Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Storms in Des Moines and RV Work

Location: Saylorville Lake Campground (COE); near Des Moines, Iowa (elev 950 ft)

Note: all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia Icon cell phone

First, I need to apologize to two people who tried to leave comments on the last post. I don't know who you are because your comments flashed up for just a second, then *poof* they were gone. I may have imagined them, but I wanted to make sure someone didn't think their comment was being ignored. I bet they were two world changing comments too and they just disappeared. Wow.

I pulled out of the Kansas City area early and since no one else was leaving the campground, I took my time at the dump station. While emptying and flushing the tanks, I checked out the weather. I had been a little worried because there has been a low front hanging around north of KC with the possibility of thunderstorms. Sure enough, there were storms heading northeast on a parallel track to I-35 which was my planned route. Doing some quick math, I thought I might be able to get to the Iowa Welcome Center before the two lines crossed. If I made it, I was leaving early enough so I would have time to park and wait for the storms to pass. But, of course, "the best laid plans of mice and men". The first storm hit me about 45 minutes from the welcome center, it was a short but vicious storm that left me driving blind for a short while. It passed quickly, then stopped raining entirely. My gas stop was about 30 miles before the welcome center so I made it in a drizzling rain. The clouds were banking up again and the last blinding storm was still fresh in my memory. I decided to go for it since the welcome center would be a better place to hole up than this gas station. So off I went, one hand on the steering wheel and the other calling up Accuweather radar. It was a close one, but I pulled into the welcome center and shut it down for about an hour while the strong storms passed over. A short nap later, and I was now north of the front and the storms were passing to the east and south. It was an easy drive onto the next campground.
I knew the storms path and my path were going to cross sooner or later. You can see the downpour ahead. Luckily it was just thunderstorms with moderate winds. No tornadoes.

The first storm passed quickly and the sky looked clear. The storms came back as I approached the welcome center.
This campground is another Corp of Engineers Campground, and with my one week old, old timers pass, the cost is only $11.00 per night. The campsites only have electric and you have to fill up your water tanks either at the dump station or one of the water spigots scattered around the campground. I chose to get water at the dump station since it was empty. As I was finishing up, an older class C camper pulled in with two ladies about my age or slightly older. They were unsure what to do so I helped them fill their water tanks. Then one opened the water heater panel and a brand new anode rod was laying there. I told them what it was and then pointed to where it went. Ut oh, there wasn't one installed. I went to get my tools to put it in for them but as I was doing so, the threads wouldn't start. I looked closely and calcium scale had hardened on the threads preventing the threads from catching. I informed them about the problem and showed it to them. I told them they needed a small wire brush to clean the threads before the anode could be installed. They said they would take care of it and we went our separate ways. I guess it must have just been a strange day since while I was setting Liberty up, two older men in two Class C's pulled up to the water spigot close to my campsite. I could see they were struggling with what to do. I asked if they needed help and sure enough, they needed it. I helped them add Clorox to their water tanks and let them use by filler hose and Clorox dispenser. I'm not sure what was going on because during conversation, they said they live in Des Moines and camp here a lot. Oh well, I built up a little karma, so I was happy.
It's a nice campsite with 50 amp service and new, level concrete pads. All for $11.00 a night, loving it. 
I also went to Home Depot and Walmart today in between storms. I bought some nuts and bolts to take care of my spare tire bracket. Having the lugs on the bracket spin without loosening won't happen again like they did after the blow out. I'm posting pictures here to document the work for future reference.
These are the two culprits. I kept them so I could embarrass them by posting about them. You can see where the square part of the carriage bolt has been rounded, thus the reason it was just spinning. The flat pieces were what was suppose to keep them from spinning. 

