We got up early Saturday morning, went over and nagged the guys to finish up the final fix on the rig before we left (they moved our internal cell phone booster antenna under warranty and had to patch the hole in the inside ceiling. It’s not a material you can patch so they just installed an addition smoke detector over the hole and it looks like it was always there. After that was fixed we hitched up and were on the road by about 0830. We had a 277 mile trip today of which 276 were on I-70…we had a half mile from Camp Horizons to the freeway and another half mile once we got off at exit 19, US-24 in Goodland, KS. We got a nice pull through site 62 at the Goodland KOA for 30 bucks; there’s a nice guy with a german accent that runs the place. We crossed into the Mountain Time Zone shortly before getting to Goodland (in fact, we’re so close to the time zone boundary that our phones still think it’s Central Time) and were parked, front jacks down, and electric/water hooked up by 3PM. Neil went on a bike ride…Goodland is a nice little town…and we’re going to Mass this evening followed by dinner at the local Chinese joint since we’ve been wanting some Chinese food for a couple of weeks. The China Garden here in Goodland (there must be 10,000 Chinese restaurants named China Garden) has a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews on Yelp and Google…hopefully it’s pretty good. Here is a shot of our campsite…this is really a quite nice little park, about 90 spaces or so and there were at least 4 or 5 RVs parked for the night.
Neil talked to our friend Linda Payne…she and Howard are in Colorado Springs already and confirmed the location for our rig weighing tomorrow. We’ve got another 180 odd miles to go and can’t get into the campground until 1730 tomorrow afternoon since Prince Harry is at the Air Force Academy in the afternoon. We’ll plan on getting rolling about 1000 or so which with a nice stop for lunch will put us at the weighing location about 1400. Figure an hour for the weighing and we’ll find a Walmart or Camping World to park in for a couple hours and go find a beer or something while we wait.
Sunday turned out to be (a) a lot more exciting than we thought and (b) quite a tiring day even though it was only a 180 mile travel day. Since we only had 180 miles to go and couldn’t get into the Air Force Academy to park until 1730…we ate breakfast, Neil went on a run and we headed out at 1000. After a quick stop for lunch we continued on to Limon, CO about 60 miles from our destination and left I-70…which is when the fun started. As we exited Limon and turned onto US-24 for the final 60 miles of our day we passed a sign that said No Services next 56 miles…so we sort of knew the road would be relatively deserted. We quickly conferred via our walkie talkies and decided that since BAT’s trip computer said we still had 100 miles of fuel remaining not to turn around and go on a diesel hunt in Limon (we had not seen any stations on the way through town and while there were surely some there we would have had to look…which given our 45 mile cushion seemed like plenty). We continued down US-24 and the miles were counting down to the next turn…when at about 40 miles to go we passed what turned out to be US-24 on the right turning off but it was unmarked and looked more like the dozen or so side roads into ranches we had already passed. Right after that the GPS with no “Turn right now” message went into the dreaded “Recalculating” mode. It didn’t tell us to make a U turn but calculated a new route to Colorado Springs that was now 93 miles left instead of 46 miles…and BAT’s trip counter was down to about 70 miles of fuel remaining. We pulled over at the first place we could find a space about 9 miles down the road (the road had no shoulders and ditches on both sides) and essentially blocked a side road while we again conferred. We decided that the road we passed shortly before Recalculating was actually US-24 so we made a U turn and headed back. Nine miles back up the road we turned onto the unmarked road and the GPS immediately went back into 40 miles remaining to our destination…so we had found the correct road. The bad news was that now the difference between fuel remaining and destination only gave us a cushion of 13 miles since we had wasted 20 or so miles of fuel with our unscheduled sightseeing trip into the unpopulated sections of Colorado. By this time the road also started getting hilly since we had one section of low mountains to get over before descending into the valley where Colorado Springs is located…which means that BAT’s mileage decreased a bit which meant that our 13 mile cushion started decreasing. We started looking for fuel in all of the towns we were passing but most of them were towns in name only. After passing through 3 or 4 of these and with our cushion down to 9 miles we entered Calhan CO about 20 miles short of Colorado Springs which luckily had a truck stop so we were able to fuel up. Took 33 gallons so Neil remarked that we had a whole 4 gallons left and would have made it to Colorado Springs with almost 2 gallons or 19 miles to spare. It was a lot closer than we wanted to cut it so we immediately decided to always fill up at 100 miles remaining for the duration of our time out here in the west and also to stop at Home Depot today and grab a couple of 5 gallon cans we can fill with diesel and stow in the bed…that will give us an extra 95 miles of emergency fuel; we’ll just have to remember to put diesel stabilizer in them and use the fuel in the cans every couple months and refill them since diesel can grow mold if left sitting for long periods.
