Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mixed Bag: A Flat Tire, A CoachNet Call, Attending Rallies and WiFi Issues

At the Lake Conroe KOA, Montgomery, Texas...

The First Flat Tire and First Use of CoachNet

Believe it or not, we had never before suffered a flat tire in all ten years of our RV travels. We were just south of Ennis, Texas on I-45, and my TST tire pressure monitor began to alarm. A quick check of the screen revealed that the pressure in the left front tire on Mae had dropped to 26 psi, the low pressure threshold that I had set upon installation.

TST Unit on dashboard (with windshield curtain down)

I began watching for an exit and checked the monitor again in a couple of minutes, finding that the pressure had dropped to 20 psi. I knew this had to be checked immediately, so I exited and pulled off on the side of the frontage road and set the parking brake on Phannie. Walking back to Mae, I found that, sure enough, her left front tire was almost completely flat. This puppy would need changing--no doubt about it.

Not wishing to expose myself to the danger of passing cars and, of course, the prospect of having to w**k (see the previous post for my thoughts on w**k), and not to mention getting dirty in the process, I rang up CoachNet. Their cheerful respondent said that help should be there within the hour. Since it happened to be lunchtime, Sandy sweetly fixed a couple of sandwiches, and we shared a leisurely meal, listening to XM radio while we waited on the technician.

Soon after we finished lunch, I noticed in the rear view mirror that a service truck pulled up behind Phannie. I went back to meet the tech, who was very friendly and had the tire change done in less than ten minutes. Upon inspecting the flat tire, we found a semicircular cut that obviously had been caused by striking some object in the roadway that I had not seen.

By the way, you may notice that I only use the TST to monitor the tires on the toad. That's because I take great pains with Phannie to monitor frequently her tire pressure manually, and I replace the tires before they reach six years of service. Plus, I figure I will be able to sense a low-pressure condition pretty readily in the bus. The toad, on the other hand, could perhaps be dragged for many miles with a flat tire before I would sense it in Phannie's cockpit, and it may not be readily visible in the rear view camera.

So, score a win for my TST monitor and CoachNet; I'm pretty happy with both.

Thoughts on Attending Rallies

Only occasionally do we attend an RV rally, perhaps because we haven't quite figured out if we are cut out for them. At only one rally did we feel we had a positive and enjoyable experience--Howard and Linda's RV Dreams rally. I won't mention the clubs sponsoring the others, following my mother's admonition that if I couldn't say something nice, I shouldn't say anything at all.

Here are some observations that seem to be a common theme among those other clubs whose rallies--all relatively small ones--we have attended:

  • While nice folks, they seemed fairly clique-ish. As visitors, we were treated politely, but not welcomed enthusiastically, and there was no follow-up to see if we were interested in associating with them.
  • The club members seemed mostly interested in attending rallies rather than traveling cross-country. In many cases, the members were older folks who perhaps had already filled their quota of post-retirement travel and had settled into a rally circuit not too distant from their domicile. Almost none were full-timers.
  • The rally agendas, for the most part, were either poorly defined or consisting mostly of assisted-living type activities, most of which were centered around potluck meals and quite a lot of alcohol. (Nothing against potlucks, though; we like them a lot. We don't happen to be drinkers, however, so that may account for some of the cold shoulders.) 

It quite likely that these rally experiences were anomalous and not representative of the genre as a whole. That's why that, for us, the jury is still out.

RV Park WiFi? We've given up on it.

It has been our experience that, while almost all RV parks have recognized the need to offer WiFi to their customers, it seems that very few are willing to invest in the equipment needed to provide anything other than sluggish data speeds when lots of campers are online. This is especially annoying if you're trying to stream video, a problem that had better find a solution, as this is where TV seems to be headed.

As an admitted data hog, I solved the whole problem by getting my own AT&T hotspot with a 30-gig data plan. The speed is way fast enough for anything I'm doing, and video streaming is seamless. Whenever we get to an RV park, I'll typically give their WiFi a chance but, more often than not, I'll be switching to my hotspot after a few minutes. The cost? Not really that bad, and the absence of frustration--priceless!
Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful life You've given me.
Please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.


  1. Glad to see your TST worked properly for you and saved you from a possible disaster.
    Mike have you ever considered attending an Escapade put on by the Escapees RV Club which is based in Texas. Socializing is always bring your own drinks. They have so many seminars about RVing and some products associated to RVing that there is no way to see them all. If you become a member there are travel benefits where RV dealerships and RV Parks offer you discounts. Not saying this is for you but maybe give it a peek.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  2. We only attend one Rally a year, the Owner's club for our brand of motor homr , Alfa. I could live without it, but Craig seems to enjoy the get together. He is an avid reader of their forum so he knows more of the people. We are getting a TsT soon.

  3. Interesting idea on the TST on the toad only, I think that's a good idea. The price of those sensors is pretty high and I agree, you'd notice a problem on your MH right away. Glad everything worked out well for you.

    We have only done two RV Dreams rallies, don't see much value in other ones.


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