The "Adventure" takes a turn in 2011 as we transition into a new form of RVing. We discovered that ownership of a large diesel-powered motorhome not only requires a substantial initial investment, but continues to stress the budget after the purchase through regular ongoing maintenance. Although the "Adventure" took a detour the past few months, we're back on track now with a newer and more efficient mode of travel. Welcome our new 2011 Chevrolet 2500HD, 6.6L HD Turbo Diesel with Allison Transmission and Exhaust Brake, coupled with a 2007 Cedar Creek Silverback 5th Wheel Travel Trailer.
We purchased the 5th Wheel (coach) from Lewis RV in Oklahoma City. It was a one-owner with few miles and little use. Before taking delivery, the dealer installed electric jacks, a second air-conditioner, and a fireplace. The coach has washer/dryer connections in the bedroom closet, so the dealer transferred our washer/dryer from the motorhome into the coach.
The motorhome is for sale on consignment with Lewis RV. It can be seen at their website if you or anyone you know may be interested: http://lewisrvcenter.com/used_rvs-p645.asp
We couldn't wait to get the new rig on the road and see how it performed. Spring break came the week of March 14 this year, so Suz and I planned a short southwest trip beginning in Wichita Falls to check in on Katherine where she's stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base. But before we left, we joined the Modern Wagoneers for a weekend camp out at Twin Fountains RV Park in northeast Oklahoma City.
The weekend's outings included a trip to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum: http://www.cowboyhalloffame.org/, and the Oklahoma City RV Show.
The above picture is my "dream machine," a 2011 Landmark built by Heartland. It's simply beautiful and luxurious! Below, Susan is seated in the Landmark next to our sales person, Kelly; and the picture at right is our good friend and fellow Wagoneer, Tim.
Since visiting the RV Show and viewing the Landmark, Suz and I have put close to 3,000 miles on the Cedar Creek 5th Wheel. The Silverback is not considered a "high-end" RV, but my experience so far is that it's high-quality, low-maintenance, and probably a "keeper." Before I purchase any other brand of 5th Wheel, I'll likely want to consider another Cedar Creek product.
Before departing OKC and heading southwest toward Wichita Falls, Suz and I paid a visit to our local casino, Remington Park, where we both won a little travel money. We then headed out, Maynard and all, and found Katherine to be doing well in her career and personal life. After a brief visit we headed further southwest toward the Midland/Odessa area. We stayed at the Midessa Oil Patch RV Park. Quite a few oil patch regulars appear to live there full time, but it's a well-kept park and we'd stay again if we're ever in the area.
We took a short, but boring, trip over to the Andrews, Texas area, where we checked on some of our retirement investments at work:
We also visited The American Air Power Museum: http://www.airpowermuseum.org/ If you're an aviation enthusiast, I strongly encourage you to check it out. It's worth the visit and modest admission price.
Back on the road headed west toward Pecos, Texas. There, we'll turn north toward Carlsbad, New Mexico. But first, a break for lunch and siesta for Maynard.
No reason for the pic of the donkey, other than we found him to be interesting tied next to the highway.
Suz had never visited Carlsbad Caverns, so we made it a point to spend the night there and explore the park. We stayed at Carlsbad RV Park, which offered no frills, but it was clean and quiet. The ascent to the top of the park entrance would be a test for the performance of the new truck. The road was pretty steep, but the Chevy pulled the coach as if it wasn't there. The descent was even better. The coach weighs in at over 12,000 lbs., and I was sure the rig would push the Chevy down the grade. But to my surprise, the truck maintained the set speed of 45 mph with the exhaust brake engaged and I never once had to apply the service brake.
The Newmar Mountainaire Diesel Pusher averaged 7.4 mpg on most trips. That included towing our old 2001 Chevy 1500 Z71 4x4 pickup. The new rig, 2011 Chevy 2500HD Diesel Z71 4x4, with the 2007 32-foot 5th Wheel, averages 10.4 mpg. I'm told by other more experienced RVers that performance and gas mileage should improve. Now that I've completely retired, live on a limited budget, and the cost of diesel is at an all time high, I sure hope they're right!
Here's a few pics of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park and surrounding area:
We left the next morning in route to visit the aliens in Roswell, New Mexico. We called ahead and made reservations at the Red Barn RV Park. It's situated on what used to be a farm east of town. The park office is in a large red barn, i.e. the name "Red Barn RV Park." The owners are very hospitable and the park is small and quaint. Only one site was available upon our arrival. The onsite store and laundry operates on the "honor" system, and most guests live there full time.
While there, we visited the "International UFO Museum and Research Center," http://www.roswellufomuseum.com/ Here's a few pictures of what we observed:
We then headed home, via Amarillo and the Oasis RV Park and Big Texan Steak House.
Suz, Maynard, and I soon departed on another short weekend trip to Branson, Mo., where we met up with our friends, Tim and Karen Sechrist. This is the first time we have visited Branson without taking in a music show. The only pictures that would have been worthy of posting would have been of the Branson Emergency Room, where the physicians, nurses, and staff rendered professional and efficient care.
Upon our arrival in Branson, we met Tim and Karen for dinner and I soon became severely ill. Thinking it may be a stomach virus or food poisoning, Susan rushed me to the ER. After examination, I was informed I had a kidney stone and needed emergency surgery. Knowing we would be stuck in Branson (the rain was relentless), and in the RV with Maynard during my recovery, I chose to have the ER staff shoot me up with pain medication and ask Tim to drive me and our rig home. Susan and Karen followed close behind through a driving rain and hail storm, but we all made it home safely. I was admitted to Mercy Health Center that same evening and had surgery the next morning. All is well now, thanks to Tim and Karen!
By the weekend of May 6, I had recovered enough to be back on the road. Susan and I took our grandson, Trenton (aka Thumper), with us on a Modern Wagoneer trip to The Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Northwestern Oklahoma. The group repeated the trip they took last year at this time, but we were unable to attend. Thumper had been promised he could go then, so we made it up to him this time.
The primary attraction is the opportunity to dig for Selenite Crystals under the salt flats adjacent to the Great Salt Lake. Thumper spent about two hours and collected over 30 crystals to take home and share with his classmates.
The transition from the motorhome to the 5th Wheel was a good move. The 5th Wheel requires very little maintenance. We joined the Cedar Creek RV Owners' Club, where we learned on their forum that the factory installed Chinese made tires frequently blow out in the sidewalls. We've since replaced all four tires with Michelins to be on the safe side. The largest investment was the diesel pickup, but it has factory warranty and requires much less to maintain than the diesel motorhome. Suz and I are hopeful we'll get many good miles out of both vehicles.
Look for our blog next month when the Modern Wagoneers travel to Grove, Oklahoma for the American Heritage Music Festival. We have several new members and our club is growing fast. If you have an RV, or are contemplating the purchase of one, don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on becoming a member.