Friday, November 10, 2017

Nov 5- Nov 8, 2017 The road back to Florida

Nov 5 to Nov 8, 2017 – Conroe TX to Wildwood FL
We already had doctor appointments in Florida this year so we decided to keep them and by next year we can decide if we want to keep coming back to Florida to winter or find a new winter home in Arizona where we can have a head start to go Northwest in the Spring. So for this year we headed back to TT Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood, Florida where we will be Nov 8 -29, 2017.

Day 1 – We bypassed Houston driving FM2432 to Hwy 105 to SR 96 through Beaumont TX to take I-10 East to Louisiana (245 miles) and stopped to spend the night at the Atchafalaya Louisiana Welcome Center on MM 121 on I-10 East. This was an excellent secured (allowed) overnight stay where given the excellent spaces we were able to open our bedroom slide and sleep comfortably. Next to our site there was even a small grassed/treed island so we even put out two chairs a side table and had Happy Hour.  

Day 2 – We drove on I-10 another 365 miles to the Crestview FL Rest Area at MM 60, stopping for a rest stop at the Mississippi Welcome Center on MM2, next to the Lunar Lander Exhibit and the Infinity Science Center, just south of the John C. Stennis Space Center (NASA). At the Crestview FL Rest Area we were again able to get a good site which allowed us to open our bedroom slide and sleep comfortably. After replacing all our (house) batteries in South Dallas Freightliner (Oct 12-17) the EMS has been working like a charm. With our batteries charged up by 6pm they last us all night on the inverter, and though it was only needed once on this night, when need the generator it simply auto starts and auto stops when the A/C demand is called and satisfied. Technology is wonderful… when it works.

 The RV and Edith2 at our first Rest Area on MM121 on I-10 at Atchafalaya in Louisiana.
 Crossing the Mississippi and Alabama State lines...
 through the
 I-10 tunnel in Mobile Bay
 to the
 Battleship Memorial Park
 where the USS Alabama
 is berthed.
 This was noticed on I-10 apparently going to a flea market.
 And finally crossing the Florida State line.
 Here at our 2nd overnight stop at the Crestview Rest Area (MM60) with an island
on our Passenger side which allowed us to again open our bedroom slide
to sleep more comfortably. As we got there early in the afternoon,
we also set up chairs and had Happy Hour there.
 At sunset the sky was spectacular...

Day 3 – We drove on another 326 miles (I-10 to I-75) to the Marion County  Rest Area on MM346, I-75. Here we were not as lucky as to a site. The only sites available was a straight truck site. Unfortunately, the next morning we noticed that now they have another section which is selectively just for RVs (trailers, fivers and class As) where we might have found a better site. However, though we could not open our slides this night, we spent a good night only 18 miles from our next campground reservation for Nov 8th at Thousand Trails Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood, FL.

DAY 4 – Eighteen miles (20 minutes) to the campground and 3-hours to set up as we will be here for 21 days. Happy Hour came early at 3:08pm.  


Sept 5 - Nov 5, 2017

Sept 5 to Sept 12 – Boulder, WY
Wind River View RV Resort

Mary found this campground which was on our way south towards Texas and we opted to try it out as a place to relax from all the travel for awhile. It had ratings of 3.6 to 4.0, though upon getting there we are not sure ‘why’. The park is very rustic and with very few trees , if any. Actually, it felt more like the majority of the campers were actually full-time residents, and the majority also seemed to be trailers and fivers; however, there were a few class A motor homes that would  drop by (mostly for only 1-2 nights. It is very well located right on US 191, but by the same token a bit noisy due to the traffic on the roadway.  There was an Osprey nest on a pole in the campground and the sunsets and moonscapes were very enjoyable. We spent a week there and enjoyed the rest, Here are some photos of Wind River View RV Resort.
 Typical Wyoming... flat and desolate. The only thing not noticeable is the wind.

These are the photos of the campground. As you can see it's very rustic and since there is nothing of interest around here, we only stayed here for a week for R&R before going to REV for some warranty repairs (windshield wipers still not working, 12,000 mile maintenance due, the overhead lights all needed to be replaced, and the EMS power management system was acting up with power issues.

 This was an Osprey nest which was entertaining to watch and listen to the pair.
 Here's our coach with our new Ford F150 toad (Edith2).

