Trip Four: West Memphis -> Sallisaw

We survived the surface of Mars highways of West Memphis and made it to our KOA campsite in Marion, AR! Unfortunately, for the second time in three trips we were again struck with pretty bad shaking in Truck Norris due to a separated tread from the crappy tires that came with the truck when we purchased it. This has definitely been a good learning experience, but it sucks to have to replace 6 tires on your first trip with your new camper.

I decided to make an early morning trek to the Walmart in West Memphis and get the tire situation sorted out for good by replacing all six tires. I arrived at the auto care department thirty minutes before opening and there was already a line. 

They didn't have any E load range highway tires, but they did have some really nice Goodyear Wranglers that would absolutely do the trick.

I got on the horn with my brother, Jesse (the tire expert), and he said they would be much better than what I have. The choice was made.

They were able to get the truck on a lift around nine o' clock, but there was a problem... They had tires that would fit my truck perfectly, however, they didn't have a functional wheel balancing cone... WTF!?

No balancing cone. Cool!

This means we would either have to make the 300 mile journey on unbalanced tires or risk another trek with tires we knew to be unsafe. After thinking on this for a while, I decided it was better to make the trip on new rubber than to risk another potentially hazardous failure. This ended up being a good call.

It took five hours, $1200, and a little confusion around the orientation of the wheels and adapters on the dually, but around 11am it was finally time to head back to the camp site. I passed the time shopping and in the waiting room having wonderful conversations with the delightful residents of West Memphis who were also waiting a seemingly endless amount of time for their auto work.

I was also able to buy half of Walmart's RV accessories while I waited...

On the way back to the camp ground, I opened up the throttle on Truck Norris and was delighted to find that there was a bit of noise but minimal shaking resulting from the unbalanced tires. The plan then became to make it to Sallisaw, find another Walmart and then have the tires removed, balanced and then re-mounted. Big fun. Thankfully, I purchased the road hazard protection from Walmart so any work on the tires moving forward would be free. One less thing to worry about I suppose.

We were late checking out of our site, but the people at the KOA were wonderful. They made sure that we were able to stay another night if we needed to, but did not charge us any fees for being late getting out of our site. Rad folks.

The KOA Journey in Marin, AR was lovely

We had  some pretty amusing FFTs and learning experiences on this leg of the journey. There was a lot of unprotected turns, single lane roads, terrifying bridges, utterly destroyed destroyed pavement, middle of nowhere liquor stores with amazing selections, and tons of gravel. The FFT that really stuck with me on this leg was that I FORGOT TO CLOSE THE BLACK TANK VALVE before leaving Birmingham.

Yes. That. Ew.

So, a word of advice. Always remember to close the black tank valve before setting off on a long, hot drive. If you don't, you will be greeted with a stream of hot liquid poo when you take the cap off of your waste dumping port. Not great times. My next purchase will be a secondary valve that covers that port so that the cap isn't the only thing holding back any waste water.

Once we got on the road with our shiny, though not perfectly round new tires it was relatively smooth sailing. We discovered some alarming banging noises that were the result of a cracked mud flap on the front passenger side that was banging against the wheel well any time it was windy, but that was about it.

Arkansas is some beautiful country. Lots of fields and rivers and rolling hills and once you are out of the West Memphis region of I-40 the pavement gets better fairly quickly. I really enjoyed the drive to Sallisaw, OK.

One of the coolest FFTs for this trip was Deirdre taking the wheel for the first time towing the trailer! She drove the entire second half of the day and got us parked in the camp site in Sallisaw, OK! Way to go sweetie!

One bad lady

We pulled into the KOA Holiday in Sallisaw, OK around 7:00pm and were ready to relax for the week. The RV park was great! It had a fishing lake and a giant play area for kids, including a water fountain area and pool. We were situated in a great spot near the office between a couple of large trees so we got to enjoy shade pretty much all day long.

Nice camp ground!

Wide open spaces to walk the dogs!

Excited about the idea of relaxing for a bit, we settled into our site and got ready for the coming work week. We met some great people, including an Air Force couple in a Solitude who were also from Oregon and huge Duck fans! What a cool coincidence!

Monday morning it would be off to Walmart again to get the wheels balanced, but that's a problem for another day...

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