Week 21: Will Work While Traveling
For now, some of my fun and excitement are diminished as I go back to work and I don’t have full days to go biking and exploring. Dom still has this week off and will be able to go some places as well as get some things taken care of on the RV and Jeep. And he did just that on Monday.
Dom took the Jeep into the local dealership to check on the engine code that kept coming up everytime we were at a higher altitude. The code turned out to be a cracked DEF fluid injector. This job was quoted at $600 but after a call to the dealership where we just bought the Jeep along with a bumper to bumper warranty, we were able to pay our $100 deductible and be on our way with a new injector. We had also ordered some new surgical masks for Dom from Amazon to the campground where we are staying, our first experience receiving mail on the road! It worked exactly as planned and they arrived without issue to the campground office. While receiving mail may not seem like a big deal, it can be when you move around a lot. An example of when it almost didn’t go as well and we had to start thinking of alternate options is my new biking sunglasses. We ordered them 2 weeks before we left for this trip and they were not in by the time we left. We made plans for them to be shipped to us at the campground but they took so long to be ready that we were in danger of leaving before they arrived. They were supposed to be shipped out expedited, 3-day, shipping on Tuesday 7/7/2020, instead they were shipped at regular speed on Thursday 7/9/2020 and should arrive by Thursday 7/16/2020, one day before we leave. We hoped for the best and planned for them to be delayed. Our plan was to have the campground office refuse delivery so they would be sent back to the eye Dr office where we could pick them up when we got back. Spoiler alert, we got them in time.
On Tuesday Dom played handyman and adjusted the height of the weight distribution hitch for the fourth and final time. He lowered it again since the Jeep auto levels once we put the trailer on the ball. When we bought this RV the dealership service department set up the hitch way too high thinking that the Jeep was going to have a lot of sag once the weight of the RV was on it. We explained to them that the Jeep has air suspension and that it will auto level. They thought they knew our car better than us and they left it high. We blew their minds when they set the RV down on the hitch and the Jeep picked itself back up. At the time, we had just spent 5 hours driving to Houston, TX and all morning buying the X5 then drove another 45 minutes over to their dealership and spent all afternoon buying the RV. We were beyond exhausted and just wanted to get out of there. Don’t make that mistake, leave yourself enough time to go through every feature of the RV that you are buying. Test everything and don’t leave until everything works and you know how to use it and it is all correct according to your sales purchase agreement. For this issue though, we knew that it was something that we could deal with at home later and we left. Since then we have been lowering the hitch until the RV is level while driving. This presented some challenges as when we are parked and when the RV is on the hitch are different situations and what looks level in one situation is not level in the other. Also, taking the RV off the hitch to make adjustments requires us to park the RV, chock the wheels, put the jack down, take the RV off the hitch, then adjust the hitch height and sometimes the height of the arms on the hitch, then put it all back together and drive away to a level road to check everything. We finally got it right this time though and it made a big difference in towing the RV home.
After work on Wednesday we decided to drive the Colorado National Monument again to see if we could get some sunset shots. We fed the boys an early dinner, dogs are not allowed on any trails in the monument and we thought we might be able to hike a little this time without them. Boo to people who are irresponsible dog owners and ruin nice things for the rest of us. Leash, train, and pick up after your dog ALWAYS, no matter where you are to help preserve the ability to have dogs do dog things like hiking with their people. Rant over. We did get some cool shots of places where we couldn’t or didn’t stop on our first trip as well as took a short hike to check out a cave that we saw a bunch of people hike to last time. We didn’t want to be around that many people on our first trip so we skipped it and since no one was out this time we got to check out what they saw. Unfortunately, those people were not following a trail and we found out the hard way. Once we got to the cave and walked as far as there was light then turned around to head back to the car, a park ranger drove by and through his loud speaker informed us that where we were was not a cave but a water drainage system and that we were not supposed to be there. We quickly left and upon getting back towards the car we saw where the trail actually turned away from that spot and went down hill. There were no posted signs but we did see an outline with small rocks on the ground. We felt terrible for going off trail and vowed to pay more attention on future hikes. We did not end up staying long enough to get sunset shots since the sun doesn't set there until around 9 PM!
