Myrtle Beach by way of Augusta

Myrtle Beach

After Dragoncon we spent a week and a half in Augusta Georgia. It wasn’t on our list of places to visit, but it was a good halfway point (give or take) on our way to Myrtle Beach, which we were headed to for our first RV Rally.

I’m both embarrassed and pleased to report that we did very little of interest while in Augusta! As introverts, we decided to have some “downtime” for ourselves after the non-stop swarm of crowds at Dragoncon. Most of our time was spent reading, movie-watching, stitching (Kathie), and coding (Mike), in addition of course to the usual necessities like house cleaning, grocery shopping, and entertaining the dogs. We finally made it out to see Guardians of the Galaxy, which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Rover's spot in Augusta GA

Rover’s spot in Augusta GA

We did manage to escape our cocoon of comfort twice, both times to visit the Augusta Canal. The canal runs alongside the Savannah River, and the tow path between the two is great for walking and biking, so we tried both. During our bike ride we made it into downtown Augusta, but pretty quickly gave up and headed back down the river since the traffic and roads in Augusta did not seem particularly bike friendly. We also took Opie for a nice long walk along the tow path, with a couple stops for him to get wet and cool off in the Savannah River. During our dog walk we were lucky to spot an otter swimming around in the canal posing for photos! Here’s a short video of him:

After Augusta we spent six days at Myrtle Beach for the iRV2.com Rally. We made our reservations way back in March before we’d even picked up Rover. An RV Rally is a get-together of RVers with something in common—in this case, members of an internet RV discussion forum. Over 150 RVs (over 300 people) showed up for the rally, and there were group dinners, educational seminars, contests, and more. We got to meet quite a few other RVers, including the couple who sent us photos of Rover right after he was painted at the factory in March!

The rally was held at one of the largest RV Resorts in the U.S., right along the beach. Since it was a dog-friendly beach, Opie and Max got to experience the ocean for the first time. The first few days, Max would walk in a bit, then briefly try to drink the water before realizing it was salt water. By the time we were leaving, he had finally figured it out and stopped trying to drink it. Opie loves water in general, and definitely loved the ocean! Every day during his walks he’d practically drag us towards the beach to go swimming. He got to swim almost every day, and I think he’s going to miss it now that we’re gone:

We did use the rally to finally get our 5 star Tuning engine computer reprogramming done. This should give us improved engine power and shifting, which should result in a quieter ride and better fuel economy. We’re anxious to feel the difference in driving and in MPG. We also finally surrendered and declared a defeat with our RV mattress. We’ve been unhappy with the mattress that came with Rover almost from the beginning—it was way too soft and we could feel the springs in the mattress when we moved around. We did some research and decided on a Sleep Number RV bed. Camping World had one in stock just a few miles from Ocean Lakes, so we picked it up and installed it ourselves. We hope this will mark a vast improvement in our sleeping moving forward. We also took advantage of a group discount at the Rally to get Rover professionally washed and waxed, so he’s looking shiny and like-new again.

While the Rally was interesting and the beach resort was very nice, we’re not really sure if we fit in well with the rest of the folks at the Rally. Much of the group was retired military and retired truckers. Those we met were extremely friendly and fun but we just didn’t have a lot in common to keep us talking. It was a nice diversion from our usual isolation, and we learned some interesting information. It’s not something I think we would do regularly but it was fun to experience it at least once.

Michael Fischer

After a high-tech career spanning software development and systems administration to leading hundreds of engineers across cities and continents, I’m now slowing things down a bit. Traveling full-time in an RV with my awesome wife Kathie and our two big dogs Max and Opie, I’m now pursuing smaller personal software projects while seeing North America up close.

5 Comments

  1. Rod Reichardt   •  

    I am interested to hear how the 5 Star tune works for you. We have almost 9,000 miles on our 2014 36LA. The constant downshifting makes cruise control almost unusable IMO. I keep forgetting the tune. I put on a rear track bar and steering stabilizer before our first trip. I planned to do the tune at the same time but kept putting it off. Then I drive the coach and it all comes back to me.

    • Mike   •     Author

      Rod, we’ve only done one drive so far, around 250 miles, but there was definitely an improvement, including with cruise control. On moderate inclines (regular overpasses) the cruise control did fine, either holding 5th gear or dropping to 4th which was still pretty quiet. On steeper hills it still had to downshift to 3rd which was pretty loud—in those cases it really doesn’t make sense to try to hold 60 MPH going uphill, so it’s best to cancel cruise (via the “resume” button) and keep a more reasonable speed uphill. Apart from the cruise improvements, we did feel more power at lower RPMs, and the drive in general seemed quieter.

      We haven’t done any other changes like the track bar or stabilizer. So far we’ve been pretty happy with the stability and steering.

      -Mike

      • Rod Reichardt   •  

        Thanks Mike! Just having it downshift to 4th rather than 3rd every time would be an improvement.

        I didn’t drive it much before installing the suspension aids. The tire pressures were very high from the dealer and I installed the hardware and adjusted the tire pressures at the same time so I was not able to do an “apples to apples” comparison. It drives pretty well now. The steering stabilizer has a large spring that centers the coach. On smooth roads I can take my hands off of the wheel and it just tracks straight. I do think think that there was a bit of tail wag next to big trucks when I made the two hour drive home from the dealer. That is gone completely.

        Neither the track bar or stabilizer was easy to install. Our motorhomes use very large bolts. I had to buy an electric impact wrench to do it. If you are happy with it now I wouldn’t worry about it. The stock front track bar is huge as are the sway bars.

  2. Lea Coville   •  

    How did the 5star-tuning impact your MPG?

    • Mike   •     Author

      Before the 5-star tune, we were averaging 6.3 MPG. After, we’ve averaged 6.6 MPG, so around a 5% improvement. Dropping from 65 MPH average to 55 MPH seems to bring our MPG from 6.6 up to around 7.0 or 7.1. One time we filled up at a Costco in Montana that only sold ethanol-free gas, and we got 7.8 MPG on that tank (and it wasn’t a measurement error)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *