A Travellerspoint blog

2015 Happy Trails-The Story Behind The Story; A Tale of Woe

July 19 - August 8 Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri


June, 2015 and first half of July, 2015

Our time in Missouri prior to beginning our travels was mostly a tale of woe with various health issues preventing our embarking on our trip until July 19th. And not just Tim and I. Even Sprocket had a serious issue requiring surgery. But there were a couple of bright spots. My brother and his wife came from NJ with their 5th wheel and joined us at our little private “Happy Trails Campground” for a few days the first week in June and then the last week in June my daughter, her husband and my two grandsons flew into Springfield from Orlando for a weeklong visit. And in between Tim completed a few projects he wanted to do – he installed a washer/dryer for me in the little cabin (Yea!); he built an outdoor shower platform; and he built a shed for storing the tractor. All this while undergoing physical therapy on his shoulder for a slightly torn rotator cuff and while having an abscessed tooth that required he have a root canal. But I digress.

Table Rock State Park Campground, Table Rock Lake, Branson, MO

July 19 - July 23

What was going to be the beginning of our Happy Trails 2015 journey was a three day visit to Branson, MO and then three days in Oklahoma City, OK before joining our friends Dan and Dee at Rocky Branch Campground on Beaver Lake in the Ozark Mountains in NW Arkansas on Sunday, July 26th.

We did set out on Sunday July 19th as originally planned and drove to Branson in southern Missouri where we stopped at the Table Rock Lake State Park for a few days on the lake. But the black cloud over our heads hadn’t completely dissipated because we had just barely finished setting up camp when the brand new air conditioner we’d had installed in the bedroom shortly before we left Florida blew up. Literally. The three internal screws holding the fan mechanism in place came loose and the fan flew apart bending the blades and creating an awful racket. In addition, the 5th wheel’s main living area AC unit was freezing up every day; it wasn’t sufficient to keep the trailer cool in the 97 + degree heat. But we were in a shaded spot at the state park and the AC unit did cool the RV down in the evening so it was bearable.

Monday we began making calls to RV service centers all over the southwest Missouri and Arkansas area from Springfield and Joplin, MO to Rogers and Springdale, AR. We couldn’t find anyone that would give us an appointment any less than three weeks out. The heat was unbearable and we didn’t want to delay our travels for three weeks for nothing more than an appointment for a diagnosis! Finally on Tuesday we located a mobile service technician who agreed to take a look at both units (the new one was still under warranty and the main unit was covered under a dealer’s service plan).

We originally intended to leave Branson on Wednesday but decided to wait and let the technician do a diagnosis. Unfortunately it never happened. After three days of excuses as to why he hadn’t shown up when he was supposed to, we decided to leave Branson and continue our trip west to Oklahoma City as originally planned, albeit two days later than planned. We were looking forward to visiting the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Bricktown Area of Oklahoma City and we thought that being a major city, we would have more luck there finding someone who could make the repairs we needed.

Twin Fountains RV Resort, Oklahoma City, OK

July 24 - July 28

We arrived at Twin Fountains RV Resort in Oklahoma City on Friday, July 24th and Saturday morning we finally located a repairman in Shawnee, OK (about 45 minutes away - east of Oklahoma City) and he was willing to give us an appointment time something less than three weeks out. His name was Rusty ... wait for it ... Nail (LOL) and his business was Rockin' N Trailers. He was “mobile service” so he could come to the site and diagnose the problem before making the repairs, a warranty requirement.

He was very sympathetic to our situation and came directly on Saturday early afternoon. He found what we already knew – the bedroom AC unit needed to be completely replaced. Also he determined that our main AC unit was freezing up because it was 5 pounds low in Freon. The plan was for him to submit the necessary paperwork to Coleman for a replacement unit on Monday, order it for overnight delivery, and then return Tuesday afternoon to install it.

