Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Silt Colorado to York Nebraska

Mal and Yvette made a breakfast of English muffins, juice and coffee to send us on our way. We were rolling east on I-70 by 7:30 with a goal of covering the 1,800 miles to Sudbury in three days. The original plan had been to wander back slowly, ending up at Boomer's party in Toledo on the 8th/9th of July. However, to avoid paying extra out-of-Canada health insurance premiums (our annual plan covers 30 days at a time), and because we were tired and the weather was hot, we opted to head directly back.

The Colorado River was still flowing heavily through Glenwood Canyon and Sandy got some good photos. I have to wonder if this rush of water is ever going to slow down. Then we started to cross the Rockies, first climbing to over 10,600 feet through Vail Pass (where they were repaving at the summit) and then to over 11,000 through the Eisenhower Tunnel under Loveland Pass. The motorhome spent a lot of time in lower gears both climbing and descending. Then it was down to Denver where we caught I-76 east and I hoped that life would get a little less interesting for a while.

But it didn't. About 30 miles out of Denver on rough I-76 in significant heat, an SUV pulled up beside us pointing frantically down, a sure fire sign to an RVer that something has gone wrong. I pulled off on the paved shoulder and we could immediately smell burnt rubber. The right side trailer tire had blown to the extent that the outer sidewall was gone. Luckily, the inner sidewall held together but only due to the warning from the other vehicle. There was no alarm from the tire pressure sensor but then there was no tire pressure sensor, either. Or valve stem. I believe the rubber stem failed and flew off taking the sensor with it before it could send a message to the monitor. Lucky for us it didn't happen in the mountains where options to pull over are very limited.

We had a spare tire and my plan was to use the rear stabilizing jacks and the front crank jack to get the tire off the ground just like I do for bearing greasing. Unfortunately, my plan didn't take into account that, with the wheel down on the rim, there was no way the rear stabilizer leg could be lowered. I got out my Good Sam Roadside Assistance card and phoned the toll free number, giving a whole lot of information to the man on the other end. He put me on hold for a minute and then got back informing me that help would be there withing 55 minutes. In fact, Jeff from C&J was there within 15. He got his jack and changed the tire, also noting that it looked like we had a leaking inner wheel bearing seal from the build-up of grease on inside of the rim. Tire changed, we were on our way within an hour of the blowout. Thanks Good Sam and Jeff for reducing what seemed like a real problem to a minor inconvenience.

I-76 was choppy all the way to Nebraska and I-80, although they were working on the last section of the road. Hitting I-80, the wind was gusting out of the south again denying me the coveted tailwind. There was also a severe storm being tracked heading east over Oshkosh, Nebraska. It was behind us so we decided to run as far as we could today to stay ahead of it.

There was, as usual, not much interesting to see across Nebraska on I-80 but that is the way I like it in the RV. We got the obligatory photo of the Great Platte River Road Archway near Kearney and fueled at Grand Island before finding the WalMart in York for the night. This lot was jam packed with motorhomes, trailers and fifth wheels. I talked to a man from Iowa in a Class A gasser who had blown a dually tire the week before. The flailing rubber had taken out the drive shaft and several underneath parts of his RV, an expensive proposition.

WalMart had the exact 15" Goodyear tire we needed but we also required a new rim and the department was closed for the night. We decided to stop at another tomorrow further down the road and see about getting a replacement. I moved the RV out of the lee of a large Featherlite unit to allow a breeze to flow through the windows, which helped combat the oppressive heat and humidity. We had the interior battery powered fan going and managed to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Today's Photos

A rainbow to see us on our way

Our smiling hosts Mal and Yvette

The low mountains look as if they were carved by a knife

Glenwood Canyon

The raging Colorado River

The tunnel looks surreal

Note the river almost up to the rail bed

Look closely for the parasail

The water is calmer here but still high

We need to cross the Colorado Rockies one more time

The ski hills of Vail

Looks like a glacial basin up there

Paving at the summit of Vail Pass

10,513 feet according to the Garmin

And then what goes up must come down

And back up again

Way up

The tree line and the snow line meet

Approaching the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel

Colorado takes drunk drivers seriously

Even construction inside the tunnel

And back down for the last time

An old gold mine

Rafters on the fast flowing Eagle  River

Denver motor officer on a BMW

First tire problem was a doozie

No warning from the monitor probably because the stem and sensor were nowhere to be found

The new emergency triangles worked well

Reading the tire pressure monitor manual again

Jeff the repair guy was fast and efficient

We broke down right beside the BNSF tracks

Out of the mountains and into the plains

Cloud shadows in the air

The grazing lands of eastern Colorado

Road construction on I-76 near Julesberg

Welcome to Nebraska

New state but  same old orange barrels

The Gateway Arch - mid point of I-80 near Kearney Nebraska

York Nebraska's artistic water tower

Someone solved to Toad/Motorcycle problem - WalMart in York Nebraska

Today's Route (610 motorhome miles):

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