Good Sam’s roadside assistance and they had a tire guy there in about 45 minutes. The replacement cores he had behaved similarly. He suggested replacing the valve stem but since I had the TPMS sensors, that works as fine for now. He checked the pressure in all the tires (all slightly low) and put sensors on all of the tires.

Today, I’m parked in the Cabella’s lot in Kearney, NE. 451 miles even with the late start. After the high 80s (°F) all day, the 69°F here in Kearney feels pretty nice. After talking to the manager and picking up some water, I tried to pair all of the TPMS sensors with the display. Two of the sensors need new batteries as they don’t pair up. I have six batteries in Corvallis. But at least I have the right front tire which is the one in the picture. If I can had a ready supply of compressed air, I would swap the sensors since I still have two more. The left front would leak air until I had the new sensor screwed on.

I’m the only RV in the lot and there was a nice sunset. No specific destination tomorrow beyond somewhere in Wyoming along I-80. I heard that WY isn’t very boondocker friendly so I may be in a campground again. Thank you Cabella’s for allowing free overnight RV parking. Some of the AllStays reviews complained about trains but the tracks are quite a ways away and in the last hour, I’ve heard one go by.

BTW, I do plan on getting the valve stems replaced but it can wait until a more convenient location. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Day 20 - Columbia, MO

After the warm, muggy night at the Cracker Barrel, I looked for an RV park (with a pool) for today. Plus, I needed to refill the water tank. The inside electronic gauge for the propane tank was red so I stopped at a Flying J to get it filled. Only 12 gallons went in the 40 gallon tank. I guess I now know what “red” means for the propane tank. The tank itself has a gauge but it read less than half full.

St. Louis was the large city that I traversed today. I did see the Gateway Arch out the window but traffic was too heavy to take a picture. 390 miles today. I spent the evening enjoying the A/C, the pool, filling the water tank, emptying the black and grey tanks, using the automatic leveling system, watched some TV to see if they work (they do), and now I’m running a small load of laundry. Started laundry at 8:14pm.

Tomorrow I should be somewhere in Nebraska.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Day 19 (cont.) - Finally!

Today’s project was bugging Lori on the Stonecoat Countertop finish for the kitchen counters in their expedition vehicle. My role seemed to be making suggestions on her technique. Yes, I was a pest. But she did a fabulous job and the countertop looks fantastic. Around 2:00, we heard from the RV dealer that the refrigerator was working. We headed up to Ringgold, GA, after stopping to pick up Chris at his appointment. The refrigerator was working though the propane was low. I need to fill it up tomorrow. A huge thank you to Chris and Lori! I was their house guest for eleven days and they drove me up to Ringgold three times! Plus they had this very interesting project.

This is the second leg of the trip. From Ringgold, GA, to Corvallis, OR. Tonight, I’m parked at a Cracker Barrel in Clarksville, TN, taking advantage of their free RV parking. It was extremely crowded going through Chattanooga and Nashville. Not optimal conditions for learning to drive the new rig, I was planning to stop south of Nashville but traffic was very heavy and the parking lot at that Cracker Barrel was crowded. I didn’t feel like trying to snake a bus through the lot. So after finding a place to turn around, Onward towards St. Louis, MO. I ended up driving after sunset which is something that I’d rather not do with an unfamiliar vehicle. 189 miles today. Driving the coach (that seems to be what people call them) is pretty straightforward as long as you keep track of the wheels and the rear corners. The cruise control is nice to have and the exhaust brake really slows you down as it downshifts the transmission automatically. It seemed to run hot while climbing some grades in TN but the outside temperature was 98°F so maybe that is normal. I stopped at a truck stop and it took 65 gal at 1/3 tank. There were a lot of trucks waiting for fuel so it was a longish 30 minute stop.

More tomorrow. 

Day 17, 18, 19 - Atlanta, GA

Monday evening - Today, Labor Day, was another hot & humid one. By 11am it was around 90°F. I cut the plywood for the bed platform and we covered the plywood with a grey fabric. The fabric was the most challenging part as the plywood was in two pieces. Went with Chris & Lori to a neighborhood potluck and the hosts had wonderful barbecue pork and chicken along with mac and cheese and fabulous baked beans. And it’s always nice to meet new people.

Tuesday afternoon - Today was a quiet day doing laundry and getting some groceries in hopes of getting on the road soon. The tech was supposedly installing the cooling unit on the refrigerator which would be left running all night.

Wednesday morning - Well, not good news from the RV dealer. The tech is on his way back to the shop. Hopefully, better news later today...

Wednesday afternoon - On our way to the dealer! (Finally…)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Day 15, 16 - Atlanta, GA

Another hot and humid day. This picture is from Saturday after the openings for the rear windows were cut. After Saturday and Sunday, all of the windows are in and sealed. Brackets for two large aluminum tool boxes have been welded to the rear bumper and soon there will be a rear bumper. Countertops have been made and day/night shades fitted. I have been working on modifying two couches to fit the available space. The second picture shows them being test fitted. The whole habitat, which is what the living area is called, needed to be lifted up to get the fresh and grey tanks installed.


The couch project took me most of the day. Mostly removing hundreds of staples and figuring out how to reassemble the pieces and the fabric into a shorter couch that fits the available space. Including fitting then around the tracks for the bed platform. The platform is in the raised position but not quite high enough to stand under. This is quite the vehicle.