Growing up in a small town in the Midwest during mid 20th century. Various philosophies and impressions formed and insights revealed resulting in attitudes and actions for the 21st Century.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Vacation Trip to Red River New Mexico

For weeks my brother in law Joe and wife Nancy tried to convince my husband Joe (yes, they are actually two brothers named Joe) that we should travel together this August, camping in our rigs to Red River New Mexico where the weather was pleasant during the day, around 76° F, and at night, in the 40's and 50's. 

Brother-in-law Joe (AKA Joe Paul) has a new pickup truck and a new 30 foot Outback fifth wheel. We, on the other hand, have a 30 foot, fourteen year old Fleetwood Coronado motor home. We have driven it for the last eight years from our home in central Oklahoma to Carlsbad Caverns; Yellowstone twice; Idaho four times; Grand Canyon, once was enough, we lost the transmission there on Christmas day; Phoenix three trips; Kansas City, six trips; Branson, too many times to remember; Alabama five trips both in winter and summer; parts in between, and all over Oklahoma to the many beautiful State and Federal parks and lakes. That being said, we were a bit skeptical of taking our elderly, much used motor home on such a long trip again.

But ever the optimists, and influenced by the 107° F. sticky, high humidity heat in Oklahoma, we decided to 'saddle up' the old rig and head for the high country just once more. Over the years we have had to replace a few things in the rig like the padding in the cushions, the front curtains, the toilet, the refrigerator (twice), the tranny and tranny hoses and clamps, as well as the tires (three times) a side window (after a break in), and other parts etc. With so many new parts, surely it would make another trip.

We googled the area, printed out maps and pages of where we would be staying at night along the way, and began loading the rig the day before we were supposed to leave, which is fairly easy to do as we have it down pat by now. We filled the appropriate tanks with water, propane and gasoline. 

During Tuesday afternoon, the day before we would be leaving, unexpected out of town company dropped in. When we headed out early Wednesday morning, we hugged them all and gave them the key to the house, telling them to "Make yourselves at home". 

Perhaps it was because of the confusion of the company or the break in our routine, but we accidentally left a couple of things behind like the google maps, the satellite receiver with remote control and all of Joe's medicines.

Blissfully ignorant, we teamed up with Joe Paul and Nancy, had a quick bite of breakfast and headed west on I-40. By the time we reached Elk City, Oklahoma we had come to realize that Joe's medicines were not in the rig so we pulled off and drove to the local Wal-mart to see if we could get at least a weeks worth of medicines. Sure enough, since we buy our drugs at a Wal-mart in our home town, they could refill all of our prescriptions except the one that had expired. 

The very helpful pharmacist called our doctor's office to get permission to refill the expired drug prescription. All this took about three quarters of an hour. When returning to the rig, I noticed a lot of water under the front of the rig but since we were running the generator, I thought it was from the air conditioner. I could not have been more wrong.

Back on I-40, we were talking about the wonders of computers, how you can go miles from home and get your medications almost as easily as buying them at home when my husband suddenly said "Boy, it's really hot!" Thinking he meant the weather, I agreed and mentioned that's why we were headed for the mountains. "No, the rig is hot!" was his quick reply. He turned off the air conditioner and slowed down. The temperature dropped a bit but not enough to continue to drive much further. 

After a quick conversation with Joe Paul (thank goodness for cell phones) we decided to try to limp into the nearest town. Fortunately there was a weigh station coming up where we pulled off to see what could be causing the overheating. When the guys opened up the hood, water was everywhere and squirting out of the big black hose attached to the motor. It was then we realized that the water I had seen under the rig was the water used to cool the motor. 

We filled a gallon jug six times from the faucet in the kitchen to refill the motor with water hoping that it would last long enough to get us to the next exit and to an auto supply store. Back on the interstate, we rejoiced to see an exit come up in less than two miles! We pulled off and limped into the town of Erick that turned out to be a very small, make that very, very small town. There was very little traffic and even at the very slow crawl, we went all the way through town and were headed out the other side before we knew it. 

Pulling over to the side of the road, and stopping in front of a very old garage that no longer pumped gas, Joe Paul went over to the two older gents sitting out front and asked where the auto supply store was in town. Being told there was no store, the men asked what were we looking for. Upon hearing that we needed a radiator hose, one man told Joe Paul that he'd bought a bunch of radiator hoses at an auction a while back and dumped them next to the building and pointed to where they lay in the tall grass. "If you can find one that works, you're welcome to it!" he called out. 

