We filled up with Propane on our way out of the Big Red Barn. As an FYI to non-RV owners while most travel trailers have removable propane canisters that can be swapped at any gas station or grocery store, most Class C and Class A RVs have a permanently mounted propane tank and you need to find a propane fill station to fill it.
Also as an FYI, we use propane to cook on the stove top – just like natural gas – and for heating, although in our case we use electric heat if we’re on full hookups as we have a heat pump. Our propane tank is 18 gallons, which means it really holds about 14 gallons (propane is compressed), and a full tank lasts us between 4 and 6 months.
We stopped for gas in Cuba, Missouri, as I wanted a full tank for our drive through St. Louis.
Start: Phillips 66, Chandler, OK
Finish: Phillips 66, Cuba, MO
Elevation Gain/Loss in ft: 6,923 / -6,825
Net Elevation Gain in ft: 98
Total Miles: 381
Total Gallons: 49.15
Notes: Southern Missouri is hilly, so even though the net elevation was even the hills took a toll on MPG. The extra mileage between gas stations is due to Big Red Barn being out of the way.
I have to confess that St. Louis is my least favorite city to drive through, and that’s not because the Cardinals are beating the BoSox at the moment in the World Series.
The first time I drove through St. Louis was when we moved to California back in 1998. I was driving a U-haul, and we hit horrible traffic and rotted on the beltway for a couple hours.
the second time I drove cross country with my brother. We stopped in St. Louis and took the ride to the top of the Gateway Arch, which we both enjoyed. We then drove into the city (big mistake). At the time I had no GPS and didn’t check my map (my fault) and we ended up in a very sketchy neighborhood after dark. If you’ve seen National Lampoon’s Vacation think of the scene where the family stops for directions and gets their hubcaps stolen, and that’s pretty much exactly where we were.
This time we took the 255 beltway around the city, and even though there was a lot of traffic, we made it around the city without a problem.
Ideally we would have driven from Big Red Barn all the way to my Aunt’s outside Dayton, Ohio, but as that’s a 650 mile drive we opted to break it up into two legs with a stop at Timber Trails Campground in Mulberry Grove, IL almost exactly in the middle.
Timber Trails is a decent campground, although it’s a little tricky to get to and it’s in the middle of no-where. We only stayed for the night, and payed less than $20 (Passport America!). One interesting thing about Timber Trails is they have double pull throughs, and we both wondered how that works when the person in the back wants to leave before the person in the front. Fortunately the campground was pretty quiet when we were there, and we had a double pull through all to ourselves.
We hopped on the road early and headed to Dayton. We stopped for fuel before driving through Indy in Clayton Indiana at a TA Truck Stop aka Travel Centers of America.
Start: Phillips 66, Cuba, MO
Finish: TA Truck Stop, Clayton, IN 46118
Elevation Gain/Loss in ft: 4,146 / -4,367
Net Elevation Gain in ft: -221
Total Miles: 312
Total Gallons: 33.24
Notes: Considering the traffic I was surprised our MPG was so good, but it was less hilly than last tank, and that helped.
The drive around Indianapolis was easy as always, with one HUGE caveat. While driving, Kathy got up to get a snack and placed her phone – a Galaxy S3 – on the counter underneath the cabinet she was opening. Word to the wise – don’t do this!
As soon as she opened the cabinet, a glass bottle of olive oil sprang forth and landed directly on her phone. Ugh! Of course the phone screen was instantly smashed, and our immediate focus shifted to finding a replacement as our income is very reliant on our phones.
I inspected the damage at a rest stop and Kathy called Verizon on my phone to explore her options and to retrieve her contacts. Fortunately she backs everything up, and by using my phone as a wifi router she was able to login to Verizon and have access to all of her contact info. It’s amazing the things you can do with phones these days!
I found a cell phone repair shop in Dayton (coincidentally named CPR for Cell Phone Repair), scheduled an appointment, and we headed to my Aunt’s.
Our Stop in Dayton, OH
My Aunt wasn’t home when we arrived at her place which was a good thing. She has a pretty steep driveway, and pulling onto a steep driveway with an RV is more challenging than it sounds.
