Whew! After a week on the road we needed a day to decompress after getting back to Evansville. Yesterday we sat around in our PJ’s, did many loads of laundry, scrubbed cat vomit from the carpets, cleaned cat boxes… You know all the chores and stuff that go undone while you are away.
Everly was a doll during the trip. The plane ride wasn’t an issue, she nursed and played and sat in our laps for the 10 hour travel day. She did well on the road also. We drove 6-10 hours a day for three days and and she just slept or played with her toys in her seat. As long as we made frequent stops for diaper changes and feedings she was happy.
We did crazy things to entertain her and ourselves when it was time to stretch the legs. Here is an example:
Speaking of changings… We made it the whole trip on just the twenty or so cloth diapers I have. We only had to wash them once right before we hit the road to head home. 7 days, 20+ diapers = 1 wash. When we got home E had to sleep in a disposable overnight while every single diaper we had was being laundered. I am proud to have cloth diapered the whole trip though. It was a breeze!
As for feedings, I just breastfed her as usual and supplemented with baby foods and snack puffs as usual. Now, she’s really getting in to being involved in meal time though!
When we stopped for a snack at the mall with my mom Everly grabbed my straw right from my mouth and even sucked juice from it (which she’s never been given the opportunity to do). She is hardly doing the sipply cup thing so we were pretty surprised at her instinctual straw drinking.
I was just glad I was pinching the straw and holding on to it tightly or she would have successfully gotten a mouthful of sugary strawberry lemonade up it and in to her mouth. No sugary lemonade for baby! Luckily we have a straw type sipply cup thanks to Maiden53, time to bust it out.
Now she’s getting more adventurous with her foods too. She’s just starting to get the hang of her sippy cup and is having “juice water”. She’s also enjoying sampling new flavors on the go. Like the skinless tomato chunk I stole from my mom’s plate and gave to her…
She would gladly try more things like our coffee and over processed junk food we are enjoying if we let her. We are being super selective about what we let her have, we are overprotective parents :-P
We have moved through all the organic stage one flavors of food and are progressing to more exciting flavors (not more sugary though). I am a sugar natzi, sugar has had a major impact on my brothers as they were growing up. One has a sugar addiction still. So we are trying to get her in to the bland flavors before the sugary ones are introduced, so she’s not always expecting her foods to be sweet and sugary.
Thanks to her meal time interest we were even able to brave a Denny’s one morning for breakfast. She sat in a yucky high chair like a big girl and we ate a meal together.
She of course didn’t order off the restaurant menu, she opted for boobie and a nap while we finished our meal. It was progress though.
As scary and anxiety ridden the idea of taking a trip with baby seems I am glad we did it. Once you are in the thick of it you realize it’s really not all that insane and it provides baby with much needed stimulation and the opportunity to adjust to changing situations.
We’ll probably be taking many more trips as a family now that we know how adaptable and well behaved E can be (if money permits).
What is it with shower situations in New Mexico? We are spending the night in Tucumcari, NM this time around. We got a cheap hotel to spend the night in and unfortunately it only has a shower.
You see it’s a cheap hotel, tiny, clean and shower-less with a super loud heater… You get what you pay for.
Anyway, it’s been a pretty chilly 24 hours for us and all I wanted was some warm water to warm my bones and relax my muscles. It’s freezing so I was not looking to do a complete hair washing and all that, just want to get the body clean, warm and relaxed. Gotta do it in the shower though.
It could be worse though. Poor Everly had to get clean in the sink tonight…
This time the shower sprays almost completely horizontal. You know how normally shower heads spray water downward? This one was pointed downward but it sprays all directly across and right in to the wall.
To top it all off the little shower is like cubby-sized so I had to literally stand with my nose like an inch from the wall and on my tip-toes in order to get the water to spray on my back and not on the hair piled on top of my head (that was supposed to stay dry).
I almost asked N to bring me a chair or stool to stand on in the shower so that I could get myself in the right position for the water spray. Sheesh.
Guess it is better than power-wash-type force or a soak in the sink though.
Remember when I outlined all N’s job uncertainty in this post back on May 2008? Back then we still had no idea where his job search would take us and we were pretty worried that we would end up stuck with the status quo if no better offers came along.
