Friday, February 28, 2014

New Braunfels to Junction to Fort Stockton, Texas: February 25th to 28th . . .

It’s Wednesday (2/26/14) and We’re Still at Camping World in New Braunfels, Texas!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Google Maps instructions for getting to this, very visible Camping World just outside of San Antonio, are convoluted to say the least.  So, after I received my job for the evening and morning of trying out all my systems while here in the ‘free’ campsite, I decided to just stay here in the parking lot and not venture out for exploration of the area.  Maybe I’ll do a little today; or, maybe I’ll just head out towards Junction, TX or further.

Of course, the wind came up last evening and the temperature dropped down into the 30s again.  It’s been howling around the rig all night and doesn’t appear to be letting up.  This morning it’s currently 41F and very windy.  It’s supposed to be windy all day in the range of NNE 15-29mph with up to a 70% chance of rain, especially later this morning.  Wouldn’t you know?  My ‘issues’ with Floribunda seem to be resolved as far as I can tell now, but the dreaded wind and rain may make traveling a little less enjoyable. 

By the way, I’ve had a windshield washing fluid container with a big hole in it since December.  Yesterday, CW told me I’d have to try to find one at Chevrolet, as CW doesn’t carry replacements for chassis parts.
That’s great – I already checked with a Chevy dealer in Louisiana who told me he doesn’t have that part in his catalogue.  I’m assuming that either means his catalogue is wimpy or I’m not going to find it at any Chevy dealer.  The alternatives are:  to go without (not pleasant for driving when in rain and fog, then dust and wind, etc.), or, buy a generic container and try to get it to fit – somehow!
It just seems that things are not meant to be simple in the maintenance and repair of motorhomes!  Maybe the powers that be only hand out so many conveniences and easy solutions; so, when one’s used up his fair share of easy fixes, things get complicated!  For some reason, I kind of feel I’ve overdone my fair share of complicated solutions! Hmmm!

Yesterday, when I was ready to leave Seguin, TX, for the relatively short jaunt to New Braunfels, I decided to try to tow Petunia without the bungee cords holding the steering wheel in a neutral position.  [After all the problems I had last summer with towing, I’d decided I’d rather be safe than sorry.  In the Smart Car forum, there were lots of opinions about whether to use steering wheel bungees or not.  I’d decided to use them but haven’t really seen that they actually “do” anything; so this was the first time I was brave enough to give the non-bungee steering wheel a try].  Almost immediately after I left CW, I pulled into a gas station to fill Floribunda with gas; and, I had to make a rather sharp right turn to exit the station.  OMG!  The horrific Petunia clunk-clunk sound was back!  I could see on the monitor of my backup camera that the steering wheel was wildly going to the left and then to the right, over and over.  I could feel that panic brick falling to the bottom of my stomach.  Fortunately, I was able to turn off the main road in just about 200 feet onto a residential street and pulled to a stop as soon as I could; where I jumped out, ran back to Petunia, and went through the algorithm that I would normally do when I prepare her to be unhitched.  It went well so I then put her back into towing mode, with the steering wheel bungees back in place, and all seemed to be working okay.  However, when I did unhitch her in the afternoon, here at CW, I noticed that hot/burnt rubber smell; so I’m going to be very careful and watch for any signs of a problem with the clutch or transmission, or whatever else could be damaged from the spinning out of control steering wheel around that one corner.
A Smart Car in the sales room - check Petunia out, below
Thursday Evening (2/27/14), Fort Stockton, TX – Hilltop RV Park

After leaving CW at about noon yesterday, we drove about 150 miles to Junction, TX where we stayed at River Shade RV Park on the North Llano River.  The drive had been an easy one and we had no more heart-stopping moments with Petunia.
The RV Park was spotlessly clean and had manicured grounds.  The only issue was that my Verizon Jet Pak, my iPhone, my iPad, and my laptop were all unusable.  It was probably just as well because after a nice dinner, I turned the light out at 7:30 and didn’t check the time again until this morning at 6:30!  That tells me that, although I feel 99% better than even earlier this week, I’m still feeling some effects of this darn flu.  I’ve just never had anything like this before.

We drove out of River Shade RV Park at 11 and, taking our sweet time, traveled through some of the widest-opened spaces in the World.  Texas is one BIG PLACE.  At one of the rest stops I checked on an RV park in Fort Stockton (Hilltop RV Park); and, it’s a good thing I did because they only had one spot vacant for tonight.

