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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Just One More

Today, Sunday marks the end of the blizzard of shows we've seen here in Branson.  We have one more show to see tonight and that will wrap up the entertainment portion of our stay.  We've stayed longer this year than last to not run ourselves into the ground by cramming too many shows in too few days, but Marti still picked a bunch for us to see.  It's easy to overdo it with all that is available.

Tomorrow we take my dad and Marti's sister Gail to the Springfield/Branson Airport for their flights home and then we'll remain here a couple of days to recover before we head out to our next destination and adventure.

I guess we handle fun here in Branson like we drive, lots of shows like driving lots of miles.  We have to call it "BSD" (Branson Show Disorder).  Even though we're retired and could have taken a more leisurely visit here, because of our guests who both still work, we had to return to our old ways of cramming in so much in limited vacation time.

Still, it was worth every minute.  Branson is a great place to visit.  Plus it has given me a great idea, we could buy a house here and open a business:  Refurbishing fiddle and violin bows.  Just about every show here has fiddles and violins in it and they all burn up their bows playing the "Orange Blossom Special" faster than anyone else.  This business could make us a fortune!  ;c)


I'll do a wrap up of the shows we've seen and our recommendations in case anyone gets down this way.  Some were so good, even though we've seen them before, we'd see them again.  One or two, well, we won't darken their doors again.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You Never Know What You’ll See Next

Branson, MO has some of the most incredible musical talent in the country.  There are over 100 shows playing through most of the year and they give you a wide choice of what to see.  We’ve seen lots of amazing talented performers so far, but we’ve been surprised by some off the wall items, too.

Marti, my activities director, planned what we were going to see.  She and Gail spread all the show information over the picnic table putting together our schedule.

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She got great seats for the shows.

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Some shows were family shows, like this one.

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When I say family shows, I mean the whole family is involved in the show, all fifty of them!  Brothers, wives and kids.

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We got some underway time on the Branson Belle, where they put on a dinner and a show while cruising around Table Rock Lake.

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Before the show started, we were able to look around the lake.  My dad enjoyed the view.

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We even saw some ducks on the lake.

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Some of the shows featured things we’ve never seen before, like this guy:

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He had bulb horns of all different notes attached all over his body and play them by using his hands, arms, knees, elbows and legs.

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How about this, look closely, each fiddler is playing not their own fiddle, but the one next to them!

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A new twist, instead of a fiddle, a full sized harp.

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It glowed in the dark!

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One performer arrived in the theater via jet pack.

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I was thrilled to meet one of my friends from a favorite childhood TV show:

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Trigger. Roy Rodger’s horse. (Don’t worry, he’s stuffed!).

And of course, my dad still has all the cute lady performers getting their pictures taken with him.

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I’ll do a post on the shows we’ve seen (and will see this week) and our opinions of them.  Have to sign off or I’ll be late for the next show. :cO

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How It All Ended

The hint picture in the last post was of a mobile RV service truck.

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He was at my neighbor’s across the street working on his RV.  I saw my neighbor with his check book writing out payment.

Luckily for me, I did not have to use him. 

At the RV dealer in the last post, the guy that was helping me thought he might have a capacitor of the size I needed.  I was skeptical, the inside of the place looked like the TV show Hoarders, junk everywhere.  He went to a shelf, pulled a couple of boxes off,  found the one he was looking for, peered inside then put the box back.  Then he walked to another shelf, pulled out a box, rummaged around inside and pulled out a capacitor.  “That’ll be $14.95” he said as he handed it to me.

I looked at it, it was a different brand than mine, but looking at the specifications printed on its side, it was the correct one.  I pulled out a twenty and handed it to him.  He didn’t have any change so I told him to keep the change.  I was just thrilled to get the part.

Here is the new (left) and old capacitor (right) side by side.  You can see on the old one the damage on the top where water got in, corroded the terminals and eventually caused so much heat from a bad connection that is melted and failed.

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I cut off the damaged wires, put on new terminals and put the capacitor back in place.

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I bought some liquid electrical sealant at the nearby Lowe’s and sealed the top.  Also I moved the capacitor as far up in the bracket as I could.  Why?  Read on.

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I fired up the fan and it worked perfectly, thank goodness that I didn’t have to give any of my money to that mobile RV service guy.

Now, why did the capacitor fail?  If you look closely at the above picture, to the bottom of the fan housing (the big silver thing) you see a waterline stain about the last two inches at the bottom.   Also, to the right of the capacitor, you’ll see similar staining running down the fan housing.

