Sunday, June 21, 2015

Playing catchup!

Regretfully, I had not posted while we were gone. I was more engrossed in worry about the motorhome and not really wanting to write much. So I will be adding pictures once I am finished with the text and upload all my pictures.

When we left Jellystone in Sioux Falls, we had all the warnings bells and whistles doing their thing. The camp is right on I-80 and there are no frontage roads, so we had to get on the interstate. The lights would go out, then on, then out. We were now experiencing a derate in the engine which puts it in limp mode, so I am struggling along at 40 mph while traffic is whizzing past me at 80. The problems didn't last long. At about the two mile mark, the engine was up to 130 degrees, all the lights went out and we were soon rolling along at my 67 mph speed I seem to like. No problems the rest of the day. We stopped for lunch and continued on. The engine is still warm when we take these breaks, so we don't have anymore problems with it like when we start out with a cold engine.

At this point, I asked Terry how far it was to Goshen because I was to the point that I just wanted to get someplace familiar and safe and then find someone "ELSE" who could work on the motorhome. Can't trust Hill's in South Bend to do the work. They have left us with more problems than we started with. But it was way too far to drive in one day, so we stopped in Tama, Iowa, at an Indian casino for the night. This was a good stop. The lovely campground with 50 Amp electric was $20 a night. They had very nice restrooms and showers. So we took advantage of that. Nice and clean and big. They were actually three-piece bathrooms. There was a nice laundry area, but I was good there. We went into the casino and spent a little time and a little money, the emphasis on "little." Once again, we broke even, maybe a little to the good side.

When we left the next morning, our departure was delayed by storms. We had been watching storms all along the way and had been successful at skirting or avoiding them all together. We had a storm roll in just as we got everything ready to go, slides in, jacks up, awnings up, etc. Good thing, because we had some serious wind and HAIL! An RV'ers nightmare. It was about the size of mothballs, so we didn't have any damage. Whew! It was rather LOUD, though. We did have a safe place to go if need be, but we stayed in the motorhome and were fine.

We started out with the same problems as usual until we were up to that magic 130 degrees engine temperature, then we rolled. And roll we did for 450 miles till we pulled in to Elkhart Campground about 6:30 in the evening. It never looked so good. So we had traveled almost 3,000 miles with warnings lights and buzzers to make it back here safe and sound. Obviously, there isn't much wrong but it sure would be nice to find someone who KNOWS WHAT THEY'RE DOING and can fix it!

Till next time. . .


Friday, June 19, 2015

On our way

We left Piney Grove Sunday morning and the "low coolant error" continued to plague us. Terry even tried filling the tank and it is full enough that it won't take more. So it seems the problem is not the actual coolant level, but the sensor (we hope). The strange thing is that once the engine temperature comes up to about 130 degrees, all the lights and warnings go off and we can run all day without any problems. The engine temp goes up and down as we climb or coast, so we are quite confident it is some kind of sensor error. But we are getting a reading that indicates the computer has an "unknown failure" which is a little disconcerting, since those little devices are NOT cheap.

But we continued on and we drove without incident. We took several days to get to Sioux Falls. One night we spent at the casino in Sloan, Iowa. We stayed here one night on our way to Alaska with Tab and Deanna and it was as we remembered. They have decent electric sites and since it had been hot, it was good to have good power. There was a nice place to walk the dogs as well. We decided to try our hand in the casino and we didn't win anything big. We did just about break even which is what we hope for anymore. Hah.  We did try their soup and salad bar. It was $3.99. Two kinds of soup and a full salad bar. Can't beat that. Dinner for two for under $10? Score!

Every morning when we start up, the same warnings light up the dash. Occasionally we have a "engine protect" light that pops up but it hasn't caused much of a problem yet. That would indicate the engine is in "limp" mode and not able to go over 40 mph until it will eventually shut down to protect the engine from "low coolant" which is an error as we have plenty of coolant. Grrrrr. Since she runs good once she's warmed up, we will continue until we are dead in the water. At that point, they should be able to figure something out.

We got in to Sioux Falls, around 11 a.m. on Thursday morning, June 18th. We stayed at the Jellystone this time. We got all checked in and walked the dogs, then headed to the license bureau. Things have changed since last time and we no longer have to go downtown, so we followed the instructions to the new location. We stopped by our mail service on the way, which has moved. The new location is actually very easy to get to and we enjoyed meeting the people who get our mail to us. The experience at the license bureau was great. We walked in and were given a form to fill out. Before I had my name on the form, they called me to a window and by the time my form was finished, I had my new license. While I was doing that, they called Terry and when I finished up, I joined him and his was finished in short order. In and out in 20 minutes. Wow. That has to be a record. We had wanted to stay in the area and take a motorcycle course and test, but we decided not to do that this time. We did get information on getting that added to our license, but with the problems we are having with the motorhome and the fact that Jocelyn and the kids were due into Goshen next week, we decided just the basics now and we will do more later.

The next morning we wanted to visit the falls and so we packed a picnic lunch and headed out. The falls were beautiful as always and we truly enjoyed a relaxing picnic lunch and walked along the walkway at the edge of the river. I took lots of pictures. The pink granite of the falls is beautiful and even more so when the light shines on them. It creates lots of deep hues and colors that are beautiful.