We were barely making end meet, were financially frustrated, itching to start a family, had no chance of buying a home and were ready for a little more job security. Too bad my lady doctor said I was not fertile because of my low weight and N’s job told him they really valued him but could not increase his salary from here on out. That was 5 months ago…
That really is a ton of stuff that fell in to place all at once for us. I guess it makes up for the 3 years we spend in limbo land huh? I almost can’t believe all has worked out for us in such a freaking short amount of time.
Now I just need to master taking photos of water already (I didn’t forget Wordless Wednesday, just a bit late) Lotus says anyone can do it and my camera has a freaking macro setting but my water photos suck big time. I guess you can’t have it all huh? Here are my crappy attempts and a funny video!
When we awoke the morning of our last day on the road we were unsure about how my mom would be feeling after her night of vomiting and passing out. I asked N if she was awake when I awoke, I was worried she had alcohol poisoning or something.
Turns out mom was just fine and didn’t remember much about the previous night. We recalled much about the nights events for her and I was a bit worried about how crazy she was as a result of the drinking and pills. I express this and we talked about how the pill she took impacted her. She was surprised by her reaction and attributed it to the pill she took.
“Beneath the fertile rolling hills of the Meramec Valley, lies a complex of mineral formations and color as rare and unique as they are beautiful. These jewels of nature which took thousands of years to grow, are preserved in the spectacular sights of Meramec Caverns.” Quote from http://www.americascave.com/
Here are a few more photos of the Caverns:
When we finished up at the caverns we drove in to St. Louis and had an interesting time navigating the Winnebago through the town in search for a place to park so we could see the Arch.
After asking a friendly horse drawn carriage driver (<- there he is the the photo) we were informed of the best parking spot for our rig. All of the parking areas had a low clearance that would rip off the top of the RV!
The arch was huge and I am glad we got to see it but man were we ready to just get to our new home and relax!
After many hours more of driving we finally pulled in to Evansville, IN and we were excited! I was so excited I took photos of the road sign and the traffic. We also got a photo of us outside our new home before we opened the door. Gotta love the red eye huh? Whew, we were glad to have arrived in our new home all safely and without any new issues with the motor home.
In the afternoon on day 5 after we left our awful experience behind at the Emporia RV park and finished up at the mechanics we hit the road and were hoping to find some fun to improve the day.
On the way out of Emporia we spotted a flea market in the parking lot of a shop. My mom and I jumped out of the RV in search of some lamps we could plug in to extension cords to provide lighting for us while we were in the RV on the last night (since our power converter thingy was now shot thanks to the Emporia RV Park). A guy at the flea market was selling stuff yard sale style and we got 3 old and abused yet working lights, we were pleased.
We drove for about an hour or so and then we saw a fun sign about Noglastia Ville, USA. It is a cute little gift shop and since my mom needed to buy herself a new bag for the airline (her current one busted out the zippers on the RV) we thought a cute souvenir duffel bag would be perfect.
We ended up stopping and spending some time at the gift shop. My mom got a cute bag, my brother got a poster and we bought 3 postcards we sent off to some people. Here is a photo of us outside the shop.
While we were in the shop we saw a fun flier for the Merimac Caverns so we grabbed it and headed for the car to debate our next move. After our shopping fun we agreed to take a detour from Kingdom City, MO (where Noglastia Ville was located) because we wanted to visit the Merimac Caverns. They were south of our current route (we were on the 70) and we needed to be on the 44. I was concerned that the only route to the Caverns was by a very small highway that takes you south of Noglastia Ville to Stanton where the Merimac Caverns are located.
After the family all agreed to do the caverns we headed down on our detour road. We took the 19 south to the 44 so that we could stay in Stanton, MO for the night and visit the caverns first thing the next morning. Problem was it was such a long scenic drive and it was starting to get dark. Oh and N is still crazy charred from the tanning experience!
After the hectic morning we were all a bit on edge and I guess my mom opted to take an Ativan to calm her nerves while we were on the road. Our detour route was about 2 hours out of the way and my mom was way over being crammed in the RV with 11 other living things (5 cats, 2 birds, a bunny and 3 other people) so she popped her pill and sat back and relaxed.
