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Blog Comments posted by tbutler

  1. The same goes for the Sam's Club Mastercard.  The cash back on fuel is 5%, at any fuel station, not just Sam's Club.  By the way, 5% is15 cents per gallon if fuel is $3.00 a gallon.  The cash back accumulates until the January statement, which has a check, arrives then you get real cash at Sam's Club.  This year, my 2018 rebate check will be almost $500.00. 

    As mentioned above, Gas Buddy is a must for finding that station with the lowest price for fuel in your area.  It also allows me to "look ahead" to see if fuel is cheaper or more expensive in the direction I am headed.  If cheaper, I'll wait to fuel until I get to the less expensive location.  If that is beyond my fuel range, I'll add a minimal amount and then continue to the best price ahead.  If the opposite occurs, the prices ahead are more expensive, I'll fill up before I reach the higher prices ahead.  I was able to drive through California, from the north on I-5 to the south, leaving on I-8 purchasing only 10 gallons of diesel to get me to Arizona.

  2. We have always had diesel coaches.  Our braking system (Roadmaster's Brakemaster system) works off the coach air.  When brakes are applied in the coach, the air pressure line to the toad applies pressure via a air cylinder to the brake pedal in the toad.  The system is totally proportional (light braking in the coach causes light braking in the toad, ditto for hard braking).  Also, the brake in the toad will not be affected by using the engine brake on the diesel coach.  Inertial systems will activate when the engine brake is applied as anything that slows the toad will activate the inertial brake.  Adjusting an inertial system may help but if it completely avoids this you will likely lose much of the braking assistance the system can provide.  Having the brake in the toad on continuously while making a long downgrade descent will result in hot and worn brakes in the toad. 

    Installation involves connecting the air line from coach to toad, snap connections at both ends, takes a minute or less.  We have to install the brake cylinder, a pin connects it to the mount installed on the floor under the drivers seat and the other end clamps onto the brake pedal.   The line from the brake cylinder to the incoming feed from the motor home is installed under the dash, another snap connection. 

    We also have a break-away system which will apply the brakes if the toad happens to "take a left turn when we are making a right."  Having the toad roaming free is never a good thing.  There is a pressure storage cylinder (in the engine compartment of the toad) that will apply pressure to the brake in the toad if the break-away cable connecting the coach to the toad ever pulls the plug (a switch activator).  That is an additional piece of the Brakemaster system but I consider it a very necessary given that we are traveling on public roads with other traffic.  A free roaming toad will most likely destroy itself and may well destroy other property or kill other people.

    We keep a tote bag in the toad with the break-away cable and air hose.  The six feet of cable and hose coil into a 12" x 1" space.  The brake cylinder is stored in a storage bag that came with it.  The cylinder assembly is about 18" x 3" overall.  Depending on our situation, these are either stored behind the drivers seat on the floor or if we are staying in an area for a while or may have passengers along, they will be behind the rear seat in the cargo area of our toad.

  3. Enjoyed your account of starting out.  Sorry about Penny, no good way to deal with the loss of a family member.  As a full timer, you will face a number of challenges, different states, different rules, different attitudes.  We always chalk it up to learning more about how other people live.  The variety is amazing.  Actually, as you travel, the interactions with alternate systems becomes less intrusive.  Once you are mostly meeting people, it becomes more fun.

  4. I can't figure how to get dates, a schedule of when you will be at each of these locations.  We'll  be on the Phoenix to Albuquerque stretch, then we're headed down I-10 to San Antonio and I-37 to Corpus Christi (I think that overlaps with your travels).  But I can't get time information to see if we'll be there or anywhere near where you will be.  Time, it's the fourth dimension.  Ships passing in the night and such...

  5. We are going to be in the Denver area in August.  I'm looking at eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska as my primary choices.  I'd probably prefer Wyoming for the altitude but the road system in Nebraska is more robust.  Like I said, I'm planning to decide in the days or even hours leading up to the eclipse.  The greatest disappointment comes when you are sitting under clouds during the eclipse.  I did that in Hawaii (the Big Island) in 1991.  Hawaii has a single road that circles the island.  There were really only two places to watch the eclipse, I chose the desert side and it rained on us!  Having an eclipse "at home" with all my resources available and a great road system, I'm going to take advantage of everything that is available to me.

  6. Also, is your coach diesel (with air brakes) or gas with brake fluid braking system.  It makes a difference as to what you can consider.  There are numerous systems that operate off the air brakes of a diesel coach. 

    If you have several vehicles to use as a toad, the brake-in-a-box systems make sense.  Simply put it into the vehicle you are towing this time.  On the other hand, a system operating on the air  braking system of the coach only needs an air hose attachment each time you hook up.  A break-away system is a good idea no matter which way you go.  If your tow bar breaks, you don't want your toad driving any significant distance on it's own. :o

    We've used the Brakemaster system for 16 years now with no problems.  I like the ease of connecting.  When disconnected all I have to store in the toad is a small bag with the air hose and the break-away cable and another bag with the braking cylinder.  If choosing a system again today, I'd give them all a good look and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each as well as the cost of purchase.

