Monday, July 19, 2010

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Monday Evening  July 19, 2010   (Fourth travelogue of this trip).

We are back home and for the second trip in a row, we did not come home behind the dreaded hook {big grin}.  Indeed, the bus did well.  I have my charge air cooler heat problem under control and that sure makes driving much more fun.  

This morning we celebrated my birthday by having breakfast (my favorite meal) at the “soda fountain” in Chugwater, WY  We then drove to Evergreen (about 170 miles) and arrived about 2:30. 

We have had several discussions about how fun the Eagle Bus rally was.  Part of it was being with friends who have a common interest, part because I get to talk unlimited bus {grin} and part because of the fantastic setting in Custer, SD.  There is so much to see and we missed a bunch.  They are talking about have the rally there again in 2012.

We always have a let-down when we get home and have to face reality.  Pat is trying to get several things done before she flies to Salt Lake City tomorrow (Stampin' Up! Convention).  I have several small bus projects that need to get done before we head out again at the end of the month.

BTW, I just updated the map that shows the states we have visited in the bus. We have now been in 28 states.

That is all for now.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello from Chugwater, WY

Hello from Chugwater, WY

Sunday Evening July 18, 2010 (Third travelogue of this trip).

We are parked on the main street of Chugwater (map). We had decided to make our trip home (a bit less than 390 miles) in two days. I did quite a bit of thinking about where to stop. As I thought, a wave of nostalgia came over me.

In the mid '70s we joined a membership ranch in Wyoming (Flying X Ranch). It was located on Wyoming 34 not too far from Wheatland. We were among the first members and the membership was not all that costly. At the time we were living in Lakewood and getting away to a huge ranch with lots of wild animals, horses, fishing, swimming pool, square dancing, etc made for a great get-away. We spent a lot of time at the ranch and have a ton of memories.

The nostalgia creeps in twice in this story. First, the ranch had a bus that transported us to the ranch – yes an Eagle Bus!!!! Secondly, the bus used to stop in Chugwater to pick up meat for the meals at the ranch.

I did some searching on the Internet, hoping to find a picture of the Flying X bus. I will contact the ranch in the next couple of days to see if they have any photo achieves.

Chugwater is much like most small towns – dying. Kind of reminds us of Prescott. However, as I walked around, I saw the sign shown below. No question about it, we had to eat there. We talked at length with the owner and she said that while the rest of the town was mostly shut down, her business is doing very well. There was a couple in the “soda fountain” that had lived in Chugwater all their lives (at least 70 years) and they remembered the great meat store and talked about all of the gas stations, stores, etc. that existed before the interstate went around the town.

Great sign that got our attention!

Chugwater makes a big deal of their chili contest and “Chugwater Chili”. So, of course, we had to have a bowl for dinner and it was great. We also had great malts.
Just across the street from where we are parked there is a small outdoor museum. One of the items is a sheepherders wagon. I had thought one time of putting mural of one on the bus and labeling it “Our Shepherd's Wagon” Pat was not too hot for the idea {grin}

Sheepherder's wagon in Chugwater

It was close to 100 degrees when we got here, so we have been running the generator to keep the bus cool. In SD, the weather was quite warm in the daytime, but cool in the evening. Last night we had a HUGE thunderstorm that got everyone's attention.

That is all for now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hello from Custer, SD

Hello from Custer, SD

Saturday Evening July 17, 2010 (Second travelogue of this trip).

We are at the Broken Arrow Campground (map). This is a fairly new campground and does not show up in the satellite view. This is the site of the Eagles International Rally.

Today was the last full day of the rally. We arrived on Wednesday (7/14) and the rally officially started on Thursday. There is a good turnout with 21 Eagle buses and two SOB (some other brand).

Some of the Eagles at the Rally

Custer is located in the main tourist area of SD. Mount Rushmore is very close, as is Crazy Horse and many other fun destinations. Thursday we took the Wildlife Loop where we saw some really neat burros who tend to block traffic until you feed them. Later, we saw a whole field of Buffalo (perhaps 200-300). Many had calves who were still nursing. Later we drove over a tight twisty road to Mount Rushmore. You pass through several tunnels, two of which “aim” right at the monument.

Friday we toured Bear Country USA. This facility has a road where you drive through the facilities and view many wild animals including Elk with HUGE racks and mountain sheep. The last part of the road is through an area that has a large number of bears. The bears wonder all around the cars and one even started chewing on the front bumper of one car. At the end of the drive, you can walk through a zoo type area. One pen had several baby bears. There was a vet tech there talking about the bears. About four of the cubs were extremely playful, wrestling with each other and the vet tech.

Burros on the Wildlife Loop
Buffalo on the Wildlife Loop
Bear Cubs at Bear Country USA

We have had some wonderful meals with the group, concluding with a great potluck tonight. Of course, there was lots of social time and the guys all stuck there heads in each others engine compartments and compared note on their buses and some of the experiences encountered while driving our “toys”.

