Summer 2012 – Final Update #3

It always seems like the last blog entry of the summer travels always takes the longest to get out the door since we get so busy when we return home, so here ’tis.

We left Montrose, Colorado on September 4th and headed a couple of hours north to Grand Junction, Colorado to our appointment with the Cummins/Onan dealer to get our coach engine cooling system looked over (we had overheating as we headed west on I-70 over Vail Pass six weeks earlier) and to get our balky diesel Onan generator repaired.

The coach engine was checked out with no trouble found, basically we have to go slower in hot weather on long steep grades to reduce the load on the engine.  The generator was diagnosed with a bad inverter again.  This expensive part ($1500) failed a couple of years earlier but thank goodness it was still in warranty at that time.  This time we had to pay 🙁  and of course it was our luck the part had to be ordered, so we had to wait for two days.  The generator has to be significantly disassembled to replace the inverter so we had a ‘nice’ labor expense added to the parts bill.

Finally we left Grand Junction and made the fairly short run to Moab, Utah to get a few days (we thought) of running

Moab overlook from Seven-mile trail

Moab overlook from Seven-mile trail

the most excellent trails in the area. When we arrived at the campground in Moab, our generator shut down again, Grrrrr (we use the generator for the coach air conditioning – it was hot weather.)  We only stayed in Moab for three days and then headed back to Grand Junction to have the generator looked at once again.

After some head-scratching and a call from the dealer to Onan tech support, they came up with the diagnosis – it was good news and sort of bad news.  The generator was fine, the shutdown was caused by our battery charger/inverter interfering with the generator.  It’s a complicated situation but fortunately there is a workaround available which is to shut down the battery charger part of the inverter while the engine is running.  So we spoiled our plans to hang around in Moab for several days.  Bummer.

From Grand Junction we headed north to Spearfish, South Dakota to participate in the Black Hills Jeep Jamboree held near the end of September every year.  This was a new Jamboree for us and we enjoyed it very much.  We qualified for

Black Hills Jamboree - broken U-joint on the rear drive shaft

Black Hills Jamboree – broken U-joint on the rear drive shaft on an older Jeep Cherokee

the group (Black Group) that ran the hardest trails so we found ourselves doing some challenging rock crawling.  (“Membership” for the Black group required at least 35″ tall tires, locking differentials and trail experience.)

We started the first day with 12 Jeeps and only eight finished, four dropped out due to mechanical problems.  We did fine and nothing broke 🙂 .  The second day we only had seven Jeeps which made for a great group considering the trail difficulty, everybody was well skilled and there were very few problems for that entire second day.

Another benefit of being in South Dakota in late September was to admire the gorgeous fall colors.  The trees were in the middle of turning from green to all shades of red, yellow, and orange and it immensely added  to our overall experience.

After our Jeep Jamboree fete, it was time to point the bus south and make a beeline for home.  We were only going to

Black Hills Jamboree - he's rock crawling

Black Hills Jamboree – one guy in our Black Group rock crawling

be home for about six weeks (we are heading to Arizona November 8 for more off-roading), so we decided to keep living in the coach instead of moving a bunch of stuff back and forth between the coach and house.  Our house sitter agreed to keep living in the house until our return from Arizona (early December) – then we’ll move back into the house for the winter/spring.

We drove an average number of miles this summer, 6,059.7, burned through 814.5 gallons of diesel fuel for an average miles per gallon of 7.44.  It is interesting to note that since we now pull a car hauler trailer (the Jeep rides in style) which weighs 1,400 pounds, our miles per gallon has only decreased about 0.25-0.3 mpg.  One major factor I suspect is the Jeep with its large tires has quite a bit of rolling resistance (when we tow it on its own tires) compared to the relatively skinny trailer tires aired up to 65 psi – much less rolling resistance.

Thanks for riding along with us and as always, may God richly bless you!


