Thursday, September 17, 2009

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, Jerry decided that he needed a project. He said, "Susan, you have many projects, but I have none. None, I say." He needed something to divert his mind away from his hectic work week, but it had to be something that would give him joy . . . something that he could look forward to doing on the weekend. Perhaps a "weekend project."

Now, before we go any further, it's important for you to understand that Jerry has very expensive tastes. Jerry's idea of a "weekend project" is not as simple as building a kite with his grandchildren, or doing repairs around the house. No, his idea of a "weekend project" includes names like "Harley Davidson," "Royal Caribbean," or "The Golden Nugget." Oh well, that's what makes the "Adventure" interesting. And, if it wasn't interesting, you wouldn't care to read it, would you? Here is our story, and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy living it.

Susan was the community piano teacher when she and her family, and Jerry and his family, all lived in Jones, America. Jerry's children took piano lessons from Susan, and when Jerry would retrieve the kids from lessons, he would drive Susan CRAZY with his persistent impatience (Honk! Honk! Honk!) wanting the kids to hurry out to the car after the lesson. But, Susan repeatedly informed him, "Oh, no, no, no. You are supposed to wait patiently until I am through with them." While the children were frantically trying to please their father, Susan thought to herself, "Jerry is just too much 'type A' personality for me!"

Twelve years later, Susan was working in the dean's office at the OCU School of Law. One day she received a telephone call from a law student who wanted to schedule an appointment with the dean. The student gave his name, and sure enough, it was Jerry Magill. Jerry and Susan quickly brought each other up to date and discovered that they were both currently "single." Of course, "type A" personality Jerry was too busy with law school for a social life during the semester, but as soon as finals were over, he asked Susan out for dinner and a movie, which she accepted by replying "That would be fun!" Their first date was May 12, 1997, and they were married November 1, 1997. Who would have ever thought? But several weeks before the wedding and while Jerry was in his final semesters of law school, he suffered a heart attack and triple bypass. If that doesn't change the way you look at life, nothing will! Jerry was only 41 years old.

Jerry eventually graduated law school and opened his own practice. It wasn't long before the law practice began to thrive, but with success came stress. It was Father's Day 2001. The children and grandchildren had just left from visiting with Jerry when Susan asked: "What do you want to do with the rest of your Father's Day?" Jerry replied: "Let's go for a ride." They traveled to Cedar Blue RV Resort near Lake of the Arbuckles, which is situated just south of Sulphur, Oklahoma. Jerry and Susan viewed several lots for sale. Some unimproved and others with used RVs, decks, storage buildings, and other interesting features. Susan loved the concept and the couple purchased their first RV and vacation property. The RV was a 28 ft. Starcraft travel trailer with no frills. They spent most of their weekends at the lot.

It wasn't long before Susan left her job at OCU and began working in the law firm with Jerry. They purchased their own building and the practice continued to grow. They soon found a way to leave the office early on Friday afternoon and head for the lake. Then, they began leaving Friday morning, and eventually, Thursday afternoon. In 2002, they traded in the original RV for a new 32 ft. Jayco Designer Series. It was beautiful! But, it wasn't long before Susan decided she wanted something larger - a house. So, in May of 2004, they sold their RV lot and purchased a home in a nearby gated community called "Five Lakes."

Jerry and Susan liked the lake house so well, that it wasn't long before Jerry announced he wanted to retire and move to the lake full-time. But the reality was that Jerry's retirement could only be semi-retirement, for Jerry had to continue his law practice, at least on a limited basis, while he maintained adjunct faculty positions at OCU and UCO. Commuting from Sulphur to OKC and back was a 200 mile round trip, and the lake home ownership would only continue for two years. Jerry and Susan sold the house, but returned to Cedar Blue and purchased another RV lot before leaving Sulphur and relocating to OKC.

After their readjustment to city life, Jerry and Susan began working on their new RV lot at Cedar Blue. It originally came with a 32 ft. Yellowstone 5th Wheel, a covered deck, and small storage building. The trailer was several years old, but in good condition. But, its configuration simply wasn't conducive to sleeping two adults and three or more grandchildren. So, Jerry and Susan went on a search for a larger trailer. In comes the "albatross!" A 39 ft. Puma with a king size master bedroom and separate bedroom with bunks for each child. Initially, it appeared to be the perfect weekend getaway with room for everyone.

