Flagstaff to Bowling Green

Just a few snapshots on the trail from Flagstaff, Arizona to Bowling Green, Kentucky.


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Flagstaff, Arizona

Huck a 37 foot 165 lb telephone pole
At the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival in Flagstaff – Caber Toss: Huck a 19 foot 165 lb telephone pole

Amarillo, Texas

World famous Big Texan steakhouse in Amarillo
World famous Big Texan steakhouse in Amarillo. Eat the 72 oz rib eye in 60 minutes and it’s free.
Dinosaur in cowboy boots at Big Texas steak house.
Dinosaur in cowboy boots at Big Texan steak house.
Horns on cars
Yep, horns on cars, really a thing

Joplin, Missouri

Grand Falls in Joplin Missouri
Grand Falls in Joplin Missouri
Tortoise on the road in Joplin MO
Tortoise on the road in Joplin MO

St. Louis, Missouri

Construction and renovations in the park surrounding Gateway Arch
The park around the Gateway Arch is undergoing extensive renovation and construction.
Downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch
Downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch

Elkhart, Indiana

Elkhart is the RV capital of the world. I was here to look at new captains chairs and a new couch, but the delivery and installation times didn’t work on this trip. Went to the RV Hall of Fame and a Thor factory tour.

An early motorhome at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum, Elkhart, Indiana.
An early motorhome at the RV/MH Hall of Fame museum, Elkhart, Indiana.
Mae West's "House Car"
Mae West’s “House Car”

St. Joseph, Michigan

A beach stop on beautiful Lake Michigan.

Not the ocean. Silver Beach in St. Joseph on Lake Michigan.
Not the ocean. Silver Beach in St. Joseph on Lake Michigan. Miles of soft sand and crystal clear water. No ice this time of year.

Bluffton, Indiana

Wabash River, downtown Bluffton, Indiana
Wabash River, downtown Bluffton, Indiana

Louisville, Kentucky

The Kentucky Derby Museum, Whiskey Distillery Tour and a day at the races at Churchill Downs and some crazy underground ziplines.

Entering the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs
Entering the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs
Kentucky Derby Museum - Secretariat in the Winner's Circle
Kentucky Derby Museum – Secretariat in the Winner’s Circle
The main gate at Churchill Downs
The main gate at Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs - Race 4 - On the Turf
Churchill Downs – Race 4 – On the Turf
Mint Julep - had to try one. I'll pass next time, bourbon doesn't need sugar and water.
Mint Julep – had to try one. I’ll pass next time, bourbon doesn’t need sugar and water.

Bowling Green, Kentucky

At the National Corvette Museum, now recovered from the sinkhole that swallowed 8 cars in February 2014.

National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
National Corvette Museum
The outline of the sinkhole and cave that opened up in February 2014 is marked off in tape in the hall of fame / spire room at the National Corvette Museum.
The outline of the sinkhole and cave that opened up in February 2014 is marked off in tape in the hall of fame / spire room at the National Corvette Museum.
These cars were damaged beyond repair in the sinkhole collapse of 2014.  They are on display right were they were before the collapse.
These cars were damaged beyond repair in the sinkhole collapse of 2014. They are on display right were they were before the collapse.
Wrecked Corvettes on display.  These were recovered from the sink hole disaster and were beyond repair.  They are on display right where they were before the disaster.
Wrecked Corvettes on display. These were recovered from the sink hole disaster and were beyond repair. They are on display right where they were before the disaster.
Lost River Cave entrance, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Lost River Cave entrance, Bowling Green, Kentucky
On a boat tour in Lost River Cave, Bowling Green, Kentucky
On a boat tour in Lost River Cave, Bowling Green, Kentucky

I’ve Seen Fire and I’ve Seen Rain

Fire and Rain, the $3000 brain fart, back to Arizona, 400 days

Fire and Rain

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, mostly rain.

After Gettysburg, I got in some beach time in the outer banks of North Carolina and then Myrtle Beach South Carolina. Emerald Isle in the outer banks is a beautiful, sleepy beach town with warm water and nice surf.

First look at the ocean after arriving at Emerald Isle. This is about  25 yards from the  RV.
First look at the ocean after arriving at Emerald Isle. This is about 25 yards from the RV.

Unfortunately, I found out that at dawn and dusk there are tons on noseeums on the beach. The first night, unprotected by insect repellent, I got maybe 100 bites. Most of them stopped itching after 2-3 weeks.

In Myrtle Beach, I attended the iRV2 National Rally and enjoyed another warm water beach.

Sunrise at Myrtle Beach
Sunrise at Myrtle Beach

The second half of the week it started raining – 2-4 inches a day. At the end of the rally I moved on to historic Charleston for nine days of thunderstorms and 2-6 inches of rain every day. Talladega? Rain every day.

Magnolia Plantation, near Charleston, South Carolina
Magnolia Plantation, near Charleston, South Carolina

Fire? Well a lightning strike just outside the campground in Charleston set a big live oak ablaze. Pouring rain pretty much put out the fire before the fire department arrived.

The $3000 Brain Fart

Heading back to Arizona I noticed I’ve got a small oil leak and started checking the oil every time I stopped. At a rest area between Santa Rosa and Albuquerque in in New Mexico I saw the oil and engine coolant were both a little low. I got out a gallon of coolant and a gallon of oil and a couple of funnels. Then I poured almost a gallon of coolant into the oil spout. It wasn’t until I put down the jug that I noticed the orange liquid in the funnel and looked back at the jug.

