5000 Mile Teardrop Trailer Trip
Copyright © 2000 – 2006 Richard Flake All Rights Reserved
Prior to leaving, the teardrop hubs were removed and wheel bearings were repacked with the lug nuts torque set to Dexter axle specifications. The lug nut torque will be re-checked at least four times during the first 1000 miles of the trip, as well as the new wheel bearing seals. Servicing a set of hubs is quite simple and very inexpensive if you do them yourself (under $20.00). If you have them serviced by an RV dealer the price for labor alone exceeds $100.00 per axle and doesn't include parts.
The existing tires were replaced with a new set of Titan ST 205 75/R15 tires. The battery was charged and electronics checked. The only thing left to do was mount a new Delta storage box on the trailer tongue. The tongue box is used for carrying tool boxes, torque wrench, jumper cables, wheel chocks and extra wheel bearings, seals and grease. The box is also a convenient way to fine tune or adjust the tongue weight for balance.
Our trip began from our home in Belleville, Michigan. The ultimate destination was the canyon lands of Arizona and southern Utah. Our first stop however, was Indian River, Michigan (500 miles off course) where we have a small vacation home. Since it was almost October, we decided to close the house for the winter before setting out on a three week trip to the Southwestern U.S.
After winterizing the vacation home it was time to leave Indian River, Mi. but not without making breakfast from the teardrop galley on a perfect fall morning in late September. (Pancakes with stuffed blueberry sausage links)
The hour was nearing midnight and we were really tired from the drive and traffic we encountered in Indianapolis, Indiana. This Wal-Mart store was located in Terre Haute, Indiana with easy access from Interstate 70, and was very recently constructed. We asked permission from the local Sheriff on duty that was in charge of security for Wal-Mart to use the premises for the night. He was very cordial and pointed out that we were free to park at the North or South end of the Wal-Mart parking lot. The parking lot was nearly empty and we chose a parking place that felt secure. The temperature this night remained in the low 50's. With the heavily insulated trailer, we slept with windows partially opened as well as the roof vent and were very comfortable. In the morning I checked the trailer lug nut torque for the third time and found that they needed some tightening. Actually; they also needed to be tightened slightly the first and second time they were checked. The new wheel bearing seals were again checked for leaks.
We left Wal-Mart in Terre Haute, Indiana at approximately 8:00 AM and continued West on I-70 crossing the state of Illinois into St. Louis, Mo. Our strategy here was to get through the gateway to the West before rush hour traffic. We also wanted to get a look at some of the sights that Route 66 might have to offer. This would be done by getting on and off of Interstate 44 and Route 66 alternately. We decided to drive onto Route 66 at Pacific, Mo. Because of the rush hour traffic just outside of St. Louis we were pushed along on this old Mother Road, and were not able view anything remarkable. The rolling hills of the Ozarks were rising just ahead. We decided to push along onto I-44 West until the traffic started to diminish.
We again exited onto Route 66 at Cuba, Mo. The main attraction for Sharon and I were the many murals that had been painted on buildings in the downtown area, by several artists in recent years. Apparently Betty Davis had visited Cuba, Mo. I was curious as to why but didn't have time to find out.
The time passed quickly while visiting Cuba, and we decided to find a place to retire for the remainder of the day. We drove onto I-44 West again into Springfield, Mo. At Springfield we stopped for fuel, and asked the salesperson about a KOA camp that we had heard about. The Sales person was not familiar with campgrounds in the area, and since it was late evening we asked for directions to the nearest Wal-Mart.
Two miles later and we were at the Springfield, Mo. Wal-Mart. There were already nine other RV's parked at the Springfield Wal-Mart when we arrived. An hour later, we had to move our trailer because of an irate bird in the Crab Apple tree next to our trailer. I assume our presence caused him/her to feel threatened and would not stop screeching until we vacated it's space. The night was pleasant with a nice breeze flowing through the vent and windows.
We awoke late around 9:30 am and were underway by 10:00 am. Our trip continued down I-44 West . We decided to eat breakfast at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Joplin, Mo.
I-44 in Oklahoma becomes a toll road. We don't mind paying tolls for traveling on improved roads, but this toll road has become a diminishing return. Since this was our third day without showering, we decided to stay over night at a Motel 6 in Tulsa, Ok. As much as we enjoy our teardrop, the added space of a large room with chairs, internet access and a private shower is also a welcome refreshment.
After a night in Tulsa, Ok. we drove onto a much improved toll free Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City, OK. We continued driving through the the remainder of Oklahoma and the very Northern tip of Texas. There were sights from Old Route 66, but we didn't take the time on this trip to investigate. We made stops for fuel, but wanted to move along as our schedule dictated.