  7. We have a data contract for our iPhones with AT&T.  With unlimited service we get 22 G of high speed data for each line and then slowed service following that.  We also have two iPads for a total of 4 lines, 88 GB of high speed service.  May or may not work for all, investigate all companies before committing to any one.  Each of these devices can be used as a hotspot to provide wifi for your use.  Speed is determined by the quality of service available but I find them to be very fast even with one bar of signal as long as you can get an LTE signal.  If the signal is 4G or 3G you will get noticeably slower response times.  In the places we stay we can get LTE service most of the time.

    We've used T-Mobile, very limited or no service in some areas.  I have canceled the T-Mobile service already.  We've used Verizon, good in most places but a few where we stay the service is very poor.  I dropped the Verizon phone service about 4 years ago and went with AT&T.  We just started the AT&T unlimited service (above) and the Verizon data contract expires next month, that will be the end of Verizon for us.  Dropping the other two offsets the cost of the additional line we added to our AT&T contract.

    AT&T has good signal in most areas, still we find some small areas with no service.  If or when you know your frequent travel areas, then you will be better able to choose the company that can give you the best coverage for your particular travel habits.

  8. We've stayed at Walmart stores all over the US and in Canada (yes, they have them in Canada and some allow overnight parking - Newfoundland in 2015).  The FMCA rules listed in a previous reply should be standard operating procedure.  Most stores we have encountered have a preferred area for parking so we always ask before getting set for the night.  We have only stayed more than one night one time and that exception we parked the motor home in a different location (visitors center that didn't allow overnight parking) then returned to the Walmart for the night.  We generally try to arrive shortly before sunset and get away before the store gets busy, 8:00 a.m. or before.  One of the reasons we like Walmart is the ability to get in and out easily and quickly.  They are usually near the road we are traveling, there are no utility hookups, we don't have to disconnect the toad, they are usually quiet and there is some security around the store, private and/or police.  We use Walmart, Sam's Clubs and other places of business (listed in the AllStays Camp & RV app mentioned previously.  Walmart is our preferred on the road traveling stop.  You can use AllStays to find the store, even get directions.  They also have many other camping spots (small parks, community parks, etc) that aren't listed in larger books. 

    On the issue of slides, we use ours as the bedroom is locked up tight with the slides in.  The pantry with food and dishes is also occluded by the living room slide.  We park with the slides (2 on the drivers side) over the grass or next to a fence at the edge of the parking lot whenever possible.  If we park in the lot I park so there is room between our rig and the line that separates parking spaces on the other side of the parking row.  I make sure that the slides when extended don't intrude into the parking spots which are usually vacant when we park.  I carry four 12" orange cones that I put out at the corners, mostly to make sure someone doesn't walk by and walk into a slide.  It also helps ensure that people short cutting across the Walmart lot don't drive too close to the coach and hit one of the slides. 

    Our coach has air leveling so we are usually able to level without a problem.  Jacks will damage the parking lot in many cases as the asphalt isn't supported underneath with a base strong enough to carry the load of a small jack pad.  Unlike a tire, a jack pad is solid metal and doesn't give or spread the load evenly over the area.  One jack pad can carry a significant portion of the weight of your rig.  Most lots are close enough to level to be livable without leveling.

    We purchase food and supplies at each store.  Sometimes just something from the deli or ice cream for desert but I always try to pick up some needed item.  I always return my shopping cart to a cart carrel and often will round up and return carts left by truckers or other RV'ers at distant corners of the lot where we are allowed to park.  I'll also pick up trash if it is located near where we are parked.  I want to leave the area where we are parked cleaner than when we arrived lest we be blamed for leaving the trash behind.  Parking at Walmart and other stores is a privilege that we should protect for all RV'ers by following the rules and being good citizens.  Consider it good PR.  Stores where we are allowed to park will notice how we use or abuse the privilege. 

  9. So many amazing things to see.  Now were making second passes and looking for some of the things we didn't take time to see on the first pass.  It helps to have others making suggestions.  Sometimes like the Old Arvada Tavern and the Sheridan Rodeo, it takes us out of our normal pattern of travel and into places or things we wouldn't normally try without a recommendation or other incentive to go there.

  10. We purchased our first motor home, a used 38 foot Monaco Dynasty, for almost exactly what it would have cost for a new heavy duty pickup and a 40 foot fifth wheel.  We traded that for a newer coach after living in it for two and a half years.  The new coach now is 12 years old and has 150,000 miles on it.  I don't think that we would have gotten 150,000 miles out of the pickup truck and fifth wheel.  We chose to go the motor home route for all the reasons listed above and have never looked back. 

    Of course asking this question on a website for motor home owners is asking for a biased opinion.  If you want the other side of the decision you should ask this question on a forum for all types of RV's.  I'm sure that many of those with trailers can cite some good reasons for their decision.

  11. Thank you all for your generous comments.  I was wondering why I was suddenly getting notice of so many comments on this blog entry.  This is something new to find a blog entry listed on the current topics on the forum. 

