Tag Archives: state parks

How We Left The West

We arrived Lake Junaluska NC early this afternoon after a fun drive through the Great Smoky Mountains on Interstate 40. Our weather is fourteen (14) degrees cooler than our previous stop, Chattanooga TN. Today’s high in Lake Junaluska was 70 and it is 53 outside at 10pm.

Our cross-country road trip started last Saturday morning in Mesa AZ and ended this afternoon after seven nights, 1,900 miles, 186 gallons of gas, two dinners and overnights at Cracker Barrel Country Stores, two private RV parks, and three state parks (AR, MS, AL).

Total camping costs were $84. Gas costs ranged from $3.48 (Knoxville TN with our $0.20 per gallon Kroger discount) to $3.85 in a Shell station on Highway 72 west of Huntsville AL. We also bought a couple of cups of McDonalds coffee, one five-pack of AGC 30a fuses and a can of MAF sensor cleaner.

Our Pressure Pro tire pressure monitoring sensors became intermittent. We expected this and will trade them in for fresh ones through the manufacturer for approx $35 per sensor. Our check engine light came on soon after leaving Mesa AZ and again this morning between Chattanooga and Knoxville TN. It self-cleared both times and we think will be happier once Jim cleans the MAF sensor tomorrow afternoon.

Our refrigerator quit in Las Cruces NM, the same day we had the first check engine light issue. Jim removed, cleaned, and reinstalled the refrigerator’s gas jet and the fridge has operated flawlessly since.

The newly tightened weight distributing hitch settings are more difficult to manage. Jim increased the tension on the bars to compensate for the additional 135 pounds battery weight on the trailer hitch. The truck and trailer are perfectly level and handling was perfect for the entire 1,900 miles.

Previously we could lift the hitch sufficiently to slide the bars onto their brackets. The weight distributing bar brackets are up another inch or two and sometimes a little too high to swing the bars onto. We are, for the first time in five years, using the swans head pry bar supplied by Equal-I-Zer to lift the WD bars into place. The lever works well so not a problem, just a different strategy.

The four new batteries did fantastically on solar charging alone every day crossing the country. We never used the converter/charger. The little bit of current from the truck’s alternator would probably have been offset by driving with the running lights on all day. We had at least 12.6 volts by the time we called taps every night, so plenty of battery power to get on the ham radio the next morning if Jim wanted.

All our RV and truck systems worked really well, aside from the minor concerns with the engine warning light and the fridge gas nozzle wanting a little attention. Those aside, the truck and trailer were perfect and a delight throughout the entire trip. Kinda makes us want to go somewhere again tomorrow, you know?

This trip was probably our easiest and overall most relaxed pace of any in the past four years. We allowed eight driving days and figured on needing six and having two zero days. Instead we had two short driving days between the latter two state parks and so used up all eight driving days. We were slow to start each morning and early off the road most days, allowing afternoon time to loaf the last five days of the trip.

The first two days were a little long but we were ready to get out of the arid dusty western area and get back into green country. It’s sort of fitting our first two nights (Las Cruces NM and Abilene TX) were on asphalt in Cracker Bbl parking lots — the campgrounds would have been about as dry and hard anyway. Sure enough, our third night was on freshly mown grass in Mt Pleasant TX at Rambling Fever campground.

The only unresolved problem from the trip is the Cradlepoint CTR-500 router and Verizon Pantech UML290 modem. In Mesa they behaved very well together, displaying full signal from the Verizon tower and giving us reasonably good wifi in the trailer. Currently we are getting one to two bars only from Verizon although our 4G MiFi is showing full signal. Small stuff, but below our expectations.

These were our seven one-night stops in this cross-country trip:

Cracker Bbl, Las Cruces NM
Cracker Bbl, Abilene TX
Rambling Fever Campground, Mt Pleasant TX
Chicot Lake SP, Lake Village AR (the largest oxbow lake in the U.S.)
Tishomingo SP, Tishomingo MS (on the Natchez Trace Parkway)
Joe Wheeler SP, Rogersville AL (on TVA Lake Wheeler)
Raccoon Campground, Chattanooga TN

Tomorrow we’ll tell the three best things we’ll really miss about the West and why we’ll look forward to getting back there this autumn.

Jim and Deb
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©2007-2012 Dreamstreamr

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Dreamstreamr’s Best of 2010 — a short personal list

2010 was one of our best years in many ways.  We haven’t had a bad one, mind you.  We realized today we started Airstreaming seven years ago this year.  Four of the less than seven we’ve been full-time in our 25′ Airstream travel trailer.  All four years have been wonderful, exciting, different and often surprising.

What made 2010 great and different? A thumbnail sketch includes these things:

  • participating in a WBCCI Airstream caravan;
  • staying a month in Gillette;
  • visiting the oldest hamfest in the world;
  • visits to over a dozen national parks (and we’ll try to narrow it down to the best one;)
  • fun in Vancouver with our granddaughter;
  • three weeks volunteering with NOMADS, a United Methodist mission;
  • making a couple of smart purchases; and
  • stays at a wonderful pair of resorts.

