September 20, 2018

Bumps and Bruises

After our time with Jessica, Mike and Emmett ended, we had to turn Rainier and Raven in a westward direction and head back to California.  Our plan was to make a detour in Texas to visit my cousin, David, and his wife, Dee, for a few days before continuing on to southern California for work.  Unfortunately Texas would have to wait :-(

Raven Suffers a Mishap

We were less than 200 miles into our day's journey.  I was driving.  Rain was occasionally pouring down.  Ron was occasionally napping.  During one of his awake moments we both heard a weird noise.  We didn't really feel anything though.  I looked out my window at the side of the rig and it didn't seem to look right.  Ron said pullover.  So I did.  He jumped out, walked around the back of Raven and then came back in the truck to give me the bad news.

Raven's rear drivers side tire had delaminated.  Thankfully there was enough air inside the tire to drive the very short distance to the next off ramp.  We were also thankful that there was a gas station at the exit with easy access for us.  It really could have been so much worse!!

notice something missing?!

it really could have been so much worse

mangled but repairable
the larger black tank valve was still in place but not the smaller gray tank valve

so glad this bracket was in place!

The damage could have been so much worse too.  Our water heater is just above the sewer connections and it was untouched :-)).  The floorboards in that region weren't affected either.  What did break were our sewer connections, the sheet metal just above the connection, the plastic support pieces for the sheet metal, a little dent in the side of the rear slide and some scuff marks on the side of Raven.  Before we left in June Ron had made an ABS support bracket for the sewer connections.  It is mounted to the trailer's frame member.  If that wasn't in place there was a definite possibility of the entire system being ripped away.  When I see these photos after two months time, I still thank my lucky stars that it wasn't worse!!

Central Tire to the rescue!

Once the initial shock subsided I called Coach Net and asked them to call a tire repair company to come and change the tire for us.  We had never even looked at our spare...  But it was in good shape and a good temporary solution to get us on our way.  

After the tire was replaced we carefully headed to the closest campground about 45 minutes away.  Natural Bridge/Lexington KOA was just off the I-81 freeway.  They had a spot for us to sit for a couple of days.  A complete set of four Goodyear tires were soon on order the following morning.  We also went into town to find some replacement valves.

almost back to original
Let me warn you ahead of time, using aluminum foil to help drain your black water tank should only be used in cases of severe necessity!!

We went to a nearby Camping World and found both of the dump valves.  Originally they were plumbed together but they didn't have the "T" connection that we needed.  Oh well, at least now we could use the shower and bathroom sink again.  Our kitchen sink has it's own tank and separate dump valve in the front so at least we could brush our teeth and wash dishes :-)  The body damage would just have to wait for now.  *Ron did later find the "T" fitting he needed at Amazon.  They really do have everything!

Rainier Needed Some Attention Too

The tires were replaced and we were on our way west again.  We planned a short driving day because we weren't sure how long the tire install would take.  We booked a one night stay at Dumplin Valley Farm RV Park in Kodak, TN.  If you're ever in this neck of the woods I recommend it.  A small family owned RV park with a few FHU pull through spots in a grass covered field with underlying gravel for stability.  We walked around and viewed the three empty silos.

Once a year in September they host a Bluegrass Festival and the place fills up.  That would be fun to experience.  Our mid July stay was quiet and relaxing.

Our pace would soon take a quick stall...

Rainier's computer told us that it was low on DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid).  The countdown to zero miles left had hit the magic number of 500.  It would continue to drop until more DEF was added.  No worries.  Or so we thought.  We stopped at a Pilot, bought a box, Ron began to pour in the liquid but just a portion went into the tank??  That's not supposed to happen.  What was even worse was that the counter kept ticking down.  When it hits 100 miles the engine won't let the truck go faster than 55mph.  There are other warnings and slow downs when the counter gets to certain stages.  Suffice it to say, you really don't want to run out of DEF.  My cousin David has a friend who owns a diesel shop but it was too far away from our current location.

We needed a major city to get the repair done.  Memphis, TN wasn't too far away.  That should work.  I looked at my Campendium app and saw that Tom Sawyer's RV Park in West Memphis, AR was within our mileage restricted driving zone.  The Mighty Mississippi River is the state border and the park is right along the shores of the river.  Our friends, Jodee and Bill, have stayed there before and gave it a good review.  We called and explained our situation.  They had plenty of room and we could stay as long as necessary.  Phew.