Then she began getting all worked up, she was commenting that we must be lost and that the caves “better be worth it”. Tensions were rising and we were all ready to be at our destination and to have some quiet time, too bad we still had to focus on getting to our destination for the night.
The animals were very lovey despite the crazy tensions between us humans, see how they were trying to lower our stress?
By the time we parked at our KOA (the Cross Eyed Cricket) for the night I was also now stressed and ended up blowing up at my brother who in turn became stressed and upset. We went our separate ways to cool down, like I said tempers were high by this point in the trip.
We had some spaghetti for dinner with shredded chicken in it (it was the only defrosted meat we had on hand). I guess my mom had started drinking her Captain Morgan while we were on the way to the KOA and the combination of the Ativan and the alcohol was beginning to take it’s toll on her. As soon as she finished her dinner night she promptly threw it right back up up and fell asleep.
I know this is gross but my mom is the quietest throwing up person I have ever been around. I discovered this on the trip. She didn’t even make a sound folks! After she threw up she was just fine, she wiped her face and then handed us the bowl of throw up and went to bed…
My brother, N and I went and explored the campground and then also turned in for the night. Eventful huh?
Well it is 3:49 pm Kansas time and we are JUST NOW leaving Emporia, KS. It has been a hell of a day! We made it a point to set the alarms on our phones so we could attempt to wake up at 7am local time instead of waking up at 7am Arizona time like we have been doing for the past few days.
The fact that we hadn’t adjusted to the time change in regards to sleeping and waking times was really beginning to impact our route schedule. We were pulling in to camp sites super late and having a hard time finding our assigned spots, we were having super late dinners and all in all the late nights were taking a toll on us.
On this particular day we wake up at 7am local time (which happens to be 5am Arizona time), we were groggy and it was a slow morning but getting the day off to an early start is necessary. The goal was to make it to another mystery shop in Missouri before 2pm so we had to be on the road by 9am.
Throughout the night we were all having issues charging our electronics but the small TV my mom was using seemed to be working fine so we didn’t think twice about it. After cleaning bunny’s cage and showering in much more pleasant showers at the Emporia RV Park we were ready to hit the road. If you missed reading about my nipple blasting shower experience you should check our the day 3 post!
After we got all loaded up in the RV N goes to start the RV but it just clicks. He says it sometimes has trouble starting and continues trying it. I am already feeling rushed about being behind on schedule since we haven’t left the RV park and it was now 9:30am so I am thinking about canceling the mystery shop. N was set on me keeping the appointment though.
After N tries and fails to start the RV several times I get the feeling I definitely need to cancel the mystery shop in Missouri since the day was off to a rough start. It’s no use adding more stress to an already stressful situation right? So I cancel the shop which in turn makes our time schedule more flexible and I begin feeling more relaxed, amazing concept huh?
The RV still wont start though, good thing we have nowhere to be anymore! While the guys fiddle with the RV ans brainstorm I begin writing this blog post. Turns out both our batteries on the RV were completely drained, were talking 100% dead! We weren’t too sure how the batteries got drained but we knew we needed to get a jump start or something so we headed in to the RV office to see if someone could help us.
I guess having a regular car jump an RV is not good business cause nobody would give us a jump start. My mom joked that she needed to put on a sexy dress and walk up and down the RV park trying to find a guy to help us… Good news is we did manage to get an electric charger thingy from the RV park office without any sexy dress or other questionable actions so that was good!
We tried to charge the batteries by plugging the electric charges in to the power port at our RV site. The charger needed to be plugged in to a power source in order for it to begin charging the battery. Problem was the charger would not power on to even behind the battery charging process.
Again the boys and mom did some troubleshooting while I blogged. Turns out the power port for our assigned spot was not working since the charger would not power on from that particular power port but it did work from another sites power port..
We informed the RV park manager that the power port at our site was not working, she argued with us about it and was a bit confrontational. Thing is that with our RV the plugs inside will not work unless 1) the RV is plugged in to a power source or 2) the generator is running. We tried explaining this to the RV park lady but she continued to be defensive and argumentative about it all.
Like I said earlier my mom had the TV going all night on the outlet inside the RV and our generator was not running. We were all trying to charge our phones and computers and nothing seemed to be working all night. Later we figured the power port at the RV park was providing some power to our RV but that it was not enough because by morning both our batteries were drained.