After lunch we drove south to the Red Barn RV Park where ours friends George and Iris live for two months in the summer. He is our gas man in the valley and they bought a house in Enchanted Valley, right next to us. We sat out under their awning and visited for a while. They have family in the Sioux Falls area, but they no longer have a house here, so they stay in a travel trailer in the park for the two months they are there. Then they head back to Mission for the rest of the year. It was great seeing them and catching up with things in the valley.
On the way back, we saw these helicopters flying. They must have been from the air base.

We are heading out for northern Indiana tomorrow and plan for about three days of driving. But we continue to have those startup errors on the engine, so we don't know if we will go 2 miles or 200. Hoping for the best!

Till next time. . .


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Time flies . . .

Time flies when you're having fun, right? So it must be doing the slow crawl for us. Motorhome problems continue to plague us and we are about at our wits' end.

On the way to Piney Grove, we stopped at our favorite rest area on the north side of the bridge over the Tennessee River on the Natchez Trace. This was just the day after picking the coach up again from Hill's Truck Service Center in South Bend, Indiana. We noticed after stopping and walking the dogs that we had what appeared to be a leak under the driver's area. Yep, it's a NEW fuel leak. It's not the one that continues to spew fumes into the basement and coach. . . this is a NEW leak created by the "mechanics" at Hill's. We never had any VISIBLE leak until they "fixed" it. Grrrrrr. Well, that still wouldn't keep us from moving so on we went. As soon as we pulled out of the rest area and approached the incline on the bridge the "Check Engine Light" came on. It continued and flashed "Low Coolant" before going out. Hmmmmm. Thanks, Hill's for checking and topping off the coolant. We thought we had finally found a place where we could take the rig up in northern Indiana for service and now are having to rethink that. We have had this before and normally have to add a bit of coolant. Terry runs the Silverleaf Diagnostic System on his laptop and it showed the engine temperature perfect, so we didn't worry about that. We drove on without incident and got into the camp expecting Gary and Jo to be already parked and waiting for us, since we were a day late.

Sad to say, Gary and Jo had cancelled their reservations and were staying at Shirley's. That's not a bad thing. Staying at his sister's is the best place for them since they don't see each other that often. We still got our favorite site and the camp was full. The neighbors camping in "Gary's" site came over and introduced themselves and invited us to share their screen tent and play cards and games. We thanked them. . . southern hospitality at its best. But after the problems we had getting here, we stuck to our site, walked the dogs and relaxed.

We had recently received information from the tax gurus in Texas that they were upping our assessment and taxes on our Texas property and so we filed an appeal. Unfortunately, instead of just making an adjustment, they scheduled a hearing for us. If we were not going to make the hearing, which at this point was 10 days away, we would have to hire a representative (too late to do that) or submit all our data and have it notarized, etc. So I spent the morning preparing the necessary forms and supporting materials. Terry called his cousin Cathy and she has a cousin on the other side of the family who works at a bank and is a notary public. So we went to visit Cathy and her husband Bill and then she drove us to downtown Baldwyn where we met her cousin and she notarized our paperwork. After that we were able to drop it in the mail. Whew. That's done. It required eight copies of everything so that each person on the appeals board could have their own documents. It probably won't even make a difference, but I had to try. Since then, we have talked with other owners in our park and were told of a lawyer who is helping a lot of the winter Texans there; so we will touch base with that attorney this year so that in future years, we will have someone who can help us by remote.

We had a great visit with Cathy and Bill in their "new" house. Her Dad, Uncle Bob, is the last Pace member of his generation. He is Terry's Dad's brother. He is in assisted living and suffers from Alzheimer's. When he moved out, Cathy and Bill moved into his house and have redecorated it. It is lovely and is a beautiful home. They are becoming more comfortable in it I think.

We drove over to Red Bay, always a highlight of our trips to Mississippi. We bought a few things in the camp store. We should have looked around more, because they have built a new customer lounge and we didn't even know it until after we left. But we do go every year, so we will manage to see it next time. 

Saturday we attended the family reunion in Marietta, Mississippi. It was a bit of a disappointment. Uncle Bob was not feeling well, so he didn't come. We had a total of 18 I think. The restaurant venue was actually quite good. The food was good and the family was great. We had hoped by having it at a restaurant and not requiring anyone to cook, there would be a bigger attendance. I hope that more attend next year and in the years to come because we always enjoy seeing everyone. So many have moved away that it is good to touch base with them once a year at least. Terry thinks we could send out invitations and I think that would be a good idea. As the family gets older, it is important for the younger ones to take interest in seeing that we make that contact at least every year.

After the reunion, we went back to camp and spent some time with the dogs and walked them. We headed back to Wheeler later and spent the evening visiting with cousin Shirley and family and cousin Gary and wife Jo. We had a great time visiting. It is always fun to visit with these cousins. Terry has fond memories of spending time in Mississippi when he was little. They always came back for vacations and family events, so he was quite close with these cousins and they remain very special to him.

