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Exiting the Northeast Just Like We Entered – More Bus Maintenance

We officially entered the Northeast (depending on how you define what states are included in the ‘Northeast’) back in mid-June.

Groton to Vineland.. with a BIG city in-between.

Groton to Vineland.. with a BIG city in-between.

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.

Navigating lovely back roads to our driveway surf.

Navigating lovely back roads to our driveway surf.

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.

Driving through New Haven towards NYC.

Driving through New Haven towards NYC.

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

I-95 coming into the Bronx.

I-95 coming into the Bronx.

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.

Truck routes well marked along the way.

Truck routes well marked along the way.

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!).

Chris driving over the GW Bridge.

Chris driving over the GW Bridge.

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.

Our first overnight at a Cracker Barrel.

Our first overnight at a Cracker Barrel. And they had spots JUST for us – RV Buses!

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.

We found our overnight spot using a combination of the All Stays app and our subscription to OvernightRVParking.com.

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.

Bus Maintenance

Back over the pit at US Coach.

Back over the pit at US Coach.

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?

Hanging with Nina and Paul at Assateague last week.

Hanging with Nina and Paul at Assateague last week.

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.

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  1. If you have a chance to stop, Huntington Beach State Park in Murrell’s Inlet, SC, has a great campground. Get one of the spots in the open loops (out of the trees) to enjoy Oct/Nov sunshine. The park has five miles of sand beach. Not sure if the park was damaged during Hurricane Matthew, but it not, it’s a great stop, just south of Myrtle Beach (but not at all like MB!). Only 30 amp service and most sites don’t have sewer hookups, but it should be nice this time of year. Large open spaces. We’ve stayed there several times both in our 16-ft travel trailer and now our 40-ft motorhome.

      • Hi guys From what I see you could drill it heat it with a torch and using an easy out it’ll come right out The bigger the stud the better Thay are to work with

  2. Having lived in New Bern for ten years and having had pizza from all over the East coast, if you like pizza and Italian food you really should try a place called “37th St. Pizza”. It is my favorite and one I hope you get to try and like.

  3. Thank you for your blogs. They are so informitiv. We made the trip up north to Maine last summer and fell in love with the area. Planning on wintring in Brownsville this year then meandering our way to Alaska for the summer. A lot of this is is due to the information we have received from reading about your adventures and your videos. I might mention that we are 2 old retired ladies living the life and end enjoying it to the fullest. Thanks again.

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