(Note: These photos are HUGE if you double click on them.)
2015-9-15, Tuesday, Day 1, Home to Winnemucca, NV via SR99, I-80: 342 miles
If we were to make another trip to see the kids in Greenwood Village this year, it was time to hit the road. So we did. I was looking forward to finally getting out of Kalifornistan once again, and dear Wifey was looking forward to seeing the kids. I also looked forward to seeing Allen and Nancy because they’re such fun, but for me it’s the journey, for Lavonne it’s the destination. En route we would spend a night in Salt Lake City to see their daughter and our granddaughter, Erica.
As has become the routine, I spent the preceding days getting the coach ready. I cleaned the inside over two days, and washed the outside the day before we left. That wash job takes no longer than it has in years gone by, but it sure wears me out. After the hour and a half or so it takes, I am whipped the rest of the day. The good part is that I have plenty of time to get these jobs done.
It was our great pleasure to get the coach loaded, the house turned off and locked up, and climb aboard for our first day on the road. I’d have a lot of Kalifornistan traffic the first day which is not much fun, but the next two days would be wide open interstate with relatively little traffic. Day four would find us battling Denver’s Friday traffic, but we’ve done so many times in the past.
Pulling the hill toward Donner Summit.
We decided to take I-80 over the Sierras this trip because of the huge Butte fire that was raging in the Sierras near SR88. While there was a lot more traffic on I-80, it was wide open freeway the entire day. We left home at 1030, and drove almost straight through, arriving at Winnemucca’s Walmart store a bit after 1700. Our only stop was at the Donner Summit rest area for lunch.
Parked with the big boys at Donner Summit for lunch aboard Dale’s Diner.
The food and the service at Dale’s Diner are greatly improved when my cute lil’ waitress is along for the trip.
As we arrived in Winnemucca, we pulled into Taco Time for dinner. Lavonne loves that particular Mexican chain, but we have none around home. She began the habit some 30 years ago in Idaho, and when we can find one on our travels, we sometimes stop.
Donner Lake in the Sierra Mountains was full even during this drought. Perhaps it is spring fed?
Nevada welcomed us and I was mighty pleased to be out of Kalifornistan!
After tacos and burritos, we drove the short distance to Walmart and settled in for the night. It had been breezy much of our trip and it continued to blow throughout the evening with a few raindrops thrown in. We hadn’t run the air conditioner all day, and in Nevada in September, that was unusual.
Approaching downtown Reno. We kept on truckin’ and kept our wallets tucked away.
The Humboldt River flows along I-80 east of Reno. We saw several geese making themselves at home on the river as we drove along.
We busied ourselves with the usual chores after we settled in. I showered and set about doing my computer stuff, as did Lavonne. We also walked through a windy, cool lot to the store to buy a few grocery items.
We discovered that the main generator would not start as we began to make coffee, although it worked when we had lunch at Donner Summit. I tried and tried, then removed its cover and looked for something out of sorts, but could not find anything. I dug out our spare generator, a little Honda 2000i, and fired it up to make coffee. I would worry about the big generator in the morning.
We were in bed around 2230 and slept well. Our first day on the road was done and I was mighty happy to have two full days of driving through the peaceful emptiness of rural I-80.
Wednesday, Day 2, Winnemucca to Salt Lake City Utah via I-80: 348 miles
Morning dawned at Winnemucca’s Walmart, and we had a great day ahead… or did we?
We were up and around at 0530, eager to hit the road. Well, I was eager to hit the road, Wifey was eager to get to Salt Lake City where we’d stay at the big city Walmart near downtown. We planned to meet with our granddaughter, Erica, and Lavonne would go out to dinner with her. But the day had a few disappointments as it unfolded…
The Onan generator would not start again, so I set up the little Honda and used it to make coffee and zap a breakfast sandwich. I tried in vain to get the big generator to fire up.
Double (53 foot?) trailers – count those axles! A gorgeous rig.
We saw several of these old timers on some kind of run along I-80. That takes guts – and, I presume, some fix-it talent on a regular basis.
More of the Humboldt River along I-80
We pulled out of Winnemucca at 0800 and headed east. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenic drive through the Nevada desert. As we drove I got busy on the phone to find a repair facility for the generator. I found a Cummins Onan dealer/repair facility ahead in Elko, phoned ahead and got lucky! They’d have a man available when we arrived.
A real pro tackled the generator problem – and he didn’t have good news.