So, tomorrow will be time to head out. Our plans are to head to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as our drivers' licenses need to be renewed.

Till next time. . .


Friday, June 12, 2015

Family Time!

We had a busy end of May with a rally at the Goshen fairgrounds called the Glamarama. It is an FMCA chapter and used to always be held in Berrien Springs, Michigan. We were never able to go to it there, but when they moved it to Goshen, we decided to give it a try. This is the third one and we enjoyed the first two, but this one was a dud. Not a lot in the way of vendors. . . they used two buildings, but probably could have squeezed them into one. They normally give us each $5 worth of "vendor bucks" but this year just got one coupon. Seminars were not much and not as much for women. Usually I have lots of craft things to choose from and nothing interesting this year. The entertainment was good. . . we saw "The Marlins" who are four brothers who sing and play a variety of instruments. They are very good and the piano player is probably better than Jerry Lee Lewis. The last night's entertainment was Sarah Ghetto who is a blind woman with a degree in music education and travels the country doing concerts. She also is very good and sings and arranges all her own music. She plays piano and fiddle and flute. She is a very talented entertainer.

We, of course, got stuck in the infield again. At least it wasn't raining this time, but it had been in the forecast. We were parked all the way down to the end of the stage with no one around us because the power boxes in between us and the rest of the group supposedly didn't work. I found that hard to believe. One year we came in a day earlier and got in the infield. . .this time we came mid day of the parking day and got the infield. There were full hookup sites in the campground that went unused just so we could be in hell's little corner of the world. I asked about those empty sites. . . well, those are for handicapped attendees. Well, I'm not handicapped, but I have enough back problems it's difficult to walk over uneven terrain and very far, so it would have been nice to be closer. They do have golf cart shuttles, but they would look down the line and not even see our coach we were so far out. Often times they never came down to where we were so we would have to walk and hope to catch up with one later. It won't happen again, we aren't going next year.

We left last Sunday to go to Warsaw and see Mom and Dad before heading south for Terry's family reunion. I taught Nita how to make the mesh bags and she got one done. It's really cute. Naturally hers has a dog theme. I don't even have one to show people because I have made all mine for other people. I must get busy and make one for myself.

Before we left Warsaw on Monday, we tried our generator, which is the first time we had tried to start it since paying big bucks for repairs to the fuel lines going to it. It would not start. We didn't panic, thinking perhaps since we were down on fuel that was the problem. So we decided to head to South Bend where we had the work done and if taking on more fuel didn't solve the problem, we would see what they had to say.

We stopped at a truck stop to fuel and they had high-speed pumps. We almost always fuel using these, but this time Terry got a bath when the fuel WHOOSHED out at him. Great. . . we couldn't even take on fuel. He tried squeezing and releasing and managed to get three gallons in it before giving up. So now we know we are headed to South Bend because we won't be able to travel with no fuel. Terry gets on the phone to them and they insist they can't do anything that day and we should just "camp" for a few days till they can work us in. Terry was very diplomatic but insistent and finally got a commitment from a supervisor that he would see what he could do. We went over to Elkhart Campground to spend the time till we heard back. Later in the day we received a call that we were to have to coach to them by 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

And so it went. We spent the day doing laundry and going out to eat since we didn't have any food with us. Terry checked in around 2 only to discover they didn't know anything. Later they called and said they couldn't find the fuel lines for the generator. A+ mechanics there, I tell you. And this is a Freightliner Service Center. So he told them to call the Onan service center in Elkhart and gave them the number. We didn't have much hope we would see the coach that day, but they are open till 11 p.m. We went out to dinner and on the way back they called and said it was done at 6:30. So off we went again. Well, the generator started and they had steamed off the fuel tanks. Said that when they dropped them the first time and put them back up, they had kinked both fuel inlet hoses and the generator hoses had popped off. So every time we tried to start the generator, fuel would spew out those loose lines.

We took off and spent the night at Potato Creek State Park. This is a lovely park, but I have to tell the state of Indiana that your parks won't get our business anymore. They charge $9 ($7 for in-state) for out of state visitors just to go through the gate and another $24 to camp for 30 Amp electric. . . making that a total of $33 a night to camp with a little bit of power. This is way above the norm and I contend that if you waived that gate fee for campers you would be much fuller every night. Now we KNEW about the gate fee, but we really didn't have a choice that night because we didn't want to drive on at 8:30 at night.

We were up early Wednesday morning and on the road by 7:30. We did fuel quickly and all worked well. We drove 450 miles and spent the night in Lebanon, Tennessee, at Shady Acres, which was another dumpy campground. But we got to camp at the front and had 50 Amp FHU for $24. . . hear that Indiana? We left there yesterday morning and drove on down to Piney Grove Camp in Mississippi. This is always a great stop and we have good power for $11 a night. The dogs like it here, walking and hunting squirrels at the same time.

Today will be a relaxing day. Tomorrow is the reunion and we are anxious to see everyone. We are having the event at a restaurant this year instead of having a carry in. Hope more people show up!

We hope the coach is fixed. We still had to wash the car due to fuel blowing back on it. Hope that is just residue from the earlier problems, but will reserve judgment till we are sure.

Till next time. . .