Tourist Review – Harvest Host Stay@Pine Bluffs Distilling, Pine Bluffs, WY

We found Pine Bluffs Distilling on the Harvest Hosts web site and procured our reservation.

Normally HH stays are one night only, but we were going to be coming through Pine Bluffs Wyoming on Monday and that is the one day of the week they are closed. We asked if we could stay both Monday and Tuesday and they replied “Absolutely, c’mon ahead”.

We pulled in late Monday afternoon, enjoyed an early evening dinner “on the veranda” with David and Susan, and let the hum of the fast moving every-thrity-minutes trains lull us to sleep.

On Tuesday – after our trip into Cheyenne to visit Messenger’s Old West Museum, we came back to the distillery to enjoy some product samples and take a tour of the operation.

KeeLee our Mixologist/Bartender was fantastic. She is so talented and loves to share her knowledge with the customers. Their whiskeys are all made from grain that’s grown ONLY on local farms by local farmers – they are truly a Farm to Table operation. They have seven different whiskeys and one vodka and they use; wheat, rye, barley, oat, (and I can’t remember the fifth grain!). Click this link to see all seven beautiful bottles.

KeeLee gave us all samples of their different whiskeys as she explained the differences and what we would notice about them and then took our orders. Kathy and I both had cocktails and we have to say they were “the best we’ve ever had” although if you know us at all you know we are not big drinkers. But indeed they were good!

Then Aaron took us on a tour of the operation and explained how everything worked.

They’ve been in business about 3 years. The owner (Chad) was a conservation officer in Nevada, newly married and ready to start a family. He knew that he didn’t want to stay in that career line. He moved to Wyoming to work with his cousin farming the land.

Although he had no experience as a distiller or brewmaster, he knew what he wanted to do. He did his research, developed agreements with local farmers for the grain as well as suppliers of other needed materials and equipment, developed a business and marketing plan, procured a few investors, bought the land, had the building built and started production. It was about a $3 million dollar investment.

We said goodnight to our hosts and retired to our rigs for the evening. Even though there is a Union Pacific train going through town every 30 minutes, (seriously!) we still managed to have a great night.

Thanks again for riding along. Stay safe and be good to yourselves and each other.

Herb and Kathy

Tourist Review – The Messenger Museum @ Cheyenne, Wyoming

There’s a lot to see and do when visiting the Cheyenne / Laramie Wyoming area, but there’s more than a few hundred miles to go between now and Casa Grande, Arizona which is our target for November 1st. We knew we couldn’t see it all.

We talked with our good friends Matt and Sherry because they just spent a few months in this area volunteering at the Wyoming Historic Territorial Prison in Laramie and I knew they’d have some suggestions of where we might visit.

They enjoyed walking around downtown Cheyenne and visiting the Wyoming State Capital, the Wyoming State Museum, and other downtown landmarks along with taking in a visit to the Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins.

Although the exercise we’d get walking around downtown would do us all a lot of good, I knew my knees wouldn’t last very long. We spent some time looking online at reviews and found a lot of wonderful reviews for Messenger’s Old West Museum. We decided to check it out.

We found it on the near east side of downtown Cheyenne just north of I-80/US-30 (the Lincoln Highway). What a great find it was!

This is a private collection of Charlie and Katie Messenger that’s just chock full of Old West-era carriages, saddles, models & memorabilia exhibited alongside mounts of bears & wolves. No, they did not hunt/kill any of the wild animals exhibited, they bought them all from other collections. They started their collection over 30 years ago and opened it to the public 20 years ago.

It’s tucked away in a residential / light commercial neighborhood where the Messengers operate their self-storage business. In fact, the entrance to the museum is the same place that storage customers go to pay their rent. The day we were there one of their employees (Marco) welcomed us and allowed us to start our self-guided tour. We were the only ones there and as we each were drawn to different displays, you could hear any one of us exclaim “Oh Wow! – Look at This!”.

What’s really great about this collection is the way all the items are displayed. It’s as if the owner secretly holds a degree in Museum Conservatorship or has received special training as a Museum Curator. It’s wonderful to read about what you’re looking at. Not just what it is, but where it came from, how the Messengers obtain the item, and the significance to their family.