First, in order to level an RV you need the back of the RV to be higher than the front of the RV. This is because the rear axle is supporting most of the weight – which is why most RVs have duel rear wheels – and when you level the RV the leveling jacks will not lift the rear wheels off the ground but will lift the front wheels. I should mention that we have HWH automatic leveling jacks.
Now ideally you’d have all 4 wheels on the ground with the leveling jacks providing minor adjustment and taking the weight off the springs so the RV doesn’t bounce as you walk around. This isn’t always an option – so you’re back to placing the rear wheels at the high point and leveling from there.
The problem with backing into a sloped driveway is that there’s about 10 feet worth of overhang in the back and on a sloped driveway the frame rails hit the driveway before the wheels do. As a result we struggled trying to angle up onto the driveway, but finally found an angle where I could clear the frame rails, and managed to get the RV setup at my aunts.
Now we weren’t really boondocking as I plugged into a 20amp outlet outside her garage, but as this was the first time we camped without hookups I’m counting it as our first time boondocking. 🙂
My Aunt arrived with freshly picked corn on the cob and she whipped up a tasty meal.
We stayed in her driveway for 2 days while we got Kathy’s phone repaired (thanks Aunt!) and then we got back on the road for the second to last leg of our journey.
On to Pennsylvania and New York
There are several ways you can drive from Dayton, OH to Central Massachusetts. You can take i70, but if you don’t cut up early you’ll have to drive over the George Washington Bridge and pay a bunch of tolls. You can take i90, however i90 is the New York Turnpike and you’ll again pay a bunch of tolls.
My favorite route in the past was to take i90 and then split onto the ‘lower tier’ in New York, i86. This route gets less traffic, has no tolls, and passes through Corning NY, one of my favorite towns.
This time we opted to take i70 into Pennsylvania and then cut up from there based on the location of several Passport America Campgrounds. This turned out to be a mistake. Not only were the roads VERY bumpy, but we ran into tons of construction, lots of traffic, and the campgrounds we were looking at were way out of the way.
Start: TA Truck Stop, Clayton, IN
Finish: Pilot Travel Center, Bentleyville, PA
Elevation Gain/Loss in ft: 7,113 / -6,946
Net Elevation Gain in ft: 167
Total Miles: 399
Total Gallons: 44.34
Notes: I added a couple miles circling my aunts neighborhood. Western PA is very mountainous which accounts for most of the elevation gain/loss.
For the second time on this trip we ended up catching some sleep at a rest area, and later at a truck stop. I also made the somewhat irrational decision that I didn’t want to drive through Pennsylvania and would rather drive the lower tier of New York, so I hopped on i99 north, then cut across to 15 up to Corning, NY.
Driving at night isn’t for everyone. I like it because the temperature is usually cooler and there’s a lot less traffic. Of course as I said in a previous post a high percentage of the people on the road are drunk and deer and wildlife are plentiful, so it’s not exactly a good idea, but we made it ok.
We did see a brilliantly bright shooting star on our way north. It lit up the entire sky and I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. I wish I had a picture, but I’m not that fast on the draw even though it stayed in the sky for at least 3 or 4 seconds.
Our final destination for the night (day?) was Camp Bell Campground just a ways out of our way, but worth the extra few miles.
We pulled in at 9:30am, and for an extra $5 + their Passport America rate the manager signed us in. We slept until 2pm, and feeling pretty refreshed got some work done.
For some reason we started getting a LOT of white sediment in our water lines at Camp Bell. I don’t think it was from them as I have a water filtration system with a particle filter. Rather I think it came from either our water heater or our fresh water tank.
When we were in California the water was very hard (lime and calcium), and we had water in our fresh water tank, and I believe that lime and calcium deposits formed in the tank, and then our drive cross country shook a bunch of it loose.
Long story short, it clogged up the water lines in our toilet, our shower, and all of our faucets, so I spent the afternoon cleaning out water lines – woo hoo! Suffice it to say it’s handy to be handy if you want to be a full-time RVer.
If you RV and have had a similar experience I’m curious what caused it and how you cleaned out the tank, as I still find white particles in our system here and there.
I’ll get us to western Massachusetts tomorrow and complete our trip, plus I’ll total up our net MPG. The MPG won’t be complete as I didn’t start with a full tank and didn’t fill up on our arrival in MA, but it will cover about 80% of the distance and is hopefully the best RV MPG log you’ve found. Until then, take care and happy trekking!