Okay, another little lesson on how things work.  Air conditioners not only cool the air but they remove the moisture or humidity from the area being cooled.  That is why you see drips of water under your car about where the passenger’s feet are when you run the air conditioner in your car, or on your motorhome, if the a/c is roof mounted you get water dripping off the roof.  On basement a/c units like mine, the water drips out of the bottom of the unit. 

Winnebago knows that moisture can be flung by the fan so they put a rubber cap on it to protect the terminals.  So why did mine a/c have so much water in it.  I’d see water dripping underneath the a/c unit when it was on.

The failure was caused by this little device.

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That round thing is called a duckbill.  It is a little rubber hose with a soft end that stays closed.  When enough water is in the unit to push the duckbill open, the water drains out.  When the water is all drained out, the duckbill closes.  It closes to keep bugs and wasps from building a nest in the hose, blocking the drain.

Sometimes the rubber sides of the duckbill get stuck together and don’t open.  Mine were stuck together.  The water I saw dripping from my a/c was water leaking out of the seams of the a/c housing, but not at a very fast rate.  Because I saw water dripping, I didn’t think anything was wrong.  But water built up inside my unit as seen by the staining and was flung around by the fan, soaking the capacitor and actually submerging it at times because it was located low in the bracket.

So a new maintenance item has been placed on my list.  Check the duckbill.  How to check it?  This is very simple, stick a screwdriver in it to make sure it is open periodically.

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Even with the side of my a/c unit off, when I stuck the screwdriver up the duckbill, water came pouring out.  It drained for several minutes, I ‘d guess at least a quart came out.

This is something that Winnebago owners (yes this means you, Sherry) should check, and other brands like Alfa that use the same type of basement a/c unit should check.  If you’re a/c unit is on the roof, you don’t have anything to worry about.

So a simple thing caused me this fun.  Reminds me of a guy I worked for years ago.  He would not fly on an airplane, always traveled by train.  His rationale?  He said it was always the ten cent spring that made the airplane crash.

Now with everything fixed, I can get back to enjoying the shows in Branson.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Strike Out Or A Home Run?

Already having diagnosed what caused my basement air conditioning unit to stop working, I set out on my quest to find the elusive blower motor start capacitor.

What is a start capacitor, you ask?  Well, is like a spring, which you can wind up and up, which stores energy until you release it.  The capacitor is like a storage battery, it takes in a large electrical charge and stores it until released. 

Electric motors, air conditioner compressors and such require lots of voltage to initially start turning.  Once they get turning, very little power is required to keep turning.  Sort of like the last time you ran out of gas with your car and had to push it.  It takes a lot of grunting and groaning to get it rolling but once it gets rolling, you don’t have to use as much muscle power to keep it moving, (unless you come to a hill!).

The a/c fan motor needs a little boost to get running and that’s what the capacitor does, it gives a high voltage “push” to the motor when it is switched on.

Okay, sorry, got a little carried away with the lesson.  Here in Branson, I researched where to buy the capacitor.  I found many places that carry the part, but only sell wholesale, not to the general public.  If I was an RV repair place or an electrician business, no problem, but not being either, it was going to be interesting.

I always like to have a plan “B”, so after researching the Winnebago Parts catalog on line, I got the part number.  First thing this morning, I called Lichtsinn Motors, a Winnebago dealer one mile from the factory.  Being so close to the factory, they can get parts very quickly.  I ordered the capacitor which was in stock and the little rubber cover boot that goes over the top of the capacitor to protect the wires, which was not in stock and will take five weeks to get.

I figured I could have them overnight the capacitor if I couldn’t get it locally and I’d jury rig something to cover the top in place of the boot.  I’ve ordered parts from them for years and they are terrific to work with.  I told the parts guy to hold the capacitor, I’d try and get one locally and I would call him back to tell him where to send it if I couldn't.

So, how did I make out?  One of my blog readers told me that even though Grainger Supply is an electrical parts wholesaler, sometimes they will sell retail.  He gave me the phone number, which I did Google lookup and got the address.

Just to be sure, I got the addresses for several other local electrical supply wholesalers too, hoping that if I had no luck with one, maybe another would be moved enough by my teary-eyed sob story to sell me one.

I also wrote down the names of the two local RV dealers, just as a backup to my backup plans. (Plan “B.1).

