Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving getaway

Sunday Nov 19th, 2017

Today, we packed up the Mammoth and headed to Terrell, TX to visit family. Tony had to work yesterday, as it was Jr High District tryouts, so I prepped the rig for travel.

Before I get into the trip, a little back-story: 

One of the things we've been dealing with lately is a strange smell from our furnace, so in the past few weeks we opened up the basement wall so we could get a good look at it, and see if there were any obvious obstructions. We did not find anything visually that could tell us what was wrong, but we did note that the smell is coming from the unit when it is heating, not from the ducts alone. We have a call into a Mobile tech to see what the problem might be since the unit is still under a two-year warranty.

Furnace as seen behind the basement wall

ducts and back cover removed for viewing

front cover removed for viewing

Back to the trip -- we got everything hitched and ready to go Sunday, and pulled out about 11:30am. The drive was uneventful and pretty easy. We stopped at the Stripes truck stop near Santo for a quick lunch, then stopped again at the Blue Beacon in Dallas to get Mammoth washed. They didn't do as good a job as we've had in the past, but it was better than nothing.

"Beaconized" again!

We got to Bluebonnet Ridge RV Resort about 3:30 and got set up. 

Bluebonnet Ridge RV Resort

The boys enjoying different scenery

That evening, we got together with Tony's family, and ate at the new Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. It was very good!

After dinner we said our goodbyes, as they were flying to Las Vegas the next day. We headed home and watched the Cowboys look very bad against Philadelphia.

Monday, Nov 20th

Today we got up and got moving so we could go to Rockwall and meet my folks for lunch. We ate at el Chico in Rockwall, and had a good visit. After lunch we ran a few errands, and then headed over to our storage units outside of Rockwall to get our ski-gear and check on things. It's quite overwhelming to see how much "stuff" we have that we are not using! We are working on a plan to do something about that.

After that, we headed back to the coach and relaxed for the evening.

Tuesday, Nov 21st

Today, we packed up and headed to Durant, Oklahoma for some relaxing and different atmosphere.  We went through the country, and enjoyed the scenery and less traffic. We got to Durant about 1:00, and quickly set up. 

Tony waiting on me to get us checked in.
Choctaw Casino and Hotel in the background.

Our site a the Durant/Choctaw KOA.
They take very good care of the grounds here.

Tony ran and got us burgers, while I set up inside. We put up the satellite dish, but had some issues talking to Dish about getting our local channels here in OK. I made a second call while Tony was gone, and was able to get the Sherman locals. We also had some water leaking from our hose, so Tony worked to isolate that and find a solution.

After a while we decided to go eat at Chili's in Durant for dinner. They have scaled back their menu, but we found what we liked still on it. We had a pretty good meal. 

After that, we ran into WalMart to get a few things, since it was nearby, then headed back to the coach for a relaxing evening.

Wednesday, Nov 22nd

Today, we didn't really have any plans, so we hung around the coach and checked again on the furnace. I had some feedback from others on the Heartland Owners Forum, so we looked again inside the unit (without dismantling anything.) We determined it was not a broken blower squirrel cage, as we thought that might be the issue.

After putting the furnace back together, Tony decided to head over to the Casino for some entertainment. I worked on some projects around the rig and did laundry.

After Tony was back, we decided to go to IHop for dinner, as I was craving some french toast. We took the back-way into Durant, and then finally got to IHop. It was very odd as there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. We were seated and served very quickly. However, when we left, getting checked out at the front was very slow, and some folks got tired of waiting to be seated and left. I guess we were lucky. The food was good and I got my french toast. 

After dinner we headed back and watched our Wednesday shows, then started the packup for tomorrow.

Thursday, Nov 23rd  Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, we got the rig ready to go, and had planned to go the Casino's buffet for lunch. But it was 10am, and we were ready. We decided to skip the buffet and start the treck back to Cisco earlier than planned. 

