On Tuesday, April 1st – Chris’s 8th Nomadiversary, we departed our sweet little spot at F. D. Roosevelt State Park in Georgia and headed north to Chattanooga. Our purpose, as it always is, is routine bus chassis maintenance at Choo Choo Express Garage.
Choo Choo Bus Maintenance
Wednesday morning our mechanic Joel got right to work on giving Zephyr a thorough undercarriage inspection, adjusted the brakes, lubricated everything, and addressed a couple of minor issues.
We had some growing concerns about our air system, as the air compressor muffler was starting to spit out a muddy like substance when we purged it after a day’s driving. Joel identified that this was a sign of our air compressor having internal rings going bad thus allowing oil to pass through it. It needed to be replaced as soon as possible (this was one of the few pieces we did not have overhauled last summer).
By the end of the day the shop’s owner, Don, has sourced a rebuilt one out of Augusta and we crossed our fingers that it might arrive by Friday morning.
Since we would be stuck in the shop awaiting the part anyway, on Thursday we had Joel go ahead and install an air dryer into our system, which keeps moisture out of our brakes and suspension system. This is more modern technology than available in 1961 when our bus was built, and an upgrade we’ve had pending on our list.
Come Friday morning we checked the tracking on the air compressor, and learned it wouldn’t make it in until Monday morning after all – and we’d be stuck over the weekend.
Camping at Choo Choo is actually not a bad thing, they can toss us a power cord, and it’s generally pretty peaceful overnight.
During our time in the area, we got to meet up with Eric & Brittany of RV Wanderlust – some new to the road nomads, working remotely in online marketing.
Many thanks to RVillage for alerting us that we would be crossing paths, we had a great time sharing stories and getting to know one another.
We also took an afternoon and visited the nearby Chickamauga National Military Park – a very eery and overwhelming experience. Nothing like some reminders of a bloody war to put our own little overwhelm in perspective – more people died in this single Civil War battle than in the entirety of the Revolutionary War.
But mostly we worked on finishing up our newest mobile app, US Public Lands. We were on a deadline of April 10th to get it submitted to Apple before we lost our rights to the name we had reserved before the RVillage opportunity came to us.
We also greatly enjoyed releasing ourselves from the expectation of being online during our little digital sabbatical. Ahhhh.
On Monday early afternoon, our part arrived and Joel got it installed in quick time.
We hit the road without much of a plan and remembered Marion County Park in Jasper, TN just west of Chattanooga.
We pulled in, and sure enough we had a panoramic water view on Nickajack Lake all to ourselves.
We enjoyed a peaceful night on our own, submitted US Public Lands a few days early to Apple – and we remembered my father who passed away one year ago that day.
Oliver Travel Trailers – Back in Production!
Since our next major stop over point would be Memphis, TN – we decided to cut through Tennessee and make a stop in Hohenwald, home of Oliver Travel Trailers.
Long time readers will recall that we full timed from 2008 – 2011 in one of their 17′ masterpieces that we named Orion. Just after ours was completed, they ceased production due to the economy taking down much of the RV industry and concentrated on other areas of their business.
They produced only 47 of the trailers, making them a very rare and sought after item due to their high standards of quality and over-engineering.
Since then, they have been thriving in manufacturing high end walk-in bath tubs (yup, the ones you see commercials for with Pat Boone).
They’ve been keeping a close eye on on the RV industry, and recently started back up trailer production. We were invited to stop in anytime we like to check things out, and were greeted by our old friend Robert Partee.
He treated us to a tour of both the bathtub line and the new Oliver Travel Trailer production line – where they are rolling off their new 23.5′ model trailer. While the new larger format has some really nice new features and upgrades – we’re honestly still partial to the 17′ model. It hit our sweet spot of all of the essentials in the small package we were looking for at the time as an upgrade to our T@b.
The new larger trailer is essentially a stretched out version with more headroom – same general layout with a little extra kitchen counter space and a pantry, and a king size bed (or two twins). Had it been an option at the time we were in the market for a trailer – it wouldn’t have appealed to what we were seeking.
But it’s definitely hitting a target market, as they can’t keep one in stock as a demo model long enough.
If you’re in the market for a high end trailer made for off roading and boondocking, and that will truly last a lifetime – we can’t praise Oliver any higher. After our nearly 3 years of full timing in ours, it still looked brand new the day we sold it – for more than we bought it for! There just aren’t many RV manufacturers out there that take this level of pride, detailed craftsmanship, and focus on customer service out there.
While in the area, Oliver put us up at a local campground called Many Cedars Campground, which is a BYOH (bring your own horse) trail riding experience.
It’s a beautiful little campground, and we really enjoyed our waterfront spot along the Buffalo River.
And to add to our digital sabbatical, we had no cellular reception. It was really nice to go off grid for a couple days. Next time we’ll try to remember to bring a horse so we can go enjoy all the riding trails around there.
We had a bit of a worry when we left Hohenwald on Thursday to head on westward to Memphis when we discovered that Zephyr’s auxiliary tank wasn’t building air pressure when we fired up the engine. A quick adjustment to a tank valve that we had fiddled with at Choo Choo fixed the problem.. and on we went.
Until we didn’t.
We’ll continue that story in our next travelogue update…
Our next Live Video Chat
Join us for our next live video chat this Thursday evening! We get asked often by new RVers if they should also start a blog, so we thought this might be a fun topic!
When : Thursday evening at 8pm CST
(6pm PST / 9pm EST)
Topic: Blogging for RVers
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To blog.. or not to blog? There seems to be RVers starting blogs all the time, but is starting one right for you?
We’ll discuss the various motivations behind blogging – from keeping family & friends up to date, keeping a record of your adventures to generating an income. We’ll share some of the rewards of blogging and some of the challenges. We’ll also briefly discuss the various blogging platforms out there – and how to choose what is right for your motivations and technical skill sets.
As always, a general Q&A to follow.