G has a "swell" time kayaking

G has a "swell" time kayaking
G has a "swell" time on Lake Michigan in an inflatable canoe

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico
Dawn on the Gulf of Mexico

Warren Dunes Sunset

Warren Dunes Sunset
Warren Dunes Sunset

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Replacing the tires at 42,000+ miles

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Our 2013 Roadtrek 210P came with Bridgestone tires.  At 42,600 miles and nearly 8 years old, these have done very well (Chevy chassis manufacture date 12/2012). With these tires we find the road noise acceptable at highway speeds of 80 MPH. These tires show no signs of rot, remaining tread sufficient according to the Michelin tire indicator. etc.  Ergo, my satisfaction. Some might say I'm a preventative maintenance nut because I rotate the tires about every 6,000 miles. But PM is about avoiding unscheduled breakdowns. I want to get where I'm going while trekking and that's why I perform PM and why I carry some unusual spare parts. "Avoid" but not "Eliminate" because things do go wrong from time to time.

We rotate these tires with every oil change. At about 43,000 miles the wear is balanced. "You get what you pay for" and I do think the frequent rotation and tire checks are a good investment in worry and maintenance free controlled trekking; I want to avoid unscheduled maintenance stops. I'd add "You get the service life that you maintain for".

I've begun to look into replacing the tires this year.  I have no interest in getting into a religious battle about the best tires.  I will not purchase China bombs. Period. Here is what I'm researching:

LT245/75R16 E (load range E). 
Service Description: 120/116R (3,169-2,806 lbs. per tire) with speed rating "R" = 106 MPH.

The Bridgstone "Duravis R500 HD " is an all-season tire that approximates what I'm looking for. Installed cost about $250 per tire.

Definition of Highway All-Season: Focused on longer tread life while providing a smooth ride and sufficient all-season traction

FMCA Tire Discount Program
I'm a member and the FMCA does have a discount program with cooperating Michelin, Continental and Hankook dealers. I'll be looking it this as a possible tire source.

Cost to Operate

From a cost to operate perspective the tires cost me about $125 per year.  I pay about $60 for each maintenance visit to our Chevy dealer. That includes full synthetic oil change, tire rotation and multi-point inspection. This occurs about every 6,000 miles, or over 8 years, about once each year.  A really good investment, in my humble opinion. I do simple things like replacing the wiper blades...

Original material:  https://roadtrek210.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Tale of Two Treks, as of 42,612 miles

We completed an 1,824 mile trek and this post compares mileage statistics with a 2,374 mile trek in the fall of 2019.
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This trek was not one of those leisurely ones.  With various lockdowns in various states, campgrounds opening late or is disarray, and closure of restaurants and many sight seeing venues it seemed prudent to simply cover as much ground as quickly as possible.

The fall 2019 trek was more leisurely and at a slower pace.  Speed was at or slightly under the speed limits and was generally in the range of 55 to 65 MPH. Cooler weather and better gas also contributed to better MPG. (not that summer blend low mileage stuff).

The May 2020 trek was a direct run.  Daily miles ranged from a low of 303 to a maximum of 599.  Speeds were all interstate with a range of 65 to 80 MPH. The exceptions were construction on I-55 in Illinois and local roads to and from campgrounds and truck stops.

There was a significant difference in MPG for the two treks, per the gasoline receipts and vehicle odometer:
  1. Fall 2019 = 2,523 miles,  156.98 gallons, cost $372.18, 16.1 MPG. At lower highway speed I clocked 16.5 MPG.  Average cost per gallon = $2.37.
  2. Spring 2020 = 1,824 miles, 128.9 gallons, cost  $226.50, 14.2 MPG per gasoline receipts. I checked the idling and local city miles MPG and it was about 10.5!
  3. Gasoline cost for the Spring 2020 trek was below $2 per gallon until we crossed into Illinois. Lowest cost was $1.599 per gallon in Miami, OK.  That was for 86 Octane; I usually fill up at 1/2 tank and when doing so I alternate 88 Octane and 86 Octane. That averages to 87 Octane. Highest cost was $2.249 for 87 Octane in North-East Illinois (near Chicago).

Several days after this "stop"  I took the Roadtrek to the Chevy dealer for a full-synthetic oil change and multi-point inspection.  Cost $56.98.

