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Old 03-22-2009, 10:45 PM   #1
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experiences on I-70

All,

I just recently got the opportunity to pick up my camper in Kentucky, and bring it back to Kansas with me. I had some repairs done, and it took the shop 2.5 months to do about 7 hours worth of work. (I'm not happy with the shop, but that's another story. Can we start a sub-forum to rant and rave about our favorite repair shops???)

I stopped in Cincinnati to visit the family, and restock the fridge. From there, it was a mad dash to hit Missouri in time to get to my reserved spot.

Along the way I found out that getting my truck with the camper attached into a small gas station is not always easy. It is usually best to find a truck stop if at all possible. There was a big sign on the highway that said, "diesel". I assumed it to be a truck stop, but it wasn't. I had to turn around in the neighboring hotel parking lot in order to face the right direction, and broke the cotter pin for the WD hitch. It was easy to fix with a bent nail....luckily. Note to self: Carry a couple spares, just in case.

Getting thru the traffic in St. Louis is pure h*ll. (Pardon my language.) I think next time, I will find a way around that place. I had to make numerous panic stops, and deal with cars and motorcycles thinking that "freeway" is synonymous with "race track".

When I arrived in Columbia, Missouri, I found out the hard way why Airstream has discontinued the rear bath layout. I had a super nice pull-thru slot, but the services were positioned just about in the center of the parking space. I had to park the camper in the front, and put the truck in the back. And, I also had to buy a new sewer hose. Oh, it was the Cottonwoods RV park and I found it to be a nice place, but a little pricey.

The new hoses are a bit smaller than my 38 year old original equipment, so I had to stretch the new hose and use a cable tie to hold it on.

On the road again in the morning brought new vigor to my senses, and a desire to be at my destination. I thoroughly enjoy visiting new places, just can't stand the drive to get there.

There are a bunch of truck stops just east of KC, and for good reason. If you are traveling west on I-70, you'll want to stop before you get to KC even if you have 3/4 of a tank. The service plaza in Lawrence is closed for repairs, and the next one is just east of Topeka. Luckily, I made it to Topeka. I was sweating bullets though, as I knew that there were very limited stops between Topeka and Manhattan and whether or not they had diesel I was unsure of.

I'll be here for about a month, then I'm headed for Oklahoma City. I'll post again with more hair raising experiences.

Woody
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:16 AM   #2
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Whew...

You survivied and the shiny side is still up. Congrats!
When making a tight turn, loosen or remove your friction bar... worse can happen than a bent pin.

OK, older Airstreams used a different sized hose than other RV's - The newer ones, you can buy everything right off the shelf. There is an adaptor available allow you to attach a new hose to the old pipe. I'm sure you'll get three or four posts on it in the next 10 minutes. You can order from the mothership or any good Airstream dealer that is vintage friendly. Airstream of Arkansas pops into my mind based on your location.

Happier Trails in the future. Just remember "It Happens"

Paula
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:44 AM   #3
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There is a great book " The Next Exit " tells you about diesel, service, room for you rig etc.

Tom
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:48 AM   #4
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I have never had an issue towing through St. Louis, but perhaps that is because I live there. Chicago however....oh my.

Sorry you had issues, but you finally made it.

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Old 03-23-2009, 10:43 AM   #5
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All,

Thanks for the encouragement and kind words. This forum is chock full of great information.

I will definitely buy that book, I found it cheap on Amazon.com.

I've driven through Chicago in a small car without a trailer, and that was scary enough. I seriously doubt that I will take the camper up there. I will most likely also avoid NYC, LA, Dallas and a few others. I learned to drive in Cincinnati, and I'm accustomed to heavy traffic, but towing a camper is definitely another story.

The other thing that I forgot to mention is my GPS. I've come to realize that the GPS is not all knowing, and will take you in circles if you don't pay attention to the street signs. I was able to follow the signs to get to the campground, and the GPS kept telling me to turn around. I believe it will also be wise to avoid driving thru unfamiliar territory in the dark.

