Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weekend at Home

I'm a little bummed but we need to spend this next weekend at home. The Honey-do's have piled up lately and I really have a busy weekend planned taking care of some long over-do stuff at home. Actually I'll probably pull the camper home on one of the days to give it a good cleaning and make a couple of mods if time permits.

With that being said I did confirm reservations (Oak Bluffs Site #51) for next weekend at Ponca State Park. We're camping for our 16th anniversary and both happy to be doing so. Valerie thought it would be neat to make a trip to Bob's Bar in Martinsburg (just up the road from the park) for old times sake and I couldn't agree more. Looking very much forward to this trip to Ponca and we may even play 9 holes of golf at that wonderful little course outside the park.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Trip 4 - Tuttle Creek Cove Kansas

Camping this past weekend consisted of a BOYS GOLF TRIP. James, Matt and I packed up the TT and went down to Manhattan Kansas and stayed at Tuttle Creek Cove Park on the southwest corner of Tuttle Creek Reservoir. We arrived late on Friday night and all went pretty well getting things set up with a couple of exceptions. We pulled through and the dump and water station were right there by the front gate but not really accessible for someone pulling into the park and wanting to fill up tanks. As I sat there trying to determine if I could figure out how to make the VERY tight turn back into the dump station for water the workkamping fella drove up and asked why I needed water as there were hookups at each site in the park. WELL WOOOOOOHOOOOO, that just make life easier. Until we blew by the entry to our camping area and had to back up the road to get back to the site. I wasn't real familiar with the layout of the park so I felt it was better to back up a bit than spend time wandering around the park trying to get back to where we were. Anyhow we had the only pull through site at the park and finally made it onto out site, got everything leveled and settled down for a beer just before midnight.

We didn't spend a whole lot of time actually at the park other than sleeping and eating but from the time we did spend there this was a pretty nice park. With good sites and water hookups all the way around. They had nice aluminum picnic tables at each site and even had several logs and kindling sitting by the fire ring for all the sites. We parked right on the lake (see pics below) and it was a bit windy as can be expected with a north wind coming off the lake but I will definitely take the family down sometime down the line and actually spend some time at the park. The HOSTS at the park were very friendly and helpful as we didn't exactly keep to the exact GATE hours but they treated us very well. The were Good Sam's so that really doesn't surprise me.

Hutch joined us on Saturday morning and the four of us hit the lynx at Colbert Hills. This course rocks and is the number one rated course in Kansas. Its 7500 yards from the tips and of course we had to play it from the tips. My score card read 56/46 for a 102 with a little generosity coming during the rainy and cold conditions we had for the last 5 holes. James was similar and both Hutch and Matt did better than us as expected (at lease somewhat).

The course is VERY beautiful and spread out, I wouldn't want to walk this course even if I were in any kind of shape.

Preparing for the challenge.

Action shot usually followed by a few curse words. :-)

Followed by a lot of trampling through the native grasses.

Manhattan is a pretty nice smaller town, I even got a picture of the "Bill Snyder Family Stadium" and took a tour through campus and to James's old fraternity house. Looks like I could have gotten into a LOT of trouble there if you know what I mean.

We hit the town on Saturday night and I won't go into details in order to protect the innocent (or in our case the guilty) but suffice to say we are defiantly not 21 anymore but sometimes we tend to think we are. OUCH.....

We rounded off the trip by traveling back through Fairbury and playing at the site of the famous "TUCKY Two Tooth" and had a nice round there. I've probably played this course in the neighborhood of 30 times over the course of the years and I can safely say this was the first time I EVER played it when there wasn't a BUSCH Light in site. Don't think there will be for at least a while either...

The HOOT in Action...

Matt praying...

The gang...

A very fun but too quick weekend.

Until next time...


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Trip 3 - Louisville State Rec Area

We visited Louisville SRA this past weekend and had a very enjoyable time. This SRA is close to home is is very economical on the "gas budget". Its about 12 miles straight south of the 144th st exit off of I-80 in Omaha.

I was a little surprised as we first pulled in at the number of campers already at the park. The reservable sites on the west end of the park were fairly full and the non-reservable sites on the east end were pretty full as well. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised as the weather forecast called for great weather on Saturday and Sunday. Friday night was a little chilly but it more than made up for it on Saturday as the high in the ballpark of 70 with a slight breeze.