I even told the RV park owner I wanted our park fee refunded since we were without power all night and also were not provided with the wireless internet, she refused so I disputed the charge through VISA.
My brother discovered that he could charge our RV batteries with the charger thingy from the camp host by running an extension cord from another RV site since our power port was not working. While we were waiting for our RV’s batteries to charge we enjoyed the sights at the RV park and took our traditional group photo for the day.
After our batteries on the RV were charged we tried to start it again. It just made a clicking noise but would not turn over. At this point the lady running the RV park tried to call a mobile RV repair service to come out and take a look at our motor home. After talking with him for several minutes he informed her he was out of town and offered some troubleshooting tips that we went through over the telephone. Nothing worked. N was convinced the starter died and now we had the dilemma of finding someone to come work on it since we were stuck at the RV park. A tow to a shop was expected to cost $100+ so we were trying to avoid that punch in the gut. Another mobile mechanic showed up just a few minutes after we placed a call. N explained the problems to him and he agreed it might be the starter. The mechanic climbed underneath the Winnebago, banged on the starter a few times and she turned right over. That was a feeling of relief…or at least somewhat of relief.
We now knew what the problem was but how much and how long was it going to take to fix it? The mechanic from Williams Automotive in Emporia led us over to their auto shop where we disconnected the rolling greenhouse and pulled the motor home into one of their service bays. After about two hours worth of work and $300, Williams Automotive had us back on the road with a brand new starter. We also had them look at our power inverter since that didn’t seem to be working either. They did a simple test and figured it wasn’t working right and therefore not charging our batteries when we were plugged into the power port at the RV park the night before. So not only did our starter go out, but it would also seem the Emporia RV Park power system fried our power inverter. Another problem to figure out later!
It was great to be back on the highway again, cruising to another destination and getting at least a little bit closer to our new home! We finally reached the border of Kansas and Missouri and continued pulling through to the Oak Grove KOA east of East Kansas City. We did have to deal with about an hour of heavy, rush-hour traffic on Friday evening in Kansas City so that was a little stressful for N to pilot our big rig through that traffic after the already stressful day. Just 2.5 hours later we were in another state and ready to pull in for the night. We made a short stop at Walmart to pick up some items for dinner and headed to the Oak Grove KOA before dark! We at least got one goal accomplished today.
Since our inverter wasn’t working right, we couldn’t plug in for the night knowing that it would probably drain the batteries again. So we rigged up an extension cord and power strips and ran that through the window into the RV so we could run the laptop and charge all our phones. My mom had to attempt cooking stew in the dark with a flashlight and she sure did make the most of it. Okay, maybe a Captain and Coke I poured her helped out the process since she was so stressed. It did turn out really good. It was by far probably the worst day we’ve experience on our trip so far and hopefully the last one until we pull into our driveway in Evansville, Indiana on Sunday!
In Dodge City, KS we stayed at the Watersports Campground and were pleased with the lake view from our site. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that they had free WIFI on site for guests. I spent a leisurely morning waking up at about 9 am local time and then I did some business on the internet in bed before getting dressed and venturing out of the RV.
When I did venture outside I was loving the view of the lake so I went down to take some photos of the view and to enjoy the morning a bit. My mom and Dixie were already down enjoying the water.
We have taken Dixie to a creek before (it was oak creek canyon north of Sedona, AZ) and she was so scared of the water. No matter what we did we could not get her in it so when I saw her wading through the water at the RV site I was amazed. I took photos, of course. We threw stick for her to fetch and she had a great time.
We got the whole group together for a traditional group photo at the campsite, I was feeling a bit artsy- see how I got some pretty flowers in the shot? I thought it was cool!
All the animals have behaved remarkably well on this trip. We have had 2 cats escape the RV through the screen door but we noticed and retrieved them before they got too far. Gabby and Hailey will sit with us while we are driving down the road, all my boys (my male cats) hide under the bed while the RV is moving.
Here is a funny video of Dixie, we stopped to take photo with a few giant fake farm animals in a park. Dixie was not comfortable with the huge cow.
We visited the Dodge City Museum before heading towards Emporia, KS and had a great time. We learned about the historic buffalo slaughter that occurred. Apparently the government felt that killing all the buffalo was a good way to drive the native Americans out of the area and to end the conflict between the cowboys and “Indians”.
