Welcome to our Travel Blog!

Hi, and welcome to our RV Travel Blog! We hope you enjoy our writings. If you are a camper, I hope you find them helpful. The posts are list in order from recent back to earliest.... so if you want to read in order that they were written, scroll down or click the "Previous Posts" on the right. Also look at the "Archive" links on the right. Our trip and family photos are in the Dotphoto.com site in the links section on the left.
We welcome your comments: please sign the GuestBook by clicking on the link at the left.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Almost Time to Hit the Road

Its Friday night, almost 11:00 PM. Nearly everything is loaded in the Bounder, the Civic is tied tightly to the hitch, and the lights work. The slides are in and the jacks are up. The only thing left is to put some of our personal items in the bathroom in the morning and I hope we'll be on our way. We'll see. Our planned or "discussed" time to leave is 7:00 AM.

My Dad came to the rescue (again) today with the tire pressure check. I guess he knows me only too well. Knowing that I would NOT get home from work in time to get the Bounder to his shop and use his compressor, he loaded the compressor on the back of his truck and came to the Bounder. He did have to take the wheel covers off to get the air guage and chuck on the valve stem of the outside rear tires. As soon as I can, I am doing to have some other type of valve stem or exender installed on it so I can keep the tires properly inflated quickly and easily.

So now I am thinking about the trip, not in total as before, but one leg at a time. Tomorrow will be a long day and I do not have a good grip on how far we will actually go. I really want to get as close to Little Rock Arkansas as possible...but thats nearly 750 miles! Memphis would be acceptable depending on how tired we are when we get there. We will really just have to play it by ear. A few years ago we made it to Carlsbad NM in 3 days, and the days were not all that bad driving about 8 - 9 hours per day. But Sante Fe is a little farther away than Carlsbad.

Mom is worried that we are going to spend the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot. We have not done that before even though many do. Again, It will depend on how far we get and how we feel.

This may be the last post 'til we arrive in Santa Fe unless I can get the Wal-Mart manager to let us use his compter. As much money as we (Pam) spend there they should give us a full hook up site and a private office with a computer. In fact, I am thinking about getting my paycheck direct deposited at Wal-Mart and just letting Pam get the change at month's end. But who knows, maybe we'll be in a Flying J travel plaza tomorrow nite with the truckers checking email and posting the days events.

I'm tired, think I'll turn in. 5:00 AM will be here in a little while.

Deb: if you read this, tell HIII to do one of these Blogs on his next trek... it would be better than email!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thursday (T minus 2 and Counting)

OK, so I have been lazy the last two days and not really done what I should have. So I will make up for it tonight. But guess what: Its raning! It has not rained for a month and now that I need to get some catching up done, it is raining. That means I may have to mow Friday night if I have time.

I called Dad last night to see if they were going to be home tonight. I will use his air compressor to get all of the tires to the correct pressure. Lots has been written abou this in the forums and magazines, but I will stick with the recommendation on the motorhome specs: 82 lbs. max.

I had a nice chat with Norb one of my co-workers today. He is always very helpful in talking through problems and issues. Norb is on his 3rd (or 4th) coach with an Allegro Bus disel pusher. He mentioned that his research indicates that you can add up to 5 lbs more air pressure per tire than the sidewall max load specification.

When I got home though Addie was there visiting and the power was out at the house. Mom called and said that there was an auto accident a couple of miles from the house and a power pole had been hit. So we all ate dinner in the natural light on the back porch and watched the sun go down while Bobbi played with us in the twilight. She could see us much better than we could see her.

The power outage also knocked out the trip up to Dads for the air compressor... no power, no compressed air. I'll have to wait and do that tomorrow night.

About 9 PM the rain stopped, and I was out to the motor home loading my clothes. Pam had spent the day going to the grocery store and loading the fridge in the motorhome and laying in the supplies for the first part of our trip. Yesterday she went to the store to buy groceries to leave at home for Tristan. That boy does eat!

So with those chores done, I'm thinking I will quit for the night. I decided to check Email and this web site for comments. There is a comment from Margie in Tennessee. I met them through one of the internet forums when Margie responded to one of my questions with an Email. They are taking almost the same type trip we are - maybe a couple of weeks longer - and are a couple of weeks ahead of us. They also went as far west as Sedona AZ and toured the Grand Canyon. I have been keeping up with her blog "The Life and RV Adventure of Margie and Roger". (Click the link to visit their site). Looks like we will all be in Albuquerque at the same time for the Baloon Fiesta. Who knows, maybe we'll get to meet face to face.