So, why did they call it the albatross?" Because it turned out to be nothing more than an overpriced pile of junk! When the kitchen cabinet door came off in Susan's hand while preparing breakfast, Jerry looked at her and said: "That's it!" And, this is where the "Adventure" actually begins.

Jerry and Susan transitioned from fixed location RVs to the largest and most expensive motor coach they could afford. They traded in the "albatross" for a 2001 Newmar Mountain Aire diesel pusher with 350 h.p of raw diesel power. Arrrr! Arrrr! The coach may not be new, but it looks it! The former owners took great care of it and maintained all service records. It had less than 47,000 miles when Jerry and Susan took delivery. And to help them get started, the dealer installed six new Michelin tires. They were ready to roll!

Jerry and Susan were so excited! And, they could hardly wait to get out on the open road and cruise America. But wait! Diesel fuel is $2.59 per gallon, and if the trip computer on the coach is accurate, their new monster slurps a gallon of diesel every 7.5 miles. So, there will obviously be some down time while funds are earned to fill the diesel kitty. In the meantime, where do you park a 40 ft. motor coach when it's not being used? The neighbors certainly won't agree that it should be parked in front of the house.

Well, the only practical solution is to find an RV storage facility. Consideration was given to construction of an RV barn on Susan's family estate in Eastern Oklahoma County, but the cost proved prohibitive. The thought of buying a house with an existing RV cover or garage came to mind, but that certainly would result in a substantial investment, not to mention the physical and mental strain of packing and moving. After contacting most local RV storage facilities, Jerry and Susan settled on Ron's Newcastle RV Center. They offered 70 ft. facilities, which would accommodate both the coach and towable vehicle. Moreover, it simplified the regular weekend trips to Cedar Blue since going through Newcastle serves as a shortcut during football season (bypass all the Sooner football traffic on I-35). Ron's offers secure storage with water and sewer on site, and remote gate access 24/7. It's a little bit pricey, but more affordable than new construction. Hey, what isn't pricey that involves a motor coach?

When purchasing their RV, Jerry and Susan passed on the dealer's extended warranty offer and opted for the Good Sam's Club extended warranty program, which was considerably less expensive. It seemed like a wise idea since they bought a 9-year-old coach with close to 50K miles. While researching the warranty program, Susan discovered that several Good Sam's chapters are active in Oklahoma. She contacted two chapters and was invited to attend the upcoming meeting of the Modern Wagoneer Sams. Because of the intense August heat, the club opted to cancel the monthly camp out and meet for lunch at a local restaurant. All but three member couples were in attendance. Jerry and Susan were welcomed to the group and eager to make membership. The first camp out Jerry and Susan would attend as official members of Modern Wagoneer Sams would be to Red Rock Canyon State Park. They both frequented the area as youngsters and were well aware of the steep, winding road leading down into the park. Would the 40 ft. coach be able to make the turns? Would it be able to climb the grade on the way out? You won't know if you don't try! So, off they went.

Other than regular weekend trips to their lot at Cedar Blue, The Red Rock Canyon camp out of September 2009 with the Modern Wagoneer Sams served as the maiden voyage for Jerry and Susan's coach. But the camp out is also very memorable to Jerry and Susan for another reason. Only three member couples of the Modern Wagoneer Sams attended: Jack and Alma Mobbs, Joe and Wanda Mashburn, and Jerry and Susan. Other member couples were either out-of-state on vacation, ill, or engaged in some other activity. The weather was uncooperative as it rained nonstop. But, it forced the three couples to huddle together under tarps or gather inside Jack and Alma's coach for conversation and fellowship. The camp out was planned by Joe and Wanda, as they were designated "Wagonmasters" for the camp out. Wanda commented on how much she enjoyed Red Rock Canyon. Before returning home, Joe and Wanda led a caravan of the three couples to view the canna fields southwest of Hinton.