Oh, here’s one of our latest videos:

Summer 2012 – Update #2

Since John brought you up on what transpired before we left for our summer travels, we will back track a bit to our visit to Ohio after leaving Virginia. Our objective for the first week of July was to visit our nephew Jason, his wife Christine and their children Colin, Madalyn, Elliot and Zachery. Also we were able to spend the week with his brother, Erik, wife Karen and their children Ethan, Alek and Anderson. What joyous times we had and a busy week going to the zoo, splash park, slip-n-slide at the house, gun range (for the older boys) and pedicures (for the older girls)! A real treat was viewing a puppet show and a recital by some very talented young musicians playing either the piano or the violin (their kids)! At the end of a week to remember, we said our good-byes and headed our separate ways, hopefully to reunite before the children get much older!

The infamous and popular Black Bear Pass – 12,840′ elevation

As previously reported we left Iowa and headed West for Colorado and the Western Slope. Took four days to get to Montrose and Centennial RV Park. The day after we arrived, we were out on the trails of the San Juan Mountains with the Western Slope 4-Wheelers for a work day and good fun and fellowship! The WS4W maintain a number of the trails for the off-road vehicles.

Among the trails done this summer, we did several that we had not done before. Poughkeepsie Gulch, Silver Basin, Black Bear, Alaska Basin, Governor Basin and some others I don’t recall the names.

My handy husband, when he hasn’t been driving or washing the Jeep (lots of trail mud caking the Rubicon. Yes, many of you might say ‘mud’ – what’s that?) has kept

Three new Lifeline AGM 31XT batteries for the coach. The old ones lasted 7 years

busy with several projects such as installing three new house batteries, installing two large solar panels on the roof of the RV (wiring included)! The batteries were 7 years of age (the originals) so we figured it was time to replace them! Hard for us to believe the RV is 7 years old, but I have quite a log book of all our travels that make us realize it!

290 watts of of solar power!!

Another “happening” while we have been here, is John and Jane celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary! We boarded Sassy at Little Paws (we told her it was a B&B) for a couple of nights, and traveled South to Durango on route 550, a beautiful drive itself. We had lunch in Silverton at a favorite restaurant ‘Handlebars‘ and on to Durango where we stayed at the historic Strater Hotel (we had stayed here once before in 1976) when we did the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Train. This train ride is wonderful and we highly recommend it if you are able to do it, or have never done it! Enjoyed just strolling the streets of town and enjoying the ambiance of this historic town. An interesting fact for Western book fans… there is a room in the hotel just above the saloon that is named for Lois L’Amour and his wife…it is said this town, sounds, and sights gave him inspiration for writing his books!

We arrived on July 24th and will leave here on September 4th to head to Moab, Utah to do more 4-Wheeling after a stop in Grand Junction, Colorado to have our generator and the coach engine checked at the Cummins dealer.

As always, we do appreciate y’all traveling along with us, and we value all of our readers! May God bless and keep you.


Jane and John, Sassy (the dog) and Trekkie (the cat)


Summer 2012 – Update #1

Actually, we’ll back up a little bit in the year to catch our dear readers up on what we’ve been doing.  As you might imagine, Jeep activities continue to dominate – modifying our 2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited continues to soak up most of John’s time and our disposable funds (if there is such a thing as disposable funds.)  We decided that towing the Jeep behind the motorhome on the Jeep’s own tires (it’s called towing 4-down) was hard on the tires and everything else on the Jeep that rotates or moves, so we bought a used FeatherLite aluminum car hauler trailer.  Rubi is now a trailer queen and rides in style behind the motorhome.

Rubi after her latest round of upgrades/improvements

Rubi after her latest round of upgrades/improvements – she’s now on 35″ Goodyear MT/R Kevlar tires

Rubi (and her drivers) continues to evolve and improve after every round of upgrades and trails run – I say drivers since Jane has driven for about an hour on a trail that was a little challenging (on the Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree) and she did great.  The latest upgrades on Rubi are larger tires, new 17″ aluminum wheels, aluminum fenders (for more tire clearance), high strength front axles, armored differential covers, larger front brakes (larger rotors and calipers), new radiator, fan clutch, re-routed engine air intake and hood louvers.

