Thursday, October 29, 2015

Three Day Getaway

With Friday off, Linda and I took the morning to continue the process of outfitting the M.C. Kismet. Dishes, pans, a toaster, silverware, tools, and other items were brought to live aboard full-time. We expect that each trip will add a few more items to stay in addition to the groceries that will always be required. 

Here we are making a lunch stop on the square in Fayetteville, Texas before hitting the highway. We found ourselves in no hurry. It was raining on and off and we had only a short drive to Bastrop State Park.

This was the first trip that our dog Jazz was able to join us. It didn't take her long to feel right at home aboard the MC Kismet. By the end of the second day she was a champ at bounding up and down the five steps of the entrance stairs. 

Take a Pass and save some cash. This $70 Texas State Parks Pass saved us $32.50 on a two night stay at Bastrop State Park. Three more nights in the next twelve months and we break even. Chances are pretty good that we'll far exceed that number. 

We arrived at Bastrop State Park in the rain and this was the view of our campsite from the Kismet. Friday and Sunday proved to be the only days when the rain gave us any break. By the time we left the two tent campers in the distance gave up and packed up. The heavy and persistent rain wasn't a surprise to anyone as pacific Hurricane Patricia moved across Mexico into Texas. During our entire visit the county was under a flood watch or warning.

Friday we had a break in the weather that let us enjoy the fresh air and take a nice walk. The state park was exceptionally clean and well maintained. Being a dog friendly park Jazz enjoyed the walk as much as we did. 

Several years ago this park was damaged by a huge forest fire. Today new growth is coming up amid dead trees and a full recovery is well in swing. 

This was the one evening we could sit outside and enjoy the surroundings. So we did. 

Saturday morning brought our first use of the stove top to prepare a meal. Oh boy, wish you could smell that yummy ham! 

It was wonderful to sit next to our big picture window and watch the rain from the warm, dry comfort of the Kismet dining table. 

Clearly the Kismet and crew are much more than fair weather sailors. Lots of rain did nothing to dampen our enjoyment of Bastrop State Park. On our way out we stopped at the park office and purchased a sticker, cloth patch, and coffee mug to remember our visit. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mimi and Pop-Pop's Weekend Visit

Not all road trips need to be long in miles or days. Such was the case this weekend. Friday the Kismet traveled only a few miles to join Linda for lunch in Round Top, Texas. Here she is on the square. After lunch she got her first Texas motor vehicle inspection. Of course she passed with flying colors. 

After work Friday we struck off for Houston. About half-way through the short 2.5 hour trip we stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner where motor coach parking is always convenient. At the end of the day Friday the Kismet was parked in front of our daughter's home. Mimi and Pop-Pop, that's what our granddaughters call us, had arrived. This was the first time our daughter, son-in-law or granddaughters got to see the MC Kismet

Saturday morning we entertained two special curbside visitors. The older two granddaughters enjoyed cups of hot chocolate at the window side table overlooking their own front yard.  

What a great way to spend time with grandchildren. Linda brought Willa a new American Girl doll catalog and the two of them discussed all the new outfits and accessories as well as the newest dolls in the collection. 

The Kismet's living room on wheels provides lots of comfortable space for everyone to visit. 

While in Houston we took the opportunity to take out the Sleep Number bed and replace it with another queen size mattress more to our liking. This was one of the important reasons we wanted a motor coach that was designed for a full size mattress, not the shorter RV queen. 
Since we're not towing a dingy we took the Kismet out for dinner. When we pulled into the parking lot of Miller's Cafe a car came around us and pulled sideways in front of us blocking our turn into a good parking position. The driver was looking directly at me. I was puzzled. When she took her sunglasses off and smiled I did too. I know who that is! It's Sandra, a friend that I haven't seen in about eight years. Turns out she has been following our travels in the Kismet on Facebook and our HwyLife blog. When she saw a giant white motor home with the distinctive markings of the Tradewinds she took chase and caught us! Of course she got piped aboard and given the tour. What a nice surprise. 

