Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Roadtrek Takes a Trip, Part 2

PART II - See last week for Part I.

I have written about our trips to the service center before. The dealer has a nice RV shop with parts and all types of things to buy for your RV. This is not something that we have to this extent near home so we head over there after we leave the Roadtrek across the road for service. One thing that is good here is that they have some replacement parts specific to the Roadtrek. In the past we have purchased two extra orange fresh water tank fill plugs - in case one gets lost or broken. We have purchased extra clips that hold the window curtains closed there. Meryl reminded me on this trip that we should look for an extra fresh water tank drain plug cap.

The drain plug cap looks like it should be easy to replace with any 1/2 inch plumbing screw on cap at Lowes or Home Depot. I bought two - one at Lowes and one at Home Depot and each did not screw on the drain hole properly. The screw threads must not have matched.We walked over the the plumbing section here and there it was - exact replacement - for a little over three dollars. We get 10% off at the shop because we bought our Roadtrek here so they made their big sale of the day to us. I like to have extras of the things that could get lost when we are traveling with no source of replacement. The drain cap could end a trip with no way to replace it right away. No drain cap no water in the tank (though in the 190 (and 210) we could shut down the front water tank where the low point drain is, and just use the interior, rear water tank - see the article summer mode/winter mode).

We continued looking around the shop. I had recently been looking online at a 30 amp plug that replaces the mouse hole that the power cable comes out of. Installation would involve cutting the power cable cord for shore power right there inside at the mouse hole, inserting this plug with cover unit into the hole from the outside in,and wiring the cable into the back of this plug. Now when connecting to shore power you use an RV 30 amp power cord that is not attached permanently to the RV. You would then just take the cord out of the storage cabinet completely, where the socket is connected to this new exterior plug (where the mouse hole is now), and then the plug on that cord goes into the outside power box outlet. This eliminates feeding the power cord through the mouse hole - which Meryl would like. A number of Roadtrek owners have done this already. Walking around the shop, there was this unit. We got to see it up close and what was involved, plus the power cords that are used with it. Looking we decided it was something maybe for the future and since the dealer's shop was selling it, if we did not want to do the simple job ourselves, the service center could do it for us. I also saw again something that I keep coming back to and looking at when we are here. There is a meter that plugs between the antenna and TV coax cable that shows the signal strength of antenna digital TV signals. It will tell you with a series of LEDs where to stop turning the direction of your TV antenna on the roof to receive the strong and most the signals. It runs on a battery and is $40. It would make tuning in the digital TV before scanning a lot easier. It is $40 and I have not decided the convenience is worth the $40. Maybe someday. We primarily choose campgrounds now with cable.

While I was in the store Meryl went into the showroom to look for new Roadtreks. There were none on the showroom floor. All of the Roadtreks were outside on the lot and we were not going to bother the salespeople to show us inside any of them - no point in our asking them to spend their time with no hope of making a sale. Had there been an ETrek I would have asked. There was not.

After the shop, it was off to lunch which is a short walk to a limited shopping center. There were still no showers, though it was very cloudy. We were here - the work we needed to be done was finally being done, and that was what was important. After lunch we walked a little further to an adjacent small strip mall with a great dollar store. Since our first trip here we have included a stop off at this dollar store. They just seem to have more or at least a different assortment of items from the other dollar stores we have been in. We wandered around the store. bought a few things and then went into the Staples Office store next door - there is not much else to waste time in.

What was beginning to concern me was that it was almost three hours and we had not been called yet to come back. I was envisioning that the found a real major problem with the air conditioner. We walked around the store a little longer and I suggested that we call them to find out what was happening. Meryl suggested that we just start walking back. When we got outside the store the wind was picking up a lot - real blow you over type wind. Half way back, we got a call that they wanted to show us something. Oh boy!

We got back to the service office and we were asked to come inside to the work area. We went back to the shop and there was the Roadtrek - plugged in with the air conditioner running. We went inside the Roadtrek and  no more flapping noise. What they wanted to show us was that it was fixed. Good. What had been wrong with it? When they took the front cover off all of the way they found that part of the rubber gasket around the cover - in the area of the vent that the noise was coming from - was loose and flapping around and knocking against the cover. They secured that down and the noise went away. A simple fix is always better than a fix that requires taking things out and apart.

The oil change on the generator was done. Now, we were going to be shown how to open the hatch. It was Rachel who had taken us back and she knows a great deal about RVs. She turned the two latches that unlock the hatch and pulled up from the bottom to take it out - just as I had. It did not budge. I had wondered if when the DC/AC fridge was installed at this service center the panel had been locked off as there was no reason to open it.  No, she said that generally they leave them possible to open.  One of the service techs walked past and she asked him to take it off. He put a screw driver into the slot of each latch and turned them 90 degrees. He grabbed hold of them, pushed slightly up and then out and down and it came off. Inside was fairly clean - a little vacuuming maybe on a clear day at home, now that I could get the hatch cover off. He showed me that the latches snap into catches and that there are three tabs that must be lined up on the top before putting the hatch cover back. Turning the latches back 90 degrees locks them once they are snapped back in. That was it - all accomplished that we came for.