New set up with new carriage bolt. Also a washer set up with a final lock washer and nut. This ain't going to spin and of course if it does spin in the future, I won't post about it here. lol

Spare tire mounted. More secure than that original set up. The center blot is what holds the hard tire cover. If you're wondering what that white stuff is around my electrical cord, it's cotton twine. I wrapped it around so I could soak it with ant and roach spray to prevent bugs from crawling up the electrical cord. 
Some of my karma paid off today. I passed an RV place and took a chance they may have that center dust cover that is missing on the right tire. The original one is somewhere along the Indian Nation Turnpike along with parts of my old tire. Sure enough, they had the part. Also, while I was waiting I found a furnace floor register vent that I had been looking for. It is an odd ball size (2" X 10"), but they had one. I left the place in a really good mood. Karma sure is good when it is working in your favor. :)

Storms are popping up all around my location with a Tornado Watch to the northeast of me. I have a local radio station tuned in that is giving weather updates. I guess that is something I'm missing about not having my TV working. Usually, when storms were around, I could turn on the TV and get local weather updates, especially hazardous weather. Since something happened to my roof antenna, I guess I'll look into one of those antennas that mount directly to the TV. I'm sitting in prime tornado territory and this weather front is still hanging around. The forecast calls for more storms tomorrow but with clearing on Friday which is the next moving day.
This is the view across the fields today. They are definitely "pop-corn" storms. Popping up here, there, everywhere.
The weather has put a stop to any exploring. But that may just be an excuse since I didn't see a lot to explore in this area. I was able to make reservations at the next three campgrounds and takes me through June 30th. I'll need to decide which direction I go after that. East into Wisconsin and Michigan or west through Minnesota and North Dakota. I'm leaning towards west since I've never seen North Dakota. My father was there once and he always said,,,, "North Dakota was so flat that you could turn a bucket of water upside-down, remove the bucket and the water just stand there because it didn't know which way to run." If I heard that once, I heard it a hundred times. From what I've checked, there isn't a lot to see in North Dakota, but I guess its one of those things I have to see for myself. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Monday, June 18, 2018

National WWI Memorial and I'm Sick

Location: Blue Springs Campground; Lee's Summit, Missouri (elev. 910 ft)

The second item on my "to see" list for Kansas City was the National World War I Memorial. I've been to a lot of war memorials in my travels but I think this one is the oldest at 92 years. It was first built by the people of Kansas City and opened its doors in 1926. It wasn't until 2004 that Congress recognized it as an Memorial and not until 2014 that they allowed it to be called the National WWI Museum and Memorial. To all of those Kansas City people,,,,,,ya'll did good.
Entrance with the Memorial Tower

A view of Kansas City from the top of the tower

Another view from the tower

As I said, I've visited several war museums. I've seen enough uniforms, weapons etc and they are of little interest to me anymore. I look for other things now a days. For instance, my generation was taught in school that some Archduke was assassinated and that brought the world to war. Well, that is sort of true, but like Paul Harvey used to say,,,,, now the rest of the story. First, I'm not a historian by a long shot and usually just try to simply some things in history to make it easier for me to understand. So, after that disclaimer,,,lol,,, The first world war was more of a Family Feud. The heads of state in Britain, Germany and Russia were all first cousins and grandchildren of Queen Victoria. As Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany said,,,, paraphrased,,,, "if Queen Victoria had been alive, she wouldn't have allowed them to go to war." That sort of puts it into perspective uh? A bunch of "royals" got mad at each other and lot of people died. 

It was suppose to be the "war to end all wars" but in reality, it simply set the stage for World War II. The winners of the war put such restrictions on Germany, it led to the rise of Hitler which proved even more devastating to the world. 

As you enter the museum, you cross a transparent bridge with lots of silk poppies under the bridge. These represent a strange fact about the war in Europe. People began to notice that after battles, poppies began to grow everywhere. Come to find out, it was because of the nitrate in the munitions used during the battle plus decomposing bodies. It was as if nature was trying to beautify something that had been ugly and terrible. Even today, the poppy is the official flower of the VFW and is used by other veteran groups during fundraisers and as a means to honor the war dead.
It was hard to get a good picture of the poppies but here it is.

  In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

They give you copy of the poem above after you cross the bridge and enter the museum. If you are like me, it sounded familiar. I guess the museum guy saw my puzzled look and said most people remember it from school when lots of us had to memorize it. Let me know if your one of those.

Another part of museum I liked was a part with giant paintings on the walls. The details were fantastic. I did the best I could about taking pictures of them but you really have to see them for yourself.

