We officially entered the Northeast (depending on how you define what states are included in the ‘Northeast’) back in mid-June.
Our first stop then was US Coach in Vineland, New Jersey for preventative bus maintenance. We liked the shop so much, we wanted to return and get ahead on a few other issues.
But first, we had to get there.
We were currently parked in Groton, CT and there’s a pretty big city to pass through that is intimidating for RV drivers.
This post covers September 30 – October 6.
First Stop: Driveway Surfing
We had booked an appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in New Haven on our way out of the area. Chris had just received his new iPhone 7 Plus, and I was slated to get his hand-me-down iPhone 6S.
But there was no way I wanted his – it was acting pretty funky in not holding a charge and shutting down randomly.
So before it was out of warranty, we made sure to document the problems with Apple so it’d be covered (they replaced it with a new phone.. hooray!).
Just as we were researching how we’d handle the stop in the very RV-unfriendly downtown area of New Haven (would we drive in with the Mini, find a campground closer?) – we serendipitously got an e-mail from blog readers Mik & Joanne asking if it was possible to meet up.
They just happened to mention they recently hosted RVing friends in their driveway, which was not too far from New Haven.
I took a chance and asked if they happened to have room for the bus for a night?
It worked out perfectly to get us closer to our appointment, drive in and then have a very enjoyable evening getting to make new friends. Thanks again guys! (We had too much fun to stop and remember to take a photo.)
Driving through NYC
After so many years on the road, most driving days don’t intimidate us much. But driving through the Big Apple had us a bit on the edge of our seats.
Combine a big city, lots of traffic, lots of low clearance spots and non-RV friendly roads if you take a wrong turn (you’re kinda committed once you start) and potentially big tolls without careful planning. And add in that the weather was being a bit unpredictable.
We left ourselves 3-days to make the drive over a weekend (our locals all confirmed weekends are the best time to drive through). We even considered a late night drive.
Weather was looking good Saturday morning, so we started the drive. Making stops at service plazas approaching the city to keep well rested and alert.
Research ahead of time confirmed there would be no tolls heading south on the George Washington Bridge (going north can result in near $100 tolls for RVs – ouch!).
Overall, while the drive was slow and steady – it turned out to be no big deal. Chris tackled it like a champ, and we enjoyed the views as we crossed the bridge.
We continued on the New Jersey Turnpike south (which did result in about $34 in tolls), and found an overnight spot for the night near Mt. Laurel.
It was first time ever staying overnight at a Cracker Barrel. We enjoyed dinner and a restful night.
In the morning, we were in easy reach to Vineland to start our bus maintenance.
During our June stop at US Coach, we tackled a bunch of projects (kingpin bushing, front shocks and other general tweaks). During our inspection with them, there we other maintenance items identified that we wanted handled but ran out of time.
One of them was pretty darn critical – our rear brake pads were very near the wear line. So we booked an appointment to continue on with the list before we headed south.
This visit, we handled the following items:
- Rear brakes completely redone (drums grinded, new shoes, new pads)
- Rear shocks also replaced
- All radius rod bushings re-done (mechanic Bill told us he’s never seen them fall apart upon removal – definitely overdue for this!)
- Annual Oil & Filter change
- Tranmission air suspension support bag added
We were in the shop another 4 days, and thankful to be able to stay in the bus while the work was being done.
The end bill was close to $5k, but we’re happy to have these critical tasks taken care of. Zephyr’s ride is substantially improved – so much smoother and peaceful under way. And we’ve gotten rid of a ‘clunkidity-clunk’ sound that’s been with us forever (turns out it was the radius rods).
The suspension should now be completely up to date.
Which was a major deciding factor in having the work done. Next summer we’ll be coming up on 6 years on our tires, which means we’re closely monitoring our tires for replacement in the foreseeable future.
The current tires are showing some uneven wear patterns, that Bill thinks was caused by the issues corrected.
What’s Next Up?
I’ve got a post upcoming re-capping our summer in the Northeast, with some tips on navigating up in these parts. And then we’ll move right along to our meandering adventure southward towards Florida – boat shopping along the way.
We just wrapped up a week on the Delmarva with buddies Nina & Paul.
We’ve parted paths for a bit as we’re attending a boat rendezvous this weekend in New Bern, NC – while they hunt lighthouses.
We’ll be reconnecting soon a bit further south.