Motorhome Experiences of Lyle Dean and Judy Lebsack
A word of explanation to those who have never seen Lyle with any hat or cap: Out west, he noticed men in authentic looking cowboy hats, even straw hats, seemed to get preferential treatment. So while at Cabella's, he tried to buy some respect. Should give his family some yuks, but he probably won't wear it east of the Mississippi
Cabella's is a phenomenal oasis in the Nebraska panhandle--world headquarters of this organization. The range of merchandise is amazing--fishing and camping gear, guns, knives, RV supplies, clothing for all sorts of activities, boats and even Cabella tractors!
To the left are two photos of a wildlife exhibit inside the store.
In case there's any doubt about being in the west, check out the sign below:
Grey's Cove Campground along the Snake River at Alpine, WY--just a stone's throw from Idaho. Not a bad view from our Ventana.
Judy using a photo op in the Ten Sleep Canyon of the Big Horns. Below: The Grand Teton...really is!
You will be exposed to Judy's sense of humor during our travels. This bar and restaurant is in a small town along U.S. 20. Lyle wondered what they had on tap.
For Farmall fans, Lazy Acres has its own tractors. Yes, there's a green one, too..
Berrien Springs, MI along the St. Joesph River here.
Type your paragraph here.
Shady Cove RV Park, Hattiesburg, MS
Lush green hills of Southeast Nebraska
3-24-15 Moved motorhome from storage lot to Cummins Power South in Ft. Myers for service to engine, genset and chassis. Later in the day, we moved to Gulf Waters RV Park for the duration of our Ft. Myers stay.
4-19-15 Installed TireMinder tire pressure monitoring system. One of the 8 sensors would not function. Maker is sending replacement.
4-23-15 Hauling more personal effects from FL condo to motorhome. Running water through fresh water tank after sanitizing it. Macerator pump stopped pumping sewage (gray and black water).
4-24-15 Disconnected hose between black water valve and macerator expecting to find a blockage. After simply emptying the hose into a bucket, macerator seemed to work. Reconnected hose and all is well except for the unpleasant experience of raw sewage. Just in case the macerator issue recurs, we purchased a standard gravity-fed sewer kit to carry along.
4-28-15 CleanSlate came to Gulf Waters RV Park to detail the RV. Nice job, good price and we were not charged extra for the fire ants the workers discovered. As far as we know, none invaded the RV.
5-1-15 Finished moving stuff from the condo to the RV. Spent the night on the RV, then dropped the car off at the condo early the next morning.
5-2-15 Judy followed Lyle in the car back to the condo and kept honking at him. Twice, luggage compartment doors flew open on the short drive. By the second time, Lyle locked all the compartments.
Car was garaged at the condo by 7 a.m. and we headed toward I-75 with a fuel stop on the way. We got to I-75 by 8:10 and were on our way! Not bad traffic, but construction zones had rough pavement and it is magnified in the RV. We learned quickly that traveling in an RV needs at least as much careful stowing as the boat on Lake Michigan. First to take a header to the floor was the laptop computer (which as you can see, still works).
Our first rest stop was north of Tampa at Webster. Time to walk around, check the tire inflation with my new digital guage. Didn't work. Next stop was a Love's Truck Stop to buy a real tire guage. Works great. Tire pressures are right on target. Still having issues with the TireMinder Tire Pressure Monitor System, which is why I'm relying on a tire guage.
Saw a sign outside of Talahassee for the best RV park in the area. After all this time I still believed there is truth in advertising. Not in this case. Not easy to get to. Kind of a dump AND it was full because of graduation weekend at FSU. No easier to get out of the RV Park.
Hit the road again, ending up at a rest stop about an hour from Pensacola. Beauitiful, quiet, with a half dozen other RV's stopped here. Those were the lowlights of our first day on the road. Good weather and no heavy traffic and Lyle is getting used to herding the RV down the road.
5/3/15 Rest stop with overnight security turned out to be a good choice--thank you, Judy. We had plenty of company with 18 wheelers and RVs of all sorts. Both of us were so tired that we slept well.
