Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mall Of America, MN & Our Tires

After we left Medora, ND we drove to Jamestown, ND and parked the big wheels at the Walmart.  Shortly after arriving, we witnessed a little family feud right outside our window.  This couple were really going at it.  He was showering her with obsenities that cannot be printed here, and all in front of their two little children still in car seat restraints.  After a while, he pulled the two children out & put them into the camper next to the car, and after an exchange of a few more bad words, she drove off and he did the same, with the babies.  I also took pics of their licens plates, just in case they were needed as evidence later.  Let's hope not.
So we spent the rest of the evening in the parking lot with no further events.  We got up the next morning and headed southeast toward Wisconsin.  After about an hour on the road, I finally decided that something had to be done with this crazy vibration.  I pulled off the freeway I-94, in Eau Claire, at a Freightliner shop.  The manager came out & crawled under the coach and discovered, and I saw as well, that my drive tires were nearly bald.  WOW!  No wonder I had a vibration.  They were worn irregularly, and they only had 37K miles.
 It's hard to believe that this place is a mall, a real shopping mall.
 You don't realize it is until you leave this area and see the shops around the perimeter.
 We settled in at a county RV park just south of the mall in Leban Hills.  It was a very nice park, and had about 100 sites, nearly full with a lot of big rigs there.
 As hot as it was outside, it was surprisingly cool inside this large amusement park/mall.  And it was a Sunday afternoon, near closing time, 7 PM  Kids everywhere!  Imagine that!

 Neat place to drop off the kids and do your shopping.  Oh, that's right, can't do that these days.  Bad guys are everywhere.
 Big kids ride these things too.
OK, now I can say "I've been to the Mall of America".  No big deal, other than it is a very large mall and full of shops, for those who enjoy such amenities...:((
We got up Monday morning and pointed the big rig south east once again and down I-90/94.  ABOUT THAT VIBRATION:
 These are pics of out drive axle tires.  Aren't they beauties?  No wonder we had bad vibrations (sorry Beach Boys).
I should be ashamed of myself for not taking these off the coach before now.  But who would have thought that these things wear out so soon.  Well, they are not supposed to.
 We made it Eau Claire and the Baur Built Tires shop.  The other shop, which carried the Goodyears didn't have an opening for us so we had to settle for Michelins.  Darn the luck.  :))  Got these bad boys on in about 90 minutes, grabbed a quick bite at the local Mickey D's and hit the road once again.  Oh wow, what a difference. 
It was too late now to drive very far, so made it to a little burg, Portage, WI and camped at the Sky High Campground.  It rained for a couple of hours after we arrived, but it was quiet, dark and restful.
We got up and made our way to Elkhart, IN for our appointment to replace the windshield at Elkhart Service & Collision.  Well, we actually parked the rig at the Monaco factory campground in Wakarusa Tuesday night and got up Wednesday and drove up the road 12 miles to Elkhart.  They had the new one in by 830, but we couldn't drive it till the next day, as it takes 24 hours for the glue and seals to harden.
In the meantime, I got Monaco involved as to why we wore out tires in such a short period of time.  So, at 12 noon on Thursday, we drove over to Zolman Tires in Mishawaka.  After tjree hours on their alignment machine, and a test drive, they determined that that drive axle was aligned correctly, but the front axle wheels were out of camber (toe in).  So they aligned that, but at the very last minute, I noticed that tag axle was not showing any weight on the tires, like they were up off the pavement.  The tech opened up a rear door, and discovered that our tag pressure valve had broken free and was leaking air.  In fact, so much so that the tag had very little weight on it.  Translate"  All the weight was being born by the drive axle tires.  That wore them out.  And Monaco, Coburg, where have our unit serviced, made an adjustment on this tag last year.  Hmmm....
So, I contacted Monaco on Friday on our way to Oregonia, OH for our yearly family reunion, and asked them for some help on the cost of our new Michelins ($2745) Ouch!  As of today, Monday, July 30, they are considering helping us to some degree.  I'll keep you posted on what they do.
So, we are on our way to Ohio, but first, a last stop for some rest before arriving at my sister's house in Oregonia (I bet no one has ever heard of Oregonia).  We parked big wheels at the friendly Walmart in Van Wert , OH, just over the Indiana line.  More trucks than cars in here, and they all leave their generators or freezer engines running all night.
So, the next blog will be about our family renion in Oregonia, OH, which took place on July 28th.  So, till then, RVing Beach Bums rolling down I-75.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