On a positive note: The winds here in Kansas have been gale force for the past two days. My Airstream is doing fine, I can feel it rocking a little. My neighbors are all extremely worried about their campers getting tipped.

Woody
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:10 AM   #6
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Woody,

Glad you made it safely to your destination.

Regarding St. Louis: ALWAYS take the loop around the city!!! It may be a few more miles but it will cut the stress level tremendously and allow you to live longer so you can enjoy Airstreaming more! For most any large city this is the case.

My .02 worth on GPS: I don't have one, even though I drive over 100,000 miles per year. A good atlas and a phone call to my destination for "last mile" directions are all I've ever needed. Having watched other guys use GPS who deliver campers like I do, the GPS tends to route them a longer distance than what my PC Miler program does. PC Miler is used for transportation industry routing which takes into account long vehicle combinations whereby the average GPS considers the trip for a non-combination vehicle. PC Miler does have a GPS available and it MIGHT find it's way into my truck one day. It just seems like I will have been neutered by doing so.

Godspeed,
Trent
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:48 PM   #7
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Woody,

Glad you made it safely to your destination.

Regarding St. Louis: ALWAYS take the loop around the city!!! It may be a few more miles but it will cut the stress level tremendously and allow you to live longer so you can enjoy Airstreaming more! For most any large city this is the case.
For those coming through St. Louis be aware that I64/40 that goes directly through the central region of downtown and into the suburbs is closed for reconstruction from Kingshighway (near Forest Park) through I 170. To compensate the highway department narrowed the lanes to allow for an additional lane on I 44 and I70 to handle rerouted traffic. So understand there are limited shoulders and narrow lanes on these two Interstates through town. No fun if you are towing. My advice is to consider I 255 in Illinois which changes to I 270 in St. Louis. This will loop you around the closed highways and those with the lane restrictions. I 55 through St. Louis has no lane modifications.

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Old 03-28-2009, 03:49 PM   #8
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update in Kansas

All,

The weatherman decided to scare me and the local residents this weekend. We were told to expect up to 12" of snow and ice with high winds. I guess this is the same storm that is hitting the Dakotas.

Well, we did get some snow and some ice, but not nearly what they were calling for. There is only about 2 or 3 inches in this area, but I've heard that other parts of Kansas have been socked with 24".

This is quite the odd storm, and the locals tell me that late March is normally quite pleasant.

I am burning about $20 worth of propane every 24 hours right now, so I hope this weather changes quickly. Dang, I've really got to get me one of those woodstoves.

Woody
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:16 AM   #9
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The other thing that I forgot to mention is my GPS. I've come to realize that the GPS is not all knowing, and will take you in circles if you don't pay attention to the street signs. I was able to follow the signs to get to the campground, and the GPS kept telling me to turn around. I believe it will also be wise to avoid driving thru unfamiliar territory in the dark.
Hi, Woody! Scarey ride so far, hopefully it gets better as you go on.

I've had a GPS since they were wood-burning, and one thing to remember about them is that, while the satellites will never lie, the built-in maps can and frequently will. OK, so they never ran on wood, but my first one didn't have maps, only showed direction, distance to travel, and speed. I still use it for boating. Put in a latitude and a longitude and it WILL get you there. But it doesn't know from addresses...

First off, the map has to be kept up to date, and with all the construction that has happened in the US and Canada over the last decade, any internal map over two years old is out of date.

Secondly, while a GPS map is great in the macro sense (for example to get to St. Louis, MO) they very often are lousy in the micro sense (get to to number 23 on street "x"). There are often flat out errors in the map data, too. The map in both mine and my wife's calls the road we live on "Drive" while it is actually "Road", for example.
Lastly, streets in places like a campground are rarely on an electronic map, since they aren't always "assumed" roads, rather, they are just paths on private property.

