May 182010

Yesterday morning bright and early I was parked at the Camping World in Mesa, Arizona letting their service people know that I was not pleased with their installation of our new tires in February, and that I wanted them to replace the valve stems and the valve stem extensions on both inner dual wheels.

Ever since we bought the new tires, both inside duals have lost air and given false readings on my PressurePro tire monitor. Several people whose opinion I respect, as well as the service manager at the Camping World, all agreed that the problem was either that the valve stem extensions they installed were bad, and/or that they had crushed the small O rings in the valve stems when they screwed on the extensions.

Valve stem extension

A little after 8 a.m. they pulled our Winnebago into a service bay, where for the next three plus hours the mechanic talked to his co-workers, jacked the rear end  of the RV up, stopped to talk to his co-workers, took the tires off the driver’s side, stopped to talk to his co-workers, wandered away for a while, came back, talked to his co-workers, told me that he couldn’t find any leaks and that it was probably the valve stems (which I already knew), wandered over to the next bay to talk to his co-workers, installed a new valve stem on one tire, talked to his co-workers…. do you get the picture?

Finally, at 11:30, I was really ticked off, so I tracked down a service manager and told him I wanted the job done now! I guess he lit a fire under the service tech, because about noon he finished the job and pulled the motorhome out, and we hooked up the van and took off.  We spent almost $4,000 at this Camping World on new tires and house batteries, and between the fact that they never tightened the battery cables down on the house batteries, they screwed up the first valve stems on both inside duals, and then the hassle getting the valve stems replaced yesterday, I won’t be in any hurry to go back there for service, or to recommend them to anyone.

From Camping World we started up State Route 89, known locally as the Beeline Highway, toward the high country. As many years as I have spent in Arizona, the state’s topography still amazes me. In two hours of driving time, we went from cacti covered desert, where it was in the upper 90s, to thick forests of Ponderosa pine trees, and temperatures in the low to mid-70s.

One of our regular blog readers asked if I could show some photos of the trip today, so Miss Terry was clicking away with her digital camera. We started out passing tall saguaro cacti, with beautiful white flowers on them.  Saguaros have long life spans, they take up to 75 years to develop one of their arms, and can live 150 years or more.


Cactus on hillside

Soon the saguaros gave way to stark rocky hillsides, with sparse vegetation.

Desert rock scenery best

State Route 87 is a good divided four lane highway between Mesa and Payson, 75 miles to the north. The road has a lot of curves, and a lot of 6% grades, both up and down. When we drove this route to Show Low a couple of years ago in our old MCI bus conversion, we were running hot all the time, and creeping along at 10 miles per hour in some places.

RV and hill

This trip, in the Winnebago, we dropped down to 35 miles per hour on a couple of steep climbs, but averaged over 50 most of the time. However, I will say that I felt a lot more confident with the Jake brake in our bus than I do with the exhaust brake on the Winnebago. It did a much better job of keeping our speed down on those steep downhill grades.

RV going downhill

RV going downhill 2

A few miles south of Payson, we passed this huge bicycle junkyard. I’ve driven by this place for years and always wanted to stop. Someday I will.       

Bike Junk Yard

When we hit Payson, we transitioned very quickly from desert to pine trees. In Payson we got onto State Route 260, which would carry us across the Mogollon Rim and on to Show Low. This picture was taken two hours after we were driving past saguaros.

Rim pasture 2

But we weren’t done climbing yet. In Payson the elevation is 4,970 feet, and 30 miles east as we got to the top of the Mogollon Rim, we were at 7,530 feet.

Rim crossing

Once we topped out on the Rim, this rest area makes a good place to pull over for a break, and offers some great views down the Rim.

Rim rest area

A lake in Arizona? Actually, the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains are covered with small lakes that offer excellent fishing opportunities.

Rim Lake

Now we were driving through a beautiful forest. To me, this is one of the prettiest places in Arizona.

Road to Heber

Most of State Route 260 is two lane, with frequent pullouts and passing zones.