With that crisis averted we continued on into Colorado Springs to Pikes Peak Travel Land where our friends Howard and Linda of RV-Dreams are parked for the weekend. Linda came out and unlocked the gate for us and we got the rig weighed. As expected; all of our weights except the rear axle of BAT were fine and as we feared the rear axle is overloaded by about 700 pounds. We’ll have to do some shifting of some of our heavy stuff within the coach to correct the overload condition but it won’t be too hard. We can move our 120 pound safe from the front closet to sit next to the couch at the rear of the coach…this alone will correct over 240 pounds of the overload. We’ll move our 100 or so pounds of toolboxes from the basement to sit in the front passenger side of BAT on the floor since the front axle is way under the limit…between the two of those we’ll correct most of the overload. The remainder isn’t something we can fix so we’ll just live with it.
Howard and Linda also recommended lowering our trailer tire pressure from 125 to 100-110; we’ll still be well within the weight limits of the tires at the lower pressure, they’ll last longer, and the ride will improve since they will be less like balloons bouncing the trailer up and down. They recommended we increase the rear tire pressure on BAT from the factory recommended 60 to 70-75; this will make the rear tires the same pressure as the front tires are at factory recommendation so is well within the capacity of the tires. Doing this will make sure that the tire loads on BAT’s rear axle are well within specs so the only overload will be on the rear axle itself by a couple hundred pounds and we’ll just have to live with this or else buy a bigger t ruck and we’re not ready to do that at this point…although the possibility is still under review since we haven’t been in the mountains yet. We did hit a couple of 7 or 8 percent grades for a mile or so yesterday and had no issues with braking and controlling speed but will continue to evaluate this the rest of the travel season.
After our weighing was complete we headed out…it was only about 1530 by that time so we stopped at Walmart to kill time. Connie got her nails done while we waited…when that was finished we got back on the road and headed up Academy Boulevard the last 5 miles to the campsite. The road had been reopened by that time so we got to the Fam Camp and quickly checked into site 84. This wasn’t our original site but when we told the young lady at the counter we had a 39 foot rig she said that a 40 foot site would be a bit cramped so she changed us to the pull through site 84. Plenty of space, pull through instead of back in, and has a nice hole in exactly the right location through the trees so we can get satellite visibility for the TV. Here’s a picture of our site once we got setup (although Neil took this the next morning).
We quickly decided to just do the minimum setup and leave the house cleaning and outside setup until tomorrow since we were tired. So it was utilities only then we went in, baked a pizza for dinner, and watched a little TV. We did catch a really neat show on National Geographic Wild channel on Canyonlands National Park…which is one of the places we will be visiting later in the summer after we leave WA/OR/CA and start heading east through UT and CO…so we got a lot of good tips on things to see while we are there.
Today Neil is going off to get his recliner fixed and run a couple more errands while Connie gets some work done. She has a dental cleaning at 1330 and then we’re spending the rest of today and probably tomorrow cleaning, putting things back after our work last week, and rest up as we have been going pretty hard for the past two weeks or so and need to rest up a little before we start doing fun stuff.