After he left we were confident the main AC unit would keep the trailer cool enough for the dogs now that it wasn’t low on Freon so we left and spent the rest of the afternoon at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. It was National Cowboy Day and there were many special events taking place including various bands and the crowning of Miss Rodeo Queen of 2015. If you ever have the chance to get to Oklahoma City be sure to visit the Museum. It was spectacular!

When we got back to the trailer we found the dogs both lying on the floor panting and it was 99 degrees in the trailer! We quickly carried the dogs out to the air conditioned truck and they eventually recovered but it was quite a fright. We spent the rest of the night driving around because we couldn’t leave the dogs at the trailer and we couldn’t take them in restaurants, or other places we might have gone to cool off. We debated going to a motel but finally the main AC Unit began cooling the trailer down bit by bit. It was after midnight before it was cool enough to go in and go to bed. At this point we were convinced that the “repairman” had simply f**ked up the main unit and now we had nothing.

Next day, Sunday, was another bright, sunny, blisteringly hot day in Oklahoma City with temperatures in the 100’s. We tried to reach the repairman (whose business card advertised 7X24 service) with no luck. By early afternoon it was too hot in the trailer to leave the dogs. We located a Walmart and bought a floor fan hoping that by putting the fan in the bedroom and directing the air from there into the rest of the trailer, it would keep it from getting much above 90 degrees. It worked. By early evening it had recovered and was cooling the trailer down to the mid 80’s. Evidently it had simply gotten too hot in the trailer on Saturday before the repairman added the Freon for the unit to recover.

Monday came and the repairman called to tell us he had submitted the warranty and Coleman was shipping a new AC unit to be delivered Tuesday per our original plan. Yea! He said he would install the unit as soon as he received it.

We spent all day Tuesday waiting to hear from him that the unit had been delivered. No such luck. Wednesday morning he let us know that the unit had been misrouted and no one could find it so he had ordered another unit, this one to be delivered on Thursday.

We were fortunate that we chose the Twin Fountains RV Resort in town as our stopping place in Oklahoma City. Yes it is a beautiful resort with a pool, putt putt course, large landscaped and paved sites, a laundry, a beauty shop and nail salon, and even its own limousine for those that want the luxury of chauffeured transportation into center city for dining and partying. But the reason we were fortunate was that the resort has a wonderfully friendly staff and a huge lodge that serves as the office and central gathering place for the visitors. This lodge turned out to be a life saver because the temperature all week while we were there was 99 + degrees. Our site was in the full afternoon sun and the heat was unbearable so while we were in limbo waiting for the AC repair, we had to spend the afternoons until early evenings inside the lodge with the dogs. It was either that or leave them in the truck with it running all day. We were so lucky that the staff was “pet friendly” and allowed us to do that. The lodge has a large fireplace, a big flat screen TV, lounge chairs and ottomans, huge sectional sofa, a bathhouse area, kitchen and dining area and a game area sporting a ping pong table, pool tables, card game table, tic tac toe game table and children’s toy area. Tim spent his time reading (and napping) while I spent mine either in the pool or crocheting. All in all it wasn’t unpleasant, just boring.

Even the dogs were bored!

Rusty Nail at Rockin' N Trailers, Shawnee, OK

July 30 - July 31

Our reservations at Twin Fountains RV Resort were only for three nights originally (Friday through Sunday) but luckily the site was available for the next three nights too so we were clear through Wednesday night but we had to leave Thursday. They had no more sites available. Anticipating that the second AC unit would be delivered to the repairman’s shop on Thursday (surely the carrier, Estes wouldn’t lose two units) we packed up and left for Rusty Nail's shop in Shawnee. Once there Tim and the dogs waited in the tiny air conditioned office of the repair shop while I spent the afternoon at TJ Max in a shopping center a few miles away waiting for the call which would tell me the work was compete and we could be on our way.

