Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Traveling from Columbus, TX to Tucson....

We left beautiful Colorado River Thousand Trails Sunday...Eldy wanted to avoid some major city traffic through San Antonio and by leaving on a Sunday, we certainly had a great, easy, less stressful drive of 260 miles, just enough to make a dent in the long journey across Texas, which will take us four days. We traveled I-10 all the way except for a small portion of roadway that was the 1604 Loop around San Antonio. There was a TON of construction going on all around the interstate and the highway itself in that area. We have never seen so much building and major projects going on all over the town and its outskirts. But there were NO slowdowns today and we had a great drive all the way here. Interstates are definitely improving across the US. I-10 was quite smooth. 

Pecan Valley RV and Farm Park Site #20

For our first night's destination, we picked Pecan Valley RV and Farm Park. It's a very small park (20 sites?) in Junction, TX, on the river banks of the North Llano River, very close to I-10. Call when you arrive and the owners will guide you to your site and settle up payment with you after you are settled in. It's a beautiful setting and not only is it an RV park, but a little farm as well right by a pecan grove and it's on the North Llano River. They sell pecan goodies at the store and even give you a little free bag of sweetened pecans when you check in. There are goats and chickens on site, and a roaming herd of deer that the owner feeds twice a day at 8:00 and 4:00 with automatic feeders. Sparky feels like we are back at Colorado River! But we're not.

You can swim in the river if you want to, but right now, it's a chilly 53 degrees here. The park is quite empty, so we had no difficulty coming in without a reservation. It gets busy after the holidays so we imagine that it would be a popular destination with a lot of people and you would probably need a reservation. 
Pecan grove on the property but off limits to guests

Sites are limestone gravel combination and because it's an older park (recently acquired by a younger couple who have made lots of improvements) the sites may be a little uneven, but they provide leveling blocks for you! Definitely big rig friendly and the sites are spread out, facing a large grassy area. Some sites have shade and some are close to the river. Each site has 30/50 amp full hookups. Daily rate is 47.00.

There is a very cute little general store (based on the honor system!), where you can buy little specialty food items or some swag. 
inside store

There is a chicken coop, a goat pen, and chickens free roaming all over the park. The park sells fresh eggs (5.00 a dozen) if you would like some. You can feed the chickens if you want as well.

park decorations

North Llano River
It's beautiful down by the river, and when it's hot, you definitely can swim in the river or fish if you want. There is a nearby state park called South Llano River State Park with nice trails.

In the nearby town of Junction, there is a great BBQ place called Lum's. We didn't check it out this time, but we will return to check it out and be sure to see what else is there.

People who come here thinking they are only going to be spending one night (like us) end up saying, "Gee, we should have booked more nights here!" It gets excellent reviews....We can see why, we highly recommend this little park.

Eldy has been watching the weather and the temps. The arctic cold front is extending down into Texas. Look at these temps coming in the next few days to the very area we stopped at this evening!

Our plan is to head about the same number of miles continuing on I-10 towards another Texas stop, yet to be named depending on how many miles we drive. (AHEM! How many miles I drive, laughs E.) Right! Actually, we will probably stop in Balmorhea, TX, a distance of 243 miles. Look at the weather coming in the next couple of days THERE! 

Monday....We had a second excellent driving day today....That is, ELDY had a great driving day. Two hundred forty-five miles, another pleasant drive with very good weather and decent road conditions on I-10 but some significant wind which dampened our fuel mileage. We took a little rest stop break to stretch our legs. The restrooms were open air restrooms, kind of surprising, considering that occasionally  temperatures can get pretty chilly at night. Nice tile mural on the wall!

And we did end up in Balmorhea, TX. Our final stop was at Saddleback Mountain RV Park, in Balmorhea.  The RV park is a no frills park and a great price for 20.00 a night. It's basically a gravel parking lot behind a Valero gas station (diesel 4.89 per gallon). It has a nice view of mountains behind it, and the sites are generously laid out to be long enough for a big rig and tow car. They are also attractively lined with stones and cactus plants in about half of the sites. It's a very informal process for checking in. Drive in, pick your site, deposit 20.00 in an envelope in a drop box by a little yellow cabin/house and that's it.
Sparky walked around a little bit checking out all the cactus. She likes the name of these cactus plants, below. They remind her of Mickey Mouse ears, but they are called "bunny ears" cactus, informally. They are all over the park along with the common prickly pear cactus.
Bunny Ears Cactus

It was a beautiful evening and a lovely way to end the day....

Tuesday....Driving day 3. We are headed for Lordsburg, New Mexico, a distance of 350 miles. At that point, temps will be right around 27 degrees for a low at night. Although we are a four season coach and can handle temperatures below freezing, Eldo still worries about SOMETHING freezing. There are obvious things you do like unhook your water hose from the rig to the outdoor spigot, and put some water in your inboard tank so you do have a water supply run by a pump motor if it's too cold to hook up to local water. So that's what we did. Sometimes we open up indoor cabinets that have plumbing fixtures so the warm indoor air can flow through those spaces. Most importantly, we make sure we have full propane tanks!

It was another beautiful day to drive...No snow, sleet or rain to worry about this time of year in the southwest. Sparky's favorite portion of the trip today was thru El Paso, TX, because of the amazing architectural features of the city's bridges and underpasses. Truly beautiful and amazing! (Note from Eldy: It was still a LOT of traffic for a Tuesday and it WAS stressful but not my worst driving scenario.)