Well, tomorrow is moving day and I'm sick. I very rarely ever get sick, but I've got a runny nose, coughing and sneezing with a tickle in my throat. I got out today to get my propane tank filled as well as a few things from Walmart. You know Walmart is suppose to have everything but I looked and looked today but couldn't find something that I really needed. I searched for the perfect female to put her hand on my forehead and say, "it'll be OK, you will feel better soon." I never found her, so I just came on back to Liberty and will suffer alone and in silence. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

RV Weight and The Truman Library

Location: Blue Springs Campground; Lee's Summit, Missouri (elev. 910 ft)

I pulled out of the casino campground about 9:00 am and crossed the state line into Missouri about 5 minutes later. I hadn't realized I was that close. My plan was to stop at a Flying J Truck Stop just outside of Joplin, Missouri to fuel up, get weighed at their Cat scales and get a wash at the Blue Beacon next door. Well, two out of three ain't bad. As I was on the scales getting weighed, I counted the number of 18 wheelers waiting in line to be washed. It looked like two lanes, six trucks deep. I wasn't going to wait that long for a wash job, so I just fueled up, got my weight ticket ($11.50) and headed north. 
I remembered to get a picture of the Casino campsite.

The last time Freedom and Liberty were weighed was back at the FROG rally in August of 2014. I was anxious to see the difference. 
The CAT scale ticket. $11.50 for a certified weight seems very reasonable. 
The steer and drive axle weights are Freedom's axles. The drive axle is also carrying the pin weight of Liberty. Freedom's carrying capacity is far greater than anything Liberty can throw her way, so to simply things, the critical number is the trailer axle weight. The CAT scale weighs both trailer axles at the same time instead of separately like I had done at the rally. The CAT number of 8,000 pounds averages to 4,000 pounds per axle which is the rated load of Liberty's trailer axles. The rally weight from 4 years ago had the combined axles at 7,550 so essentially, Liberty has gained 450 pounds. Part of that is some extra fresh water I was carrying. I estimate that water weight to be about 200 pounds so I need to try to figure out the extra 250 pounds. I'm not overly concerned with it since I'm within range and feel comfortable about the weight. 

Some people were asking questions about the new tires on Liberty. They are ST tires, which stand for Special Trailer. Basically, you have passenger tires, light truck tires (LT) and special trailer (ST) tires. I was told years ago, the ST is just like LT except it has stronger sidewalls to resist curb scuffing. Lot's of people run LT's on their trailers and like most things in the RV community, it is open for discussion as to what's best. I run ST's. To give an idea about Liberty's tires. She originally came with ST tires with a load rating "C", 6 ply, max 50 psi,  with a carrying weight of a little over 2,000 pounds. After about 6,000 miles of traveling, I got worried about the original tires due to a small leak and the horror stories I had read about tires made in China. I changed them out for Goodyear Marathon's which, come to find out, were also made in China. This time I upgraded and went with load rating "D", 8 ply, max 65 psi, carrying weight about 2,500 pounds. These lasted about 30,000 miles before the blow out. The new tires are Goodyear Endurance with a load rating of "E", 10 ply, max 80 psi, with a carrying weight of 2,800 pounds. But remember, Liberty's axles are rated at 4,000 pounds so 2,800 pounds per tire is greater than the axle rating, so the axle still controls the weight. Whew,,,,,, that was long winded. 
The most important information on the tire is it's birthdate. Actually, it is its "birthweek". After the DOT number, you will find four numbers. On these new tires, it is 1518. That means the tires were made in the 15th week of 2018. You have to be careful of some tire dealers who try to pass off older tires to unsuspecting customers. The age of a tire is just as critical as the number of miles on the tire.
The trip to Kansas City was uneventful which is good with me. It was all on I-49 and although it was bumpy in places, I didn't hear a lot of cussing coming from Freedom. I haven't found out where those cuss words come from inside Freedom. All I know is I travel alone but sometimes I hear a cuss word. Those dang Ford engineers,,, yep. 