Can’t drive like that, so I got towed 100+ miles to Albuquerque ($1250) where I spent three days at Freightliner having the oil flushed and the leak fixed ($1500). The truckers assured me this kind of thing happens, but I know stupid when I do it. Add in a few nights in a motel with a dog surcharge and I’m into this brain fart for over $3k.

Back to Arizona

I’m in Flagstaff now to visit Kylee at NAU. It wasn’t a good trip into town. The engine overheated during the climb from Holbrook. I’m hoping the oil leak just fouled the radiator vents and a good steam cleaning will set it right, but I don’t know yet. I also took a rock to the windshield which left the traditional divot plus two foot long cracks. I hope insurance will cover that one.

After Flagstaff I’m going to Phoenix for a bit to finish the motorcycle repairs from last April’s Flagstaff stop and have some dental surgery. Relatively speaking it could be fun.

400 Days

It’s been over 400 days and more than 80 stops (I know a missed logging a few) since I started traveling full time. Yes, I’m still having a great time.

The dog is still crazy, but controllable. There’s been a lot more expense than I’d planned – new bike, new trailer, dog related repairs, motorhome repairs, Kylee’s car repairs, and more. But just about every spot had it’s charm and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of them. Onward bound.

Top Five Places

  1. Osakis, MN
  2. Trinidad, CA
  3. Black Hills, SD
  4. Salaberry-de-Valleyville, QC
  5. Panama City Beach, FL

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And it Started Out So Good

I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it. -Jack Handy

Kylee and I got a late breakfast and then went to the Lowell Observatory. Lowell is home to many astronomical discoveries, from the discovery of Pluto to the first observations of the red shift in all distant galaxies – evidence that the universe is expanding (that was Vesto Slipher, not Hubble; Hubble observed much later that the farthest galaxies are moving faster – the expansion is accelerating). I’d highly recommend a tour.

Home of the original telescope at Lowell Observatory
Home of the original telescope at Lowell Observatory
Mausoleum of Percival Lowell on the grounds of the Lowell Observatory.
Mausoleum of Percival Lowell on the grounds of the Lowell Observatory.

But sometimes a good day turns around and bites you

When we got back to the RV, Keira had, well I’ll spare you the grossest details, but it sure looked like the shit hit the fan. After a couple of hours of clean up things were mostly restored. Then I went to the grocery – and the downhill run picked up some steam.

When I’m having a bad day I just decide … oh who am I kidding? I just go ahead and have the bad day. – Murr

Back at the campground, I was just putting the side stand down. The ground under the gravel drive was saturated from yesterday’s rain and melted snow. My right foot had no traction as the gravel just slid away and down I went. Yes, I dropped the bike from a dead stop.

Not sure if the pain is in my heart or wallet.
Not sure if the pain is in my heart or wallet.

April Snow Showers

Although its the end of April, it snowed pretty much all day Saturday (4/26/2014) in Flagstaff. It sounds pretty late in the year for snow, but actually Flagstaff averages 9.9 inches and 3.9 snow days in April (and 1.7 inches in 1.1 snow days in May).

Kylee captured the scene on campus at NAU:

And a few I took at the campground:

I’m not sure what the official measurement was but by late afternoon we had about 4″ of powder on the ground. Toto, we’re not in Phoenix anymore.

At NAU

Kylee at Roamward Bound
Kylee at Roamward Bound

I’m spending a few days in Flagstaff visiting Kylee at NAU. She’s been telling me its really far to the dorm she and her roommates are staying at next year, Pine Ridge Village, on south campus by the Skydome. On the map, as the crow flies, it’s about a thousand feet to her current dorm, Reilly Hall. Today we walked it and, you know, it’s 15-20 minutes and, yes, it’s uphill both ways. Pretty walk though …

Sunny, breezy day at NAU
Sunny, breezy day at NAU
Bridge to the Suites, south campus area at NAU
Bridge to the Suites, south campus area at NAU

We stopped by the Walkup Skydome to check out an exhibit of this year’s undergraduate research projects. Well, I was impressed.

Tomorrow, campus may look a little different …

2014-04-25-snow-saturday

Flagstaff NAU Visit

I made it to Flagstaff before the snow and had a great two day visit with Kylee. The dorm room looks great – they have a lot more space than they did move-in weekend. I also got to ride some mountain roads on the new bike. Weather was beautiful, highs in the low 60s and overnight lows in the high 20s.

When I went to leave the RV would not start. I cranked it long enough to get a dead battery also.  My roadside assistance sent out an actual mobile diesel mechanic from Freightliner. He worked on site for about two hours. None of the theories worked (e.g. clogged fuel filter – diesel fuel can gel in cold weather – WTF???). No codes in the computer. Glow plugs hot. Anyway I wound up getting towed to the Freightliner service center.

Waiting in the lounge with the truckers and other RVers was fun and a little terrifying. Great stories of the road and the truckers are amazingly tech savvy.  On the other hand, some of the truckers waiting had already been there a week.

At the end of the day the service consultant told me the ECM (the engine control module, the computer) was not responding. They would take it out and bench test it in the morning. I spent the night at a motel and when I returned in the morning they told me the ECM had tested OK on the bench. An hour later they told me they found an inline fuse, spec’ed for 20 amps, that had been replaced some time in the past by a 10 amp auto reset circuit breaker. They put a 20 amp fuse in and the engine started. Parts $0.61, labor $590.00 and I’m on my way.