Saturday, February 9, 2019

Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary to us!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Today, we were slow to get up. The wind was blowing, it was in the teens, and snow was flying. We could not even see the ski resort, due to the snow and clouds. I woke up not feeling well, so I stayed in bed for a while. 

Definitely more snow fell!

It's piling up!

We opted to stay put all day, and didn't do much of anything. We celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary today, but because I wasn't feeling well most of the day, we didn't do anything special today. That didn't matter though, this trip is special enough! We love seeing the snow!

Trying to beat the Snow to Angel Fire

Monday, January 31st, 2018

Today we knew we had to get up and get going quickly, because a winter storm warning was in effect for Angel Fire, with snow expected to start around 11AM. We were only 2 hours away from AF, but we knew the last bit through Cimarron Canyon was curvy and often snowy as the elevation increased.

We got ready to go again fairly quickly, but noticed our  Level-Up system was again being fussy about the cold, starting and stopping as we pulled slides in and pulled up the landing gear. It really doesn't like cold weather! Well, I guess I don't work as well when it's that cold either, I think it was 17 degrees!

Our site at the Las Vegas KOA

We had to use a little 4x4 action to get out of the RV Park, but then once we got to the highway again, the roads were clear.

Those clouds look kinda low!

As we approached Springer, NM we could see the mountains off in the distance, and the snow/clouds hanging low to the horizon. We knew we'd probably be encountering some snow along the way!

As we headed through Cimarron, and on to Eagle's Nest, it did start to snow. But luckily not enough to make the roads bad. We got into Angel Fire about 11:00AM.

We made it! (Notice the dirt on the front of the rig behind the truck tires -- we need mud flaps!) Tony waited in the truck while I checked us in.

We settled into our spot, and were pleasantly surprised at the number of RVs here. The park was probably 1/2 full! We ate lunch, enjoyed a nap, and then got ready for the evening event -- We had signed up to attend the New Year's Eve Celebration at the RV Park's Clubhouse. It was a prime rib dinner and other fun stuff planned.

Some snow was already accumulating on the rig and truck by mid afternoon! Note how much snow is piled up by our site -- they have had a lot this year already!

About 6PM we headed over to the clubhouse for the dinner. There was a line to get in and into the serving line, but it wasn't too long a wait. The theme of the "party" was black and white, to celebrate Felix the Cat's 100 year anniversary. 

We ended up sharing a table with a family from the Houston area. We had a nice chat with them. (They took our pic!)

Celebrating the arrival of 2019!

By 9pm, we were ready to head back to the rig. We're not much for partying, and it had been a long journey over the past few days to get here. Happy New Year everyone!

Winter Trip Reboot

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Since we got home from Oklahoma about 2AM, it was quite a struggle to get up and get going, but we knew if we wanted to get to Angel Fire in one day, we needed to get moving. Tony did some checks on the truck fluids and tires before we hitched up, while I re-prepped the trailer insides for travel.

We pulled out about 9:30AM, headed again west down I-20. Norman (the truck) did great, pulling Mammoth like it wasn't even there. Tony was impressed with the handling and easy driveability... he could definitely tell a difference in the "newer" technology.

Heading out!

The only thing that slowed us down was having to stop for fuel. Since we no longer had the large tank, we had to stop to fuel at truck stops, but on this route, it really wasn't too bad.

The drive was very uneventful until the sun was going down, and the temperature started dropping below freezing. New Mexico had recently had a significant snow event in the past few days, and though the roads were pretty clear, there was still some snow on the ground and roads were somewhat wet.

A quick rest along the route

As the sun set, we were getting tired, the temperature was dropping, and we became concerned that the roads may become slick, and/or the water in our rig pipes might start to freeze up -- we hadn't winterized before we hit the road.

About 8:30PM Mountain, we decided it was best to go ahead and look for a place to stop for the night. We were coming into Las Vegas, NM, so we stopped at the Las Vegas KOA. It was a snow-packed road to get to the park, and then also within the park, but we found a spot that would fit us just fine, and pulled in -- we didn't do much of a set-up --  we stayed hooked up and just put out the slides and went to bed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Norman comes to Texas

Friday, December 28th, 2018

We planned a Winter trip months ago, when we received an advertisement that Angel Fire was offering Teachers a $99 season pass. This is a really great deal, even if you only go one time, because lift tickets can cost as much as $80 a day! We also were able to purchase a Four-Day Pass for me, for a reduced price, so we were sure that was where we wanted to go skiing this year. On top of that, we got a great RV Park rate using our Escapees Member discount, saving 50% of the regular rate!

