Durant, OK – 2014 Spring Heartland Chapter Rally

Here’s our week in review.

Monday,  April 7th
We’re still in Texas. Today, we traveled from Santo, TX, site of the 2014 Spring North Texas Heartland Owners Rally, to Durant, OK, site of the 2014 Spring Oklahoma Heartland Owners Rally. Pretty uneventful trip. We took about 5 hours to travel about 200 miles, stopping for lunch and a couple of breaks.

Our lunch spot on a side street.  Nancy walked about a block and picked up fried chicken from a regional chain.  Pretty good stuff :)
Our lunch spot on a side street. Nancy walked about a block and picked up fried chicken from a regional chain. Pretty good stuff 🙂

Tuesday,  April 8th
First day of our Pre-Rally time here in Durant, OK. We’re staying at a beautiful campground at the Choctaw Casino. The campground is KOA branded. I believe the casino owns the campground and it’s managed by KOA. Regardless, this is a real nice place. Long concrete pull-throughs, covered picnic tables and grills. And the club house and bathrooms are amazing. The campground is a short walk to the casino.

Choctaw RV Park Sign - taken one evening
Choctaw RV Park Sign – taken one evening
Wooden Indian Bust at Choctaw KOA
Wooden Indian Bust at Choctaw KOA
Choctaw Casino - Upcoming Shows
Choctaw Casino – Upcoming Shows
Our site from the off-door side
Our site from the off-door side
Our site - #47
Our site – #47
A bunch of the Heartland rigs here for the rally
A bunch of the Heartland rigs here for the rally

After we got all setup, we went out for dinner with Terry and Carol H. We went to downtown Durant to Roma Italian Restaurant. Pretty good Italian food. Even better were their cannolis 🙂 Wow, one of the best I’ve ever had.

Roma Italian Restaurant
Roma Italian Restaurant

Wednesday,  April 9th
Today was ‘smoke some ribs” day. Dan H and I made plans a while back to each smoke some spareribs when we got to Durant. And while I minded the smoker for about 5 hours, I decided to do a few RV repairs and mods. Here’s what I tackled:

  • Replaced screws that fell out of the ceiling fan blade brackets at the motor. Used Loctite Threadlocker Red 271 on all screws
  • Installed license plate onto bracket using nylon bolts/nuts. I had it tie-wrapped to the RV ladder for the last 7+ months
  • Replaced 2 broken plastic RV ladder rung end-caps, then walked around the campground to find anyone else with broken caps and gave a few out
  • Mounted First Alert Smoke/CO Detector in storage bay. This unit sounds locally and is connected to my Smartthings hub so I’ll get push notifications too
  • Lubricated the hinge areas of the entry steps so they open and close easier
  • Added Vent Screening to each of our 4 furnace floor vents. This helps keep debris from falling down the vent hose. With a vacuum with enough suction, we can clean the screens without removing the vents
  • Repaired an expensive plastic box Nancy uses to store Mary Kay samples. I used 4 nylon hobby hinges.
Ceiling Fan - Missing Screws
Ceiling Fan – Missing Screws
The fix to ceiling fan blade screws that fall out: Loctite Threadlocker Red 271
The fix to ceiling fan blade screws that fall out: Loctite Threadlocker Red 271
Before: License Plate - Temporary Installation
Before: License Plate – Temporary Installation
After: License Plate - Installed
After: License Plate – Installed
Before: RV Ladder Rung End Cap - Broken
Before: RV Ladder Rung End Cap – Broken
Comparison: RV Ladder Rung End Cap - Broken and New
Comparison: RV Ladder Rung End Cap – Broken and New
After: RV Ladder Rung End Cap - Replaced
After: RV Ladder Rung End Cap – Replaced
First Alert Smoke/CO Detector - Mounted in Storage Bay
First Alert Smoke/CO Detector – Mounted in Storage Bay
RV Step Joint Lubrication
RV Step Joint Lubrication
Vent Screening Material
Vent Screening Material
Vent - Before Screening
Vent – Before Screening
Vent - Screened
Vent – Screened
Plastic Box Repair
Plastic Box Repair

And here’s some pictures of ribfest:

Smoked Spare Ribs
Smoked Spare Ribs
Smoker - Hold that Temperature
Smoker – Hold that Temperature
Smoker with Ribs Out in Pan
Smoker with Ribs Out in Pan
Smoker with Ribs
Smoker with Ribs

Thursday,  April 10th
This morning was the start of what I thought would be a “Man Day”. A Man Day is where myself and another man or more go to Man Stores and see Man Stuff and such 🙂 Dan M, Terry H and myself comprised the men today. My plan was to go to Fry’s Electronics and Sam’s Club in nearby Denison and Sherman, TX. On the way, we found a West Marine. Had to stop there 🙂

West Marine - Denison, OK
West Marine – Denison, OK

Well, we got foiled on Fry’s. Must have at one time, been a small mom and pop shop. But for sure, never a real Fry’s Electronic chain store. So we made it over to Sam’s Club and headed home. We still had fun 🙂

For dinner tonight, Nancy and I went out with Terry and Carol H to Roadhouse Bar and Grill. Nancy and I shared two dinners – small ribeye steak and colossal fried shrimp. Both meals were great. We split a slice of carrot cake – some of the best I’ve ever had 🙂

Roadhouse Bar and Grill - Durant, OK
Roadhouse Bar and Grill – Durant, OK

Friday,  April 11th
Most of this morning and a bit this afternoon was spent helping another Heartlander out with a couple issues on their coach. Jay and Stella C had a water leak on their Landmark and Jay thought it might be the ice maker line. Myself, Dan H, Dan M and Paul L tore into it. While the ice maker line was rather nasty looking (green inside), it turns out that water was dripping from the top connection (hot output) to the water heater. The drip was either from the plastic check valve or the water connector.

