March 3, 2010.
The wind died down overnight and we awoke to bright sunshine and temps in the 40's. I was itching to get moving as it was a travel day and I like travel days! I hoped to be out of our site and at the dump station by 10:00. It was closer to 10:30 by the time we rolled to the dump station to empty our black and gray tanks in that order.
Shortly thereafter we were on the road. Everything was looking good as we rolled down I-10 towards Louisiana, it was a sunny day, traffic was light, Joyce was following behind in her car, Maggie and Rico were sleeping in the back seat and I had smile on my face.
I was keeping an eye on my tire pressure monitor not wanting to pay it too much attention. However, I began noting that the tire pressures were gradually climbing past the cold pressure of 80 p.s.i. to 83.. 85.. 87.. 88.. 90. Ooops, the left rear tire on the fifth wheel wasn't going over 84 p.s.i. It seemed to be stuck at 84 p.s.i. as the other tires climbed (as is the norm). Hmm, I thought that this wasn't good, but perhaps it was just a glitch. I kept driving for several more miles. Then after having it at 84 p.s.i. for several miles, the pressure reading dropped to 83 p.s.i.! That surely wasn't good as the other tires were now at 88 or 90 p.s.i. I got to thinking that perhaps the tire pressure transmitter that I screwed onto the valve stem this morning was loose and letting out some air.
We just passed into Louisiana. I saw a sign ahead for a rest stop at the Louisiana Welcome Center. I made a decision that I would stop there and investigate.
I pulled into the truck section of the welcome center rest stop amongst a few 18 wheelers. Joyce took Maggie and Rico out for a break while I checked the tire pressure transmitter on the valve stem and it seemed tight. I had charged the tank of my compressor before leaving this morning, so I decided to put more air in the tire. I aired it up to 88 to match the other tires that were all heated up. Then I heard it! The unmistakeable sound of air leaking. I checked the tread and saw a nail in the center of the tread and I heard the air leaking from around it.
I knew changing the tire would be a daunting task! A hundred thoughts raced through my head. The hassle of getting the spare from under the trailer and knowing that I hadn't checked the tire pressure in the spare ever! (Note to self!) If it was too low, I might not have enough reserve left in my compressor tank to bring it up. Then the hassle of jacking up the axle and un-torqueing those lug nuts. Then everything again in reverse. We have Coachnet road service but have never used it nor did I want to today!
I went to my Garmin GPS and typed in "tires". There was a tire store 4.5 miles away! I called and they could work with me if I could get there. We loaded up the dogs and I got back on the interstate with 83 p.s.i. in the leaking tire. It wasn't long and I was exiting the interstate and pulling into the rather small parking lot of Gause Tire and Auto.
The attendant had a "can do" attitude and quickly decided to work on my rig's tire. I watched like a hawk as he tried to jack up the rig after I told him not to put the jack against the bare axle as it would dent or bend the axle. I told him that it needed to be jacked at the leaf spring attachment to the axle. Well, he tried...but with a 2-ton jack. Obviously that wasn't going to work. So then he tried a bottle jack after declining to use my 8 ton bottle jack. However, his jack wasn't fitting.
I decided perhaps I should use the Big Foot Leveler system. I had never used it to jack up one side of the rig, but I knew it could be done in theory. So to the amazement of the mechanics, I put the Big Foot Leveler system in manual mode and activated the left side levelers to lift the tires off the ground while still attached to the truck.
With the left side lifted and the tires just off the ground, the mechanic was able to get the tire off and work on plugging or patching the hole caused by the nail.
Throughout the repair, Maggie and Rico waited patiently in the back seat of the truck. They were so good and deserving of some extra attention later!
It didn't take long and we were ready again to hit the road. The bill for the tire repair came to $22. Joyce stopped traffic and I backed out onto the 4-lane Gause Blvd. and headed back towards the interstate. Before long we were pulling into Fontainebleau State Park.
Against my better judgement, we had made a reservation for a site at the park. I wanted a 50 amp site for 7 days and used Reserve America to make the reservation. Several folks had told us that the park fills up on the weekends, which prompted me to make the reservation.
Well, it turns out the site we reserved is a pull through and is almost slide out to slide out with another fifth wheel on our driver's side. On the door side is a considerable amount of mud and standing water. In fact while setting up, I managed to slip and fall in the mud, which aside from giving Joyce a chuckle, resulted in a change of clothes! Actually most of the sites in this old loop have a lot of standing water.
I wasn't in a frame of mind to take pictures of our site, so I'll do that tomorrow.
Today re-inforced in my mind some of my personal travel rules.
A. Travel during the week and not on weekends. This assures that if you have travel problems and need a mechanic, they are more likely to be available.
B. Avoid making campsite reservations. You never know when you may not make it to the destination or as in today's case, you might be disappointed in the campsite once you get there and have a non-refundable reservation!