OK, so one more day of work this week then we'll see what time we actually get gone -barring unforseen circumstances of course.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Time to Fuel Up!

Today I have to do something about the tire pressure check situation, and get fuel.

I decided that I should check out the RV forums for advice and past postings on the tire pressure check problem. Sure enough I am not the only one to have this problem. The postings were numerous and of course varied in opinions. Just like being in a campground, going to the forums provides RVers that will definitely have an opinion on what to do. Some right - some not so right.

The postings ranged from "replace all valve stems with new longer valve stems" to "you must not be trying hard enough to get the gauge on the stem". Wrong. The gauge will NOT go on the stem through the small slot in the rim. And you know what? There were a relatively large number of people that had posted on the forum with that problem. And not just Fleetwood owners, but many brands, even the high end Diesel Pusher owners had this problem.

So I decided that I would make one more trip to a local auto parts store (Auto Zone) and if I didn't find a solution, that I would go to a truck tire service facility tomorrow and get long valve stems installed.

At Auto Zone, I found something that looks like it may work. They are 1 1/4 inch stainless steel valve extenders without caps but have the type of end that allows you to check the pressure or add air without removing a cap. Maybe they would be long enough to allow enough room to get the pressure gauge seated.

Sure enough, they work! I simply take off the valve stem cap on the tire, screw on the extender and check the pressure. Then I can remove the extender and put the original cap on. This takes a little longer that having a real valve stem that I can check whenever I need to, but it will work for now. When I replace the tires, or save enough money, maybe I'll invest in something more permanent.

That done, it's time to get fuel. I definitely don't want to save that until Friday night. Pam wants to ride with me for that so off we go to Fairview to McCoys Exxon; where gas is "down" to $2.84 per gallon. It only took 64 gallons. I make a note of the milage in my log book so I can check gas mileage on our trip.

While I was fueling up, someone spoke to me. It was Jerry Hinson, a friend of my Dad and Mom. He and his wife Georgia had a 5th Wheel and made a 9000 mile trip a few years ago. Some time back the sold it and bought a house in Ocean Lakes CG at Myrtle Beach. He walked around admiring our Bounder, talking about how he wanted a MH now that his fiver was gone. That made me feel a little better about the fuel bill.

Earlier in the day, while I was checking the tires, Pam was cooking. She cooked up several cassaroles and a baked spaghetti dish, put them in indivual serving containers, and put them in the freezer in the house. Now we will have ready made dinners for our first few nights on the road. We'll stop at Wal-Mart later in the week to complete the grocery buying, and stock up on all the items we'll need for the first week.

Now all that is left to do next week is add our clothes and bathroom stuff. Hopefully by Friday night all I will have to do is hook up the Civic and Saturday morning we'll be ready to ride!

I hope we can get fuel on the way out there!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Busy Saturday

Today was a very busy day. I had a ton of stuff to get done, and on top of that it was a very hot and humid day.

First, I needed to get the Civic to the Honda Doc. Thats where I get all of the work done on both of our Hondas...the Civic and Pam's '99 Accord.

I mentioned before that there was some type of grinding sound comming out from under the hood. But I stopped worrying too much about it when I found that if I turn on the air conditioner, the noise stops. I figured that it was just an air conditioner thing. Then I started thinking about some of the isolated areas we may be visiting in New Mexico, and worried that a break down there could be a real problem. So, a trip to Honda Doc.

By 10 AM, the pully was fixed and I'm on my way. Then to Small Bros for a tire rotation. They are a tire dealer in Monroe, and also my Cousins and Aunt. That done, it was over to Outerbelt Lube to get the oil changed. And back home by Noon.

Now to install the MaxAir vent cover. All went as expected. It was really easy to install. Just put the vent cover over the vent you want to cover, mark the spot for the bracket holes, drill the holes in the vent, install the mounting brackets and then attach the cover. All done in about 20 - 30 minutes. Only one little problem - this big vent cover that I thought I had to buy wouldn't fit. It has such a large overhang to the rear of the vent that it was blocked by the AC cover next to the vent.