At the Chevy Dealer

Original material:  https://roadtrek210.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 25, 2020

Chiricahua National Monument

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"A "Wonderland of Rocks" is waiting for you to explore at Chiricahua National Monument. The 8-mile paved scenic drive and 17-miles of day-use hiking trails provide opportunities to discover the beauty, natural sounds, and inhabitants of this 11,985 acre site. Visit the Faraway Ranch Historic District to discover more about the people who have called this area home."

We visited this National Park Service public site on April 7, 2020.  Shortly thereafter it is my understanding that the park roads were closed although walk-in was possible.  Thia was due to the CCP Covid-19 National Emergency.

The Monument is southeast of Willcox, Arizona, about 120 miles from Tucson.

This site offers a number of very pleasant walking trails. There are also interesting views.  As usual in this dry climate, using a head covering and carrying water to keep hydrated is essential. The lower trails offer shade and are cooler.

On the Massai Nature Trail:

There's a convenient lookout point on the trail:

There's even a tunnel on one of the trails:

Balanced Rocks Everywhere:

Hoodoos, too:

For cooler walking, try the Lower Rhyolite Trail:

The Lower Rhyolite Trail is an easy walk for portions, but there are more strenuous options:

Original material:  https://roadtrek210.blogspot.com/

Here's a link to the National Park Service website about this amenity:


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Covid-19 Statistics

The above is normalized chart of confirmed and deaths because of Covid-19 in the US and European Union. The media has preferred to use sensationalized total numbers. Keep in mind these CDC estimates in the US for the 2017-2018 flu season: "𝟰𝟱 𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗹𝘂𝗲𝗻𝘇𝗮 𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘀, 𝟮𝟭 𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗹𝘂𝗲𝗻𝘇𝗮-𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗺𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗶𝘁𝘀, 810,000 influenza related hospitalizations 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝟲𝟭,𝟬𝟬𝟬 𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗹𝘂𝗲𝗻𝘇𝗮-𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗵𝘀." In 2009 the H1N1 Swine Flu epidemic occurred. After 6 months a "national emergency" was declared.  The CDC website states "During the pandemic, CDC provided estimates of the numbers of 2009 H1N1 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on seven different occasions. Final estimates were published in 2011. These final estimates were that from April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010 approximately 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (8868-18,306) occurred in the United States due to pH1N1."

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I began tracking the Johns Hopkins University Medical Data statistics about Covid-19 and I've posted daily and intermittent charts on social media.

In my county half of the covid-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  IMHO this is a travesty and falls upon the governor and local health officials. My IL county is by no means unique. New York is the poster child for bad decisions.

Here's a chart of 10-day moving averages for change day to day in deaths in the US.  I updated this daily until May 17.  I have since updated it intermittently:

Here's a chart comparing the death rate in the US, the European Union and Sweden. I was interested in knowing the hoopla behind the noise in the media.  Sweden's approach to dealing with the Covid-19 has been controversial for some.

Test and covid-19 cases per 1 million population:

New York city Covid-19 Daily Data Summary as of May 1, 2020:

Original material:  https://roadtrek210.blogspot.com/

1822 mile Return Trek to the Midwest

route from Arizona to Michigan with Illinois rest

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Well, this winter we were in the Southwest a month longer than originally planned.  Covid-19 lockdowns, shutdowns and travel restrictions made it necessary to delay our return to the Midwest.  We discovered that the camping situation was a bit chaotic with displaced RVers,  delayed openings and so on. One campground had social distancing restriction which meant not all campsites were open.  Some campgrounds delayed spring opening. We periodically checked the situation in the various states.  Some of the governors  had long and frequently changing "Executive Orders" which did not always make sense.  Power can go to one's head in politics. We designed four routes. I asked G to pick her #1 and #2 preferences. I then designed a detailed plan using her preferred campgrounds.  We designed the return for a short first day because we knew we would not leave until about 11:00am and we would almost immediately lose two hours that day as we headed east, because of time zone changes. The day before we left the resort the swimming pools were re-opened and the next day the restaurant was re-opened for sit-down seating. LOL.

