06-08-2015 Blowout on the way to Brookings

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon Sunny and warm at 79 F

Ah yes, every RV’rs worst nightmare.  Believe it or not, it wasn’t nearly as terrible as you might expect. 

blowout on 199 (4 of 10) Finally, after a couple of months of working on projects, preparing and recuperating from surgery, and enjoying our little Mattie, Mo and I headed for the beach.  We wanted to go to Harris Beach State Park for several reasons.  We love it there.  Judy is volunteering there this summer.  It is only a 2 hour drive from the Grants Pass cottage. 

As soon as I knew when Judy was going to be working, I made a reservation.  That was two months ago, and it is a good thing I did.  Seems as though Harris Beach is fairly popular in the summertime.  I realized as I looked back that we haven’t actually visited very often during the summer months.  Both of us know that the coast is often just the opposite of inland when it comes to temperatures, and summer fogs are common.  I warned Judy about that.  When people refer to Brookings as the “Banana Belt” of the Oregon Coast, they are usually talking about those gorgeous sunny days in December that can sometimes reach the 80’s while the rest of Oregon is cold and rainy.  Mattie at the Beach (13 of 22)

Summertime, however, is a different story.  Hot inland, cold at the coast.  Chilly inland, warmer at the coast.  Oregon was in the midst of some record breaking heat last week, so we expected it to be cooler in Brookings.

The day we drove west, however, last Monday June 8, was hot and gorgeous just about everywhere.  We left early enough to arrive around 1, even though check in time is technically 2pm.  blowout on 199 (5 of 10)

The winding drive from Cave Junction to Hiochi along Scenic Highway 199 next to the Smith River is impressive.  Lots of curves, drop offs, gorgeous views of turquoise pools far below the cliffs adjacent to the highway.  The very narrow highway.highway 199

BOOM!!  on a curve, with a vertical cliff upward on the passenger side, and another vertical cliff down to the river on the driver’s side, that boom wasn’t something we were expecting.  It was LOUD.  and SCARY.  Adrenalin pumping, Mo had no trouble keeping the rig going forward and we realized that the blowout must have been an inside dual.  We slowed way down and crawled to the closest turnout, which happened to be on the other side of the road going the opposite direction.   tire 1

No cell service.  Not a hint.  Nada.  Sure does make us appreciate that we have a toad!  Mo unhooked (this surgery recuperation thing is a true pain, I can’t lift the hitch for another couple of months) and I drove off west to find a spot with a signal.

blowout on 199 (2 of 10) Calling AAA wasn’t a problem until the dispatcher (someone somewhere in a far off state with a very difficult accent) said that AAA can’t change an inside dual, and that we would have to be towed.  Where did we want to go.  I told her several times I didn’t have cell service, but it didn’t click and she kept saying she would call me to keep us updated.  Nope.

Instead I drove back a few miles to Mo and the waiting rig where we were conveniently parked in the shade in one of the prettiest spots on the entire route.  Many times as we have passed this turnout we have wanted to stop, but usually it is full so we haven’t done it.  Shade, a view, no cell service, but who cares.  It is a gorgeous afternoon and we have a reservation so we can be as late as we need to be.  Whew. 

blowout on 199 (6 of 10) Within an hour a van pulled up, with a guy who said AAA sent him out to find us since they couldn’t reach us by phone.  He couldn’t change the tire, but he also said that we could obviously not be towed because we had a flat tire!.  He said that Les Schwab in Crescent City could do the change if we were willing to pay for the repair and then get reimbursed by AAA.  Sure.  Another hour went by and the Les Schwab truck showed up, but the guy didn’t realize that our hubs had covers on them and spent a very long time trying to find a lug wrench that would fit over the caps before we realized what he was doing and told him he needed to remove the covers to get to the lugs.