We pulled out and headed down 75, then cut off into the country near Gainesville. Before we got too far, we pulled into a closed strip mall parking lot and Tony made us turkey sandwiches for lunch. Happy Thanksgiving! We then took Hwy 51 from Gainsville to Weatherford, then back on I-20 for the rest of the way home. We had no issues at all with traffic going this way, though it feels longer since you go through a lot of towns.

We pulled in back at our home park about 3:00 and got set up, just in time for the traditional Cowboy's Thanksgiving Day game. The park owner had done a little work on our site to level it a bit while we were gone, and we were very thankful for that! No more extra blocks under the tires on one side.

Home again!

The Cowboys again disappointed losing to the LA Chargers. I ran to the post office and also picked up some food.

It was good to get away and enjoy some family time and also some "away" time.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fall means it's rally season!

Saturday, September 30th

This weekend was the North Texas Chapter's Rally in Tyler, Texas. Last weekend was the Oklahoma Rally, but we were unable to make it to that one. This year, Dave and Nancy picked a new location, at Tyler Oaks RV Resort, just north of Tyler on Hwy 69.  Due to Tony's busy fall schedule, again, we have to attend without the rig. But that's ok, we really wanted to see our Heartland Family! I'll tell you more, but first, a few things....


First, we need to fill you in on some of our other RV adventures. As mentioned in June, we had MorRyde SRE4000 suspension put on in Elkhart, as well as new shocks. One shock busted on our way to Nashville, so we replaced it, and managed to get home to Texas.
Well, we finally got time to change the other three shocks, and found another was also busted (compromised so that it no longer rebounds), and the other two showed signs of leaking. We replaced them with standard RV shocks by AP Products.  Getting the old shocks off was harder than getting the new ones in. Hopefully, with the "standard" shocks, the MorRyde suspension will operate as intended.

Failed Bilstein shocks

 We chocked up the adventure to "a learning experience." MorRyde actually forgot to charge us for the shock install, even though I questioned the bill at the time. When I contacted them about the failed shocks and this came to light, they basically said "We installed what was provided", and they did not offer any assistance with our issue. I guess that's considered a refund on the install?

The shocks were only warranted from the eBay seller for 30 days, and it had been much longer than that. Bilstein warrants shocks for a year, but they must be purchased from an authorized reseller, which our eBay seller was not.

So we're left "holding the bag" -- the cost of the failed shocks, plus the new ones.


Another adventure was back in August. After a few days of cooler, rainy weather, we had a hot day, with temps close to 95. As usual, our AC runs nearly continuously to keep up with the afternoon heat.

Mid-afternoon, I started smelling something funny, like burning wires. I quickly found the source of the smell was coming from the AC ducts. I turned off the AC and began working to see if I could get a tech to come look at it, since I have heard of the Dometic ACs having issues in the past with poor quality parts from China.

I contacted a couple of RV dealers first that were listed under Dometic's authorized service centers. But none of them could get it to us in a timely fashion. I was recommended to call a mobile tech, Scott Paine Services, out of Abilene. I called, and he was very helpful, asking me to check a few things. We determined it was definitely something he needed to check out, (not a breaker issue, or a thermostat problem, or something simple like that.) Sadly, he could not make it out for a week! I went ahead and scheduled it, hoping I could get a sooner solution if I kept looking.

That weekend, we crawled onto the roof, hoping to find out more info to aid in the repair. Tony took an RV Tech class this summer, but they did not delve into the AC. We took the shroud off and looked for anything obvious, like a loose connection or burned marks.

Tony removed the panel where the control board and start capacitor is located, and voila! We found the source of the smell. The start capacitor connection was obviously discolored and melted.

Me "sniffing" for a burned smell. 

The small box here with wires going into it and the warning label is where the control board is located.

Here is what we discovered.

After finding the issue, we sent pictures to Scott Paine, and he said he would bring the proper part to replace it. 

