Salt Lake City Day 1

First, I need to apologize to quite a few friends & family. I’ve gotten several phone messages, but I haven’t made time to return calls lately. Here are my sorry excuses…Between traveling (I don’t like talking on the phone while I’m driving through mountain passes or snow storms pulling a trailer), being off the grid (I don’t like talking on the phone when I don’t have cell coverage), maximizing our time at places during our short visits (I don’t like not seeing awesome things and visiting with awesome people that I might not get to see again for a long time or ever), well, I’m not good at calling you back. Sorry.

One thing we’re learning is that it’d be great to have more down time during our trip. We haven’t shared it publicly yet, but we’re on a timeline…partially to beat winter weather at places we want to visit and partially to get to where we’re going when my next job starts. Because of those timeline pressures, we don’t have much non-spoken-for downtime. I do want to work on that though.

In semi-related news, when we started this road trip, I just did quick Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts (Spots #1 through #3). However, I really wanted to post a bigger story to help us capture and remember the trip later and store that at a place that we owned. I realize that jaunting over to our webpage from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is out of the norm of what everyone else in the world does, but this will make sure that we keep a great record of our road trip. Thanks for taking the time to read about our adventues.

I typically write for our blog after the day is done and everyone else is in bed…between roughly 11pm and 2am. Sometimes later. Night owl. It’s fairly similar to what I did when our twins were in the NICU. For me, it’s a good time to relax and reflect on the experiences we’re having.

Alright. Enough of that. On to today!

Today was our first full day in Salt Lake City. We spent the day visiting with Tanya’s brother Josh and sister Kristie and their families – and also working on the truck & trailer.

First things first, though. My official USAF retirement date was yesterday. Today my DD-214 became available (it’s the official paperwork that says I’m retired from active duty). So, with the help of Josh, we all took the shiny new paperwork down to the great folks at the Guard base by the SLC airport. Tanya & I traded in our old ID cards for new ones with “retired” stamped on them. The blue ID is mine! I might be biased a tiny bit by the reason for our visit, but it was the best ID card office ever. Hands down.

On the way back to Josh’s, we made a pit stop at a highly recommended chiropractor to help with Tanya’s back healing from her fall a couple weeks ago. We made it back to Josh’s around noon.

The kids played. Tanya worked hard inside the trailer and I got the awesome help of Josh and Paul working on the truck & trailer.

First up was some troubleshooting on some clicking my truck is doing. Toyota Tundras with similar vintage to mine have several reasons that they do mystery clicks while driving. There are a couple suspension issues that can cause them, but I didn’t see anything loose or wrong there. The CV joint boots all look good, so I’m hoping that’s not it. The factory front skid plate has a long history of clicking as it flexes while the truck drives.

My skid plate has taken some damage over the years (you know, because off roading is awesome!). It was also missing a few attachment bolts (you know, because Jiffy Lube didn’t bother to tell me and I never looked). A few weeks ago, I replaced all the bolts hoping it would fix the clicking – nope. Today we did a little driving around, but, of course, didn’t hear any of the clicking. Josh & I pulled the skid plate to try to isolate the problem. I drove about 40 miles with the truck today and maybe heard one or two clicks. I’m planning to keep it off to continue troubleshooting. I really don’t want it to be a CV joint, but I’m guessing that’s the real problem. Thankfully we don’t have four wheel drive engaged much, so I doubt we’re putting a ton of stress on the CV joints (well, being in four wheel drive more would be great, but you know what I mean). Whatever the clicking is, it’s not getting worse quickly. I don’t really want an axle to fail though.

Josh & I also picked up two new 30lb propane tanks. Our current 20lb tanks have worked for about 5 years in this trailer, but the extra capacity will be nice in our cold weather adventures. I ordered an improved auto-switching pressure regulator and some new gas plumbing. We also picked up a new longer threaded rod for the tank mount. I should have everything I need to finish that upgrade.

We also picked up some paint so I can cover the bare metal on my truck door from where I assaulted a rock in our Lake Tahoe campground.

Among the many things Tanya worked on, she upgraded our toilet seat to one that fits the odd RV toilet size. Unfortunately, it’s not a slow-closing one and it doesn’t have a kid-sized seat on it. So, I’m guessing the quest for the perfect travel trailer toilet seat will continue.

The biggest project today was the addition of JT Strongarms to our stabilizer jacks. Travel trailers seems to always be pretty wobbly. When people walk around, keys hanging on hooks swing back & forth. When our kids roll over in bed or walk to the bathroom at night, it usually wakes us up. Tanya did some great research on ways to improve that (shy of buying a new house, of course). There seem to be a couple good options, but we decided to go with JT Strongarms.

JT Strongarms provide additional support for your existing stabilizer jacks. In a nutshell, they make a tripod out of your stabilizer jacks. That tripod is supposed to cut down on the amount of swaying that the trailer does when it’s parked at a campsite. After Tanya found out about them, I looked at some reviews – but honestly didn’t believe they’d really do much. Sure, tripods are better than monopods, but I didn’t buy the hype.

Still, we decided it was worth the gamble. The JT Strongarm kit was one of the things we had delivered to Josh’s house (for our SLC Amazon Christmas). Josh, Paul and I installed the kit this afternoon. Once it was all ready, Josh followed the instructions and Tanya gave it a test. Her look was a combo of shock & giddiness. I think she said something like “it’s amazing.” I thought she was kidding.

I was dead wrong in my scoffing of the hype. Tanya wasn’t kidding. I walked up & down the stairs and I couldn’t feel the trailer move. I went outside to the front of the trailer and pushed sideways on it. Before the upgrade, a very small push at the right frequency would really get the trailer moving. Now, I could put a ton of force on it and it would barely budge. I’m seriously impressed.

The downside to them that I see so far is they’ll take more time to set up & tear down the trailer. It’s also possible that I could damage stuff if I tried to move the jacks with the Strongarms locked down. I’m guessing those won’t be a big deal, but we’re definitely watching for that as we continue our road trip. If you’re interested, here’s a link for the kit we bought.

Because there are still some things I want to do on the trailer and truck, we’re staying another full day in Salt Lake City. More wrenching on stuff tomorrow!

We were lucky enough to land here in Salt Lake at the right time to join in on our neice Madi’s birthday dinner. It was great to get a bunch of siblings & cousins together. I ate way to much food. So good. It was really cute to see all the cousins together. It’s also always great to take over a restaurant with a loud happy birthday song. Good times.

Author: bryan

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