The carriages are especially awesome. These are all REAL horse drawn carriages from the 1800’s old west that have been lovingly restored and/or rebuilt. The Messenger family has driven all of these carriages at one time or another and many of the antique automobiles too for participation in a parade or serving as props in television commercials advertising tourism in Wyoming.

The big burgundy colored carriage in the picture below (Overland Stage Line) is Buffalo Bill’s personal carriage and harness.

None of the items in the collection are replicas, they’re the real thing.

Marco told us that it’s too bad we came in early morning and Charlie (Mr. Messenger) wasn’t there yet. This has been a labor of love for the Messengers for many years and Charlie typically stops in daily to check up on the business and often chats with visitors about some of the displays giving the guests more insight on the history of the early west.

After our visit we (of course) stopped for lunch and afterward we were nearly back to our camp in Pine Bluffs when my cell phone rang. It was Charlie. He was hoping to catch us before we were out of town so that we could visit a while.

It wouldn’t work this time, but we’ll be sure to leave Messengers Old West Museum on our Bucket List for the next time we are anywhere near Cheyenne Wyoming. And you should too!

The museum is open Monday-Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm, no admission charge, but donations are welcomed.

That’s all for now, but more to come … thanks for riding along. Take Care of yourselves and each other.

Herb & Kathy

Campground Review – Cabela’s Sidney Nebraska

After spending two wonderful cool fall days and nights at Historic Fort Robinson State Park we made our way down U.S. 385 to our next stop at Sidney Nebraska.

This location is the World Headquarters for Cabela’s and has two very large multi-story office buildings behind the store, loads of customer parking out front and lots of free truck and RV parking along with free dump station and fresh water fill for the RV’ers. Thank you Cabela’s!

This Cabela’s also has a full hook-up campground (for a fee of course) but if you can get by with out needing hook-ups and you can sleep to the constant hum of diesel truck engines and their refrigerator trailers running all night … well then – free is good!

We arrived mid-afternoon, the four of us grocery shopped across the street at Walmart, ate dinner at a nice little Mexican joint just down the street, and then settled in for the night. We really were not bothered by the trucks and we have ample fresh water/waste water capacity along with plenty of solar and batteries to run the TV in the evening and the furnace in the morning to take off the chill.

We did just fine, but it is fall and the temp got down to 49 degrees last night so all our windows were closed and the hum of the motors was dampened somewhat. If it was summer, the noise might be too loud.

As always, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image

In the morning we went on into Cabela’s and did a little shopping (mostly looking). They have SO MUCH STUFF! It’s fun to look at all their offerings from knives, to tents, clothing, shoes/boots, camping supplies, guns, and more. It’s always great to look at their wild game displays too.

After Cabela’s we decided it was time for a late breakfast and Kathy found this great little place that serves breakfast until 10am, then closes until they open for dinner at 5pm. It’s family owned and operated by the same family since the beginning. We enjoyed great atmosphere, super service and outstandingly tasty food!

Campground Review – Historic Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford Nebraska

Fort Robinson State Park and it’s two main campgrounds Soldier Creek and Red Cloud are located just west of the small town of Crawford, Nebraska on U.S. 20 and west of U.S. 385 in the extreme northwest corner of Nebraska.

The interactive map below shows everywhere we’ve camped overnight since we’ve been on the road. See if you can zero in on Fort Robinson. You can zoom the map in and out and move it about. When you click your mouse (or finger on a tablet) on any red balloon, the name and location of the park will be highlighted. Let me know if you find Fort Robinson! (you can click on “Accept All Cookies” to get rid of that annoying text box that covers part of the map.)

When we stayed (early October) the full hook-up campground (31 sites) at Red Cloud was closed for the season but the Soldier Creek campground has 80 electric only sites, clean pit toilets, and a shower house. Water hydrants and dumpsters are located on the main loop and there’s a dump station at the entrance/exit to the campground.