Engine oil check in the predawn was good. Too dark to check the tire pressure. Should have. When we stopped for fuel near Pensacola (2.56 a gallon), Lyle noticed one of the rear tires looked low. That tire should have had 75 lbs of air. Not 40. Tried using the gas station air machine--3 minutes for 4 quarters, but it was futile. So Lyle hauled out his compressor from the "basement" of the RV and brought the tire pressure up. We checked for obvious damage to the tread, but saw none. He did notice the metal valve stem seemed loose, so tightened it. The tire held the correct pressure for the rest of the day.
We arrived in Hattiesburg, MS before 3 p.m. Lyle's sister had arranged for us to park the RV in a vacant lot next to her new condo. She under estimated the length, so we moved to an RV park about 5 miles away. We learned a painful lesson that the slide-out sections of the RV can lock, even accidentally. May have damaged one of the slide-outs when one side moved, but not the other. Not a happy moment.
Lyle's brother and sister-in-law arrived late in the day and we all had a delightful dinner at a barbeque restaurant.
5/5/15 Shady Cove RV Park, Hattiesburg is home for one more night as we help Lyle's sister move to her new home. Shady Cove has almost level gravel pull-throughs, full hookups for $35 per night. Not elegant, but we're happy with the accomodations for a short stay. Diesel fuel in the area is $2.58, less 5% discount at the pump with Pentagon Federal's Cash Back Credit Card.
We'll head out in the morning (Wednesday), making out way toward I-55 and north toward home.
5/6/15 Both of us slept longer than expected. Fueling, checking tires and fluids and removing old bugs from the windshield put us on the road about 9 CDT. Highway 49 between Hattiesburg and Jackson is 4 lanes, but with a number of stoplights. Just outside of Jackson we ran on top of really rough concrete. Similar rough pavement on I-55 in Arkansas and again in Missouri and Illinois. Not all the time, but enough to make us appreciate the smooth surfaces when they appeared.
We decided to try to find a rest area in Illinois with overnight security. Apparently they don't exist. So while driving toward Benton, Illinois on I-57 we saw a sign for a state forest--with camping. Once off the Interstate heading to the state forest, we saw Hilltop Campground. It was after hours, but the manager came back to the office and said he had a couple of pull-through lots that would accomodate our 43 ft Newmar. Even showed us to our lot. We were lucky to find this place. Its pretty and quiet. Oh, and $22 per night with 50 amp electricity.
Scrubbed the bugs off again. Judy prepared dinner. The after-dinner delicacy of Girl Scout Thin Mints was sent along by Lyle's sister, Sharon.
5/7/15 Left Hilltop Campground at Goreville, IL about 8:20 a.m.on a sunny morning. Only put one slide out last night and no jacks down since we planned a short stay. Surprised the amount of movement the other person causes to the motorcoach.
More comments about the condition of Interstate highway in the midwest--about 75 percent of them are in bad shape. I base my appraisal on the smooth ride we enjoyed in FL, AL and Southern MS. Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana highways were pretty much a hell ride. I don't think that's an over-statement.
Pulled into the driveway at Judy's house late afternoon. The Newmar Ventana is not the largest of motorhomes, but it sure doesn't belong in a residential driveway. We're working on another location.
5/11/15 Found temporary quarters at an RV park near the St. Joe River. Quite scenic! Wind picked up late this afternoon, so Lyle retracted the Winegard DTV antenna. Despite the jacks down, wind gusts rocked the RV.
5/18/15 Moved motorhome to the Newmar factory in Nappanee, IN last evening. They have a full-service parking lot for customers (electricity, water and sewer). The service lot was full of other Newmar coaches, all waiting or in the middle of service schedules by day while owners spent nights on them. There we were in the midst of some magnificent machines at what owners call Camp Newmar. The Newmar company provides a number of amenities for customers while their coaches are being serviced. Neat place. We're scheduled to be there until Friday, May 22. Among the projects is a custom-built computer desk to accomodate Lyle's broadcast syndication equipment--some of it. Still trying to find places for the other equipment.in the motorcoach. There definitely is a finite amount of room!
