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Posts posted by washtech

  1. I'm also in the take the toad camp! The hassle of moving for every little trip takes much of the joy out of having the motor home. Think about it, do you really want to take the entire motor home to town (some really small towns out west) for a grocery run? Sure you can plan ahead and pick up these things while on the road but eventually you'll run into a need for something and it will be pick up the motor home and take it to town for some silly little thing you need. If you had a medical emergency, do you hop in the car and run to the hospital or do you pack up the motor home, bring in the slides, disconnect the utilities and then go to the hospital? You could ask a neighbor to take you to the hospital, we did that one time, a woman and her mother, mom fell and she asked us to take her rather than driving their class C at night on unfamiliar roads. We put about as many miles on the toad as we do on the motor home in a typical summer of travel. What it costs in additional diesel to haul it along is more than offset by the convenience and the reduced cost of driving a smaller, high mileage vehicle (compared to the mileage of the motor home) for all those side trips on small roads and into parks with roads that are unsuitable for motor homes.

    Now about the trip. Leaving NY you are headed into PA, OH or KY. I'd stay to the north, you are leaving in late July. It will be hot across the west until you get to the mountains. I would guess that you have probably explored areas close to New York or at least have an idea where to start there. Here are some suggestions for things to see as you travel. These reflect our interests and may or may not appeal to you. If you love National Parks, buy a National Park Annual Pass at your first park if you don't already have one. If you are over 65 you can pay $10 for a pass for the rest of your life! When we did that I made a commitment to join the National Park Foundation which supports our national parks as a way to keep contributing to this wonderful resource we have.

    In 2004 we took at history trip following the route of Lewis and Clark across the country. That was the 200th anniversary of the beginning of their trip. It added an interesting theme to what would have been an enjoyable trip under any circumstances. There are guide books for such a trip. We picked up Along the Trail with Lewis and Clark at the visitors center in Clarksville, IN (across the river from Louisville, KY). Louise, my navigator and literary muse, read an entry from the diaries of Lewis and Clark that matched the area we were traveling. The route runs along the Missouri River into Montana and then over the mountains into Idaho and Washington. Along the way you can see a variety of other spots by making side trips. Yellowstone and Grand Tetons are great for hiking and sightseeing. Glacier National Park and Waterton Glacier International Peace Park are sisters across the border from each other. Both are worth a multi-day visit. You will need a passport to cross the border into Canada for Waterton Galcier Park. There are also restrictions on what materials, food, liquor, guns, etc. that you can bring across the border going in both directions. A toad is much easier to take across the border than a motor home but we have crossed the Canadian border with our motor home many times without any serious incident.

    Going west from the area of Glacier, the Lewis and Clark Tour follows a tributary of the Columbia River and then the Columbia River out to the Pacific Ocean. Stop and see Grand Coulee Dam and learn about the process that formed the Grand Coulee terrain. The Columbia River Gorge has some spectacular waterfalls along the southern shore of the river. There is a small road that leads from one to another. Basically all the falls are dropping from the slopes of Mt. Hood into the Columbia River Gorge. Follow the Columbia out to the coast to Ft. Clatsop National Park where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805 before their return to the east coast. There are great sights along the Columbia River east of Portland. More than a few of the dams have tours, some better than others. There are fish ladders at some with windows where you can watch the salmon that are climbing the ladder to go upstream. Portland has some interesting old mansions to tour.

    Mt. St. Helens is just to the north and there are several visitors centers there as well as plenty of trails to allow you to explore the area around this most recent volcano to erupt in the US. Mt. Ranier National Park is larger and has great scenery and trails. We put off a visit to Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula for many years because we felt it was just too far. When we finally got there, we had many great experiences traveling all around the peninsula. It is a temperate rain forest but during the summers and early fall there is very little rainfall. There are great bike trails along the northern end of the peninsula. The coastal highway, US 101 is a scenic route south from the Olympic Peninsula. We enjoy Astoria, OR which as a nice marine museum highlighting ship traffic along the coast and into and up the Columbia River. South of there is the Tillamook Dairy Cheese Factory which is a must stop for cheese lovers. There is even an RV park across US 101 from the factory and if you aren't ready to stop for the day, the parking lot is very large with plenty of room for RV's.