blowout on 199 (8 of 10) After a lot of work, he did manage to get the tire changed, but rather than straighten out the bent mud flap before putting the tires back on, he thought he would just pull the flap down.  Another half an hour went by before he decided he needed to take the tires back off, work at getting the flap untangled, and put the tires back on.  While we were waiting, I enjoyed every little moment of fluttering maple leaves against the brilliant blue skies.  It was an incredibly beautiful day to be sitting outside. By 3:30 we were once again on our way west. blowout on 199 (9 of 10) We at first couldn’t figure out why that tire had failed, and had failed so badly.  This set of tires was a full set of six that Mo got as part of a recall by Michelin in late 2013 just before we went on our three month trip to Florida.  What both of us had forgotten, however, is that back in Florida we had a flat, and the spare was installed in the inside dual position.tire 2 We didn’t find out till the next day in Brookings, when Mo bought a new Michelin tire, that that spare was one of the original tires from the MoHo with a date of 2005.  UhOh.  I guess a tire might fail if it is ten years old. 

We managed to get to Brookings by 5, a little bit worn out, and I walked up to Judy’s spot to let her know we had made it to camp. The next few days were great, with beach time and Judy time and some new places to explore in Brookings that we had never seen. 

But more of that in the next post…


2-27-2014 Traveling North from Key West to Fort Pierce and a flat tire!

Key West_063Our last day in Key West was a day of preparations for traveling north.  We took the opportunity to stock up on some groceries at the commissary, bought supplies at the Exchange, and filled both the MoHo and the Tracker with gas.  The car wash near the camp ground was reasonably priced as well, at a buck and a quarter for several minutes, we cleaned off all that lovely salt air on the MoHo and had time to wipe her down to a nice shine.

Must mention a side note here.  After more than six years on the road, the MoHo paint is as shiny as new, with no oxidation or discoloration.  Something called whole body paint rather than decals makes a big difference, I believe.  Mo uses a simple combination cleaner/wax when washing the rig and we have never put any other kind of wax finish on it.

Alison visits_004Other errands for the day included taking Abby to the groomer to get all that long hair trimmed back.  She was visibly cooler and happier when we picked her up and the price was reasonable as well. Good thing I didn’t read the reviews but it was the only place available and all we needed was a haircut.  The name of the place was “Doggie Style”.  Hmmm. 

I spent the afternoon cleaning the interior and doing laundry, taking a shower, and enjoying the beautiful day before we ambled off to the Sunset Grill for Happy Hour.  Hoping for some coconut shrimp, I was disappointed that that particular menu item wasn’t available, but settled instead for some nice peel and eat shrimp, better for me anyway.

Happy Hour at the Sunset barWe spent some time listening to folks laughing and partying, watching the view of the sun toward the west, but decided that waiting another 90 minutes for the sunset just wasn’t high on our agenda. So glad we left, because walking around the campground we came upon some folks we met earlier in our stay who had managed to snag a great waterfront site after just two days in the park.

Happy Hour at the Sunset Bar at SigsbeeTom and Judy were gregarious folks who know how to make friends quickly and carry on a lively conversation.  We enjoyed every minute of our sunset time with them and exchanged emails and addresses for future get togethers.  Judy’s sunset conch blowing brought out the neighbors with their own conchs and they all created a lovely harmony with the big shells.

The next morning we were on the road early, traveling north again along the Overseas Highway.  I especially loved being high enough in a motorhome that we could see over the road barriers to the gorgeous water.  On this last morning, the skies were cloudy and storms were brewing all along the route, with a few momentary downpours, but nothing extensive.

on the way north_007The route was straightforward, and we had already decided to use the Florida Turnpike to miss the most extensive area of traffic around Miami and Fort Lauderdale. I had no clue what the final cost would be, but checking the website for our Florida SunPass it was about $30 for the route from Homestead to Fort Pierce.  The transponder worked just fine and all four axles were documented with no overcharges or undercharges.