Thanking the men, Joe Paul went to the pile, picked up a hose, looked it over and saw that it obviously would not work and then, seeing the round end of a hose sticking up out of the grass, reached in and pulled it out. The hose was brand new, still having the label on the side of it.

 By the time Joe Paul got back to the rig with the hose, Joe had the 'dog house' (the lid like thing inside of a gasoline rig that covers the engine) open and was trying to remove the ruptured hose. Joe Paul got some tools from his rig and we scrounged up some more tools from ours. Finally they got the hose off of the motor. 

Suddenly Joe asked Joe Paul "Oh Gosh!! Does it have a hole in it?" Since there are two hoses that carry water he was hoping that they had removed the damaged one. Sure enough, a close look revealed a quarter inch slit in the hose. Whew. They had removed the correct hose.

Nancy and I sat at the table and watched as the two Joe's discussed if the new hose would work. "It's too short." "No, it's not!" "The end's too small!" "Well, you can push hard to get it on!" Finally the old hose was off and they laid them side by side on the floor. The conversation continued, "They don't match!" "Turn it around!" Like magic when they turned the brand new hose around and laid it down on top of the damaged hose, they matched perfectly. In a tiny town in Oklahoma, in knee high grass, was the perfect, brand new, radiator hose for a fourteen year old motor home. Even if we had found a well stocked auto supply store, the chances of having that old radiator hose in stock was probably slim to none. 

When we heard "Oops!" we wondered what could be happening now. While working to remove the clamps from the old hose, one had fallen into a snarl of wires under the motor and could not be retrieved. Could we hope for another miracle? Back in his pickup truck, Joe Paul drove a block and a half to where a hand lettered sign near the road read "Dollar Store". 'Turns out that the "Dollar Store" had some of about everything including a package of hose clamps in three sizes. A conquering hero could not have had more cheers than when he tossed the package of clamps onto the floor next to the exposed motor. 

Thanks to a set of sockets and a ratchet, the job of installing the new hose began in earnest. Fortunately we had found a great big shade tree and pulled the RV  under it providing shade in which they could work. A slight breeze kept the Joe's cool while installing the new hose. 

Everything went well until the final end had to be pushed onto the motor. It seemed to be too small. I suggested that they lightly grease it, saying that I had some butter we could use. After a animated conversation of whether or not the grease would help or hurt, the decision was made to lightly grease the hose.

Unable to suppress a bit of fun, I asked if they would prefer butter or margarine. Fortunately, I had the butter ready for Joe before a verbal storm could start and, after a bit of lubrication and pushing, the hose slipped onto the mount and was tightened up. 

After a bit of cleanup, the breather was replaced and we were ready to roll. But wait, all the water and the coolant had drained from the motor. Could the "Dollar Store"????????? Yep, the "Dollar Store" had three brands of Coolant.
The rig was filled and ready to roll. Back on I-40 we again headed west into the sun, bound for Amarillo. Earlier, my Joe had told his brother we couldn't make it to Amarillo before the end of the day. He wasn't far off. In spite of everything, we kept on rolling, the rig ran fine, and at dark, rolled into Dalhart, Texas, our planned stop for the night. We had thought that our trip was over before it began, but instead we were on schedule and headed for Red River. 

The next morning our only problem was trying to find a place to park a motor home and pickup truck with trailer at the local MacDonald's for breakfast. 

The landscape changed as we headed north and west into the high desert, foot hills and finally into the mountains. As we went higher and higher, it became cooler and cooler. Air conditioning in the rig gave way to wide open windows with mountain air rushing in. 

We entered Carson National Forest and were enthralled by the variety of sights. Crystal clear, cold streams were beautiful to watch sparkling and dancing through the undergrowth, trees, stones and bluffs. The Palisade's were majestic and stately, and astonishingly powerful with their stone formations and outcroppings reaching to the skies above a rapidly running, tree lined river. 

Further along, an old log with a six inch groove carved into the length of it channeled water from a small stream into a broader stream. Joe Paul said the log had been there over 20 years ago when he had stopped at that same spot. The water was cold, 56° F, and crystal clear. Missy and I splashed across the stream, enjoying the fresh cold water. 

Campground in Red River

The river running through the campground.

Remember Oklahoma? 107° F and humid? What a joy to revel in cool mountain air and cold water. 
Flowers everywhere!!

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