I-10W parking spot - Texas freeways have rest areas, picnic areas,
and parking spots.  They're few and far between
Not too many of us out here!
Texas seems to go on forever
Between Junction and Fort Stockton, TX
Between Junction and Fort Stockton, TX - such interesting
rock striations - I love the continual sameness and changing
of the landscape

We arrived at Hilltop RV Park outside of Fort Stockton at about 4 in the afternoon.  I left Petunia hitched to Floribunda.  They both needed a 'rest!'  These long stretches of 'clean-appearing' highways hide lots of dirt - see below!
Poor little Petunia, a little the worse for wear this morning
(Friday, 2/28/14).  She was quite clean two
days ago.
Oh my, oh my, it's dirty work being towed
It's dirty work towing, too!  Floribunda needs a bath SOON!

Our plan is to leave here later this morning, and drive to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory.  Then, we'll make the hop to Marfa, Texas.  I’ve made a reservation at the Tumble In RV Park in Marfa for 2 nights.  We’ve heard lots of good things about this special place – in the middle of west Texas desert country.  Hopefully I’ll have some good photos and stories to tell.
Eleanor this morning,  "I've had breakfast and life is good!"


  1. I feel for you...that part of the trip through Texas is, let's just say, loooong. Now I won't ask why you decided to try and tow "differently" when it has been working so well, I just hope all is well with it. The thing I find about those "burnt rubber" smells is that you start wondering sometimes if it is your imagination or not because they are so hard to locate. Good luck, drive safe. Oh, and Skruffy is now officially a Service Dog, living with us in the Condo now. :) --Dave (

  2. Hallelujah for Marcia that Scruffy is there in the condo; and, I'm sure it's a happy time for you, too. Now, about another service dog!?!
    You know, Dave, you're right, I'd had so many 'opinions' from Smart Car owners, I couldn't leave a good thing alone and had to try the no-bungee scenario. Well, I learned my lesson, and I hope didn't cause damage learning it. So far, I've not noticed any problems driving her in between towing sessions.
    You know, this lady with a history and reputation for not enjoying driving is changing. I actually LOVE these open roads in Texas. I take advantage of rest areas and don't under-estimate driving distances; I try to make each segment around 100-200 maximum miles per day. And, although I'm a long-time listener to audio novels, etc., I'm also enjoying music like Il Divo turned up loudly so I can sing along. I use ear buds, so Lacy probably thinks I'm crazy because all she hears is my post-flu crackly voice!

  3. I stayed in fort Davis one year ago. Do not miss the star party at Macdonald!!! My favorite thing I've ever done on the road.

    1. Thanks for the tip. I'm in Marfa and starting to plan the next few days - including the McDonald Observatory.

  4. We stayed at Hilltop a few years ago, snow storm on I-10.
    That sure is a long drive through Texas, we have done it quite a few times.

    1. As I told Dave, above, I'm finding some kind of serenity driving through this big-sky-wide-open-country. I'm often wanting to stop for a photo op; then, around the next bend I find another. Getting ready to unhitch Petunia for a first-time through Marfa to check out the lay of the land.

  5. We have been to Fort Davis and the observatory several times! Went to a star party. We sure enjoy this area! Have fun!

  6. Thanks, Sheila. See the comments above; several people have told me not to miss the star party. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday evening.

  7. Ah yes, I remember driving thru that part of Texas before....I didn't mind it either...I love road trips. I'll have to remember star party this summer. Hope everything is okay it Petunia and glad you're feeling better and better. I've that type of flu before except while at home and not on the road. I was wiped out for two weeks, and two more weeks of recovery. I guess I'm immune now from that type of flu...whatever it was. i don't do flu shots so when I get the flu my body usually reccovers quickly but not that one time. Take care.

  8. Hi Rita:
    This is interesting country; for me it's not boring but there's a lot of it! I'll post how things go with my visit here in the next couple of days.
    As for the flu shot, nurse mary-pat speaking, it's produced yearly dependent on the strain of the virus from the previous year. Just as there are many cultures of peoples, there are many strains of flu virus. I think it behooves us to get the flu shot even though it may not prevent the flu from occurring but can be helpful in management of the severity. And, for we "older folks," it's not the flu that is so bad but the other illnesses that can attack when the immune system is overloaded. That's my lecture for today!!!