Leak #1:  the one in our cab area that let’s it rain in when driving through a downpour. Dave called Winnebago and made arrangements for them to fix that one when we get to their factory–probably Friday.

Leak #2:  one of our detectors went off last evening. We thought it was smoke although we couldn’t find a source. We opened windows and vents and it dissipated. Then about 1 a.m. the alarm went off again. This time Dave decided it was probably a propane leak. He used our find-the-propane-leak gadget which said the leak was probably somewhere by the stove. But there’s not much you can do about a propane leak in the middle of the night so he turned off the propane, cracked open a window and the ceiling vent, and we went back to bed. This morning Dave is unable to find any evidence of a propane leak so maybe it was something else in this park that won’t be a problem once we leave here. Unless our detector goes off again, we’ll try not to worry about it. If it does go off again, at least we are headed to the factory; they can fix it.

Leak #3:  sticky spots on the floor this morning. Are they from the rain that came in through the vent during the night? Rain isn’t usually sticky, though. While fixing breakfast, Dave found the leak  In a carton of Coffee Rich thawing on the shelf of the door in the frig. It’s not yet thawed enough to be able to pour it into another container. So the carton is now sitting in a freezer bag back in the door now that Dave has cleaned up all the mess it made.

It’s good to have Dave ready and able to deal with all these leaks.



Heading Home

On vacations in the past whenever we’ve turned in the direction of home it has been hard to get the vehicle to stop. Hurry becomes the word of the day. So I figured we’d be home in a few days and I could do one post about the entire trip.

Guess what? We are no longer on vacation. This is where and how we live now. So when the weather forecast ahead of us said severe thunderstorms with hail we just stopped where we were. And stayed stopped for days. In fact, we are still stopped.

So here’s my notes from the first part of the trip home.

We got up at 7 a.m. the day of our departure from Lake Aire RV Park near Hollywood, South Carolina, did a bunch of chores and were on the road by 10 a.m.

The first interesting sign of this trip said “Carpet Baggers.” It was the name of a floor covering store. Given what the original carpetbaggers were I was surprised to see someone advertising themselves that way. I wonder how business is?

We stopped at WalMart for groceries. At least it was once a Walmart. Now it is a Food Lion. With only half the items on our list.  So, guess where we’ll be stopping later?

Once again our engine lost its turbo boost as we were getting on the freeway. This is becoming more irritating as time goes by.

The next sign said, “Instant Grassification.” It was a billboard advertising a sod company. I admire the advertising people who are able to come up with these clever phrases.

For lunch we got tempted by the billboards advertising Maurice’s BBQ so when we found one on our route we turned in. Odd but tasty. I’d never had yellow BBQ sauce before. This one was called Maurice’s Southern Gold BBQ Sauce. You could buy it by the bottle right there in the fast food place. So, I picked up a bottle and read the ingredients. It did not sound like something I’d be willing to eat. So, it’s probably good I ate it before reading the ingredients, huh?

The next WalMart we found had a horrible access so we didn’t turn in.

We drove through a down pour about 1/4 mile past a rest area when it started raining inside! On me! We have a leak! I shoved a bunch of tissues up around the visor until we could stop and check it out. As it turned out only about one tissue’s worth of water came in but it is very worrisome nevertheless. Why is water coming in? Dave’s bed is up there! We DO NOT want to have problems with mold. This needs further research.

The turbo cut out again. Each time today and at least some of the times previously we’ve been going uphill. We do not know if that is significant or not. This needs further research, too.

We camped for the night at Croft State Natural Area. It took a few tries to get level enough–not level mind you–but level enough. By the time we did we were far enough from the electrical box to need to use both our extension cords. But, it was a quiet place to spend the night.

The next morning we were once again up and out by 10 a.m.

Again our engine lost it’s turbo. This time were coming out of the North Carolina Welcome Center where we had, of course, stopped to pick up a highway map.

The next amusing sign said the next exit was U.S. 64 and it would take us to Bat Cave. Suddenly a deep voice said, “Come on, Robin. We need to go.” OK, it was me that said it but it made Dave laugh.

We passed under the Blue Ridge Parkway. Someday we would like to drive that. We tried once before but we were too late in the season; they closed it the day before we got there.

The next sign said, “French Broad River Basin.” Is that “broad river” or “French broad”?

We stopped for lunch just west of Asheville, North Carolina. When we were ready to leave our “check engine” light came on and our Scan Gauge threw a code! So we pulled into a Ford Dealer’s used car lot making a salesman start drooling. I got the job of explaining our check engine light came on so we needed a place to stop while we figured out what that meant. Dave’s research indicated it was something to do with the EGR valve and that could affect our turbo. So we started looking online for a Sprinter dealer who could, maybe, fix it. There is one ahead of us in Knoxville, Tennessee, who has three Sprinter mechanics and it is  open until 8 p.m. We figure even if this code puts us in what known as “limp home mode” which restricts you to driving 30 m.p.h or less we could get to Knoxville by 8 p.m. Fortunately, we got to drive at our regular speed so we got there mid-afternoon. In the meantime, I got a kick out of the fact the code was a 404 error.