This campground is a county owned campground on the edge of a Corps of Engineer built lake. It's a nice campground that is laid out a little funny but, it's OK. My site is level and I have one tree that provides afternoon shade which is needed since they are having a little heat wave here. The daytime highs are mid 90's but luckily the humidity is only in the 50 to 60 percent range. Unfortunately, I only have 30 amp service for Liberty. That means the water heater is on gas and I can only run one AC unit at a time. Well, I can run both of them, but it puts me right on the 30 amp limit and the outside breaker will flip sometimes. So, I've been getting by with only one. It also means I need to turn the AC off if I want to use the microwave or coffee pot. It's not totally necessary but if the microwave is running and the AC starts up it may flip the breaker. The site is also electric only, meaning no water. You have to fill up your fresh water tank before getting to your site. I arrived with almost a full tank of fresh water so I was good to go. 
My campsite with shade tree

A small portion of Blue Springs Lake.
There were two things I wanted to see in the Kansas City area. One was the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence which is just slightly outside of Kansas City proper. I visited it yesterday and it was an enjoyable couple of hours. 

I won't go into a long history about his life and Presidency but will only hit a few highlights. He was the only President that was in combat during World War I. He was a last minute choice for VP on FDR's fourth term. The Democrat party knew FDR would not survive his fourth term due to his failing health. They were right and within weeks of being sworn in, FDR passed away leaving Truman with the Presidency. He won a term on his own so he essentially served for 8 years. A few of his highlights: He made the fateful decision to drop two atomic bombs on Japan to end the war. He was instrumental in forming the United Nations and used the UN to fight the Korean conflict. He was the first to recognize Israel as a country in 1948. He stopped the communists from taking over Turkey and Greece (Truman Doctrine). He rebuilt Europe and Asia with the Marshal Plan. He helped create NATO. 

There is just too much to go through about his life and times. The library does great job of putting it all together and in perspective. Like so many times during the history of the U.S., he was the right man at the right time. 

Well, I need to be going to see the second thing I came here to see.
My fortune cookie from yesterday. Hmmmm.
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Tire Blow-Out and Good Sam's Road Service

Location: Whispering Woods RV Park; Wyandotte, Oklahoma (elev. 920 ft)

This will be a brief post since I'll be hitching up in an hour or so to head farther north. This RV park is part of the Indigo Sky Casino which is one of about 100 Indian casinos in Oklahoma. I don't have a picture of it since I forgot to take one yesterday but it is generally a big parking lot with water/electric hookups. When I registered, they gave me a players card with $7.00 for joining and $20.00 for be a veteran. I was kind of tired from the events of the day so instead of spending an hour or two on the quarter slots, I went big and tried the $1.00 slots. Of course they trick you into using some of your own money to get access to the credits they give you. I had to use one of my own dollars to get the ball rolling. Oh well, after about 10 minutes, I used up the $27.00 credits and went back to Liberty.  

The tow was suppose to be a boring 240 mile trip up the Indian Nation Turnpike, but we all need a little excitement now and then. I was cruising along about 65 mph and the TPMS (tire monitor) was saying everything is OK. Then there was a bump and as I looked in my right side mirror I saw a "tire pelt" fly off to the shoulder. I thought that was strange because I surely would have avoided something that big. At that time, the TPMS alarm went off and I realized, Heck, that was my pelt that went flying. I had a blow out. At no time were Freedom and Liberty out of control and I eased them over to the shoulder. (Note: this is one of the reasons I always prefer towing on roads with shoulders). The shoulder was wide enough for the right side tires to stay on the paved shoulder while still getting us out of the travel lane. Ok, first real blow out. First, I look at the tire and see the entire tread gone. This explained the slight delay between me seeing the tire pelt fly to the shoulder and the TPMS alarm going off. Apparently, the tread left but the tire still retained air for a while. The tread leaving the scene quickly also prevented a lot of damage to Liberty. I've seen pictures of blow outs with the tread hanging on and beating the heck out of the RV. I think I was lucky that it was the front tire that blew out since once the tread separated, the back tire ran over it and pulled it off quickly and threw it away, like ripping a band aid off.