My dad and I hopped in the car this morning and set off for the Grainger address.  The GPS took us out and about and out of town into an unpopulated area and then by an old house.  “You have arrived at your destination” it said.   That run down old house didn’t look like a large supply warehouse.  Hmm, thinking I might have gotten the address wrong, I dialed the number and got a phone line has been disconnected message.  Now it made sense, it was the former home of somebody named Grainger.

Looking over my notes, I saw that we were close to one of the local RV dealers, so I decided to head over that way to see if they might, by some miracle, have a capacitor in stock.  I doubted it but what the heck?

We pulled up to a run down looking yard with a bunch of older RVs all around a big garage.  We went inside to find a mess, boxes of junk, shelves with all kinds of things hanging off them, old parts piled up, (the heap of old RV toilets was a nice touch) and went into the smoke filled office, where two men were sitting, smoking away.

After I stopped coughing, I asked if they, by any chance might have a capacitor.  I gave one of the guys the old one (in a plastic baggy so my fingers would stay clean) and he took a look at it.

Now comes the part where I’m supposed to tell you if I struck out or made a home run.  That will have to wait for the next post.  But, being I’m such a nice guy, I’ll give you a hint on how I made out:

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Double Strike Out

Today being our first full day in Branson, I got a little chance to relax (snooze in my recliner) while Marti and Gail took care of buying all the tickets for this week of shows.  Tonight we were supposed to see the "Rat Pack", a tribute to Frank, Dean, Sammy by impersonators that sing and dance to that famous music.


It was an evening show and when we pulled up to the theater, the lot was empty.  We figured it was because we were a little early.  Wrong.  It was because the show was cancelled.  Seems two of the show members called in sick. Strike out!  We will get our money back, but because we have other shows already scheduled for our week here, we'll have to pass on seeing it on another day.

Then the air conditioner on the Journey acted up.  Actually, it didn't act at all.  Just hummed a bit and the blower fan never came on.  Uh oh.  This could be expensive.


I opened up the side of the a/c unit, it is a basement type air conditioner and took a look inside.  I found the start capacitor for the blower fan, a little device about the size and shape of a salt shaker was dripping water despite having a rubber cover on it.  The blower motor itself was hot to touch.

I pulled the rubber cover back and found the inside was all burned, corroded and melted.  Ah ha, the problem.  A simple fix.  Not!  Looking online in the Branson area, there are no electrical supply stores in the area that will sell retail, only wholesale.  Meaning, even if they have the part, I can't buy it.  Strike out number two!  Fortunately, the weather has been mild, the nights cool, so not having the a/c for a few days is not going to be a problem.

Of course, now is the weekend, so even if I were to go to the wholesale supply stores and throw myself on their mercy and plead my case (beg, even) that embarrassment will have to wait for Monday.  Pictures will follow, too.  I'd have taken some, but the capacitor was leaking really sticky fluid and I got it all over my fingers.  I have enough trouble with cameras as it is, getting sticky fingerprints all over it would not be a good idea.

So, we'll see how this all works out.  A fifteen minute repair and who knows how many hours to get the part.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Turkey Creek Campground Is Flooded

We are here in Branson at the Escapees Turkey Creek Campground.  We arrived and got set up and felt a little lonely, there were not many other RVers here.

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Turkey Creek is a nice campground, with good FHU sites, nice showers, laundry and an activities center.

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We picked up my dad and Marti’s sister Gail at the Springfield/Branson airport (about an hour North of Branson).  In no time Marti and Gail were looking over all the brochures and coming up with a list of the shows we’re going to see.

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Then it happened, the flood began.  The whole campground was engulfed.

There was an Escapees Escapade in Sedalia, MO over the last couple of days, and with its conclusion came a flood of RVs that had attended.  Before we could blink, the campground was flooded with RVs of every size and shape.

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It’s okay, everyone is nice and friendly.  Probably over the next couple of days, the “flood” will gradually drain away.  That’s the beauty of having an RV and being able to move wherever you want.  It’s working well for us.

We’re looking to see a number of shows and attractions over the next ten days.  It’s nice to have time to spend with family.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Marti Tangles With A Trooper

One small detail I omitted from yesterday's post was a funny thing that happened to us on the way to Branson.

We were driving on I-40 in Arkansas when we hit a major road construction site.  They highway was being closed for a time and then reopened for a time, causing major backups.  No worries, we carry our bathroom with us.

As we slooowly crept up to an exit, a deputy sheriff standing there motioned for us to take it.  I stopped and had a nice brief chat with him and he gave me directions.  I thanked him and moved off down the exit.

At the end of the exit was a crossroads intersection.  Left, right or straight back onto the highway.  Standing in the middle of the intersection was one of Arkansas' finest, a state trooper.  He was directing traffic.