After about a 20 minute wait at Rocky Mountain Cummins, a mechanic with lots of Onan experience got to work for us. He found that it had compression, spark, and gas. But it still wouldn’t start. He finally diagnosed it as a magneto problem which resulted in a spark too weak to fire. He advised it would be two or three hours to tear it down and see what the magneto problem was. Since we had to be in Denver on Friday, and we had the Honda, I declined the further work, and told them I’d get it fixed when we got home. After a $65 charge and an hour and a half invested, we continued east. If we got into a heat wave and needed the air conditioner at night, we’d just have to find a RV park, much as I dislike them!
A lovely Nevada spread along the interstate. What a great life!
Dropping down into Wendover and Utah.
We were welcome in Utah.
It seemed an awful long drive through Nevada and Utah to SLC after that disappointment. The good news was that the repair outfit charged me just half an hour for an hour’s labor, but the reality was that the generator was down ’til I got home. Oh, well.
The SLC skyline as we finally neared our destination for the night.
We arrived at the very urban, kinda sleazy Walmart near downtown SLC at 1800. It was good to settle in for the night after the long drive which included too much wind and some rain. I was really bushed. Lavonne caught a few winks as we drove and was looking forward to spending the evening with Erica.
When Erica arrived we had a warm reunion, and soon after the gals were on their way to dinner. I set about editing photos and bringing this all too wordy travelogue up to date.
I walked into the Walmart store and got a Mickey D’s chicken sandwich for dinner. It was raining out, and seemed to rain most of the evening – as it did during our last visit. I loved the rain, but the creep who hit me up for change as I headed to the store, and some of the weirdos I saw in the store reminded me that I was in a big city and it wasn’t the nicest part of town.
This very exotic RV, or whatever it was called, was parked at the Walmart lot when we arrived. It was a very heavy duty vehicle and according to that map on the side, he had covered much of the world aboard this strange critter. It sported license plates from all over the world:
Our more conventional RV, jacks down for the night at SLC Walmart.
Back at the coach I ate my dinner, typed more travelogue, and took a shower. Around 2200 the party gals returned, and we sat around the table for about an hour visiting. We had a lovely time, and the gals talked about the great Italian dinner they had at a rather exclusive restaurant. I prefered the very exclusive Dale’s Diner.
We had a nice visit in the coach when Lavonne and Erica returned.
After our visit, Erica bid us good-bye and headed home for the night. Our visits on these Denver trips have become a regular thing and we really do enjoy Erica.
We hit the sack around 2300 and slept well. It had been a long, disappointing day, but our visit with Erica topped the day off nicely.
Thursday, Day 3, SLC, UT to Laramie, WY via I-80: 384 miles
We were up and around at 0600, anxious to get our day under way and head up the long mountain pull towards Park City and beyond. We pulled out of the Walmart lot a bit before 0800 and drove through the SLC morning traffic. The rain continued throughout the morning and for much of our drive. We were blessed with a good tail wind and that made for a less stressful drive.
The beautiful Coalville area of Utah.
There was a Dale’s Diner at the overlook of Echo Reservoir, way out there in the middle of nowhere. Those diners really are everywhere we travel. We decided to have breakfast. It was good and it was cheap!
We reached the summit at Park City, and then drove through the beautiful Coalville area. We pulled into a scenic parking area overlooking Echo Reservoir and had breakfast in the coach. The hassle of unloading the little Honda generator and using it was a nuisance, but at least we had a generator. We’d have to deal with it the rest of the trip.
An interesting formation along I-80 in Utah.
Welcome to Wyoming, the Windy State.
In Rawlins we fueled up and made lunch, also in the coach. Dale’s Diner got a pretty good workout that day and that’s travelin’ on the cheap – as we like.
We finally arrived at the Walmart in Laramie, Wyoming around 1630 after another long drive. It was good to drop the jacks and be “home” for the night. I walked over to the Subway inside Walmart and ordered a sandwich for dinner.
Big Blue at rest in Laramie’s Walmart lot for the night. Those threatening clouds were for real and unloaded on us overnight.
The evening in Laramie was as usual except for the thunderstorms overnight and, at 7000 ft., it was also very cool, dropping into the 30s. We spent time on the computer, catching up on our usual websites, and I also watched some DVD on the TV. We went to bed around 2230.