After two years of intermittent work on Rubi by John, Rubi is just about where where she needs to be for the long-term.  Taking it to the next level (which means larger tires) would cost a pile of money and not greatly improve its off-road capability.  At this point, it’s now more about driver skill than equipment.

Our good friends Bob & Judy

Our good friends Bob & Judy at their summer home near Independence, VA the morning we left

So far this year, we’ve run Rubi at the Las Cruces, NM Chili Challenge, The Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree near Llano, TX, the Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree near Amarillo TX, and we’re currently near Montrose, Colorado and running trails in the San Juan mountains.

We left home on Flag Day (you did remember to put out your flag), June 14,  and headed to the nearby Miller Creek RV Resort near Johnson City, TX for a Winnebago club gathering and then hit the road for the western part of Virginia to visit with our long-time friends Bob & Judy.  They bought a foreclosed house a couple of years ago that was completely trashed by the prior owners and they almost completely rebuilt it over a couple of summers, so we were anxious to see the house and of course our good buddies.

A minor digression.  Our Norcold refrigerator/freezer decided to not work as well as it should – we were having to run

Our new Frigidare!

Jane is once again a happy camper after the successful swap-out of the Norcold for the new Frigidare

it on its maximum setting to maintain an adequate temperature in the refrigerator part.  After consultation with a Norcold tech and some tests we determined the cooling unit was most likely going south which was very bad news.  A replacement cooling unit was over $1,000 and the repair labor was $800.  After some thought, we decided it was time to replace the Norcold (which could operate on 12V/LP gas or AC) with a household fridge – more and more household fridges (which only operate on AC) are appearing in new motorhomes and are becoming very popular as less costly replacements.  So we bought an 18.2 cu ft Frigidare and after two days of hard work by Bob and John, it was installed and working great.  We have more fridge room but the freezer is roughly the same size as the old one.

We had a fun ten days visiting with Bob & Judy.  Once again we biked the Virginia Creeper Trail – 17 miles (out of a total 34 trail miles) of a former railroad bed and almost all of it was downhill – it was great exercise 😉 and a lot of fun.

John was very appreciative of Bob’s help (and his nicely equipped shop) with the fridge swap, it would have been completely impractical and impossible to accomplish while traveling without this situation.

It was time to say adios to our friends and head to Forest City, Iowa (northern part of the state)  for the Winnebago Grand National Rally held the third week of every July.

Forest City is a delightful mid-western town of only six or seven thousand residents and with each rally the town swells with an additional two thousand people.  The sleepy farm (and Winnebago factory) town gets so busy and hectic, the locals are thankful when the rally ends and the slower pace resumes.  The town folks are very hospitable and thankful for the business boost, but relieved to see things return to normal.

Like a stick and brick house,  something always needs a little maintenance on the coach, usually it is something

Our repaired thermal pane glass is installed

Our repaired thermal pane glass is installed

minor and we’re not disappointed – after all the coach is seven years old with 75,000 miles on it.  Leaky faucet, squeaky door, you get the idea.  The latest issue to deal with (and a very common one across many brands of RVs) is a seal breakdown in our thermal (dual pane) windows;  in certain weather conditions humidity will condensate between the glass panes.  The large window in our coach door was starting to fog up occasionally which was not a good situation – we need to see out of that window to drive safely!  Fortunately at the Winnebago rally was a company in attendance (Duncan Systems) that repairs these kinds of problems with windows, so we signed up for service.  They extricated the window, tore it apart, and resealed the two pieces of glass.  I asked if they injected nitrogen gas between the panes and they don’t – they insert a desiccant strip that absorbs any moisture, hopefully this problem is permanently solved on this window.  Unfortunately I suspect we will have many more windows to get repaired in the future.

Next installment will be focused on our five week stay near Montrose Colorado, and guess what – we’re running trails in the San Juan mountains.  We will leave here September 1 and probably head to Utah to do…. more off-roading.  Utah has a lot to offer so we will play tourists and do as much sightseeing as possible while there.  Near the end of September we will be in Deadwood, South Dakota to…. participate in the Black Hills Jeep Jamboree (yes, John is Jeep crazy.)

Thanks for traveling along with us and may God richly bless you.