Yesterday we bundled up LeuC and, once again, headed down the road. This time was a bit different as we weathered a foggy morning that slowly turned to drizzle and, at times, heavy rain. Things got so messy that we talked about a backup plan which included pulling over somewhere and just hunkering down for the day. Our goal was to reach the far eastern part of Texas today, where Village Creek State Park is located. We were facing a drive of over 350 miles and looking at a driving day of about 6 hours with stops for fuel and driver changes. Ugh! With the added adversity of bad weather, driving through two major metropolitan areas (San Antonio and Houston), all compounded with road construction around and throughout in each city, the thought of missing our camping reservation looked attractive.
The problem with stopping and hunkering down was there really was not a decent place to do it in. The only real options were the rest areas along the I-10 freeway that we were traveling down, since most of the state and local parks are closed due to last year’s hurricane Harvey damage. While, in a pinch, we certainly could spend a night at a rest stop, I am a bit nervous about that option since to be comfortable and spacious in LeuC, we like to “unbundle” her by putting out her four sliding walls. By doing this, we just about double the inside space but, by doing so, it expands her outside footprint by over 6 feet. This creates a problem when you are parked in a parking area such as those available at a rest stop. I have fears of a big rig pulling into a space next to us in the middle of the night and clipping one of LeuC’s expanded wings since the parking spaces are not designed for RV buses with slide-outs.
Another option, and one that we really distain, is spending the night in a commercial RV park. While there do exist some RV parks that are pretty nice. The vast majority of them that we have driven past gives us the shutters when we think about how they cram RVs in, one right next to the other. Nope, we just won’t go there…
Thus, we decided to continue down the road in the nasty weather, albeit a bit slower. At times, we kept our speed down to 40 to 45 MPH as we eased our way in the foggy rain through a number of construction areas that had concrete k-rails planted right on the white stripe that marks the edge of our lane. This only gave us less than a foot of clearance as cars whizzed past us in the speed lane.
To add to the fun, at times we heard a warning buzzer trying to tell us that something was not right. It periodically squawked for a brief second and then would stop for a while, only to briefly squawk again later. Each time it did, we rechecked all of our gauges, tire and brake air pressure monitors and looked for any dashboard warning lights. However, everything checked out fine. Hmmm? We even pulled over onto a side road and stopped to walk around LeuC, peering beneath her and inspecting each wheel-well to see if we could see anything that was array.
Back on the road again, and after the 8th or 9th times that the buzzer had briefly set off, we finally realized that it was our Brake-Buddy that was making the brief squawks. In towing our little Fiat, we have added a progressive air braking system to our tow package. This allows the braking system of the Fiat to be used whenever we brake LeuC. It is a sophisticated system which interlinks LeuC’s air brakes to the Fiat’s hydraulic brakes such that both vehicles brake with the same amount of force. This keeps the Fiat from pushing the rear of the bus forward when we brake LeuC.
The control box is housed under and to the left of LeuC’s steering wheel and is located in a place this is a bit out of the way. The brief squawks were coming from the control box and whenever it squawked, what looked like a very small “68” would flash. After pulling off the freeway, onto a side road, and inspecting the controller closely, I saw that the “68” was actually a “BA”, which tells you that the “brake away” function was intermittently coming on. When this happens, the supplemental braking system is deactivated so that our little Fiat would not brake when we would apply LeuC’s brakes. Since it had been just intermittently squawking, this simply meant that the electrical plug on the front of our little Fiat, which activates the braking system in the Fiat, was loose. With the wetness of the rain, we were losing its connecting circuit. Whew: an easy fix! I just needed to force the plug in more firmly and the problem was solved. Yea!!
With that mystery and problem solved, we continued down the road and by 2PM had arrived at our state park. Village Creek State Park is located near Lumberton, Texas, which is just 10 miles north of Beaumont and just shy of the Louisiana border. Only that portion of the park that is located on a slight rise is open. The rest of the park, which includes that section which is along Village Creek is closed due to the massive flooding that hit eastern Texas last August when hurricane Harvey swamped the region with a record rainfall. Over 62 inches of rain was reported in Baytown, just to the east of Houston. Village Creek flooded over its banks as a result, drowning much of the state park with up to 8 feet of water. Only that portion of the park which is on a top of a little hill is open. Fortunately, that is where a camping loop is located, so here we sit.
LEUC Tucked In Amongst The Tall Pine Trees.
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We will be staying here for 5 days as we wait for New Orleans’ Mardi Gras to be over and the massive crowds of drunken partiers to clear out. While we love a good party, we have had our fill over the years and wish to sit this one out. Plus, the thought of having New Orleans to ourselves to explore is just too inviting! Actually, we will not be there by ourselves as we will be joined by our former brother-in-law, Larry and his wife, Ruth. They are a fun couple and loooove New Orleans. In fact, back in the late 60’s when Mary Margaret was just a teenager, Larry and Mary Margaret’s sister, Gaby (Larry’s then wife), presented New Orleans to Mary Margaret. She still talks about the great time they had and all of the wonderful food they enjoyed and milk punch they guzzled. Oooooh, we are so looking forward to it!