With obligations at home on Sunday it was time to start heading that direction. Our only stop on the return trip was to take on diesel in Brookshire, Texas. 

Even though it was only one night and one full day, it was a very nice visit with our daughter and her family. We really enjoyed bringing our highway home to their front yard. I'm sure this is a trip that will be often repeated. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

More Photographs From The Shakedown Cruise

Our first fuel stop. Diesel and propane in the RV lane at Flying J in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

An interesting bird we saw across Wyoming starting here in Evanston.

Not a great picture but it shows the black, white, blue and green coloring.

Our first "family portrait" with the Kismet at Little America, Wyoming.

Lincoln Monument at Sherman Summit on I-80 in Wyoming photo bombed by Kismet..

The Old Governor's Manson in Cheyenne, Wyoming. 

Look'n good in Wellington, Colorado.

Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado.

Game Day! Go Broncos!

Enjoying the comfortable living area of our motor coach near Bowie, Texas.

And finally home on the Town Square in Fayetteville, Texas.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kismet Reaches Her New Home Port in Fayettteville, Texas

Good Morning from Bowie, Texas! 

One of the best meals of the trip was a hot breakfast served at a table by an open window near Bowie, Texas. 

We had a nice slow pace morning in a very quiet RV park. I took the opportunity to do a little tinkering on the Kismet, cleaning and removing more unwanted cup hooks and such. Then it was on the road again. 

Today we fueled in Waco, Texas, taking on 30 gallons of diesel. Our new three tank average rose to 9.8 miles per gallon. 

Hitting Austin rush hour traffic took all the rush out of our effort to get to the Austin Airport. Miles of stop and go traffic. Now you might wonder why we were going to the airport. But you should recall this voyage began by flying to Utah, which means we left a car at the airport. 

Linda is pretty sure she is among the few people ever dropped off at the passenger arrivals bus lane in a diesel pusher motor home. 

Separated for the first time in five days meant Linda could snap some pictures of the Kismet approaching home port from her chase vehicle. . 

The Kismet has finished the last leg of her 1,650 mile maiden voyage to arrive on the town square in Fayetteville, Texas. A few minutes later she would be backed into a covered parking space and locked up while Linda and I had dinner at our local cafe. 

In two weeks the Kismet will be back on the highway. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

If It's Tuesday It's Texas

Good morning from Dumas, Texas. 

We were glad to find this space in the middle of the night. We were so tired that we dropped anchor and didn't make any shore connections or even open the door until this morning. Again it rained most of the night. 

Having had lots of heavy rain, both while parked and at highway speeds, we are assured that there are no roof leaks in the living area of the motor coach. No roof leaks, check. 

Yesterday was the biggest push and longest day of this maiden voyage. To get to Dumas we traveled 471 miles from Wellington, Colorado, through rain and dense fog. These next two days will be in sunshine and at a much slower pace. 

After three days on the road we managed to fill both holding tanks. Taking showers helped. By filling our two fresh water tanks to capacity as well as both holding tanks we were able to verify the integrity of all four of our tanks. No tank leaks, check.  

And so, this morning was our first waste water dump. No cap leak. No valve leaks. Both black and gray valves operated easily and properly. The plumbing bay wash down hose worked okay. Another highway trial successfully completed. 

I really like the new sewer hose we bought at Camping World. Unlike hoses I've bought and used in the past this hose accordions into a stiff tube that's easy to handle and store. Likewise it only expands to the length you need when making a connection. With two 10-foot sections I will also only use one length whenever possible. 

Hello Amarillo. This was Linda's first time in the Texas Panhandle and Amarillo. She got better pictures through the windshield than I did. 

We saw and raced lots and lots of trains across Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas. Linda exchanged greetings with a BNSF engineer from her co-pilot seat. I gave him a toot on the air horn. 

Today's fuel stop was in Childress, Texas, where we took on 50 gallons of diesel. During the next 24 hours I've pay even more attention to fuel economy. I'll keep the speed to 65 MPH, keet the dash air conditioning off, and keep the transmission in economy mode. So far the results are promising. Our three tank (fueling) average is 9.0 miles per gallon. Let's see what tomorrow brings. 