Now I'm stranded on the should of the Indian Nation Turnpike. I have two options. I can call one of my road service providers which may take who know how long for someone to arrive or I can change it myself. I decided to change it myself. I knew from the TPMS that the spare tire was a little low on air, so I decided to remove it and let it be airing up while I removed the blow out. This would also allow time for the tire to cool down before handling it. Well, that plan didn't work. The two lug nuts and the lug itself holding the spare tire to the bracket would just spin and not come off. Ut oh, this was going to be a two person job just to remove the spare tire, one to hold the lug while the other removing the lug nut. Being an open minded sort of man and after one blister on my palm, I decided to re-evaluate the situation and call the road service provider and hope for the best. I called Good Sam's Roadside Assistance which I pay about $80.00 per year to be at my "beck and call". I called the number and was put on hold while "waiting for the next available operator". Uhmmm. After a few minutes, LaToya answered and in a very perky voice asked what she could do to assist me. I explained the situation and she dutifully collected the information. Since I had been tracking my trip, I knew I was exactly 31 miles north of the beginning of the turnpike at Hugo. She said she would find someone and either text me the information or call me back. I waited and waited for a very long time  about 5 minutes before calling Good Sam's back to find out why after such a long time nothing had happened. The new operator said LaToya was in the process of calling me. So I took LaToya's call and she said someone was headed my way and would be there in about 30 minutes. I was OK with that amount of time so I wandered over to the shade of the trees along the right-of-way to wait. While there, I started thinking about where I was going to get a new tire. So, I pulled out my phone and did a quick search for Goodyear dealers near me. I found one about 30 miles north of me in the town of McAlister and it was right along the route I planned to take. I called them and talked to Jay. I gave him the tire size and sure enough, he had one. I asked how big their place was since I was towing a fifth-wheel trailer. He said no problem, they handle 18 wheelers all the time. Alright, I told him I would be there as soon as I could after the road service changed my tire and to please set a tire aside for me. He said, no problem, he had five of that size. We hung up and I continued my wait. Ummmmm,,,, he has 5 tires. The tire that blew out had about 30,000 miles on it and was 3 years old. That meant the other three were in the same condition. I called ole Jay back and asked if he had sold those tires in the last 3 minutes since we talked last. He laughed a little, I said I was serious, he said, "no sir". So I double checked the tire size with him as well as the load rating. I said I needed at least a D rating, he said the ones he had were E rating which is a step above what I had on Liberty. He gave me a price of $125.00 each plus balance and mounting cost. I immediately told him to put four aside for me and I would be there soon. He said OK. About 10 minutes later, the road service crew showed up. It was two older men in a tow truck that was at least 30 years old. But they had been doing this type of work for a while and was quick and efficient. They removed the spare tire and I put my compressor to work airing it up while they started on the blown out tire. I had already set up the Trailer Aid ramp to aid in removing the tire. It worked like a champ and within about 15 minutes, they had everything taken care of and the blown tire placed in the bed of Freedom. I offered them $10.00 a piece, but they refused. I tried twice but they said Good Sam's paid for their service. I asked if it was enough, and they said it sure was so I put the money back in my pocket. We shook hands and I left. 

I stayed under 55 mph on the trip to the Goodyear dealer. Once I got there, Jay was at lunch, but his boss took care of me and within 10 minutes, I was driving Freedom and Liberty into the bay to have four new tires put on. They said it would take about an hour. I walked across the street to a restaurant and got some pretty good sausage and biscuits while waiting. Well, within one hour, I had four new, reasonably priced, higher rated, tires on Liberty and we were rolling on down the road again. 

All in all, from the time of the blow out to the time I was back on the road, with four new tires, was about 3 hours. I'm very satisfied with that. Good Sam's proved they were worth being my primary road service provider and Goodyear did their part at getting new shoes on Liberty in a quick manner. I'm also lucky the blow out didn't do any major damage to Liberty, and that there was a nice place to pull over safely. Yeah, someone is still looking out for me.

Ok, time to get a shower, hitch up and head north to Kansas City. There will be a stop along the way at a Flying J to get gas and a weigh at a Cat scale. There is also a Blue Beacon Truck/RV Wash next door that I'll try since I didn't go to the one in Shreveport on my way out of town.  

Emptying tanks on the way out of the campground. 

Long road ahead on the Indian Nation Turnpike

Not a good view, but the front tire is the blow out.

My view from the shade, while waiting for the road service people to arrive. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Hugo, Internet Limbo and Senior Pass!!!