Thursday was an interesting day for Dom while I worked. He got to check out the downhill bike park/ski mountain that we had seen while driving through Grand Mesa, Powderhorn. He got some good video that we will be processing and getting up on YouTube for you in the next couple of weeks. This is a chair lift assisted downhill park and he liked the chair lift better than the one we experienced at Spider Mountain in Texas simply due to the method of carrying the bikes on the lift. This lift cradled the front tire in an upright position instead of hanging the front tire by the wheel while trying to avoid breaking a spoke or your valve. The bottom of the mountain sits at 8,200 ft and the top is 9,700 ft with 1,500 ft of descending and some trails being 3.5 miles long.
He got to the top and did a final check of his equipment before starting his first run on Mutton Buster. The first quarter mile went well, his bike did great and his brakes were doing what they were supposed to and allowing him to maintain a comfortable speed. Then things got hot, like his brake pads, rotors, and hydraulic brake fluid. His brakes began to overheat and not allow him to slow or stop his bike and the mountain had at least 3 more miles of steep downhill to show him. He tried to find places to take brakes and allow things to cool off but the trail was skinny and stopping could mean a collision with another biker who was coming down the trail. Once he reached the bottom safely, he made his way to the bike shop to let them know that he just cooked his brakes and asked them if they had time to replace or repair them. They were able to take him in and determined that his pads and rotors looked fine so they bled the brake lines and he was ready to try again.
After a short trip around the bottom of the mountain to test the brakes, he headed back up the chair since everything seemed to be in working order. He attempted redemption on Mutton Buster. Once again the first half mile or so went great. The trail was fun and playful and Dom was enjoying himself. Then the brakes started overheating again. He lost the ability to slow or stop and was forced to use other methods to keep the bike under control to the bottom of the mountain. He learned a very important lesson for both us this day, while our bikes are great trail bikes and they do ok suspension-wise on easier downhill trails with no jumps, they are not equipped with big enough brakes for true mountain downhill. We could also use longer travel in the suspension but for now they do ok. It sounds like if we want to continue to try new and more difficult trails we may need a bike upgrade in the future. As we bike more and our skills grow, we also need to make sure that our equipment can keep up. We also bought another GoPro camera, this time an 8 Black so that we can get more and better shots from more angles for you in the future.
Friday was our last day in Grand Junction, CO and so we spent the day and afternoon packing up the camp site and readying the RV for the 2 day trip back to TX. Dom took care of most of the outside items while I handled packing up the inside. We remembered this time to put the dinette table in the bed position to make it easier to access the kitchen and bathroom while we are on the road. We also took the Russos’ advice and strapped the Berkey to the faucet while it was in the sink for travel to keep it from moving around as much and possibly getting damaged. Both of these led to improvement in our travel days.
Saturday we drove for 8.5 hours to Pueblo, CO to another KOA Holiday campground for a one night stay. I was able to edit a whole video on our drive there! We were able to not have to interact with anyone outside due to having our own bathroom and kitchen. We used a card at the diesel pumps and were otherwise self sufficient. We were treated to beautiful views of the mountains and calm weather the whole trip. We got to stop for lunch on a mountain pass road as a treat. We found a pull over, let dogs do their thing, took some pictures to put on Instagram, pulled out our camping chairs, made some sandwiches and ate outside with the gorgeous views. It was one of our most amazing lunches to date. The puppies enjoyed getting to stretch their little legs and spend time outside as well. We packed everything up, put our trash in our own trash can, and continued on our journey to Pueblo, CO.
We pulled into the campground, checked in and got led to our site. These sites were a little tight but we were only there for a night so it was ok. Most of the sites were pull-through on gravel with full hookups and had a picnic table. They had a pool, hot tub, mini golf, a small store, propane, dump station, and was easy to access from the main highway from south east Colorado to New Mexico route 50 south to 25 south.
After some rest, we packed up again for the final stretch of our trip home. 13 hours of driving with wind and an ever deflating trailer tire. It was a long day. We left the campground at 8 AM after attempting to wait in line to dump the tanks before traveling. The line was long and we needed to hit the road so we just left. We decided to dump the tanks when we got home to Texas. We went to the gas station on the way to the highway to fill up on diesel and air in the tires. We were able to get diesel but their air compressor was out of order. We went across the highway to check their air compressor. It was also out of order, so we crossed the street and went to the rest area to use our own air compressor to fill the RV tires. One tire was only at 30psi which is half of what it should have been. We ended up having to fill that tire two more times before getting home. Once we got home (at 10 PM with a time zone change), as we were backing the RV into our spot, I got bit by a fire ant because Texas. We hadn't even been back for 15 minutes and already I was missing Colorado.