So, after covering 5000 or so miles in the RV, and about as many on the bikes last year, I was noticeably absent from WordPress, emerging only to post on FaceBook some of the highlights of our trip. Ok, a LOT of the highlights, for those that follow. It made me realize that although I really enjoy sharing our adventures on the blog, it takes a lot of time and effort, and I made the choice to enjoy the moment and capture the memories on film for sharing and reminiscing later. Now it’s later. 🙂
I must begin by giving credit to a creative blog-friend for the catchy title. I was trading comments on a recent post by the very funny Shelley at Honey Did You See That?, when I mentioned that I would be posting about our trip last summer soon. Of course, she said “Is that your title?” and it took me about one second to decide, well, YES! So thank you again, Shelley! 🙂 Incidentally, Shelley writes about retirement, RVing, family, remodeling, and tons of other potentially hilarious topics. Check her out ASAP!
So, early last year, I waxed poetic (ha!) about our retirement, our first retirement trip to Texas on the motorcycles (blog series, starts here), the trial RV rental trip, and the next big step of purchasing our dream motorhome. We took the giant leap in late May of 2015, and in July, we took off for our first dream RV trip.
This post is a catch-all about our retired lifestyle, RVing, our new motorcycle trailer, and the multitude of “firsts” we experienced on this epic trip. Other posts will follow with scenic highlights of this beautiful country, people, and events we enjoyed on our journey. I swear. 😀
That was us, on departure day. But, we had a trick up our sleeve…our first stop was Morrison, Tennessee. Morrison isn’t that far from our starting point, but it is the home of the best (our opinion of course) motorcycle trailers available, and right on our way west! We had researched, shopped, visited, and ordered a trailer from Ironhorse Motorcycle Trailers, and early the next morning, we were taking delivery of our new WideBody flip top trailer, and leaving the poor yard trailer in their care until our return.
But first, our first “first”, on this trip of many firsts. We found a winery with a parking lot big enough for the coach, not 2 miles from our campground. YES! We CAN do this RV thing!
The next morning, having already pushed their production schedule to meet our trip timeline, Julie and Ed Heard and their great crew at Ironhorse worked with us to custom-install the spare tire, various D-rings, and our own Baxley wheel chocks and retractable tie-downs, which we removed from the yard trailer.
The WideBody trailer easily fits our two large adventure bikes, side by side, with enough room to move around and store gear, side cases, and even a lightweight trailer dolly that we can use to move the trailer when it is disconnected from the coach. Even with the bikes in it. Yes, really. The trailer is all fiberglass, with an aluminum frame, and a flip top that provides a very low profile, but allows Jerry to ride each of the bikes into the trailer easily. Here are a few pics of the process of measuring, fitting and installing during delivery.
Seriously, we had a great experience with Ironhorse and would recommend them to anyone looking for a quality, purpose-built motorcycle trailer. If we ran into you on the trip, you may have brochures in hand already!
By lunch time, we were headed west in our beautiful and streamlined configuration.
Our plan was to make tracks west, and so we did, rolling into our 4th state since lunch, Missouri, and past the Arch by mid-afternoon. Crossing the Mississippi was not a first since we had done that on the way to Arkansas in June.
Our philosophy, since our first RV rental back in 1999, is that we take turns driving every other day. If it is a long day, such as this one, we take turns after 5 or so hours (sage advice from a former trucker and friend, GS John). This is how I came to experience the first night drive in the RV. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but as we proceeded west after a dinner stop, we experienced a gorgeous sunset, and then the massive glare of oncoming headlights in a giant windshield. We were surprised by how much the large side windows reflected everything so that light and movement seem to be coming at you from all sides. An hour or so into it, I become much more accustomed to the sensation and we discovered a benefit of night driving, zipping through absolutely empty constructions zones! As we drove till about 3 AM, we discovered that every truck stop and rest area was packed from about the dinner hour, through the night. Later we found out that this is due to the conversion to electronic logs which track mandatory rest periods for commercial truck drivers. The satellite view on Google Maps has been a boon to our travels, and using it, Jerry found a truck stop at the Missouri – Iowa state line that looked like it had tons of space where we could stop and rest a few hours. NOT. The enormous parking lot was absolutely packed with trucks of every description. Fortunately, we had noticed the Missouri Welcome Center, on the eastbound side, and backtracked to get a couple of hours of shut-eye. Generator on, and we slept in peace amongst the trucks till a little after 6 AM. We woke to a gorgeous morning, and this view of the prairie.