    Florence, OR is a quaint town with many interesting shops and stores. We can never pass through Florence without a stop at the Olive Shop. Louise loves their specialty olives. There is a huge sand dune field south of Florence. We've stayed at a campground on the fringe of the dune field and hiked in the dunes. You can also rent ATV's or take ATV rides with experienced drivers to see the dunes. The first time Louise walked over the top of the first dune she was completely stunned at the sight which is right out of the movies of the Sahara Desert. Sand as far as you can see. There are other stops along US 101, the Devils Thunder Hole, Devils Elbow State Park, lots of beaches and small state parks along the beach. There is Seal Rock and Seal Cave, the list goes on and on. Inland in Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is awesome. The lake has to be seen to be believed. There are trails, a boat ride, just scenic views driving all around this lake which is in the caldera of an ancient volcano. South of there Lava Beds National Monument has lava caves that you can explore and the history of volcanic activity in the area which leads back to Mount Lassen, Mount Shasta and others.

    In California there is a whole year of things to see from the Redwood Forest, both the state forest and the national park are worth a stop. Walking among the Redwoods is an experience that you will never forget. The same can be said for the Sequoia National Park. Yosemite never fails to amaze, waterfalls, sheer cliffs, beautiful country and great trails. Death Valley National Park sounds foreboding but a fall visit there would be well worth the stop. The stark scenery has its own beauty.

    Stop to see and tour Hoover Dam and everybody has to stop in Las Vegas once. There are parks in the downtown area that have you within walking distance of the "strip." They are parking places on a parking lot with full hookups but for a city residence, they work well. South into Arizona as the fall becomes colder there are desert parks like Saguaro National Park and Organ Pipe National Monument. In northern Arizona along I-40 you can see the Petrified Forest National Park and Meteor Crater. New Mexico has interesting sites near Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Taos has some great examples of pueblos that you can visit and learn about the native culture. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a great place to visit any season.

    Stop to see the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City or visit the River Walk in San Antonio. Come see us in Edinburg, Texas and I can show you the border fence that some people seem to find such a panacea for our immigration problems. You can visit the NASA Manned Spaceflight Center in Houston. Visit the Texas Gulf Coast and follow it through Louisiana, New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. There are great beach parks all along the way. Another alternative would be to take the Natchez Trace Parkway, a great drive through the southeast along a trail followed by the early settlers in the area. If you time your trip right you can see the Natchez Pilgrimage which features some of the most amazing house tours you will ever take. The Natchez Trace ends in Louisville, KY, back where you started the Lewis and Clark tour. Along the Natchez Trace you will find the grave of Meriwether Lewis.

    Now there is no way to do justice to all of this so you just set out and pick what interests you. What you miss this trip you can stop to see on your next trip. Check in at each states welcome center or regional visitors center and pick up the brochures that interest you and travel on. We frequently set out to do or see one thing and find amazing things to see along the way. I never plan a trip in detail before I start, I'm always looking at the map and visitor center information to find the interesting things. I never plan RV park stops ahead unless we are headed into a high use or urban area and then only a few days in advance. I'm willing to settle wherever I can get the services I need. We don't stay in RV parks for the experience of the park, we're interested in the natural areas nearby, the parks, trails, volcanoes, beaches, trees, cactus, and so much more. We love the freedom the motor home gives us to live comfortably wherever we travel. Even if only traveling for a short period of time, wherever you go, you're home!