Passing lane

At Heber we started seeing the effects of the terrible Rodeo–Chediski Fire, which burned over 460,000 acres in 2002. It will take a lifetime for the forest to recover. The inferno actually started as two separate fires, both intentionally set, that merged into one terrible blaze that destroyed over 400 homes, and did over $50 million in damage.

Burn area 8

It makes me sick to know that all of this destruction was caused by a couple of idiots with no regard for anyone or anything.

Burn area 4

Burn area 6

We arrived at the Elks Lodge in Show Low about 3:30 p.m. When we made this same trip in our bus, it took eight hours, and in the Winnebago it was less than half of that.

The Elks Lodge has a campground with full hookup 50 amp RV sites, all for $15 a night, and we managed to get one that offered us a clear shot through the trees so our satellite TV dish would work, even if it is not 100% level. We do love our HWH jacks!

Show Low Elks campground 2

By the time I finished registering at the lodge, my daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Hailey were there to greet us.  Seven year old Hailey helped Grandpa hook up our water, electric, and sewer connections, and it only took me about twice as long as the chore usually does. Once we were settled in, Tiffany picked up her younger daughter, Destiny, and hubby Jim, and we all headed for dinner at Pizza Hut. I’m glad, because by then we were famished.

We’ll be here a couple of weeks, or maybe more, as we enjoy family time with Tiffany and her family before we start our summer travels. It’s a good place to be.

Thought For The Day – Learn from the mistakes of others. Trust me, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. I’ve tried!

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  10 Responses to “From Cacti To Ponderosas”

  1. Thank you for all the great pictures. I now know we have to check out that part of Arizona when we return this fall. It looks just beautiful. Also, as far as RV repairs go, I have said that every time you have work done there is always something else needed done from the work they originally did. Never fails !

  2. Been up and down the Beeline many times when we lived up in Strawberry. I worked on the 260 hiway lane additions just past Christopher Creek. A very pretty area and lots of Elk there. When you are going down a steep grade are you manually shifting into a lower gear or two? That should give you more exhaust pressure, thus more braking power i would think.

  3. Sure wish we could join you up in the northern forest, but we gotta stay down here in the 90’s. We attended the funeral for Mike and Pat’s son yesterday. Good military honor presentation.

  4. Luke asked me to post a suggestion that you add rubber grommets called “valve stem stabilizers” that fit the style hole openings that your extenders pass through. The come in different shapes so you should be able to find the appropriate round shape your UA needs. The stabilizer provides a protective cushion so the valve stem does not vibrate against the hole when traveling. Our wheels are Accu-Ride and we got the stabilizer through a Freightliner dealer. If you want a photo, just drop me a note.

  5. I’ll be taking the Beeline (formerly known as “Dead Mans Pass”) this weekend to Strawberry. Those pictures make me wish even more that it was Friday!

  6. I have never felt comfortable with camping world service anywhere. In talking to numerous folks who have used their services, I have yet to hear a positive comment on the quality of the work.

  7. I was going to suggest the same thing as CoolJudy, the rubber keeps the stem from cracking also from the force of spinning and vibrating. With the extra weigh of the pressure pro on the end of it, I can’t believe Camping world didn’t put them on.

  8. Thanks for the wonderful photos… I can’t wait to visit Arizona!

  9. We, too, are not impressed with Camping World service. We just found out (the hard way) that the PacBrake (our exhaust brake and yours also) needs to be lubricated once in a while. It even has two little holes to squirt a drop of oil into it. It took us 20 minutes to cross the Missouri River in South Dakota when the exhaust brake froze up. (We didn’t know that was the problem at the time so we changed the air filter, which really needed to be changed.) We got up to 2.9 mph driving from Hart Ranch to Eddie’s Freightliner shop. In that distance the heat built up enough to melt through the HWH hydraulic line and that fluid was falling on the muffler. After we replaced the PacBrake, we had to go to a hydraulic shop where we could buy the new high-pressure line so Larry could install it. All in all, an excellent learning opportunity.

  10. […] over, the inside dual on the other side was low. I fought this nonsense for several weeks, before Camping World admitted that the valve extensions they had installed were bad. They replaced the valve stems and extensions, but we have continued to have problems, either with […]

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