Just to clarify I don’t mean overweight personally (we have both certainly experienced that), but overweight on our trailer. On Mother’s Day morning we left the rally and on the way out took advantage of an opportunity to get weighed. This is the third time we have done it and at $60 it is a bargain. The previous two times Lee was darn near perfect, so it was a bit of a shock when we discovered we were 300 pounds over on the rear axle. We also discovered that all of our tires (truck and trailer) were under-inflated. The good news is that overall we were fine on weight and Trey suggested we could lower the hitch one notch to shift some weight forward. The bad news was this was not something we could do immediately and then be re-weighed so we aren’t 100% sure how effective that was. 300 pounds isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things but the tanks were also completely empty. We try to travel with empty tanks, but we carry some fresh water for bathroom breaks and if we are boondocking a lot we do drive short distances with stuff in the tanks. So hopefully lowering the hitch did the trick because we both like to run under weight for those instances.
We are not sure what has changed. The ladder box was added before we were weighed although I believe it was empty because we didn’t have the locks yet. So it could simply be adding the ladder itself and Lee hard-wiring the surge protector and voltage regulator in which shifted the weight of those from the front to the back. Lee says it’s my shoes, but I have not bought one pair since we were weighed last and I vehemently deny this!! Either way it’s good to know and as soon as we have an opportunity we will get weighed again. Unfortunately you really need a team who specializes in weighing RV since trying to do it yourself on a CAT Scales is less than accurate. If you have never had it done I highly recommend it and you can check out the RVSEF weighing schedule to see what’s available near you.
We completed the weighing at 8am and since breakfast wasn’t until 8:30 decided to go ahead and get started. Lee really wanted to see his Mom on Mother’s Day and this involved a very long travel day for us. Boy I am glad we got started early since once we hit Kentucky it started to rain and didn’t really stop. I took my driving turn an hour south of Cincinnati and then it really started pouring. That in and of itself was OK, but then the outer-belt was closed. When I saw the rest areas were packed with trucks I should have been cautioned, but we kept going and it turned out that a semi was overturned on the outer-belt and it was entirely closed. This forced me to drive through Cincinnati in heavy traffic and heavy rain. and oh yeah, did I mention the steep grade? One of the things I have been wanting to practice was driving on 6% or higher grades, but not under these circumstances. But there was no way to switch drivers and Lee was wonderful talking me through it. At his direction I slowed down until the truck was in 2nd gear, turned on my flashers, and started to cruise down the very steep incline. The hardest thing for me was to not hit my brakes but instead trust the engine to do the braking for me. By having him tell me when to brake and then counting to “3 Mississippi” for each brake I felt very in control. It worked beautifully and I used the brakes minimally as we went down the hill. So I don’t recommend learning steep grades this way, but keep in mind you never know what’s going to happen when driving and you should practice it in a controlled setting.
After we got through Cincy and out the other side we switched drivers again and Lee took us to his mom’s house on the north side of Columbus. We arrived at 4:30pm (long day), but it was great to see them. When we are seeing them we park on their street and then sleep in their house so no unhitching needed and then they took us to the Golden Corral for dinner which was actually really good. The next day we bought Donato’s for lunch (I was in heaven with my Big Don sub) and then Lee’s dad came over to visit. Lee always says he is the tallest one in his family, but I don’t think anyone believes him so I got them all to take a picture together to prove it.
We caught up with Ron who we haven’t seen in over a year and then my brother came over and brought my nephew Lex and my niece Elise. I haven’t seen Lex since he was little and it took awhile for him to warm up, but then we had tons of fun. I also found out Elise collects rocks like me so I gave her three from my collection and promised to send her one from Alaska!
I should also mention that DeDe and Denny always have the coolest stuff. My two favorites were a robot lawn mower (think Roomba but for lawns) and this cute random sock collector. Every time I visit their house there is something new and neat to see and Lee was fascinated by the robot mower. They also took us out to dinner again at the Hickory House and Lee had a really good steak. It was very sweet of them to keep our budgets in mind during the visit and we certainly appreciated the dinners!!
Tuesday we were up bright and early and on the road again. The only way to make the stops work with the overall schedule was to drive long days on either side of them and we wanted to see Kat in Minnesota. Once we saw Kat we would have seen all of our parents, all of our kids, and my brother and sister, nieces, and nephews prior to going to Alaska. Since we know we are staying out west next winter, it will be a while before we see everyone again. We drove until 5:45 est (we lost an hour when we hit Illinois) and stayed at a Passport America campground called Hickory Hollow right off the freeway. The park was OK, and they offered $20 a night Sun-Thurs for full hookups. The only downside was they had a ton of rules and weren’t that friendly. I was pretty cranky because my drive turn was through Indianapolis and once again it was pouring rain. No steep downgrades this time thankfully, but I was exhausted. Since it was just an overnight stay it wasn’t a big deal, but a little friendly courtesy would have gone a long way.
Finally we made it to Minnesota around 4pm on Wednesday and got set up at Lake Elmo Lake Reserve. There aren’t many campgrounds near Minneapolis and Kat and Micah live right downtown so we decided on Lake Elmo which was about 30 minutes away from them. Washington County Parks are really nice with huge sites and they always have lakes and hiking trails but they have a very strict no pet policy. We don’t have a pet so it’s no issue for us, but it’s a shame since more full timers can’t use them. They also have a $15 a year annual park pass, but since we stayed in one during the wedding it was still valid and I was VERY happy to get some more out of that pass before it expired. At $25 it’s not cheap for electric only, but thankfully they had 50 amp since it was very cold. Kat and Micah came to visit and I made Chicken and Stuffing in the Instant Pot for the first time (recipe below). It was easy and took less than 25 minutes all in to prepare. Plus Kat had made me a wonderful Mother’s Day present. She embroidered a beautiful saying for me and since she couldn’t find a pattern she liked she made one herself!! So talented and it meant so very much to me. It’s been a whirlwind the last few days, but family is always worth it. Next up our long trek to Glenallen, Alaska!!
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Instant Pot Chicken and Stuffing
- 4 chicken thighs or breasts
- 14 oz bag of stuffing or 2 6 oz boxes
- 1 large (or 2 small) cans of cream of chicken soup
- 1 cup chicken broth
- seasoning salt
- Place 4 frozen chicken pieces in instant pot with 1 cup chicken broth
- Sprinkle lightly with seasoning salt
- Cook for 15 minutes on Manual with
- Use quick release to release steam and open lid; there should be liquid in the bottom
- Place stuffing on top of chicken
- Spreads soup on stuffing
- Cook on Manual setting for 4 minutes
- Use Quick Release to release steam and open lid