Traveling only 207 miles today made for an early arrival at our RV near Bowie, Texas. 

Dry weather and cool temperatures meant we could open all the windows and enjoy fresh air and the sound of crickets. 

This was the first day that all three meals were prepared aboard the KismetBefore dinner we turned the pilot and co-pilot seats around to become part of the living room. Once again we were impressed with the comfortable seating for six. And there was still room for two more using the dining room chairs. 

After dinner I took the opportunity to work on yesterday's blog and Linda caught up on a magazine. Very relaxing. Time for another cup of coffee.  

Tomorrow night we'll be home. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day Three, Colorado

Good Morning Wellington, Colorado. 

We prepaid to get a space with an unobstructed view of the Front Range. So here's the view from the front windshield of the M.C.Kismet. No mountains this morning, just fog! 

Despite the fog we did have a good site. The concrete pad was much appreciated after another night of hard rain. Having arrived in the dark we were not too certain of our surroundings until morning. Only shore power had been connected on our arrival, but this morning we would connect the Kismet to city water for the first time. 

Watch that last step! 

Arriving in the dark I made only one trip outside, to connect the power. Then it was back inside out of the rain before leveling and putting the slide out. This morning I wasn't paying enough attention to that last step. Whoa, this will wake you up! About 15-inches between the step and the slab. Enough that the front tire was well off the ground. Add a small platform step to our needed equipment list. 

Using a new pressure regulator and hose we connected to the city water input in the plumbing bay. The valves were set to fill the fresh water tank and the supply spigot turned on. So far so good as we began refilling our two 45 gallon tanks. It took awhile before the water reached the overflow indicating full tanks. The valve was then moved to the "City Water Serve" position. With the pump off this pressurizes the motor coach's water system.  

More shakedown maneuvers for the Kismet. We flipped the switch and turned on the propane water heater. Two tests, how long to heat, and how long the hot water lasts. About 30 minutes later Linda stepped into the shower. 

Both of us took 15 minute showers about 15 minutes apart and never ran out of hot water. Wonderful. Even better was the overall shower experience. The glass enclosed shower-tub turns out to be larger than the shower we had one of our past houses. Not tight at all. Add to that the skylight above and there's lots of headroom and natural light. We had initially thought the shower head might be too low, but turns out it's just right. It's all good. 

Our morning was spent relaxing, showering, cooking a hot breakfast, and exploring our new highway hotel. Accordingly, our departure was delayed until shortly after noon. Then we were off south through Denver where Linda and I enjoyed the opportunity to drive past Mile High Stadium on game day. That was great! From the very nearby highway we could see a sea of orange going into the stadium. We also saw the huge tailgating party well underway. A short time later I turn on KOA, the Denver radio home of the Broncos and we listened to play-by-play for the first half of the game as we drove south away from Denver. 

Our next stop was Centennial, Colorado where we picked up more photo prints from Walgreen's. Since it was Sunday we moved into the adjoining Wells Fargo Bank parking lot for lunch. Then it was on to a Love's truck stop just north of Pueblo, Colorado. This was our third time to purchase diesel for the Kismet

Since our departure from Salt Lake City we have traveled 699 miles and purchased 79 gallons of diesel. That works out to an average of 8.9 miles per gallon. Not bad since we have done nothing to help with getting good mileage. We've run the dash air conditioner, kept full water tanks, and sure haven't watched our speed. There will be plenty of time to do those things in the future, but this is a shakedown cruise and I wanted to stretch her sea legs. I have to admit that she is so easy to drive you have to watch your speed on level highways or you'll look down and find you are cruising at 80 miles per hour. Sure glad I got the high-speed rated tires. I also pushed her up all the grades we encountered and left the engine idling for long periods during lunch and other stops. If there's going to be a problem I want to know it now. So far it's all gold stars.