Friday, Day 4, Laramie, WY to Greenwood Village, CO via I-80, I-25: 151 miles
We woke up to a very cool 54° in the coach because I forgot to turn on the heater overnight. I set the thermostat to 64° but forgot to turn the darn thing on. When I got up I turned on the heater and the hot water heater, and crawled back into bed while things warmed up. By 0630 the coach was warmed and we got up to face the day. As is now usual, I had to go outside and set up the little Honda generator so we could make coffee. We sure did miss the convenience of just pressing a button to start the big generator, but we got by.
It was a windy morning in Wyoming, but that’s just how Wyoming is most of the time. At least through this section, at 8500′ and east of the Lincoln Memorial, it was a very helpful tailwind.
Way up there at 8500′ it was a beautiful morning to go for a long drive.
We pulled out of the Walmart lot about 0830 and continued east, looking forward to seeing the kids in a few hours. It was a windy morning, and very cool. I-80 east of Laramie climbs to its highest point of 8640 ft. where there is a Lincoln Memorial rest area. We seldom stop there, and didn’t again as it was just too windy.
It was a pleasant drive way up there at 8500 ft. and the wind became a tailwind that made the drive more pleasant. Forty some miles into our day, we turned south onto I-25 in Cheyenne, WY toward Denver. We pulled into the Flying J there to dump our holding tanks and top off the gas tank. We would be ready to continue our trip on Monday. We also ate a quick breakfast in the coach while there.
Yep, it was a mighty windy day as these weigh station flags attest.
The drive south was a wobbly one as we were blown around by the wind. The farther south we drove, the less the wind blew. We dealt with Denver’s heavy traffic that Friday, but other than one slow down due to construction, we cruised right on through. We arrived at Allen and Nancy’s place in the lovely town of Greenwood Village about 1315. We were happy to set up the coach in their driveway for the weekend.
Denver’s skyline and Denver traffic were as usual, but we streaked on through with little delay to the kids’ place in Greenwood Village.
Allen arrived soon after, and we sat down to some Chik-fil-A nuggets and fries. It was great to spend time with Allen again, and enjoyed a family lunch. After we ate, Allen clipped some limbs from his trees out front so we could park the coach there. It seems that about every other visit he has to trim those beautiful trees back a bit off the driveway for us. I then dropped the jacks, slid out the slide, hooked up to their electricity and made ourselves at home.
Allen and Nancy’s newly remodeled home looked terrific and that handsome Big Blue coach seemed to fit right in.
We had a grand time visiting with Allen, and when Nancy returned home from work we continued our visit. We all agreed on barbeque for dinner, and Nancy picked up BBQ chicken and ribs at a nearby restaurant. We enjoyed a fine dinner including taters and gravy, coleslaw, salad and cornbread. Of course I overdid the feast as that is a tradition when we get together.
After an afternoon and evening together I excused myself and returned to the coach to gather towel, soap, etc. and took to a shower in the house. It was good to take a relatively long shower after three nights of RV showers which are very quick affairs.
After my shower I bid the family goodnight and headed to the coach. Dear Wifey prefers to sleep in a guest bedroom in the house while I prefer to sleep in the coach. Choice is a good thing.
Back in the coach I tackled the job of installing the Chromecast thingy which transmits from the laptop to the much larger flat screen TV. In the past we used our satellite TV system, but I cancelled our Dish TV subscription long ago. I tried to install a Chromecast some time back and couldn’t get it to work. This time, however, with my smartphone, I got it working. We now can watch Hulu, Fox News live, and any other channel that streams live.
It’s really slick to sit in the coach, detached from the grid, and watch live TV on a flat screen. We have the choice of playing VHS tapes, DVDs, and live TV. And it all can run off our large batteries via our inverter when we’re off the grid. What a way to travel!
I mixed a couple of those good Tom Collins cocktails as I enjoyed the new TV programming for an hour or so. I finally called it a day around 2300 and climbed into my cozy bed. Life is good!
Saturday, Day 5, Jacks down at the kids’ place in Greenwood Village, CO
We all were up early and visiting in the living room well before breakfast. We continued our good visit for an hour or so, then set about whipping up a breakfast of hash browns, canadian bacon and eggs.
Before our breakfast, these deer were having theirs on the lawn near the coach. There were several of them in the area and deer are not unusual even though this area is a Denver suburb.
The plan for the day was for Allen and Nancy to take Lavonne shopping for an Android tablet. They also shopped for other things and made an afternoon of it, including lunch out. I stayed home as my sore feet aren’t up to all the standing around while shopping.