I ended up installing it over the bathroom vent, not the kitchen vent where I wanted it. It will work there and allow the bathroom vent to be used even when it's raining. And now that I know the secret of the self tapping screws, I will get one of the standard roof vent covers later.

Next comes the RV wash. Bucket, brushs, water hose, soap. One hour later, its done. And it was really dirty even though we have not really been anywhere. It has just been so dry here, and with all of the dust, it was really a mess. There was actually a lot of black grime on the slideout covers, and they looked 100% better when they were good and clean.

But I am still wondering what I am going to do to check the tire pressure.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Toad Wiring (Continued)

Tonight I got home early enough to get out to the Bounder with the test meter and try to figure out which wires do what with the turn signals and break lights. Doing this by myself takes a little patience, but it can be done.

First, let me say that I DID look in the owners manual for the schematic for the trailer wiring adapter. No luck from the Ford Manual or the Fleetwood Manual.

Next find the ground terminal. Find a clean bolt or something on the chassis for one meter probe, and then touch each of the blades in the trailer connector one by one. BINGO! Make a note of it. and go to the next step.

Start the Bounder and put on the left turn signal. Then back to the trailer connector, touch the negative probe to the ground and touch each of the blades in turn. Find it and note it.

Then go through each of the other turn signals, the break lights, and tail lights in turn. The hard part is doing this by myself. How do I push the break pedal and check the rear of the coach at the same time? Answer: the big Fleetwood satchel that contains all of the documentation and papers for all of the items that are in the coach. It must weigh 5 pounds. So I push the break pedal and put that satchel on top of it. It works! Now run back to the back and see which blade in the connector has the break light connection.

Ok, thats all done. The breaklights are run through the Center connection on the trailer adapter. Now I take the 5 wires from the 5-4 combiner, skin the wires and attach them to the 7 blade adapter.

Then, I take the 4 wire flat adapter and skin the wires back about 1/2 inch and connect them to the appropriate wires comming out of the 5-4 combiner. I used crimp style butt connectors to make the splice nice and neat, then wrapped it with electrical tape.

Plug it all in and IT WORKS! No more magnetic mouse ear lights to deal with.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Toad Wiring

I stopped at Northern Tool and Equipment tonight on the way home from work. They pretty much have everything you need for trailers, towing, hitches, light kits, etc.

I ended up getting a couple of items that I thought would work for me. The first thing is a 5 to 4 "Combiner/Adapter" According to the package, it provides conversion and isolation for tow vehicles that have separate amber turn signals and red break lights. It is a neat water proof little package with 5 wires in and 4 out. Apparently it has a diode in it that keeps feedback from getting back into the MH wiring, while converting it to the 4 wire connector that is on the Civic.

The other item I bought is a 7 blade adapter that I can wire myself. Now all I need to do is figure out which blades on the Bounder's trailer connector operate the various lights. Then it will just be a matter of connecting the wires.

I will have to get my test meter out tomorrow when I have the time.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Getting Organized

I am going to have to get things organized or we'll be sitting here at midnight before we go with all this stuff to do! I did manage to get the MaxAir vent covers exchanged for one that is supposed to work with the power vents we have on the Bounder. Know what? When I got it home, (it because the one made specifically for the power vent is 4 times the cost of the regular model) I found that the only difference in the mounting hardware is this: the one "designed" for the power vent uses self tapping screws and has a warning not to pre-drill the screw holes into the fan components! Thats it. If I had known that, I would have kept the original vent cover and just gotten the screws from Lowes.

Whats worse, I still can not check the tire pressure in the outside rear tire. I did get two of the littley 2 inch almost U shaped valve extenders. I do not plan on leaving them permanently attached due to the stories I have heard about the leakage problems with add on valve extenders. But at least I thought the small ones could be attached to check pressure and then removed. But NO. They dont work either. The slot in the wheel cover is so small that the U shaped extender would not fit through it. It is not really U shaped but a little less than that. I may have to resort to taking off the wheel covers to check pressure. I usually just check pressure before a trip, then check it by hitting the tires with a heavy plastic covered hammer that I have.

