Sunday, August 29, 2021

Rock and Roll Damage On the Road

Kenisee Lake, OH.    High: 88.  Low: 70.      Site: B-3 pull thru

pull thru site at Kenisee Lakes Thousand Trails, Jefferson OH

RVing people always say driving an RV on our nation's highways is like driving your home thru an earthquake and they aren't kidding! We see some of the worst roads/highways out there, and see firsthand our infrastructure is in great need of improvement. Sometimes we try to ask other RVers, "How did you get here? What route did you use? How are the roads?" So we try to do the best we can to get thru sections that are very very bad sometimes,  because it's the only route readily available to get from point A to point B. You have no idea how bad an "earthquake" is until something turns up on the rig. Usually we see it inside--like a lampshade that totally comes unscrewed and falls down from the bumps and potholes in the roads, or the stuff that comes crashing out of the fridge when you open the door, (not anymore, Sparky has plastic clear bins inside the fridge to contain any breakables), or the pantry unloads itself when you open the door. (Not any more, Sparky uses recycled cardboard pieces inside the shelf ledges to keep things from jumping out at her when she opens the door.) OK, we give....what happened, Sparky?

So Eldy was walking around the coach a couple of days ago, and he noticed that two of the rear wheels on the back of the rig were very close together, closer than the same pair on the other side. He didn't think too much about it, but it persisted in his mind. Yesterday, he eyeballed the wheels that were close, and thought geez, those seem to be even closer. They were about an inch apart from touching each other, and the normal distance is 4 inches or more. He decided to get underneath and look, no easy feat. And here is what he saw---

A bracket that holds the springs and helps the coach's suspension and ride had broken and a big chunk of it was missing. This is what it's SUPPOSED to look like.

We just had the bearings packed back in Wells, Maine, and the mobile tech repair guy had the tires off. He didn't say anything about the broken bracket, so we were thinking that it might have broken off more recently. BUT--with the pieces that were showing, the broken edges were completely rusted, so had it been that way for awhile? We weren't sure. Now, we were worrying that it might not be safe to drive. We could hit another bump, the wheels could rub closer together, start a fire, the rotation of the wheels could send one of them right up into the frame of the rig causing tremendous damage at highway speeds. Time to find a repair guy or a mobile tech, someone who could tell us what to do and if we should drive.

We contacted the front office at the Kenisee Lakes Thousand Trails park, asked us what kind of problem we were having, and the manager gave us the name of a reputable shop in town, a body shop. Not only that, but she reworked the schedule despite having a full park and managed to get us a three day extension. We contacted Steve Mihely, of Mihely's Body Shop, he came out on a Saturday and confirmed that it needed to be repaired before driving a long distance. He asked how long we were staying at the park, and when he heard we had traveling plans, trying to leave Monday or Tuesday, told us to bring it into the shop on SUNDAY, the very next day.

We asked, are you sure? We felt badly that he would work on a Sunday afternoon, but he insisted he was so busy during the week, he would have a better chance of devoting his time to our problem without so many interruptions. So, we drove over to Mihelys in Jefferson, Ohio, a tiny town, but with a really good auto body shop. The shop was large and clean and he graciously cleared his schedule temporarily to get to our problem. Here's what we learned:

Jayco Pinnacles have grease bearings in the Lippert chassis frame behind the wheels that need maintenance. Here are two near the Morryde suspension.There are more along the frame that need grease. Mr. Mihely greased everything in sight for us.

We didn't know this, and it's not in the the manual that Eldy read from front to back. Steve, the repair guy, thinks the bracket broke because of a manufacturing defect (Eldy's brother, an engineer who works for Morryde confirmed this) where the bracket was improperly welded AND there was no grease in the bearings that allowed the springs to push back and forth. Since there was no fluidity in the grease joint, the metal was grating on metal (like bad knees, right, Eldo?) and the pressure of bumps and jumps on the road caused the weld to break easily. It wasn't reinforced enough with enough welds to begin with from the factory. It was really scary what COULD have happened driving down the road....the tires eventually rubbing together, one breaking off from the spring and bouncing up into the frame, a fire starting from the friction of the tires, oh, my!

When Mr. Mihely released the tire, the bracket shifted even further. Yikes! It wasn't being held on by much.

Three and half hours later, we had a beautiful repair on the bracket. Without trying to get new parts which would have taken God knows how long, he fabricated extra steel for reinforcement, cleaned and buffed the existing pieces, then plated it, welded it and painted it. It looks BETTER than new!