It’s about a 50/50 split of those sites that are reservable on ReserveAmerica and those that are held for walk-up only. I thought we were lucky to get a reservation a few days earlier given that we needed to stay on Friday and Saturday night. When we arrived about 3p.m. the campground was pretty empty, but they were still rolling in well after dark. By Sunday morning, about 80% of the campground was once again empty. The crowds there on Friday night and Saturday were local folks just trying to enjoy an end of season campout with family and friends. It was entertaining to see all the little kids playing soccer, football, or riding their bikes all around the campground — Kids just being kids .. it was great.

Our site at Fort Robinson Soldier Creek Campground

Here are pictures of some of the landscape surrounding the fort. The road (U.S. Route 20) is called the “Bridges to Buttes Highway” and the tall buttes adjacent to the park are impressive.

We took a short drive north of the parade ground up toward the Wilderness Camp area and found a small fishing lake. This is on the park grounds, so access is included in your daily entrance fee.

These guys are awfully curious

Many buildings still stand today and are used by the park as guest quarters. These include the main multi-story brick barracks that serves as the main guest reception and registration building and also has guest rooms and a full service restaurant.

Other buildings on the grounds include officers quarters, horse stables, commanders quarters, the post headquarters building, the veterinary hospital, and more. Unfortunately most of the buildings and tours were not open to visitors since we were there after the summer season.

Walking around the perimeter of the parade ground and seeing all the buildings … one can almost see the men walking to their assigned duties of the day or in drill on the parade ground.

The following text is taken from the back of the campground site map that they gave us when we checked in at the office.

“Fort Robinson was built in 1874 as a temporary encampment during the Indian Wars and used by the U.S. Army to beyond World War II.

One of the most tragic events in the life of Fort Robinson .. the Cheyenne Outbreak, occurred where the Soldier Creek Campground now sits.

Indians were being rounded up by the U.S. Army and forcibly sent to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. A band of Northern Cheyenne escaped and fled across the plains of Kansas and Nebraska, pursued by thousands of soldiers.

Captured by troops from Fort Robinson, the 149 men, women, and children, wo had survived the ordeal, were imprisoned in a log barracks.

The barracks the Indians were imprisoned in (before the breakout)

Told they would have to return to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, their Chief Dull Knife said they would rather die here in their old hunting grounds.

The army attempted to starve them into submission, and on the bitter cold night of January 9, 1879, they tried to escape. With the few guns they had managed to hide, the braves opened fire on the guards.

As the women and children ran toward the White River, the men fought a running battle with the hastily awakened garrison. Many Cheyenne fell between the parade ground and the river, where the campground is located today. It was one of the last battles of the Indian War.”

You can learn more about the history of Fort Robinson by following this link.

All in all, it was a great place to camp. We couldn’t have asked for better weather … warm sunny dry days and cool evenings allowed us to leave the windows open and listen to the breeze rustle the leaves on the trees.

Everybody in the campground behaved themselves and the ability to walk the grounds was an added benefit. We only wish we were here before Labor Day so that we could take advantage of the open buildings and the tours.

Once again, thanks for riding along. We hope you’ll consider scrolling down the page here and leaving a comment.

Until we meet again, take care of each other.

Herb and Kathy

Tourist Review – Hot Springs SD

Our stay at Angostura gave us the opportunity to spend some time in Hot Springs visiting the local grocery store, the post office, one of the local barbers, the Pioneer Museum, the ACE hardware store, and at least three of the local restaurants more than once each during our stay.

We enjoyed visiting with the locals while we patronized their businesses and sought out opportunities to visit with other “travelers” along the way.

Fall River (also the name of the county) runs right down through downtown from north to south along the main drag. There are very few “new” buildings in town with most having been built in the early 1900’s and many including City Hall, the County Courthouse, the old Evans Hotel, the town school, the old hospital and a host of others were built in the late 1800’s.

These buildings are not only old, but beautiful as well for they are made of the brown-pink colored sandstone mined from one of the local quarries back in the day.

As always, click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger picture.

Here below are some pictures of the inside of the former Hot Springs School (used until 1963). It is now the home of the Fall River Pioneer History Museum. It’s three stories of classrooms plus a fourth floor attic that they are currently working to rehab into an art studio and gallery for community use. This school is up on the hill overlooking the town and the students had to climb up a couple hundreds steps (I’m guessing) to make it to class.