5/20/15 Toured the Newmar factory in Nappanee, IN. Very impressive, both in the "assembly line" method and the quality that is built into every Newmar coach. The line puts out eight motorhomes every day. After the tour, we were able to go through several units--a Ventana, similar to ours, and an Essex, near the top of the Newmar line. Beautiful and elegant. Gotta keep buying those lottery tickets! Checked on the progress of servicing our Ventana, Should be done on schedule by Friday despite a number of items I added to the service list following the maiden voyage from FL. The service team at Newmar is really organized and professional in their approach to customer service.
6/1/15 More than a week after we were scheduled to be finished at the Newmar factory service center, we are scheduled to pick up the motorcoach tomorrow. Several extra service and/or repair projects had to be squeezed into the Newmar schedule--the motor on the electric entry stairs went out, thermostat on the water heater and the doors to the new computer cabinet arrived with the grain going the wrong direction, thus reordering and then installing. We will have to stop in Elkhart on the way back to Berrien Springs to have a certified LP facility change the valve on the RV LP tank. Newmar techs say it cannot be turned off, creating a possible safety issue.
6/4/15 The Newmar factory experience lasted longer than we/they expected, but finally picked up the motorcoach and brought it back to Berrien Springs, MI late in the day. Everything is functioning properly and only a few bugs to wash from the front of the unit. Spent the night aboard and enjoyed pie from Das Deutsch Essenhaus in Middlebury, IN. The Amish make GREAT pies.
6/28/15 Happy anniversary, Judy and Lyle!
We are scheduled to leave for several weeks in South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado tomorrow morning--as soon as the automatic electrical transfer switch is replaced in Elkhart, IN. One leg of the previous one "fried" leaving us with just one 115 volt circuit and the inverter. Not enough for hot weather, which we hope to have somewhere soon.
6/29/15 Left Elkhart's Pro Custom Shop with a new (and working) electrical transfer switch. Drove in light rain for about an hour, then fairly heavy traffic on I-80 until I-380 at Iowa City. Headed north to Lazy Acres RV Park north of Cedar Rapids and south of Waterloo. Nice place in the middle of the rolling farm lands of Iowa. Nice is probably an understatement. Spacious, groomed lots. The whimsical decorations are everywhere, and lots of games, playgrounds, paddle boats, beach volleyball, and mucb more. Families with small kids could easily spend days here. Yet, its not overrun with kids.
Temperatures and breeze just about perfect. Grilled burgers, had a couple of glasses of wine. We are blessed. Oh, the ladder? To let Lyle get up close and personal with the bugs on the windshield. No idea what the bugs out here eat, but they are very hard to completely clean off the windshield.
6/30/15 Strong storms--rain, wind and lightning last night. They didn't last long and we both slept well. Lyle did some office work before folding our "tent" and hitting the road. U.S. 20 across Iowa was a pleasant suprise--mostly very smooth. We crossed into Nebraska at Sioux City and stayed on 20. Not as smooth, but tolerable. We marveled at the miles and miles of excellent looking corn in both Iowa and Northeast Nebraska.
Our stay tonight is Atkinson, Nebraska--just to the west of O'Neill (Irish capital of Nebraska). If you'll recall the accolades we heaped on Lazy Acres RV Park in Iowa. To the right is a photo of Wheel Inn Rv Park in Atkinson. Oh, well, we have power and the people who own the place are nice.
Judy started beef stroganoff in the slow cooker this morning and it turned into a wonderfully delicious dinner. Can you tell Lyle really enjoyed it?
7/1/15 This was another good day of travel--across northern Nebraska's Niobrara River valley with its lush grasslands--green from abundant rains. Even the Nebraska sandhills, which should be turning brown by now in normal years had ponds of water and colorful blooms covering entire hillsides. Judy took the photo to the left through the windshield, so the smudges are actually bugs!