The price was VERY reasonable, and we feel much safer now that it is fixed. We jokingly told him we'd be back next year for the other side, not unlike one of his customers that keeps getting tree damage to the top of their RV roof! We will certainly keep watch on the other side, now that we know what to look for, and we will keep greasing the points he showed us on the frame. There's so much on an RV that you can't see that will show itself eventually--water damage, water leaks, pests chewing wires, you just never know. But, that's part of RVing life, dealing with the unknowns that become known over time, and you just have to take it in stride, and try to be vigilant about things that don't look or smell right, same as you would with a sticks and bricks house...With today's part shortage of all kinds of things, we were so lucky that Steve Mihely was able to help us and get us back on the road in a very short period of time. Thank you, Steve! And a big thank you to Thousand Trails Keniseee Lake for the recommendation and the extension.

Eldy says this is a known problem for Lippert suspensions/frames. They really need to work on better manufacturing methods to secure their suspensions and frames! Most chassis out there are manufactured by Lippert so we are hoping that this helps someone else avert a potentially dangerous problem by posting about it.

Tomorrow, we leave for Indiana...we're going to see Eldy's family briefly, and Sparky MIGHT get to get back on the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail in Shipshewanna....maybe some crack donuts from Rise and Roll Bakery, a trip to Lolly's Fabric Store....and...(SPARKY! Slow down! we're only there for two days, sighs E.) Right....See you later!


Friday, August 27, 2021

A Hop, Skip and a Jump Back to the Midwest...

We left Maine this week and headed towards the midwest...we're going to be in move mode for shorter stays in the area for the next few weeks, mainly because we are not using our membership parks where we are headed because there aren't any!

We had a tough drive from Maine to Timothy Lakes South in E. Stroudsburg, PA. We ran into major construction delays on the way which delayed us over an hour, and we sat in a truck stop behind a car carrier for about 20 minutes before a kind trucker came over and said, "Lady, you're going to be here all night. That pump is not working and the driver is probably asleep in his rig." So we moved over to another lane. When you are a Big Boy, (big fifth wheel RV) you have to get fuel with the big boy truckers. Sparky is always in awe of the big trucks and how agile the drivers make it seem driving them. 

But we made it! We stayed at Timothy Lake South for three nights. The mosquitoes and bugs were pretty bad. But the deer were great. We had the same spot as our last stay and there is a deer trail that the deer travel every evening, behind our rig! 

Sparky tried to go bike riding, but the McDade Recreational Trail was severely flooded right at the beginning from recent storms so she gave up when the water flooded up to her bike chain! It's not an easy trail, anyway...large loose gravel in many spots, significant ascents and descents. It follows the Delaware River for quite a ways, so it is a pretty trail in many places. Gotta have good tires---hybrid bike or mountain bikes recommended!

Instead, Sparky went back to Bushkill Falls, a privately owned park with EIGHT waterfalls. It's well worth the 14.00 senior entry fee (17.00 for adults normally) to hike all over the park. 

There are several trails there, and the Red Trail is a great hike for cardio...TONS of stairs and lots of boulders, tree roots, and ankle busters if you're not careful. Sparky loves those kinds of trails, they are a true workout! 

The Red Trail in parts

(Sparky is a little weird that way, explains Eldo. Some day she is going to trip, or badly twist her ankle and that will slow her down!) HUMPH! The Red Trail also has some flat terrain, but not much. Sparky had a discussion with some other hikers about how trails are designated--moderate, strenuous, etc. We mutually decided the Red Trail was strenuous. But that label depends on: 1. your age, 2. your agility and 3. your knees, haha.

So off she went on the Red Trail. She got in about 3.5 miles with a bazillion steps up and down, up and down a complex series of stairs and elevation changes to see all eight waterfalls. There is a complex series of stairs, boardwalks and bridges all around the park. They are constructed entirely of lumber and are very well built.

NOTE:  Part of the Red Trail is currently under repairs (8/25/21) so you have to turn back and redo all the stairs after 1.5 miles or pick up another trail. Sparky redid the trail back. 

Heart rate up to 146 bpm and dangerously dehydrated as she dumbly thought, "I'll just get water at the end of the hike." Sparky felt a little dizzy at this point. (SPARKY! I have told you to be sure to take water with you! worries E.) So she took her time getting back and once past all the stairs, she felt better. But definitely will have water next time. She didn't like the way she felt. Legs were a little wobbly, too. It was 88 degrees but lots of shade so Sparky thought she'd be ok. Just be forewarned, TAKE WATER! Don't be like Sparky.

The waterfalls were AMAZING! Pennsylvania had received some severe storms and an abundance of rain from Hurricane Henri, so the volume of water was intense, far more than the last time Sparky hiked the trails at Bushkill Falls. 

Canyon walls hug the trails in many spots. They were covered with ferns and little sprigs of wildflowers. So beautiful! The park was fairly empty first thing when they opened at 9:00, but by noon, the parking lot was overflowing. It's a popular place for visitors. You can see why! The water must have a lot of tannins in it that leach from the trees, like up at Tahquamenon Falls in Michigan?