Tony was off all week, but I had to work, so we planned to leave right after I got off work on Friday. Tony had the rig loaded, hitched and ready to go when I got home, and we pulled out about 5:30PM. We were doing just fine, until we headed up a hill near Baird, not too far from home. The truck decided to turn on the check engine light, and we had to pull off the road. Once we got off the highway, turning the engine off and on seemed to return everything to normal, and we decided to head home to address the issue. There was no point in trying to travel 600+ miles if the truck was going to be "iffy".

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

We woke up, and decided we absolutely had to do something different. We needed a reliable vehicle for the trip, or we would have to scrap the trip altogether. Tony decided this was the last straw. We had just put a lot of money into the truck in October having some sensors replaced, so he was ready for a change. We had already been looking at options since October, as mentioned in a previous blog post. We had planned to wait until AFTER this trip to look seriously again, but we decided it was definitely in our best interest to move now.

We did some more research and located a few options. But calls to the dealers netted just two possibilities, one of which was a color we didn't really want. So we negotiated with a dealer in Oklahoma, and had a pretty good-looking deal in the works. We told them we wanted to come and look at the truck, and would be willing to make a deal today if it was what we wanted. They also asked for info on our trade, and I sent photos inside and out. They made a reasonable offer on it, so we felt pretty good about the potential for a deal.

We headed out about 2:00pm and arrived at the dealership  about 6:30pm. (They were open until 9pm.) Our salesman had the truck cleaned up and ready to take a test drive so we hopped in and headed around town. The truck performed as expected, with no red flags. We then looked it over top to bottom, and inside and out, testing things.

Nice looking/driving truck!

After that, we went back in to talk to the salesperson. We had given them info for running credit prior to our departure, so the negotiations were short. We liked the truck, the pricing and proposed payment were within what we wanted to pay. So they moved us over to talk to the finance guy for the paperwork. That lasted about an hour, and we had a deal -- along with an extended warranty.

We then got the keys, and moved our stuff from one truck to the other -- the hitch, the stuff under the seat, and in the compartments.

Swapping our stuff took about 15 minutes.

We left the dealer about 9:30PM, and immediately had to get fuel. (We didn't realize they didn't fuel it up!) On the way home, we decided to name the truck "Norman," since that's where it came from.  Norman handled the trip just fine, and we both really like driving it. Even though it's only 3 years newer, there are a number of improvements we are really going to enjoy.

We headed back home to Texas, and got home about 2:30AM Sunday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Early Christmas and a Truck Trist

Friday, December 21st, 2018

We planned this trip to get together with our relatives in the DFW metroplex for Christmas. We made reservations at Bluebonnet Ridge RV Resort, our favorite place to stay when we visit family.

We left about 1:30pm, because the day before, we had gone to look at a truck in Abilene. A newer version of ours, same color. But we found a few things that didn't add up right, and had decided it was not for us.

We got to the edge of Ft. Worth about 3:45pm. Right before Rush Hour. GREEEAATTT! But luckily, traffic was not too terrible, and we got to the RV Park by 5:30pm.

One last rest stop before entering the Metroplex!

We arrived!

Our site (pic taken the next day.)

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

Today we did a little prep-work for the Christmas get-together tonight, and then headed out to "Smoke Sessions BBQ", a food truck on the outskirts of Royse City, for lunch. We had the most amazing BBQ! A huge beef rib, jalapeno and cheese sausage, brisket, and smoked mac & cheese. It was a little expensive, but worth every bite!

Afterward, we headed back to the rig and did some more prep-work for the party. We also did some more research on trucks and hitch compatibility.

In the RV park, we noticed this unique "tiny home". It looks like it was built on a flatbed gooseneck hauler, but they also incorporated RV-like slideouts.

A real tiny home!

In the evening, we got together with family and had a great meal, exchanged gifts -- a new idea this year -- stuffed Christmas socks. We then played some games, and enjoyed visiting with Tony's family and my folks.

Eventually, it was time to clean up and head our separate ways. It was great to see everyone!

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Today we worked on some projects around the rig, laundry of our bigger washable items (comforter, etc.), ran some more errands, researched some more trucks, and then Tony cooked on the grill. He attempted to cook a Prime Rib Roast! It turned out pretty good, but not quite as "rare" as we would have liked. 

Tony's first Prime Rib roast

Monday, December 24th, 2018

This morning, we planned to get going fairly early. We had contacted a dealer in Stephenville about a truck we wanted to see, so we headed out, planning to meet up with them before they closed for the Christmas holiday.

Heading out!

