Browsing "Weather"
Apr 26, 2013 -

Shawnee OK to Wichita KS

I awoke with a start at about 3:00 this morning with a premonition: I was about to have the day from hell. I tried to calm myself down and get more sleep, but I only got in a little fitful dozing. I gave up around 7:00 and got up to pack. I had coffee, but my stomach was too much in knots to even think about breakfast.

I took the time to analyse this premonition. Was it one that would allow me to change my fate or one that doomed me? I decided not to go to Wichita today and try to wrangle another free night out of the casino. The bad feeling didn’t appease itself at all. In fact, it got worse. I would just be delaying the inevitable.

So I packed, returned my parking pass, got gas, checked my tire pressure (perfect), hooked up, and headed on down I-40 eastbound. About a mile from the exit for Midwest City, BOOM.

I pulled over and walked around the rig to discover that my interior dually on the passenger side had disintegrated. I went back in the cab and asked my GPS where the nearest tire place was, which was fewer than 3 miles. I knew I could get there on my own power, so I put the four-way flashers on and motored over there slowly.

The place was Cramer Tires, a small mom & pop type of outfit. I was able to pull in straight enough to unhook. A lady came out and asked what I needed and then went out back to check her inventory of used tires. I’m getting new tires shortly, so a good used tired for $56 (all inclusive price) sounded pretty good to me.

Once they got the tire off, the reason for the failure became evident: a bad valve stem. The tire condition was good and so was the pressure. They replaced the valve stem, mounted the new tire, and I was on my way in about 1.75 hours. I thought everything was good till I got about 40 miles down the road, which was too far.

I pulled into a turnout on I-35 to use the bathroom and the toilet room was so hot that the toilet seal had melted and the toilet was loose. I ran outside and discovered to my horror that when the tire blew, it flew back and knocked the exhaust pipe up into the sidewall! I was very close to a fire (see the picture below). Moreover, the heat was enough that it disintegrated the pipe that goes from my grey water tank to the valve so my grey water was dripping onto the highway.

Thankfully, I was able to bring the tailpipe down after sitting at the rest area for enough time to cool the area down.

I stopped at every opportunity I could all along I-35 and everything seemed okay up until I got onto the turnpike, where there were few exits. The rig just didn’t feel like it was handling correctly. By this point, I was almost at L’s, so I slacked on the speed and drove cautiously.

My toll was $4.25, as I’d estimated, and then it was just a few minutes to get to L’s. I got lined up straight, unhooked, and then backed onto some blocks. L even had an extension cord ready for me.

It was at about this point that he informed me that my ‘new’ rear time was flat as a pancake.

L said that he’s going to have a look at my plumbing over the weekend. Am I glad I’m landed here!

He’s convinced that the neighbours won’t care that I’m here, so at this point, I’m looking at being in Wichita till Wednesday or Thursday. We’ll see.

Once I was settled in, we headed out to the Anchor pub in old town Wichita for a couple of pints and dinner so that I could meet his sweetheart. I hadn’t eaten all day, so when he told me not to be shy and order an appy, I gladly did and got some really nice chips and salsa. For a beer, he recommended a really dark brew called 1545, which was perfect for the cold and damp weather. Dinner was one of the best grilled chicken burgers I have ever had.

Downtown Wichita is beautiful! It’s one gorgeous building after another. I especially like all the bronze statues along the main drag. They are likenesses of ordinary folks doing ordinary things on a busy city street. I’ll try to get back out there and snap a few pictures before I leave.

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Countries, Kansas, Maintenance & Repair, Nice Folks, Restaurants, Social, Technical, Travel, USA, Weather    16 Comments
Apr 23, 2013 -

Pauls Valley to Shawnee, OK

It was a so-so night at Walmart. Because of the lack of parking spots, a reefer parked almost on top of me (not exaggerating; he had to go out his passenger door and I couldn’t open my house door!). I couldn’t fault the driver for that. He ran the engine for a few hours in the evening, then again in the middle of the night before finally taking off around 5:00 or 6:00. So my sleep was interrupted and I gave up around 7:00.

Since I only had about an hour to my destination, I thought of just taking off, but something told me to check my email. There was a comment from Linda Sand warning me that there are two Firelake casinos in Shawnee and that she was parked at the wrong one. Since it was on route to the right one, where I had planned to spend the night, I decided to stop there first and meet her since we keep just missing each other this spring. Onsite, I could check out the RV facilities and determine the best casino to stay at.

