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July 27th 2018
Published: July 27th 2018
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My Sister’s Home, Fort Morgan, Colorado

Last year, on our very last night before arriving back home, in a state park near Clayton, New Mexico, the motor that pulls the trailer slide-out in and out quit functioning. It failed while the glider was in, so we could still travel. But it meant that we spent the last night in extremely cramped quarters. Fortunately, we were very tired and all we wanted to do was sleep anyway, so it didn’t make much difference. But it seems that if we get trailer problems they want to happen at the end of our trips.

And so it was, night before last. After a long day of driving on Wednesday, we pulled into the Valentine, Nebraska municipal park to spend the night. We found what looked like a good campsite, spent some time trying to get the trailer in and level it. After a while, with no luck - probably because we were tired - we went to a less private but easier spot and got the trailer situated. Then I tried to lower the tongue jack to stabilize the trailer a bit. But absolutely nothing - tongue jack just wasn’t working.

Started looking at the other systems on the trailer and they weren’t working either - absolutely no power. So not only could we not push out the glider, but we didn’t have any lights, the water pump wouldn’t work (so no water), and, without DC power, you can’t even run the refrigerator in gas mode. So we are essentially dead in the water. We can live for a few days without an AC hookup, but when we lose our DC power system, we are pretty much done.

I knew that a system failure like that is either something really simple, or, something really bad. But I was too tired to face either option, so Joan immediately got on the phone to locate a motel room. And she found one a mile away at an Economic-lodge that also took pets. We packed everything up and headed over to the motel.

Although not happy about spending the money for a motel room, I agreed with Joan that having a king size bed was just a delightful prospect, after spending three months curled up in a ball, or sprawling with my legs hanging out over the edge of the RV bed. And we took advantage of a real shower with unlimited hot water and a tub and clean walls and floors where you didn’t have to worry about what might be crawling on them. (The free breakfast the next morning was also a welcome difference.). It was a much needed reprieve from a long drive, and an even much longer vacation.

We left Camden State Park near Marshall, Minnesota Wednesday morning to begin our long trek home. We drove Minnesota 23 down to Interstate 90, then headed west into South Dakota. I don’t like driving interstates, but, after studying the map and not finding any green-dot routes in southeastern South Dakota, I decided our best bet was just to burn the miles and get her done. We drove hard for more than 200 miles west on that highway, the monotony broken only by the repeating billboards for Wall Drugs. We stopped for lunch at a small town that we can’t even remember the name of now, ate an unremarkable meal (chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy if I remember), got back on the Interstate and plowed on. Wind was just terrible and, since we are driving west from the Mississippi River Valley, we are gaining elevation. So the net effect was just disastrous on my gas mileage. The car computer was telling me that at some points we were getting less than six miles per gallon. At the average price of about $2.80/gallon, that means we were paying about 45 cents for every mile we were traveling - that hurts! (The fact that I had the time to calculate all that shows how boring the drive was.)

At some point I knew we had to turn south, so I picked US 83 only because it was a US highway and seemed to get us down to Interstate 80 rather easily. After navigating construction, we drove into Valentine, more or less the first town in Nebraska. There, as mentioned, we spent the night in a motel.

Yesterday morning, we completed our southward trek down to North Platte, where we stopped for lunch. We ate at Whiskey Creek - one of those places where you dump the peanut shells on the floor. Joan had a brisket BBQ sandwich - I was hungry for a big old salad. Again, the food was good, but either it just wasn’t great, or else we are plain too tired to get excited even by a good meal.

So back on the Interstate, this time headed west on Interstate 80, and then outside of Ogallalah, veered southwest on Interstate 76 towards Denver. Wind wasn’t too bad and the gas mileage improved from Wednesday. Over Wednesday and Thursday we traveled a little more than 700 miles, so we were tired - maybe more than tired.

We will be spending the next few days with my sister, Missy, and her family here in Fort Morgan, Colorado. Interestingly, when I got out the extension cord and plugged the trailer in, all the systems were working. So that tells me that maybe my most likely problem is that my batteries are dead. At least that’s easy to fix, although a little expensive if I need to replace the batteries. And, I’m getting the LandCruiser in today for its 80,000 mile service. So we will be catching up on some maintenance while we are here.

And we will be doing family stuff. My nephew Joey, home for the summer from Oregon, is here, and my niece Celia flew in early this morning from Princeton. Brother-in-law Dave is cooking up a BBQ ribs and chicken dinner for us tonight. So its going to be a fun family weekend. I don’t think I’ll post much now, until we get back on the road home.


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