One more cool thing...there is a portion of the Red Trail where people have made a little "park" of cairns--those rock pile towers that mark trails. Usually they are on the ground right where you need to follow a trail in a different direction. A new trend might be starting here?....a little rock cairn in the fork of a tree!

The trail was muddy and wet from the recent rains in a lot of places. 
Sparky was here..footprint on the right

But Sparky soldiered on. Gotta get that exercise in for the day. She made it! It was great! And look at this beautiful leaf just waiting to be noticed....Fall is around the bend, Sparky's favorite season.....

And with that last hike, we prepared to leave the next day for Kenisee Lake, a Thousand Trails park in Ohio, in Ashtabula County, home of many covered bridges. Another long drive, over 377 miles which took us about 7 hours with a fuel stop, and we made it to a great pull through site at this very nice park. The park is in the middle of nowhere, farm country, but the sites are REALLY long and spacious and there are very few bugs and mosquitoes because now we are out in the open! We will be here a little longer than we thought, as we discovered possibly BIG problem underneath our rig...Stay tuned and we will let you know what happened in the next blog. RVing is ALWAYS an adventure with Sparky and Eldo!

Kenisee Lake, Ohio

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Our Last Week in Wells, Maine

Wells, Maine. Moody Beach.   High: 73  Low: 54!   Site: 309 (new section)

We have just a few days remaining of our three weeks stay in Wells, Maine. We have really enjoyed the temperatures and escaped most of the the bad heat pummeling the rest of the country. We had a couple of really hot days, around 90, but then a nice cool down came. Yay!

Sparky hiked Mt. Agamenticus, a "mountain", with some really nice RVing friends we met at one of our last RV parks at Batesville, IN, Donna and Ken Grenier. Although Wells is a coastal seafaring town with beautiful beaches, it DOES have some hiking in the area besides an abundance of walking trails, and Mt. Amenticus fits the bill. It is about 10 miles from the RV park.

Mt. Agamenticus is 692 feet high, and is known to the locals as the "Big A". It used to be a ski area in the 70's, and you can see the remnants of the ski slope equipment "buried" in the hillsides as you hike a variety of trails in and around to get to the summit. 

Before it was a ski destination, it was known to local sailors as a landmark. On a good day, it is said that you can see the skyscrapers of Boston to the south, the Presidential Range, including Mt. Washington, to the west. Today it was hazy but you had a 360 degree view to look at all the elevations of hills and mountains in the area.

The hike was listed as "moderate". It's always hard to describe a hike--how do they decide what is "moderate" anyway? Is it the elevation change? The terrain? It depends on how fit you are, how old, er, how YOUNG you are, what the terrain is like AND what are the elevation changes and how quickly do they change.  We definitely agreed that it was moderate, maybe headed towards strenuous. But Sparky is in her 70's, so someone in their fifties in great shape who is sure footed would say, "Aw, it was really pretty easy, really." We all definitely were sweating and getting some cardio in. 
There are several ways of getting to the top, and several different types of trails, somewhat easier than others. Our downhill trek was over LOTS of rocks and smooth boulders which would be hazardous if they were wet, say after a rain. 

Sparky's middle brother, Rich, and his wife Lisa, came for a quick weekend visit. He treated us to an AMAZING gourmet dinner at a local restaurant called Cape Arundel Inn in Kennebunkport. You have an outstanding view of the ocean and you can see President Bush's summer compound from just about any seat in the restaurant. It was VERY expensive, but the most amazing food we have ever tasted. Sparky had the Colorado beef, and Eldo had the lobster. The restaurant was so fancy, they had multiple waiters bringing the food around to each person, and telling you the ingredients for each plate, plus the waiter "crumbing" the table, scraping little crumbs off your table after each course with a little combing brush. Sparky tried not to be too messy.

(Can you tell Sparky likes her meat extra extra rare? asks Eldo.) Yep, been eating beef that way all my life. Extra, extra rare. Used to sneak raw hamburger from the family fridge, sprinkle Lawry's seasoned salt on it, a little bit of pepper and Worcestershire sauce and a little bit of onion. Steak tartar anyone? Never had any stomach problems of any kind. (Sparky! You're going to gross someone out! warns E.)  Oops, sorry! Back to the blog. How about this amazing looking lobster dinner that Eldy had?
Thank you, Rich and Lisa for a fabulous dinner, and it was wonderful to see you!