On the way to Knoxville we drove through a short tunnel that made our ears pop then we drove out of the tunnel into another down pour. It didn’t rain on me this time, though.

Finally into Knoxville, Tennessee, where the mechanic at Jim Cogdill Dodge replaced our EGR valve. I sure hope that fixed the turbo problem, too.

It was now about 5:00 in the afternoon and we were headed for a SKP park. They tend to close their offices early so I called to see if they had a spot with electrical we could have if we got there in the next half hour. She said yes because she agreed with me when I said it’s too hot to not have air-conditioning. We did not make it there by 5:30 closing but she waited for us, gave us a site, and said come do the paperwork in the morning. We love the way SKPs are willing to take the extra step to help one another. So we are safely tucked into Raccoon Valley RV Park, just north of Knoxville.

We planned to stay two nights but that is turning into many more than that. We stayed here so long we actually had to go into town to buy groceries and pick up medicine today. But we are having great discussions about the implications of buying a car to tow. Maybe we won’t do that yet. Maybe we’ll wait until after we drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Natchez Trace. Maybe.



p.s. Rumor has it the rain problem is a warranty item so we may be able to get it fixed for free.  Maybe we’ll go home by way of the Winnebago Factory.

Being Predictible?

We spend a lot of time reading the forums at Escapees.com learning from people who have been fulltiming for years. One of their bits of wisdom is that people who travel the way we have been usually only do so for a year. Then they slow down. Maybe buy a car to tow behind their RV. Park their RV in one place for a week or more and use the car to visit the sights in that area then move to another area and do it again.

We moved out of our house May 14, 2008.  Since then the map of our travels looks like this:


We are tired of running all over the country.

So we are headed to our domicile state of South Dakota to see about buying a car we can tow. Then we plan to spend the summer slowly, very slowly, exploring the Upper Midwest. I’m embarrassed to admit that after living in Minnesota for 45 years there are places there I have never seen. It’s about time I do so, don’t you think?



Miami Area

I found a few more notes I took in the Everglades so I’ll add them here. It’s really not far from Miami.

In camp at Long Pine Key it sounded like big, fat raindrops on our RV but it was really big, fat bugs flying into our windows and skylight. We couldn’t open our door without something trying to come in.

I discovered just how much I am addicted to the internet. I was ready to leave the Everglades before we got done there because I couldn’t get connected. I’m not happy to know that about myself but it is now a fact of my life. All my current friendships are through the internet and all my travel research is done there. Being disconnected is disconcerting.

Driving down Flamingo Road we went through Rock Reef Pass–elevation 3 feet!

And I saw a mirage on that road. The headlights of an approaching vehicle were reflected in water on the road where there was no water.

The entrance to Flamingo campground is being rebuilt. The old place where you pay was closed and the new one not yet opened. Dave and several other campers were trying to decide what to do. The consensus was to fill out the paperwork and wait for the ranger to come collect it  But the ranger drove his rounds without visiting us. Free camping is good.

How could we not stop here?


Fruit and Spice Park in Redland, Florida, turned out to be a large collection of tropical plants from all over the world that had been turned over to Miami-Dade County to become a park. You can take a 45 minute tram tour of the place or do your own walking tour. They have samples you can taste at their visitor center. But the don’t sell any of them. And we were overdue for lunch. So we settled for buying some choco/cashew ice cream before leaving.  After I tasted most of the samples, of course. Dave, not being an adventuresome eater as you may have guessed by now, tried none of them.

Our next stop was Scully’s Tavern in Miami–another Diners, Drive-ins and Dives place. The building was part of a yellow strip mall–not at all impressive. Inside was so dark we had to wait for our eyes to adjust before we could walk further in. But the food was fabulous! I had the Swisshroom Burger and Dave had the Cheddar Bacon Burger. I saved half my sandwich, of course, and all our leftover French Fries. I rarely save French fries because the don’t really reheat well but these were too good to not try to reheat them. Plus we got two deserts to go–my carrot cake and Dave’s Key Lime Pie. Later we had supper where French Fries and desert were featured items supplemented by deviled eggs and an apple.

In between those two places we passed a couple of interesting signs. One had the hurricane symbol we’ve come to know so well lately and said, “Emergency Evacuation Bus Pick-up Site.” I wonder if that sign predates or postdates Hurricane Katrina?

The other was a sign on an orchard that wasted no words. It simply said, “Thieves Shot.”

We went to Larry and Penny Thompson Park in Miami for two nights. This is another Miami-Dade County Park. Their campground is laid out in “pods”. They look like a child’s drawing of a cross between a lollipop and the sun. The road in is the stick then there’s a circular road with campsite radiating from it. There are also a few sites within each circle. There are eleven pods with 20 sites per pod with four restroom/laundry buildings spread among them. No problem getting a site midweek at this time of year. We got a site next to one of the laundry rooms so we could do four loads of laundry.  It’s nice to have everything clean again.

