Of course, as John Lennon once said, life is what happens when you are making other plans. I have a medical problem come up that required surgery, and it wasn’t anything I could postpone. And in diagnosing the problem they took X-rays, and those disclosed a possible heart problem that meant I have to meet with my cardiologist. Neither of these ended up being anything major. The biggest problem with my cardiologist, for instance, was getting an appointment in less than two months time. I was able to do it by visiting him in a more remote location from the main office because he had an opening there. And other than a small change in medications, when I told him we were planning to go out west and do things like hiking he thought it was splendid idea and encouraged me to keep doing it. But our original departure date of December 2 was throroughly thrown out the window, and we now had a date of December 20 to shoot for. That meant calling the places we had booked for the first few weeks and either canceling (Pahrump), or rescheduling (all of the stops going out from Michigan). But by leaving 12/20 and keeping everything else in the same relative time frame, we counted the days and figured we could hit our reservation in Topock, Arizona as scheduled, and all subsequent stops, without making any changes. So that is what we decided to do.
That left us with the preparations. Our RV and truck were stored in a storage lot about a half-hour from our house, and for preparing a trip that was not ideal. So we brought them to our house. That meant parking on the street since we have a small suburban lot, and to park the RV in front of our house (ideal) meant we had to do some tree trimming, while the truck went around the corner to a dead-end street where it wouldn’t bother anyone. In the RV we had to start loading all kinds of things. Linens for the bed, towels, clothes, dishes, books, DVDs, a gaming computer,… Well, you get the idea. We had prepared a lengthy checklist. For mail, we put in a “Temporary Change of Address” with the post Office, and had all of our mail sent to Escapees in Texas. They would hold it all, and send it back to us when we were ready (and they did a good job of that. We got our mail only a few days after asking for it.) We turned off the water in our home to avoid any potential problems, and turned down the thermostat to the mid-50s Fahrenheit. We disconnected the batteries in our cars so that they wouldn’t drain while we were gone, and made sure the sump pump back-up battery was full of distilled water. And we prepared itineraries for our trip with locations and phone numbers which we gave to some family members just in case. There was more, but that is a whole topic in itself. You can find checklists like we used on the Internet, such as this Ultimate RV Packing List for a First Time Camper.
From here I am going to start incorporating the diary I kept on our trip. I do this very time we travel and I’m always glad to have it.
Saturday, December 18
We picked up the RV from the storage lot and brought it home so we could load it up. We can park it on the street in front of our house, but because of the rain gutter it is not level. So we put some boards down and drove onto them. Unfortunately, one of the boards got the full weight of the RV on one end, the other end rammed up, and we broke our stairs. Not the best start to our trip. Cheryl went to Camping World and picked up a replacement set of stairs.
Sunday, December 19
Kevin got to work on removing the old broken stairs, and got most of them out. But the last few bolts we could not move at all. It will take someone with better equipment to get those last ones out. We are going to try finding a repair site on the road, but right now most places are very busy, so it may have to wait. For now we are using a folding step ladder. We did get everything loaded into the RV though, so we should be good to go tomorrow.
Monday, December 20
We went out to breakfast with our friend Jo, then back home to the RV. While bringing the truck around, we broke the antenna for Sirius/XM on our truck, and then locked ourselves out of the truck. We first tried the Freightliner place, near our house, and they made keys based on the VIN of the truck, but it appears the locks were changed. So we got a tow truck out, and the driver was able to use some magic to open the door. So one problem solved. Kevin went to get the antenna fixed, while Cheryl went to get 3 duplicate truck keys made, so we can put one in the file cabinet at home, another in the RV, and one for the purse. I work on the principle I used as a Project Manager that everyone makes mistakes, and that is OK, but what is not OK is when you don’t learn from them. By the time all of this got sorted out, our 9am planned departure turned into a 2pm departure. We called the RV park in Terre Haute to say we would be arriving late, and they left us the usual paperwork in a box outside the office. We got there about 8pm, and it was very cold. We damn near froze that night because we couldn’t get the heat in the RV to work, and just had the electric space heater. We piled a lot of blankets on the bed and managed to sleep. The campground is called Terre Haute Campground, but I can’t say much more because it was cold and dark when we arrived, and we left eagerly the next morning to get into the blessed heat of the truck.
Tuesday, December 21
We got up at 6, still very cold, and had breakfast. Then it was time to hit the road to our next stop. Using RV Trip Wizard we had planned out our stops so that we would drive for about 5-6 hours per day, which meant around 300 miles. Most problems with towing RVs come from driving too fast, so we set a target of going 60 mph. Add in a couple of stops for fuels and bathroom breaks, and you can easily take 6 hours to drive that distance. We got to our campground in Missouri (Lamplight Lane RV Resort, at Glen Oaks) around 3:00 pm. Calling it a “resort” is more marketing than anything. It is a small campground, but we had full hookups. The owner was very friendly, and we set up fairly quickly. While driving to this campground we had the happy thought that maybe if we turned on the propane the RV heat would work, and that proved to be the solution. So we had a warm RV all night, and a nice hot shower in the morning. All was right with the world again.
Wednesday, December 22
Our daily pattern settled in as going to bed around 9m, getting up at 6am, having a leisurely breakfast, Spanish lessons for Kevin, and then hitting the road around 9am. This meant that we would get to our next stop around 3-3:30pm, so we could set up in daylight and then make dinner. We both brought along lots of books, so that is a frequent evening activity. But we also have some DVDs packed for a change of pace. Our trip today took us from Missouri to Oklahoma, somewhere between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, to the Oak Glen RV and Mobile Home Park, in Chandler, OK. We started to see a lot of windmills, and to make that work, a lot of wind. Oklahoma was windy, but not the worst. Sadly, the plug-in powered cooler we bought decided to die, but the RV Refrigerator is working fine for us, so it is not a catastrophe.
Thursday, December 23
Today’s trip took us from Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas, to the Oasis RV Resort and Cottages. And if we thought Oklahoma was windy, it was nothing compared to Amarillo. I half expected to be blown to Oz. We heard the wind howling all night, and the RV was shaking. Of course, one of the reasons the wind is so strong is that there is nothing to stop it. Oklahoma and North Texas are just flat land in all directions. Part of the fun of a trip like this is seeing how the country changes as you drive though it. We are mostly trying to get to our first real stop, so we aren’t sightseeing right now, but Cheryl has been taking pictures through the windshield as we drive.