I did get my Civic light kit on today and will be able to do away witht he "Mickey Mouse Ear" magnetic lights that I have. A&B Truck and Trailer in Matthews NC installed the kit. I started by asking for a diode kit, but the guys at A&B convinced me that I should just add an additional set of lights inside the lens housing. I made sure that I told them that the Bounder has separate amber turn signals and red break lights. They said that I might be have to use some sort of adapter or just "play" with the wiring on the Bounder to get it to work with the 4 wire flat adapter that they wired the Civic with.

Sure enough when I hooked up the 4 flat connector to the 4 flat adapter that I had used with the old Coachmen MH, the Civic turn signals worked but not the break lights. Oh well, looks like another trip to Northern Tool to get the adapters I need.

Northern has anything you need for trailers, towing, hitches, and just about everything else you could possibly need for towing. Maybe they'll have some kind of valve extender that will work too!

Looks like tomorrow night I'll have to stop a Northern on the way home.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Trip to Camping World

There is a ton of stuff to get done prior to leaving in 2 weeks. I have been pretty lazy in getting things organized. Last night I made a list of things that had to be done... It included getting the lights wired on the Civic so I don't have to use the "Mickey Mouse Ear" magnetic lights any longer. They work ok, but they just take too much time to put on, run the wire to the hitch, and hook up. Then you have to do all that in reverse when you arrive. Other things I need to do: Put a MaxAir vent cover on the Bounder vents, check my tire pressure, change the oil (maybe), and then there are several things the Civic needs too.. oil change, check the strange sound that has started coming from under the hood, rotate tires... seems like the list goes on and on.

I decided to go to Camping World in Statesville NC, about a 90 minute drive from home. I called my Dad last night and asked him to ride along with me. He just returned from a disaster relief mission in Gulfport MS after hurricane Katrina, so I thought he may be a little tired from that. But he decided he needed a trip to Camping World too. (He and Mom have a Southwind 32.)

The trip was a success, I purchased 2 of the MaxAir vents and a tire pressure gauge that looked like it would be accurate and easy to read. We also checked out the diesel pushers that Holiday Kamper center had in stock. They share the lot with the Camping World.

When I got home with the items, the reality set in. I had not done my homework! The Maxair vents would not fit on my vents... the vents in the Bounder both have power fans built in the upper part of the vent, making it impossible to mount the standard vent covers I bought.

Not only that, but I still can not check my tire pressure! The problem is this. The valve stems on the outside rear tires are hidden behind the wheel cover, and the small oval slots in the wheel covers to not allow the tire pressure gauge to get to the stem. I have now tried 2 different pressure gauges, one that is a standard truck tire type gauge, and the one from CW. I'll either have to take the wheel covers off or install valve stem extenders. But I have heard that some of the valve extenders do not stay secure causing air leakage. What to do?

I'll really have to get organized next week.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Trip Planning

This is the first blog that I have attempeted to put together. When I was thinking about how it would look, I was thinking that the articles would be presented from first to last so you could read top to bottom in order. Now I see that the latest comes first. Oh well, I'll get used to it

I mentioned in the first post that I had a couple of books to help me plan this trip. When you only have a limited amount of time to be there, you want to get all you can out of it while not making it too exhausting at the same time. It IS a vacation, remember?

Here is our proposed route from Monroe to New Mexico and back.

The first book I looked for was one called "Scenic Drives of New Mexico". Previously on a trip to Arizona, I had come across this series of books, and it was a great help in seeing the things of interest in AZ. These little books show a number of day trips that range in length from 10 miles to over 100 miles in length. And the author describes the things of interest and places to stop, eat and in some cases places to stay and campgrounds.

Another helpful book is the Moon Handbooks - New Mexico. These books detail places of interest and things to do.. not so much the standard list of hotels, resturants, etc.

So here is a map of the state of New Mexico with the route we intend to take shown as the yellow marks on the map

Now I know that some of you reading this may be wondering whats the big deal here... it's only a 3 week trip to NM! Well, I am not retired and am not a fulltimer. For us this is a big deal.

I have been to the Southwest US a few times before.. both in RV and not in RVs. The Southwest is really a special place, expecially for a couple from the SouthEAST US. There everything is always green and humid. Going to the SW is a real change for us, and I want to make the most of it.

Besides that, I enjoy the planning aspect of putting together a trip like this. Reading, studying maps, finding out of the way places to visit, interesting places to eat interesting food is all a part of the fun of the trip.