On our drive from Dubois to Boulder we noticed signs for both the Sacajawea Cemetery in Fort Washakie WY and to South Pass City, Wy, but anxious to get to Boulder we didn't stop there. Later, as there was little to do in Boulder, we looked these up and found out about these attractions. Sacajawea is surrounded by controversy as to when and where she actually died and was buried. One perspective is that she returned to her people on the Wind River Mountains and died an old woman, buried in the Native American Cemetery which is now referred to as the Sacajawea Cemetery. The other place, South Pass City is an old mine ghost town (pictured below). These are new destinations for our next trip out this way.

 BELOW:  This is the largest grocery and hardware store in Pinedale (nearest Boulder). For some reason as we approached it we could only imagine that they were having a G-normous sale on bottled water (see photos), but then inside the sale must have also extended to everything else as well, given the emptiness of the shelves. We asked a shopper and he said that it is always like that there.

Back at and around the ranch (campground) a few more photos.

Sept 12 to Sept 15 - Cheyenne WY

Freightliner Chassis Service

Last year (2016) if you remember we had stopped in at this Freightliner service center as a consequence of having lost our windshield wipers while on the road, after we had just taken delivery of our new rig (back then) and left Texas. At that time they had said that they fixed the problem but in reality the problem persisted off and on to this date. We had even mentioned it to REV while we were in Decatur IN,  but they also were unable to correct the problem.  So since we were driving right by Freightliner in Cheyenne, we opted to stop there again to see if they would take care of it this time.  This time they said they found the problem and had ordered the part which we had to wait until the next day to get, but within minutes after receiving t he coach back supposedly fixed, the problem was still there. The first time it worked correctly and upon trying to wipe the windshield a second time they no longer worked. So they said they would take a look at it again the next day and if needed would order another part.  However it was already Friday and if another part was needed it would not get there until Monday (with no security that even that would fix it), so we opted to just have them do the 12,000 mile maintenance and leave, continuing our journey to Lake Whitney TX. Later, on the continuing journey we came upon a strange sight... a military tank being transported on the back of a semi. It was stranger still (and somewhat intimidating) while being directly behind it with the cannon aimed at us.

 Back on the road toward Thousand Trails Lake Whitney RV Resort in Whitney TX

The tank on the semi passing us and then hanging out just in front of us, menacingly.
Sept 17 – Oct 8 – Whitney TX
Thousand Trails Lake Whitney RV Resort

After a two day drive we got to TT Lake Whitney.  Here again we did not have any special sights to see and opted to stay here to evaluate the park while awaiting an appointment at the REV Service Facility to get some ‘warranty’ work done. This was added R&R and free time for Bill to pressure wash the RV (top to bottom). The campground was very much like the Thousand Trail Lake Medina near San Antonio, in that it is mostly treed, isolated camp sites, segregated from each other. Like Lake Medina there was hardly anyone around either so it was very desolate and quiet. However, unlike Lake Medina, there were absolutely NO DEER around. Actually the only wildlife were squirrels and rabbits. We enjoyed our stay but were actually more looking forward to getting our issues dealt with during our appointment at REV in Alvarado (42 miles away). 

Bill on top of the coach pressure washing the roof and awnings.
 Oct 9 – Oct 11 – Alvarado TX

REV Factory Service Facility

We had had some leaking from the top of the ceiling which was determined to be the front cap overhead lights which needed sealing and the ceiling ‘puck’ lights would flicker. They had already fixed two lights at REV in Decatur IN but later two more lights started flickering also. We ordered four lights from Parts but none of them worked, so we raised a stink and they agreed to replace ALL 50 overhead lights. The our ordered which did not work, did not work because they were wired backwards. So by flipping the positive and negative (black and white) wires we now have four ‘spare’ lights (just in case). While there we also had them check the power management system as the generator would keep cycling trying to keep the batteries charged. They claimed that it was the settings incorrectly set, setting the recharging cycle to 12.6 volts instead of 11.8V. Having resolved these issues we moved on to the Freightliner Service Center in Dallas South to conclude the windshield washer issue, once and for all. Yet as we continued to have 'issues' with the EMS power management system not generating enough power or the battery bank not retaining enough voltage, we had REV check the rest of the electrical system to see if there was a problem elsewhere. They said the only problem was the wrong setting on the Energy Command 30 module.
The REV facility in Alvarado is still being finished and the day after our arrival they opened their new RV 'campground' where RV'ers in for service can stay in their coaches. They provide 50Amp service and water hookups but no sewer, though they do have 2-3 dump stations on the property.