And today we see Moms and Dads all over the country driving their kids down a hundred foot driveway to sit in temperature controlled comfort while waiting for a school bus to come and pick them up! Remember when our parents would say “Quit complaining, when I was your age we had to walk 5 miles uphill both ways to and from school!” We were led to believe that we had it lucky, but now these kids today got it lucky even more so!

There are a lot more buildings to marvel at in Hot Springs as well as some nice neighborhoods to drive through as well.

With regard to any of the springs in town, we did not take advantage of a visit personally. The Evans Plunge is the largest, oldest, and most popular boasting a 70′ x 200′ indoor hot mineral spring fed pool that is tempered by cool fresh water from the Fall River. Another newer spring and Spa called Moccasin Spring caters to those that desire spa type treatments in addition to their outdoor multi-level soaking pools.

The following paragraph is taken from https://hs-sd.org/history (history of Hot Springs web site)

The biggest development in baths was the Plunge, built by Fred Evans in 1891. The building was constructed of wood, iron, and glass, and covered a pool approximately seventy by two hundred feet. Various slides, diving boards, rafts, and other accessories were provided for the enjoyment of the guests. Evans Plunge is still operating at the same site. In 1893, our sandstone City Hall (still used today), and an impressive sandstone public school building (now the Fall River County Museum) were built. By the end of 1893 the population of Hot Springs was estimated at 3350, and the city had laid more than five miles of sidewalk and graded more than three miles of streets in the preceding three years.”

And what’s traveling across the country without experiencing the local “Mom’n Pop” diners and cafes? I mean “Ya Gotta Eat” right?

We ate breakfast or lunch at; Morning Sunshine Cafe, Upper Crust Diner, Winners Circle Bar and Casino (at the bowling alley), Taco John’s, and the (new) Chicago Street Cafe that’s inside WillieJax Antiques and Pawn Shop.

We enjoyed our stay at Angostura Recreation Area and our frequent visits into Hot Springs (only about 4 miles away) but it’s time to move on down the road and meet up with our friends David and Susan. We will be traveling tandem for about the next month as we make our way back to Arizona for the winter.

So long for now, thanks for riding along and please feel free to leave a comment down below. If you’re not already getting automatic email notification of our new posts, you can look over in the right margin (sidebar) and enter your email address. Then you’ll get a brief email anytime we post an update.

Be good, take care of each other and if you’re on the road … safe travels to you. See you next time.

Herb and Kathy

Campground Review – Angostura Lake Recreation Area SD

We knew that after Spearfish SD, we wanted to work our way down by Custer State Park. This was so we could meet up with our friends David and Sue once they finished their volunteer gig there on October 1st.

Our plan was to hook up with them and we’d mini-caravan together on our trip back to Rover’s Roost by November 1st. David and Sue are leaseholders there as well.

We had considered staying in Custer State Park, but we were reminded that during the time we would be there, the annual Buffalo Roundup would be taking place and the park would be mobbed with about 25,000 EXTRA visitors, all coming to see the excitement of the roundup.

If you’d like to see and learn more about the Buffalo Roundup, follow this link.

We really wanted to avoid the crowds and the noise of a busy state park, so we looked for another opportunity south of there since that’s the direction we’d all ultimately be heading.

I use a number of apps and web sites when looking for a place to camp. We have found that there are some nice city or county parks in little towns off the main interstates. We also like state parks and Army Corp of Engineers campgrounds as they are less “commercial” like RV parks and more like campgrounds were meant to be.

This time, I used allstays.com to search an area south of Rapid City somewhere between Rapid and the Nebraska state line. I found Angostura Lake (resevoir) Recreation Area.

We’re now completing 2 weeks here at the park and we’ll be here a couple more days, leaving for Nebraska on Friday.

The park has four campgrounds within it’s boundaries and we just lucked out that we were able to get one of the Camp Host sites with full hookups because it’s the end of the busy season and the hosts have left for the year. All of the other sites have electric only so you have to go to the dump station to empty your waste tanks and take on fresh water.

