Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We've got brakes!!!

We first started this RV thing in 1997 when we purchased a used coach and did the weekend thing for four years. Although we towed a car behind, first on a tow dolly and later a Saturn with all four wheels on the ground, we never thought much about having an auxiliary brake system for the towed car, or the "toad", as we RVer's like to call it. In 2001 we purchased a new Monaco LaPalma and continued to tow our Saturn. (The picture to the right is of the LaPalma.)

In the fall of 2002 we attended an RV rally in Claremore, OK, and attended a seminar on tow brakes. This seminar was presented by one of the vendors at the rally. The vendors are the people who come to the rallies to sell us all those extra things that we just cannot live without for our coaches. The tow brake seminar made an impression and I got to thinking we probably needed one of these things. We purchased the unit and the vendor, Frank Damron, installed it for us, wiring up both the coach and the Saturn. This was a fine addition to our RVing experience. We have gotten to know Frank and Sharon Damron over the years while attending numerous rallies and they have become good friends.

In March of 2006 we traded off our Saturn for a new Chevy HHR. The HHR became our new "toad" but it was not wired for the tow brake. That May we were at a rally in Goshen, IN, and we had Frank wire the car so we could use the brake again. This was great until October 2006. We were at another rally, this time in Tucson, AZ, when I decided we just had to have a new coach, a diesel this time around. After convincing my dear wife that we just had to have this beautiful 2007 Monaco Cayman we made the deal to trade. Unfortunately, we did not complete the deal until after the rally was over and Frank and Sharon had to move on. Oh well, we'll just catch up with them at the next rally, which would be in the spring of 2007, and have it done then. I did remove the controller box that was attached near the driver controls in the LaPalma before we let it go. Only problem is I did not know what I was doing and ruined the controller. When we got to the next rally Frank was unable to do the install on the new coach. He had the, now damaged, controller sent back to the factory, on my nickle, to be rebuilt. They did a good job and sent it back to me in the mail. Okay, we'll get with Frank at the next rally in the fall of 2007. As it turned out we had to cancel out on that rally.

Well, after a year and a half without using the tow brake package, which is kind of dangerous and not a good idea, we have it working again. In Frank and Sharon's travels across this great country, doing their work at rallies, they wound up this past week in Shawnee, OK, at a Good Sam's Samboree. At this point he was only forty miles away from where my brother lives, which is another 40 miles from my house. Since my brother, Bill, was wanting Frank to put new shocks on his coach we made arrangements for Frank and Sharon to go to Bill's house and work on both coaches. Frank wound up working on our coach for over five hours for a very nominal fee. When I headed out to return home around 3:30pm he was just getting started putting the eight new shocks on Bill's coach. But, thanks to our good friend, Frank, we now have a working tow brake system and are now legal again in all 50 states and all of Canada. Now it's about time to get back on the road.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another short adventure in the coach

We actually got to take the coach out again this past weekend. We left out mid-morning last Thursday and headed to southeast Oklahoma to Robbers Cave State Park. There we joined up with our local RV club, the Birds of a Feather. This was the club's second outing of the year. We had a total of nine coaches making up this month's get-together.

Robbers Cave got it's name from a set of caves high up in the cliffs of this area where some of the more notorious gangs used to hide out. These included the James Brothers and the Dalton's. The state park now covers several hundred acres and has some great camping areas. We had full hookup and a concrete pad that was just about the most level spot we have ever set up. The only draw back to this park is there is no cell phone service, no TV reception and no WiFi. I was so bored in the evenings I was in bed by 10:00pm, a new record for me.

Thursday night several of us went into town to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Now, as most folks know, I don't eat Mexican food. No problem, this place had almost as many Italian dishes as it did Mexican. Friday and Saturday mornings, as is normal for this group, we started off each day with donuts and coffee and a good gabfest. Friday night all 18 of us went to a neat little restaurant up in the hills. The had a menu that included everything from catfish, frog legs to BBQ. They also had some of the best home made pies you could ask for. On Saturday night, instead of our regular pot luck we had a wiener roast in the camp pavilion. Afterward we built a big fire down in the coach area and had a good visit until it started to rain around 8:00pm. We also did some exploring in the park. Due to all the rains the creeks running through the park were overflowing and all three of the small lakes were full and running over their spillways. The trees and flowers were all in bloom. Especially pretty were the dogwood trees that grow wild in the area.

Since we had no TV or computer connection I had to get my fix somewhere. The folks in the office said the nearest WiFi was at the McDonald's in town, about six miles away. As it turned out there were several free WiFi connections along the main street. I wound up Friday night sitting in the car in front of a closed Radio Shack store answering my e-mails. This is not all that unusual since I run into this problem quite often in our travels and I have become very adept in working with the laptop sitting on the steering wheel.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

WOW--Another RV friends fix

We had another of our RVing friends come through for a short visit. Don & Vicki Leith, who have been sitting over in Arkansas for several months while they have been building a new house, stopped over this afternoon for a visit. They are on their way west to California to do volunteer work at the Baker to Vegas Run. The Baker to Vegas Run is a relay run from Baker, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, for teams made up from law enforcement departments.

Don & Vicki were staying in an RV Park not far from our house. We met them at their coach and visited for a few minutes before going to dinner. They travel with his dog, Tess, and her cat, Furbie.
We went to dinner at the world famous Cattleman's Restaurant down in the Stockyards area of Oklahoma City. After a good steak dinner we drove out to our house and had a good visit, catching up on what has gone on since we saw them last this past fall when we stopped by their place one our way to the east coast.

They will be heading out in the morning to continue their trip west. We really enjoyed their visit and hope to see them again soon.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A good visit with an old friend

One of my best friends from high school lives, with her husband and five dogs, in Savannah, Georgia. We were able to visit with Diane and Russ Abolt this past fall during the week we spent in Savannah. She has five small dogs that have been trained and certified as Therapy Dogs. Diane is in town, Oklahoma City, at her parents house. This afternoon we drove down to the south side of the city to visit.

When Di comes to visit she brings one of her smallest dogs, a beautiful little miniature schnauzer named Hanna. She is about the same size as our Brandi Jane was but is more the color of Buddy Joe. Although Hanna lives with four other dogs, including one of her litter mates, she is very shy and needs to warm up to people before she is comfortable. Since Buddy always enjoys playing with other dogs we took him with us. After a few minutes Hanna appeared to want to play but Buddy was not having any part of it. After awhile the two of them just ignored each other.

We did have a good visit with Diane and her folks and always enjoy our time together.