 Stephenville is about 40 minutes out of the way, but sorta on our path to home.  We arrived at the dealer about 1:00pm. We had specifically asked about the hitch that was in the bed of the truck, and were told it was a B&W. However, when we arrived, it was a Curt, which is not compatible with our current B&W Companion 5th wheel hitch. We went ahead and test -drove it, and looked it over well. They said they could get the hitch changed out for us. We said we'd think about it. But after driving away, we talked about it on the way home, and decided it was probably not the truck for us, for a variety of reasons.

They brought the truck to us! We had to park in their overflow lot, about a block from the dealership. 

We made it back home to our home park in the late afternoon, and we set up for a short week. We depart again on December 28th!

Monday, January 21, 2019

A Trip for Winning and Friends

Friday, September 21, 2018

Well, I am waaaaayyy behind on the blog. I will try to catch up, since it's now mid-January 2019!

In September, Tony had a "bye-week" with no football game, so we planned a trip to Fun Town RV Park at Winstar,  which is located next to the Winstar Casino in Thackerville, OK.

The trip was going to be a rainy one, but we really wanted to get away! Also, our good Heartland friends, Jay and Stella, were making their way across the country to head to the Oklahoma Rally in the next week or so, so we coordinated to meet up with them, as well.

We left on Friday after school was out, and headed out. It rained some along the way, but not too badly. We arrived at the RV park about 7PM, and Jay & Stella were already there. The rain was starting to pick up, so we agreed to just meet up in the morning, so we could get set up and eat something quickly.

In the middle of the night, I noticed the bed was slightly wet when I returned from going to the restroom. I was worried the cat had left us a present, but it was only water. We discovered the water was dripping from the TV antenna controller, which was directly over my side of the bed. Apparently, we have a leak!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

We woke up and get dressed, then proceeded to meet up with Jay and Stella to head over to the Casino for breakfast. They had a good choice of food for "brunch" and we had a good visit. After that, we all went our own ways to gamble and such for a while, and agreed to meet up again later.

I won a little money playing the slots pretty quickly, so I became pretty conservative after that. We had a good time just seeing what was what around this huge casino. You can walk for miles and see lots of different things. After a while, we headed back to the RV and relaxed a while. The rain continued, so we stayed inside.

In the evening, we met up again with Jay and Stella, and drove in the rain, to go eat in Gainesville at the Rib Crib. We had a good meal, and visited a lot about various topics. After dinner we headed over to Wal Mart for a few things, then back to the RV park, where we said our good byes.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Today, we were slow to get up and get going, but we headed out just prior to lunch. We stopped at Bucees in Ft Worth, and had a quick lunch, then continued our way home with no issues. The rain had finally let up so that was good.

When we got back to our home park, our Progressive EMS would not allow power through, so we investigated further and found water had leaked into it, ruining it. Luckily, it is covered under a lifetime warranty, so I contacted Progressive on Monday, and a new one was shipped right away. We used our "backup" EMS from SurgeGuard (which doesn't have all the same features, but does protect against surges and reverse polarity) in the meantime. This has come in handy twice now.

Water in the LED display of the EMS.

Overall, a quick trip, but we had a good time seeing our Heartland friends and coming home with a little more in our pocket than what we started with!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Made in the Shade

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

After much back and forth with Heartland regarding the AC system and lack of cooling the ductwork produces, Heartland agreed to help us with a possible solution.

I did some research on the Heartland Owners Forum and elsewhere about how window -tinting could help reduce the heat transfer through the windows. I felt this might be a possible solution to the lack of efficient cooling. I had decided on a certain brand of tint, based on the success of others. So I contacted installers nearby to get quotes. I only got one quote response, but it was from the owner of Abilene Window Tinting, Chris Evenson, and Chris was great! He answered a variety of questions and concerns over the course of a week or so. He explained they have done RVs before, and that they had a facility to easily work on our rig. He also gave us 2 additional options that would increase the heat resistance.

After conversations with Heartland for almost a month, we both agreed the best option was to get the window tinting done.  After more research, Tony and I opted for the "upgrade" Chris recommended, to a better, ceramic-based film, that had better ratings.

Saturday morning we got up extra-early and took the cats to a location they could stay during the day. We then towed our rig to their shop on the south side of Abilene for a 9am appointment, and sure enough, he had a large bay for us to pull into.

Photo from their website.

The entire rig and truck fit inside, no problem! However, to open the slides fully, we had to pull the coach up a little father. We unhitched so we could use the truck to leave if we needed, and they could close the bay doors while they worked. The space was air-conditioned, so it was a great space for getting the job done, especially when the temps were already getting into the 100s regularly!

