More About The Black Hills
We were very pleased with the September 2006 issue’s “What’s So Bad About The Badlands?” (“Window On Nature,” page 138) and “The Black Hills” (“Baker’s Dozen,” page 140) by Lowell and Kaye Christie, F47246. We saw the South Dakota Badlands scenery this past July and many other portions of the Black Hills. As we drove into Badlands National Park (just off Interstate 90), we wondered out loud what the settlers thought as they saw these badlands “” part of the badlands wall is more than 60 miles in length “” and looked for a way to cross them.
As part of an evening tour by the National Park Service, we walked about ½-mile into the badlands and lay down on blankets. With no light pollution (and little moonlight) to hide the sky, the stars stretched from horizon to horizon. We had never experienced the sky so completely full of stars; it was really incredible!
The “Window On Nature” article mentions that a shallow sea had covered the area (we learned it was the Western Interior Seaway) and created the spires and valleys and the fantastic striations in the cliff walls.
We would suggest that people traveling in this area add the Little Bighorn Battlefield near Hardin, Montana (280 miles northwest of Mount Rushmore), to their itinerary. We enjoyed a one-hour bus tour of the battlefield that was narrated by an American Indian woman.
Also in the area is Theodore Roosevelt National Park (just off Interstate 94), near Medora, North Dakota. At the park’s Painted Canyon Visitors Center, we parked, looked out the window, and had an unlimited view (probably 50 to 75 miles) of this scenic canyon as we ate breakfast in the coach.
Dave & Kathy Parks, F377818
Many Adventures Available In Canon City, Colorado
I enjoyed reading Steven O. Gibbs’ interesting article in the September 2006 issue about Canon City, Colorado’s Royal Gorge Route railroad (“The Royal Gorge Route,” page 104). My wife and I recently visited that area with one of our teenage grandsons. We all enjoyed the places mentioned in the article, especially the Royal Gorge Route trip. What a fantastic journey! What beautiful scenery! What an amazing engineering feat and challenge it had to have been to build the railroad through the gorge.
Several other adventures are available in the area. At the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, the Incline Railway to the bottom of the gorge is another engineering marvel that shouldn’t be missed. The platform at the bottom of the gorge is an excellent spot to photograph the Royal Gorge Route train as it passes under the platform on its journey through the gorge.
The Museum of Colorado Prisons, off U.S. 50, is another stop that shouldn’t be missed. Housed in the cell block of a former women’s prison are displays featuring confiscated inmate weapons, cells, disciplinary paraphernalia, and historic photographs from prison life.
Canon City also has a three-mile, paved, one-way Skyline Drive, also just off U.S. 50, that follows the crest of a ridge 800 feet above the city. It offers excellent views of the town and the surrounding area. You definitely want to take your towed car and leave your RV back at the campground for this one.
Another thing you won’t want to miss in Canon City is a fine meal at Merlino’s Belvedere Restaurant on State Route 115. They have been serving fresh pasta dishes, aged beef, seafood, and chicken since 1946. Their homemade Italian sausage is to die for. We had some for dinner and took some back to the motorhome for breakfast the next day. Before we left town we had to stop back by the Belvedere and pick up some more to enjoy down the road.
Harlan Miller, F329430
Join In A Chapter Rally And Make New Friends
We recently were traveling up to New England and were going to be near Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York. Al saw there was going to be a rally for the Niagara Frontier Travelers on May 19 through 21 in the “Association Calendar” of FMC. He called and talked to Dan Gregorio, F83076, chapter president, and we were told we would be welcome to attend their rally.
How good of them to include us in their rally. The first night we all went out for dinner. Of course, being in the Buffalo area, we had to order Buffalo wings. To our surprise and delight, we found out that a lovely lady at the table, Toni, was the daughter-in-law of the originator of Buffalo wings.
Everyone showed us great hospitality. We would like to thank Dan and Jackie Gregorio, Floyd and Shirley, John and Carol, Ben and Pat, and Bob and Shirley for showing us a very good time. A special thank-you to Daniel and Barbara Morabito, F326915, for making our trip to Niagara Falls a special time.
We had a great time meeting new friends and seeing a new area of our beautiful United States. The information we received from the chapter members helped to make our visit to their area more enjoyable. We highly recommend attending FMCA chapter rallies in different parts of the country as one travels. It was a great experience and lots of fun. Thanks to all for making our trip so memorable.
Alfred & Bobbi Vormittag, F231342
Thermostat Repair Saves Money
I had always had a problem switching from zone 1 to zone 2 using the four-button thermostat for my Dometic air-conditioning unit. Finally it quit entirely. I was quoted a cost of $450 to retrofit it with a new five-button model and two relays, so the two air conditioners could talk to the thermostat. This was unacceptable.
Enter Dinosaur Electronics of Lincoln City, Oregon. They are the nicest people you will ever do business with. For $75 plus shipping, they repaired my thermostat and I got it back in better-than-new condition.
Give Dinosaur a call if you have any problems with discontinued or expensive replacement parts, for chances are they can help.
Bob Cope, F230660
Editor’s note: The company states on its Web site that it makes 27 different kinds of replacement circuit boards and five different testers. They normally sell their products through dealers and service centers, not directly to the public. RVers who need parts can check the Web site, www.dinosaurelectronics.com, or call (541) 994-4344 Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time to find the dealer or service center nearest them. As in Mr. Cope’s case, the company also does occasionally perform repairs, but we were told that repairs are not the company’s primary business.
