On Wednesday, September 15th, we drove 288 miles to Grand Junction, CO where we spent two nights at the Grand Junction KOA. After the first 60 miles, most of the drive was on I-70. Phil was able to maintain close to highway speed most of the trip. There were some steep inclines that had the truck struggling to exceed 40 mph but, at least, Phil was able to keep up with the semis.
When we arrived at the KOA, Jan had a difficult time getting the front legs to extend. This had been an ongoing problem but appeared to be getting progressively worse. Jan spotted an RV tech’s truck two sites over from us and, after he finished with that customer, he came over to see us. After testing our batteries, he concluded that we needed new batteries. Our dealer had told us in August that we could probably get a couple of more years from the old batteries but the RV tech seemed pretty confident that the batteries were causing our problems. If the batteries didn’t solve the problem, the RV tech’ s second guess was that we needed a new trombetta switch. Our dealer had identified the need for a new trombetta switch but didn’t think this part was causing the leg extension issue.
On Thursday morning, Phil drove to the battery store and bought four deep cycle 6-volt marine batteries, at a cost of $1,200. Each of the batteries weighed about 50 lbs. and, due to the numerous cables connected to the batteries in the two small battery compartments, they were a challenge to install. Unfortunately, after the new batteries were installed, the problem with the leveling system remained unresolved.
As Phil returned the old batteries for the core deposit, Jan called a nearby RV dealer and was able to find a trombetta switch. Phil picked up the switch and, after taking pictures of the existing wiring, we began to replace the switch. Although Phil had disconnected our shore power and had turned the battery disconnect to “off,” we kept getting sparks when we connected some of the 12 cables to the six posts. We were very frustrated and not sure what we would do next. By this time, it was dark and we were operating by lantern. Jan continued to analyze the photos to see what we had done wrong. Finally, she spotted a couple of similarly colored wires that appeared to be crossed. We started over again and, this time, we were able to get the wires connected with no sparks. With the wires properly installed, we found that our leveling system problem was solved. We were both ecstatic and relieved!
On Friday, we drove 68 miles to Montrose, CO where we had reservations at Centennial RV Park. Although we had booked the site for a week, our actual time in Montrose was much shorter. Phil’s mother had passed away in February 2020 and was due to have her ashes interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the ceremony was delayed until now. On Saturday, we flew to Washington, DC. With a three-hour layover in Denver and a long delay at the rental car center at Dulles, we didn’t get to our hotel room until 1:15 am on Sunday morning.
Alison and Bill had flown to NYC and had spent a couple of days there. On Sunday morning, they took the Amtrak to DC and we picked them up at Union Station. While they waited for their hotel room to be available, we walked down the street and had lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant. We sat outside and talked for a couple of hours. That evening, we had a group dinner with Phil’s siblings and in-laws, as well as many of Phil’s mother’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Rather than try to find a restaurant that could accommodate a group of 17, each family picked up their own food and brought it back to the hotel dining room.
On Monday morning, we picked up Lizzi at Reagan National Airport. That afternoon, we, and Lizzi, Alison and Bill, took the Metro to the National Mall. We visited the United States Botanic Garden.
After lunch at Potbelly, we visited the International Spy Museum. It was a very fun museum, both highly educational and interactive. We were each assigned characters as spies and performed various activities to evaluate our aptitude for these roles. Phil was Mickey Garcia and Jan was Adrian Steyn. For dinner, we had another group get-together at the hotel.
On Tuesday morning, we drove to Arlington National Cemetery for the interment ceremony. Although the ceremony only lasted about 20 minutes, it included a eulogy by a Navy chaplain, a 21-gun salute, a bugler playing Taps, and a presentation of the American flag. We then all walked to the vault where Phil’s mother’s urn was placed beside his father’s urn. After the ceremony, we all met for lunch at Federico Ristorante before saying our goodbyes to most of the group.
Later that afternoon, we received an email from American Airlines telling us that our Wednesday flights back to Montrose had been rebooked on Thursday. We spent the next seven hours trying to get better flights. When we called AA, we were placed on a callback with a 1-1/4 to a 1-3/4 hour wait. Phil thought he had resolved the issue during the first callback but, when we got the confirmation email, we found that they had eliminated the first flight from Reagan National to Dallas Fort Worth. Phil’s next callback took over two hours but, since his phone was set to Do Not Disturb at 11 pm, the call went to voicemail. We finally tried calling and remaining on hold, rather than relying on a callback. After over an hour, we got to talk to an agent but he told us that, since we had booked our tickets using Rewards miles, he would have to transfer us to another agent. That transfer put us on hold for another hour. We finally were able to book a flight to DFW on Wednesday afternoon and a flight to Montrose on Thursday morning but, by this time, it was 1:30 am.
On Wednesday morning, we said goodbye to Lizzi, Alison and Bill and headed to the airport. Upon arriving in Dallas, we were able to secure a hotel voucher for the nearby Sheraton and $24 in meal vouchers. We took the shuttle to the Sheraton and, after dinner at the hotel restaurant, headed to bed early.
We caught the 7 am shuttle back to DFW on Thursday for our 8:45 flight to Montrose. The flight pulled back from the gate on time. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem forced us to return to the gate and resulted in a 1h 20m delay.
When we finally arrived in Montrose, we were determined to see some of the sights before leaving town. We headed to the nearby Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and drove the South Rim scenic drive. Due to our time crunch, we only stopped at five of the 12 scenic overlooks but did hit all four of the “must see” views. One of the stops was at Painted Wall, with a 2,250-foot vertical cliff that is the tallest in Colorado and one of the highest in the United States. If the Empire State Building were placed on the canyon floor, it would only reach about halfway up the cliff.
We spent the rest of the day preparing for our Friday morning departure from Montrose.