You know what’s coming, don’t you? That’s right. The second unit was lost too! We ended up spending Thursday night in the hot trailer in the parking lot of the repair shop out in the middle of nowhere with three Rottweiler guard dogs roaming around outside!

Friday morning after what seemed like a hundred phone calls, the lost units were located – both of them in Yukon, OK, a town west of Oklahoma City. Early afternoon, not wanting to leave anything further to chance, the repairman’s wife left to pick the units up herself. We expected her to be back around 2pm and hoped to be on the road by three o’clock. But no. Four o’clock came and went; five o’clock came; six o’clock came. Still no unit! She didn’t return with the unit until 7:00pm! It turns out that her truck broke down on the drive back through Oklahoma City. OMG! What next?

It was after 7:30pm before we got on the road for the drive to Beaver Lake in the Ozark Mountains in NW Arkansas where our friends Dan and Dee had been waiting all week for us to join them. We arrived at 1:00am Saturday in the pitch dark with no campground map to guide us to a site and no flashlight powerful enough to see to park the 5th wheel. What a nightmare! Somehow we managed to get it into a site without backing off the side of a mountain or into the lake.

Rocky Branch Campground, Beaver Lake, Rogers, AR

August 1 - August 2

Saturday and Sunday August 1st and 2nd were spent boating on the lake with our friends and if I remember correctly, a few margaritas were consumed. LOL

Happy Trails Home Site, Buffalo, MO

August 3 - August 4

We returned to our Happy Trails home site in Missouri on Monday afternoon because Tim had one last Doctor’s appointment scheduled for Tuesday morning, August 4th and Sprocket had a Vet appointment. Something’s bitten him and he can’t stop scratching. Last time this happened he ended up chewing and scratching four large holes in his hide and had to wear a "cone collar" for a month! The Vet gave him an "allergy" shot. It worked last time. Let's hope it does the trick this time as well. I spent the day doing laundry and making preparations to finally, at long last, get on the road.

Leaving Happy Trails Home - Buffalo, MO

Meramec Country Store RV Park, Saint James, MO

Wednesday August 5 to August 6, 2015

I thought I would begin our 2015 Happy Trails trip diary with our route as the plan was to (finally) leave Missouri and be on our way to parts of the country as yet unexplored by us on our Happy Trails travels. Our goal was to drive as far as Carlyle, IL to the Boulder Creek Corps of Engineers campground on beautiful Lake Carlyle. We wanted to find a nice site where we could relax for an extra day just to be sure we were settled somewhere for the night where we would be able to watch the Republican debate on Fox News. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be.

We left Buffalo, MO at 10:00am headed north on US65 to State Road 73 north to State Road 64 which we took east into Lebanon, MO where we got on Interstate 44 north toward St. Louis. We only made it 108 miles. Yes, you read that correctly – 108 miles.

We were driving along at 70mph on the Interstate 44 when there was this loud explosion and the truck lurched violently like someone had slammed on the brakes and we lost power. Then there was this burning smell. We weren’t even off the highway enough for Tim to open the driver’s door so I had to get out with cars and trucks screeching by to check the tires (all okay) and the hitch (also okay). Once we knew we hadn’t blown a tire or dropped out of the hitch Tim was able to get the truck to move along at 15 mph until we got to an off ramp but there was no shoulder and he couldn’t make it all the way up the ramp. After speaking with the nearest Ford Dealership on the phone, Tim thinks it we may have blown the turbo charger in the truck.

We were stranded there on the exit ramp 4 ½ hours waiting for a service vehicle that could tow us. We were using Ford Roadside Assistance because the truck is under warranty. It is no small feat to find a wrecker that can tow us because with the 5th wheel and truck combined we are just over 55 feet in length and somewhere in the vicinity of 23,000 pounds!

