Category Archives: towing

The Road Less Traveled By

Any other highway but I-10 would be fine this time. So we started westward on I-20 and almost magically found ourselves entering the Sacramento Mountains on US-82. How could we have known how cool this was going to be? How many times did we not take this road?

We’ve crossed the continent, out and back, almost every year for the past ten. Every time we’ve been pulling our sweet 25′ Airstream home-on-wheels behind us. It seems like we’ve taken I-10 way too many times.

Really we probably used other highways at least half of the times we traversed the continent. We’ve crossed on The TransCanada Highway once, and each of I-90, 80, 70, and 40 at least once in both directions. Interstate 10 gets all our other crossings because it’s the most southern route and therefore the most suitable for towing our unwinterized RV in January, Feb, or Mar, which we often seem to do.

We were headed from North Carolina to Casa Grande AZ for the WBCCI Airstream Club’s annual winter Board meeting. Each evening on this trip we looked at the possible routes and weather a day ahead ahead. An overnight in Sweetwater TX on I-20 gave us a good look at a route we’d never considered. We saw a straighter line than I-20/I-10 offered from Sweetwater to Las Cruces, by picking our way from I-20 to US-82. We had no idea the adventure we were facing, the route simply looked more direct.

One hundred or so miles later we were in an incomparably beautiful area, the Sacramento Mountains in Lincoln National Forest. Without a doubt this was the prettiest part of our entire drive. The two lane road gently turned and climbed back and forth as it followed an ancient route through a gorge and then inexorably upward toward Cloudcroft NM at 8,650 ft above sea level.

There were long stretches of nothing but unspoiled terrain. This natural beauty reminded us of driving on Top of the World Highway between Dawson City YT and Chicken Alaska, where for as far as we could see away from our road there was no trace of civilization anywhere. Gradually we started seeing more homesteads, then RV parks, and finally stores. In Cloudcroft we even drove by a small ski slope filled with folks enjoying skiing on a sunny afternoon.

It took a little while for us to recover from the excitement of watching our engine and transmission temperatures climb on the mile-high climb and imagine our brake temperatures climb on the 4,300′ descent. Then we realized we were going to be driving right by White Sands National Monument. Several times we had driven on one border or the other of the White Sands Missile Range. We’d never been on this side of the area and hadn’t thought how to find our way to it. We had to stop!

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We spent a fascinating hour touring the Visitors Center and watching their very good video about the area. We learned some history and geology about the area, and why the white sand is special – it’s gypsum instead of quartz. What surprised us most is the rule prohibiting taking any of this white sand out of the park. Sure enough, we saw little piles of it on the sidewalk of the parking area where people dumped out their shoes so they wouldn’t be absconding with the material.

I’ve friends who won’t take that road, the one less traveled. Their travel’s going to be on the four-lanes and GPS-referred routes. There’s nothing wrong with that. Those roads are likely to have good paved shoulders, softer grades, great sight lines, and perhaps other safety features. The best thing is that the really interesting routes might remain, in Robert Frost’s words, “the road less traveled by.” It did make all the difference for us yesterday.

See You Down The Road

Jim and Debbie,
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees
©dreamstreamr odyssey 2017

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Spare Parts for Full-Timing

Last post I said, “Next post may be about spare parts — what else do we carry?”

It’s taken awhile to get around to this post. I’ve been writing elsewhere about our adventures on our land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of N.C. While thinking about this post, I just didn’t get to writing it.

We’ve addressed previously the gear list of our truck and trailer on our dreamstreamr.com web pages.

This post is to talk about spare parts we carry. We try to be self-sufficient as much as we can. If we can, we’ll fix what breaks. Sometimes things wear out or break. Some things are more important than others. If we lose refrigeration of our food it’s not quite disastrous. We have dry goods, and usually are within a reasonable drive to a grocery store. But if our hitch fails, we’re stopped. If our trailer’s electrical system stops working, we might be uncomfortable.

Having looked closely at what we carry (and don’t), I’ve decided to eliminate some of the stuff we thought we needed. What’s the worst that happens if you lack the spare? How many years do you carry something before you decide it’s surplus?