We’re in the Cheyenne Campground at the top of the hill overlooking the lake. I guess if it was mid-summer we might have preferred one of the other campgrounds down by the lake but then we’d be putting up with more crowded conditions too.

The fact that it’s fall and we are up and away from the lake has afforded us the luxury of having an otherwise vacant campground around us most days.

Here are some pictures of the Cheyenne Campground in Angostura Recreation Area

If we’re sitting outside and see someone walking by we’ll always wave and say hello and sometimes they’ll come on over for a short chat. Sometimes we’ll meet other campers as we take our daily walks and we’ll strike up a conversation. Sometimes the folks we meet and talk with are full-timers like us and often-times they are Weekend Warriors or on an extended vacation from their Sticks-N-Bricks home.

New friends Clark and Anita that camped next to us at Angostura for a few days (their great Oliver trailer in the background)

Today, we had something unusual and unexpected happen. It was about 8:30 am or so and Kathy and I were sitting here having our morning coffee and watching the news on TV. A knock on the door. Who would be knocking on our door?

As Kathy went to the door to open it she looked out the window and remarked “I know this lady”.

Kathy opened the door and the lady apologized for knocking so early, but explained that they were leaving the campground and heading to Cody Wyoming but she just HAD to come over and say hello before they left.

Turns out that the folks that pulled in to the site next to us last night were actually from Ohio. Not just Ohio, but the same county where we used to live. Further, she (Janet) used to do Kathy’s mother’s hair when Lois lived in the local nursing home!

Not only that, but Janet and Homer’s daughter (Staci) and her son (Sammy) were traveling with them and I had sold Staci her home in Cardington back when I was a Realtor in Morrow County. What a hoot!

Janet, grandson Sammy, daughter Staci, and Homer all from Cardington Ohio

We had a nice conversation (although short because they were anxious to get on the road) with them and wished them well on their trip over to Yellowstone and eventually down to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

As we’ve said before … this mobile lifestyle has afforded us the opportunity to see so many places and things that we would never see if we still had our Sticks-N-Bricks home. But far more meaningful to us has been all the people we’ve had the opportunity to meet along the way. Some of these folks are “passing through” like Janet and her family so our visits are short. But there are others who we get to spend more time with through our Workamping and volunteering gigs, so more meaningful relationships develop in those situations. We are so thankful to be able to be exposed to these situations and to meet so many wonderful people. Who knows how long this lifestyle will continue for us? But in the meantime, we’ll make the most of it.

Thanks again for riding along – we look forward to connecting with you again in our next post when I’ll share with you a little about the City of Hot Springs South Dakota.

Herb and Kathy

Just a Little Burp With The Car (and the computer)

While we were in Montana we took the opportunity to drive over to the far west end of Fort Peck Reservoir to see if we could spot (and or hear) the male elk bugling. This is the time of year for mating and Ranger Sue told us there was a pretty big herd over that way. The lake is 135 miles long and we were camping at the far east end while the elk herd was spotted at the far west end.

Lake has 1500 miles of shoreline and is over 135 miles from east to west

During our ride, the exhaust system on the car blew out and it was LOUD! I think we scared all the elk into hiding.

I knew there was no place near Fort Peck to get it fixed and that it would be best until we made it down to Rapid City next week. We would be towing it more than driving it over the next few days so we were good with that plan.

I looked online and found Chad and Exhaust Pros in Rapid City. He had loads of good reviews.

We pulled the coach in his drive (towing the car) and Chad came right out, crawled under the car, and assured me it was an easy fix.

He told me to unhook the car, he’d pull it into the hoist, and he’d have us out of there in an hour.

Turns out it was a flexible coupling that connects the manifold to the exhaust pipe that failed and Chad quickly cut out the old one and welded in the new one.

What impressed me about Exhaust Pros is that exhaust work is the ONLY work they do. Unlike the national chains that advertise “Exhaust/Brakes/Alignment” and may or may not have the right part for your vehicle, Chad carries all the commonly needed exhaust parts and BENDS HIS OWN PIPE, he doesn’t have to order a bunch of different pipes for a myriad of car models. Bending his own pipe means that he can effect a repair much more quickly not having to rely on Napa or AutoZone or another supplier to bring him the needed pipe.