There are several internet Forums that are quite helpful too. I have included them in the links section on the right side of this page. The RV Forum and RV Net are very helpful. Questions are usually answered quickly. And you know RVers.. they always have an opinion and don't mind sharing.

Getting Started

This is the first post that I have added to this blog. I hope you all enjoy following us on our trip to the Southwest USA.... mainly the beautiful state of New Mexico.

Thanks for joining our trip.

Please feel free to add your comments or email us at the following address.


This is a picture of our traveling home. It is a Fleetwood Bounder. The car we take with us is a 1990 Honda Civic.. our toad - because it is "toad" behind our motor home.

We have been RVing in one way or another for the past 15 years or so. If you want a little more background on our RV past, please click here for our RV History.

Here is a picture of Pam and Bobbi in the Bounder. This picture was made on the way home from our may trip to Savannah GA.

That trip was very enjoyable. We stayed at the Whispering Pines CG near Rincon GA. Here we are at the Tybee Island Lighthouse near Savannah.

Please be sure to check out some of our vacation pictures by clicking the "Chuck and Pam's Pictures" link on the right.

Traveling with Pets.

We have never had an inside pet that we would consider having to travel with us. About two years ago, our son rescued a tiny kitten that was abandoned by its mother during a severe storm. We nursed it back to life, keeping it warm and feeding it kitten formula from an eye dropper until it could eat on its own. As they say, "you don't adopt a cat, cats adopt you". This was the case with Bobbi. Since she is an indoor cat that always uses her litter box, we decided to take her on our camping trips with us. The first trip to Savannah was about a 5 hour drive. We had tried to get Bobbi accustomed to the Bounder by letting her start with short visits there, and getting longer each time. But when we began the trip to Savannah, she jumped on Pam's lap under a blanket and would not move, staying there the entire trip down. In the campground, she slowly got back to normal. On the trip back she was a little more comfortable. On subsequent trips she has gotten more and more comfortable. She is a little apprehensive at the beginning of each trip, but quickly warms up to the idea and has become a pretty good little Kamping Kitty (sorry KOA.)

The only concern we had about Bobbi in the RV is the open access to the area under the bed. Since the bed is a slideout, I was concerned that she would get under there and get into some kind of trouble. Perhaps it is nothing to worry about, but I did decide to make a minor modification to keep her from getting in there. More info on our Kitty Safe Bed Slide,modification is on our Miscelaneous stuff page

New Mexico

In May of 2005 we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, so we thought we would try to take a major trip in the Bounder. We decided to take a couple of weeks to visit New Mexico. I began planning the trip and trying to decide what we could see in two weeks.

Initially, I was thinking more "road trip"... moving from place to place on a daily basis. But with the climbing cost of fuel, and the narrow mountain roads that may be part of the NM visit, I decided to take the Civic and use a few spots as a base camp for touring the surrounding areas. Santa Fe seemed to be a good option for one stop. Additionally, we want to see some of northwest NM, southwest NM and of course Carlsbad.

Next came a stop at the AAA to pick up maps and AAA tour books for the area. I also purchased a couple of books "Sceinic Driving New Mexico", and "Moon Handbooks New Mexico". Both are very good in that they do not just list lodging and restaurants like some other books do, but actually provide a tour guide for things to see and do.

Another invaluable source are some of the RV Forums available on the internet: The Open Road Forum http://www.rv.net/forum/ and the RV Forum http://www.rvforum.net/ . In both of these forums, my questions about NM brought good and helpful responses (with a few exceptions!)

It was also a way to make some new friends. We have begun to exchange regular email with several people that responded to my questions on the forums. Thats the great thing about RVing: meeting new people and making new friends.

I was also able to spend an extra week in NM thanks to the wonders of Wi-Fi and cell phones. Most of my work is conducted over the phone and on the computer. By finding an RV park with Wi-Fi high speed internet access, I am going to be able to work from the Bounder. The second week of our trip will include the Columbus Day holiday, so I will only have to work 4 days that week. If we get to the RV park on Monday afternoon, we can stay there until Saturday morning and get in 4 days of work, then back to vacation. We'll see how that works.

Then after seeing some of the great blogs that RVers have posted on the internet, I decided to try this blog site. I thought it would be fun to keep family and friends up to date on where we are and send pictures as we go.

So thats about enough for an introduction - now lets see how this blog stuff will work out!