Dinner was served by Cracker Barrel in Pueblo, Colorado. As we finished dinner we used our notebook computer to watch the score ticker for the last 10 minutes of the game as the Broncos beat the Vikings. Following Pueblo it was south into more rain. 

It's another late day on the road made possible by a late start and being in no particular hurry. 

By now we had another, albeit much shorter, list of things we need for the highway hotel including a few more food items now that we have confirmed the refrigerator and freezer are working dependably. Oh ya, did I mention that we made ice today? I turned the ice maker on this morning and as we were eating lunch at Wells Fargo there was a distinctive crash sound as a tray of ice was dumped into the bucket. We smiled. It's ice! The ice maker works, check. 

Our Kismet was clearly the largest object in the WalMart parking lot in the Trinidad, Colorado tonight. Next stop, Dalhart, Texas. 

Our journey was about to get a bit more challenging than just dark and rainy. Shortly after leaving Trinidad we ran into heavy fog. By the time we got to Raton Pass visibility was about 150 feet so we wound our way over the pass moving slowly. Once we reach the other side it was clear and more rain. 

Just before midnight we pulled in to the RV park in Dalhart, Texas. We were tired and ready for bed. Unfortunately however, they didn't hold our reservation and there was no place to dock or park so we were back on the road. 

Shortly after midnight we found a spot in Dumas, Texas. Parked and didn't even set foot outside. Connections would wait until morning. Jacks down, slide out, lights off. Good night.



It's Wyoming!

Good morning Evanston, Wyoming! Breakfast is served at our very own window on the world. A nice cool morning with overnight rain. The cool weather gave us a chance to test out our two central heat style furnaces. And they performed perfectly all night long. 

On our first day we only traveled 123 miles just in case we needed to return to the RV dealer or any number of shops in Salt Lake City. Fortunately, that will not be necessary. 

Before we got underway again I took some time to remove unwanted exterior hardware and clean up the residue left behind by stickers and adhesive mounted emblems on the rear of the motor coach. This also gave me the opportunity to install our own Family Motor Coach Association oval. We are also members of the FMCA Amateur Radio Chapter, Diesel RV Club, Freightliner Chassis Owner's Club, Good Sam Club, and The Dolphins. 

Talk about wide open spaces. We were unprepared for the variety of landscape to be seen across Wyoming between Evanston and Cheyenne. Just spectacular. 

Okay, so we didn't really stop here for any reason other than take our picture with the Little America sign in Little American, Wyoming. I got a great picture of Linda and I standing with the Kismet taken with our camera on a tripod under remote control. Unfortunately, I later discovered that I didn't bring the cable necessary to get the photograph out of the camera. Oh well, guess you'll just have to wait! 

Here we took a tourist detour through Green River, Wyoming. This unique (although not so unique for Wyoming) rock formation looms up over the city. Pretty darn cool. 

With a Walgreen's app installed on my smartphone I'm able to take pictures and order one-hour prints to be picked up along our route. Works great. Shots from Utah picked up in Wyoming. 

Turns out that the parking lot of Walgreen's in Rock Springs is also a pretty good place to have lunch. If you've brought your own kitchen! Once we arrive home the paper plate will be replaced with something reusable. 

Have you ever seen the Great Leaning Tower of Lincoln just outside Laramie? We have! 

We drove up and down and over summits as high as 8,640 feet as was the case at Sherman Summit in Albany County, Wyoming. Here's a view down from the top of that summit. [Click on this, or any of the photographs to enlarge]

One last stop in downtown Chyenne, Wyoming for dinner with distant relatives. No, we didn't eat at Subway, we had a great meal at 2 Doors Down on 17th Street. This was a little like my childhood when traveling with my grandparents and their travel trailer and stopping to visit relatives across the country. 

Also got a really good photograph of the Governor's Mansion before dinner, but alas it's stuck in the camera for now. 

The drive to Wellington, Colorado, was in the dark and driving rain. Although not appreciated by the co-pilot, it was yet another good test of the Kismet on her maiden voyage.