It was a family project getting the new tablet up and running. Now we’ll each have a computer during our travels.
The shopping party returned home later in the day, and Nancy set about setting up the tablet for Lavonne. To some extent, we all were involved in getting it up and running. The passwords, the different sites, the browsers, and even more are required to be programmed into it. Some passwords we couldn’t find until we dug through online sites. I think we finally got it sorted out and Lavonne had the whole next day to learn how to use it.
Then after all the work on the new tablet, Nancy discovered it wouldn’t support the games Lavonne likes. We would have to try again Sunday. Ugh. What frustration all ’round!
For dinner we pretty much hunted and gathered for ourselves. I zapped one of my usual frozen dinners and then joined the others to finish off some BBQ leftovers, and they were very good.
About 0900 I headed to the coach for the night. I was very pleased to begin my free month of Hulu by watching a trucking documentary. I think I’m going to like Hulu and it’s a lot cheaper than satellite TV. I enjoyed a couple of my Tom Collins drinks along with the show, and hit the sack about 2300.
Sunday, Day 6, still parked at the kids’ place.
I joined the others in the living room sometime around 0700 as we began our day with coffee. Those times make for good family visiting and we all enjoy the time together. For breakfast, Allen prepared some small cinnamon rolls which I could not resist. I called them dessert after eating my usual zapped breakfast sandwich.
After breakfast I set about washing the front cap and windows of the coach. I planned to wash the whole coach, but it was looking pretty good after the heavy rains through Wyoming.
The job of the day was to get Lavonne’s tablet returned and to find a similar device that would support her websites and games. Allen and Lavonne hit the road about mid-morning and began shopping. In the end they came home with a HP mini-laptop of sorts that folded completely around to form a tablet like device. It could be used as a small laptop or a tablet. Nancy set it up with little trouble, and Lavonne had her new gizmo to use on our trips. And she’ll likely find it handy at home and not be tied to the desktop.
After Nancy set up the new HP, Lavonne and Allen played with it and she began learning how to use her new toy.
They brought lunch home with them, too, having stopped at a Del Taco for Mexican food to go. I enjoyed a couple of tacos and again went off my diet.
After lunch I did a bit of house cleaning in the coach in preparation for our departure to Kansas the following morning. I also planned our trip on to Pittsburg, KS and my greatly anticipated meal at Chicken Mary’s. After Kansas we would head south to visit family in Arkansas.
As has become our tradition during these twice yearly Denver trips, we headed to Cool River for dinner our last evening with the kids. It’s a great restaurant and we all ate very well, indeed. We enjoyed sea bass, prime rib, and rib eye steak with lots of trimmings. Each meal there is memorable and we return nearly every trip.
Lavonne (L), Allen, Nancy, and Dale at Cool River. We enjoyed a lovely family outing as we awaited our very special dinners.
After dinner we returned home for the evening. As the rest settled in to watch TV, I headed for my last leisurely, home style shower and then on to the coach to update this travelogue. I watched some more documentary on Hulu and went to bed about 2300.
Monday, Day 7, Allen’s to Dodge City, KS via I-25, SR86, US40, US287, US50: 344 miles
We were up and about a bit after 0600. After my usual morning chores, I went to the house and joined the usual coffee klatch which would be our last visit of this trip with Allen and Nancy.
Filling up with water at the kids’ place for the next leg of our adventure.
I helped Lavonne load the things from the house to the coach, set Big Blue up for highway cruising, and loaded on water for the trip. A bit before 0900 we headed for I-25 and the continuation of our trip.
We made a point of missing the interstates and except for a few miles on I-25 and 10 miles on I-70 we were on state and US highways all day.
Guess how the city of Castle Rock got its name. The huge rock dominates the city and is quite a sight.
We stopped at Elizabeth, Colorado’s huge Walmart store and did some grocery shopping and made breakfast in the coach. We then continued along the same route I took in June to Dodge City, KS where we’d spend the first night. Much of this portion of the trip would be a repeat of that trip, but that was fine. I’m glad to get out on the highways and byways even though sometimes I take the same routes.
The day was beautiful, although pretty breezy at times. Through some of our Kansas drive we were buffeted sideways by the cross winds. But the day was a pleasure although quite tiring as I fought the winds.
Two happy travelers with TWO laptops to peruse the ‘net when we choose. Thanks, Nancy and Allen for help in setting up Lavonne’s new toy.