Despite having a GPS since 1956, I still always look at the route on either a good paper map, or someting like Google maps. Even your GPS warns you to check if it's right. OK, so maybe it was 1966.
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:37 AM   #10
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1956??? What am I missing here?
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:06 PM   #11
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Jack's right about I-270 and it's Illinois counterpart. We've gone both ways and if you just want to get past St. Louis, take I-270. You won't see the arch though—once was enough for me.

I always thought KC was more confusing than St. Louis. There are two ways through town on I-70 and I've never figured which one makes more sense. If you live in Colorado and want to go east, I-70 is often a big part of the trip. I think I-80 is busier and leads to many toll roads in Indiana, Ohio and NY, so I avoid it if possible. We probably need an I-60 or I-50 because east-west traffic keeps getting worse.

We don't have a GPS and use a technology called "map". The "map" allows us to see what state we are in, it's relationship to other states, some places off the route we might want to visit on a whim, and offers alternative routes. They have sub-maps that show whole cities so we can study the interstates through the city. You can even get large scale city "maps" from AAA so you can even see where the ramps are. We study these city "maps" before we go to make sure there are no surprises, like a left exit or a strange division of the highway. Towing a trailer through city interstates during rush hour requires preparation and I don't see how a GPS can quite prepare you for it.

The "map" folds up when not in use, does not clutter the dashboard and when out of date can be good for starting a fire. It also catches crumbs when on the passenger's lap, thereby avoiding a dirty vehicle attractive to mice and loathsome insects. It doesn't talk, providing a quiet and peaceful trip.

I heard about a state of emergency in Kansas this morning from the snow. I hope you're ok and the propane lasts longer.

Gene
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Old 03-29-2009, 04:31 PM   #12
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Interstate??

Woody,

Glad you made it home safely with your airstream. Sorry the repairs were not to you expectations. Just wanted to add that this summer we traveled from Sacramento to Cincinnati on Route 50 and what a great time it was. If you have a little extra time and don't mind driving through small towns then the loneliness highway is great.
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:03 PM   #13
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All,

Believe it or not, I did take the loop around St. Louis. Most of my problems were in the suburbs west of the city. I must have hit the area at the beginning of rush hour, as it was quite a ride.

Thanks for the heads up about the GPS. My unit is a Garmin about six months old. I would think the maps would be up to date on it, but I guess not. When I was getting off the highway, the GPS wanted me to get back on and go the wrong direction. I've heard of others that have had similar problems with the GPS. And, the dang thing won't stay stuck to the windshield anyway. I've had to pick it up off the floor many times.

I actually prefer paper style maps, and usually print some Mapquest maps for each trip, but I got in a hurry and forgot. I don't think I will be trading the GPS in quite yet though, as it really saved me some frustration on two occasions now.

About a year ago, I was downtown in Thursday nite rush hour traffic, sans Airstream, in Louisville, KY, in the rain, and the heater core blew up in the truck. The windshield immediately fogged up, and I couldn't see where I was going. I quickly opened the windows and got off the highway. I needed an Autozone and quickly. The GPS found me an Autozone, and found me back to the highway. (I cut the hoses and put a splice in, bypassing the heater core.) Two more hours of driving in the freezing cold, and I was home.

By the way, if you happen to own a Ford Superduty, don't cut those hoses if you can avoid it. They are very expensive. And, if you have to replace your heater core, ask me for the full story before you go to buy the parts.

Thanks,

Woody
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:12 PM   #14
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I remember the west end of I-270, but I-70 through downtown is worse. Last time we went that way, several years ago, it was pouring through the part that is below grade and water was splashing all over us from traffic and seeing was nearly impossible. I seem to remember a lot of construction another time. We also had a bad meal in St. Louis once, but Stan Musial was a great ballplayer.

My wife and I try to outsmart each other so the other one has to drive through cities. I usually lose. I couldn't get her to drive in NYC at all. I thought it was fun, but I learned to drive there.

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