9 Years and Counting . . .
Today, February 6th, marks 9 years since Jan and I embarked on the wild and crazy life of Full-Time RV’ing. And it certainly has been a wild ride.
We’ve made a lot of great friends, and unfortunately lost a few along way. We’ve RV’d in every state, except Nebraska and Kansas (and Hawaii, of course). But we plan on taking care of NE and KS in the next few months.
We bought our American Eagle December 27th, 2007 from Roman Holiday Motorhomes on I-35 between New Braunfels and San Marcos. Mr. Roman bought up high-end coaches, checked them out, detailed them, and put them on his lot.
We had narrowed our choice down to the 1999 American Eagle and a 2000 Tiffin Zephyr, but finally went with the Eagle. It had about 65,000 miles on it, just about perfect for an 8 year old rig. Not too much, not too little.
We came back to pick it up January 6th after they had fixed a couple of things and put on new tires. We spent about three hours on the walk-thru going over every system with me watching and Jan taking notes.
As it turned out, our first RV trip was just to the Canyon Trail RV Park, about 8 miles up I-35. We figured we would stay there for a day or two going over the rig ourselves to be sure we understood everything, and could ask Roman Holiday about what we didn’t. But we didn’t find any problems so the next day we headed back to the Houston area.
We had already picked out Oasis RV Park down in La Marque to stay for a month or so until we headed out, so we left Canyon Trail about 10am for the 220 mile trip back to La Marque.
Although I had driven 36 foot U-Hauls before, and even a diesel tanker out at WSTF (White Sands Test Facility) during my NASA days, they weren’t MINE, so to avoid traffic I decided to take Hwy 6 down to Dickinson rather than the 610 Loop or Beltway 8. But this turned out to be not so good an idea.
I had never driven on the upper end of Hwy 6 where it turned out to be miles of stop and go traffic, only the end down towards toward Alvin where it’s more wide open. But we made it with no problems, with Jan was following me in the truck since we didn’t have a towing system set up yet.
We spent the next month getting ready to roll. I ordered a Blue Ox tow bar for the rig and a Blue Ox baseplate for the truck, and spent a couple of days installing the baseplate on our Dodge Dakota. I guess I did a good job because it hasn’t fallen off yet.
Finally, Wednesday, February 6th 2008, we headed for Fairbanks, AK. Well, not directly. But it was our ultimate goal. However our first stop was actually the Monterey’s Mexican Restaurant in Dickinson. It was a favorite of ours, and with their large parking lot, an easy stop. And a tradition that last the next 6 years, with us always stopping there for lunch on our way out of town for the year.
But in making the 9 mile trip from the park to Monterey’s, Jan almost decided to call it quits. The ride was extremely rough, much rougher than I remembered it being coming down from New Braunfels. And Jan said, “If it’s going to be this rough all the way to Alaska, I’m not going.”
So when we got parked at the restaurant, and before we went in, I put in a call to American Coach Tech Support.
When I told the young lady my problem, she kind of chuckled and asked me if I could see the top of the front tires in the wheel wells. When I told her I couldn’t, she said my airbags were turned off.
Now our Eagle has the optional switch that let’s me manually dump the airbags without having it done automagically when I lower the levelers. And I remember playing with it right after we got parked at Oasis.
So I went inside to look and told her that AIR RELEASE switch was in the OFF position. She then asked if the rocker switch was pushed in at the top or the bottom?
I told it was pushed in at the bottom, and she again chuckled and said that’s the OFF position. I then ask her why it says AIR RELEASE at the top of the switch, You would think that you would push the switch in at the top to ‘release’ the air.
She said, “Beats me. You’re not the first person to get it confused.”
Seems it would make more sense to have just labeled it AIRBAGS ON and OFF. But they didn’t asked me. They don’t seem to ask me about a lot of things, and I think the world is worse off for it.
Coming out from lunch I cranked up and the coach came right up on the airbags, and now I could now see the top of the front tires below the wheel wells.
So of course it was smooth sailing after that.
Well, not exactly.
But we did end up in Fairbanks, AK on April 26th, two and a half months later, only to have this two days later.
But more of our Year One adventures in tomorrow’s blog.
Thought for the Day:
Sad, But True.