We left San Diego with the plan to drive directly to Phoenix in one day so we could pick up the Jeep first thing Monday morning. This didn't follow our slow pace mentality that we planned for our RV adventures. We want to pace our driving so we don't exceed 200-250 miles a day. Hey, being retired now we should have all the time to take things slow. The drive from San Diego to Phoenix is 344 miles and took us almost 6 hours. Sometimes circumstances will call for a change in our usual pace, and this was one of them. Even with some breaks it was still a lot of driving for Mike to do by himself in one day. I am not quite comfortable driving the RV yet but plan to take on the challenge as we start traveling more.
Our planned stop for 2 nights was at the Destiny RV Park http://destinyrv.com/phoenixrvresort/ in Goodyear, Arizona, which is on the west side of Phoenix. RV park choices in the Phoenix area are limited and you end up with more options in these outlying areas. It's easy to get space this time of year since most of the snowbirds have left town for cooler locations. A better than average park with an abundance of citrus trees. The streets are narrow but we had no problem pulling into our pull-thru site.
It was not far from I-10 but far enough to not hear any freeway noise. We picked up the Jeep on Monday, did some shopping and packed up a few things that were left with family while we were in San Diego. We decided with the Jeep loaded with stuff and our plan to be home before Memorial Day we would make it a quick trip home and work on the slower pace on our next trip. The easiest route was to travel to Las Vegas, stay the night in Mesquite, and get to Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Our free overnight stop Tuesday night was at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite Nevada. http://www.casinocamper.com/casinolocations/79-nevada/485-eureka-resort-and-casino
We left Mesquite the next morning and got within 20 miles of St. George when coming out of the Virgin River Gorge area we got the dreaded check engine warning. http://www.motorhome.com/rv-how-to/rv-tech-tips/check-engine-light/ We safely pulled over to a large pull out area to assess the codes that displayed. Fortunately, we had cell phone coverage and could call Newmar, our RV manufacturer, to talk with customer support and have them decipher the codes and give us a general idea what the problem was. The codes indicated we may have an EGR valve https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhaust_gas_recirculation issue and erratic numbers were being received by the on board computer which alerted us by the check engine warning. The RV was driving fine but we didn't know how long before it really was unhappy so we decided to stop in St. George where we could have somebody look at it before driving our final 280 miles. We were aware of a Freightliner location just outside of St. George in Washington, Utah and felt okay to drive a short distance if the RV was operating normally. We called Freightliner and they could get us in and do the diagnostic. This is a known complaint in the older RV's with the Cummins diesel engine and Mike was aware of it when we were considering buying an older RV. He budgeted for this repair but we didn't expect to have to do it in our 1st year. The RV passed emissions just this April so it must have just started to fail.
We pulled in, I unloaded myself and the dogs and went to wait in their customer service lounge while Mike stayed with the coach as they attached their computers to trouble shoot the codes. It took them 5 hours to confirm the initial assessment that the EGR valve was failing and should be replaced. They gave us a reasonable estimate for its replacement, however, they didn't have the part but could overnight it from Salt Lake City and have it arrive at 4am and could finish the job first thing in the morning. We decided, since we were there and they could get to the job quickly, to have them do the repair then wait until we got back to Salt Lake City. They set us up for the overnight outside the service bay and even connected us to fresh water and some electricity. We had plenty of food for dinner and breakfast and were able to open the bedroom slides to sleep comfortably. Another free night on this trip. They would start the repair that afternoon and when they get the part in the morning they would install it first thing and get us on the road by 9am.
It was late afternoon and I didn't want to hang out in the service lounge any longer or the RV so I researched if there were any dog parks close by or in St. George. I found a really nice, small dog park only 4 miles away. We loaded the dogs up and drove to the park so they could get some much needed playtime while they started the work on the RV.
|Dog Town Dog Park, Washington Utah|
We got back to the coach around 5:30; they were all done, shut down and most of the employees were gone. We settled into the coach for a quiet night. In the morning they finished the work on the coach while we were inside having our breakfast. When they were ready to start the engine and take it for a test drive I loaded up the dogs and went to wait in the service lounge. Everything tested perfectly and we were on the road by 10am. The trip back to Salt lake went smooth, we unloaded everything at the house and Mike moved Max (our newly named RV) to our local Walmart parking lot and stayed there for the night until he could move it into storage the next day.
Although this trip had its challenges it also gave us some valuable experiences along the way. We've had a lot of firsts on this trip. We learned how to boondock at free stops like casinos, repair shops and Walmart's. A smart budget for lodging will need to include some percentage of free nights. You don't realize your grey tank limitations until you boondock without hookups. It definitely puts limits on showers and using the dishwasher or washing machine. We had to become frugal with our water usage when running the faucets to wash hands or rinse dishes. We learned to be flexible in our planning, you never know when there will be another repair or some unexpected occurrence where we will need to change our route. I also got the oppourtunity to meet and talk with a lot of interesting people(truckers) while I was waiting in the service lounge. One older trucker was originally from the Ukraine and had immigrated here for a better life and to raise a family. He had an enormous knowledge of history and current events. That day I learned a lot about the Ukraine and their struggles. These are the types of experiences that will be remembered in our travels not the mishaps or repairs.
We get to settle now into our summer activities of hiking and mountain biking. We will also use this time to work on overdue projects around the house and finalize some plans for our upcoming trips in July and September.
July-Kountry Klub Idaho State Rally in Cascade, Idaho
September- Kountry Klub International Rally in Pueblo, CO
October- Albuquerque International Balloon Festival