I got to try out the new flag pole I recently fabricated out of 1.5 in and 2in PVC pipe and I couldn't have been more pleased with how it turned out. I may make some adjustments down the line to the mount but as it sits now it is working very well. I have TWO more 6.5' lengths that can be added to this as well but in retrospect I probably will never use those as this pole at 20' works very well. (see pics below)

The Mackey's came out for the day on Saturday and we all enjoyed biking, fishing and going for ice cream at the snack shack. Sabra was convinced that she could definitely get into "this" type of camping. Heck, convincing the wife tends to be the harder part so its ONE down and ONE to go (well Trav??? )

Brother Corey also stopped by with his new TOY. Wow, what a SHARP ride. My wife insists that I spent my motorcycle money on a camper and I agree with her (for a few years anyhow).

Alyssa was the fishing champ for the weekend hauling in 5 fish with Mom taking second place with 4 and Dad getting skunked. I enjoyed watching all the girls fishing on Saturday and having them all have a good time. The 10 minutes I did get to fish I played with one fish in particular that continued to snag my bait and spit my hook back at me. He won this time but better watch out next time.

I got an unexpected surprise this weekend when one of my buddies I met online through the Open Roads Forum pulled through the park on Friday night. He and his wife and kids were camping up on the west end of the park and I got to meet him in person for the first time. Kind of a small world, I look forward to getting to know them better and sharing many camping experiences with them as well. He has two girls who are 9 and 13 so that could make a good mix with Alyssa. (Thanks for the poker, my turn to buy next time :-) )
All in all it was a great weekend as I finally feel as though I have this thing down. We actually pulled the awning out for the first time, lit the water heater and pretty much have mastered the basic knowledge of this trailer. One thing we did learn is that we need to ration water a little better. We've got 50 gallons to start with but when you run it like you do at your house it doesn't last nearly as long.
POWER PROBLEMS UPDATE: I did end up replacing the GFI receptacle and all is working well. I wouldn't have expect the receptacle to go bad on a brand new trailer but then again it was a pretty easy fix and all is working like new now...
Some more pictures of the flag pole...

Next up: Tuttle Creek COVE - Manhattan Kansas - Colbert Hills golfing trip...

Until next time - B

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rain, Rain GO AWAY...

We're due to pull the TT out to Louisville SRA this afternoon and as I sit here it is raining and a bit chilly. The rain is supposed to quit by mid-day or so and maybe drizzle a bit later in the day but tomorrow its supposed to be 70+ and quite nice. I am pretty adventurous so I guess we'll get some good practice driving and dealing with the TT in the rain. Wish us luck...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Power Problems

On our recent trip to Lake Manawa we had our GFI's pop. This happened midway into our trip and we couldn't get them to reset, the reset button would never hold. I called the tech line on my Coach Net RS and they had me try a couple of things I had already tried and were not any help. Not a HUGE deal just utilized other plugs in our TT until back home on Monday.

I contacted my dealer's service department first thing. When I told the Service guy I had been out this weekend and my GFI had popped and I couldn't get it to reset he came back with this; "Let me guess, you were in Iowa and possibly at Lake Manawa." I told him he should take over for the great CARNAC and asked him how he knew. He told me that sometimes the power in the State parks in IA is a little screwy and will trip the GFI and not allow it to be reset. He said to try it on another power source and he feels it should be fine. AWESOME, now if I had only tried it while I was parked outside my house on Sunday unloading I wouldn't have to go hook up and drag it back to the house this weekend. :-) Live and Learn Baby....

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Trip 2 - Lake Manawa State Park

It's not the distance in the travel for us yet but the travel in itself. Still trying to master everything and not deciding where or IF we were going for sure until late Thursday we happily took off on our latest adventure Friday early evening.

We traveled only 25miles and found ourselves at Lake Manawa State Park just across the river in Council Bluffs. Never been there before and and its a pretty interesting setting.

As you pull into the park from the north you circle around on the west and drive by half million to million dollar homes on the west of you and Lake Manawa on the east. There are lagoons backing up to these homes and access under the road to the lake for their boats. Its kind of a narrow winding road and water pretty close to both sides of the road in some places makes it kind of neat. It was twilight as we entered the park and we spotted a bunch of WHITE spots on the lake only to put down the windows and hear the noise of thousands of Snow Geese who has flocked to the lake. In our route to the campsite we also saw several deer, a skunk, a white owl and many ducks. By the time we reached the campsite we had killed a LOT of daylight and it was pretty much DARK...