Location: Kiamichi Corps of Engineers Campground; Hugo, Oklahoma (elev. 430 ft)

I arrived here after a 238 mile tow with one gas stop. It felt good to be on the road again. I didn't turn the radio on and just listened to Freedom and Liberty sing their song. One of the songs their tires sang was  America The Beautiful. The main reason for me coming to this COE campground was to buy my Annual Senior Pass. It gets me in free to all National Parks and Monuments as well gives me half off on camping fees at Corp of Engineers campgrounds. There are other benefits, but these are the main one for me. The government recently increase the price for these passes, but they are still very much worth the cost. You can buy a lifetime pass (no expiration) for $80.00. I chose to buy the Annual Pass for $20.00. I'll continue buying annual passes as long as I've traveling. After you buy four Annual Passes, it converts to a lifetime pass. So, the annual pass is like buying a lifetime pass, but on time. As an example of its benefit and worth, before buying the pass, my two days of camping here cost $44.00 ($22.00 per day). After paying $20.00 for the pass, I immediately saved $22.00. So far, I'm $2.00 ahead and just started using it. I've waited a long time to get this pass and now I have one. As my father would say, "Good deal, Lucille"

I seem to be in Internet Limbo today. My data speed and phone connection keeps cycling between 1X, 3G and LTE4G. It was fine yesterday but started acting up last night as I began this post and it has continued on thru today. I've seen this before and I think it is either a cell tower having problems which means I have to connect with a tower farther away or I'm situated close to the middle between two towers and I keep breaking connection with one and connecting with the other. I don't like it and hope it corrects itself tomorrow when I move farther north. 

When I pulled out my right blinker on Liberty wasn't working and I immediately thought a bulb had went out. After about an hour I thought it may have been a bad electrical connection between Freedom and Liberty. Since I was on I-49 north of Shreveport and traffic was light, I pulled over on one of the acceleration lanes and disconnected and reconnected a couple of time. Bingo, that solved it. Who knows, maybe it was a spider or something up in there that prevented a solid connection or maybe a little corrosion. Either way, I can now tell people I want to turn right, which is always a good thing.
Greg Wall and I worked together for decades. He passed away from cancer shortly after I retired and hit the road. He retired while on extended sick leave and passed shortly afterwards. His retirement plans were to breed cows and grow his small herd. He didn't get a chance to do that. I also buried another friend a couple of months ago, also as a result of cancer. He retired after 33 years with the Department, but passed away shortly after his retirement. His passion was guitars. He loved to buy them and "jam". He didn't do it nearly enough. There have been many, many of my friends and co-workers who have passed away before being able to do what they had planned.

Don't wait too late. 

Typical roadway in north Louisiana and southern Arkansas. The pine trees line the right-of-way giving the "tunnel effect". 

Passing through small town USA. At least the clouds kept the sun from shinning too brightly.

A short overlay project. The advance signing, traffic control and quality of work looked good. I didn't stop to ask about the QC/QA tests so I just did a visual inspection. :)

Wait a minute. Why are these clouds getting darker. It wasn't suppose to rain on my way. I grabbed my phone and checked Accuweather. Random thunderstorms in the area and along my route. I passed through a couple but overall, it wasn't a major problem.
This COE campground has very few campers. In fact the number or camp hosts/workers seem to outnumber the campers. The campground appears dated and the layout and size of the campsites are just minimal for my needs. I am lucky in that I have 50 amp service and water at the campsite. I'll use the dump station on the way out. You would think with the number of camp workers, every overhanging tree limb up to 15 feet high would be trimmed. But nope, I had to doge several limbs on my way in to the campground and my site. 
Looking over mostly vacant campsites. The lake in the background is a large and pretty lake. I figure this place is packed on the weekends but I'm not sure where the people come from since Hugo is a small town. 

Liberty parked on her level concrete pad. She catches the afternoon sun broadside. I thought I chose the site better when looking online, but didn't. Oh, well, with 50 amp service, both A/C's can keep up with the low 90's temperatures. 
Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be headed up to an Indian Casino on the Oklahoma/Missouri border. I'm anxious to get there since there isn't anything real interesting in this town, but hey,,,, I got my senior pass which was the main objective. 

