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Test Trip – Chapter 1


It’s a new year and we have big plans! Big things are happening and we’re all excited, some more than others. Our daughter started eSchool, an online school that allows for a very flexible schedule, and Honeybunch quit her job, finally. I’m still working remotely and the dog and cat are still unemployed. The route is planned, thoroughly, and all the reservations have been made. There’s nothing holding us back – well, almost nothing.

The rig was dropped off at our local RV dealer/service shop for a minor repairs – the J-wrap on the side had a small hole that was created by the slide rubbing against it, re-packing of the wheel bearings (apparently that’s supposed to be done every year), and one of the latches on the pass-through wasn’t staying closed. We dropped it off almost a month before our schedule departure date and we notified that all repairs were complete one week before we were supposed to leave. It’s pretty typical, unfortunately, for us to drive over to the service shop only to find that some of the work is not completed and this time was no different. Luckily, it was nothing that would prevent us from leaving, but the pass-through latch still wasn’t fixed. The service rep promised to have it taken care of in 5 days and I’m happy to report that they came through. Ok, let’s go! Uh oh, the truck’s check engine light just came on. Are you kidding?!? This thing only has 10k miles on it!

We immediately took the truck, Walter White, to the Ford dealership and they said they would need to keep it until at least Monday – we’re supposed to leave on Friday! We waited patiently and when Monday rolled around, we received a call from the service department. They ran through all the diagnostics and reset the system, but they still couldn’t find anything wrong. Throughout the process, the communication from the dealership was amazing and we were really impressed with the experience. They ended up keeping Walter until Wednesday, taking multiple test drives to ensure that the check engine light didn’t reappear. We didn’t feel great about the unknown cause for the check engine light, but we were still happy with the effort from the dealership and it’s time to go!

Santa Rosa Lake State Park

We finally made it to our first destination, Santa Rosa Lake State Park in New Mexico. The campground was okay and we had an electric-only site, so we filled, or thought we filled, our fresh water tank before heading to our spot. This was our first outing of the year, so the first thing we had to do was de-winterize the rig – basically just run fresh water through all the lines and undo the water heater bypass. Everything was going well, but somehow, after flushing all of the water lines, we were out of water. The fresh tank was empty. We were parked at an angle when we filled the tank, so even though the gauge said the tank was full, we weren’t even close. Not the end of the world, but we had to use a jug of water to flush the toilet, brush our teeth, and wash our hands for the first night. From now on, we’ll wait until we see water coming out of the overflow tube before we consider the tank full.

Bar Z Winery

Our next stop was Bar Z Winery, a Harvest Host location in Canyon, Texas – just outside of Amarillo. Before we arrived, we stopped at Cadillac Ranch, the Route 66 landmark where 10 cars are half-buried nose down in the dirt. It was crazy windy, but that didn’t dissuade the large number of tourists who purchased spray paint from the vendor at the entrance and tried to leave their mark at the famous site. There was so much paint on these cars that it was hard to tell where the vehicle bodies ended and the layers upon layers of paint began. We were very pleased with our first tourist event.

Now, onto Bar Z Winery. There were 4 or 5 other Harvest Host members parked in the grass lot when we arrived just before sunset. We quickly leveled the rig, extended the slide-out, connected the power via our truck bed generator, and headed inside for a wine tasting. The front windows of the winery looked out over Palo Duro Canyon and the atmosphere inside was warm and welcoming. Our table was situated in a room that had a wall of what seemed like hundreds of labeled and dated wine barrels. My favorite was the Pinot Noir. Honeybunch couldn’t finish her wine flight, so I helped. I slightly regretted that decision in the morning.

Fortress of Faith

After the brief one-night stay in Texas, we moved on to our next overnight destination – another Harvest Host in Hastings, OK called Fortress of Faith. There were no religious components to this destination, as one might expect from the name. We were greeted by a few peacocks, a turkey, and a couple of friendly dogs. Perhaps the fortress is more impressive in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, but at the end of February, the property was very drab and all of the random objects (I’m trying very hard not to say “junk”) did not give us the best feeling about where we were spending the night. The host was kind and graciously let us use their hose to add some fresh water to our tank, for a $10 fee. After that, Kylee and I ventured into the little red building that housed the farm’s shop. As Harvest Host members, there is a requirement to make a small purchase from your host, so we bought some herbal teas and they threw in a free crystal for Kylee. It really helped her shed some of her negative energy and embrace the vibes around her. I pet a horse.

We left Oklahoma early in the morning because we were excited to get to our first week-long stay in Dallas, Texas, and we were a little uneasy at Fortress of Faith – especially when our host pointed to different structures around us and said, “there are people living all over this property.” This made us feel like we were at some sort of commune, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn’t really our cup of all-natural herbal remedy tea.

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