Repairing The “Never Break” Belt
My wife, Lori, and I had the pleasure of meeting some great and helpful people while traveling through Louisiana in our 40-foot motor coach.
Lori and I had been to the Daytona 500 NASCAR race in Florida. As we are from Oregon, we were heading back home on Interstate 10. We had just passed Livingston, Louisiana, when the drive belt for the power steering and the water pump broke. Ever tried to steer a big 40-foot diesel pusher without power steering while it is overheating?
I pulled her over to the side of the road and proceeded to dig out the spare belt and put it on. Got everything tightened back up and headed on our way, wondering why the belt had broken, because everyone I had talked with about this belt told me they never break. But I had had one break a couple of years ago, which is why I had a spare “” that, and Boy Scout training (something about being prepared).
We traveled 100 miles or so along I-10 when, yes, you got it, that “never break” belt broke again. As luck would have it, we were just coming up to the Egan exit, and an RV park was right off the interstate. The next morning the owners of the park, Jeff and Wendy Morgan, arranged it so I could park our coach and get hooked up to water and electricity while I started to look for somewhere to get another “never break” belt. I picked up a couple of them at a store in Lafayette two days later.
When I put one of the belts on the engine, something just didn’t appear right. Jeff Morgan runs several long-haul rigs and deals with big diesels. When Jeff looked at it, he told me there were two bolts broken on the adjustment bracket. One of Jeff’s drivers came over and they tore down that whole bracket system, cut off the broken bolt heads that were welded on, welded in new bolts, put the whole thing back together, adjusted the new belt, and had the whole thing up and running better than it had in a long time.
When I offered to pay them they refused any payment, other than a small amount for the electrical hookup. They did this out of the goodness of their hearts. The citizens in the area should be proud to have them as neighbors.
I consider them to be friends and again offer my thanks for their hospitality, their kindness, and their help in a time of need. If you’re looking for a campground, be sure to visit Jeff and Wendy at Cajun Haven RV Park, 434 Trumps Road, in Egan, Louisiana; phone (337) 783-7330. The park is on the smaller side but is well-kept with large spaces.
Steve & Lori Garcia, F319383
Convenient Campground Repair
We were on our way to the Louisville, Kentucky, area in late August and stopped overnight at the Benton Best Holiday Trav-L-Park, 12997 State Route 37 in Whittington, Illinois.
At about 2:00 a.m. the low-voltage alarm in our 2006 Four Winds Siesta went off. By checking the shore power and isolating the house battery, I found that the convertor was not working. A little before 8:00 that morning we checked the bulletin board outside the RV park office, where we found a card for RV Mobile Repair with a toll-free number. Larry Stewart answered and agreed to come to the park as soon as possible from his location in a nearby town. He brought with him his very helpful son “” and a new convertor.
Phil Poninski, park proprietor, did everything possible to keep us comfortable as our RV was being repaired, and even opened the office a couple hours early so we could use the office phone instead of our cell phone if we needed to make any more calls. After the new convertor was installed, Larry gave us the warranty along with his cell phone number in case we had any problem or questions related to the new convertor. Best of all, a day or two after we returned to our home in New Mexico, Larry called to make sure we’d gotten back safely.
If anyone needs repairs or wants to stop off while traveling on Interstate 57 in southern Illinois, we enthusiastically recommend Larry Stewart’s RV Mobile Repair Service (866-RV-TECHS) and the Benton Holiday Trav-L-Park.
Jack & Janet Tilley, F240124
Las Cruces, New Mexico
National RV Comes Through
We own a 2004 National RV Tropi-Cal 396T, which we purchased new. About six months after the 12-month warranty expired, our 2-year-old, who was playing in the coach, started shouting, “Wet! Wet!” We figured it was just another diaper, but no “” she was soaked after having crawled behind the passenger seat to get a toy. It turned out that a 2-foot square of carpet alongside the passenger seat was wet, discolored, and warped. I then noticed that an 18-inch-wide-by-5-foot-high section of the nearby wall was soft.
I called the National RV service center in Lakeland, Florida, and talked to Andrea Blackmon. The coach was out of warranty, but she said to bring it in and they’d look at it. Andrea and the service manager determined that the awning had been pulled away from the roof and cracked the seal, allowing water to get into the wall “” not exactly what anyone could argue was a manufacturing defect. However, Andrea said National RV would cover the repairs as a goodwill gesture. Needless to say, I was more than satisfied with that, and surprised, too. Four days later the repairs were done and the wall and console replaced. No charge.
Almost a year later, while on a six-week trip, the galley slideout began to drag the tile floor while being moved in or out. I called the same service center to schedule repairs, this time with no expectation of having it done for free, but because they had taken such good care of me, I wanted them to do the work. Andrea is now the National RV representative at Lazydays in Seffner, Florida. Lisa Evans was my new contact, and scheduled me in.
Two days after I brought it in, Lisa called and said the coach was done. When I asked how much it was, she said there was no charge. Eighteen months out of warranty, and no charge. Try that with Ford, Chevy, or Dodge. When I picked up the coach, I saw the paperwork and learned what had been done. Based on posted rates and a guess at parts, I would say it would have cost almost $1,000.
I think it’s safe to say that National RV has earned the loyalty of this family for a long time to come. I expect, God willing, that we will purchase a few more coaches in the future. Now the only decision will be regarding color, because the rest is a foregone conclusion.
Mark Manfredi, F323675
De Bary, Florida