The return trip was uneventful.  We had made reservations at all locations. However, the condition of campgrounds varied. All had a large number of campers. Some were "stranded" and waiting for other states to open or become more "normal". 
  • The New Mexico campground was open, but the staff left before the published 4pm closing time and we arrived at 3:50pm  They neglected to put the bathroom key codes and wi-fi code in the reservation envelope left for us. A call to their help number went unanswered. I staked out the bathhouse and a friendly camper gave us the code.  We never got a call back.  The next morning after leaving we called the campground and told them of the problem. They apologized.
  • The Oklahoma campground had just and I do mean "just" opened. It too had limited staff onsite hours of noon to 6pm. There was a problem in the bathhouse and hot water was scarce or non-existent.
  • The Missouri campground was fully operational.  Even the swimming pool was open. 
We brought and used face masks. That was an interesting experience. We had been using them in Arizona but on the road we discovered a lot of people didn't use them.  In Missouri a door attendant controlled the number of people inside the truck stop.  Maximum 22 allowed. In Illinois it was posted that masks were mandatory but about half of the people didn't wear them.

In Oklahoma we had a sit-down lunch at a Waffle House. All safety protocols were in place and staff wore gloves and masks.  That was our first sit-down restaurant experience in 60 days. There have been none since.

Here is the situation in the neighborhood the morning we departed Arizona. Lots of empty spaces as the snowbirds have departed:

Here is the situation at dusk the day of arrival at our Illinois stop.  We haven't tried to get to the Michigan campground.  Gov. Whitmer is making life difficult for the state's residents. The campground is open.  A small issue with the Roadtrek needs to be resolved. I'll do it in Illinois and get an oil change, too.  We arrived for the Memorial Day weekend and that has made dealing with issues more difficult. Oil change scheduled for Tuesday.

Original material:  https://roadtrek210.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Third Seat Repair in the Roadtrek 210P

Third Seat after Repair

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I discovered a problem with the third seat of our 2013 210P.  It wasn't obvious  and came to my attention when it began to shift the side fabric material of the coach.  The seat is a complicated wooden structure which houses the Suburban Propane Furnace.

I removed the rear cushion and lifted the bottom cushion out of the way. This was an easy task; the bottom cushion in my Roadtrek is on a special hinge and the rear lifts out of position. After doing this I discovered that two screws in the wooden support structure had given way, and a thin side member had split at a joint.  That allowed the entire seat base to tip forward. This problem occurred because the seat is on a cantilevered base. That overhang puts a lot of stress on some of the wooden base components.

This structure is also compromised because the Suburban furnace goes through the base from left side to right side.  You can see the furnace in the photos.  All of the weight of a passenger is on the cantilever front which is only partly supported on the front, and the rear with two screws.

Swinging the base cushion forward (it is on a special hinge) exposed the top of the seat base. I then removed the screws holding the top surface of the wooden seat base. That revealed the entire problem.

The wooden support had pulled free of the two screws that attach it to the rear. That allowed the entire seat to slip forward about 5/8 inch.

Rear wooden attachment support pulled free.

This is how far the seat slid forward.  The failure of the rear attachment put additional stress
on the side bracket, and those screws had shifted, too.

I decided to screw and glue the wooden supports back in place. I could not access the heads of the  two rear screws unless I completely removed the seat base. I decided not to do that.

Instead I added two aluminum "L" brackets from rear to front. This would provide additional support. I had the light weight aluminum angle, screws and "gorilla glue" in my spare parts, so this repair cost nothing additional out of pocket.  

I did it in six steps:

  1. Glue rear support and clamp with vice-grips overnight.
  2. Glue left rear support and clamp with vice grips.
  3. Cut two pieces of light weight aluminum angle using a small hack saw.
  4. Raise the seat base by wedging a wonder-bar on a piece of carpet.
  5. Trim the left angle so it could be mounted from above. 
  6. Re-assemble the seat stop and put the cushions back in place.

Fabricated aluminum bracket prior to installation.

Rear support screwed and glued after removing clamp

Left support panel glued and clamped with vice-grip to dry
I drilled and installed the aluminum angles, one on the left and one on the right.I decided that cutting an indentation for the left would not be necessary.  


Two aluminum angles installed from rear to front
The left was screwed from the top
The right screwed from the side

Seat fully reassembled

Original material:  https://roadtrek210.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

101st FMCA Convention

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We will be attending the FMCA International Convention in Tucson, AZ March 26-29, 2020.

This will be our first FMCA rally.  We have not yet received our packet for the event, but the FMCA has indicated that they have begun the mailing of packets.

Original material:  https://roadtrek210.blogspot.com/