I arrived at the first casino, Firelake Casino, around 10AM, after circling around the complex a number of times before finding the RV park. I knew Linda is a late riser, so I sent a message to let her know I was on site instead of banging on her door, then had breakfast and did some online stuff. I called the casino to ask about the RV park and after being bounced around a bit, I was told it is $15 for FHU. Good deal and a nice location, but too much for me right now.

Linda got back to me around 11:30 and I went to check out her swanky digs (WOW, the things you can do with a class B when you custom design the layout!) and we gabbed for a bit. We will be having dinner tonight.

I headed out to the Grand Casino around 2:00 and was settled into a spot and had had lunch by 2:30. Linda had warned me I would have to unhook and back in, so I was prepared. Neither event took any effort. The slots are super narrow, but there is ample room to back in and they are perfectly angled for easy entrance. The view out the back is of a muddy creek, but the view from the desk is half into a bedroom window (I’m keeping that curtain closed!), one quarter onto an RV wall, and one quarter to the big rig parking lot.

In exchange for signing up for the player’s club, I get three nights with power and water and access to a dump station (each additional night is $25). With the player’s club, you get free keno, 10 entries to a draw, and $10 in match play (so you put $10 in the slot machines and they give you 10, but not on progressive machines). I have never played keno, but for the chance to win $100, I will try it out!

Three nights with power will be much appreciated since it is super cold and overcast. I’m running out of propane, so I have to ration until I find a place to fill and am grateful I can run the electric heater.

Gas prices in OK are much cheaper than in TX, to my surprise. Thank goodness for that. My gas mileage the last two days has been the pits and I’ve had to adjust my gas budget from $600 to $900 to get back to Canada from Dallas. *sighs* I’m just glad I’m not paying Canadian prices for fuel!!! Here, fuel is about $3.20 ($0.85/litre) a gallon and average Canadian prices are $4.90 ($1.30/litre) a gallon. So to fill the motorhome here (50 gallons), it’s $160 and to fill it in Canada would be $245!

I wish I could have had just one more month in the US to avoid getting back to Canada in this frigid soupy mess. I’m afraid that that’s what I’ll remember most about my winter, the cold humid last days rather than the hot sunny days walking barefoot along the beach with palm trees rustling in the background. Those days already feel like they belonged to another life. 🙁

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Countries, Electricity, Finances, Nice Folks, Oklahoma, Propane, Social, Technical, Travel, USA, Weather    8 Comments
Apr 16, 2013 -

I Can’t Believe This Weather

I crossed into the United States five months ago yesterday. So I have four weeks left to get back north. From where I’m sitting, I need four solid days of driving to make it to my property. I’m exhausted just thinking about such a cannonball run!

When I saw that the weather this spring was going to suck, I gave up on my plan of a leisurely few weeks of tourism through the plains. Instead, I thought to spend a few days here in Dallas, one night around OK City, two or three nights in Wichita, and then sit at a donation-only campground near Omaha for three days of clear weather to make a dash for the border.

But Wichita is still freezing at night and Omaha is still getting snow. My village is still sitting at well below freezing during the day.

Ms. Cinnamon, gracious host that she is, is in absolutely no hurry to send me on my way, bless her. I am really grateful to be pondering my options in hot sticky weather! But the fact is, I do need to get going and four weeks are going to speed by. And at the rate we’re going, even if the weather warms up a little, I am still going to be heading into frosty nights and then a sodden piece of property that will turn to liquid mud in short order.

What I need to do hit me like a ton of bricks last night: I should be going straight west across the mountains (UGH) and then north into the Okanagan. I need (spoiler alert) to be in Kelowna in late June anyway so if I can find a cheap place to hang out for two months (big IF), this plan doesn’t really set me off course. But Osoyoos, yuck!

The hiccup is that I have the money to get back to Saskatchewan from here ($600ish), but it could cost me upwards of $1,200 to get to BC through Nevada and California, then up into Oregon and Washington. I just don’t have an extra $600 right now. As you might remember, I gave my truck $600 in New Orleans.

I’m also not too keen about doing any mountain driving. Croft and Norma are presently stranded in Las Vegas, but I’ll be watching their route west closely when they get going again.

There is of course the option of extending my US trip by going to Mexico for a month or two. If I was of retirement age, that’s what I’d do. But I don’t want to push my luck with US Customs. While such behaviour would follow the letter of the law, it would be in violation of its spirit. I told customs I was heading back to Canada in April and that’s what I’m doing, with no excuses. I don’t want to jeopardize my fall crossing.

I picked a great winter to go south, but the worst kind of spring. 🙁

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British Columbia, Canada, Countries, Itineraries, Nice Folks, Saskatchewan, Social, Travel, USA, Weather    3 Comments
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