The next week, Scott came out and examined the unit and tested it for proper amp draw and other issues to make sure it wasn't something else causing the problem, and replaced the start capacitor. He was here about an hour. I sincerely appreciated his professionalism and quick work! It just hurts the pocket book. :(

After Scott finished, we were back to 2 ACs. Halleluya! I then proceeded to collect the info that Dometic needed to see if it fell under warranty, and sent that to them the next day.

On September 26th, we finally got a check to cover the part and the labor cost, but not the service call or cost to ship them their failed part. Realize this failure was August 3, repair was August 10, and info was sent to Dometic August 11! Dometic's website says "Mobile Living Made Easy" and "Satisfying your essential needs when living mobile." Both of these, they failed to do for us. Hopefully, I will not need their "help" in the future.

Another upgrade was for our porch light. The original worked great, until it didn't. I am not sure how, but it seemed like water had gotten into the lens area, and affected some of the LEDs, causing some not to light, and others to flicker. I checked with Heartland, and the price of the same fixture plus shipping was too much. I could find other options for cheaper on Amazon.

Original light fixture

Prying at this tiny indentation is how you pop the outer cover off.

Cover removed, now you can remove the screws.

New fixture in place is MUCH brighter and has day/night on/off and motion detection.

We replaced the fixture fairly quickly, but it was daytime, and we could not make any adjustments to the settings. When it got darker, it would not motion-detect, so I said I would spend more time with it later.

The next day I tried adjusting the settings, but still didn't have much luck. It will activate if you put your hand about 6" from it! Well, we don't want to take it down to return it so I guess we just have a super-bright porch light now. If you're interested, here's a link but I cannot say much about the the motion detection.


OK, back to the Rally!
 We drove in from Cisco to Tyler in our SUV about 12pm Saturday, and met up with our friends, Stella and Jay. We talked to a few folks, but then headed to lunch with Jay and Stella, at a nearby Cracker Barrel. We had a good meal and lots of time to visit, since they were pretty busy. 

After lunch, we wondered over and visited with Nancy and Dave for a while, then decided we needed to go and check in at the hotel. We headed over to the southeast corner of Tyler to the LaQuinta -University Area, on the Loop at McDonald Road. It was a very nice new LaQuinta, with the new modern decor. We checked in and rested a bit, then headed back to the Rally. It was about a 15-20 minute drive.

We got back and walked around, visiting with a number of folks around the park, until it was time for the potluck and white elephant gift exchange. Of course, we had to do a picture first!

North Texas Chapter Rally attendees

We had a great meal with BBQ and all the sides typical with BBQ. There was some great peach cobbler, as well. We met some new folks from Louisiana,  Paul &  Cindy, and enjoyed visiting with lots of our old friends.

After dinner, we did the gift exchange.  We had a good time with that, lots of fun things were given. One included the "ice cream maker ball" that has been at every white elephant exchange  I've attended. No one wants that thing! LOL!

Audra M, new grandpuppy, and me with my "white elephant" gift, a cute Ty beanie bear. They could be related.

After the festivities, we enjoyed walking around and visiting with more folks. We hung out with Ted & Dee and their Margaritaville set up, its an EZ Up fully decorated with lights and decor that make you feel like you're in a little beachside cabana bar or something. FUN! They always bring the "outdoor living extravaganza."

We hung out with our friends Jason and Audra, and also met some "younger" folks like us, Pat and Jana Jones. They have a really good-looking Cyclone, with blue accented/ full body paint. We had a good time hearing their tales of dealing with their dealer, which happened to be our dealer (just a different location.)

We ended up leaving about 10pm, to head back to the hotel. We took a wrong turn, but managed to get back just fine. We headed to the room, and crashed. It was a long and busy and fun day, visiting our Heartland family!

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

Today, we got up and got our bags packed. It was strange having an overnight with no kitties bugging us all night! I still tossed and turned due to the harder mattress, but we slept OK.

