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Texas to Ohio and Back, Part 1

August 22, 2015

Near Georgetown, Texas

We rolled out of the RV Park around mid-day on Wednesday. The Honda was hitched to the back of our 1995 28 foot Seven Seas Class C and we were carrying four adults and a five year old. The plan was to spend three nights on the way at state parks or Corps of Engineers parks. We were going to share the RV experience with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

corsicana tx aug5 2015

First Stop for Gas in Corsicana, TX

Somewhere south of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the transmission begin to do odd things, shifting at odd moments. We thought it might be that the drivetrain didn’t like towing the CR-V, even though I felt I had done my research. So, we unhitched the car, and our daughter and son-in-law drove it, while we led the way in the RV. Just about dark, we exited to get gas. As I rolled into the gas station, we left a cloud of smoke and a trail of transmission fluid. A few phone calls informed us that no one was open to do any work. After a bit of discussion, we made the decision to leave the RV in the company of a half dozen trucks in a dark parking area. We moved all the clothes (for five of us) to the Honda and headed into Arkadelphia, where the first night of the family camping experience was spent at a hotel.

The next morning, our resourceful daughter found a tow truck and a mechanic in a nearbytown, and we followed our big baby, with its front wheels off the ground, down winding back road to be deposited at the absolute stereotype of a small country garage, with a mechanic we’ll call Jim Bob.

We had lost two quarts of transmission fluid, but apparently didn’t damage the transmission. Jim Bob declared that the transmission had overheated and relieved itself of some pressure (and fluid) through some seals meant to do that. He drove the RV down the road a couple of miles and back, said he didn’t think we’d have any more trouble, and after an “aw shucks” acceptance of twenty bucks, sent us on our way.

We were still a bit uneasy, so the kids continued to just follow us in the Honda. We drove the several miles back to the Interstate, and just as I started to accelerate up the entrance ramp, the RV began it’s fast/slow shifting just as it had before. We pulled off to the side of the ramp, and after a brief consultation, chose to drive the few miles more into Arkadelphia, where there was a Ford dealer. This was on Thursday, and the service manager at the Ford dealership said he wouldn’t be able to get to it before Monday at the earliest. He then told me of a transmission guy about a mile back into town who does good work. And that’s how we met Phil and Dan.

phils transmissions arkadelphia ar

Phil’s Transmissions, Arkadelphia, AR… as seen from Pizza Hut

Phil’s Auto & Transmission is on N. 10th Street in Arkadelphia. After a brief conversation, Phil turned us over to one of his mechanics, a young man named Dan. Meanwhile, the kids had driven across the street to a Pizza Hut. Dan happily drove us across the busy highway in the RV, dropped us off, and a few minutes later we saw him roll out onto the highway to check things out.

A lot of pizza later, Phil called and said “We’ve got your transmission problem fixed.” There’s a piece of electronics called an engine speed sensor. (By now you know I’m not a mechanic, right?) The sensor had worn out and burned up. Instead of being hit with the cost of a new or rebuilt transmission, Dan replaced the sensor and the problem was fixed at a cost we could live with. Remember the name, folks: Phil’s Auto & Transmission in Arkadelphia, AR. Honest, knowledgeable, and kind enough to go right to work on a traveler’s vehicle to get us back on the road again.

Although, just to be safe, we didn’t tow the Honda the rest of the way to Ohio, the Seven Seas rolled down the highway through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky at 70 mph with no strain whatsoever. We had been unknowingly using Overdrive, which we turned off, and with a light steady touch on the gas pedal, the RV rarely shifted itself on long uphill and downhill grades.

The trip northeast did, however, continue to be interesting . Without knowing why, we found that we were on a schedule which, with the lost time, we were way behind on. We stopped for dinner at a Memphis barbeque spot, and after what seemed like a long drive in the dark, finally parked for the night at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. While the kids moved all the clothes from the Honda back into the RV, I worked on getting us connected to utilities. I can’t really say much about this park because we arrived after dark, checked in with a very friendly person at the welcome center, found our site and crashed. The next morning, we left without exploring, but the drive out indicated a pretty, forested park.

Our five year old grandson really, really wanted to sleep in the loft above the cab, so his Dad slept up there with him so he wouldn’t roll out. Daughter slept on the sofa, and apparently it was comfortable enough.

The next morning, it rained. A short, but somewhat heavy downpour. During breakfast, Grandson climbed up to get something in the loft and spoke the dreaded words, “Grandpa, there’s water dripping up here.” Sure enough, We had a steady drip at the very center at the top of the front loft window. A piece of plastic, a heavy towel, and a big bowl caught the water while we sat still. By the time we got rolling again, the rain had let up, and we left the heavy towel folded on top of a large piece of plastic in the area of the drip. We left the upper curtain open, and fortunately, as we traveled, the sun came out and things dried out quite a bit.

The next day was extremely long. We HAD to be within three or four hours of the Columbus area before calling it a day. We had trouble finding a campground or RV park so, well after dark, we stopped at a hotel in Carrollton, Kentucky, where we crashed for the night.

What was supposed to have been three days of leisurely driving with overnight stops at Corps of Engineers campgrounds and state parks turned out to be long, stressful days with overnight stays at two hotels and one state park which we arrived at after dark. So much for showing the kids a fun RV experience. By the time we arrived at our destination on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, we were totally exhausted.

at dale and tammy galloway oh

As it turned out, the reason we had to push so hard to get there was that our daughter had conspired with our son in Columbus, and all of Nell’s brothers and sisters, to have a belated 25th Anniversary celebration for us (our anniversary was in March). After getting parked and plugged in on Saturday at Pastime Park in Plain City, Ohio, we drove over to our son’s home in Galloway, Ohio and walked into a house full of Nell’s relatives waiting patiently for us. Something like that will perk up even the most worn out traveler. It was a wonderful surprise after all the stress.

pastime park plain city

Pastime Park in Plain City is a city park. They have a number of back-in sites with water and electric, and there is a dump station. It appeared that nearly every one there was either an overnighter or staying only one or two days. I think when the grass is mowed, it’s probably a nice park. The campground area is only a small part of a much larger park. We made a reservation but could just as easily have pulled in, picked a sight, dropped our money in a slot, and left without ever seeing an attendant. The mower showed up the morning we pulled out.

After a good night’s sleep, Sunday was spent with more family activities: breakfast with one of Nell’s older brothers, his wife and son; a visit to the gravesites of her father and mother, a little gathering at the home of one of her sisters, an early dinner with part of the family, then a trip to an area called Apple Valley, where one of the sisters is having a new house built.

It was a busy time with lots of fellowship.

NEXT: RVing with the grandkids, and an evaluation of the Seven Seas

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