The Greatest Road Trip USA? - Our Round USA Road Tour.
Part of the year long trip from Sept ’94 - Sept ’95 through 36 USA States and 2 Canadian Provinces by Jean and Graham Beven in 'Serendipity' their 30 foot Winnebago 'Chieftain'.
Below is the index to the pages of information on organisations and services you may need to use in the USA when you get there.
20.09.94 2.45 p.m. We arrived in Dallas Fort Worth airport, Texas . We had arranged to be met at the airport by associates of a UK businessman who had been to the USA a year or so before. We were met by one of the owners of Suncountry RV Resort Park, Whitney, 2 hours driving, south of Dallas, Texas. We were dropped off at a sited caravan which was to be our home for the next week. We had arranged the hire of a Chevy Blazer SUV for the first week, whilst we got set up with our own RV.
21st First day on the road looking for a suitable RV. When we discussed our specifications with the RV park owners and staff, the general consensus was that we had too high expectations of what we could get for our money! This was before access to the internet. Now you can research the prices better than we could. Still we set off – looking for ‘trade-ins’ at new RV dealerships. We had no luck. We were not downhearted as we were on a learning curve! We bought a copy of ‘RV and Boat Trader’ and highlighted a number of possible at RV dealerships within 2 or 3 hours drive.
22nd We travelled to Denton, just north of Dallas, Texas and intended to work our way back towards Whitney. We were looking for a dealer called ‘Chatham’s’ when we took a wrong turn and spotted an RV dealership called ‘Pat Poor’ and decided to take a look at his stock. There was nothing suitable on the lot but he showed us a 1983, 30’ Winnebago, that he had just accepted as a trade-in on a newer motor home. The Winnebago still had not been de-kited by its previous owners. The specifications met with most of our expectations, and being a well known ‘brand’ to us, we made an offer to buy. Pat Poor told us he would sell it to us for the trade-in value, $15,000. This was well within our budget, so we paid a deposit, arranged a PDI and full service and arranged to pick up ‘Serendipity’ the following Monday, 26 September. It was a wet cold day, but we felt great!
23rd Friday, we went to Cleburne to the Drivers Test Centre. We both sat our written tests and took the vision test and passed. We had prepared for the tests by reading the Texas Drivers Manual the equivalent of the UK ’s Highway Code. Graham sat his practical driving test – and passed. The sheriff who tested him wanted to know more about the UK and what we were planning than anything else! Jean didn’t feel confident about taking her test that day as she had not driven the ‘Blazer’ enough.
In the afternoon we sorted out the vehicle insurance. At $505.00, fully comprehensive, this seemed a snip but looking at the liability element we decided to increase it and ended up paying $537.00.
Saturday Jean drove the ‘Blazer’ to our new favourite superstore, Wal-Mart, Known affectionately locally as ‘Wally World’. We had been there just about every day, buying everything from tools to bedding and kitchen equipment.
The following day we took the Blazer and headed for Dallas, Texas, Jean drove some of the way, as we had been told Sunday was the best day to drive in to the city. On the way there Jean had a practice drive around the driving test route in Cleburne . An enjoyable day – just chilling out.
Monday came – Time to pick up our ‘new’ RV. One of the Owners of the resort and a long term resident took us to Pat Poor’s in Denton . We arrived in Denton about midday , so we all had lunch together. Pat Poor himself greeted us at his dealership about 1:30p.m. The motor home was ready to go. After a full rundown on how everything worked we were given the keys. Leaving Pat Poor at 2:30p.m. on our own with Graham driving. Driving a 30’ Winnebago Chieftain for the first time on a Monday afternoon, through Denton and Dallas was fun! Serendipity was her given name, ‘Dippy’ as she became affectionately known handled like a dream. Using the cruise control was great. (Not ‘auto-pilot’ as urban myth would have it, that some tourists believed it was and left the drivers seat to go back and make a coffee! with the obvious results. Oops!)
Jean was a little bit nervous going through Dallas. We took Dippy to Wal-Mart to get some more supplies to get us started. The pair that had taken us to Denton were waiting for us when we got back to Suncountry. Because we had been a while longer than they expected, they were getting a bit worried. A nice feeling to think they had only met us a few days ago. The rest of the day was spent deep cleaning Dippy and later that evening surrounded by new friends we christened her with a bottle of Champagne. We were mentally ready for off! We just had to get Jean through her driving test. She took her test on Tuesday morning and passed.
We spent the rest of the day stowing everything and rearranging what we had already stowed – we would get it right soon! We had been invited to a farewell party, by the people who had helped us, on Wednesday evening and another Thursday, so we couldn’t just shoot off even though we were itching to be on our way.
Wednesday. As we had time to kill, we went to Wal-Mart bought some wallpaper and papered the galley. Played around the pool and hot-tub. The party was great – barbecue, beer and margaritas. Our hosts were Joyce and ‘Woody’ Woods. Woody is a Vietnam War veteran who has a terrific sense of humour and kept us amused for hours on end. He would not accept payment for anything.
Thursday was pretty much the same, except one of the guys, Steve, took us to a shooting range, we suspect to show us how good he was. We won! (Forgot to tell him Graham was an Army marksman). After we were all out of ammo we went to an ‘all you can eat ribs’ place just outside Whitney, called ‘The Cherokee Station’. $7.95 each, for all you can eat (That was just over £5 then) Steve managed 12 ribs, Jean managed 8 but Graham downed a nice round 20! They were fantastic. Texas is no place for a veggie! Back to Suncountry and a few more beers with our neighbours and fairly early to bed. The adventure starts tomorrow…….
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