Our table came furnished with a piece of fruit that was popular with the local wildlife. I got pictures of the first and last visitor but missed the pair of cardinals that also visited.

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As you can see the blue-jay knocked the fruit off the table so I don’t know if we had any visitors after that.

As we packed up to leave this morning Dave discovered our left front tire is low. It is also showing uneven wear. Apparently the alignment we had done in Phoenix after noting wear in the right front tire needs to be done again.

As we left the park , we drove to the various laundry rooms there trying to trade all five of the paperback books I’ve read for new ones. We succeeded by taking all the books except the one in German but I’m not sure how happy I am about some of the ones I got in exchange. I decided better a couple of Harlequin Romances I haven’t read than keeping books I have read, though. At least they’ll make good trades down the road since they are popular with a lot of people.

Then we went back to the Walmart in Florida City where I had my last prescription refill done. I found out this morning they’d only given me 30 pills instead of the 90 I was supposed to get. These meds are too expensive for me to want to pay for two months worth when the insurance denies the claim they already paid. I’m glad we are still only about 30 minutes from Florida City, though.  Can you imagine trying to get the other 60 pills at a different WalMart? It took us two hours to get out of there but they did give me the rest of the pills without argument once my turn came. And we bought groceries and other stuff while we were there.

Then we drove to Miami Beach looking for the 11th Street Diner at the corner of 11th and Washington.  


Parking in that neighborhood is on street and cars are parked bumper to bumper so we were beginning to think we wouldn’t get to eat there when we turned the corner in front of the diner and found a drive-in spot right in front of a loading zone. Our bumper and the Segway hung into the loading zone but there was a parking enforcement officer nearby so I hurried over and asked her if we would be OK. She said, “Yes.”

So eat we did. Dave had the Cowboy Burger, a chocolate fudge malt, and a piece of Key Lime pie. I had the Sobe grilled chicken sandwich with avocado and pineapple, a diet Coke, and a couple bites of Dave’s pie. No leftovers today. My sandwich came with chips and Dave’s fries didn’t look worth the hassle.

By now is was about 4:30 in the afternoon and all we wanted to do was get out of the big city traffic. Right. I saw a couple of vehicles that had been playing bumper cars but we didn’t participate.

Further north we stopped to get fuel. This is the first station where I’ve seen slave pumps. I’d heard about them on the Escapee’s discussion forum so I recognized them for what they are. Slave pumps are on the right side of the vehicle when you are pulled up to regular pumps on the left side. The slave pumps have no tops that let you pay there. You pay on the left and pump from both if you have a vehicle with auxiliary tanks. That way it doesn’t take as long to fill up those trucks with two large tanks. Plus the slave tanks have the larger nozzles that dispense fuel faster than the regular nozzles. We can’t use them. They don’t fit into our fuel filler pipe which is good because our tank isn’t big enough to keep us from pouring fuel everywhere if we filled that fast.

About 6:20 p.m. we drove by the exits for the town of Jupiter where our next museum stop was supposed to be. Way too late for that day. We just want to get to our next campground but its exit is till 14 miles ahead of us. At least at Jupiter we finally drove out of the city. It’s nice to see trees along the road again.

At last! St Lucie Lock Recreation Area. We were greeted by an attendant saying, “I was beginning to wonder if you were going to get here.” So were we but she obviously was looking for someone else since no one but us knew we were headed here. The people she was waiting for had reserved the last spot. They might still come so she couldn’t let us have it. That’s what we get for refusing to make reservations.

So we are in Phipps Park about a block away from St Lucie. It costs $21 instead of $12 but it has electricity so we can run our air conditioner. It gets hot in Florida at this time of year. Imagine that!



Cool Tool

During our most recent stop at Walmart we spent $20 to buy a new vacuum cleaner. We already had a tiny 12 volt wet/dry vac but trying to vacuum floors with it was such a nuisance we kept putting off vacuuming. So, I put vacuum on the shopping list. Dave, of course, was never going to buy one. So when I had to go in to WalMart the other day to straighten out my meds again I insisted we look at vacuums.  

While walking to the section of the store where there sell vacuums Dave walked by a display of one type of them. Since they were in small boxes in the middle of the aisle he didn’t recognize them for what they were. But I was driving one of those electric carts which had only slow as a speed so the display was at my eye level and I had time to actually see it. This is what I saw.


OK, that’s not literally the store display. That’s the empty box after we unpacked it at home. I thought I should give you something to recognize in case you decide to go shopping for one of these. That’s Dave’s hat on my bed to give you a sense of how small this box is.

The vacuum itself is more or less a four pound Dustbuster type with a crevice tool attachment and a floor attachment. It has a telescoping handle. Here’s what it look like with the floor attacment on and the handle down and up standing next to our dinette bench so you can see its size.

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It’s small enough to store in the back of our closet yet it’s amazingly powerful. At least it picked up a lot of dust and hair from our carpet. Maybe that’s just a sign of how long it has been since we vacuumed our carpet.