Tomorrow we head home. We should have a relatively easy two days of driving.

That is all for now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hello from Devil's Tower, WY

Hello from Devil's Tower, WY

Tuesday Evening July 13, 2010 (First travelogue of this trip).

We are at the Devil's Tower KOA campground (map). As you will see from the picture, we are right at the base of this magnificent formation. There are a large number of reference sites for Devil's Tower, but the National Park Service site is: A couple of interesting facts from that site: 1) Devils Tower rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River; 2) President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument in 1906. Words simply can't describe how majestic this rock formation is, nor do pictures do it justice. Today we went up to the visitors center and then another fellow and I took the 1.3 mile hike around the base.

Four Eagle Buses with the Devil's Tower in the background

This trip is to attend a Eagle Bus Rally in Custer, SD. However, several Eagle owners decided to make a bit of a detour and travel to this location prior to the actual rally. There are four Eagle buses here (see photo with Devil's head in the background).

We left Evergreen Sunday at about 8:30 AM and drove to Casper, WY where we met up with two other chapter member couples. We all stayed in the Wal Mart along with several other RVs and trucks. We all went to the Olive Garden for dinner. Yesterday we drove here and arrived about 2:00 PM. We sort of took it easy and then went to dinner at the KOA restaurant. At 9:00 last night we went to the showing of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind “(shown at an outside deck area on a big screen TV with a great sound system) . This is a 1977 Stephen Spielberg movie about UFOs that centers on Devil's Tower as the landing site for a UFO. Kind of a strange movie, but it was fun to see the area in the film.

I want to digress and talk about a fun day we had on Saturday. The family got together for a celebration of Pat's birthday and Father's day (we were out of town for both). In the morning, Pat had a Stampin' UP! party so Kelly, Damon and I rode our bicycle up Waterton Canyon – close to their house. This is a very scenic ride along the South Platte river ending up at the Strontia Springs Dam. The ride is 6.5 miles each way. The route up the river is a steady, moderate climb, which makes riding back a piece of cake. We got to see quite a bit of wildlife, but the best experience was seeing very young mountain sheep up on the rocks very close to the road. I have included pictures of the mothers and the lambs.

Mountain sheep in Waterton Canyon

Mountain sheep lambs on the rocks close to the road
As an added note, I have changed our blog picture to show the bus in front of Devil's Tower.

Tomorrow we will head for Custer, SD for the official rally.

That is all for now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Hello from Evergreen, CO

Sunday Morning   July 4, 2010   (twelfth travelogue of this trip).

Happy fourth of July everyone.

This was quite a trip.  We left in the bus on May 20th.   That means we were gone 45 days!  Our trip took us through 8 states.  We traveled 2900 miles.  We even made it home without the benefit of a tow truck {grin}.  During this trip we took  a side trip, flying to Orlando to spend some time with Mickey and our daughter Lisa and her family.

Up until the last few days the bus did very well.  In Kansas, we got a warning light that the water temperature was shutting the engine down.  Water temperature has never been a problem.  When I started to check out the problem, I found that the air line that turns on the radiator fan was melted and the fan was not turning.  The water temperature got over 230 degrees, which is very high for a diesel and at the point that engine damage could occur!  

Before I left home, I noted that some of the exhaust insulation had come loose, but I did not have enough time to fix it.  The huge amount of exhaust heat coupled with the high ambient temperature got the engine compartment hot enough to melt the DOT type tubing (special plastic).  The repair was pretty straight forward.  However, getting the heart rate and blood pressure to settle down was not quite so simple.  I drove the first few miles with my eyes scanning all of the gauges on the SilverLeaf, looking for signs of damage.  After two days, and several hundred miles, the engine looks like it did not sustain damage.

Then yesterday, we had THE REAL SCARE – two miles from home.  It is a very tough pull up long steep hills to get to our house (7500 feet).  I had been keeping a close watch on the charge air temperature and was controlling it pretty well with some water misters that I had installed.  We take a strange route home once we get to our tight twisty canyon road.  Shortly into the canyon, we turn and go through a subdivision so that we do not hold up the folks who think the are champion race car drivers {frown}.  In that subdivision, my fire suppression system warned me that the compartment temperature was getting high.  About that time, it dawned on me that power was not getting to the wheels.  The latter could be either a failed drive shaft, or worse yet, a failed rear end (think several thousand dollars).  I checked and my engine water temperature was also climbing.  My thought:  two separate problems.

After I opened the engine hatch in the bedroom (180 degree engine compartment temperature overwhelmed the bedroom, I found another melted air line.  This time, it was a major supply line.  The fix was, again, pretty easy.  As I was working on the fix, I recalled that my 10 speed transmission has an air operated “air shifter”.  Could it be that the lack of air had put the range shifter in what would act like neutral?  Well, that was the case!  All was well and we proudly drove home without the tow truck.