We decided on a site which is a bit further from the water's edge.  It's definitely close enough to get good views of the barges passing by but costs much less at only $28/night with 50 amp FHU.   We arrived on a Sunday afternoon.  Rainier had an appointment the following day at a local Ford dealership in West Memphis.  A diagnosis would take a full day.  The dealership had a rental car available so we could get around town.  Time to play tourist :-)     
freeway view

We had driven past a very unique looking Bass Pro Shop on our way to the RV park.  It's called The Pyramid by locals.  It was just on the other side of the Mississippi River.  Why not?  This Bass Pro is located on the shores of the Mississippi River.  According to one employee they are in the process of having boat test drives on the river.  How cool would that be?

street view

observation deck at the top

Driving in on the entrance road you feel like you're arriving at a Disneyland Theme Resort.  There are trees, grassy areas, plenty of parking, people taking photos, people staring ahead at what they are about to experience.  We were there on a Monday mid afternoon.  I can only imagine the crowds on a weekend.

Of course we HAD to take photos too...  At the top of The Pyramid are two observation decks, one on the front (south) side of the store and one on the river (west) side of the store.  The all glass elevator is 28 stories tall.  We were thinking about going up there until we found out they charge $10/person.  Knowing that the truck could be an expensive repair we opted not to indulge this time.  No charge to walk through the store though :-) 

Walking through the front doors there is a hotel lobby just to the right.  Yes, you read that right.  Inside of the Bass Pro Shop is Big Cypress Lodge.  With 103 rooms, there is something for everyone.  Except us, we have Raven just on the other side of the river.  But, it sure would be an adventure to spend the night here! 

clear glass sided elevator to the observation decks

 this guy is safe and free from worry

If you find yourself with nothing to do while visiting Memphis, I highly recommend walking through this store.  We arrived at lunch time.  Imagine our surprise when we learned of the full service restaurant next to the swamp which has alligators and 36 varieties of fish.  We had a great view of the water, fishing boat sales area and the clear glass elevator. 

But the fun didn't stop there.  We ventured to the bowling alley next.  The Fish Bowl was busy.  People were having a fun time in the under-the-sea themed bowling alley.  There was a bar serving drinks and showing varied television shows on the multiple screens.  We saw signs for a pistol shooting range and archery range.  There is also a Ducks Unlimited Museum on site.  Of course, there is also plenty of retail therapy for everyone!

After leaving Bass Pro we stopped at the nearby Memphis visitor center.  There was a geocache onsite.  We should have been doing more caching on our trip.  Just too busy driving, visiting family and relaxing to even think about it.  But we had some free time so why not.


The dealer called us Tuesday to let us know Rainier needs an entire new DEF system.  YIKES!!  If we lived anywhere but California we could have eliminated it all together.  Too bad it wasn't covered under some type of warranty issue.  On the positive side we did have a nice spot to relax while they put Rainer back together.  The dealer said that we could be back on the road by the end of the week.  We picked Rainier up late on Thursday afternoon.  Yippee!

Time to head west again.  Sorry we couldn't dip down to mid state Texas a little to visit David and Dee.  We'll definitely see them this winter though.  They have a new 3 acre property and are planning to put in an RV pad.  I see some mooch-docking in our future :-))



  1. It's bad enough to lose the tire, but the damage I've seen from the tread is horrible. Yours wasn't too bad, but still a pain to repair! If you're going to get stuck for a truck fix, Memphis isn't a bad place to spend the time! We already want to go back, and will definitely check out the Bass Pro Shop. Looks like fun!

    1. Yes, we've even made some of the broken pieces for our customers. We know just how lucky we were. There are quite a lot of variables involved when a tire goes out. Blow outs are the worst and thankfully that didn't happen to us. We guesstimate that we got about 10K miles out of them before the accident. Thank you for the recommendation about Tom Sawyers. We would definitely stay there again without hesitation. You guys would absolutely love this Bass Pro! You could easily spend a few hours looking around at all the big boy (and girl) toys :-)


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