Above:  REV Group Regional Service facility in Alvarado TX (previously this was the Ancira RV Center dealership.) MHSRV is directly next to REV.
Below:  The old parking lot, now converted into the new 'campground'.

 Here's the water leaking from the top onto the top of the dash.

 October 12 to Oct 17 – Dallas TX
Oasis – Freightliner Motor Home Service Facility

This was a truly eye-opening experience (for the good). This place is HUGE and has their own RV Service wing. Here they truly know RV issues. It took them two days but they found the cause of the issue with the inconsistent windshield wipers. Hallelujah!!  As to our Energy Management  System issues, REV told us it was an improper setting on the EMSystem which they had corrected. But as we continued to have problems with the batteries holding a charge even while driving we suspected that it was a problem with either at least one bad battery or a bad alternator, so we also asked them to check all our house batteries and alternator, and found out that just about all the ‘house’ batteries were bad and needed replacing, even just over 12 months since having taken delivery of a brand new coach. Granted it sat at the dealer (Ancira RV in Boerne TX) for 19 months before we purchased it, but still it did not make sense that they should have been bad that soon. That is when we started investigating this issue and found that these batteries were of a 2014 production date, and possibly that the original selling dealer had replaced the OEM batteries with these older ones.  Bill contacted Fleetwood and found out that the batteries that are supposed to be on a new coach are 225AH, whereas these were only 208AH and US Battery, neither Exide or Trojan brand, as are known to be originally installed on new Fleetwood Discovery units.  We are currently trying to determine if that is actually so. Not that there is anything we can do about it, but at least report the dealer in the RV forums and warn future buyers about Ancira RV Center (Boerne TX) as to our experiences with them.

 Freightliner (OASIS is around the back for RVs on Freightliner Chassis) Dallas South

Of interest to note also is that not only was this facility kept spic-n-span, inside... but we even witnessed a crew pressure-blowing and cleaning the employee parking lot after work hours. Such is also the detail with which they treat all the vehicles they work on and the owners they take care of.

 This is the very nice RV (Oasis) Waiting Room. In the front of the building there is
an even nicer and larger waiting room for drivers having work done on their trucks.

 It was spectacular to see how clean the service bays were at all times. A window in the waiting area allowed the owners/drivers to see what was being done on their RVs/trucks.

 The old batteries that came with the coach (above), and the new batteries installed (below).


The difference was uncanny, Whereas we only got up to an 12.8V reading when the old batteries were fully charged, which then quickly downgraded to around 12.2 - 12.4V, after changing all the house batteries for new Interstate ones, the 'full' reading (with noo generator or shore power on) was 14.2 -14.3, which then downgraded to 12.7 - 12.8 (a normal full reading). With the new batteries we can dry camp for 8-10 hours with the batteries still at 50% (12.2V) the next morning.

Oct 17 to Nov 5, 2017 – Conroe, TX
Thousand Trails Lake Conroe RV Campground

 We were getting ready to decorate the coach for Halloween
and Bill thought he would try to look more Halloweeny.
  After it was done, the windshield lighted decoration.
The Thousand Trails Lake Conroe campground is generally pretty nice, except for the drive through sites (above) which are very cramped, as much on the driver's side with their slides almost touching, as on the Passenger's side with their awnings almost touching.  It did have a new modern Exercise Room (which they call a Gym) made to look much larger by means of floor to ceiling and wall to wall mirrors. 

This was truly interesting. We have all seen "Wide Loads" usually taking the full width of a lane and sometimes even extending a little over the lane lines, but here in Texas, just to prove that "everything is always BIGGER in Texas" this WIDE LOAD was composed of two semis in tandem, side by side, with about 100 wheels on the ground, an escort truck in front and in back, plus a bucket truck to lift up low hanging electric lines across the roadway, AND 4 MOTORCYCLE COPS forcing or stopping traffic unto the shoulder of the oncoming traffic. We have no idea what they were hauling, but it looked like a massive generator.
 Then before leaving Texas we had to make a trip to Texas A&M
to get some clothing, decals and just visit Bill's alma mater.
 On the way out we noticed this event where the cops had this guy on the
ground. No doubt he was a Longhorn or had a Longhorn t-shirt on.  LOL!
 A last look at Kyle Field.


Nov 5- Nov 8, 2017 The road back to Florida

Nov 5 to Nov 8, 2017 – Conroe TX to Wildwood FL We already had doctor appointments in Florida this year so we decided to keep them and ...