Tony got us breakfast from the hotel lobby - eggs, ham, and a muffin for me, biscuits and gravy for him. We ate, and finished getting ourselves ready, then checked out and headed back to the Rally.

We arrived about 10, and visited with more folks until 12.  We met another new couple, Kelsey and Pam, and had a good visit with them and some more folks that gathered around Kelsey's rig. Then we needed to hit the road. 

We first got some food, and made a stop at the Camping World that was close by the RV Park. We didn't think we needed anything, but invariably we found a few things, including butyl tape and a collapsible wagon, to help haul our rally supplies. (We had borrowed one from Nancy and Dave one time, and found it VERY helpful.)

Once done with Tyler, we were on the road. We had no issues going home, and made it home about 5pm. We unloaded and rested for a bit, then Tony decided he'd cook the (impulse buy due to good price) steaks that I bought on Friday. We had a great meal at home, and enjoyed some TV with cats in our laps. 

A fun weekend, we just wished it could have been longer!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

More visiting family and back to our home park

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Today, we made plans to visit with my folks at El Chico (see the trend?) in Rockwall. We had a nice visit with them, then went to check on our storage units and drop off some items.

Eileen at Bluebonnet Ridge RV Resort, Terrell, TX

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

We packed up and pulled out about 10:30am, so we could get home and Tony could get back to work. We had no troubles getting home and set up again. Sadly, our trip is over, but we had a great time!

Back in our home site. Note the Road Runner on the right, by the tree.

Back 'home' to Terrell

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Today, we headed towards Terrell. Tony had plans to go with his dad to the casino in Durant, OK, so we wanted to get there early.

We decided to take a Texas 19 to cut down from I-30 to I-20, that goes through Emory. Sadly, there was a lot of construction on this road, and it wasn't too much fun. But it was different scenery.

We arrived at Bluebonnet Ridge RV Resort about 11:45, and luckily our site was available.  We got set up and ate lunch, then Tony headed out with his dad, while I did some laundry and caught up on some work that had been pushed back due to our traveling and shock repair.

Our site at Bluebonnet Ridge RV Resort

Tony got home about 10pm, and said he had a great time. We'll see some more family tomorrow!

On the road again, TexMex here we come.

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

This morning, we got up and didn't have too much to do to be on the road, as we had done a lot of it yesterday. We pulled out about 8:30am, our goal was to make it to Texarkana. Since we were now behind a day, we decided to go a little further today, and pull into Terrell on Sunday morning.

The drive was much easier than our previous from Indiana to Tennessee. The roads were better, and the only big cities to pass through were Memphis and Little Rock, both of which were not too bad.

We stopped at a rest stop in Arkansas to eat lunch, and continued on our way. We made good time, and once closer to the Texas border, we noticed an El Chico sign. Tony's favorite chain TexMex! We had not had good TexMex since we left June 2, so we decided that was our goal when we got to Texarkana-- get set up and go eat Mexican food.

We called ahead and made reservations at the Sunrise RV Park, on the Arkansas side of Texarkana. Someone told us it is a former drive-in movie theater. The sites are set up in concentric arcs, and it is all gravel. We were in a row all by ourselves.

Sunrise RV Park, Texarkana, AR

Out site

We got set up fairly quickly, and then headed to El Chico, about 5 miles away. We had a great meal, then stopped for a little fuel and then went back home and collapsed. Today was an excellent travel day, compared to many!

Eileen at Sunrise RV Park, Texarkana, AR

Errands, Wash and a Shock Replacement

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Today was the day we were supposed to vacate the KOA, but we needed a few food items, so Tony ran over to WalMart and to Camping World (I had a coupon for $25 off), before we got hitched up. While I was prepping the rig some more, I decided to call the KOA office and found out we could stay an extra night in our site!  Whoohoo! That will make doing the work on the rig so much easier.