Our reservations at Alexander Springs allowed for one overnight stop somewhere along the route, and with a point on the map, we picked Fort Pierce. Another reason for choosing Fort Pierce for our overnight stay was the convenient access to a Cracker Barrel restaurant at the point where we planned to exit the Turnpike and get on I-95 to continue north.  I called the restaurant and they confirmed that we could stay overnight in the RV parking area so we took a little extra time to explore the small town of Fort Pierce.

on the way north_003There is a small historic area downtown, and a nice Manatee Center near the wharf and beach.  Again, we discovered several parks on the beach that prohibited dogs, but closer to the main beach there was an access area that said not a word about no dogs, so we took Abby out for a run.  The water was rough, the winds strong and the temperatures were quite chilly.  That encouraged the kite surfers, however, and they were out in force.

We arrived at the Cracker Barrel in time to get a nice level spot along the edge of the parking lot and decided on an early supper.  By the time we landed, it was raining misty, so a warm home cooked supper was nice.  Cracker Barrel seems to focus most on home style farm style kinds of food, with things such as meat loaf, pot roast, and mashed potatoes on the menu.  I laughed because we had both green beans and carrots and they were very tasty, but not “tender-crisp”.  They were well cooked and highly seasoned mid-west style, the way our mothers did.

on the way north_011When we walked back out to the MoHo, I noticed a tire seemed low, and a closer inspection revealed a more serious problem. Our passenger side inner dual tire was completely flat!  Whew.  No idea that it was low as we traveled a couple of hundred miles along the turnpike.  We choose not to have sensors because my trucker daughter insists that they cause more problems than they solve.  Don’t need a discussion here, I know lots of readers feel differently.

We couldn’t have had the problem in a better place, all settled in for the night in a safe spot off the road.  I called AAA RV in Oregon, and was routed to a Florida agent who then said someone would be out within an hour.  After the designated time came and went, I called again and was told that there was no one in the vicinity who knew how to do RV tires who was available.  Daughter Deanna, who drives this route often said, “Mom, the Pilot, the Flying J, and the Loves are all right there within a mile of you and they all do truck tire fixes”.  I could have called them, but then I would have had to pay and try to get reimbursed from AAA and didn’t want to do that.

friends 002Instead we just waited, and finally at 10:30 PM, in the rain, our truck repair guy showed up, traveling all the way from Miami, a two hour trip. Yon was all smiles and I couldn’t understand a word that he said, even though he was speaking English.  I also couldn’t imagine how he was going to jack up the rig with just the little bit of equipment he had on his pick-up.  Yon’s smiles came and went and he fought with the jack in the rain, and finally hauled out some kind of hydraulic jack that operated on his air system and got the rig up.

He was also expert at hoisting those tires around, and immediately knew we had a valve stem problem.  I did understand those words.  He was right, and once he got the rig hoisted, within minutes he had the tire off, had the valve stem replaced, and the tire checked and re-inflated and reinstalled.  Quite a guy.

Mo bought all new tires just before this trip, but the tire in this position was the spare, one of the vehicles original tires, and the stem had cracked.  We fell into bed at midnight in the rain, happy that all ended well and our tire repair happened so easily in such a good place.  That kind of good luck with what could be a serious situation just seems to follow Mo around.  Pretty nice.

Kudos to Michelin

Just a quick little update here about our tires.  Mo bought the MoHo in Texas in 2007, and while it was brand new to us, and it had very close to zero miles, the model was 2006, and the chassis was actually from 2005.  The Dynamax brand is considered to be an excellent coach, and we do love it.  The MoHo sat in the hot Texas sun waiting for her new owner, and then we put around 18,000 miles on the rig in the last couple of years.  Just recently Mo noticed that the tires were checked and cracked, and very dangerous.  Buying six light truck e-class tires is not a cheap proposition!  Michelin to the rescue.  After reading the fine print, we found that the tires were still under warranty.  Michelin gave us an 85 percent credit toward the entire set of six!  Delightful!