Rainbow Bridge

We spent six wonderful weeks touring America’s southwest on a WBCCI Airstream caravan led by our friends Jay and Elna Thompson and Winston and Carol Montague. We were delighted to gain precious friendships with couples we hadn’t already met before the caravan while deepening our relationships with those we traveled with before.  And the six-week

Mule ride thru Bryce Canyon

guided tour throughout our country’s southwest was wonderful.  Our caravan leaders arranged tours, boat rides, and other special treats we either would have missed by scrimping or just wouldn’t have known about on our own.  Too, we enjoyed the company of many friends while trying to absorb the wonders in six weeks of sightseeing.

A month in Gillette WY allowed us time to really mine the area, so to speak.  We  toured one of their incredible and gigantic coal mining operations — nothing at all like the media makes it out; eat wonderful bison rib eye steaks at The Open Range Restaurant in Wright WY; tour the Wyodak air-cooled electrical generation plant;walk downtown Gillette; play tennis in Campbell County’s

That's a big pickup

incomparable municipal recreation center;  join the local ham radio club for breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen; browse and restock on electronic parts and custom cables from Chris Supply; participate in amateur radio’s annual Field Day with our WBCCI Amateur Radio Club; enjoy terrific convention management by the CAMPLEX staff; and celebrate another successful annual Airstream WBCCI rally.  We had a great month in Gillette!

best place for a hamfest

More than two years ago Dave Blum kf4gtj (SK) and Jim wanted to briefly slip away from our Airstream caravan’s tours for a look at the oldest continuously running hamfest in the world, the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park Hamfest.  Dave and Jim didn’t make it then but it remained on their bucket list.  We (Jim and Debbie) put it on our agenda for 2010 and enjoyed a week in East Glacier with the best international group of hams we’ve been with.  Great weather, great scenery, great radio folks — This was a fine week.

North Rim Lodge

Debbie and Jim are divided on which was the best National Park we visited — North Rim of Grand Canyon, or Zion, or Mesa Verde.  We visited probably at least a dozen throughout 2010.  These three were our clear favorites for the year, and all were stupendous for roughly similar reasons.

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde wins out for being the least crowded and still providing stunning history and scenery. Zion has incomparable hikes and public transit and a very accessible but separate town site.  North Rim gave us an inch of overnight snowfall, very nice days, such a great old lodge, and more views than we ever could have imagined.  How do you pick one best one?

Cradlepoint router

Hands down, no equivocating, our best purchase for the year is our Cradlepoint CTR-500.  Our Airstream trailer is a mobile WIFI hotspot and we are radioactive!  Okay, only figuratively, but for us nothing beats the convenience of our own mobile wifi network.  We work three laptops, an iPad, and an iPod Touch.  Friend Bob Simms highly recommended the Cradlepoint to us, and we owe him many megabytes for our happiness with local wifi.  All devices tune effortlessly and quickly to the wifi, the Cradlepoint can support up to 32 devices at a time (but please don’t ask us to share, okay?), and we don’t mess with VZ Access anymore.  Wifi is good.

We don’t usually stay in resorts, national or state or provincial parks are more our speed.  But several years we have stayed in two resorts, one in British Columbia and the other in Mesa AZ.  Burnaby Cariboo RV Resort 17 km east of Vancouver BC is really really nice.  But Towerpoint Resort in Mesa has it beat hands-down.  Towerpoint is a  premiere tennis resort with five gorgeous hard courts, two hot tubs, two swimming pools, and too many excellent facilities to mention.  If we weren’t tennis players, we’d find plenty else to occupy us at Towerpoint.  And the people are wonderfully friendly and supportive.  Towerpoint is clearly the best resort we visited last year and we look forward to many more visits.

building a shed at Ocean Park Retreat

The best short description for our past year is “active”.  We saw a lot, participated in a lot of guided tours, hiked and toured many places, volunteered three weeks at Ocean Park Retreat on Washington state’s coast on mission work with NOMADS, played tennis all winter in Mesa AZ — we had an active year.  Yet we moved fewer times, stayed longer in places.  Three months in Okeechobee FL, a month in Gillette WY, five weeks on Washington state’s coast, three months in Mesa AZ.

We might be getting the hang of this full-timing thing, living throughout the continent.  Life on the road as full-timers, as a recent responder reminds us, isn’t vacation — it’s life (thanks, Sue, for the excellent phrase) on the road.  Our house has wheels, but it doesn’t require constant rolling.  We can stay in one place awhile if we want. We’re enjoying our environs more as we dig a little deeper in each locale.

You’ve absorbed all you can in one reading — we’ll save some highlights from last year for another day.

Jim and Debbie

locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2011 Dreamstreamr