Soon after their return home from Red Rock Canyon, Jerry and Susan learned that B.J. Pearson, a longtime member of the Modern Wagoneer Sams, had passed away. Jerry and Susan only met B.J. one time at their luncheon with the group in August, but they remember him as a kind and lively man and are certain that his passing left a void in the membership of the Modern Wagoneer Sams. And as unbelievable as it may sound, Joe and Wanda Mashburn both passed away within the next month (Wanda is pictured to the left of Alma Mobbs). "Known only for a very short time, but three people that touched our lives and enjoyed doing what we love to do." They'll be missed!

On with the adventure! Jerry and Susan schedule their first cross country trip to Albuquerque, N.M., just ahead of the annual Balloon Festival in October. 552 miles of Interstate 40 at 62 mph and 7.5 gpm. No wonder the coach has a 100+ gallon fuel capacity. Guests include Nana, Jerry's mother, and Maynard, Susan's miniature poodle. More about Maynard later. What was more alarming than a dog traveling over 500 miles in an 8x40 box with Jerry, was Nana's expression when she took her first look at the coach and tow vehicle. Coupled together, the coach and Chevrolet 4x4 pickup stretched out over 60 feet. "Can he really drive this thing?," Nana said to Susan. As Nana kissed her Saint Christopher medal and said her prayers, the coach pulled out of Oklahoma City and headed west.

Those of you who have never driven a large RV may not be aware of the physical and mental demands of operating such a rig. Unlike driving an ordinary car down the highway, a 40 ft. motor coach with tow vehicle requires your constant attention. The width of the coach occupies all but about four inches of the entire lane. So, the driver is constantly checking the mirrors to ensure that the coach is not encroaching into the adjoining lane of traffic. Because the coach is more than 12 feet high, the wind has tremendous affect on its control. And always be aware of wind blasts from passing trucks. Jerry learned the hard way when one actually blew the coach off the pavement on Hwy. 177. Additionally, the dash appears similar to the cockpit of a small plane, and its important that all instruments are regularly monitored. Remember, you're piloting over 60 feet of fiberglass and steel that weighs in over 40,000 lbs with a 350 h.p. diesel propulsion system anchored in the rear end. With all that said, responsible and seasoned RVers generally travel less than 400 miles or 6 hours per day. Therefore, these travelers split the trip in half and spent the first night of their trip in Amarillo, Texas.

Fellow Cedar Blue members recommended the Oasis RV Park when traveling through Amarillo. It's located at the far west end of town. It's a "no frills" park, but a nice place to stay overnight. $20 for full accommodations, and they serve breakfast on site for an additional charge.

Up early the next morning and roaring west on I-40. The weather forecast called for clear skies and mild temperatures. But that was not what the travelers found upon their arrival in Albuquerque. Jerry and Susan had visited New Mexico during October in recent years, but always experienced pleasant weather. This trip they were greeted with unusual high winds, which doesn't bode well for operating hot air balloons. Overall, the trip was enjoyable and the coach performed well. While Nana visited relatives, Jerry and Susan set up camp at the Albuquerque KOA on the east end of town. This was their first experience with KOA and they found it accommodating. Before leaving OKC, Jerry reserved a deluxe site with patio and 50 amp service.

And Maynard, well Jerry gave Maynard to Susan for her birthday two years ago. Maynard is truly Susan's dog, and let's just say that Jerry and Maynard have a "live and let live" relationship. At least for the time being. Susan was pleased to see that KOA also thought of Maynard's needs by providing "Kamp K9," which is a fenced, well, you know, "pet facility."

The Albuquerque KOA was particularly memorable for two other reasons. During this visit, a craftsman was busy making and selling bear and other animal carvings made from logs. But most memorable, was the fellow RVer who blew his horn as he left the park. The horn played the Willie Nelson tune: "On the Road, Again . . . ." Of course, Jerry has to have one for his coach.

Jerry, Susan, and Nana, oh yea, and Maynard, returned to Oklahoma City via an overnight stay at the Amarillo Oasis. In spite of the windy weather and seeing not one balloon in the Albuquerque sky, "a good time was had by all," including Maynard.

Just a few short weeks after their return from Albuquerque, Jerry, Susan, Nana, Susan's Aunt Sue, and of course, Maynard, set out on a quick trip to Branson, Missouri. Arrangements were made for a camp site at a local KOA, which boasted new concrete patios, full hookups, hot breakfast, and shuttle service to all music shows. No layovers this trip, but plenty of rest area stops. Although Jerry had made the trip to Branson many times before, he followed the advice of his new Tom Tom GPS since it was his first visit to the Branson KOA. For some unknown reason, the GPS guided the coach through what seemed to be the steepest grades of the Ozark Mountains and several miles out of the way. But the group finally arrived at their destination and set up camp.