Assuming the worst, we pulled the water heater out. What a little chore that was. Much of the trouble was the flare fitting on the gas line we disconnected. It was getting hung up on the foam insulation of the water heater and we were fighting it, not really knowing what the real hangup was. But we got it out!

We tried to back out the plastic check valve but it snapped off – as we figured it would. Dan H chipped away at the plastic but in the end, he resorted to using a 1/2″ pipe thread tap to chase the threads. He spent 90 minutes going all over town (Durant, OK) looking for the tap before finally finding it. Using it, Dan got the threads cleaned out and got the new check valve installed. While the two Dans, Paul L and others were working on that, I tackled replacing the ice maker line. Jay got a heavy duty residential line with pre-installed fittings. This required a new larger hole be placed in the slide room floor behind the refer. Dan M helped me on this and we got’r done.

Jay was flitting all over the RV helping in anyway he could, fetching tools and supplies. At one time, I think we had a lot of supervisors looking over our shoulders 🙂 It’s all good though – we’re all great friends. Jay and Stella got free coach repairs and several of us learned a lot by helping. I think 3 of us left a little blood here and there too 🙂

Dan H and Paul L working on the Water Heater
Dan H and Paul L working on the Water Heater
The Dans - Removing Jay's Water Heater
The Dans – Removing Jay’s Water Heater

Late this afternoon, I cleaned the smoker and grill as they were both in need of it. When I don’t plan to use these items really soon again, I don’t like storing them with grease and food drippings in them. I also rearranged the storage bay to better store these items. I also relocated where I store my large plastic folding table for easier access.

Storage Bay - Reorganized
Storage Bay – Reorganized
Smoker - Stored in the RV
Smoker – Stored in the RV

This evening, we had our rally potluck dinner in the rally hall. After dinner, we had a guest speaker – Colonel James Wilhite (RET). Col. Wilhite is out promoting a book about his experience in Afghanistan. His time with us was very insightful. Here’s some info from his website (link): We Answered the Call tells an untold story of success and hope from Operation Enduring Freedom. Wilhite recounts his amazing story, from the shock of an unexpected deployment to the tribulations of life in a war zone. Despite the chaos, Wilhite and his dedicated team of Afghan, American, and NATO colleagues used their diversity, their savy, and their drive to overcome all obstacles and build a symbol of hope for the people of Afghanistan.we_answered_the_call_image

Saturday,  April 12th
We attended the rally breakfast at the rally hall. After breakfast, Bob C took a group picture, then Larry and Donna K gave out a lot of door prizes. We won a double camping chair.

Similar to the 2-person chair we won
Similar to the 2-person chair we won

Right after lunch, I had a 2014 Central Regional Rally planning meeting with Jay/Stella C, Dan/Karen H and David L by phone. Great meeting. This rally is really shaping up.

Late this afternoon, rally attendees caravanned to Kingsport, OK to BH Catch for their seafood buffet. Pretty good stuff. We sat between John/Becci Z and Larry/Donna K. During dinner. Becci and Donna became my latest Facebook friends.

Part of our convoy heading to BG's Catch in Kingston, OK. Image credit: Becci Z
Part of our convoy heading to BG’s Catch in Kingston, OK.
Image credit: Becci Z
Here's our queue - waiting to get into BG's Catch for dinner. Image credit: Becci Z
Here’s our queue – waiting to get into BG’s Catch for dinner.
Image credit: Becci Z
BG's Catch Restaurant
BG’s Catch Restaurant
BG's Catch - The group queing up
BG’s Catch – The group queing up
Me and my two new Facebook Friends - Donna and Becci
Me and my two new Facebook Friends – Donna K and Becci Z

Sunday, April 13th
Nancy and I took the shuttle over to the casino late this morning and had brunch at one of the restaurants there. Pretty good. Nancy had a little luck on her favorite Gold Bars slot machine. Enough so that it paid for our morning 🙂

We both worked indoors today – Nancy on PDUs for her PMP recertification and me on expense reports. Dan M called us to see if we wanted to join a growing list of rally holdovers heading into town for dinner at Roma’s Italian Restaurant. We’re in!

Late in the afternoon, I popped across the highway and fueled up the truck for travel Monday. Then around 5pm, we headed to downtown Durant for dinner. I believe there were 23 or more of us there. We had a nice time visiting with our Heartland friends one last time before most of us head out on Monday.

The Rally Holdover Group at Dinner at Roma's Italian Restaurant in Durant, OK
The Rally Holdover Group at Dinner at Roma’s Italian Restaurant in Durant, OK

During dinner, many of us were tracking a storm heading our way. We were already under a severe thunderstorm watch and tornado watch. By the time we arrived back at the RV, it was looking pretty bad out. A check of the detailed forecast showed we had about a half hour until rain and the severe thunderstorm watch had changed to a warning. I went ahead and drained and flushed our tanks and put everything away outside. When the rain and winds began, we brought the satellite dish down, brought in the slides and watched some TV that we had recorded earlier. About a half hour later, the storm had passed and up went the dish and out went the slides. Take a look at the radar image below. That small gap in the long storm line went right through Durant, sparing us from any damaging winds and hail.

Here's the storm radar.  We're in Durant.  The red line and arrow shows the path the storm took and how we slipped between a split between the worst part of the storm.
Here’s the storm radar. We’re in Durant. The red line and arrow shows the path the storm took and how we slipped between a split between the worst part of the storm.

Late addition to this blog post is a rally group picture taken by Bob C

OK Rally Group Picture
OK Rally Group Picture

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