This is the list of spare parts we carry on our travels:

Quickbite Coupler and Equalizer hitch parts –
1 pair Equalizer L-pins
1 pair Equalizer socket pins
1 pair Quickbite hitch jaw pins
2 5/16″ hitch ball
hitch head pin and clip

Dometic Fridge –
thermistor (interior temperature sensor)
thermocouple (flame proving sensor)
gas burner jet

Atwood Water heater –
Thermal Cut-Off (TCO) replacement
Drain plugs (plastic, threaded)

Casework –
cabinet door latches

Electrical –
LED 5 watt G4 bipin bulbs
LED 10 watt G4 bipin bulbs
CFL 9-watt bulb for dinette lamp
ATC fuses 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 amp
80 amp class-T fuse (for inverter)
wire, insulated stranded and solid, 22 gauge to 8 gauge
7-way receptacle, complete spare
battery cable tubular lug rings

Plumbing –
bushings 1/4″ IPT, brass
ells, short nipples, plugs 1/4″ IPT, galv
fresh water tank petcock

Radio –
UHF PL-259 connectors
Double UHF female connectors
shrink tubing, various diameters
AGC fuses (0.5 – 30a)

Let’s see what your spare parts lists are, and what you think of mine.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie

dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2015 Jim @ Dreamstreamr.com

Pre-Flight Checklist?

Early last year a friend asked us if we didn’t need to use a checklist before we depart a campground and tow the trailer.  We laughed off the question, stating the obvious, “We do this every week, we’re good at it.”  There are a number of ways we could mess up our trailer, if we didn’t sort things properly before driving away.  One example is the rooftop stuff – imagine some of these things being torn off the roof or driven down into the trailer by a low hanging limb.

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Or what if, as our friends were recounting tonight, we failed to latch a window?  There is a tremendous pressure change when a big truck passes us on the highway and we’ve heard stories of windows mysteriously disappearing on driving days.  If you’re good with masking tape and fortunate enough to find double-ply cardboard in the nearest dumpster then perhaps you don’t need that window.  On the other hand, do you really want to give away something so dear?

Outside view of temp window

The thing is, you never know what you’re missing until it’s gone.  Friends were talking this evening of the events they’ve suffered, or have heard of from others, caused by not properly preparing the truck or trailer for towing down the road.  There are seemingly endless ways to ruin your day and perhaps empty your wallet through carelessness.  We finally saw the light, thanks in part to Doug’s and another Airstreamer, Marshall’s suggestions.

We use a checklist before every towing day.  Included in the list is Marshall’s item, to look at the entire rig from 100′ away and see the big picture.  Does anything look wrong from “out there?”  Then work on the checklist.

Friends suggested tonight we could share this list here, and lacking a more important topic we decided to comply.  Then again, maybe this is the most important topic we could share?  Here’s the checklist:

                  INDOOR ITEMS
Jewelry on wife
Jewelry box on lower shelf
Windows closed and latched
Vents closed, including Salem (ram) vent
Water pump off
Cabinets lashed and closed, including pantry doors
Brita pitcher and fruit bowl stored in sink
Catalytic heater stowed and latched
Shower head, etc. on shower floor
Headphones and TV put away
Items secured in vanity cabinet
Desk drawer secured
Laptops put away and stored
Inverter off
Furnace thermostat turned down
Outdoor temperature thermometer placed inside
Oven pilot lite off
Purse and food bag in truck
                    OUTDOOR ITEMS
Awnings closed and latched rear and both sides
Bars, breakaway, chains, and seven-way plug all connected
Chocks removed and stored
Jack stand removed and stored
D/C water, store hose and filter
Unplug shore power connection, store cords
If boondocking, d/c inverter, unplug from inverter, store cord, set Fridge to auto operation
Antennas down
Solar panels down and latched
Door closed and latched, double-locked
Doormat stowed in truck
Steps folded up
Tire pressure monitor hooked up and reading 4 trailer tires
Lucy  (our GPS) plugged in and reset trip miles
Mirrors extended for towing
Check brake and turn signal lights
Leveling Blocks stored

_______________________________

This list is on our iPad and our iPhone, so we can access it readily before towing.  You may have fewer, or more, issues you want included.  You may not need a list.  We thought we didn’t until we realized WE DO.

Thanks to Doug for reminding us we are fallible.  We should have listened sooner.  Thanks to Marshall for the apt suggestion of looking at the big picture too.  And thanks to Rich and Julie, John and Barbara, and Jay for suggesting we share the checklist here.  We need all the help we can get and really appreciate our friends.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie

dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2015 Dreamstreamr