The leaves were turning and a chill was in the air. Winter was approaching. Nana and Aunt Sue reserved a sleeping cabin, while Jerry, Susan and Maynard would bunk in the coach. Nana's and Aunt Sue's first night was miserable to say the least. KOA refunded their prepaid deposit, but not their first night's rental fee. They opted to stay the remaining nights of the trip in a clean, warm, and comfortable motel room in Branson. Jerry, Susan and Maynard remained in the coach, but the Hydro-Hot failed. Hydro-Hot is the new revolutionary way to heat a motorcoach. It replaces the conventional propane furnace and hot water tank typically used on RVs. A Hydro-Hot system burns diesel fuel from the main fuel tank and heats a liquid solution similar to antifreeze, which circulates through plastic tubing throughout the coach. At each air register is an electric fan that blows against the heated solution in the plastic tubing, thus forcing warmed air into the cabin. The same system heats the hot water for the coach, providing a continuous flow of hot water on demand. In other words, you can have a continuous flow of hot water for an uninterrupted shower, which used to be unheard of in RV applications. Hydro-Hot is great when it works properly. Fortunately, the coach has a backup heating source - heat strips in the central air units. The cabin stayed comfortable, but had limited hot water.

So, except for Nana's and Aunt Sue's unpleasant experience with KOA's sleeping cabins and Jerry's and Susan's lack of hot water, the trip went well. And the group looks forward to an even better experience next time!

After returning to OKC and having the Hydro-Hot serviced, the coach was readied for its next trip. This would be a short excursion to the KOA west of El Reno, Oklahoma. Jerry's and Susan's oldest grandchild, Kyrsten, had been looking forward to an RV trip with her best friend, Shelby. The weather was gloomy as clouds had moved in, and little was to do at the KOA. The park was more like a mobile home park than an RV facility. Several park guests appeared to be oil field and construction workers temporarily living on site. Nevertheless, Jerry, Susan, and the girls made the best of it by playing games and touring the Red Rock Canyon area.

While getting the coach ready for the return trip to OKC, Jerry noticed that the cabin lighting had dimmed. He reset the breakers and the lights returned to their normal brightness. But while Jerry was disconnecting the water and sewer connections, a loud pop could be heard inside the coach. Susan summoned Jerry and a burning electrical odor could be detected inside the coach. The coach was immediately delivered to the dealership for inspection and it was determined that the inverter malfunctioned. An inverter is an electrical device that not only converts standard 110v AC household current to 12v DC current, but also does the reverse. It converts 12v DC current to 110v AC household current. As a result, one can actually warm a cup of tea in the microwave oven while driving the coach down the highway. Inverters, like Hydro-Hots, are wonderful things when they work. But when an inverter completely burns out, plan on making a trip to the bank for a withdrawal. Unless you're smart and purchase a Good Sam's Extended Warranty Program. Woo Hoo! The warranty program saved Jerry and Susan over $2,000.00. Not only did it replace their inverter, but it also replaced the main flat screen television in the coach, which also was damaged by the faulty inverter. This single incident more than paid the initial year's costs of the warranty program. Needless to say, Jerry and Susan are true believers in the Good Sam's Extended Warranty Program.

The final 2009 RV outing for Jerry and Susan was held at Twin Fountains RV Park in Oklahoma City. Twin Fountains is a premiere park in the northeast part of the city. Jerry and Susan wanted to host a camp out for Jerry's brother, Dana, his wife, Nhora, and their son, Nikko. Nana also came along and the group dined on Popeye's chicken.

Upon leaving Twin Fountains, Jerry had the coach winterized for the season and returned it to the storage facility in Newcastle.

The Modern Wagoneers continue to meet monthly throughout the winter months, and the December meeting, which also served as the groups Christmas celebration, was held at Jerry's and Susan's home.

Wishing you and your's a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We hope you enjoy reading about Jerry's and Susan's adventure, which shall continue in the next post of 2010.