We left Gun Creek Campground and Illinois, crossed through Kentucky (with a pit stop at a customer’s plant), and spent 2 nights in Clarksville at Clarksville Campground. This gave us a weekend to relax and sight-see nearby at Fort Donelson National Battlefield.
This battlefield sits on a hilly overlook on the Cumberland River in Tennessee, just east of Clarksville.
The site has been well preserved, is very quiet and informative. There are beautiful river outlooks, a national cemetery, and the preserved Dover Hotel which was the site of the battle’s surrender.
On Sunday, we picked up and headed for Nashville and Grand Ole RV Park and Thanksgiving with the family!
We stopped at Gun Creek Campground on Rend Lake in central Illinois for a week. Our plans originally were for Barry to make calls in southern Illinois and south-eastern Missouri, however, other calls came up and he spent the week between here, St. Louis, Springfield, MO and Mattoon, IL…..lots of miles on the car! This gave me a great opportunity to work on some spreadsheets for the company, it’s called StL Packaging Systems, by the way!
Each day though, the Corgis and I managed to make time for long walks along the lake, in the woods or along the trails. The lake is a Corps of Engineers lake and is banked most of the way around by great big white chunky rocks that are hard to clamber on with 2 little dogs on leashes. There is a little sandy beach they have built near our campground but it has mostly washed down into the water leaving just a muddy-sandy beach in between those big rocks and plantings of some type of bamboo. The trails are paved but wander along until they just stop without warning. There is a large power line cut behind this campground and the Corgis and I hike along that and into the woods where possible. Briars grow wild here and most of our treks ended in thickets too dense to part.
The sun has been out some of the time, it rained heavily one day and knocked more leaves off the trees. They are still beautiful here with lots of bright oranges and yellows left on the maples and persimmons on several trees.
We really love stopping at this campground; full hookups, great views, quiet parking and dark at night! We stop here whenever we are working in southern Illinois, know the good places to eat, and use this campground to recharge our souls. (Notice I recharge in nature? That’s a good thing!). Our next stop will be in Nashville for a Thanksgiving celebration!
After leaving Bennett Springs, we returned to the St. Louis area and parked at Babler State Park. We were having trouble with the leveling system on the coach and made an appointment for an oil change and check-up and stayed at our house (still not sold) during that time. I turned off the water at several bathrooms to prevent any trouble while we had been gone so long; this was a chance to turn it back on and “flush” the systems. We have 1 master bath, 2 other bathrooms, and a half-bath (this was the only one I left on). After filling the tanks back up, the 3 toilets that had been turned off began to leak quickly from the tank bolts. All the toilets were original to our house (28 years old) and the gaskets on those bolts had dry-rotted. I bought 6 new bolt setups at the hardware store and returned to replace them.
The process looks like this:
Turn off the water to the toilet.
Flush and drain all the water out of the tank.
Dry the interior of the tank as much as possible.
Apply some type of lubricant to the bolts inside the tank for ease of removal.
Hold a screwdriver on the head of the bolt inside the tank and simultaneously use a wrench to remove the nut on the outside bottom of the tank.
Remember the basics of “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”)
Use a SawzAll as a last resort.
Remove the old bolts and wipe everything out inside and out.
Insert the new bolts, washers and nuts in the correct sequence, being careful not to over tighten.
Turn the water back on to fill the tank and check for links. If it leaks, tighten just a bit more.
Flush the toilet, again checking for leaks. If it leaks, tighten just a little bit more.
Let sit overnight and check again the next morning. If it leaks repeat steps 9 and 10.
The first toilet in the hall bathroom would not loosen after much effort and application of WD-40. We had to resort to the SawzAll to cut it off. Toilets are not usually in wide open spaces and we were working between the toilet and bathtub, hanging over the toilet to carefully saw it off. What a mess….but the opposite bolt finally loosened and came out without the use of the SawzAll. (Are you familiar with a SawzAll? It is actually a reciprocating saw with a ton of back & forth cutting action that is good for a small space.) We replaced these bolts in 6 hours (!) and headed to the master bathroom.
We were super tired now, but I decided to proceed with the project. I drained the tank and applied some WD-40 to the bolts and let it work on the bolt. Rather then reach over the toilet to try to loosen the bolts, I laid on the floor on my back and attempted to loosen them. I am going to attribute the next problem with being tired and working on my back. Trying to loosen the bolts, I turned them the wrong way (reference #6 above) and heard a little noise like ……. porcelain cracking …….. yep, the entire tank cracked in half from that bolt.
There was some cursing and I may have thrown a few things outside the back door in anger….. So now I had to replace the tank on that toilet, but you cannot buy a toilet tank at the hardware stores, you have to buy the entire toilet. So, back to the store to bring home a new toilet and remove the old one. Down to the floor. Everything. Yes, I may have hit the old tank with a hammer in the trash can smashing it to pieces. So now, install the new toilet. Luckily, it came with all the parts, even the flush valve already installed in the tank! We replaced it and turned the water back on — No Leaks!!!
I went to the upstairs toilet and had to repeat the process above to remove those bolts. But now I was very cautious and turned the bolts the correct way to avoid cracking this tank! I was wedged in between the lavatory and shower stall working on the toilet. A couple more hours of effort and the job was done. Three toilets, three ugly repairs, three times the trouble. Should I have left the water turned on? Probably it would have avoided this problem. Two weeks in Missouri, cleaning the house, packing up more stuff, cleaning up the yard, and repairing/replacing the toilets was just another reason we are convinced that we need to sell this house! If only someone would make us an offer!