This underpass was so pretty! Why can't the northern states think about making something beautiful out of something rather ugly like cement bridges and underpasses?
Here is one more of Sparky's favorites on the drive today.....

We picked the Lordsburg KOA park for the distance we needed to travel today. It's another gravel parking lot right off I-10 but in a very poor neighborhood. It's a small park (about 63 sites). There are picnic tables at each site, and sites are mostly level. There are some trees (short in stature so no shade) so the small park is mostly wide open. A little bit of road noise and train noise as tracks run nearby. Wifi is not very good here. AT &T is ok. T-Mobile was terrible. There is a decent family restaurant called Kranberry's within two blocks of the park. We ate supper there as we couldn't put out our kitchen slide and get into the fridge last night. Good home cooked food.

This is the park where we stayed last year when we had a major tire blowout within 2 miles of the park. When we got to the park, we had a LOT of trouble with our jacks coming down. Some negative juju going on here in this location! Haha. The auto level system was not functioning as it should. It wouldn't level the coach. We kept getting "fault" errors, and message errors. The jacks were coming down unevenly and then not at all. We tried retracting them manually and got them back up, but the same problem happened again. We called Lippert's tech support, the manufacturing giant of all things slides and jacks on our rig, and the tech guy tried to talk us through some solutions. He sent us a link to where once we opened it, Sparky used her camera phone to show him where things were and what was going on. He could see what we could see! Kinda like a FaceTime with RV tech support. We were very impressed with the technology and help. There were things we needed that we didn't have, like a voltmeter, jumper cables, and knowledge of where the control module was for the front jacks. We couldn't find it! The tech guy suspects that there is not enough amperage getting to the left front jack, since we tried recalibrating the whole leveling system and were not able to do that with the left front jack still problematic. We don't have a battery charger to check the batteries, (AHEM! We DID have one but Sparky thought it was an air compressor and left it behind back in Elkhart!) but we did get them tested in Elkhart and the charge was A-OK, the mobile tech said. apparently, he did not test them WITH A LOAD on them. Down the road, (haha) we would find out that made a big difference. (We are making a list for Santa at this point for some basics we should have on board and some of which we accidentally left behind--oopsie.) We never did get the problem solved this evening, but we have one slide out in the living room and our bedroom slide out in the back so we're good for the 27 degree night tonight. Another beautiful sunset at the Lordsburg, KOA. The sky was on fire tonight!

If all goes well in the morning, we are hoping the inverter has given the batteries enough charge so we can get our hitch up high enough to back the truck under it so we can leave! There is a way to hand crank the jacks with a drill bit but the space inside the bay is tight to try and do that. Once we get to Tucson, there will be lots of assistance available with mobile techs and hopefully, we will be able to get our leveling system up (and down, haha) and running smoothly again. If you are not level, you really shouldn't put all your slides out because  other problems may occur. Life is not always smooth going down the road, that's for sure!

Wednesday morning....last leg of the trip to Tucson and will we be able to get the front of the rig to go up so the hitch is in the right place so we can leave? The suspense is killing us. We had to wait for the temperatures to warm up a bit outside and here we go......YESSSSS! The front of the rig came up, barely, just a little at a time. It sounded like the battery was going bad fast and going to quit on us at any second, but we got the nose up high enough to hook up to the truck and off we went.  Today was a 167 mile drive to the Voyager RV Resort and we made it. BUT--when we got there, we couldn't put the jacks down to get our slides out until we got a mobile RV tech to come out. 

We managed to find an excellent recommendation from the park--Cameron's Reliable Maintenance Services and he was great! He happened to be in the park on his way out when we called and so he came right over. He knew we couldn't live the next few days without getting the jacks down manually because no jacks down? No slides out. He definitely knew his electronics and systems. He has over 20 years in the maintenance industry. He tested our batteries WITH A LOAD on them and we found out as we had suspected, that our batteries were just about shot and that was some of our problems were the result of that and it could have gotten much worse in a short period of time, leaving us stranded. Also,
the bad boy, Jack
according to him, our left front jack has failed, (there are two in the front--one on the left, one on the right, and they hold up the front end of the RV. The left jack won't even show up on the electronics panel when we try to use the leveling system. To get a new one is going to be super expensive. We can make do for awhile with manual leveling, as it will be difficult to get a jack during the holidays. Tomorrow, we are off to buy new batteries.  Note: Having had to consult mobile techs several times over the past couple of years traveling, an average service call for a mobile tech is 50-100.00 and labor charged on top of that....We love mobile techs. It's wonderful when you don't have to take your "house" to the repair shop, but they come to you. They are usually in most RV parks or nearby, and if they are certified by NRTVA (National RV Training Academy) , that is an even better designation to have. And everyone we have met, has been super delightful and helpful. 

We are settled in site 3-163 in the Voyager RV park in Tucson on S. Kolb Rd. It's a BIG beautiful park, and a true resort. Decent wifi, cell service great. Sparky has reviewed this park before, last year, but will try to find some new things to report about it in the next couple of weeks. We will be here for two weeks. Whew! Glad we made it! And the weather is awesome for the next two weeks--NO below freezing temperatures! 

Our next assignment will be to change out our batteries ourselves. WHOA! Not difficult, right, readers? Red to red, black to black, don't let the red touch any metal, those are the HOT ones. At least we don't think it will be difficult....We shall see....See you later!


  1. Oh, I'm getting PTSD reading about your adventures with the RV. Haha, jacks not coming down, or up, hitching up. Don't miss that part of RVing.

  2. Life on the road. Hopefully everything gets fixed soon. Happy Holidays­čÄů