On the road again, with a few bumps (and a flat)

Hey, look at that, another post and it’s only been a week since the last one!

We (finally) got back on the road yesterday.  After 6 weeks in the same place just outside Denver, we started our journey into Wyoming bright and early Saturday morning.  We were a bit rusty with our travel-day prep and packing but we had everything ready to go in a couple hours and were leaving the campsite by 10am.  It felt so good to re-start our adventures and get moving again.

The drive out of Denver and up I-25 through Fort Collins and into Wyoming was fairly uneventful, other than plenty of traffic getting outside of the city.  We stopped in Cheyenne for gas and lunch and then got back on the road heading west to Rawlins.  And that’s where the “fun” began…

We started feeling some vibrations that didn’t seem right so we pulled off the highway about 60 miles east of our destination for the night.  As we exited and slowed down, those vibrations felt more like a wobble but when we got out to look we couldn’t see anything that was causing the issue.  Everything on the truck and the 5th wheel looked fine to us.  There weren’t any services around (that stretch of I-80 in Wyoming is pretty desolate) so we decided to keep going, but to slow down and limp our way into Rawlins and then try to figure things out there.

It was a stressful stretch of driving as we both just kept waiting for something to happen.  And then, about 15 miles east of Rawlins, the right front tire on the truck gave out.  Luckily it happened right in front of an exit and we were able to pull off and safely come to a stop.  It took us a bit to figure out how to change a tire on the truck but between the owner’s manual (not very helpful) and some YouTube videos (more helpful) we got the spare on and were back on the road.

We kept things slow and got to the campground in Rawlins without issue.  Once checked in we called a few places around town to see about getting a new tire.  Unfortunately it was about 5pm and most places were closing up for the night (and not open on Sundays) so we were a bit concerned about having to stay in Rawlins into next week.  On top of that, the campground said they could only let us stay another night (Sunday) but they were fully booked up and we’d have to leave by Monday morning.

Luckily, when I was talking to one of the tire shop guys on the phone, he asked me to check the size and measurements of our spare and it turned out our spare is actually just another full-sized tire.  The previous owner of the truck must have swapped out the typical “donut” spare for a full-sized tire at some point (thank you to whomever that was!).  The tread of the spare is a bit different than our normal front tires but the mechanic said we should be fine to keep going and then we can look into getting a new tire when we get to Evanston.

That set our minds at ease so we finished setting up camp and then went into town to stock up on groceries before coming home to make dinner and relax.  And hey, the Buffalos and Ducks and Timbers all won yesterday, so not everything was lost.  And we also had an amazing sunset.

So, that’s the plan.  We’ll leave Rawlins this morning and head down to the Flaming Gorge for a week of off-grid camping and then make our way to Evanston next weekend, as planned.  We’ll be in Evanston for a week (I have a work conference in town) so we’ll have plenty of time to get a new tire while we’re out there.

There is also a Les Schwab Tire Center in Rock Springs, which is just about an hour’s drive from our Flaming Gorge camping spot, so if we have time and feel inclined, we could also get the new tire fairly easily one afternoon mid-week before we head over to Evanston.

I remember saying to friends and family that I had enough of all the “adventures” we experienced during our first 3 months on the road (the no so fun ones like the black tank issue and the 5th wheel bearings adjustment and all the other repairs and projects that kept popping up) and that I was looking forward to 6 weeks in one place and a break.  But then I got bored and was itching to get back to the adventures – I just didn’t expect to have another one pop up 3 hours later.

We sure are learning a lot (and quickly) and in the end each unexpected issue just makes us feel more self-confident and capable.  I remember wondering, before we left Oregon, how in the world are we ever going to change a tire on the side of the road with our giant dually truck hitched up to the 5th wheel?  Turns out, it’s not that big of deal and now we’ll know exactly what to do next time.

That said, it would be really nice if the next week camping in the middle of nowhere is a little less eventful.  Fingers crossed.

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