Today we took a big drive, 260 miles, to arrive at Cecil M Harden Lake in Indiana’s Raccoon State Recreation Area. This puts us close to Effingham, Illinois, where we want to visit friends. Along the way, at our sole gas stop, we weighed the trailer on and off the truck’s hitch. We’ve weighed several times before, maybe twice yearly. The weights have previously been with truck and trailer connected via the weight-distributing hitch. This hitch transfers some of the trailer’s hitch weight to the truck’s axles and to the trailer’s axles. Weighing the trailer separately provides us, for the first time, an accurate weight of the trailer’s weight at axles and at hitch.
Fortunately, we are right on the money with our axle loading and with our hitch weight. The hitch weight is exactly 1/7, or fourteen percent, of the trailer’s weight. Unfortunately, we have no spare capacity unless we remove some heavy things from the trailer or replace the axles with axles of higher capacity (3,500 pound axles would afford an added 1,000 pounds to our trailer’s capacity). If I decide I need two more solar panels atop the roof, I will need to find equivalent weight in the pantry, linens storage, or other items, to remove first.
We’ve already started talking about what we can remove entirely or move from the trailer to the truck. The truck is well underweight and also is rated for 20,000 pounds gross combined weight. So we could, if we just had to, carry more in the truck. We’ll do the separate weighing from now on — it provided the best look at what we are doing with our loading.
The drive was easy, big state highways, except we only had one poorly paved lane much of the way due to roads and bridges construction. This would have been fair enough, but we made a pair of goofs in our navigating. We learned eighteen months ago not to fully trust the directions from our GPS — the GPS has the sole mission of delivering you directly to your stated address or point of interest. Unfortunately, the direct route may be out of service, or one way against us. Perhaps worse still, the address we plug in may be correct but not unique. In none of these cases will the GPS outsmart us and still deliver us to the place we wanted.
Eighteen months ago we plugged into our GPS the address for the Cades Cove National Park campground. The address was correct and our GPS did her best to take us there as directly as she thought she should. But the route was barely navigable with our truck/trailer and at the mountain’s pinnacle, after innumerable switchbacks, the park’s road is one-way out of the park only and a locked gate, to boot. Okay, lesson learned!
Today we plugged into our GPS the address for the Raccoon State Rec Area and off we launched. We saw, toward the end of the day’s distance, encouraging signs directing us to Raccoon State Rec Area. Repeatedly our GPS directed us to turn off the highway at this county road and that county road. We persevered, believing we should wait for another big brown Rec Area sign and perhaps a more major road instead of these unpaved county roads. Soon, we found the major road and took it into Rockville, Indiana.
Encouraged, we followed our GPS as she directed us down the state route toward our address on Raccoon Parkway. We are no longer seeing any brown signs. The road doesn’t seem very parky, either. We again stay the course, thinking the park entrance must be just around the next bend. And around the last bend we encounter a gorgeous old 1800’s covered bridge, and our GPS announces we have arrived at the dead end private farm road just ahead. Right address, wrong Raccoon Parkway. Had we taken the time we could have checked through her very many turn instructions to look at her map of the last turn. We would not have seen any lake within six or ten miles, an immediate clue we might not have the correct destination.
Then again, we wouldn’t have seen this great looking old covered bridge. But we probably would have encountered another somewhere nearby — Parke County claims to have more covered bridges than any other county in the United States. And we would have missed the big old junkyard nearby. And we would only have driven through Rockville once, instead of twice. We arrived to the State Rec Area’s campground less than an hour later than planned, none the worse for wear.
This is a pretty and large campground. We have a cul de sac camping loop to ourselves except for a few groundhogs bopping around. The nearest other campers are 1,000 yards away. The campground has almost 350 campsites in seven or eight major areas. We selected a primitive one for the great price — $8/night. The registration clerk asked us, “Don’t you want to be close to the showers and flush toilets?” We walked an hour touring the entire campground later, after we had set up camp and cleaned ourselves up. The campsites in our loop are vastly more level than many of the more expensive ones. Our loop is far quieter and cleaner. We picked well.
We’ll continue to “watch our weight”. It can help with gas economy and is better on our trailer’s tires and suspension. We like keeping things a little simple anyhow. And we are properly chastised by our GPS for our carelessness and for our blaming behavior. When she took us way down the wrong road we were sure she had screwed up. We are reminded, again, to check twice and drive once.
See you down the road!