U.S.20 was a delight most of the way--lightly traveled and smooth surfaces. We went north from Chadron, Nebraska on U.S. 385. It was like the highway was made just for us. New and smooth! Hot Springs, South Dakota was our entry to the Black Hills. Hot Springs was BUSY. Then on to Custer and Beaver Lake Campground for two nights. After parking and plugging in, it took about an hour to get the bugs and road dirt off of the motorhome. Looks good now, as the photos will attest when they can be uploaded. All systems appear to be function properly except for sporadic cell service, including data. Lyle has almost caught up with his monthly radio syndication programs. Time for a glass of wine. Or two. We had several visitors from other nearby RVs, friendly and chatty.
7/2/15 We first thought the rumbling was fireworks last night. It was. Mother nature's fireworks--loud, long rumbling. Judy says it was followed by lightning, more thunder and torrential rain. Lyle slept through it. Talk about "sleep of the dead"! The morning is fresh and bright--just the way you would imagine a mountain morning.
Apparently the temperature cooled enough to set off the tire pressure monitor. It says two of the tires are three pounds lower than the baseline. When the sun hits those tires or the daytime temperature rises, it should correct itself.
Our goal is to rent a car and travel around the area--not just Mt. Rushmore.
Side note: In our trip planning, Lyle failed to include Wall Drug, which Judy has never seen. Oh, well...next time.
7/3/15 Toured Custer State Park (Wildlife Loop) yesterday. Lots of rolling, green hills that would have been perfect for wildlife....but no! Then as we were leaving the park, spotted a half dozen wild jackasses and the jackasses who stopped their cars, got out, and were feeding them. The animals were quite happy to get the treats, but also not bashful about asking for more. A mile or so later we drove past grazing buffalo--one of them quite close to the road, as you can see (to the left).
Dinner at the Powder House in Keystone, then on to the evening ceremony at Mt. Rushmore. Slight problem: All of the audio/visual equipment at the amphitheater was dead, possibly from the storm the night before. But they lighted the mountain and still recognized all past and present members of armed services to a standing ovation from the crowd. Very nice! Driving back to Custer at night was exciting--unfamiliar road and all the deer we didn't see during the day at Custer State Park!
Today we traveled from Custer, SD to Buffalo, Wyoming and Deer Park RV Camp. Rustic is a good way to describe it. Shaded and quiet. One of the benefits is an ice cream social
every night. Two large scoops for $1.50!! That was dessert after Judy prepared a delicious spagetti dinner with her secret sauce.
Highway 16 out of Custer had a number of hills, but pavement conditions were excellent all the way to Buffalo. Filled with diesel fuel at Moorcroft, WY. With our discount, we paid $2.40 per gallon. Best yet!
7/4/15 Happy Independence Day! We honor the generations of Americans who fought for our freedom. It is hot--approaching 90--here in Buffalo, WY. And dry. No rain expected until late tomorrow, if then. Went for a walk near noon (probably not the best time of the day). It was a short walk. (Right) view of Russian Olive trees and meadow with the Big Horn mountains in the distance.
7/5/15 Woke up to a howling wind. A cold front blasted through. The temperature change was welcome but it was a little harder to herd the motorhome in a cross wind. Winds eased, but then came the rain. After Riverton, the rain subsided and we started seeing more of the Tetons in the distance. We stopped several times for photos, then traveled on to Alpine, WY where we managed to get reservations for tonight. It is about 25 miles out of our way, along the scenic Snake River Canyon, but it was another day of really smooth roads.
The trip through the Big Horn Mountains was uneventful, but one particular area of switchbacks was a test. The engine brakes on the diesel motorhome were put to good use, so Lyle didn't have to use the regular brakes that much. Tomorrow: on to Longmont, CO and a campground along the St. Vrain River. The location is just north of Denver, so we will not subject the motorhome to Denver traffic.
7/6/15 Arrived in Longmont, CO after a long day of driving from the Tetons, across rolling grasslands of Southern Wyoming, to some places where not even grass would grow.
We started the morning by driving about three miles from the RV park in Alpine, WY to the Idaho border. Judy had never been to Idaho. Now she has!