Chris and his wife Megan were there to take on the job, and they were very nice and detailed about everything. They helped us confirm the film choice and even let us add the tint to the front window, as well, with a lighter tint.

They hooked us up with electricity as well (120v plug) so our fridge and electric outlets could work during the process. We decided to hang out in the lounge area for a bit, just in case they had any questions or concerns.

When it was getting about lunchtime, we headed out to find some food and run a few errands. When we returned, they were about 2/3 finished, so we settled into the lounge again. (I had some work to do, but they also had a TV on, and free wifi!) Normally they aren't open on Saturdays, so we were the only customer and they could focus exclusively on us. They had estimated about 4pm for a completion time.

Here's the film we went with, XPEL PRIME XR BLACK 5, the bottom sample.

Here's some pics of the process, that they took:

We fit with room to spare!

43' RV fits! Seen from above.

Here's Chris getting started with the first window.

Tinted dining room windows.

Tinted living room windows.

More living room windows (brighter lights outside, so they don't look as dark.)
Getting ready to hitch up.

RV pulled-through the bay, ready to go.

Chris and Megan finished up around 3:30. They did a phenomenal job! We then put things back for travel, closed up the slides, paid, and hitched up. By 4:30 we were out the door! Luckily a little rain shower had cooled the temps outside. We then picked up the cats and headed home, set up and enjoyed the rain-cooled temps.

Over the next few weeks, we got to experience some pretty hot temps! We were worried the tint would be too dark, but it really isn't noticeable as darker except in the early morning and later evening, where it may seem a little darker than expected. During the sunny day, it's just like wearing sunglasses.

Here's a pic looking out the window. You can see Tony's maroon truck and an orange traffic cone, for color reference. (sorry the window is dirty on the outside!)

We have experienced some cooling change with the tint, especially in the 95-100 degree range. Before, the rig would start to get uncomfortably warm at these temps, now it really has to be over 102 before we notice.

We did add some exterior window shade screen to our living room window and dining room window... I bought this before the tinting... to aid in the 100+ temps, and that has helped as well. However, it will have to be removed each time we travel. This window screen is called Suntex 80/90. We went with "Stucco" color, which has a variegated texture with lighter tones the same color as our rig.

Overall, I think the window-tinting was worth the money. It's a passive solution that didn't add significant weight, doesn't cost anything to use, doesn't have to be stored when not in use, and doesn't require any modification to the rig to operate. It changed the view very little. I did notice it's a little darker inside when there's a cloudy day, but that is OK for us.

If I had more money to spend, I could see going up to their next tint product, XPEL PRIME XR PLUS, which supposedly reduces the heat transfer even more.

I highly recommend Abilene Window Tint, if you're interested in this option! Give them a call or email, and Chris will take good care of you!

Going back in time....

July 1, 2018

I failed to put this on the blog eariler! Today we decided to entirely remove all four shocks, based on a recommendation from MorRyde. Since Tony had such issues with the suspension (see A trip to the Factory), we discussed with MorRyde again why we were having problems. They seem to think it's the shocks inhibiting the travel of the suspension, so we removed them. Two were shot, and two were OK, but the bushings were badly damaged. Hope this works!

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

We decided to help our coach with a little bit more stability, adding a BAL 30" Telescopic Stabilizer Jack to the rear of the coach. This is very well made stabilizer, much more heavy duty than the Lippert stabilizer we had on our previous coach.

So since I had July 4th off, Tony and I worked to install them.

Here's the jack system, prior to install. They are manually raised and lowered.  They are "telescopic" to fit a variety of trailer widths. To install, you simply position, cut the coroplast to expose the frame, drill holes and screw through the frame, then add screws that secure the cross-bracing's overlap in place.

The jacks did not come with these rounded feet, we had to buy them separately and add them, also made by BAL.

Tony drilling holes into the frame.

As with nearly every RV project, we found that the job wasn't as easy as it seemed.  After drilling into the frame with the recommended bit size, the first screw didn't want to go in easily, and took a long time. The second one ended up at a slight angle, and got stuck -- which then caused it to break the head off the screw. When trying to remove the first screw, it too snapped off. So we had to make a trip to the hardware store, for something to drill out the broken screws, make the holes bigger, and add new bolts with locking nuts. When Tony returned, he managed to drill out the old screws, and get that side secured properly. But the other side, he had to drill into the frame again, and by then, we had used up all the battery power on the heavy duty drill, so we couldn't complete the install. Tony ended up finishing the job the next morning.

I think they help!