(Video) Chad welding in the new coupling

He got the car down off the hoist and started it up. The noise was a LOT BETTER, but still there was a problem. Back down on the ground to take a look, Chad found that both of the mufflers are rusted and have very small pinhole leaks in them. It was up to me whether to just go ahead and drive it or have more work done.

We decided to go ahead and have two new mufflers installed but that would have to be done another day as it would take him more time to get it done and he’d need to get back to serving his customers who have appointments set up.

We reached out to our friends David and Sue who are working at Custer State Park. We were planning on getting together with them anyway to discuss our travel plans back to Rover’s Roost in Arizona. The four of us will travel together once they are done with their Custer gig October 1st.

It turned out that they had Thursday off work so we set a date for them to pick us up at the muffler shop on Thursday and we’d have lunch together and talk about our travel plans while the repair is being completed. I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER! (Thank you David and Sue!)

We got back to the shop in time to pick up the car and Kathy and I made a bee-line for Best Buy where I had to buy a new computer as my 15 year-old Dell laptop finally gave up the ghost.

We got the computer and we back on the road to Hot Springs before 3:30

Next blog post – Hot Springs South Dakota and Angostura Recreation Area (and see who we bumped into there!)

Thanks for riding along and we welcome your comments below. See you next time!

Herb & Kathy

Montana and South to Medora and Beyond

After Spearfish South Dakota and then our trip up to Fort Peck Montana to visit Ranger Scott and Ranger Sue, we came back down U.S. 85 into Medora North Dakota for a night. We had been to Teddy Roosevelt National Park a couple years ago, so we didn’t take the time to drive through the park and all we did was walk to dinner from the campground and then did a little sightseeing as we walked through town on our way back to the campground.

Kathy’s Strawberry Jalepino Margarita
Food prices seem high out here ($14 for a burger?)
Our after dinner walk in downtown Medora ND
More downtown Medora

The next day we continued on down 85 for another nights stay in Spearfish on our way to Hot Springs. Besides, we needed to check in at the Spearfish post office to see if our General Delivery package had arrived yet.

This time instead of staying at a campground, we decided to take advantage of our Harvest Hosts membership once again. We reached out to McGuigan Farm Experience on the HH web site and they accepted our request to stay within just a couple hours.

Our host Nancy greeted us at the drive and welcomed us with a big smile and a little conversation. She showed us where we could park. It was a nice big hard packed grassy field that allowed us to pull straight in with our toad attached and was large enough we could just circle around in the morning to leave without ever having to unhook the toad.

We had the place to ourselves

After we got settled in, Nancy took us on a tour of the farm. Although it’s been in Mike’s family for generations and had been a working dairy farm for the vast majority of that time, they now rely on income from grain production and leasing out some of the land. They have recently started the McGuigan Farm Experience project to offer both school groups and the general public alike the opportunity to visit a real farm with real animals so that folks might learn about what a farmer really does and where that food on the table comes from.

Nancy excused herself and left us to relax the rest of the evening and relaxing it was! It was SO dark and SO quiet! We had a wonderful nights sleep with the windows wide open and enjoyed a gentle breeze rolling over the hayfields that lulled us to sleep.

As we prepared to depart in the morning, I noticed some water on the hardpack under the fresh water tank compartment. Further inspection revealed that now the FRESH water tank fill hose had a small leak. I figured it wasn’t hard to fix, (tighten a hose clamp), but this old body just doesn’t want to twist, turn, and stretch like this project would require.

Thankfully, we were at Spearfish which is just down the road from Belle Fourche which is the home of my new best (RV repairman) friend Jim and Progress RV.

We didn’t even call ahead. We left the farm and drove on up the ten minutes to see Jim in hopes he would drop whatever he was doing and come on over and take care of us. And he did just that!

Next stop … Hot Springs South Dakota. But first – the car goes in the shop for some unexpected repairs. More on that in my next post.

Thanks for riding along. You can leave any comments below.

Herb & Kathy

What? No Power In The RV?

