Since leaving Yellowstone NP and Idaho, we have traveled through Kansas, Arkansas, and almost to Texas (we stayed 2 exits away!) It has been a busy six weeks filled with work and some catching up with friends.
We planned to stay a couple of weeks in Colorado, but cold temperatures and random snow storms sent us scurrying to warmer climates. We left Idaho with snow on the ground to arrive in Kansas with a heat index of 108*. Oh, and a busted air conditioner. Online research revealed there was a replacement unit just 45 miles away, but it would take 5-7 business days for delivery. Digging deeper, we found out the Wichita office was “just an office” and the unit came from farther way (Dallas/Fort Worth). We would have to wait.
We still had our small AC unit in the bed room, but it was by no means large enough to cool the entire rig - especially in such high temperatures. While the highs each day hovered in the 90's, we worked on keeping cool inside. First, we bought a large box fan. We taped up the AC ducts in the bedroom and sent as much cool air as we could to the rest of the trailer. The first day it got to 89* inside. It seemed hotter than that because we were both in and out, moving a great deal while trying to find out what was wrong with the big ac. After we got our "alternate cooling system" in place, the inside temps stayed in the mid-80's and we learned to stay much more still. By the time the new AC arrived, the outside temps were down to the mid-80's.
We rented a forklift to get the old AC down and the new AC on the roof. That took all of about 5 minutes.
The installation went very smoothly. We cleaned the surface...
... placed the new AC over the hole, then Trey secured it and wired everything up. While replacing the ac, we made a couple of upgrades. We added a wiz bang device so that the amperage required for the compressor to kick on was much less than before. This will help when we are in places with questionable electricity and if we ever get a small generator. We also got a new thermostat so that one controller handled the ac, heat pump, and furnace. It also has a feature that automatically switches from heat pump to furnace when temps get too low for the heat pump to work. This saves us (Trey) getting up in the middle of cold nights to do that manually.
The new unit works perfectly and we've already been able to test that heat pump -> furnace upgrade several times since. Bonus: Another family at the fairgrounds lost their AC the week before us and they took our old unit (along with theirs) to sell for parts. We didn't have to figure out a way to dispose of it.
Since then, we've pretty much been working. We've had four rallies in five weeks, so we have kept pretty busy. The second rally was the Heavy Duty Truck (HDT) Rally. That was great because that was "our" rally and we were able to see old friends and meet new ones. Here is our truck line-up photo for this year.
This is a ground shot taken during the line-up process.
Leaving Kansas, we headed for Arkansas. Our RV park was about 15 minutes out of town and each morning we caught a beautiful sunrise over the Ozark Mountains as we drove in. It was cold and foggy and we were on the scooter, so we didn’t stop to take pictures. Our last day there, we caught the sunrise after a stormy night. It wasn’t quite as nice as the clear, crisp morning sunrises we had seen, but beautiful none the less.
The day we left Arkansas, during our pre-driving walk-around (inspection), we found one tire that had a severe wear patch. We have been watching these tires for a while and planned to replace them this winter. This tire, however, needed to be replaced sooner than that.
Having taught about RV tires for the past few years, we are pretty picky about what we put on our trailer. Knowing we were due for a replacement, Trey has already done the research this summer and found two preferred tires we could use. There were a handful of other tires if we couldn’t locate our preferred tire. We decided that if we got a good deal on the right tire, we would go ahead and replace all the tires. Otherwise, we would replace this one for now and then replace all six tires when we returned to Austin, where we could order exactly what we wanted.
We drove to Little Rock and after asking a few questions and visiting a couple of tire shops large enough for our rig, we could not find our preferred tire choice. We could only find one of our second-choice tires and the folks at that place weren’t very excited to work on our vehicle – especially if we were only replacing one tire. We finally found a tire shop who was happy to help, but they only had one brand of tire in our size. The tires we had researched cost from $250 - $400+ each. This one cost $106. Sounds like a good deal, right? But with these kind of tires you often get what you paid for.
It is not a tire we trust, but for a few hundred miles, it is better than the damaged one we removed. We’ve seen all brands of tires as we’ve weighed RV’s, but we have never heard of this one. It is a Triangle tire, but the tire guy assured us it would roll. Trey said it must be some kind of new geometrical engineering technology, because our Triangle tire was able to roll right along with the other five Michelins. ;)
We are thankful that we found the tire issue before we were stuck on the side of the road or had any damage from a blowout. This new tire will be replaced when we order new tires for the trailer this winter.
Tire graveyard: always an fascinating sight.
We drove on to Texarkana and quickly found a Whataburger. Such great comfort food!