We got an early start on our way to a one-night camp stop in Nebraska, where we experienced our first big storm that night, fortunately about 30 miles north of us, and the next day, a few more firsts.
And then we reached Wyoming, our first actual destination! We stayed one night at Glendo Lakeside RV park, which was convenient to the Interstate, but still very scenic. This time, we experienced a storm firsthand, and then a magical moment!
We continued on to Cody for several days of riding the legendary roads of the area, which I will cover in a future post, but before we reached Cody, another first. And yes, again I happened to be driving! 😉
I am now going to fast forward, past all of our soon to be reported adventures in Wyoming and Montana, to another first, which we hardly expected in a nearly brand-new motorcoach. We were in Minnesota, on a mission to reach Wisconsin, where we would be visiting with friends from my childhood. I (again) was driving. Sense a theme here? A car went by honking and pointing to the rear of the coach. I looked back and huge billows of smoke were emanating from the engine. This was not the case last rearview glance. Seriously, Oh My God, our first breakdown on very busy I-84? I pulled as far onto the shoulder as possible without creating a dangerous lean angle, but it wasn’t far enough. I watched the rearview mirror in horror as a semi drifted off to the shoulder as he approached us at highway speed. Obviously, since I am writing this today, he recovered, but we were completely freaked and decided to move the coach to an exit about a mile up the road, if we could get it started again. Thank God it started, and we got off the road, and then backed into a side road on a level spot. We investigated and it was obviously diesel fuel, which created a mist whenever the engine was running, NOT fire or smoke as it previously appeared. We called our Good Sam Roadside assistance, and a tow truck actually appeared in very short order. He had received the call while on a normal tow, and had to return to his shop 20 miles away to bring out the big-boy tow truck, but at least, we knew he was on the case. Meanwhile, the Good Sam rep arranged a campground for us. Unfortunately, it was in Evansville Indiana, NOT Evansville Minnesota. Oh well. The tow truck driver came back with his giant truck, then had to call his father-in-law to bring a pickup, since he couldn’t tow the RV with the trailer attached, and we became a convoy. After he spent an hour on the ground removing the RV’s drive shaft. Ugh and double Ugh. We were towed to a Peterbilt facility which works on Cummins engines, advised that they were open on Saturdays (this being Friday night, of course!), and decided to turn on the generator and spend the night in the Peterbilt parking lot.
The Peterbilt guys did a preliminary diagnosis the next morning, but were unable to tear into things until Monday, so we salvaged our weekend plans by riding the bikes 450+ miles to Milwaukee that day, but that story deserves its own post. I will say that the experience was as positive as could be, given the circumstances. The culprit turned out to be a high-pressure stainless steel fuel line, which either failed or was never installed correctly. Everything was handled via warranty and we never saw a bill.
I will wrap this up by saying that among the already reported firsts experienced on this trip, we comfortably spent the night in a truck stop, and our RV manufacturers parking lot, and we definitively established that RV parks are almost always located near railroad tracks. We have also learned to sleep like babies despite trains running and whistling all night. It’s truly amazing that what you couldn’t even conceive as normal becomes so after a while! We are so grateful to be able to adopt this nomadic lifestyle and enjoy the wonders of this great country.
If you are ready for more, you can link directly to Part 2, featuring Cody, Wyoming and the Chief Joseph and Beartooth scenic highways!