We walked back up front with Rachel and when we got there outside through the window we could see that it was SNOWING. Large white snow flakes were falling fast. No scattered rain showers as predicted but snow! We had been joking earlier with Rachel about all of the bad weather we have had. When she saw the snow, she asked, "How can it be snowing?". My answer was, "Because we are here."  At least the temperature outside was high enough to keep it from sticking and it was melting as it hit the pavement. When we got into the Roadtrek to drive off the snow was still coming down lightly.

When we make these trips for a day to have work done, we are spending a lot of money on tolls, not to mention gasoline. Between the two bridge tolls in NY that have just gone up, yet again,  in the past two weeks and the tolls on the turnpikes the trip costs near $40. and that is probably a conservative guess. When it is part of a trip where we will be staying, it is just part of the anticipated expenses of the trip.  When we come just for service, we want to have a little fun visiting one of our favorite areas while we are so nearby. I had hoped that we would have been getting away from the service center earlier in the afternoon. As it turned out, it was 5:00 pm. Looking at the weather, Meryl asked if we should just start heading home. It looked to me like it would not last - and if the forecast would be correct at all would be ending - showers or snow in an hour or two. As long as the temperatures were not freezing the wet to the roads we would be fine. We headed toward Lancaster for a favorite restaurant of ours.

I don't often talk of restaurants that we stop at, but this one is one not to miss if in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania. The restaurant is the Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, PA and I have heard people talking about this restaurant many times in other states. It is probably one of the largest buffet restaurants anywhere and the food is very good. It is a mix of Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish specialties, southern cooking, farm cooking, and what is generally called American food. I have recommended it to friends who come back raving about the great meal that they had there. We have dined there many many times over many years and this was where we headed. The ride from the dealer takes about an hour and we were there early enough to stop at a great store that is next door to the restaurant - Goods Store - a store that caterers to the local people including the Amish and Mennonites and is the place to go to when you can't find what you are looking for somewhere else. During the hurricane we discovered that we had used up all of the lamp wick for the oil lamps we have. We knew that we could get more at Goods. And we found it there in a variety of sizes.

Dinner was fabulous - as expected. We stopped briefly in the gift shop and then headed over to the local Walmart. When do we ever go anywhere without stopping in a Walmart. At home there are no Super Walmarts and generally out of state we can find things there that we can't get at home - at least at low prices. Out in the parking lot of the restaurant it had gotten extremely cold. The wind chill was taking its toll even with the thermometer on the dash of the Roadtrek reading in the upper thirties. If I had been considering just staying over for the night - either in a campground or in a Walmart parking lot, it was just too cold - and the next day according to local radio would get colder. The idea to stay over was for fun and not endurance so we just skipped that idea.

Before we left we stopped for gas at a truck stop. Gas prices in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey are forty cents a gallon less than in New York so we always fill up just before we leave Pennsylvania and then top off the tank at the last gas station on the turnpike in New Jersey before New York. I checked the mileage twice during the trip. After our long and weary drive coming with stopping and creeping along in traffic we got 15 mpg. Not bad! With steady interstate highway driving at the speed limit we got 18.7 mpg! That is close to the 19+ mpg we have been getting when highway driving. Compared to other RVs that expect 10 to 12 mpg (not to mention the big rigs that get 3 to 4 mpg), my Roadtrek gets wonderful mileage!
Well, it was after 11:00 pm before we left Pennsylvania and were on the road heading back home. I was really enjoying driving the Roadtrek.  The surface of the Pennsylvania Turnpike had been repaved since our last visit and the Roadtrek just glided over the surface - no bumps and nothing banging around inside. We had the local country station on and then when that faded away changed to the Philadelphia country station. The trip home was pretty much uneventful other than the upper level of the Verrazano Bridge being closed and having to get past and around the trucks to get to the road home. The sky was clear - finally! But when we got off the highway to get on the road that we have to take to get to our town, you can guess what was happening... it was snowing! Yes, we arrived home in the snow! I so love the accuracy of weather forecasts. And it was after three in the morning.

Well, so my Roadtrek after five and a half months got to go on a trip. I wish we had been able to go on a real trip, but I have to say that any reason to travel in the Roadtrek after such a long time with it on the driveway - and looking out at it and wishing we were anywhere but here - well, it was a good trip for the Roadtrek and us.

I dare not say when the next one will be. I do have an idea - and we need to make reservations soon. Before that trip I hope to de-winterize. And sad to say, as I am writing this, it has been snowing outside and in two days it is the official first day of Spring with a forecast for a wintery mix.


  1. Yay! The Roadtrek is ready for the summer! Congrats! Where are you heading next?

    1. Well, she is not yet de-winterized. There are still cold nights here. Hopefully, by the end of the month she can take here first real trip for the season!