    If you are looking for luxury RV Parks there is a publication for Big Rigs that lists parks that cater only to the biggest of RV's. I'm happy if I'm near the place I want to spend time. We're frequently the most classy rig in the park. All I want is good electric, water and electric. I have everything else I need. We use RV Park Reviews to find our parks. Another useful source is an app for your phone, ALLSTAYS Camp and RV. They also have ALLSTAYS ONP Walmart which will help you find Walmart stores that allow overnight parking and also let you know those that don't allow overnight parking. We stay at Walmart on occasion when we can't find a park where we want. We do this mostly when we are traveling cross country but occasionally when we are touring we'll make an overnight stop at Walmart.

    For service I recommend that you find a regional facility for your engine like Cummins Coach Care, check your engine manufacturers web site for their facilities. Freightliner facilities are good for chassis service. Find a dealer for your brand motor home for any manufacturer installed items. The internet is your best friend when looking for service. If you let them know you are on the road, not able to leave the rig and go home, they will usually work with you to get you in and out quickly. Depending on the job, quickly may be a week. In that case, find out what is interesting and take the toad and go exploring while they work or wait for parts.

    Finally, if you prefer smaller roads, there are many like US 20 across the Great Plains and pick it up again in Oregon. There aren't a lot of tourist spots or National Parks along the way but it's a great trip through backroads America. It rivals US 50 across Nevada and Utah for the loneliest road in the US. Look at a map (computer, paper, gps, take your pick) and take the smaller road. There is an app for our Garmin GPS that lets us travel with confidence, Low Clearances POI works with many GPS units and has worked well so far to warn us when we are approaching roads with clearance that would stop our travel in the motor home. Louise likes a large print truckers atlas, expensive but really easy to read, which shows all the truck routes, also a way to ensure you are on road suitable for a large motor home. You can pick up an atlas at most any truck stop.

    GREAT Info Tom!

    Taking a similar trip this year begining in late May, only going "up" from FL base into AR, MO, IA and SD then across to WY, MT,ID, UT and Down to CO & NM and back to FL. Did the lower half in 2014 when we went to International balloon festival.

    Wishing you safe & super travels in 2016

  2. I have done the drive twice in the last 4 years--once on my Harley, and this past Sept in my Scion. It actually closed the day after I drove it due to weather and didn't reopen. I ended up coming back through Gardenier on the north end. Red Lodge is a nice town. I wouldn't take my 39 foot rig over it--it's a white knuckle drive! The first time on my Harley was in late June and there was still a ton of snow and about a 2 mile stretch of road under repair that was one lane and you follow a pilot vehicle. My Harley looked like I road the Baja after that! One other consideration, you break down up there it is going to cost a third world country's GDP to get help or a tow! Even if you don't have a toad, rent a car for a day or two to ride around especially over the pass. No matter what way you go into YNP you are going to climb over 10,000 foot passes on your way through and out. Hopefully you'll get some more input here from others.

    We are making plans for a trip out west this summer (from SC through Yellowstone to Seattle. Found this great article providing information about some of the roads you are talking about: http://www.rvtechmag.com/travel/4_yellowstonebyrv.php?pg=all

    Also, I checked on You Tube and you can actually call up videos of folks driving both routes 14 and 16 "from the driver's seat." The article plus the videos convinced us to take Route 16 and stay far, far away from 14. We have a 38-foot diesel pusher with the jake brake, etc. but when I read a comment about Route 14 that said something like...if your MH doesn't have a hinge in the middle!

    Good luck with your trip -- we are so looking forward to seeing all that beautiful scenery.

    B. Odom

  3. Sandy:

    We are also headed out that way Spring of '16. Have been there in a car, but not a motor coach. SoI started searching the blogs in FMCA.

    Mark Quasius wrote an article in RV TECHMAG about the "very roads" you are considering, as well as, others. This is a definiate read. It changed my timing for the trip as well as the route. Route 16 is the one to take, but read is entire article about Yellowstone, Cody and other areas. I found marks article "today" in this blog on about page 3.

    Good Traveling

  4. Planning Western Trip in Spring '16, From FL to SD, WY down to CO, NM, TX and back. Leaving FL around April 15th up through mid-west to SD. Main concern is running Hwy 14, 16, 20 from Cody, WY into Yellowstone (around third week of April) and down into Jackson. Anyone with experience on this route have any suggestions?

