Deer Creek Valley RV Park, Topeka, KS

Deer Creek Valley RV Park, Topeka, KS

After a three week stop in Springfield Missouri to visit family for Thanksgiving, we needed to head west toward Colorado but we also needed to find a place that could align our trailer wheels. With MorRyde independent suspension each wheel on our trailer can be aligned much like a car. We had already tried a couple of places who said they could align anything, but it turned out they could align anything but our trailer. As luck would have it, there was a MorRyde certified alignment service center in the small town of Pittsburg, KS just north and west of Joplin along our path. We stopped in at Holland Alignment at our scheduled appointment time and they started work right away. Everything was completed within the 2 hours I was told it would take and at the price I was quoted ($180).

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Big Red Barn RV Park, Carthage, MO

Big Red Barn RV Park, Carthage, MO

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Site Quality: Gravel roads and pads. Our site was long for our rig and truck but just barely. We were at the end of the row so we could park behind our rig without blocking anyone else or we could park in front if we hooked up. Any other site might be a problem. Sites are close together with a picnic table for each.
Type: Commercial Park
Access: Just off Interstate 49 south of Carthage, MO. Access is not difficult, but it’s not straightforward either. It takes a bit of planning prior to arrival.
Staff: Staff interaction was good but minimal. We came in on a Sunday and the office was only open from 10AM until noon. They allowed us to arrive before noon so we could check in while the office was open. If closed, they have standard after hours procedures we could have followed.
Amenities: Dump station, laundry, restrooms with showers, playground, horseshoes, common fire pit, rally barn. Free cable TV. Propane on site.
Cellular/WiFi: Verizon service was 3 bars on our phones and our data rate exceeded 50 Mbps. AT&T was about 6.75 Mbps. They had WiFi but we did not use it.
What we liked: Decent price with Good Sams – ~$32/night. Close to Walmart, gas stations and restaurants. Carthage looked like it would be a good place to explore for a week but we only had one night. No road or train noise.
What we didn’t like: Sites are all pull-thru and are close together.
Verdict: This was a decent park and we wouldn’t have any problem staying here again but we would probably try one of the other parks in the area next time to see of we could get a longer site and/or a bit more space between sites.

Office and namesake Big Red Barn
Bleeding the Brakes

Bleeding the Brakes

While repacking the wheel bearings, we found a leaking brake caliper. At the same location the brake pads also showed some signs of damage with a portion of the brake pad missing. It’s not clear if that was from something like a rock being kicked up into the area or possibly from the leaking brake fluid getting on the lining.

Although it is usually somewhat easy to replace the brake piston seal and dust seal after honing out the cylinder to remove any places that might be causing the leak we decided to just replace the caliper (Kodiak part number DBC-338-HD-E). Replacing the caliper is much quicker and easier than servicing the original and if you include seals and a set of new brake pads the total cost wasn’t much different since the caliper came with pads.

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Checotah / Lake Eufaula West KOA, Checotah, OK

Checotah / Lake Eufaula West KOA, Checotah, OK

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Site Quality: Gravel roads and pads. Our site was plenty long for our rig and truck. Sites are fairly close together with a picnic table for each.
Type:  Commercial Park
Access: Just off Interstate 40 West of Checotah, OK. Take exit 255 (Pierce Rd.) then go West on the North service road.
Staff: Staff interaction was good but minimal.
Amenities:  Fishing pond, Swimming pool (in season), cabins, playground, laundry. Access to Lake Eufaula via a short trail at the back of the park.
Cellular/WiFi:  Verizon and AT&T were both good with AT&T being the fastest. They claimed to have WiFi but we did not see it or use it.
What we liked: Easy access, nice clean park. Pretty park with a fair amount of trees but we still got satellite at site 61. Decent price for a KOA part – ~$35 per night.
What we didn’t like: Although the sites are gravel, there wasn’t much gravel left. During wet weather they could be messy. Some road noise from Interstate 40. Quite a few long term residents and at least one trailer stored in a site that didn’t look like it had been used for a while. The nearest restaurants and stores are about 15 miles away in either Checotah or Henryetta. Both have Walmarts. KOAs area always more expensive than what you get but this was one of the least expensive KOAs we have stayed at.
Verdict: This park is nice with large mature trees and decent sites as long as it’s not wet and muddy. Deluxe sites with concrete patios would be nice in wet weather. Good for a short stay enroute as there wouldn’t be a lot to do here for longer stays.

Sanger / Denton North KOA, Sanger, TX

Sanger / Denton North KOA, Sanger, TX

Rating: ⭐⭐
Site Quality: Asphalt and gravel roads and pads. Long enough for our rig and truck. Sites are fairly close together with a picnic table for each. The first couple of rows of sites (1 to 42) have concrete pads and roads. The remaining sites are gravel with gravel roads that weren’t in great shape when we were there. These sites seem to be occupied by long term residents.
Type:  Commercial Park
Access: Just North of Denton in Sanger, TX right on Interstate 35.
Staff: Staff interaction was good but minimal.
Amenities:  Fishing pond, Swimming pool, clubhouse, pavillion, playground, laundry.
Cellular/WiFi:  Verizon and AT&T were both acceptable but a bit slow. They may have had WiFi but we did not use it and they did not advertise it.
What we liked: Easy access, nice clean park in most cases. Good access to stores and restaurants nearby (mostly in Sanger and Denton which is about 12 miles away). Very little road noise as the park is pretty far off I-35 and there is an RV dealership in between the road and the park. McClains RV store is expanding and will likely be a huge superstore soon.
What we didn’t like: Some train horn noise from tracks about 1/4 mile away but it wasn’t bad. Quite a few long term residents in the gravel area of the park and the roads there were also gravel and not well maintained.
Verdict: This is an acceptable park for a night or two stay when passing through but nothing really special. There are several state parks nearby that would likely be nicer although a bit less convenient.