RUNAROUND SUE'S 16-STATE RV TRIP 2003


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Left Fort Myers, Florida July 28, 2003 in my 1998 Gulfstream Conquest 28-foot motorhome and headed for Navarre, Florida the first night. I took Interstate 75 North through Tampa. Tampa is only 120 miles from Fort Myers, and it's worth a stop there to visit Busch Gardens - a great place for the whole family!! From Tampa, I headed up I-75 North through Ocala and Gainesville and up to Lake City, where Interstate 10 comes in. Took I-10 West to Navarre. Off of I-10, in Madison, Florida, before Tallahassee, there is a terrific RV Park for the family. It's called Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park. I took the grandkids there last summer and we loved it!! They have plenty of campsites, very reasonably priced, a waterslide, swimming pool, nice clean showers - a fun place!!

Navarre is off Interstate 10, Route 287 South (if you are heading west) and if you are heading East on Route 10, take Interstate 110 out of Pensacola to Route 98, through Gulf Breeze. Navarre is known as "Florida's best-kept secret". It is a neat little town, very relaxing and not a fast-paced place. Navarre Beach is the most beautiful beach I've been to. The beach is pure white sand and the water is a beautiful aqua color most of the time. The beach runs for miles, eventually meeting up with Pensacola beach. They have several RV Parks along the water and there are great restaurants and "watering holes" at Navarre Beach. This is not a highly commercialized area, and has wonderful vacation resorts and cottages - a great place to spend a summer vacation!!

Visited with my daughter & 2 grandchildren for several days in Navarre, then picked up my travel companion, John, who also lives in Navarre, and we headed West. Onto I-10, through Pensacola and on to Mobile, Alabama. There's a very long bridge across Mobile Bay, at the end of which is Battleship Memorial Park, where the USS Alabama is open to the public. It's an awesome sight, you can tour the battleship, learn the history - another worthwhile stop. At the end of the bridge, there is also a tunnel to go through, then we headed on to Biloxi, Mississippi.

We got off at Exit 50 - Turned left to Ocean Springs - with a right turn at the main intersection in Ocean Springs. The casinos do not have directions after you get off I-10. The site "South Coast Route 10" may be of help in getting directions to casinos. In Biloxi, we always go to the Grand Hotel - they have great comps, rooms, food, etc. We stayed there for a night, gambled a little - did not win - of course!!! They do have parking for Rvs across the street from the casino in a dirt lot and a shuttle will run you wherever you want to go. The shuttle goes to all of the Casinos.

Back on the road towards Dallas. Took Route I-10 to I-12 to 190 at Port Allen, Louisiana all the way up to Interstate 20. Then through Shreveport and on to Dallas. We stayed in an RV Park about 40 miles East of Dallas. Tried to hit Dallas early, (4 a.m) to miss traffic. There is NO way to miss traffic in Dallas!!! We took a wrong turn trying to get on Route 287 and it took us quite a while to backtrack. We gave up and stopped for breakfast - built up our courage and plodded on. In the future, I will do whatever is necessary to avoid Dallas, anytime of the day or night. Traffic is a nightmare in Dallas.

By lunchtime on this day, having survived the Dallas ordeal, we were about 6 miles North of Iowa Park, Texas when the rear tire blew - tearing out all the water connections, water pump, and ripping out the floors of two of my underneath compartments. I had just put brand new Firestone Tires all around about 3 months before this trip. The tread just peeled away and the tire was worthless. Firestone is definitely NOT RECOMMENDED!!!!

Thanks to my Good Sam Emergency Road Service, they promptly sent someone out with a new tire and we were back on the road, but not for long. The blown tire had ripped the wheel well so badly that the new tire was rubbing against it, so we didn't get far. Made it to Vernon, Texas to get the metal removed. We were very lucky that day, as we went to a place called the Tire Shop, 1630 Wilbarger Street, Vernon, Texas (phone #940-553-1391) and they had us back on the road within hour. They were great. If you ever have problems on the road near Vernon, Texas - call them. They charged us about 1/4 of what I thought it would be and they were soooooooo nice. I also stopped at a Wal-Mart in Vernon - (last Vernon exit going South) and loaded up on bottled water and supplies that we were running low on.

Took Route 84 to Lubbock, then I-27 to Amarillo. We stayed at the KOA in Amarillo that night. KOA's are so nice, maybe a little more costly than other RV Parks, but we needed clean showers and a nice place to stay after the glorious day we had. This is a very clean park and nice people. No road noise, well off the highway. Had breakfast at the T&A Truck Stop and we were off to Albuquerque. Got Route 40 in Amarillo, and rolled into Albuquerque that afternoon.