Going back through the Snake River Canyon this morning featured low clouds--surreal--as we traveled south from Jackson Hole and away from the majestic scenery of the Tetons. We joined Interstate 80 at Rock Springs and left it at Laramie. From there, U.S. 287 took us through Fort Collins, Loveland and Longmont--and finally to the St. Vrain State Park. Very nice place with all kinds of campers--tents, trailers and RVs.
7/7/15 A cloudy, misty start to the day--and it stayed that way in the Denver area. Judy and Lyle met his brother and sister-in-law Tom and Linda at the rehab center where his 93 year old aunt Leota is recovering from hip surgery. She looks great and is progressing nicely. Still sharp. Still has her sense of humor. Cousins Bob, Ron and Jana also joined us. Our evening is centered on dinner with Lyle's long-time and home town friend, Rosalie.
Tomorrow we'll leave the mountains we couldn't see anyway for the flat lands where Lyle grew up. He wants to give Judy the full tour of his hometown. Not sure what we'll do after the first ten minutes.
What Lyle hoped would be a quick fix was not. He tried to replace one of the headlight bulbs before heading to Sterling, CO. He got the old bulb out and the new bulb in, but could not lock the bulb in place. In the rain. Finally gave up and called several RV places before finding TransWest. They worked us in to their service schedule and after about an hour we were on our way. In the rain.
We went first to the family farm to see Lyle's 97 year old aunt Rachel. Amazing woman! Still sharp although more frail. Also visited with cousins and their spouses. Good visit!
After that we dropped on Lyle's Dad's branding irons to the Logan County Museum and stopped in at the J & L Cafe for a quick sandwich. Ran into another of Lyle's cousins there.
Finally, from Sterling to Sidney, NE and overnight at Cabella's RV Park. The day-long light rain finally stopped about sundown.
7/9/15 Thursday dawned gloomy, but the sun finally burned through the clouds. We decided since we were at Cabella's RV Park, it would be good to see what people think is so great about the home store of this huge corporation. Lyle grew up about 40 miles away and had doubts that it could be as wonderful as people say. It is! If nothing else, just the magnitude and diversity of merchandise, the decorating, the marketing--all first class. It's pretty hard not to find something to buy. And we did.
A couple of housekeeping chores before we headed out. One of the windshield wipers had worked loose and needed tightening. The other was using a pressure rinse at a truck wash to get some of the dirt off the RV.
Our drive across Nebraska--nearly 400 miles on Interstate 80 took us past Kearney, where the Gateway Monument spans the highway.
Then, on to Nebraska City along the banks of the Missouri River and Victorian Acres RV Park for the night. Judy prepared roast beef sandwiches. Let's say it was in honor of our trek through cattle country,
7/10/15 We left Nebraska City in sunshine but with rain in the forecast. Rain was also in the forecast for our destination, Kansas City. We tooled down U.S. 75--a very good road--joining I-70 at Topeka, then to Lawrence and Clinton State Park. The rain held off until we were parking the RV. Not after. During.
We met Judy's friends Bob and Linda Zindler for a Kansas City barbeque lunch.
7/11/15 Yesterday included stops at two iconic KC barbeque restaurants--Joe's KC Barbeque and Haywards. Joe's for lunch and Haywards for takeout dinner. The Zindler's have a beautiful home in a hilly wooded community in the suburbs west of Kansas City where we introduced Judy to Hayward's famous burnt ends. They're much better than the name sounds.
More rain last night, but there's a heat warning for the KC area today. And lots of mosquitos.
We ended up in St. Charles, MO at Sundermeier RV Park right on the river. Nice place, but when we plugged into their electricity and turned on all three airconditioners, the breaker tripped. It shouldn't have, so the manager came out and replaced the breaker, but then he spotted the more likely problem--one of the 115 volt lines was not tightly anchored to the breaker.
With a heat warning for St. Charles, the fix came at a good time.
Sundermeier does not allow washing of vehicles and ours really needs it, so we're looking for a place to get the road grime off the motorhome before we get back home, preferably self service.
