It’s always tough for us when our April “vacation” ends, and this year was no different. We tend to put off unpleasant things as best we can during this month because it is the most stress-free time we have all year. Consequently those items start to build up, and towards the end of our time we often have to deal with them. We decided to take our last free week and go to Idaho and see if we could get some things done. Before we left we had one last night with Cori and Greg, and splurged on a dinner at Hell’s Backbone Grill. We had passed the restaurant several times and even looked at the menu, but it was way too expensive for a casual lunch. Cori was curious and did some research and found out the restaraunt has a very special story.
It was started by two women and founded on Buddhist principles, which is incredibly unusual for a restaurant in Utah, in a town of 400 people. Despite it’s location it is highly acclaimed and has won numerous national awards. More importantly, to us at least, the owners have been active in the fight to preserve the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument and since that matters to us, we wanted to support their business. We made a reservation (can’t remember the last time I did that) and arrived to a packed house. Coincidentally it was Easter evening, and they did have a few special menu items.
As neat as all of that was I will say the meal was a mixed bag. Keep in mind it was $140 for the two of us, and I can count on one hand how often I have spent that much on a dinner in the last five years. Oddly the entrees were the absolute best part of the meal (that’s usually where I am let down), but the appetizers were mediocre and the deserts were a 50/50 split. Service was OK…took a long time to be seated and a longer time to get our initial drinks, but once we started rolling he did a really good job. This restaurant falls in the category of “I am glad we went once, but I probably wouldn’t go back”, but it was a very nice way to end our time with Cori and Greg.
It ended up being a late night, and we all took our time leaving in the morning because we were expecting a short day. Jack seemed excited to go and I was happy that we were going to have enough time to see a little bit of Idaho. We had blown through the state several times but never really stopped and done anything there. While researching I found a combination RV Center and RV park and thought maybe we could kill two birds with one stone and get a little bit of work done and sight see.
It was a nice day and a pretty drive as we slowly headed up towards Salt Lake City. We even found a cool Flying J along our route that had a petting zoo with a camel. That was a first!
As usual, we pulled into the truck lanes and for once were the only vehicle there. As Lee was pumping gas a gentleman walked over and started talking to him about our tires. This particular truck stop had a tire repair shop attached, and since it was the Monday after Easter and early in the day I guess they had some extra time. We knew we had to get our trailer tires replaced before the end of the summer, but the repair tech said they could do it immediately if we were interested. Needless to say this was highly unusual, but two thoughts went through my head. First was is this some sort of scam, and second was maybe God was nudging us to not wait, and get it done now. It would cost us nothing but a little bit of time to get a quote so we finished getting gas and pulled next to their bay. While Lee talked with them about the cost, I took the puppy for a walk in the nearby field which was full of pretty flowers.
They came back with a quote of $1500, which was on par with what it would cost us later. My only concern was they only had tires that were made in China, but they were able to show us a very recent born on date. Again, we were back and forth with whether we should get it done, so we phoned our friend Bill to see what he thought. After some quick research he said the tires seemed to be OK, and verified the cost wasn’t completely out of whack. Mainly because I couldn’t bear the thought that we would pull out and then get a flat, I agreed it was a good idea and Lee and I went inside to have lunch while they changed the tires.
The repair unfortunately took longer than the hour that was quoted and while we were waiting I called the Passport America campground we were planning on staying to get their after hours check in policy. Imagine my surprise when the answering machine message said the office was closed Monday for Easter holiday and no walk-ins would be allowed. WTH??!!?? Since we had stayed there twice before that was the last thing I expected and started looking for somewhere else to stay. Lee wanted full hookups so we could flush and fill after being without hookups for so long and the limited choices in the Salt Lake area were all really expensive. Finally I found a campground with some openings and and paid over the phone to avoid any issues with late check-in. While I was doing all of this, the tires were finished and the tech came and talked to us about the balancing crystals he had put in the tire. Lee was worried about our tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), but the tech said they should work fine together. Lee also watched him hand torque every single lug nut, because we have several friends who had new tires come off because they were not put on properly.
We started down the highway, and less than 12 miles later Lee got an emergency warning on our TPMS. He immediately pulled off the freeway and got out to take a look. One of our trailer tires was completely flat, and we were stuck on the side of the highway. Lee called on the phone and the tech said they would drive out and help. It took about a half an hour to get to us and the tech stated there was something wrong with the valve or core. The tire would need to be taken off, taken back to the shop, and looked at, but they needed to go back to the truck stop to get the right jack to lift the heavy fifth wheel. We were both pretty upset, but what could we do, so we sat there until they came back to us. Unfortunately it started pouring down raining and lightning and we knew they wouldn’t be coming back until the storm passed. If you have ever sat on the side of a busy highway, you know it is pretty unpleasant and the rain and lightning just made it worse. Jack was freaking out a little bit by the unusual occurrence, so I put him on my lap and petted him so he would stay calm.
The only good thing was when they came back they brought everything they needed to fix it so they wouldn’t have to take the tire with them, and we were on the road again within 45 minutes. They stated that some of the pellets got caught in the core, but he had changed the cores on ALL the tires there on the side of the road, and everything should be fine now. Since it was getting late we didn’t argue, but headed towards our RV Park. The “Lakeside Campground” which wasn’t actually on the lake, had nice pull through sites and better still a terrific dog park. Jack was cooped up all day and definitely needed to run around a little.
Despite the mis-marketing it was a nice quiet campground and after the long day we got a good night’s rest. Lee was able to flush the tanks and we felt good about continuing our journey. Unfortunately, this was not to be as we woke up to yet another flat tire. This was a different one on the trailer and we were both furious by this time. I called the gas station owner and left a message and Lee borrowed a compressor from the campground to inflate the tire. They finally called us back and said the tires could be fixed at any tire repair place and they would pay for the repair. Lee felt OK about driving to the nearest Les Schwab and it was after 11am when we finally pulled out of the campground. Thankfully we made it to a Les Schwab about 6 miles away and they seemed to know exactly how to fix the problem. They said all the tire valves needed to be replaced and they were happy to do it. It was quick and efficient and they didn’t even charge anything for the work. We were both super relieved that the problem seemed to be solved and drove over to a nearby Chuckarama buffet to celebrate.
After lunch, I took a turn driving. It had been another long day and we hadn’t even got to Idaho yet. We had gotten smacked pretty hard with real life and both of us felt the vacation was over.
One more thing I would like to add… please be careful when you get new tires. A shocking amount of people I know have had issues with brand new tires that range from flats to tires flying off of trucks or RVs. If you have TPMS, I personally would never let them use those beads, because they can get stuck in the valves. I would also watch them tighten every single lug nut and even double check them yourself. Also, be sure whoever works on them has experience with RV tires. They are not the same as semi-trucks or cars especially if you have a tire pressure monitoring system.
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