We had to get the generator fixed. A simple cup of brewed coffee or even a minute’s use of the microwave meant I had to wrestle the Honda generator in and out of the basement. It was too small to run the AC. I made contact with a Cummins Onan facility in Wichita regarding the broken generator. I was delighted to have them tell me to come on in the next day when I could and they’d tackle the generator. It has been a big hassle to RV without the generator and AC when we are so used to that comfort. I looked forward with high hopes to getting the generator fixed!
It was quite a difference in June from this trip’s drive through the backwaters of Colorado and Kansas…
This is about the same shot at the same place as the prior photo. June to September made a big change.
Welcome to Kansas!
It was a windy day as these flags at a Kansas cemetery attest.
Kansas feed lots were everywhere. I suspected that Lavonne was thinking of a hamburger.
Sharing the road Kansas style.
That was the cheapest gas we’d seen so far during the trip.
Because the weather was so warm, we would not be staying at a Walmart without our AC. I found the Gunsmoke RV Park in Dodge City on my navigator and we pulled in there for the night. It was an Ok place, I suppose, but I don’t like RV Parks to begin with. This one had no pavement, no cement and everywhere was dead grass that was mowed and dropped so any steps outside meant grass tracked into the coach. The hookups were at the wrong end of the spaces, too. But we plopped down our $34 and set up in a space. At least we had electricity and with that we had air conditioning. We were comfortable for the night, and that was really all that mattered.
Welcome to Dodge City, pardner! (As in June.)
Jacks down at the little RV park known as Gunsmoke in Dodge City. I would have preferred a Walmart lot, but we had no generator to beat the heat!
It was good to finally park Big Blue and call it a day. I was bushed from the long drive and fighting the wind much of the day. We spent the evening on the two computers (!) and the usual evening chores.
I worked on this travelogue, edited photos, and enjoyed a couple of Tom Collins while watching some Johnny Carson DVD silliness on the TV. We went to bed around 2300. We slept pretty well, but passing trains woke us up three times during the night – we never noticed the tracks ’til morning as we left.
Tuesday, Day 8, Dodge City, Ks to Wichita, KS via US50: 168 miles
The only thing on my mind that morning was to get the heck outa Dodge and on our way to Wichita and the Cummins dealer to get our generator repaired. I was up a bit before 0600 and set right to work dumping the tanks and topping off the water.
Lavonne was a good sport about rushing through the morning routine. I did make one big mistake, though. I unplugged the electric cord before she had a chance to make coffee. When she came outside – it was still dark – and asked in her usual sweet way “do we have time to make coffee?” I realized that I’d gotten ahead of myself. Of course we had time. I plugged the cord in again and all was well. We pulled out of the RV park at 0700.
Streaking through the morning darkness toward Wichita soon turned to dawn and this lovely sunrise. Kansas is a windy place, for sure, as the hundreds, if not thousands, of wind turbines attest. Here there are many spinning as a new day breaks.
Tending the bug collection as we gassed up en route to Wichita.
Our drive to Wichita was uneventful and very uncrowded. In that part of Kansas, at least, there was no rush hour. We were on US50 and it seemed much like US50 through Nevada which is known as the loneliest highway in America. We had the road pretty much to ourselves – even in the Wichita area. I love country that isn’t crowded and jammed with traffic.
We drove through what must have been Amish country according to this sign, but we didn’t see any of those Amish rigs.
Big Blue at the Cummins Onan hospital for her generectomy. That open basement door of the coach is where the generator hides. Once the offending generator was removed, we were able to drive to a RV park to wait ’til the next day. If it had been a comfortable day we would have parked at a Walmart, but we needed to hook up to the grid to power the AC as it was hot and humid in Wichita.
We arrived at Wichita’s Cummins Central dealership at 1030, just as I hoped. The service writer who took care of us was very helpful, but at first seemed pretty unsure that he could help us that day. I gently reminded him that they sounded like they’d get me in if I got there by 1100. As it turned out, by 1300 they had the coach in the shop and a tech working on it. The part would be $40, but the bill would be nearly $1000 due to the labor. RV labor was pegged at the highest of their rates at $128 per hour. It wouldn’t be done ’til the next day, however. They told us we’d be out of their shop the next day by 1030 at the latest if all went well. They had to remove the generator and we could take the coach while they fixed it.