I'm going to try to post this without proof reading it so maybe it will post while I temporarily have a good connection.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Tomorrow is Moving Day, Ready or Not

Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

All "necessary" preparations have been made to hitch up and pull out tomorrow morning. Notice I put necessary in quotes. That's because I didn't finish my to-do list. I took a second and third look at the list and prioritized it into things that absolutely needed to get done, like greasing the hitch, stowing stuff away, etc. The second priority was things that would be nice to do but I could still travel even if I didn't do them. To be honest, that second part is a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be at first. 

I emptied my tanks and took on about 3/4 of tank of fresh water. I also threw away my sewer hose and fresh water hose. They have been sitting in the weather for 10 months. Yep, I've been stationary for 10 months!! Anyway, I threw away those old hoses, even though they were still usable, and bought new ones. I also installed a Valterra valve on both of my tank pipes. My black and galley valves were leaking a little bit every now and then. I was surprised a couple of times when I removed the cap to empty my tanks. I haven't traveled with these valves in place yet so I don't know for sure if they will stay or vibrate themselves loose. I'll know by tomorrow afternoon. If they work, it is a very cheap fix instead of replacing the existing valves.

My plan if to leave about 9 or 10 in the morning before it gets too hot and humid. My next campground will be Kiamichi Park on the banks of Hugo Lake near the city of Hugo, Oklahoma. It will be about 200 miles. It is a Corps of Engineers campground and I plan to purchase my Annual Senior Pass there and use it immediately. The pass costs $20.00 and I will save that much in the two days I'll be camped there. The Pass is good at all National Parks and Monuments as well as half price on COE campgrounds. 

A thunderstorm is blowing through as I write this post. So far, just thunder but no rain. Another storm blew through yesterday while I was away from Liberty. I could tell the wind had been strong because pine needles were sticking to the side of Liberty. As soon as I got in and turned the A/C lower, the power went out. It was out for about 5 hours but luckily the storm brought cooler weather and with my two exhaust fans going, it wasn't too uncomfortable. But today, my TV isn't receiving any over the air TV channels. I tried a DVD and it worked, so the TV is working. I'm afraid the winds my have damaged my antenna but I won't know for a while since I'm not climbing up there to see before leaving tomorrow. While traveling, TV is not important to me and I've gone weeks and weeks without it being turned on. If it's broken, I may wait to have it looked at when I get back in the fall. 

I know I'm forgetting something in the way of preparing to leave, but since I can't think of it, it must not be important. If I remember it, then it will move up in status and become important. I'll take my time hitching up tomorrow since it's been so long since I've done it. Hopefully I'll remember all the steps. If I get to Oklahoma and not have Liberty with me, then I'll know it's time to hang up the keys for good. 

On one of my many breaks from preparing for the trip I put together my travel stats since I started fulltime RV'ing back on April 11, 2014. That has been 4 years and 2 months. Since then, I've towed Liberty 35,372 miles and passed through or camped in 45 states. The states missing are: Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Delaware. I've camped in 203 campground with 105 being state/federal/county. The miles traveled between campgrounds is an average of 175 miles. Sometimes, all of those places are a blur and other times they are clear as bell. I sure am glad I began this blog because it is just like my external memory.

I'll end this post with one of my favorite quotes from a movie. The movie isn't a favorite of mine, but this particular quote is a good one for RV travelers.

"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."

Pictures in the next post, I promise. :)

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Five More Days before Shoving Off

Location: New Rockdale RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

This post and the two prior to it shows some of the planning and preparations before hitting the road. It is a little boring but I remember reading similar blog posts before I retired and found them interesting and useful. I hope these prove so for some readers. Experienced RV'er may get bored. Sorry.

Well, it's down to five more days before being on the road again. I've slowly but surely have been plugging away with the preparations. After sitting still for over six months, it takes a while to get ready to roll. I've went through all of the cabinets and storage places to see what is what and where it's at. Some of the stuff that I haven't used in the 4 years on the road, found its way into the dumpster or to one of the local homeless shelters. Some of the good stuff was set next to the dumpster and quickly disappeared. I don't know how I got so many extra clothes and shoes, but almost 3 full garbage bags went to the homeless shelter. Most of the shoes and much of clothes were brand new and never been worn. I don't know what happened because when I originally moved into Liberty, I made it a point to only take what I absolutely needed. Oh well, it's good to go now and it makes Liberty lighter by a hundred pounds or more. 

