|Late July and Early August
||[Aug. 18th, 2010|03:53 pm]
So far, August has gone by without vital repairs, making it a pleasant change from July. In St Louis we had to replace the other leaf spring on the right side of the fifth wheel when it failed on the drive from Indianapolis. No damage to the rig this time, but the spring was not drivable, so we had a mobile RV repair service come out and swap it after we tried and failed to do it ourselves. I was glad we had more than one day in the campground, especially when the RV repair guy had to come back and fix his repair; he’d put the shackle in backwards so the axle was waay out of alignment. After that, when we got into Chanute we went by the factory before our appointment and asked about new springs; they recommended the local welding shop (Young’s Welding) which handles all of NuWa’s suspensions and builds their frames. Young’s was able to give us a (very reasonable) quote and a Friday appointment for replacing all the leaf springs with 3500 lb springs. Six leaves on the new springs as opposed to four on the old.
The front cap repair was on Thursday, so we loaded up the cats and spent the day in the customer break room. The repair came in right on estimate, and nice and fast. And they checked out a few other concerns for no extra charge. On Friday we loaded up the cats again and drove to Young’s, a whole block away from NuWa. They installed our new springs in four hours, despite having to remove and replace more of the hangers than they thought (we’d said they’d need to replace the whole thing, but they’d thought not.) The service manager insisted on sticking to the original estimate even though more parts were needed. I had thought the estimate was a ball-park number and would have been happy to pay for the extra parts but was even happier to have them comp us a bit. The springs on the left side of the RV were failing, too, which we rather suspected. It turns out that those ‘3000’ lb springs are actually listed as 2800 lb springs in Lippert’s documentation. Makes a big difference. We’re very happy to have springs that we don’t anticipate replacing every year.
Despite the repair focus of the trip, there’s been a little time for sight-seeing here and there. On our way out to Chanute, we stopped for a few nights in East St Louis at a casino campground with a gorgeous view of the St Louis Arch. St Louis was neat; we saw the Arch up close and visited the Anheuser-Busch brewery, which is a beautiful factory complex, as oxymoronic as that seems. It was mostly built in the late 1800’s, and has some amazing chandeliers (in the brew house and the stable) from the famous St Louis World’s Fair of 1904. Anheuser-Busch weathered prohibition selling malt beverages, among other products (including an early RV!) and the Bevo building which now serves as the bottling plant was built to make the eponymous beverage. The first floor is all decorative tiles featuring Reynard the Fox, Bevo mug in one paw, roast chicken leg in the other.
We wound up taking both the free tour and the ‘brewmasters’ tour, which has a fee. Pretty much the same ground is covered in both, but the paid tour goes into a little more depth, includes a nice souvenir hat and glass, and gives you a chance to sample Budweiser straight from the conditioning cask. It was the best Budweiser I’ve ever had. :p
Once the rig was back in tiptop shape, we headed out from Chanute to Monroe City, Missouri. We stayed at Frank Russell Recreation Area, one of the three very nice COE campgrounds on Mark Twain Lake. It’s the closest of the three to Hannibal, but I think next time we’ll stay at Ray Behrens, which is a whisker nicer and offers 50 amp electrical service vs. the 30 amp service at Frank Russell.
Mark Twain Lake, naturally enough, is about 20 miles from Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, MO. Which is now a tourist attraction, complete with museum. We toured the assorted buildings (boyhood home, Huck Finn house, and a few others) then went to the museum after lunch. It being the 100th anniversary of Samuel L. Clemens death (his unexpurgated autobiography is due out in November, in accordance with his wishes) the Museum had an afternoon program featuring a Mark Twain interpreter, which was great fun. The displays at the buildings were focused on his early life, so the same quotes cropped up several times, but the whole thing was very well done. They are fundraising to restore and open another of the historic structures they own, and they’ve taken a page from the great man himself. For an extra ten dollars you can whitewash their fence.