RV Life – Year 3 – Mountain Summer Pt.1

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Spring Pt.1

Soaring heights and cool breezes offer relief from the heat.

A mountain summer might be the escape you’re looking for.

Our first two summers of the RV Life took us to some incredible places. From the Mexican border near South Padre Island to the Niagara Falls of Canada, we saw fantastic beaches, vast swamplands, thick forests, roaring waterfalls, sparkling lakes, winding rivers, and the majestic Appalachian Mountains. For Year 3, we turned our attention westward for a Mountain Summer.

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Our goal was to find some elevation, because we realized that escaping the summer heat would require altitude. The June-September months in Pennsylvania, up-state New York, and the Great Lakes region were great, providing a much more comfortable climate than the muggy Gulf Coast. But it was still warmer than what we were hoping for.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Spring Pt.1

We knew that climbing high into the mountains of the western U.S. would take us to some very mild summer temperatures. Cheri and I have been there many times before in our younger days.

We’ve shared stories with each other about waking up in the high country in July or August to find knee-deep snow and ice-cold temperatures well below the freezing mark. Mountain weather can do some strange things in the summertime.

Besides the cool weather, we had another reason for going to the mountains. Montana was a bucket list location for both of us for many years, specifically, Glacier National Park. So, Cheri booked our reservations for a mountain summer adventure while we were parked in Homestead, Florida the previous winter. See RV Life – Tropical Winter

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We started off from Kansas City after finishing a beautiful 2019 spring season in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouri. But before we could head west, we had to travel south to an important event in Rockport, Texas; my daughter’s June 19th wedding!

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Spring Pt.1
Our spot at “Camp Oliveira”

Since we had to pass through Texas, of course we were going to stop and see our good friends Marta & Luiz in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

We parked the rig on their property and enjoyed a wonderful visit catching up and visiting some favorite nearby spots.

We took a couple day trips to Waco to visit my brother and his family, as well as the Magnolia Silos and the Chisolm Trail. mountain summer

We continued southward to San Antonio where my daughter and her fiancé lived. We parked at the Green Tree Village RV Park less than 3 miles from their home and spent the next several days helping them plan the final details of the wedding. It was stressful getting things ironed-out, but it was nice to be involved in planning their special day.

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We pulled out of San Antonio and headed further south along I-37 towards Rockport. About halfway to Rockport, it was like déjà vu all over again as we experienced another flat tire on the trailer. Fortunately, I was moving fairly slow up a steep hill, about 50 mph, when I started to feel that same sensation of drag. See RV Life – Dixie Spring.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Spring Pt.1

At the very moment I sensed the drag, a passing motorist started honking his horn and gesturing furiously towards the back of the rig. My eyes moved to the rearview mirror just in time to see the tire violently blow out and throw rubber chunks all over the place.

I immediately pulled off to the shoulder. Long story short, we lost another 2 hours waiting for Good Sam Roadside assistance to get a Service Tech out to us.

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We finally made it to Rockport and set-up camp at the Majestic Oaks RV Resort. The very next day I noticed another tire had gone flat overnight! I was way past annoyed at that point … 3 failed tires within 60 days of each other! Completely unacceptable!

Crusader China Bombs

I conducted some online research and quickly learned about something called “China bombs”. Apparently, it is common practice among certain RV manufacturers to put on the cheapest tires they can find, usually imported from China and typically bias-plys. If you want the good tires, of course it’s an upcharge! Freedom RV in Tucson failed to mention this minor detail to me when we bought the Crusader.

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These cheapo tires are appropriately named, because they will surely blow-out and leave you stranded, or worse. I’m just one of thousands of RV’ers who’ve experienced this pleasure! I can only imagine how many people may have been hurt, or possibly killed, due to a China bomb blow-out that fish-tailed them right off the highway!

So, I decided to bite the bullet and replace every China bomb I had, keeping only one on-hand as a secondary spare. That’s right, I carry two spares now!

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Spring Pt.1

A friend of mine, and fellow RV’er, recommended Hercules, so I chose a set of five Hercules 901s.

These 14-ply steel-belted radials set me back a sizable chunk of cash, but after learning about China bombs there was absolutely no way I was going to pull a 15,000 pound trailer into the mountains on cheap tires.

The wonderful people at the Majestic Oaks RV Resort loaned me their floor jack and some axle supports. I spent most of the day sweating in the brutal Texas heat dealing with this tire fiasco. I removed two tires at a time from one side of the trailer, drove into town and waited for a local shop to install the new tires on my rims, drove back and put them on the trailer, then did it again for the other side. I was completely exhausted after that ordeal. The good news was, all my worries about cheap tires were gone. We were ready for a mountain summer!

Over the next couple of weeks, we enjoyed the Rockport area exploring a few local spots, the beach, and, of course, the wedding! Several family members came to town, so it was nice to visit with everyone. The wedding ceremony was held on the beach, in the afternoon, on a hot and windy Texas day, so I was miserable in my black suit. Despite the hustle and bustle of pulling off the wedding, and enduring the heat, we had a successful event. See related story RV Life – Year One – Summertime, Part 1.

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We left Rockport, heading north on I-37 back towards San Antonio. We had a long journey ahead of us, almost 1000 miles, to reach our destination in Colorado. I didn’t expect to notice a real difference in how the trailer pulled on the new Hercules tires, but I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the heavy load handled. That was a nice confidence booster for a hassle-free and safe mountain summer ahead.

We picked a half-way point for a one-night stop in the town of Big Spring, Texas, staying at the Whip In RV Park. We continued the next day, passing into the Texas Panhandle, across the northeast corner of New Mexico, and connecting with I-25 near the southern Colorado border. The scenery through this area took a noticeable turn into beautiful Rocky Mountain country. We arrived late in the day to Colorado City and parked at the Pueblo South/Colorado City KOA.

Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Spring Pt.1

We were only there for a week, but took the time to enjoy the Frontiers Pathway Scenic Byway.

This gorgeous loop along Colorado State Highways 165 & 96 carries you as high as 9400 feet with close-up views of towering mountain peaks. mountain summer

We stopped at an interesting roadside attraction along this route called Bishop Castle, but the scenery was the real attraction on the Frontiers Pathway.

We moved the rig north from Colorado City along the Front Range on I-25 into Wyoming, connecting with Interstate 80 at Laramie. The interstate turned westward and carried us to Rock Springs, in Wyoming’s southwest corner. We parked at the Rock Springs/Green River KOA for the week.

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Eye of the Beholder - RV Life - Year 3 - Mountain Spring Pt.1

South of Rock Springs is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, so we took the opportunity for another scenic drive.

We traveled around the western side of the gorge, into northern Utah, and looped back to Rock Springs.

The scenery was fantastic, living up to the name as brilliant red hues emanated from uniquely shaped rock formations, cliffs, mountains, and boulders. Even the water radiated red. We stopped at the Red Canyon Visitor Center where we could peer down into the chasm and see the clear waters of the Green River flowing deep and wide through the canyon.

It was mid-July and the temperatures were already far more comfortable for us than our previous two summers on the road. Our Montana destination would surely continue the natural beauty and mild weather of a mountain summer.

Psalm 95:4-5

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Steve Coryell