Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Washington DC

Odometer  30595- Wytheville, VA
                  30911- College Park, MD

Joan and I left Asheville, NC and headed West on I-26 up the French Broad River and over the Appalachian Mountains.  We got our first taste of mountain climbing (in the MH) since I took my Freightliner class, and I was anxious to put my new knowledge to use.  Our instructor, Mike Cody,  told us he was determined to get us better fuel economy by having us climb hills at 1750 to 1900 RPM.  Mike said most of us lug our engines by not gearing down to stay at max torque.  Our trip took us through the northeast corner of Tennessee near Johnson City, where we caught Interstate 81 and paralleled the Appalachians going north to Virginia.  I got lots of practice with the hill climbs and descents, following the wrinkles of the Appalachians took us up and down a lot.
Coming down one of the steeper grades I was startled when the rear air pressure gauge plummeted to ZERO and the warning light and buzzer sounded.  On a vehicle that uses air for braking- that's alarming!
Even though the front air gauge still read 110 PSI I pulled off the road and stopped as soon as I could.  Moments later the gauge sprung up to 110 PSI and the light and buzzer turned off.
Now here is the interesting part- we had just covered this in our class at Freightliner.  A quick phone call to the Freightliner help line- (answered by techs in Gaffney, SC) confirmed that it was an indicator problem and not an actual air pressure failure.  Apparently this is a well documented problem in chassis made in our era, and is caused by a bad solder joint in the Vehicle Data Unit (VDU).  I will have to fix it ASAP- but for now it will just be a distraction.
We were very impressed with the scenic overlooks in Tennessee.  We pulled into this overlook around noon to stretch, and have a bite of  lunch.
There was a maze of trails and scenic lookout points showing row after row of ridgelines.

Joan and I had a quick lunch, then decided to exercise it off on this 800 foot trail that rises 150 feet up the hill behind the overlook

Luckily the air pressure alarm did not sound again this afternoon and we cruised the rest of the 250 miles to Wytheville, VA without incident.  We stayed at the Fort Chiswell RV park, arriving at 3:30.  We noticed the motorhome two away from ours had Oregon plates- so we hurried up there to introduce ourselves.  We met Mahlon and Becky from Grants Pass!  They are on their way to visit family in Virginia and then in Pennsylvania, and like us were just here for the night.   We were joined by Bob and Debi, our neighbors on the other side who are also heading to Penn. where they have a home.  We talked until well after dark, and the air took on a definite chill- sending us scurrying to our warm RVs.   This is the best part of traveling by RV- you meet the nicest people!

Today- Wednesday the 23rd just about all of us were packing to leave and get on the road.  We said goodbye to Bob and Debi as they pulled out just ahead of us, and waved to Mahlon and Becky as we drove out to the highway for the trip north.
Normally we are not freeway drivers, but being unfamiliar with the area we just could not find a road that was a reasonable alternative to I-81. 
 We stopped only once in Woodstock to eat lunch in the Wal Mart parking lot and then go inside to stock up on groceries.  The traffic was heavy and got even more so as we approached the Washington DC area.

Then about 10 miles from our destination- it stopped altogether.  We have no idea if it was normal grid-lock or a collision, but it worked it's way out within about 30 minutes and we arrived at Cherry Hill RV Park in College Station at 4:30 PM.

We got checked in, set-up, cleaned the bugs off the front end, had dinner, then went for a walk around the park.  The park is fairly large with 400 or more spaces, and conveiently it is on the bus/metro route to downtown DC.  We are getting excited about our adventure into the capitol tomorrow.  The Smithsonian (great name by the way) the Capitol, the Whitehouse, the Monuments, the Memorials- Yeah!

Your Traveling Friends,

Jeff and Joan

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