    For those who haven't explored the blogs, this is an example of some of the motor home stories found on the blog.  It is a rather long example and I congratulate those who stuck with it to read the entire or most of the story. 

    We have had many who have registered a blog but few who have written consistently over time.  I wold encourage anyone who is interested in writing, try your hand at a blog.  Share your travels, your experiences, your adventures and your life with others.  When I'm on the road I seem to have plenty of things to write about.  When we are in our winter retreat, the stories are harder to write.  So I take a break during the winter with only an occasional exception.  You don't have to write often, or with any schedule in mind.  Stories can be a sequence or can be random items like this one.  My writings are built around experiences and are less poetic than some of our writers.  It is easier to write when you are doing something unfamiliar.  This gives it a sense of adventure, you are learning new things and it adds a sense of wonder to your writing.  I enjoy writings of those who are just getting into traveling in a motor home.  I also enjoy the writings of veterans who have been at this for years.  I'm certain there are some good stories to be shared by those who were there in the early days of motor homes. 

    So, join the fray!  Tell me a story, start your own blog.


  12. We did this trip in 2006.  We were coming from visiting family in California so went through Washington.  We spent most of the month of June in British Columbia, traveling slowly and stopping for sites of interest along the way.  We've traveled up the eastern side of the Canadian Rockies and that is a beautiful route also.  Once you get to Dawson Creek, you pick up the Alaska (AlCan) Highway.  At Whitehorse we went north to Dawson City and spent several days there. 

    From there we drove to Inuvik in Northern Territories.  It is an Inuit village inside the Arctic Circle so we had that experience.  Being near the summer solstice we experienced the midnight sun, stayed for a night and then drove back.  The road is 465 miles of gravel road with two river crossings on ferries.  We didn't take the motor home on that trip, that was for the toad.  From Dawson City the Over the Top Highway takes you into Alaska north of the town of Chicken.  It is gravel from Dawson City to Chicken, pretty good gravel in Canada, pretty rough and narrow in the US.  From Chicken we went south to Tok which is on the Alaska Highway. 

    From Tok, you can travel a circular route in either direction, we went to Fairbanks and stayed for several weeks.  We flew from there to Barrow, AK, a one day round trip flight, Arctic Ocean, Inuit village, native dances, touring, and return.  It was a small plane (twin engine) and the flight was at low level (2500 to 5000 feet above ground) so it gave us lots of sightseeing from the air.  We celebrated July 4 at the city park with thousands of Fairbanks residents.  Then south to Denali NP, Anchorage, a week down the Kenai Peninsula, back to Anchorage and then east along the Athabaska Valley and Athabaska Glacier to Valdez, several stops in Wrangell-St. Elias NP, then back to Tok and on to Whitehorse.  This pretty much covered all the main roads in mainland Alaska.  From Whitehorse we went south to Skagway and stayed several days, a train ride, museums, and an RV park in the shadow of the cruise ships.  Returning to Whitehorse we then went south to Stewart, CA and Hyder, US to see the bears along Bird Creek and the Salmon Glacier.  We were not disappointed in either of these attractions.  Returning to Canada Hwy 37 we made a side trip to Prince Rupert on the Canadian coast.  Then it was back to the Alaska Highway and on south into Washington.   I've deviated a little from your initial question to give you an idea of the possibilities for covering almost all of the roads that can be traveled in the trip to/from Alaska. 

    Your best guide to all these places including the various routes to Dawson Creek and the Alaska Highway is as mentioned above, The Milepost.  It is updated annually so you will want to get the current edition.  It costs about $35 which sounds expensive until you consider what you are going to spend on this trip.  The Milepost will be your constant reference on this trip.  You can make your decision on exactly where to cross the border based on the information in The Milepost.  It has information on road conditions, where to find fuel, attractions all along the route including the various routes to and from the Alaska Highway.

    It is truly the trip of a lifetime though we met people who make the trip every year.  Take your time and explore everything you are interested in along the way.

  13. We've been "on the road" for 16 years now.  We have taken some epic trips.  Louise has planned some of those and I took the lead on others.  She set us on the Lewis and Clark Trail our third year out and it remains one of our all-time favorite trips.  I have pushed us to the limits, the have-to trip to Alaska and the Canadian counterpart, Newfoundland and Labrador.  I may have exceeded the limit with our four month tour of New Zealand and Australia in a small Class C camper.  We both enjoy travel but I believe I'm outlasting her.  This year she wants a low and slow trip, just family, so that's what we're doing.  Along the way we might do a little exploring but we'll stay pretty close to the grandchildren.  I'm still looking forward to exploring far flung places!  Viva la difference!  Great article, thanks.

  14. Everything is an adventure if you haven't done it before. Congratulations if you got through the whole long story.

    Louise has a favorite line from the musical Auntie Mame! "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." Rosalind Russel

    Looking that one up for accuracy, I also found this from Aristotle, "It is best to rise from life as from a banquet, neither thirsty nor drunken."

    So we're out there living life to the limits.

    This summer we're going to take our grandchildren out for some trips. We've done this before and it is always a joy. They are older now and I'm sure they will give me plenty to write about!

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