Departed Palmetto Florida on Saturday 6/24 for Cleveland Ohio. The following was done before departing:
Oil and Filter Change
Tested chassis battery charging via land line
Sanitized and Filled Fresh Water Tanks
Filled Van with Petrol - $4.59 per gallon at Sunoco
Set up the OBD2 Bluetooth transmitter and Torque application on the Android phone.
We hit the road at 6:00 AM with good weather. There was significant crosswind which required a lot of steering adjustment. I was not used to that, and at first I thought I had some issues with my steering and or suspension components. This had me concerned because the driving experience was not pleasant and relaxed and I was worried that something was going to break down on me. This was the case all the way thru Florida - Interstate 75 to US 301 to Interstate 10 to Interstate 295 to Interstate 95. We reached the Georgia state line at 10:30 AM which I thought was pretty good. We definitely saved time having the toilet on board. We crossed into South Carolina around 12:45 and exited for our first petrol stop at the first exit we came to.
According to the Torque app my average MPG at this time was 16.5 MPG which I was happy with. I had been driving at speeds ranging between 62 and 67 MPH and watching my real time MPG on the app trying to keep good numbers in place. I think it is best between 62 and 65 MPH which is a pretty light foot on the accelerator pedal. Now I know why the RVs are usually in the right hand lane getting passed up by everyone. I enjoyed the laid back ride and had no issues getting passed up and receiving an occasional middle digit salute.
I also noticed that once we entered South Carolina the van started driving better with regards to the steering. It started driving like a normal van and did not require all of the constant steering adjustments. I am chalking it up to there being less crosswind as that is the only thing that makes sense to me. Whatever happened it was much better and driving it was nice. That took some worry out of my mind.
I am not certain as to the time that we crossed the North Carolina state line, but the traffic around Charlotte was significant as that area is pretty dense all the way up past Lake Norman. No issues with the van and once we got North of Statesville the traffic lightened up. The coolant temp never exceeded 204 degrees and I was now averaging well over 17 MPG according to the OBD2. This was good and I kept driving with the light foot to conserve petrol.
When we neared Mount Airy the hills started coming into play and I knew this would take a bite out of my MPG numbers. I made the mistake of trying to climb the long grades using my lightfoot method which had been serving me so well to this point and ran into a situation where I could not accelerate past 50 MPH no matter how much I pressed the accelerator. I thought I had damaged something in the transmission or something due to the fact that I was hauling 8400 LBS up a mountain. I was really concerned at this point.
We reached our destination in Virginia and there was one nice level spot in the place - and there was another Roadtrek parked there. I went to another spot which I thought would work, but no go in my mind. My wife's mind was not thinking like my mind but I decided to head back on the road and hit the second rest area in Virginia that I was fairly certain existed. My wife was pretty unhappy with me by this time, but she knows how I am and just let me go with it. About an hour later we pulled into the second Virginia rest area. It was hot outside and pretty uncomfortable, but knowing that we had the generator and the fan made things ok. I shut the van down and went to start the generator to get the AC working and the generator would not start. It did not even turn over. Come to find out that the house battery was completely dead, and that is needed to start the genny. We had the fridge on DC while we were driving and it must have killed it - which should not have been the case as that is standard operating procedure and the main reason why there is DC operating mode - to keep in running while you are driving. Well, whatever the case, the only thing we had was a slow fan and dim lights. I was hot,uncomfortable, and worried about my transmission and I could not sleep due to nervous energy. After a half hour I fired up the van and left the rest area. I let my wife stay in the bed to sleep and I hit the road in the dark with tired eyes and nervous energy. Very poor and unsafe decisions on my part and I realized this after a few minutes of driving, however, I had to make it to the next exit to get off the highway The one thing I did do was use the cruise control on the final long grade out of Virginia. The van pulled nice and steady with no issues, and I realized that it is not possible to pussyfoot the gas pedal up hills in a heavy vehicle. That eased my mind considerably and I was good and pulled into the first West Virginia rest area we came across. I was expecting the worst considering how the past few hours had gone, but was pleasantly surprised by a nice clean parking area that had a few other RVs there as well. By this time the temperature had cooled down as well so the AC was not needed and the slow fan worked for us. I slept on the floor on my Thermarest pad which as actually not too bad (I am a backpacker however, and my definition of bad may differ from others). We slept pretty good except for the occasional truck and/or people arriving and talking and so on. I plan on staying there on our next trip if we go that way.
In the morning I thought it a good idea to check my coolant and oil levels. Coolant was good but the oil was almost to the low mark on the dipstick.This concerned me in that I put in the 5 quarts that the owner's manual dictated prior to departing and it read full. However, I did notice that the previous owner and written "6 QTS" in white paint in the engine compartment. I ignored that and now I believe that was correct as it compensated for the oil filter being changed. I went over to the fuel bowser to check if I could buy some oil to get the level up to snuff, and believe it or not they had the exact oil I needed - Mobil One Synthetic 5W-30. The price, however, was not what I needed - $21.00 a quart. I knew I was going to take it up the highway getting oil at a rest area, however, I did not think that far up the highway. Regardless, I bought it and topped it off and hit the road.
The ride from that point to Ohio was pretty uneventful which was great. No issues and the van performed as intended. We stopped for petrol at a station midway between Charleston and Marietta. There was a nice little fenced in dog park there so we let our dog Winston run around while we ate some grub from Mc Donalds. Arrived in Cleveland about four hours later and I checked the oil level - spot on from where it was when we left West Virginia earlier that day. Our average MPG according to the OBD2 was 19.5. I had a hard time believing that, but I checked the numbers from my travel/fuel log and I came up with 18.5 so who knows. Regardless it could have been much worse as our total bill for petrol was approximately $340.00 for 1200 plus miles of travel.
Overall it was a good experience with the exception of the electrical issues and me worrying myself by light footing the van up the steep grades. I was glad to make it without any major issues or mechanical failures. It was great to just stop and crash for the night in our Motel on Wheels, which is now parked at home in Cleveland and ready for the dumping station which incidentally is located in my driveway!
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