It was scary enough being stranded on the side of the Interstate for hours on end but the trip in the wrecker was truly a harrowing experience. Here we were in the Ozark Mountains in the front seat of an International Wrecker pulling our truck and 36 foot 5th wheel in a driving rainstorm on the Interstate and then into center city streets of Rolla, MO. I can’t think of a day in my life when I was more frightened. They had to disconnect the drive train on the truck just to tow it (because it is 4 wheel drive). That’s when I had my meltdown. I just started crying.


Getting towed wasn’t the end of our nightmare. Our truck was dropped at the Ford Dealership in downtown Rolla, MO which left us with no way to get the trailer to a campground. The wrecker couldn’t do it. Our 5th wheel was left sitting on the side of a city street in downtown Rolla. We finally located a campground with a vacancy (what did people do before iPhones?) and true to form, the nice Missouri folks who were the campground hosts offered to come and tow our trailer to the site using their own personal truck. Thank God for angels.

So now we’re here at the Meramec Springs Campground in the middle of nowhere (6 miles from Saint James, MO) with no vehicle. I’ve graduated from Margaritas to straight Bourbon. Stay tuned.

August 6

Mid morning Thursday August 6 we received the dreaded call from the Ford Dealership in Rolla. Expecting news that we would be waiting for days for parts before they could make repairs, we were pleasantly surprised (amazed actually) that they called to tell us that the repairs had already been made and the truck was ready to be picked up. It turned out the trouble with the truck was that the hose connecting the turbo charger to the throttle body blew up. This was much better than the turbo charger blowing up which is what Tim had been afraid had happened.

The Ford Dealership sent a serviceman to the RV Park to take Tim back to Rolla, MO to get the truck. We were both exhausted from the stress of yesterday's events and so decided to just take it easy for the rest of the day. We’ll resume our path tomorrow as originally planned northeast through St. Louis on I44 and then east on US 50 to Carlyle Lake in Illinois and hope for sunny weather (no more black cloud over our heads) and Happy Trails.

August 10

Somewhere along the way in our travels it seems we've gotten bad water in our tank! As we've camped at Corps of Engineer and National Forest Campgrounds where there was no water at the sites (just electric), we have been filling the on-board water tank with water from spigots usually found as you enter a park.

The first indication there was a problem was while we were camping in Hoosier National Forest I noticed that the water flow in the kitchen sink was getting slower and slower. At first Tim thought it was just because we were low on water and the water pump had insufficient pressure. But after filling the tank, the problem persisted.

Tim had to completely disconnect the kitchen water lines and faucet unit. He found the check valve in the line was full of gritty, sandy substance. Evidently the line is full of it because just when we thought he had it fixed, after washing dishes a few times, it would happen again. He was able to flush the line eventually but meantime the sand had gotten into the faucet spray mechanism itself so he had to completely take it apart too!

August 18

We thought the worst of our water problems were over but then the toilet flooded the bathroom! Evidently the grungy stuff in the water line has corrupted the internal workings in the toilet so the valve doesn't close and then the water just runs and overflows the bowl. The only solution at this point is to turn off the water at the toilet and manually toss water in it after each use. Aghhh!

August 23

Given the trees to the south on our site at the Bucktail Family Fun Park Camping Resort, we were having trouble getting a clear line of sight to the satellites using our DISH network device and so Tim decided to climb on top of the trailer to see if it would be better reception from there. He had only gone up two steps on the ladder on the back of the 5th wheel, when something popped loose and the ladder almost gave way! OMG! It was a near miss. It turns out that the manufacturer had not installed all of the screws mounting the ladder to the trailer and so Tim had to go into town and find proper screws and then come back to the trailer and mount them. It was harder than it sounds because the few screws they had mounted were now bent because of his weight on them. But eventually after a few choice (mostly four letter) words, it was finally fixed.

And so ends The Story Behind The Story; A Tale of Woe. In spite of all these challenges we had another fabulous Happy Trails adventure with memories galore. We even made it back to Merritt Island, FL without any more mishaps!

Posted by JudyandTim2015 01:29

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