We have a premium campsite at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Booking roughly 8 months in advance may seem a bit early to some however we have learned from experience to book ahead at Walt Disney World. It is a very popular spot.
The map below shows where all of the various sites are situated. The premium sites are from 400 – 1400. I’ve put a request in for a quiet spot which looks like the 800 loop. We’ll see when we get there next year. Lots of time to plan the trip there and back. We will be at Fort Wilderness for 10 days and I expect to take at least 3 or 4 days to go down and come back.
It’s official. Our last child is on his way.
Matthew heads off to University tomorrow morning. I am both happy and sad.
Happy because of the joy that he brought into our home and into our lives.
Sad because I will miss him like crazy.
This was tough when my daughter left home. And it was just as tough when my oldest son left home. They were both boomerang kids, they returned home after their University years as they made their transition to becoming fully independent adults.
I’ve told Matthew that there won’t be the same opportunity for him to boomerang. We will be retired when he finishes his degree and we will be travelling.
He will always be welcome to stay with us of course. There will always be a place for him in the Castaway. But my sense is that he is very keen to find his own way in life.
An amazing young man with so much promise.
His leaving home is a major milestone in life.
This part of being a parent is not easy.
This was from an article on air brakes in the September issue of the Family Motor Coaching magazine:
Let’s assume that a 200-horsepower engine is needed to accelerate a vehicle to 65 mph in one minute. For that vehicle to come to an emergency stop in 6 seconds (one-tenth of the time it took to reach 65 mph) requires 10 times the acceleration force, or 2,000 horsepower. Chassis builders take this into consideration when designing a braking system and determining a chassis’ gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
However, if the brake on just one wheel is out of adjustment or not operating, up to 25 percent of braking capability can be lost. Therefore, to ensure safe motorhome operation, the braking system should be tested regularly.
For someone whose driving style leans toward heavy engine brake usage and minimal service brake usage, chances are good the service brakes will not be in proper adjustment and won’t be very effective when they are needed most.
I tend to lean toward heavy engine brake usage and minimal service brake usage. Checking the air brakes is an important part of our Pre-trip Inspection.
This is my approach to testing our air brakes which is based on the air brake training that Lorraine and I did for our commercial driver’s license.
1. Make sure the coach is secure with the parking brake engaged
(In our training, we were told to also use a wheel chock. For our coach I do not chock any of the wheels)
2. Test the low air warning indicator
- Ensure air pressure is over 90 PSI, if not build air pressure
- Engine off, key on
- Pump the service brakes
- Warning at 65 PSI is good
- Warning below 55 PSI is defective
3. Test air pressure build
- Start Engine and run between 600-900 RPM
- Reduce air pressure to 90 PSI
- Time from 90 PSI to 120 PSI
- Less than 30 seconds is good
- More than 30 seconds vehicle is defective
4. Test air pressure governor settings
- Build air pressure to maximum and note cut-out pressure
- Cut-out must be between 120 PSI and 135 PSI
- 120 PSI is good
- More than 135 PSI is defective
- Pump down pressure 20 to 30 PSI until compressor cuts-in
- Cut-in should be at 100 PSI
- 100 PSI is good
- Less than 90 PSI is defective
5. Test air loss rate
- Release parking brake
- Apply service brake and shut engine off, key on
- Time for 1 minute and note any loss of air pressure
- 1 or 2 PSI loss is good
- More than 3 PSI loss in pressure is defective
- Re-engage parking brake
6. Test parking brake
- Ensure parking brake is engaged
- Start engine, select drive
- Attempt to move the coach forward
- Parking brake holds is good
- If coach moves than parking brake is defective
7. Drain air tanks
(Our coach is equipped with automatic moisture ejectors so I don’t do this step every time)
- Shut off engine, key on
- Drain front wet tank for 5-10 seconds
- Go back to gauges, see if any change to PSI
- Drain 2nd valve for 5-10 seconds and check for oil, sludge, water
- Drain 3rd valve for 5-10 seconds and check for oil, sludge, water
- If valves work – then coach is good
- If valves do not work then coach is defective
We are still 12-18 months before I retire and we can begin our travel adventures. That does not mean that we won’t be traveling before then. We have already planned a number of trips.
We will be heading down to the Hershey RV Show for a few days later in September. Looking forward to taking in North America’s largest RV show. We have booked an executive site at the Lancaster/New Holland KOA which is located about an hour’s drive from the RV show. I guess we should have booked the site a bit earlier.
Not sure what to expect at this KOA. Lots of very mixed reviews and some very highly charged comments about the owners. You can read the reviews here. I guess we will find out whether we love it, hate it or tolerate it.
A few weeks later, we will be heading out a bit closer to home. We will be spending some time at Shamadon Resort in Ayton, Ontario. Unlike the Lancaster/New Holland KOA, Shamadon gets stellar reviews. We’ll see how it compares to some of the other sites we have visited in Ontario. Should not be too hard to exceed the KOAs we have stayed at in our province.
Towards the middle of October, we will have to take our coach to our dealer to work on a few items and to prepare the coach for winter.
For 2017, we have a few trips already on the books. In April, we will be taking the coach to the Newmar factory in Nappanee, Indiana. We’ll spend a week. In May, after our son has finished his first year at university, we are planning to head down to Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World. Our original plan was to start our travel adventures in our coach at Walt Disney World. Better late than never.
We are members of Newmar’s Kountry Klub and the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri will be the site for the 2017 International Rally. The rally begins on Monday, October 2nd, and ends on Saturday, October 7th. They will have 600 sites that are 50 amp full hookup. We will register early for that trip and, possibly, begin our full-time travel adventures then. Either that, or the coach will go back into storage for another winter until the retirement date is a reality.