It was about 8:30 at night, we were watching one of our favorite Netflix pix on TV and “poof” out went the 110v to the coach. All the 12 volt circuits were still working. I looked out the window, didn’t see any lights on at the neighboring camp site – guess the whole campground must be out.

What to do? Go to bed – what else? Since we’ve got a couple hundred amp hours worth of battery I could’ve turned on the inverter and finished the show, but what the heck.

In the morning I saw that the gentleman cleaning the bath house had arrived and took a walk down to see if he knew anything about the power outage. He knew nothing about it and further … the lights in the bath house were lit!

OK now it’s time for me to get to work and investigate the problem. Always start with the easiest (or most obvious likely) suspect component first.

  • Check the park power pedestal. Turn the 50 amp circuit breaker on and off to reset it if needed.
  • Follow the power cord to the EMS (electrical management system) and check to see that the digital display (or LED’s) are reading correctly with no errors.
  • Check the 110v circuit breakers inside the coach (my Square D panel is at the foot of the bed). Turn off and back on each breaker to assure it is reset.
  • Locate the converter/inverter/charger and check to make sure the circuit breakers have not tripped here.

So at this point we’ve checked all the easy suspected problem areas without having to remove any panels or take out our voltmeter to do any further checking. Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty.

So at this point we know the pedestal power is good because the Progressive Industries EMS is showing adequate voltage on each of the two legs with no error codes.

We know that the 110v circuit breakers at the foot of the bed are all switched ON and we know that the GFCI circuit breaker (in our case in our bathroom at the wash basin) has not tripped.

Our next step is to remove the cover on the inverter that will allow us to gain access to the terminal strip where I can take a couple quick voltage checks. The terminal strip has (6) screw terminals. Three are for the input Line 1, Line 2 and neutral and the other three are for the output Line 1, Line 2 and neutral. A quick check with the AC voltmeter (that every RV’er should have in their tool bag) shows no input to the inverter.

So what is between the EMS and the inverter?

On our coach (and most others) we find an automatic power transfer switch. The purpose of the Transfer Switch is to feed 110v power to the coach from EITHER the shore power pedestal OR the onboard diesel generator. There is a circuit board inside the enclosure that has three terminal strips, two large relays, along with time delay circuitry to make sure that the incoming power from either the shore power or the generator is up to adequate voltage before energizing the appropriate relay. Only one source is allowed to feed the coach at a time.

Once I took the cover off the Transfer Switch, the answer to my problem was obvious. One of the relays had a burnt wire coming off it and connecting to the circuit board. Evidently the screw attaching the wire had worked loose (It’s a 20 year old rig after all) which caused an increase in current draw and subsequent heat that ultimately burned the insulation off the wire and also burned through the circuit board.

Unfortunately, we are camping over an hour south of Rapid City SD where there is MAYBE an RV shop that might have a transfer switch in stock but it’s very likely a different brand or newer model that may not have the same physical characteristics as the Intellitec model that we have. I decided I’d look online to see if I could even FIND the Intellitec and lo and behold, they still do make it! This would make replacement a LOT easier, same wire lengths, same screw holes, etc.

Challenge is, by the time I get it ordered (today is Sunday of course) and the supplier ships it to us here in Hot Springs, we will be gone as we are leaving on Friday.

I decided my best course of action is to manually re-wire the connections (removing the generator from the circuit) and then order the new transfer switch to arrive at our park in Arizona sometime after we get there November 1st.

I removed the four wires from each of the terminals for the SHORE POWER and COACH and connected (using split bolts) the red to red, white to white, black to black, and ground to ground.

I then carefully taped all exposed metal connections with electrical tape to make sure there were no accidental shorts.

This didn’t happen all of a sudden. I blame myself for not catching it earlier. Kathy and I have both noticed over the last month or so that occasionally while watching TV, the screen flickers for an instant. The screen actually goes black momentarily. It’s not enough to reset the clock on the microwave, but it does flicker.

Also, about a month ago when I was in the basement compartment where the power comes in to the coach, I noticed a slight hum from the transfer switch box. I figured it was one of the relays humming and I know that relays will do that from time to time. I should have taken the cover off to investigate further at that time.