I pulled through the gate wanting to find a spot and worry about the self registration later. The first bunch of sites were all short and had no electrical so I wandered on and finally came to the part of the campsite that had electrical and just to my luck PULL-THROUGH sites. Backing the trailer is not difficult but I was in a hurry and it is now totally dark. We came to the first spot and pulled in, this looked good, wonder why this site in the middle is wide open and there are several campers on both sides of it. Well after pulling in and scouting around looking for an electric box there wasn't one. For one reason or another this site just didn't have one (site marked electrical). We ended up backing out of this spot because going forward would have either resulted in going IN the OUT or taking a SHARP LEFT turn right next to a big MH to circle back around. Not having paid enough attention about leaving when I pulled IN I wasn't in the position to turn left when pulling out. We found our second spot and assured it had electrical and decided this looked good. We leveled the trailer and got everything situated and within 30 minutes we were setting pretty good (this isn't so tough after all). [By the time we were set to head out on this trip I knew there was a good possibility of it being DARK by the time we set up camp and kind of wanted it to be to work through the KINKS of getting everything together in the dark].
Morning came and I realized I hadn't picked out the "most premium" site available (see picture) as coming out the door facing the southeast I was greeted with house after house (not the million dollar homes either) as the southern boundary of the park has a neighborhood backing up to it. Had we faced northeast we would have had a nice view of the woods and the lake and everything else besides the neighborhood. It wasn't as bad as it could have been but it surely could have been better.

I learned something new calling around on Friday preparing to leave. Iowa doesn't have a State Park Sticker system fueling money into the state parks. You could definitely tell some of the resources are a little scarce or should I say have been a little scarce for this park. I know its "the off season" but this park has definitely been used and is showing its age. NOT saying I would not go here again because it does have a LOT to offer but it just seemed very "worn".

Because my glass is always HALF FULL I wanted to share some positives about the park.
  • Bike Trails - This park has a good system of bike trails throughout the southern boundary of it. It has a MOUNTAIN Biking Trail further south but Alyssa and I never made it that far. Wasn't a paved trail so Alyssa kind of balked at it.
  • Beach and Sand Volleyball - Since we're still in the off season the Beach house and volley ball courts were still closed off but the setting looks real inviting on a Hot summer day
  • "Dream Playground" - This is definitely the biggest kids playground I have ever seen, probably bigger than the biggest 4 playgrounds I have ever seen. I mean this thing was HUGE, 50 yards wide by 40 yards deep.

  • Proximity - The idea that I can pull out in the TT and within 45 minutes easily be cracking open a refreshment is very nice.
  • Gas is cheaper in Iowa - 3.07 on Sunday when leaving, wife asks me if I want to top off and I say NAW, I got 3/4 of a tank. $3.29 at the station near our house - WIVES RULE

I'll end it on that note leaving this entry with some lessons learned.

  1. Scout your site prior to backing in to assure everything is as is should be.
  2. Don't be afraid to use what you have. We weren't planning on using our fresh water (as its not exactly out of freezing threat here) but when we pulled in and couldn't find any toilets unlocked facing a 4 mile slow trip back to town we "let her rip" and filled up the tanks the next morning. - 100 ft of hose and 97 feet to the nearest hydrant. AHHH Life is good.
  3. Don't forget to RAISE the dolly - Nutshell version, (or not) We were leaving Sunday and couldn't get the coupler locked on, decided to drive a bit and have the WD hitch set up a little better as couldn't get the linkage I wanted either but couldn't get hitch to lift truck since wouldn't lock on. Parked in the parking lot by boat dock, wife and daughter went for a walk. I went to the back and the coupler lock had settled onto the hitch nicely... YAHOOOOOOO - Tighten up the linkage on the WD hitch and we'll be good to go. YEP, about 3 feet until I felt the drop of the back end of the truck and trailer and felt a HUGE PIT IN MY STOMACH as I realized I had left the dolly down. AHHHHHHH CRAP - went around the edge of the truck expecting some catastrophe and WALA, no harm no foul.... AHHHHHHH Life IS good.
  4. Camping World is the DEVIL :-) . (although I did get a GREEN light to pick up an ELECTRIC Tongue JACK - Wives ROCK).

We had a great time and feeling pretty good about where we sit, I am sure there are bound to be many, many things that will come up on our adventures but I am confident it wont be anything we can't handle.


  • If you BS with the guy filling your propane he MAY knock a buck a gallon of the price making it only $3.25 a gallon instead of $4.25 a gallon.
  • TT toilets are TINY but MIGHTY :-)
  • Your propane goes further than you think (although I did get the GREEN light, at camping world, to pick up a couple of propane tank indicators that screw into you line in front of the regulator and measure you propane - WIVES ROCK)

A few more pictures of our fun.

Until next time.... Yeldarb