    Also "considering" going from Cody, WY north up to I-90 into Montana and running up to Polson/FlatHead lake and then down the West side of Rockies into CO.

    How about thoughts on this route? Still too early with regard to snow?



  5. Good Afternoon Mr. Newbie:

    We're headed out to the Fiesta this Oct. Already made reservations at the fiesta grounds in Premium RV parking. Cost was $162.50 for three nights which included water & elect. NOT TOO High to be right at the grounds. Also understand it's best to purchase to tickets for entrance to the balloon field on line. Those tickets are NOT included in the cost to park your RV

    Have a fun and safe trip.

    Washtech aka Jackster

  6. Hi Grammady:

    We're also headed to the Balloon Fiesta in Oct. Will be there the last weekend 10th thru 13th and have already made reservations at the Fiesta grounds. We actually got a site with water & 30 amp electric. No sewer. I was told to order my tickets on the Internet, as it saves time and eliminiates standing in long lines.

    Have Fun and travel safe.


  7. Good Morning All:

    A few weeks back I inquired about HWY 160 running west from I-25 to Durango and I was assurred that was a good hwy for travel. So, we've made plans to take that run and will be headed over Wold Creek Pass east of Pagosa on OCT 1st.

    The folks in the Pagosa & Durango areas tell me there shouldn't be any issues with "icy" conditions in the pass that time of year. While I know none of us can predict what mother nature might have in store from day to day, I was wondering if anyone out there may have made this run during late September / early October.

    I know it's kind of late to be headed to the lower rockies, but we're headed down to Santa Fe & then to Albuquerque for Balloon Fiesta, so I figured if we're traveling all that way from NC, why not see the Pagosa & Durango areas at the same time.

    Any suggestions?


    Washtech aka Jack

  8. Thanks a lot Herman, it sounds exactly like what we're looking for. I'd rather travel "back roads" at "slower" speeds whenever i can and seeing the "real" America rather than the "anywhere USA" on interstates is what it's all about.

    I'll keep the speed down, low gear & engine brake on during those long steep down hill grades! We'll also check out those places to stay and eat as well.

    After Durango we're headed to Santa Fe for a few days and then on down to the International Balloon Fiesta and will head back to NC via the southern route around the middle of OCT.

    Thanks again for the info and travel safe.

    Washtech aka Jackster

  9. Thanks Guys:

    I tired what Herman had said and it actually worked as washbob indiciated. I really wish the manufacturer provided more "detailed" info on these type matters, as I find nothing in the owner's manual with much detail on systems operations. But, I'm learning through trial & error and most especially through communication with experienced owners such as you folks. Thanks again.

    Not sure I can ask this but I'll give it a try. Washbob are you in the car wash business, as I am?

    Thanks again,


  10. Newbie looking for help with tag axle question.

    I understand the purpose of the tag axle on a coach and I further understand that tight turns can be assisted with raising the tag axle. However, I haven't been able to find any info about how to operate the tag on my 2004 Newmar.

    There is a switch labeled "tag axle dump." Therefore, am I to assume the tag axle is "normally" held in the "down" position by "air pressure" and if I push the "dump" switch it releases that air pressure and the tag axle automatically raises up? If that's the case, does it then automatically go back into the "down" position after a certain period of time or upon certain actions of the coach?

    Thanks for any help.

  11. Thanks all. It's simply not coming off. Don't know who put it on so tight or why. Sooo I'll disconnect the hoses and remove the mounting bracket and filter housing from the tank and put the mounting bracket in a vice at the shop, if that doesn't work I'll just buy a whole new unit. You can bet on the fact that it will never be that tight again and I'll definately use the vaseline on the O-ring.

  12. Thanks, yes I'm properly connected to 50 amp electric service and have a surge protector in line "before" coach. Just didn't want to burn coach and building down. I'll set thermostats in coach to 45 degrees as well as basement.

    I appreciate your response.


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