One thing about Big Blue is that she looks like no other coach in the park! This is the USI RV park in Wichita where we waited for her repaired generator to be re-installed the following day. We had high hopes that the repair would go well at the Wichita Cummins Onan shop. Note the gravel lot of the park which was a pretty nice place to stay.
In the ten years and thousands of miles of RVing, we’ve never had to wait a day for a repair, and the only repairs ever necessary on a trip were tire related. This was a new experience and after all those years and miles I can’t complain too loudly about one day.
The entrance to the ISV RV Park where we spent the night waiting for the repair.
We decided to spend the waiting time at a nearby RV park, much as I didn’t want to. It was another hot day, and we had to have the AC which we cannot run without either the generator or shore power. We found the USI RV park, about five miles from the Cummins shop, on the navigator. We arrived there a bit after 1400. We spent the afternoon in the coach with the AC keeping us comfy. We spent most of our time on the computers, and time went by as well as one could expect when in waiting mode. We would have to be back at the shop around 0930 or so, I’d have to call in the morning to confirm. Then we’d have to wait while they reinstalled it, which hopefully wouldn’t take too long.
I took a walk late in the afternoon but otherwise we spent the entire day at the RV park, which was quiet and very well kept. The entire place was gravel, but it was clean and there were absolutely no muddy areas or grass clippings to track into the coach. Most of all it was very quiet. We never heard a train whistle or a dog bark.
We spent the evening as usual, and I learned a lesson about streaming Hulu programs over our wireless AT&T network. Even at the standard (lowest) definition setting, the documentary I watched gulped almost a full gigabyte of data in about an hour and a half. I knew it used up my paltry 5 gig per month plan in a couple of nights’ watching time because AT&T sent me nearly a dozen notices via text and email. As a result I changed our plan from rollover phone time to rollover data plan. We rarely use our phones, but with this new Hulu experiment and now two computers using data, the new plan should be cheaper.
This is the Chromecast dongle (dongle must be a high tech term for thingy) that plugs into the back of a TV and transmits the computer screen to the TV. They’re made by Google, and they’re cheap, just $28 at Walmart.
We had a good night at the RV park and slept well.
Wednesday, Day 9, Wichita, KS to Pittsburg, KS via I-135, SR96, US400, SR39, SR75, SR47, SR7, SR126, US69: 168 miles and too many highways!
The night was warm and the AC ran ’til almost bedtime. And it was humid, unlike our dry heat at home. When we got up to face the day, with high hopes for a fixed generator and to get on with our trip, the coach was still pretty warm. I opened the coach up and the somewhat cool morning air felt comfortable.
This would be the day, delayed by the repair, to drive on to Pittsburg, KS and treat ourselves (me, mostly) to a wonderful chicken dinner at the famous Chicken Mary’s. I’d promised myself in June, when I ate at Chicken Annie’s, in the middle of nowhere near Pittsburg, that I’d be back to try Chicken Mary’s. The two famous restaurants, featured on the Travel Channel some years ago, have been in business since the 30s. They sit nearly side by side out in the country where there would be no traffic at all if not for their fame. I have yet to learn why the two of them are there, but maybe this trip I’ll find out.
But first we’d have to get the generator back in the coach and drive the 168 miles to the restaurant. We had little to do that morning but wait for the generator to be done. We enjoyed the leisurely morning, especially in light of the rush we were in the morning before. We spent a lot of time on the computers, visiting our usual sites and sipping coffee. And the cool of the morning was very pleasant.
I called the shop around 0830 and was told that the generator was repaired and ready to install. That was great news! I set about dumping the tanks, adding fresh water, and getting on our way back to the shop.
Happiness is the tech under the coach and installing the fixed generator!
We backed into the shop bay and the tech got right to work on the install. Less than an hour later we heard him fire it up – and that sounded like music to our ears! We had a generator! We had air conditioning! He asked us to turn on some appliances, and they all worked. So we ran the air for several minutes to be sure all was well, and it seemed to be.
We pulled out of the Cummins lot at 1045 and poorer by $930 but mighty happy campers. The item replaced was simply the spark coil, the wire of which was able to jostle against metal ’til it wore through and grounded. This was no fault of the generator, but the wire should have been tied off away from metal when they built it. But nine years and over 50,000 miles since it was assembled means it was my problem. The warranty had expired long ago.
Eastbound towards Pittsburg, KS we encountered the turn off for Smileyberg, KS. Really. I suppose it’s a happy place.