The Universe of Energy, Walt Disney World. So much energy there.
At home, last night? Not so much.
We had a power failure. I know when it happened. My son called me at 3:51 in the morning. Again at 3:52. And again at 3:53.
Now it is doubtful that I would have woken up from a deep sleep at that time of the morning. More so when you consider that the smartphone he was calling was charging in our house and I was blissfully asleep out in our coach.
Our son was awakened when all of the “gee we just lost power” alarms starting buzzing from our various technology devices. A veritable cacophony of urgent alerts. I think he was annoyed. He needed others to share his joy of waking up in the middle of the night.
My son decided to exit the house, walk out to the coach and wake us up.
Aside from notifying the utilities company, there wasn’t much I could do about the power outage.
The coach had gracefully switched from shore power to battery power. I wasn’t sure whether that was a good thing or not. I decided to activate the generator instead. The energy management system then automatically switched over to the generator.
This got me to thinking about the auto genset feature of our Magnum inverter. I seem to recall reading something about the generator automatically starting when a certain condition was met, like a shore power outage or when the batteries discharged to a certain level.
For our power outage, I just went ahead and turned the generator on myself. I ran it for a couple of hours. By the time I woke up at around 6am, power had been restored to the house and we had shore power available to the coach. Off went the generator.
The Magnum inverter is still very much a black box to me. I did read the manual but it was not very helpful. Lots and lots of settings. Very few tutorials.
This video, on the other hand, helped me better understand the Magnum inverter and how it works. Very cool device.
Even the pros can have difficulty turning a big bus.
We had to replace a bad tire on our travels to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last month. That tire, located on the front driver’s side, now checks in at 101 PSI cold. The tire on the other side of the steer axle checks in at 110 PSI cold.
My sense of balance requires both tires to be at the same pressure: 110 PSI cold.
No problem. On our way to the Flying J a few nights back, we planned to check the pressures running hot and level the driver’s side to match the passenger’s side.
Only I did not have enough air from the air pump.
I took the air hose, connected it to the tire valve, and waited. Not long, probably 10 – 20 seconds. I had no idea how quickly the tire pressure would change but when I checked, it had not changed at all.
I spent a bit longer, perhaps a minute or so. Checked the tire pressure. And still no change.
I tried 5 minutes. No change in tire pressure.
I then went to the Flying J counter to settle the fuel and dumping charges and to ask them about the air pump. It was working except that 115 PSI was the max. And, as the heat had increased the tire pressure on the driver’s side from 101 PSI to 111 PSI, I was trying to get the tire up to 120 PSI to match the level on the passenger’s side.
With a 115 PSI air pump, that was not going to happen in my lifetime.
They told us to go into the trucker area and use those air pumps.
We made our way over to the trucker area. We are basically the same size as a big diesel bus so we were not entirely out of place. Just mostly out of place. There were at least a dozen lanes and every lane was full. We queued behind one tractor trailer. He pulled out of the lane and stopped about 50 feet or so in front of the pumps.
We pulled in and got to work on the front tire.
Same exact experience as before. Could not move the tire pressure north of 115 PSI.
Time to leave. Except for one little problem, the tractor trailer still stopped about 50 feet or so in front of us. No way out.
I had to do something that I did not really want to do, namely, back the coach out of the pump lane. Lorraine stepped out to spot and we figured out a way to retreat without impacting a truck.
I had no idea as to how to exit the trucker area. It took us another 5-10 minutes of roaming around to finally break free of the Flying J trucker area. I am very sure that I entertained a few truckers as we drove in random patterns around the parking area looking for a way out.
Getting our own air compressor has suddenly jumped to the top of the must have list for our motorcoach.
Our coach has been spending most of its time at a site we created on our property in the country. We have a 30 Amp service for the coach. No other hookups although we did install a water bypass to allow treated water to go to our outside faucets. We can fill our freshwater tank by connecting to the faucet in our garage.
When the coach is at home, we do spend quite a bit of time living in it. It is where we have been sleeping and, when we have those few rare moments, relaxing. We still do our cooking and personal care in our house.
That allows us to keep our gray tank use way down. Our black tank does fill over a two to three week period and, if we do not have a trip planned, we need to find a dump station.
We have two choices: use the station at our local KOA where they charge us $35 to dump our tanks, or drive about 30 kilometres (18 miles) to a Flying J where they charge us $5 to dump our tanks.
Last night the choice was easy. We needed to top up our fuel and add some air to one of the tires.
We also wanted the ride.
We love to travel in the coach. It really is a unique experience and it is so much fun. We take about 45 minutes or so to get the coach ready for travel. When I got home from work, Lorraine and I got busy with preparing the Castaway for the trip.
I have become quite comfortable with manoeuvring the coach so backing out of our site and navigating down the long, narrow and winding drive is almost second nature.
We had a beautiful evening to enjoy the short drive out to the Flying J and back.
There was another motorcoach beside us when we pulled in to the Flying J. A 2003 Monaco Dynasty hauling a massive toy hauler that weighed about 18,000 pounds. A 2003 Dynasty, despite being 13 years old, still commands about $150,000 CAD in the used market. Very nice looking coach.
I asked the owner if he was comfortable hauling 18,000 pounds on a hitch that is rated for 10,000 pounds. He seemed fine with it. I wouldn’t take the chance. Our coach can haul 15,000 pounds.
He spends most of his time travelling to racing events — he had a car in his toy hauler — and he told me that I had to take my rig out to a NASCAR event.
And I thought to myself, that would be a cool ride.