The deputy had told me to turn left at the intersection, but the trooper motioned for us to go straight across the intersection.  Who am I to argue?  I went straight across the intersection like the trooper had directed me.

As I drove past him he started screaming "Stop!  Stop!"  So I stopped.  Then he started screaming "Back up, BACK UP!!!"   I opened my window and yelled back to him (standing at the rear of the Journey) that I could not back up.  He just kept screaming for me to back up and started pounding on the side of the Journey.

I had Marti jump out of the Journey and run back to the Element tow car to hold the wheel straight so I could back up.  As Marti came around the trooper she told him she was going to hold the steering wheel so I could back up.  He yelled at her to get back in the Journey.  Marti said in no uncertain terms that she had to hold the wheel or the car front wheels would lock up.  As she went for the car door, the trooper yelled at her that he would do it.  Marti stopped, he whipped open the door and stuck one foot in and held the wheel while is other foot was on the ground.  He screamed again for me to back up, so I slowly backed up through the intersection with the trooper holding the wheel and hopping on his one foot.  When I got far enough back that I could turn left, he, slammed the door and yelled at Marti to get back in the Journey and yelled "Why can't you follow everyone else?"

What ever.  Marti got back inside, I turned right and drove away.  I know he may have thought he was indicating for me to turn left, but instead of correctly using full arm motions, he was just using his hands and wrists.  So it was easy for me to mistake whatever way he was trying to point for the wrong one.

We've all read of police officers using excessive force and dragging little old ladies out of their cars at traffic stops.  I've often wondered where officers like that could come from.  Now I know that there is at least one in the Arkansas State Police.

We drove through the various turns, each one manned by a sheriff's deputy who pleasantly waved us though the turns until we arrived back on the highway.  Along the way, we passed the headquarters of the Arkansas State Police.  I briefly thought that maybe we should stop and file a complaint, but my PDD was kicking in so we kept on going.  Hopefully no little old lady gets stopped by that trooper.

Today we had a scrubbing bubbles day.  The Escapees campground allows you to wash your motorhome, so I started a top down, full spa treatment for the Journey.  Marti took care of the inside and spruced everything up, and steam cleaned the carpets, too.  Now the Journey gleams inside and out.  We like it that way.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Tried

After making great headway in my battle to defeat PDD (Paul Dahl Disorder - driving too many miles in one day) I failed...miserably. 

Everything was stacked against me, we were up early, it was a beautiful, sunny day and traffic was very light.  The roads were smooth and the fuel tank was full.  How could I stop driving after a few puny miles?

So I drove 366 miles.  We stopped for the night at a Super Walmart in Conway, Arkansas.  After asking and getting permission from the store's customer service desk, we committed what some in the RV world consider a sacrilege.  We went way over in a wide open corner and opened our slides.  :cO

We've been having periodic troubles with our Sprint MiFi and last night it decided not to connect to the Internet.  Despite the best actions of my personal geek (Marti) and Sprint Customer Service, it refused to cooperate.  The Sprint rep said we'd have to take it to a Sprint repair center.  Lucky for us, there is one in Branson, MO, our destination for the next two weeks.

Today, another sunny, warm day, we drove the last 146 miles (see, I CAN do it!) and plopped down in the Escapees Turkey Creek Campground.  A nice site, FHUs and 50 amps for $18.50/night, how can you not like it?  After setting up our site, we hoofed off to the Sprint repair center, where our MiFi worked perfectly.  And continues to work just ducky.

Sometimes, you can't win.  This time we did, I guess.  The MiFi works great and we weren't charged for a half hour of the technicians time.  Maybe the stars aligned again?

Now a day to relax, do a little sprucing up on the inside of the Journey and I'm allowed to wash its outsides.  Can't wait.  :c)

Friday afternoon, Marti's sister Gail and my dad fly in for the next ten days of enjoying Branson's finest shows.  It'll be fun, Branson is a great place to visit.  (Yes, Diana, we saw SIX last year and it was amazing!)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Plan “B”

I am getting cured of PDD (Paul Dahl Disorder – driving too many miles in one day).  It is taking some time, but I drove less miles today than yesterday, only 250. 

Be careful, I hear you laughing at me, but remember, Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day.  ;c)

We departed the Raccoon Valley campground this morning, but as always, before I move the Journey, I do a complete walk around, checking to ensure all basement compartment doors are closed and latched, leveling jacks are up, and looking underneath, up and down at windows, awnings, tires and such so I don’t go driving down the road dragging something, or having something flapping in the breeze.

