We're back! It's been a long, cold winter and we just can't wait any longer. We're planning a trip to central Texas for nothing more than to blow the dust off the coach. RV park reservations are booked and spring break is just a week away. Temperatures are forecast in the 60s during the day and 40s at night. A full week of RV travels just ahead!
Susan and I regularly visited the RV storage facility during the winter months to run the generator, charge the batteries, and otherwise keep the coach drivable. The engine and generator started promptly each time and all systems seem to be operating normally. I've been debating the issue of whether to carry a spare tire. An article I just read in Motorhome magazine strongly suggests I do so. A reader wrote in and described his experience while traveling in the desert southwest last summer. Although he had membership to roadside assistance, the service provider was unable to locate a tire to fit his rig within 200 miles of his location. As a result, his rig was towed to the nearest service facility where he and his family had to wait several days for the new tire to arrive.
The article is compelling, but the downside of carrying a spare is its size and weight. Diesel coach tires are much larger than those on the typical passenger car or pickup. Not only do they require a considerable amount of storage space, but they're difficult to wrestle in and out of the basement compartment of the coach. Moreover, it's still impractical for an inexperienced owner to attempt to lift the coach and change the tire, which requires heavy capacity equipment. I hope I don't regret it, but I think for the time being we'll follow the advice of the local RV experts and rely on our roadside assistance provider.
Our travel club, The Modern Wagoneer Sams (hereinafter referred to as "Sams"), have continued to meet monthly at local restaurants throughout the winter months. We've enjoyed each other's company and made plans for the year's camp outs and activities. The first camp out is scheduled for late March at Red Rock Canyon, to be followed by member participation at the Spring Samboree in Shawnee. We can hardly wait! Susan bought me a Nikon "CoolPix" camera to carry in the coach, and it should enable me to provide you with a visual depiction of our adventures on the road.
Spring break week and we're off! The original plan was a brief overnight stay at the lake lot near Sulphur, then to Dallas with a tour of the School Book Depository, and the balance of the week in Fredericksburg with a visit to LBJ Ranch. Things never seem to work out quite the way we plan. While setting up the coach at the lake we were unable to activate the Hydro Hot (hot water/central heating system). We could get by with electric heat through the heat strips in the overhead air units, but neither Jerry nor Susan will take cold showers. So, I pulled out the owner's manual and went to work. By evening all systems were go. The next morning over coffee and hot tea, an executive decision (Susan's) was made to spend the week in the peaceful serenity of Cedar Blue. Although it was spring break week in Oklahoma, very few property owners were in the park. The weather was cooler than expected, but we enjoyed the week visiting the casino and antique shops in the Davis/Sulphur area. Additionally, a new concrete driveway was recently poured on our lot and we were anxious to clean up the construction debris and set up the deck for the season.
Upon returning home from our initial outing, we couldn't wait for our next getaway. The Sams were scheduled to spend the next weekend at Red Rock Canyon, and the trip was upon us before we knew it. Our membership currently consists of eight couples, but only three couples participated. We arrived at camp on Thursday evening. Tim and Karen Sechrist and Floyd and Joyce Cook were already there. We gathered in each others' RVs and played cards. On Friday morning, we began the day with a visit to the local casino and lunch at the Hinton El Charro. Susan spotted some antique shops to visit before departing the area.
Later that afternoon the group visited the Hinton Historical Museum, which claims to possess the "largest buggy collection" in the country. The curator, Art Peters, gave an interesting presentation on "The California Road," the path taken by travelers heading west during the 1849 gold rush. As travelers made their way across the "Southwest Passage," wagon wheels carved permanent ruts into the Red Rock Canyon walls which can still be seen today. Art also spoke about the "mounds" which are situated just west of Hinton (not to be confused with "Spiro Mounds" which are located in the eastern part of the state). "Rock Mary," a 60-foot tall red sandstone mound, can be seen just south of Interstate 40 as you pass Hinton heading west. The mound served as a landmark for the 19th Century travelers heading to California.
Just hearing about the mounds was not enough for this group. No, they had to inspect them up close and personal. After a thorough inspection of the artifacts on display in the museum, the group caravaned west and, with the assistance of the locals, found their way to the base of the mounds. A few of us made it as far up as a cave on the north side of one of the mounds, but only a few brave souls ventured all the way to the top (Floyd, Tim and Karen), while the wiser ones (Joyce, Susan and Jerry) waited at the cars and took pictures. Floyd and Joyce guided the group back to camp via Route 66. Tim and Karen hosted the evening meal in their trailer with hot dogs and fellowship.
The group woke up to cloudy skies and a brisk wind on Saturday morning. But that didn't stop them from making their way west to Weatherford. Destination: "Stafford Air and Space Museum." If you haven't visited this museum, check it out! It has many items on loan from NASA and other museums across the country, and it's modest admission fee is worth the price. A hearty appetite was earned while canvasing the museum and it was suggested that we have lunch at Lucille's, which is a restaurant named after a 1950s era Route 66 gas station and tourist court. Before heading back to camp, the ladies decided to stop in Hinton and check out an antique shop (watch the video of a dedicated antique shopper braving the rain for her treasures). But then it was back to camp for a much needed nap. After the group was well rested from the day's trek, Floyd suggested dinner at the Cherokee Trading Post where Susan purchased an Oklahoma State flag and several vest patches. Up early the next morning and back to Okc to regroup for the next outing.
The second weekend in April and off to Cedar Blue with the youngest grandchild. We used to bring them all at one time, but quickly realized that by limiting the outing to one child at a time gives us the ability to focus more attention on the one child (spoil them quicker), and relieves us from the stress of several children arguing and annoying us the entire weekend. This was a short one night trip, but enjoyable with pleasant weather and quality time on the deck. Notice how photogenic Sheridyn is. It's commonly know within the family that she and I (Jerry) have the same color eyes. In fact, we're the only two living family members with the same eye color (hazel). She's proud to claim that's a trait that only she shares with her Papa. Time to head home and prep the coach for next weekend's trip to Branson!