So I went ahead and started some laundry at the KOA laundry facilities, as we waited for our parts to arrive.  The facility was pretty busy, but I found two machines available, so I put stuff in. By the time is was tome to dry, no one had come to remove their dryer items, in the washers above mine, and all the others were full. I HATE THIS about using campground facilities. You never know if they will return soon, or not! So I waited and asked everyone that came in if those were their clothes, to no avail. Finally, I moved the clothes so I could use the dryers. They never did appear to claim their articles. OH WELL!

The parts arrived about 11:30AM, and I finished the laundry soon after. We ate lunch, and then started the repairs, which included hitching the rig as if for travel, so that we could make sure we could lift one side with our Level-up system safely. It was sprinkling on and off today, but that was OK, it did help keep the temperatures down!

It took about 3 hours to complete the work, only because we really had not done this sort of thing before. It never fails, you never have the tool you need! A lot of digging in the basement for tools, going inside the rig for other tools and parts.

After all that had transpired today, we were cranky and tired. We ate dinner and relaxed for the evening. Tomorrow, we head for Texas.

A Nashville Dash

Thursday, June 2, 2017

Today we got up and decided it's finally time for some fun. We knew we'd be getting our parts for the shock replacement tomorrow, so we decided today is our day to sight-see. We took the shuttle service from the KOA to downtown to Broadway street, which is where all of the bars and honky tonks and touristy places are.

It was again somewhat cloudy and rainy, but that was OK. Temps weren't too bad. We decided to find us a place to eat, based on the comments from the driver. We decided to try Demo's Steak and Spaghetti House.

Tony had the chicken pasta, and I had the sirloin sandwich. Both were pretty good! Mine came with a side, so I decided to try the spaghett with mushroom brown butter sauce, their "signature" dish. It was good, but I am not a fan of salty mixed with sweet, and that is what was happening in this sauce.

After lunch we walked a few blocks over to the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman (formerly Grand Ole Opry House and Union Gospel Tabernacle) is a 2,362-seat live performance venue . Click here for more.

We got our tickets, and saw a short film about the history of the building. Then, we got to self-guide our tour around the place. It was very interesting!

Signed Hatch Show Prints on display

The auditorium from the balcony

Tony on the balcony

The lighter wood is the original stage


Exhibit of the restoration 

Tony found a cool hat in the gift shop. Probably should have bought it!

Hatch Show Print Posters for sale in the Ryman Gift Shop

After the Ryman, we headed over a few more blocks to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Notice the large windows make a keyboard!

This place is huge, and there are tons of folks visiting.

Tons of country and western memorabilia. It was too crowded to get lots of pictures.

The hall of fame (3 pics)

There was also a tour of the Hatch Show Print Letterpress facility, which has been moved to the same building as the CMHOF. We didn't get done with the Hall of Fame in time to go on that tour, but we did visit their gift shop and got to see the facility behind large glass windows. I was giddy! Anything printing-related, I love.

Watching the tour through the glass....

A woman was demonstrating on a smaller press, in the gift shop.

Small samples for sale

Love this!

After that, we headed back to where our shuttle would pick us up. We walked a bit on Lower Broadway, and enjoyed the sights and sounds. It was too early for dinner, so we stopped and had some ice cream, then waited another 15 minutes before the shuttle arrived.

Broadway street

More Broadway street

We headed back home, tired and happy to have experienced a tiny bit of Nashville. We had hoped to visit my old High School friend Bill and his family, but it just didn't line up this trip. Maybe another time!

We ate dinner and collapsed for a while, then prepped the trailer for our move tomorrow. Apparently, this KOA is FULL, and though we inquired about staying an extra day, we were told no, no room at the inn. So we looked into moving to another RV park, just a 1/4 mile away. However, we had to just "show up" to see if we can get a one night stay. They had a 2 night minimum for reservations. We'll hope our parts come in sooner, rather than later!