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I also look over my tow bar assembly, checking bolts, cables, links and brackets.  I’d hate to have my tow car pass me going down the highway, or arrive at my destination with no car attached.

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It poured with rain all day, the wipers got quite a workout.

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We often put a meal in our crockpot and let it cook all day while we’re driving.  Along with enjoying the wonderful aromas as we drive, we have a piping hot meal ready to chow down on when we call it a day.

Marti whipped up some barbecue chicken wings in the crockpot and it was bubbling up nicely.  But the best laid plans of mice and men…

A car on the highway suddenly slowed way down and I had to brake hard, not that it was close as I am careful to leave lots of space between the Journey and vehicles in front.  Still, it was a harder than usual stop and…

Bam!  Crash!  The crockpot overturned in the sink and dumped all the chicken.  We lost dinner, but on the bright side, being overturned in the sink, it was not a huge cleanup issue.

Now what to do for dinner?  Enter Plan “B”.  Since we planned on blacktop boondocking at a Flying J anyway, we availed ourselves of their Denny’s restaurant.  It was as usual, hot and mediocre.

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Since the RV parking sites are often a little tight and we do like to put out some of the slides, I pulled into a space and left the Element toad slightly canted so anybody pulling up alongside will have to clear the slides.  Yet I can stay completely within my parking space lines.

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So for tomorrow, it’ll be another rainy day of driving, but maybe I can drive another 10 or so miles less than today.  It’s all part of the 12 step program to cure myself of PDD.

  We can do it!  :c)

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dodged A Bullet

Today was the day to hit the road.  With plenty of time to get to our destination of Branson, MO, we took our time packing up and getting ready to leave. 

The nearby Walmart has a gas station and the good news is it carries diesel at a good price.  Better yet, buying a prepaid Walmart gift card and using it at the gas station, I was able to get ten cents off each gallon, and I needed almost 60 gallons.

I topped off the tank, Marti and I hooked up the Element and we headed off down the road.  That’s when the trouble started.

The Journey’s engine started missing when I pushed the accelerator pedal down, putting the engine under load.  That was not good.

Sometimes knowing the intricacies of diesel engines and how they work can be a bad thing.  I listened closely, watched the gauges like a hawk and had visions of big dollar bills to repair bad injectors or a fuel injection pump.  You see, even though I have an extended warranty, warranty companies often will not cover fuel system parts failures because contaminated fuel damage is not from a component failure.

Also there could be another cause for the engine missing, diesel fuel that sits in a hot environment can grow a type of algae in it.  I had run the tank down to under 1/4 when we arrived in South Carolina last month in the (unsuccessful) hope that the then falling price of diesel fuel would continue its downward spiral. A choice environment for the algae growth, diesel fuel, a dark, hot tank and lots of oxygen from the tank being so low. 

Driving along, the miss slowly cleared up.  The gauges all remained reading normal, no “Check Engine” light came on and after about twenty miles it disappeared completely. 

I think that there really was a little bit of algae that had started growing in the fuel lines or filters.  Once the bad fuel ran through the engine, the good fuel took over and the Journey ran like a top.  Note to self: Fill fuel tank whenever extended periods of non-use in hot weather.  The couple of dollars saved pales in comparison to the potential thousands of dollars to replace bad injectors or fuel injection pump.

Just to make sure, I stopped at the next truck stop and bought a container of diesel fuel conditioner that helps clean out fuel system problems.  Half of the container went in the tank, saving the other half for tomorrow’s fill up.  Dodged a bullet, for sure!

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We drove through the mountains of North Carolina, the Journey took all the hills in stride.  The scenery was beautiful, as always.

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Even a tunnel to break up the monotony of all the scenery. ;c)

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We set our goal to stop for the night at the Escapee's Raccoon Valley Campground just outside of Knoxville, TN.  When we were here last June, it was a sweltering day and the campground pool looked so inviting.  Unfortunately, it was locked up because it had not had its annual county inspection.  I was bummed.

Pulling in today, after only 261 miles (I am recovering from PDD – Paul Dahl Disorder for driving too many miles in one day), I saw the pool looking very inviting.  I registered and asked the Host if the pool was open.  He said “Yes”.  I quickly got the Journey set up and  donned my swim trunks.

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Hoofing it up to the pool gate, what did I find?  A padlock!  I guess I’m not destined to ever swim in this pool. Sniff!   :c(

The End.

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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