I did not take any Ibuprofen before I went to bed last night as I felt OK. I was also very tired and fell asleep without difficulty around 9:30 PM. Under the best of circumstances I was going to be awake between 4:30 and 5:30 AM and that was the case this morning. During that hour the cats prowled around the bed, got some attention from me, and looked out the windows. What they really wanted, however, was food.
The pickup truck / 5th wheel combination that pulled in on our passenger side last night well after sunset was making departure preparations this morning at 5:30. The strained muscle(s) in my lower right back were nagging at me and, unable to find a comfortable position, I finally got up at 6 AM as the neighbors were pulling out. I sat on the sofa with the heater pad on my back and worked on my iPad.
The cats still had food and water but wanted fresh kibble, as they do every morning and evening. It was in the bathroom closet, where it always is, but took me a while to find as it was hiding in plain sight behind the lower rack of hanging clothes. Linda finally got up at 6:30 AM. She rarely sleeps 10 or more hours but she was very tired when she went to bed at 8 PM last night and immediately fell asleep. She also appears to be coming down with yet another cold. For someone who rarely gets sick she has suffered with colds this fall.
We only had 300 miles to travel today, all on I-75, between Berea, Kentucky and Cartersville, Georgia. With a fuel stop somewhere along the way it should only be a six hour day. We got online and checked the weather. Rain was forecast to start in Berea around 10 AM so we targeted 8:30 to 9 AM as our departure window and decided to have coffee and breakfast. The cold front was sitting to our west running from southwest to northeast. It was moving slowly southeast but the precipitation (mostly rain but with some ice and snow) was along the front and sliding northeast. Based on how it was moving we figured we would probably have rain between Berea and Knoxville and then dry conditions from there to Cartersville where the chance of rain for today was 0%.
I had the engine running at 8:30 AM. The battery balance light came on and stayed on for quite a while but eventually turned off and did not come back on. That may just mean the Vanner equalizer was just doing its job. However, with the upper and lower banks of the chassis batteries on maintenance chargers since we got here yesterday that just begs the question why they were out of balance. We may be replacing the batteries and/or the Vanner equalizer this winter.
We pulled out of our site at 8:3 AM. I-75 through southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee was very hilly but the highway was in excellent condition and it was a scenic and pleasurable drive. Traffic started to get heavy as we approached Knoxville, Tennessee where there was apparently a college football game being played today. Traffic remained heavy from there to our destination, which made the driving a little more work and a little less fun, but it was still OK.
The bus ran strong all day and I was able to climb the grade at Jellico, Tennessee in 4th gear without dropping below 50 MPH or getting the engine temperature above 200 degrees F (as best I could tell from the gauge) and the exhaust manifold pyrometers not exceeding 800 degrees F. That was a big improvement over two years ago when I recall climbing up the mountain in the right lane behind slow trucks in a lower gear and worrying about the engine temperature.
Even though I had the cruise control on for most of the drive I did well using downhill speed to go up the other side and getting on the accelerator early to get the RPMs and turbo boost up and keep them there. I typically saw 15 PSI boost at 2000 RPM but occasionally 16 or 17 PSI. We really need a 0-20 boost gauge for this engine but I could not find one and doubt that they exist. Besides, the new 0-30 gauge is working for me and I have other things that need to be fixed/replaced, such as the twin pyrometer gauge. The left needle used to stick at the bottom of the scale but now the right needle is doing that. Tapping on the face of the gauge usually frees it up, but not always. When the needles are both working, however, they are showing the same temperature within 50 degrees F, which is comforting. I used to think the bus (and me) liked to run at 62 MPH but I have come to the conclusion that it likes to run 65 to 68 MPH, and I am comfortable with that.
We stopped at the rest area about 41 miles north of the Georgia border where I replied to a text from Kristine and then called John Palmer. He answered this time, said he was glad to have us visit, and gave me the address. He said he will have customers there but there was plenty of room and we would not have a problem getting our bus in and out. (Note: We are also customers, albeit from a few years ago, but this is primarily a social visit and a place to stop for two nights.) Rather than take time to eat while sitting still we had some pretzel and peanut snacks as we finished our drive to our destination for the day.
We arrived at exit 296 in Georgia around 1:45 PM and pulled into the Pilot Travel Center just southeast of the exit with the fuel gauge sitting at 1/4. We picked this place to refuel because it is just on the other side of I-75 from our campground for tonight and I wanted to use as much of the fuel in the tank as I could without risking sucking dirt off the bottom or running out.
I figured we would take on 150 gallons of diesel fuel so I added 2 ounces of Racor Biocide, three 16 ounce bottles of Stanadyne Performance Formula diesel fuel treatment, and three 16 ounce bottles of Stanadyne Lubricity Formula. The PF additive treats 60 gallons of fuel per bottle and I add it to the tank before each fill up in proportion to the amount of fuel I think I will add. The directions for the LF additive say to “use it 4 to 6 times per year” but that is presumably based on an engine operating in a tractor-trailer or other commercial / industrial use. Still, I only added one bottle last time when I should have added three, so I added three this time. We ended up only adding 142 gallons but the extra additive won’t hurt anything.