We decided to spend the night in a KOA camp in Tucumcari, NM. The weather was really in contrast with the weather that we left behind in the North. We traded 50's for 80's. This was a quiet and comfortable site with full hookup. Normally full hookup is not necessary since we carry 6 gallons of water and only have an occasional need to re-charge the battery. Since I had no idea where we would be staying tomorrow, I thought it would be a good idea to charge the battery. While in the trailer, I watch a lot of TV at night and it has been 4 days of using the lights and TV. The battery was still about 60 percent charged but I rarely let it fall below 10.8 v.d.c. no load.
This was the first opportunity to use the galley during this trip. We kept Ice in the Ice box, and apparently we over loaded the ice tray with too much ice as the tray buckled from the weight and broke every egg in the egg carton. I cleaned up the mess and decided to make a pot of coffee. Oh well, we traditionally eat at restaurants most of the time while traveling, although coffee is a ritual out of the teardrop galley.
The balloon fest in Albuquerque, NM was scheduled to begin in about 24 hours and we still had 170 miles to go. I checked the torque for the last time on the lug nuts and checked the seals for leaks and all was well. It was hitch up time.
Day Five - Seven
With only 170 miles to drive, we arrived in Albuquerque, NM. In lieu of the Balloon Festival, we did make a reservation the the KOA camp located off of I-40. The only site they had vacant and available had no hook-ups, not even electricity. I'm glad that I had charged the battery in Tucumcari. The balloon fest had inflated the prices of all the campgrounds and motels, A perfect example of supply and demand.
Rudy's BBQ is our favorite. for this type of cuisine. We discovered Rudy's in 1996 while on our honeymoon. They are located at exit 160 on I-40 and have since expanded in New Mexico and into Texas. They are always busy but it is worth the wait.
We all know how messy BBQ on a bun can be and so does Rudy's. They provide a public trough for hand washing for their customers. They are so popular that a McDonalds restaurant next door closed because of the competition. We stocked up on their BBQ sauces, and an order to go for later. We will be sure to stop here whenever we drive through Albuquerque. As a matter of fact, we did stop here again on our return trip home.
The teardrop trailer becomes a link to others that might otherwise simply nod as they pass by. We enjoyed the time we spent with the very polite and respectable family in this photo. They were RV'ers from Pueblo, CO. We enjoyed their warm conversation and friendly smiles on the last night we were in Albuquerque, NM and hope to hear from them via mail. They were kind enough to invite us to horseback ride with them at their home.
We stayed here for three days. The last day of our stay we moved to a sight with a full hook up. It was time to charge the battery again. The Balloon Festival was rained out for the time we were here. We enjoyed our time in Albuquerque, but It was time for us to continue our trip.
Day Eight - Fifteen
Page Arizona is without a doubt our favorite place to vacation. This will be our fifth trip to Page. It is about a six hour drive from Albuquerque. We chose a scenic route North on I-25 to US 550 to 64.
Our travel was delayed due to the heavy rains that we encountered around the four corners, and Kayenta, AZ. There was flooding over the roads and this made driving difficult at night especially driving down the side of a mountain with a 6 percent grade. Fortunately we had no negative incidents. as the roads were clear in the valleys except for the continual rain and a lot of sand on the roads where they were previously flooded.
Sharon and I are attracted to this area because we feel a degree of spirituality here. Being surrounded by sandstone with its ever changing color and textures, shading, and overall endless appearance always gives the eye something different to gaze upon. For us, it is eye candy. To some others it is simply desert and rock.
We always visit the well known Upper and Lower Antelope canyons while visiting Page. These walls of sandstone were carved by water, and the colors change in a matter of minutes and take on different hues as the seasons change. This photo was taken on this trip with a digital camera, and is only one of several we have taken, many of which were captured with large format film.
Page also has an excellent RV park. Page -Lake Powell RV park is not a KOA but it is the nicest RV park that we found on our entire trip. I give it a 4.9 out of 5.0. The daily fees were the most reasonable of the campgrounds in which we stayed. We stayed here for two nights with a full hook up. The showers and restrooms are very well maintained and the employees are very cordial.
Although the nights are really cool in the desert, the climate at this time of the year at mid morning in Page is something we both treasure.
It is time for us to say goodbye to Page and all the wonderful shops and restaurants like Zapata's, an authentic Mexican restaurant. Page is a wonderful community. We also had the pleasure of using the library, and found it to be an absolute joy. Since there are so many things to see and do here, we will have to come back again.
The slot Canyons lifted our spirits, the landscapes gave us energy. We will spend one one day traveling to Kanab Utah, and Kodachrome Valley near Bryce Canyon.
Afterwards we will return to Page to spend the night before returning Home. Even though we are looking forward to going home, we always feel a sadness when leaviing this place. It is the feeling one has when leaving behind a friend in a distant land.
This page was assembled for family, friends, and anyone interested in Teardrop Trailer Travel.
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Page last updated on 01/18/2011
Copyright © 2000 – 2011 Richard Flake All Rights Reserved