Friday, May 14, 2010

A Good Day, Then A Stormy Day

Yesterday (Thursday) was a good one. We got the Atwood jack replaced at Rocky Mountain Cummins in Albuquerque on Wednesday afternoon, after receiving the part by UPS around noon. It only took about an hour, which we spent comfortably in the customer lounge. I wonder if Shadow remembered being here 2 years ago, when the same jack had to be replaced. Obviously he loves relaxing in customer lounges.DSCN1856

However, Mark (the Tech) wasn’t able to get the “auto” function of the jacks to work correctly, or the air bags to inflate and deflate automatically. This troubleshooting took another hour or so. By that time, it was after work hours at the Atwood manufacturer, so he couldn’t get help from there. We worried that the controller board would have to be replaced again. But we were grateful to be able to stay free in one of Cummins’ 4 RV water/electric sites in the yard, while we waited for resolution.


We were parked between the cement truck and the other motorhome. One night the “RV Park” was full, and we were more protected against the wind coming from the west. Without jacks, we had been rocking and rolling when we spent 2 previous nights at the Kirtland AFB FamCamp.

Mark called Atwood early on Thursday morning and learned how to re-program the controller. He came out to our motorhome and ran through the instructions a few times until he finally got everything working correctly. Hurrah! We got the paperwork taken care of and hit the road around 10 am.

We had a short travel day, as we had been able to link up with long-time friends Larry and Carol Jennings, in Santa Rosa, NM. They were heading west on I-40 and we were heading east. DSCN1888

We spent part of the afternoon playing tourist with them, visiting this amazing Blue Hole and driving about 7 miles north to the Santa Rosa Lake State Park. The wild Pecos River was tamed by a dam that created the lake, where water sports are enjoyed almost year-round.

It’s difficult to represent the 81-ft. depth of the Blue Hole by photography, but here are a few shots.


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The hole was formed by a deep artesian spring, which pumps up to 3,000 gallons of water per minute. Scuba divers enjoy diving in the 61-degree water, but we stayed dry on the banks.

Santa Rosa sits on Historic Route 66, and there are several landmarks of memorabilia that hark back to the golden era before the highway was replaced by Interstate 40 in 1972. Besides the Route 66 relics, which can be seen on the Internet, Carol and I enjoyed some older relics from the past. We had fun photographing this ancient Rose of Lima Chapel and Cemetery, first erected in 1800 and moved to its current location in 1907.


We marveled to find this grave of a young woman who didn’t live to see her 17th birthday, and died coincidentally 100 years to the day prior to our visit on May 13, 2010, also Carol’s birthday!DSCN1938

We celebrated Carol’s birthday at dinner that evening, then spent some time exploring blogging techniques and sharing photos. All in all, it was a very nice day.

Today (Friday) was a different story, however. We awoke to rain, and Don tried to stay dry while he hitched up the car and unhooked the motorhome. He didn’t succeed, and had to change shirts before we departed. We left the campground about 8:30, expecting to arrive in Dumas, TX by noon. The rain wasn’t too bad while I drove the first leg on I-40. After stopping for fuel in Tucumcari, Don took the wheel. Heading northeast, the wind got stronger and became a direct cross-wind. With the rain coming down heavier, the windshield wipers were working hard to provide us good visibility. I almost couldn’t believe my ears when Don said, “Well, there went the windshield wiper!” The one on the driver’s side had blown off the windshield and was hanging off the left side of the coach. The passenger side still worked, but didn’t help the driver, so he turned them off. He could still see the road fairly well, and luckily traffic was light and the road was straight. He drove over 50 miles in the rain without windshield wipers.


We stopped in Dalhart to see if anyone could recommend a place to get the wiper arm repaired or replaced. Folks at the Peterbilt place didn’t want to talk to a Freightliner owner! DSCN1942

But one of the guys came out to see if he could help. He and Don managed to do a temporary fix so we could use the wiper. Texas still has a few friendly folks!DSCN1943

I called our good buddies Carol and Dennis Hill, who are currently at the Red Bay, Alabama factory where Tiffin motorhomes are built and serviced. They were happy to go find us a new wiper arm assembly and ship it to our next destination. Thanks, Carol and Dennis! It’s nice to have fellow Phaeton owners willing to come to our rescue. We now owe you a big favor in return. Or maybe just lots of hugs and dinner. (Plus, we’ll pay the bill!)

Shortly after talking with the Hills, a truck threw a rock that landed in the middle of our windshield, so now we have a big chip to fix.


We figured we’d had enough things go wrong for the day, so we looked forward to getting into the campground in Dumas and fixing lunch. When we got to the place where my cousin had said there was a free (for one night) city park, we encountered a construction zone, a very muddy one! There was no other way into the park, so we stopped at a convenience store to ask if there was another campground in town. “Well, there is one, but you don’t want to go there” was the reply. It turns out the campground owner hasn’t made many friends in this town, especially not the store clerk. We saw a sign for the campground and drove to it anyway. It looked fine, and we saw several signs telling us not to park without checking in at the office first. Except we couldn’t find the office! Finally a block away, I found the office but it was locked up tight. I went to 2 other doors, also locked. No answer to the doorbells or my calling out to see if anybody was there. The cell phone number posted on the door didn’t work. And it was still raining. And we were really hungry by then, as it was about 2 pm.

When all else fails, go to Wal-Mart! We unhitched and left the motorhome in the Wal-Mart lot and went to lunch at KFC. On the way back, we stopped at the Visitor’s Center to inquire about other campgrounds. These people were so very nice and helpful! They offered for us to stay in their lot, with a 20-amp electrical outlet. We knew we were back in Texas.

By now some readers may be wondering why we didn’t just boondock at Wal-Mart in the first place. We have solar panels, batteries and an inverter. However, due to the rain, solar panels aren’t much help. We could run the generator, but two of my favorite TV shows get recorded late on Friday night. And it’s just nicer and quieter to have electricity.

Since this blog is getting quite long, I’ll wind it up by saying that we got together with my cousin Ann and her husband Bill, also full-time RVers, for dinner, and had a very nice time. (Sorry I didn’t get a picture.) The rain and wind stopped. We are snug, warm and safe. And tomorrow is another day, another adventure.

Oh, yes, my new Verizon Palm Pre wouldn’t turn on sometime during all this, but I found a Verizon store nearby and they fixed it. Please, God, don’t let any bad things happen to us tomorrow.


  1. You had a hellish day, friends! Glad it was you and not us, but we're sorry it was you! Better luck tomorrow!

  2. Been following Dennis & Carol for a while now and read about your recent problems in the rain. Thankfully all was repaired in short order. Nice to have friends in Red Bay. Following you guys now too.

  3. You guys really do not deserve this kind of luck. Seeing that you have not posted another "bad day" blog we can only assume your luck has improved. I am sorry we are not traveling in your direction now. Keep us posted as we may be coming through the Dakotas on our way to SkillsUSA June 22. We miss you guys. What did Verizon do to your phone? I have once or twice had to pull the battery to reset. Thank goodness this has not happened very often. Safe travels.

  4. Barbara, Verizon just removed the battery from my phone, then restarted it. I had tried to do that but couldn't get the back off. Sounds like you're doing what's needed. We'll just be at Hart Ranch May 20 - June 5, but maybe we can link up with you somewhere along the way.


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