Our trip across Missouri today was a mix of great roads (i-70), construction (i-70) and roads in need of construction/repair (i-70), but no rain--yet. Not sure what the flood warning for St. Charles is about.
7/12/15 Sunday dawned HOT in St. Charles, MO. After scrubbing the previous day's bugs from the windshield, we headed out, first across the Missouri River, then across the Mississippi--both were out of their banks in the low lands. It only got worse. When we left I-57 to travel east across U.S. 24, the flooding was everywhere--in fields along the road. Sometimes partial fields, sometimes complete fields and in one case it looked as if an entire farm were under water. That was in Iroquois County, IL. The flooding was apparent all the way into northern Indiana. We had thought about stopping at Remington, IN after about five hours of driving, but the existing flooding and the prospect of more rains on Monday, made it prudent to get "home". By late afernoon we arrived in Elkhart, IN at the company that will do some minor repairs on the motorhome and where Judy's car was waiting to get us back to Michigan.
Lyle has done the writing of the blog, after all he is the word smith. However, I just wanted to add some thoughts as we wrap up our first big trip. Having grown up on a small farm in SW Michigan, I've only done limited traveling. It was wonderful visiting so many states that I'd never seen--Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and even stepping foot in Idaho. Each state has its own uniqueness and beauty--from the lush green corn fields, to the plains, to the rivers and ranges dotted with grazing cattle. Driving for miles past acres and acres of farm land without seeing a farm house or mail box--the magnitude of that amazed me.
Mount Rushmore is awe inspiring when you first witness the monument and then walk under the canopy of all the state flags. The evening ceremony with the past and present service men and women is very moving. A hush passed over the crowd when the flag was folded. And then there's the purple mountain majesty which is beautiful beyond words.
In spite of the gloomy, rainy weather, I really enjoyed visiting Lyle's birth state (Colorado). I was introduced to two of Lyle's very charming aunts and met a number of cousins and a life long friend who were all so cordial to me. Visiting friends in Kansas City and sharing BBQ was also delightful.
Lyle did a great job handling the rig. It's been fun to see his proficiency and comfort increase as he has logged more miles. An observation--when the roads are smooth, the ride is smooth, and by and large, we enjoyed smooth sailing. A scary moment for me was on I-90 in Wyoming where the speed limit is 80 and witnessing many, even truckers exceeding that speed. Another observation is that we are accumulating extra spare parts...ie...head light bulbs, plug adapters, etc. We're learning it pays to be prepared.
Having celebrated our first wedding anniversary days before our departure, in my opinion, we traveled well together in our small space, and we're still speaking! Yes, I am so looking forward to seeing my sons and their wives and my grand children and my friends and my garden, but then we can re-stock the motor home and head out on our next adventure. Gypsy Judy
7/15/15 Our motorhome was returned to ProCustom Inc in Elkhart, operated by former Newmar guys. They helped us get a power transfer switch installed in a timely manner before our trip west. Now they are doing cosmetic repairs to the exterior of the unit. Several minor scratches Lyle inherited and one he caused by getting intimate with a gas pump on the way from Florida. Lesson: Use truck stops or fuel bays designed for trucks.
7/21/15 Picked up motorhome from Pro Custom in Elkhart today, but without work being completed. Basically, it sat for the last week without any work being done. We could have--and wanted to--use the motorhome this past weekend, so a lost opportunity. Lyle is not a happy camper. However, he still has confidence that once he gets the attention of the ProCustom people, they will do a good job. Somebody said it doesn't cost anything to be nice. Lyle is questioning that. The motorhome will rest on its pad in SW Michigan until August 6, when it is scheduled to return to Pro Custom.
8/13/15 The motorhome is back from a few days at Pro Custom Inc in Elkhart, finishing up paint work they didn't do on schedule last month. The new service manager, Chris, is an all-star in my book! In fact, the whole crew there did a wonderful job. So, Lyle is happy, again. Thank you, Samara, Mike, Chris, Torry and all!