When arrived at Watford City with our broken windshield, we didn't know whether we were going to be stuck there or able to drive on the next day.  I made a few calls and found out that it would be safe to drive to a place for repairs, so long as it wasn't "mushy".  This was from a glass repair shop, so I assumed it was a technical term. :))  Well, we wanted a little more safety, so we went down to the Ace Hardware and baught a roll of clear packing tape and covered most of the cracks, in hopes of not allowing them to expand anymore.  After the patch job, and fortunately none were in my line of sight, we fired up the Diplomat and drove on towards Medora, ND and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  We camped at the Red Trail Campground in Medora, ND, and parked the big wheels around 3 PM on Friday afternoon, July 20.
 I must admit, I had never heard of this park, and didn't know to expect or what it was noted for.  After doing a little online research though the evening before, I learned more about it.  Roosevelt first came to the North Dakota badlands to hunt bison in September 1883. During that first short trip, he got his bison and fell in love with the rugged lifestyle and the "perfect freedom" of the West. He invested $14,000 in the Maltese Cross Ranch, which was already being managed by Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield seven miles south of Medora. That winter, Ferris and Merrifield built the Maltese Cross Cabin. After the death of both his wife and mother on February 14, 1884, Roosevelt returned to his North Dakota ranch seeking solitude and time to heal.  We toured the cabin with a volunteer ranger.  It was relocated from it's original location to a place just behind the visitor's center.
From Wiki:  Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a National Park comprising three geographically separated areas of badlands in western North Dakota. The park was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The park covers 110 square miles (285 km2) of land in three sections: the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit.
 Above, note the brand of the ranch burned into the end of one of the wall logs.  Below, Roosevelt's personal desk where he wrote many letters and books.  It was in the Elkhorn Ranch house.
 The white cabinet was from the original Maltese Ranch.  Not sure about the kitchen stove.
Mural from inside the visitor's center.
 Rear view of the cabine, and the original chest of drawers from the Maltese bedroom of Mr. Roosevelt.  Note the two pics of Roosevelt, and to the right his first wife.
 After our visit to the cabin & visitor's center and the video, we drove into the park and took the 25+ mile car tour.  This poor wild stallion has been wondering around the tame riding horse corral for over a year, so the folks told us in the stable, with the hopes of starting his own "harem" of mares.  They paid no attention to him and he just stands there staring & pacing back & forth trying to get them to come over for a little horse play.  No luck!
 About five miles into the drive we came upon a large herd of about 100 bison, including about 20 calves, one nursing right in front of us.
 So cute, but we could tell we were interrupting luch, so eased on around them.
 We ran into another herd on the other side of the park, and they appeared to number about a hundred or so there too.

 As Roosevelt said, the country has an allure of the strange beauty and wildness.  We also ran into two different herds of wild horses, and even a philly nursing in the distance.
 They sure made it easy for us to get close-ups.  And they were even a little curious and appeared to want to get close to us.  Guess they see many folks driving through.
 Certainly could have spent hours just sitting and looking at the surrounding features of the park.
 Saw us a few turkeys and even a lone Mule Deer snatching a few strands of prarie for a snack.
 And of course, Prarie Dog Town.  There were two towns in the park, very large population in both towns.  Thousands.
And even a statue to Howard the Duck, above.  Can you see it?
 We visited Badlands National Park last year, near Rapid City SD, and there many similarities between the two parks.
 It was a very hot & humid day, but plent of breeze, so it was an enjoyable weather day in the park.  It was overcast at times, and even sprinkled a little, but not enough to wet the road.
 Strange geological formations all around us.
 Found this little philly bouncing and hopping around the herd and just curious about us, but ready to pose for the cameras.  She had a bushy, stubby little tail.
 Hey Nancy, turn around!  Gotchya!
 We walked this little one mile trail and learned about the lightening strikes that ignite the coal seams and burn underground for months, and the ground above collapses into the burned out voids (below).
 The heat from the burning coal then bakes the red caly into brick-like textured rock, and is all around the hill sides.  It is called Scoria.
Well, that pretty much winds up the story about our visit to the Theodore Roosevelt NP.  On our drive from the NP, I noticed our coach was developing a vibration.  A serious one!  Couldn't figure out right off what was causing it, but finally determined that our tires on the drive axle were wore out.  Oh wow, windshield first, now tires!  Can it get any worse.  Guess we'll be looking for some tires soon.  Tune in next time to read about that episode.  Not Pretty!  Till then, Joe & Nancy headed for Minnesota and the Mall of America.  We left Medora, ND, Sunday morning, July 22.