Freedom got her oil changed and tires rotated from the dealership where I bought her. They didn't recognize her since she has put on 100,000 miles since then. She definitely needs a bath but I don't do that very often. I purposely bought a dark shade of truck to hide the dirt easily. Liberty could use a good washing too. I plan to take care of both of them on my way out of town next Tuesday. There is a Blue Beacon Truck/RV Wash on the outskirts of Shreveport along I-20. I went by and saw their operation and talked to some of their employees and they assured me it would be safe for both Freedom and Liberty. They wash about 6 to 10 RV's every day. The local RV dealerships use them as well. They are super reasonable as to the price. I should get both washed and RainX applied for under $75.00. If it works out good, I'll be stopping by there on my way in and out of this area as well as looking for more along the road. I'll post a follow up on the quality of work and final price. I hope it is good. 

In the last post, I posted a picture of a bird nest on my back ladder. I finally saw it sitting on the nest and it turned out to be a Mocking Bird. After she flew off, I checked out the nest and there were four eggs in it. I knew it would be a week or two for them to hatch and then another couple weeks to fly off. I hated doing it, but I couldn't pull out with chicks in the nest, so I took the nest, with the eggs in it, and threw it in the weeds away from Liberty. I heard a mocking bird for a couple days afterwards, but nothing recently. Also, the bluebirds that nested in the void under the kingpin have hatched and all flown away. This is the second year in a row for them to use that nesting sight. As a result of another RV'er having bird problems under their slide-out awnings, I checked mine and they are all clear. I've never had any major problems with those awning and have only pulled my slides in once during a storm for fear of the wind destroying them. They have kept debris such as small limbs, acorns, gum balls, leaves and stuff from getting on my slides. If the slide is retracted with that debris on them, the debris can damage the seals on the slides. The slide-toppers are one of the better options I chose for Liberty.
Ladder without the birds nest. It was sad to remove it with the eggs but it had to be done. Also the slide topper on the left is bird and debris free. Good job.
 I also replaced the step covering on Liberty's steps. In the picture, the lower one is a store bought one that I bought a few years ago and the middle one is the new one I just replaced. The middle one is a cut-up piece of a cheap welcome mat I bought from Home Depot. It is held in place by two Velcro straps. The lower, store bought one, cost better than $10.00 while the home-made one cost less than $5.00. They help a lot witht keeping dirt and things out of the RV. The homemade one works especially well at getting ground stickers off my shoes. Some still find their way inside but I usually find them with my bare feet (ouch).

I also greased up the kingpin and replaced the lube plate. I haven't serviced the fifth wheel hitch in the bed of Freedom yet, but will get to it before leaving. I also checked the air in the Freedom tires by using the Pressure and Temperature Monitor. They are down about 5 pounds each, which is very good after sitting up as long as it's been. Apparently the batteries in the sensors are still doing good. They have been constantly working for 4 years and still going strong. They are another one of the good things I bought before hitting the road. I will also need to re-align my big patio awning so it closes all the way. I don't know if I'll pop a rivet to keep it in the proper position or not since I rarely use it on the road or during the winter months. 

An overall picture. The TV antenna on top picks up the local over the air stations. I get about 12 or so stations. 

To remind me the antenna is up, I tie a bright yellow plastic bag on the crank inside Liberty. It is always in the way, on purpose, so I'll remember it is up.
I've made a few changes to the route and campgrounds. I won't be staying at the Twin Bridges State Park and instead will be staying at the Whispering Woods RV Park which is an Indian casino just down the road from the state park. I'll also break one of my rules and only stay there one night instead of the usually 2 night minimum. I have reservations all the way through to Des Moines, Iowa. After that, I'm having some second thoughts about Minneapolis and may swing east towards Lake Michigan then north to Lake Superior. I'm not sure yet about the change in route. I guess you know you're a full time RV'er when you casually talk about "swinging east" and "turning at Lake Michigan", etc. I like it and it comes natural to me. I guess I was meant for this life. I'll also need to start planning for a place to camp for the Fourth of July. Most campgrounds are full on holidays. I'm hoping since the Fourth falls on a Wednesday this year, it won't be as bad finding an available campsite.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.