One of the many different highways we took en route to Pittsburg. It was greener than it had been in Colorado, and always flat…
…until we encountered some rolling hills late into our drive.
I guessed these were water tanks but couldn’t figure out why so skinny and so tall. I couldn’t find them on the ‘net. They’re a mystery so far.
We saw thousands of acres of soy beans, some fields nearly as far as the eye could see. I read that a lot of it is used in animal feeds. And some for tofu. Ugh.
We drove through the the very small town of St. Paul, KS and were amazed by this huge Catholic Church, St. Francis. The whole area appeared wealthy and we liked the evangelistic flavor of the area as seen below…
The St. Francis Cemetery not far from the huge church. Good sign!
And a bit farther down the road we came across this row of signs that was the Lord’s Prayer, a short line at a time, much like the old Burma Shave highway signs of decades ago when we were kids. Double click the photo to see.
Our drive took us on at least nine different highways. I followed my navigator and it made the drive very easy, but I think we could have avoided at least a couple of highway changes if I had double checked. We thoroughly enjoyed the drive along endless scenery and empty roadways. It was such a pleasure to be away from the congestion and hassle of Kalifornistan and to enjoy God’s country where the cows outnumber the people and the crops stretch to the horizon.
Chicken Mary’s! This was why we drove two days east to almost the Missouri line! Most folks wouldn’t drive two days for any meal, but I would – for the right fried chicken.
In my recent June travelogue I wrote of my plan to eat at two famous fried chicken restaurants near Pittsburg, KS that were featured some years ago on the Travel Channel. I had planned to eat dinner at one and lunch the next day at the other. But I discovered that neither opened ’til 1600, so I ate only at Chicken Annie’s and promised myself a trip another time to try out Chicken Mary’s. Driving by that sign above made my mouth water in anticipation of the meal ahead.
When we arrived in Pittsburg, KS we headed to Walmart for awhile until it was time to head to dinner at Chicken Mary’s. We both whiled away the hours on the Internet. Having two computers was a great idea as we both were kept entertained and informed.
Around 1700 we decided it was time to head for dinner and we both got ourselves spruced up a bit for the big event. Chicken Mary’s was about seven miles away, and we were soon on our way.
The glorified cow trail that leads through farm country to Chicken Mary’s. I am still amazed at the success of both restaurants for so many years even though they are so far out in the boonies.
Arriving at Chicken Mary’s after two days on the road plus one day off for repairs to get there! Would it be worth it…
The crowd on a Wednesday evening suggested it would be worth it…
Yessss! The fried chicken was absolutely worth the trip! It was crisp, juicy, and served piping hot. I had fried onion rings for starters, followed by three thighs, taters and gravy, coleslaw, and applesauce. Lavonne, although not the chicken lover I am, enjoyed her fried chicken dinner, too.
After the big feast, we waddled back to the coach and headed back to town and Walmart. When I stayed there last June I was treated to a loud and flashy thunderstorm during the night, and a torrent of rain in the morning and I enjoyed every minute. Unfortunately, this trip, which happened to be the first day of fall, the weather was muggy and in the low 80s. When we settled in for the night we ran the AC for hours to keep comfortable. And it sure was great to be able to keep comfortable without having to use a RV park again, thanks to the repaired generator.
Thursday, Day 10, Pittsburg, Ks to Mt. Ida, AR via US61, SR171, SR249, I-49, US71, I-40, I-540, US71, US270: 256 miles
We were up before 0600 looking forward to the trip to Mt. Ida, Arkansas where Lavonne has several relatives living. But first things first…
After we worked through the usual morning routine I headed out for a morning walk. On the next block I came across a lube and oil shop that had a large enough door for the coach. I was just due for a 5000 mile oil change, lube, etc., so I asked if I could bring my coach over for service. Of course! So I headed back to the coach and drove into the service bay and let ’em loose on the coach. I took my walk and Lavonne was able to stay in the coach playing Scrabble on her laptop while they did the service.
Big Blue was due for an oil change and she got some attention at the local lube and oil center.
When I returned to the lube shop they were already done, so I paid ’em and we drove across the street to a gas station and filled up the tank at $2 per gallon! We saw gas as low as $1.95 a bit later, naturally, but we were pleased with the “cheap” gas.
Big Blue gulped down some “cheap” gas at just $2 per and was ready to continue on to Missouri and Arkansas.