Sparky continued to regularly bike the Eastern Greenway bike trail, the section that starts from a little spur trail behind Kennebunk Elementary School, goes up over the I-95 highway on a big overpass, then into some beautiful woods for about six miles before ending in Biddeford, ME. From there the trail goes out onto the local streets which Sparky doesn't care to do. You can pick up the trail again in Saco a few miles further and it goes back off road for over 20 (?) miles  where you can ride out to the Bug Light Lighthouse in Portland. Sparky would like to do that next time! Sparky did a few doubles on the trail for 22 miles each time. The trail is excellent--no gravel, no potholes, it's pretty level. It's packed dirt and sand and is shady most of the way. Beautiful forest on both sides for most of the trail. Deer were never spotted, which was surprising, but three humongous Tom turkeys crossed the trail one day. They were beautiful!

And of course, Sparky continued to take lots of walks to the big, beautiful beaches at 
Wells and Ogunquit, about a mile from the park. The beaches actually were crowded the last week, with lots of families getting in quality time before school starts, which is after Labor Day. Water temperature has been consistently about 68 degrees most days. Br-r-r-r-r...The Thousand Trails Moody Beach RV park provides a shuttle daily to and from Footbridge Beach, a really nice beach, for 2.50 round trip. That's a really nice amenity for a Thousand Trails park!
Ogunquit Beach

With that, we say goodbye to Wells, Maine in a couple of days. Next, we head back to Pennsylvania to a previous Thousand Trails park we have stayed in before, as we work our way back to the midwest....Take care of yourselves, stay healthy, and we will see you on the road next time.....

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Back to the Beach! Wells, Maine

Thousand Trails, Moody Beach, Wells, Maine.  High: 76  Low: 55
Site: 309

Well, we are back in Wells...Maine, that is...We are working our park membership so that we don't have to pay expensive campsite prices! Three weeks here for free (well, 8.00 a night unofficially with membership dues) but it's no additional money out of pocket. We love that. When you think about paying 79.00 a night here in this park if you are NOT a member, in coastal Maine this close to beaches and cute towns, you can easily pay your dues in that one three week stay here. We scored a corner site in the new section which is out in the open, but very easy back in and very nice level gravel sites. Because the temperatures are really nice in the seventies, we don't mind being out in the open exposed as opposed to angling back in the woods and dodging trees and stumps in the forest section. The park facilities are excellent. Beautiful new showers and restrooms, a nice pool, nice laundry room. The staff is super friendly and helpful. 

Sparky loves the beach walks every mile to the beach from the RV park, a mile or two at the beach, then back for the return mile. The beach is different every day...Always something new washing up....this time it was a trail of little pearly bi-valve seashells, the shells were all closed. If anyone knows what these are, Sparky would love to know. They were a beautiful! The trail extended for a mile along the beach, forming a wavy line. 

You can see this beautiful lady on your walk if you do the Moody Beach walk.  Both ladies--the house and the weather vane (the pointing lady holding a flag) are gorgeous. Can't figure out if this is a house carved into a bunch of rental units or a single family dwelling, but the beach is lined with these HUGE houses. This house has the best and most unusual weather vane. Sorry about the smallness of her, Sparky needs to bring her bigger camera on her beach walks.

Sparky loves looking at everything! Footprints especially. Is this one coming or going? Looks like he skidded in for a landing!

It's amazing all the people who walk the beach in a day. But because the beach is so huge when the tide is out, you don't see all the people as they walk all different times of the day so you don't see the crowd that made all these footprints!
It's fun to see what families make in the sand. Glad sandcastles are still being made at the beach! This one is pretty cool and ambitious!

Sparky can't figure out the lifeguard schedule. Sometimes they are there, sometimes at the same time of day, they are not. Is this guy looking at his phone???? Hope not! Granted, some days there is no one in the water, but today there were quite a few brave ones, with the temperature of the water at a brisk 64 degrees! You can't see the people swimming here, but they are out there.
It was a beautiful day to be out walking, that's for sure...can't beat these Maine August temperatures. When the rest of the country is sweltering, here we are in Maine with seventies USUALLY during the day, fifties and sixties at night. Love it! 

Not much else going on right now...we are going to enjoy our stay here and avoid traffic on Highway 1 right outside the park as much as possible. Sparky will ride the Eastern Greenway Trail for a few miles on her bike to keep the chains from rusting. We will revisit some of our favorite places to eat--Hobb's Harborside, The Maine Diner, The Omelette Factory, and just enjoy the wonderful weather for the next couple of weeks. Unless something exciting happens, you might not hear from us for a little bit. RVing is not ALWAYS the latest tourist attraction or restaurant meal, but meeting new friends, relaxing and enjoying the different locations we find ourselves in. Sometimes it's the mountains and hiking trails, sometimes it's the beach or the forest. Sometimes it's just a quiet park with lovely nature to view and cherish. Sometimes it's visiting family all over the country! We love this lifestyle and hope we can do it for a long time. We will see you next time!