Back to the last couple of days of this trip.  From Junction City to Denver, it is 500 miles and we just did not feel like busting our tail to get home.  We were pretty worn out from all the activities of this trip and I needed to do a bit of work on the bus before we hit the big hills.  Our decision was to drive about 300 miles one day and then have an easy trip home the last day.

We ended up in Goodland, KS early in the afternoon on Friday.  Of course, we stayed in a Wal Mart.  We had to run the generator for the afternoon and early evening because it was very hot and we had to needed the roof airs.  That kept us very comfortable.  I had to fight a terrible side wind most of the way from Junction City to Goodland.  Thank goodness the bus does well with GUSTING side winds.  Had we been in the motorhome, we would have had to stop.  We did get a kick out of seeing several folks trying to get their awing rolled up on the side of the road.  A few years ago a huge side wind unrolled the awning on our motorhome and blew it over the top.  It was not a fun job to get everything back in place!

We parked in the Wal Mart such that the wind was blowing on the side of the bus and it rocked us pretty badly until late evening. 

As a part of my effort to keep make the charge air cooler more effective (keep the air inlet temperature down), I have been playing with water misters.  This is a technique that many folks use on buses that have water temperature issues.  The concept is to spray the radiator or charge air cooler with water from the domestic water supply tank.  I have made many iterations of the system, but none seemed all that effective.  So, I decided to redo the system once again.  I walked over to a farm supply store, hoping to find a agricultural spray head that would work.  They had spray heads, but none were easily adaptable.  Then the light went on.  I use special spray nozzles on my fire suppression system that would be just the ticket.  I cut up my existing system and modified it so that I could use my heads.  They flow a lot of fluid (2.25 gallons in 45 seconds with three heads).  So, I have to flip on the switch on for only a few seconds at a time when the temperature got too high.  The testing I did on the hills of SW Kansas and eastern CO suggested that they did a good job and would allow me to climb the big long hills to our house with minimal problem.  Turned out that was the case. 

I have been working on the hydraulic fan system (some details in previous posts) and think I have the handle on how to make it work better (change to a more viscous fluid).  All in all, I think I have the charge air cooler problem at a manageable level.

That is all for this trip.  We leave again next Sunday to travel to Custer, SD for an Eagle Bus rally.  Stay tuned.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hello from Junction City, KS

Hello from Junction City, KS

Friday Morning July 2, 2010 (eleventh travelogue of this trip).

The Fleetwood rally was both fun and rewarding. We did a little bit of touring of the small town of Du Quoin – mostly to go eat or have ice cream. The Du Quoin fairgrounds are well equipped and nicely landscaped. However, it is quite spread out, and not easy to walk to everything. They had tractors pulling passenger trailers and that helped. Some folks drove their cars or golf carts. It was pretty darn hot and humid, so most folks did not walk to the events. Indeed, the attendees at these rallies have a few years under their belt and walking can be a challenge. The huge building we were in was well equipped including good air conditioning. The building was large enough to have a dining area for over 1000 people, the vendor area and several display motorhomes – and not be crowded.

They had two nights of entertainment. The first night seemed way too loud and we left early. The last night of the rally they had a great group. It was three guys that played perhaps 20 different instruments. They played a wide variety of music and the drummer mimicked some famous artists with very humorous skits.

The fairgrounds are the site of the Illinois state fair. It has several barns, a horse trotting track and a full horse race track. We saw several trotting horses (with the carts) working out on the track right in front of the bus.

I was able to ride my bike quite a bit and that was fun. Daughter Judy wrote a comment to one of our blogs that she was glad that we were getting some exercise. I suspect that her idea of exercise and ours is a bit different {grin}.

At the smaller rallies, we set up a double booth. On one side we have our fire suppression products and on the other side we have the SilverLeaf ( products. The SilverLeaf products take the vast amount of engine data from the diesel engines data port and display them in the form of an electronic dash. It is a top notch product that folks really love.

This was a unique situation where the owner of the company spent a great deal of time in the booth. He was attending the rally because Fleetwood is a significant customer. In any case, Martin is a great guy. He fits the description genius very well, but he also has a great personality. His being in the booth probably helped our sales.

Speaking of sales, we did pretty good. That was also true of the Fleetwood rally last year. Guess we will keep this on our “attend list”

In a recent post, I mentioned our '87 trip back east in our '56 Chevy. I am including a picture we took at the end of the trip. You will notice that Pat and the girls are in poodle skirts. The event we traveled to dedicated to the '50s era. Pat made the outfits and had each girls initial on the sweater (think Lavern and Shirley TV show). Of course, Lisa's sweater had an “L” and she got ticked off every time asked if she was Lavern {big grin}.  BTW, I still have the Chevy.  It needs a complete makeover, but it is still fun to drive.

Our Family and the '56 Chevy in '87

We departed Du Quoin Wednesday and drove a bit over 200 miles to a favorite stop: Isle of Capri casino in Boonville, MO. Yesterday we drove to Junction City and are staying in a Wal Mart (map)

That is all for now.