I lived in Albuquerque for 25 years, so we found our way around pretty easily. We stopped at the Sandia Casino - spent that night in their parking lot. No winning here either - of course!!! The next morning we went to Murphy's Mule Barn for breakfast. It's a wonderful old truck stop at 9700 2nd Street, NW in Albuquerque. They've got great food at low, low prices. They are usually pretty packed, as they are quite well-known, even though it is definitely NOT a fancy place!! I also made a stop to buy Hatch Green Chili. The only place I've ever had good green chili is in New Mexico. I got several half-gallon frozen containers to bring back to my daughters - put them in the freezer in the motorhome and off we went, heading West again!!

Stopped in Holbrook, Arizona that night, at Holbrook KOA - nice showers. Went to the Shamrock Gas Station and filled up - we even got a discount on the gas and free coffee. All the businesses in Holbrook were giving discounts to people who stopped in Holbrook for the night. We just showed our receipt from the KOA to get the discounts. Went through Flagstaff (Fort Myers to Flagstaff is approximately 2,500 miles) and on to Kingman. At mile 185 (in Beldon??) we stopped at a Conoco - Country Host Restaurant. This was the best food we had so far on our trip. Worth a visit if you are traveling that way.

We turned off I-40 at Kingman onto Route 93 then onto Route 68 West to Laughlin, Nevada.. Stayed at the Riverside Casino RV Park. It's a wonderful place!!! Nice RV spaces, cheap, shuttle service, very convenient. We did win a little bit at this casino. Not enough to elaborate on though.

Back to I-40, to Mojave, California. We stayed that night at Kayo's RV Park in Mojave.. Only $15 a night. This park backs up against the fence where the "airplane graveyard" is. There are probably 100+ deserted commercial airplanes just sitting in this field. I took lots of pictures - it was kind of eerie. Then through Tehachapi Pass - there were hundreds of metal windmills on the hills leading up to the pass. Beautiful scenery coming out of the pass into Bakersfield.

Out of Bakersfield, we took Route 99 up to Interstate 5 to Route 20 which took us in to Clear Lake, California, where we visited friends. They have a lovely home in the woods at Cobb, California, on Cobb Mountain. Wild deer come to their fence for food each evening - truly a beautiful spot. We stayed there for 3 days. They had just bought a brand new 24-foot Tioga, so we all loaded into their motorhome and went to the local Casino. It was fun, but none of us won anything. It was their 20th wedding anniversary, so we celebrated with them. Next morning, after meeting several old friends for breakfast, we were back on the road.

Onto I-5 again, headed up to Oregon. Passing Mt. Shasta was breathtaking. I took several pictures from different angles, as it seemed we drove around it. It's beautiful country and great picture-taking material. We went through Medford, Oregon, and then to Grants Pass. It is a perfect place to retire - gorgeous scenery, quaint, old-fashioned type town. The Rogue River runs through Grants Pass - great fishing, lots of resort cottages, and small motels along the river. A few years ago we took the jetboat ride down the Rogue River. This is a highly recommended attraction in Grants Pass, well worth the cost. Stayed that night at another KOA outside of Grants Pass on Route 199.

Next morning, we continued up Route 5 to Exit 99, Canyonville, Oregon where Seven Feathers Casino is located. This place is a "must-stop" for casino lovers. They've got an RV Park, and if it is full (which it usually is), there is also a dry camp area for Rvs. There is a shuttle, and the casino is truly a class act. We stayed here overnight, then headed back to Lake Selmac, also off Route 199. We camped at Lake Selmac for two days ($20) full hookups. Beautiful Lake, great fishing, eagles, squirrels, woodpeckers - I could have stayed longer!!!

Back to Interstate 5 - to Medford. Right around Medford, we turned off on Route 62 to White City, then onto Route 140 to Klamath Falls. We didn't want to have to go back the way we had already been, and this was a great road with lots of scenery. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Went past Mt. McLaughlin (9500 ft) and Klamath Lake, onto Route 39E - it turns into Route 139 when you get into California, then we took Route 299 and onto Route 395 in Alturas. This was a great road - very little traffic - to Susanville, California. Out of Susanville, we got Route 395 into Reno, Nevada.