The drive to Arkansas would be a bit over 250 miles so we got underway after pumping on the gas. Somewhere along the way we stopped for breakfast aboard the coach, then again a few hours later we stopped for lunch. The drive was beautiful and mostly with light traffic.
Welcome to Missouri!
Proudly we hail… Webb City, MO has the right idea.
Welcome to Arkansas, too. As usual, we were welcomed everywhere.
The area through the north end of the state until past the Bentonville area was very much like Kalifornistan; it was heavy traffic and it seemed there was road construction everywhere.
When we finally cleared that busy stretch we found ourselves in the Arkansas I love to drive, rural Arkansas. It seemed we had the road to ourselves, the scenery was green and beautiful and the two lane roads had enough bends and curves to keep it interesting. How I’d love to live somewhere in those parts of Arkansas.
The rolling green hills of Arkansas are very inviting.
We crossed the Arkansas River and it was WIDE.
The highways curved regularly through rural Arkansas and I like that kind of driving.
Someone had a sense of humor when they named this little chunk of Arkansas Needmore.
Arkansas is more than inviting. She’s downright seductive!
Mother Nature decorates the highways in much of Arkansas and it looks grand. Arkansas claims to be The Natural State, and I have to agree.
Shortly before we arrived at Mt. Ida, we came across a couple of these signs which seemed a bit dramatic. We encountered nothing more demanding than we’ve driven in many other places.
Bill (L), and Wanda, Dale and Lavonne, and Bill’s brother, JW, who came to visit after we arrived. JW turned 90 in August. The family memories flowed, old photos were dug out and everyone relived a lot of family stories.
We visited the entire evening which included dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, homemade coleslaw, chips, and dessert. Of course I didn’t know the old family history of which they spoke nor the loved ones they remembered throughout the evening. But I enjoyed hearing some of the old stories.
I headed back to the coach an hour or so before Lavonne joined me for the night. The coach was a bit warm and we ran the AC a couple of times to keep it comfy. I spent time on the travelogue and watched more of Johnny Carson DVD silliness. We climbed into our cozy bed around 2300 after a great day of traveling and visiting family.
Friday, Day 11, visiting family for the day in the Mt. Ida area.
We slept well while parked on the lawn near their house. The night was comfortable and it was so quiet out there in the countryside near Mt. Ida, Arkansas. We slept in a bit later than usual, but were up around 0630. After the usual morning routine we both huddled near our laptops and visited the usual sites on the ‘net.
Lavonne’s cousin, Bill Scrimshire, and his wife, Wanda, live on this delightful little ranch of about 20 acres or so near Mt. Ida. Big Blue is parked in their front yard where we spent a very peaceful night. Bill is Lavonne’s cousin on her dad’s side.
The folks didn’t appear to be stirring when we looked over at the house, so we took our time getting around. I took my morning walk along the country lane and thoroughly enjoyed the lack of traffic and the country quiet of the area.
Around 0900 we joined Bill and Wanda in their home for a bit more visiting and a breakfast of biscuits with sausage. A bit after 1000 I headed to the coach to get her ready for the short drive to visit the other side of the family, Lavonne’s mom’s side.
We simply drove about six miles through Mt. Ida and into the country beyond the other side of town.
This is the little burg of Mt. Ida, Arkansas. As you pass through, don’t blink or you might miss the whole town.
We spent the second night visiting Lavonne’s kin, Hank and Lanelle Yeaman, at their spread near Mt. Ida, Arkansas. Hank is Lavonne’s cousin on her mother’s side.
We visited most of the afternoon and it seemed they all had a grand time. I listened to so many names of other family members that I was completely confused about who was who. But they all seemed to know all about the family and I guess everyone was brought up to date.
This was the crowd that gathered at the Yeaman’s home to greet Lavonne and I during our visit. I always knew that Lavonne was a star, and this proved it. (L) Milton, Betty, Hobie, Kathy, Dale, Lavonne, Charlie, Hank and Lanelle. It was a mini-family reunion sparked by our visit!
After the others left, Lanelle made a delicious pot roast dinner for us with potatoes, carrots, gravy etc. We really enjoyed our dinner with them. Lavonne left with Hank and Lanelle to visit another cousin who was in an assisted living facility nearby. I stayed in the coach and worked on this travelogue. When Lavonne returned a bit before 2100 she joined me in the coach for the night. We’d be heading home in the morning.
Please click here to go to Page 2 of the Denver/Arkansas travelogue.
Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.