Now in Byron, Georgia

Now in Byron, Georgia

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Twin Cities Dinner Cruise, Mall of America, Sold Tires!

September 9 - 11, 2013   

We hitched up again with Patty at the helm.  This is her 3rd day driving the rig.  She has been hoping for a back-in site and today she got her wish.

We were only in Chippewa Falls for one night. We were too far away from Minneapolis.

Welcome to Minnesota

Some sort of art in the campground in Chippewa Falls MN.  They had these all over the campground.

We left Chippewa Falls around 11am for our 108 mile trip to the town of Apple Valley.  Basically, Apple Valley is a southern suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota or the twin cities. The drive there was very easy on I 94 West to I 35 South.  We decided that while we are passing through the Minneapolis/St. Paul area we should see the Mall of America even though we are not really Mall people.  We haven't been in a Mall for 5 or 6 years and then probably 5 years before that.  But the Mall of America is a true piece of Americana now so we want to see it.

Lebanon Regional Campground entrance.

On the way, we decided to get the rig weighed.  After the tire issues we have had, we decided that at our earliest chance we would get the rig weighed at one of those CAT scales.  
This is not the best method of weighing as it does not give the weight of the individual wheels on the RV.  However, it will give us a starting point with some gross numbers.  

Weighing at a CAT scale is very simple.  The CAT scale is made up of 3 load pads that are marked with yellow paint. When you pull up to where the intercom is, your truck front wheels are on the first weigh pad.  The rear truck wheels are on the second weight pad and the two 5th wheel axles are on the 3rd weight pad.  After stopping you press the intercom button and give the weight master any info they need which isn't much.  

Once the weigh master says they are done, you pull off the scale, park, go inside and get your weight ticket, and then pay for it.  The cost is very low at only $10.  In our case, I went in to get the ticket and pay while Patty parked the rig. This is a truck stop so there is plenty of room to park temporarily.  

The weight ticket gives you 4 numbers; front truck axle weight, rear truck axle weight, the weight of the RV on its axles, and the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight (GCVW). The GCVW is the combined weight of your rig (Truck + RV).

These are our numbers from the CAT scale:
Truck Front Axle:  5,480 lbs. (Truck Rating is 6,500 lbs.) OK
Truck Rear Axle: 8,040 lbs. (Truck rating is 12,000 lbs.) OK
RV Weight on its axles: 12,220 lbs. (Axle Rating is 14,000 lbs. on two 7,000 lbs. axles) OK
Gross Combined Weight: 25,740 lbs. (Truck rating is 33,000 lbs.) OK

These are the RV Specifications:
Dry weight: 12,883 lbs.
Gross Weight rating: 15,441 lbs.
Cargo carrying capacity: 2,558 lbs.
Hitch weight: 2448 lbs.

We don't know yet what the exact hitch weight is, which is the weight of the RV carried by the truck.  We also do not know what the distribution of weight is on the individual RV axles or wheels.  So, the next thing we are going to do is have the truck weighed without the RV.  That will give us both the truck weight and the RV weight.  Then we will know if the RV is overweight or not.  Well, at least preliminarily, we are OK with the weights.  I obsess a lot about this as you can see.

We arrived at our new site in Apple Valley around 3 pm and were set up by 4pm.  We are staying at a county park called Lebanon Regional Campground.  The campground is perfect for visiting the twin cities as it is just a mile from I 35 and about 8 miles from downtown.  

This was the first time Patty has parked in a back-in site. This was a left hand site so she would be backing in on her side. That is the easiest side to back in on.  The site also only had a small tree on her side to contend with.  She did have another campers truck across the road that would be in play. 

Since this was our first time doing a back-in with Patty at the wheel I needed to communicate what she needed to do.  I didn't do a very good job of that.  However, by taking it slow she got it in the site within 10 minutes, it was just crooked a little. This is where I still have problems, when the truck is not straight to the RV and the RV is not straight in the site.  This requires that you pull forward in a manner that you are set up for the backward move that gets everything straight.  Usually you end up doing this a few times.  Patty was in her second forward/backward maneuver when a neighbor camper came over to help.  It helped but we would have preferred to do it ourselves to get practice. Anyway, it was a great first try.  We were in the site within 20 minutes.

We decide we would head to the Mall of America after we got set up.  The Mall is just as advertised, it is huge!  It basically is a 4 story traditional mall with an amusement park in the center.  Each ½ mile long floor is circular so you can walk to where you started from and then go up another floor.  This is not a gimmicky thing; it truly is an amusement park.  The park has 5 coasters and a log flume for what I think is 25 rides.  It also has a miniature golf course.

We walked around the first floor and found a place (Twin Cities Bar) for drinks and appetizers during happy hour.  After the pit stop we visited 2 more floors before calling it quits, enough Mall for us!  We didn't ride anything; we just took it all in.  Our goal was to see the Mall and we did that and now we were done.

Large Lego characters. 

Tuesday the 10th we took a hike on a trail from the campground into the county wildlife preserve next to us.  The trail was set up for cross country skiing with a shelter at one point back in the woods.  We hiked about 4 miles which was enough for a 90 degree day.

View from our 4 mile hike.
That evening we did another dinner cruise.  We like doing these cruises wherever we are.  It allows us to see some of the cities in a relaxing environment.  This cruise was not that good however.  

Dinner cruise on the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.

The cruise navigated down the Minnesota River from St. Paul to the Mississippi River up to just south of Minneapolis.  The cruise left port at 7 pm which is almost dark here in the Central time zone.  So after leaving port in St. Paul, we looked at mostly a dark river bank which is not very exciting. We had nice buffet dinner a little before 8 pm which took us away from looking at the dark.  I thought we might get to see downtown Minneapolis but the boat turned around way south of there.  The best views were coming back into the St. Paul port in the dark.  The city skyline was all lit up for good pictures.

The sky line of St. Paul MN

Sunset on the Minnesota River.

View from the front of the boat before dark.

View from our dinner table.

St. Paul skyline at night.

Wednesday the 11th we hitched up the rig and moved to Story City Iowa.  Again, Patty is at the wheel.  There is nothing special about Store City for us it is just a convenient stop over for a one nighter.  We arrived at the Whispering Oaks Campground at 2 pm and were checked in and set up by 2:30.   This, we think is a record for us.  

Don't know what this is but it was pretty cool on the to Iowa.

Interesting, Minnesota has a nice sign letting you know you are leaving the state.

Entering Iowa.

Sign for a casino in Iowa.  The barn on the right is the casino.

We decided to head into town to get fueled up and check out the little RV dealer there.  Maybe I can sell the old wheels to them and I needed a new hitch lube plate.  The dealer didn't want the wheels but told us about a place that might want them.  This place was just 5 miles down the road. 

So off we went before the place closes.  Nope, this guy is not interested, but the guy across the road might be.  Ok, so we head across the road to talk to Matt.  Matt was interested and we got a deal of $300 for them.  I might have gotten a little more for them but I was happy to unload the wheels and tires. 

Back at the rig we made a nice chicken breast dinner and then took a mile walk.  We watched a little TV and called it a night.

Our site in Story City Iowa.

Looks like lightning struck the tree leaving it with a large hole.  We don't know what is holding up the rest of the tree.  One good wing and this is coming down.

Tomorrow we head 190 miles to Lincoln Nebraska. We will travel through Des Moines IA and then make a right to head west toward Utah/Arizona and the Canyons.  We plan to be at Arches National Park in Utah by next Saturday the 21st and then Bryce Canyon on the following Monday the 23rd.

Stay Tuned!

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