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September 17, 2015 travel fallfoliage

Fall Foliage Day 1 - Coppell, Texas, to DeGray Lake, Arkansas

This trip has been dubbed the Fall Foliage Tour.” Our plan is to:

  • weave up through the Midwest, visiting family and friends through:
    • Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania;
  • detour through Canada to visit Prince Edward Island (home of Anne of Green Gables!);
  • swing by Niagara Falls for a tourist moment;
  • wander through New England seeing the foliage (and the Ben & Jerry’s/Cape Cod Potato Chip factories and Chincoteague Island from Misty of Chincoteague), including:
    • Vermont, Maine, Massachusets, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut;
  • see a Broadway show in NYC;
  • spend as much time as we want in the Smithsonians of D.C.;
  • follow the lower part of the Appalachians through Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee;
  • head back through Arkansas;
  • and finally, return to Dallas just in time for Thanksgiving!

Day 1 - Dallas to DeGray Lake, Arkansas

Only three days behind schedule (or three weeks and three days, if you’re counting from when we moved out of the apartment)(or four weeks and three days, if you’re counting from when the apartment lease was originally up), we finally hit the road!

On the road! Degray Lake, Arkansas, here we come. TodRoda Farrell

Posted by Elisa Farrell on Thursday, September 17, 2015



We left the Dallas area at about 3:30 PM, breaking the first of the 2/2/2 rule (arrive before 2 PM, travel less than 200 miles, stay 2 days) on our way to DeGray Lake State Park in Arkansas, 261.8 miles away (breaking the second of the 2/2/2 rule).

About an hour in, my mom called to let us know that we had left Christian’s laptop at my parents’ house. At the moment, it seemed like a big deal, but dun dun DUN there was worse to come! We arranged for it to be shipped to relatives we would be visiting in St. Louis.

Two and half hours in, we stopped for fuel in New Boston, TX just outside of Texarkana where we were planning to have some BBQ dinner. On a cursory inspection of the connections and vehicles, I noticed a huge hole in one of the rear RV tires. #thankgoodness4internet, the Walmart next door’s tire center was open for another hour. For liability reasons, Christian had to remove and replace the tire himself, but we were able to use their jack.

flat tireflat tire

Four and half hours in (around 8:00 PM), we skipped over BBQ in Texarkana to reach the park before it was too late. Google Maps’ 1 minute faster route” took us down a winding one-lane-each-way-no-streetlight road, but we eventually rolled into the visitor center of the park at 9:30 PM, six hours after leaving Dallas.

A helpful notice on the door let us know we could go ahead and park in any unoccupied/unreserved spot, and we had just set sights on our destination via old-school paper map when whoops’ number three occurred. Christian tried shifting back into drive from park, but the shifter wouldn’t budge. He did some troubleshooting and realized that the lights for the trailer had been connected the wrong way, and combined with my Googling (#thankgoodnessgracious4internet) we concluded that the most likely cause was a blown fuse for the brake shift interlock.

Okay, step 1 done, we’ve identified the problem - now to solve it. In a happy coincidence, I had packed some spare fuses instead of leaving them in storage’ at Christian’s parents’ house in Dallas. In an unhappy coincidence, they were the wrong size fuses. However, the kit did include a fuse remover/tester, and while needle-nose pliers were more effective than the tweezer-style remover, the tester proved invaluable. But before we could start removing, we had to figure out which one to remove.

fuse 'remover'/testerfuse 'remover'/tester

Which was when we realized we did not have a manual for the motor part of our motorhome. #thankgoodnessgraciousgreatballsoffire4internet! We found the manual, then found the fuse diagram/labels.

fuse diagramfuse diagram

With some stellar teamwork, I identified fuse 6 as the likely culprit, and Christian pulled/tested it. Nope, that one is fine…

fuse 6fuse 6

Okay, try again, number 11 this time. Yup - it was blown.

fuse11fuse11

Since our spare fuses were the wrong size, we pulled a fuse of the same amperage from slot 22, rendering our dash-cam/stereo interface temporarily unusable.

fuse22fuse22

BUT we were finally able to pull out of the visitor center parking lot, miss the turn-off for our targeted campsite, find the turn-off for our targeted campsite, and arrive at our destination at 10:30 PM. We plugged in to shore power to be able to use the microwave to heat up leftovers for dinner, opened the windows to get some fresh air circulating, updated social media, and settled in for the night.

An eventful first day, to be sure, but hopefully we’ve gotten some of our mistakes out of the way. We’ll be trying to follow the last of the 2/2/2 rule and spend at least two days in this area. We’re right on the lake (pictures tomorrow) so we’re planning on breaking in our new inflatable kayak, hiking, maybe horseback riding, and making a trip to Hot Springs just down the road. Stay tuned!


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Fall Foliage, Day 2 - DeGray Lake and Hot Springs, Arkansas Today there was only one minor emergency, which was a major improvement from yesterday! As I was making gluten-free banana muffins/chilling in the