About a year ago I DID have the cover off and I checked all the screws on the circuit board terminal strip(s) where the wires come in to the board. I tightened them as needed. What I did NOT check however were the screws on the relays. Perhaps if I had checked and tightened them back then, this problem would not have occured.

Oh well …. live and learn, eh? Just thought I’d share with you one of the recent problems we’ve had and my troubleshooting approach to get to the answer.

Thanks for riding along – see you down the road.

Herb and Kathy

KC to Spearfish and beyond (Installment 4)

After Kansas City, we worked our way north and spent our first night’s stopover at a great little city park in Elk Point, South Dakota. $15/nite for 50 amp electric and water. There’s a dump station, but we didn’t need it.

The park has multiple ball diamonds, multiple picnic shelters, plenty of scattered picnic tables, and loads of playground equipment.

Read the plaque below and you’ll learn about how this site was actually a stopover for Lewis & Clark.

Historical Marker at Elk Point City Park
Kathy enjoying the playground at Elk Point

After Elk Point, we moved on and arrived at Spearfish South Dakota where we enjoyed meeting up with friends Matt and Sherry, Jim and Brenda, and Paul and Chris (who we spent a couple days with in Mason City Iowa) and they stopped by on their way to Rapid City. The next day David and Susan came on up from Custer State Park where they were volunteering to join us all for the day.

Spearfish, as you might recall is the town where some of us volunteered at DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery a couple years ago. It was good to see the recently re-painted fish car!

It was great to spend the evening around the campfire at Volunteer Village again

While at Spearfish, I noticed a small leak under the coach. It was coming from the “wet bay”, where the waste tanks (and the drain pipe) are located. Further inspection showed that the 3″ pipe coming out of the black tank had a very small leak at one of the fittings. I could see (once I got down on my hands and knees) that this joint had been repaired before by the previous owner.

We were fortunate in that a RV repair shop was just up the road in Belle Fourche (pronounced “Bell Foosh”). I called them, explained our plight that we were full-time RV’ers and were planning to head out tomorrow to Fort Peck Montana for a few days. They had us bring it right on in.

Jim the owner came on out and looked over the situation, assured us he had the necessary fittings and could get us back on the road in a couple hours. He did a great job, I was right by his side and we had some great conversation while he was doing the repair. It ended up he took out all the old, and provided new fittings and a new elbow and we were out of there and back to Spearfish before noon that day.

After about a week, we traveled north back up to Fort Peck Montana and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers campground we had volunteered at in 2019. We wanted to check in on the two rangers we had worked for while we were there.

On the way, we stopped for an overnight stay at Miles City Montana. We were going to stay at the local Elks Lodge, but it was in a noisy downtown district right along a truck route and we were fortunate to stumble across the local county fairgrounds. We had a very quiet and restful evening parked alongside the ag building.

The next morning we found a great little coffee shop downtown where we got our morning boost (and a little something sweet too!)

After our morning boost we visited the Range Riders Museum right across the street from the fairgrounds. I have never been in a museum with such a wide range of collections. It was great to talk to the ladies up front and find out a little about the “Range Riders”. These were ranchers and cowboys who worked their livestock on the open range (no fences).

The museum was founded in the 1930’s and still operates with mostly volunteers. Although I took tons of pictures while visiting, I now find they have a great web site with a lot of great information about the museum. I invite you to take a few minutes and explore the Range Riders Museum to learn about a lost way of life in western America.

If you’d like to see my photos, you can follow this link to my Google Photos album of the museum.

From Miles City we made it the rest of the way up to Fort Peck for a couple days. Check out the picture below that shows the final result of one of the volunteers who made the little camper lending library.

It was good to visit with both Ranger Scott and Ranger Sue again. Since the Interpretive Center is a federal building, masks are required. Scott is in charge of the campground and Sue is responsible for the Interpretive Center. To see more of our time at Fort Peck back in 2019 you can follow this link.

There’s more … but I’ll save that for another time. Thanks for riding along, hope I didn’t bore you too much. I know I can get a little wordy and I’ll work on the next post to cut out some of the details.

Thanks again.

Herb & Kathy (currently at Angostura Recreation Area – Hot Springs SD)