Stopped in Reno for a few hours at Bonanza Casino - went on to Sparks and stopped at Rail City. We then hit Interstate 80 out of Reno. About 10 miles West of Elko, traffic came to a standstill and it took us quite a while of moving about 10 feet every 10 minutes to figure out we had just missed a big mudslide that went right across the freeway. So glad we missed it!!!

At Wells, Nevada, we stayed at the nicest RV Park we had seen the whole trip. It was a small park, called Mountain Shadows RV Park, run by Keith & Casey Webb. VERY clean, VERY nice park. Great rates. Cleanest showers I've ever seen. Highly recommended.

Still on I-80, headed towards Salt Lake City, we passed Pequop Summit (6,967 ft) in the Ruby Mountains. More great scenery. We had bad storms all through Nevada with rain and lots of wind. Made another stop in Wendover, Nevada for the night. Went to Flying J for breakfast at Lakepoint, Utah, just before Salt Lake City.

In Wyoming, at Exit 68 off I-80, there is a wonderful Little America Travel Center. We stopped because we kept seeing the signs advertising their 35-cent ice cream cones. The cones were great, but the gift shops were even greater!!! They also have a hotel there. Great place to stop!!!

We made it to Exit 150 on I-80, a place called Table Rock, when another rear tire blew, which also made the new tire we got in Texas blow. So there we sat in the middle of nothing, in Wyoming with two flat tires!!! This time, the blown tires ripped out all the wiring for the generator, lights, fridge, propane - nothing worked!!! It also ripped out the floors of the sewer and water compartments again. We had gotten them pushed back up with a jack with the last flat tire, as they were dragging the ground. My desire to be a wandering vagabond was quickly diminishing!!!! Firestone is NOT RECOMMENDED!!!!!!

Again, I called good old reliable Good Sam Emergency Road Service, and they sent someone out from Wamsutter Conoco and we were on the road again in about 5 hours. It was getting dark by then, and we had lost our lust for travel that day, so we went to the Wamsutter exit and parked in the dirt lot next to the gas station for the night.

Next morning, totally disgusted, we took off towards Laramie, Wyoming, through the Mountains (elevation 8,640 in Medicine Bow National Forest). At Cheyenne, Wyoming, we got on Interstate 25 and headed South - braced for the trip through Denver, but I feel the same way about Denver as I do about Dallas. Their traffic system is disastrous and very stressful. Next time, we will take the 470 toll road out of Fort Collins to bypass Denver!!! In Denver we got Interstate 70.

All the way East of Denver through the Kansas state line, we saw hundreds of antelope in all the fields. Kansas is a pretty bleak state, but also has it's beauty. Saw lots of fields of Sunflowers that went for miles. Nice road (I-70). Stopped for the night at the KOA in Goodland, Kansas. I discovered that if we were hooked up, plugged in, everything worked, except the water, of course. However, the Hatch Green Chili I had gotten in New Mexico did not survive the trip, it all thawed out and I had to throw it away.

We bypassed Kansas City, Missouri, on Route 10 (don't know if it was worth it or not), then we got on Route 71 heading South towards Webb City, where my daughter lives. We stopped in Peculiar, Missouri for the night at the Peculiar RV Park. This is a very nice park, accepts only cash or check. Strange name for a town, or should I say a peculiar name!!!! The next morning we only had a few hours drive to my daughter's house in Webb City. We stayed there several days and told our horror stories of Firestone Tires.

Took 71 South towards Fort Smith (it changes into I-540) on down to Interstate 40 East. By this time, the trip was no longer much fun, as I was so worried about another Firestone tire blowing that I could not enjoy the trip. Made it to West Memphis, Tennessee that night. There were thousands of grasshoppers everywhere!!! We got through Memphis the next day before rush hour. Out of Memphis, we got Interstate 55 South through Mississippi. Stopped just past Batesville, Mississippi for breakfast at the All American Truck Stop. Pretty good food, great prices. Then back to Biloxi, Mississippi for the night.

Next day, we were back in Navarre, Florida. I visited with my other daughter for a few days, then headed home to Fort Myers. I arrived home on September 5. My cats were happy to see me!! We had been gone over a month.

Needless to say, this trip cured my wander lust for a while. We had gone approximately 7,000 miles and I'm shocked that we made it home safe and sound, as riding on Firestone Tires is like playing Russian Roulette with a motorhome. All in all, it was a pretty neat trip. I got to see a lot of the country I had not seen before and I will probably head out again next year for another long trip, but only if I get all new tires - not Firestone!!!!


neonsue@yahoo.comJuly 12, 2009.
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