I reset the trip odometer before we pulled out, which I forgot to do when I filled up at home. We used to record our mileage and fuel purchases to get an idea of our fuel efficiency in miles per gallon but have never really had an accurate figure for a couple of reasons. One was that the speedometer/odometer was not working correctly, or at all, and only got replaced in fall 2014. The other is that the Aqua-Hot and auxiliary power plant both burn fuel from the same tank as the main engine. Consequently, we can get an approximate idea of fuel consumption if we fill up at the beginning of a long day’s drive and then fill up again at the end before parking for the night, or if we know for sure that we are not going to use the Aqua-Hot or Genset prior to refueling. Since we will be boondocking from tomorrow afternoon until Tuesday morning we will definitely be running the Genset and probably using the Aqua-Hot.
Our next fill up will probably be on the drive from Williston to Arcadia in late December and the only reason for topping up then is to make sure we pull into Big Tree RV Resort in Arcadia with a nearly full tank to minimize condensation while the bus sits there until early March. This is one of the reasons I wanted to get all of the additives in the tank today. We will have full hookups at Big Tree and do not expect to have to run the Aqua-Hot for space heating. Even though we will have metered electric, we will use the electric heating element in the Aqua-Hot for domestic hot water except possibly for showering. If the resort has a bath/shower house we might use it if convenient.
From the Pilot station I drove to the KOA about 3/10ths of a mile on the other side of I-75 and pulled up to the office at 2:10 PM. The KOA is near Cartersville, Georgia. It is a nice enough place with easy access but the facilities are not as extensive (read that as kid/family magnet) as some KOAs. Linda got us registered and the woman in the office used a golf cart to lead us to our site. We got a very convenient 50A FHU pull through site so getting in was easy and getting out tomorrow morning should be equally easy.
We leveled the coach and went through our arrival routine, minus the water and sewer connections. It was 71 degrees F outside with low afternoon sun was just warm enough in the coach that Linda opened several windows and I put the screen in the door window. We then went for a walk around the campground. The place was almost full and seemed to have a lot of rigs that appeared to be set up for long-term stays. The woman in the office confirmed later that they were fully booked for this evening and that 2/3rds of the campground was in use by extended stay visitors, many of whom were doing work in the area for Georgia Power. That was certainly not the case when we were here two years ago on December 22nd, so that may have just been a matter of timing.
Back at the coach it was warm enough that we opened two of the ceiling vents and turned the fans on to exhaust air from the coach. I went to put on a pair of shorts and discovered that we had failed to pack any. I did bring my two pairs of convertible hiking slacks so I unzipped the lower portion of the legs on one pair and made them into shorts. Much more comfortable. I will be doing some shopping once we get settled.
I sent a slightly more detailed text message to Kristine and a daily update text message to Chuck which drew a reply and another text from me. Linda got our WiFiRanger connected to the KOA Wi-Fi and then logged-in to RVillage. She changed our location for last night to the Oh Kentucky Campground in Berea, KY and then changed it again for today to the Cartersville KOA. We were apparently the only RVillage members at either campground.
We were a little hungry so Linda walked to the office to see if they had any hotdog buns, as we left ours behind along with a loaf of raisin bread. They did not have hotdog buns so she cooked a couple of vegan hotdogs and served them on bread. We also forgot to unplug the Insta-Hot in the kitchen so she texted the kids and asked them to unplug it and remove the bread products when they were next at the house.
We will be boondocking Sunday and Monday nights so Linda availed herself of the showers at the campground. I worked for a while on this post and then went over to get a shower. Linda warned me that it took a while to get hot water so I let the hot water run for at least five minutes but it never got warm enough to shower comfortably. The men’s bath/shower room was also quite chilly so I took a really quick shower, dried off, and got dressed. The office had free coffee available so I had some to warm up and mentioned the lack of usable hot water to the woman at the desk. She seemed surprised but then asked if I let it run a long time, so they know there is an issue. She said she would mention it to the manager.
Around 6 PM Linda heated up a couple of Amy’s brand Vegetable Korma meals. As with all Amy’s products they were vegan and tasty, as well as quick and easy, so the quality to efficiency ratio was fairly high.
The antennapoint.com website indicated that we should be able to pick up a few OTA TV stations. We managed to tune in the ION and PBS affiliates whose towers were NNE of our location and watched a few shows. Linda read for a while and I checked e-mail and played games on my iPad, which is what I do to relax and/or fill time when
I don’t feel like doing anything else. Linda was going to make an Apple crisp but did not have enough cinnamon so she added that to her grocery list and cut up an apple to eat. Around 8 PM she popped the last of the popcorn and added that to her grocery list too.
Around 9:30 PM I closed the ceiling vents in the bedroom and bathroom and took the screen out of the entry door window and closed it. Linda has had a cough for a few days and has been a bit congested so she went to bed at 10 PM. I called Butch at 10:15 PM (8:15 MST) but he did not answer. He does not have a voice mailbox and does not respond to text messages on his phone, so I went to bed.