While we were browsing the shops I was looking at the rag doll kits. With them you can make your own rag doll like they did back in the day on the wagons. This reminded my mom of one of our relatives who was orphaned during that era.
Apparently her parents feared for her safety while they were traveling by wagon (since the native Americans were attacking the “white man” who were attempting to take over the land). This relative was left on the side of the trail for someone fleeing the land to adopt and take to safety. The only thing this relative had when she was left on the side of the trail was one of those rag dolls.
Here are some the photos taken at The Dodge Museum, some are a bit funky because of the lighting in the place.
After we finished up at the Dodge City Museum we headed out on the 400 towards Wichita, KS to do our mystery shop. Along the side of the road we spotted some fun “whirly-gigs” in Mullinville, KS (zip code 67109). We pulled off to admire them and take photos. Basically the owner of the land shares political opinions via a slew of entertaining and eye catching yard decor. It is sure a sight to see!
Next we drove through Greensburg, KS, This town is significant because about a year ago it was hit very hard by a tornado and now it is being rebuilt all Green (as in environmentally friendly and energy efficient). We pulled off to take photos and take the sights in. You can still see the devastation left behind by the tornado but they sure are rebuilding! As you exit the town you get to see a fun little sign.
Once we arrived in Wichita, KS we did a mystery shop at a tanning salon, N was the one tanning since he is he whitest one out of the two of us. He tanned for 10 minutes and was told he wouldn’t see results with such a short tanning time. The gal tried to suggest the most expensive tanning session to him and wasn’t educated about the process or eager to help him through his first time tanning experience. As a result he had an awful experience!
2 hours after his tanning he was looking like a lobster and was feeling like crap. They didn’t have him use a tanning cream or any kind of skin protectant and he was even talked out of getting protective eyewear. We are tanning salon people so we had no idea about whether or not you are supposed to burn to a crisp, he did…
First off I want to let you all know that yesterdays blog post did have photo issues, it was not your computer. I am using Qumana to write my blog posts offline and then when we get to a WIFI spot I upload the post to the server. Yesterday it appears the post uploaded but the photos did not.
When we got to our overnight destination last night I attempted to upload the photos and found out that my September image folder on WordPress is not writeable or something, so I had to upload them to my photobucket account instead. If you click back to yesterdays post you’ll now be able to view the photos. Sorry about that.
Okay, so on to the updates on day 3! We went from New Mexico, through the top west corner of Texas and Oklahoma then entered the southwest part of Kansas.
We awoke after staying the night at Ute State park in Logan, NM. When the sun came up we were happy to see that our site was right by the lake. We headed out to get a group photo with the lake in the background.
The morning started out with us visiting the campground bathrooms for shower time. It was sure eye opening! The showers were button operated and there was no temperate control so that was the first odd thing. Once we got undressed and in the shower we were unpleasant sprayed with what felt like a power washer. I couldn’t believe how painful the water pressure spray was and it was not warm either.
My mother and I were cursing and going on about the painful experience. My nipples practically sprayed off and to top it all off the water would turn off every 10 seconds so you had to press the on button repeatedly while trying to rinse your hair and body. It was the most unpleasant shower experience ever!
If you are staying at Ute State Park in Logan, MN I would not recommend using the site showers. It think a sponge bath would suffice or you can just stay dirty. The pain is not worth it, trust me.
The entire day we were quite chilly and bundled up, it started with the cold showers and continued with the overcast weather. We did not encounter any real weather but we sure had to use blankets to keep warm while in the RV. We also didn’t have too much planned for sightseeing but we enjoyed visiting things we spotted along the way like the “Back At The Ranch” Antique shop out near Dumas, TX where my brother got his girlfriend some cute earrings.
We were planning on stopping in at a starbucks to get our WIFI fix along the way but as fate would have it actually finding the hidden starbucks locations was not happening. We ended up driving down a residential street and “WIFI jacking” some persons unsecured wireless internet. We needed to map out a gas station and we were also on the hint for a Walmart so we could buy sweatshirts to keep us warm.
We were planning to hit the Dorothy House in Liberal, KS but failed to consider the time change between states therefore we arrived in Liberal about an hour and a half after they closed so we sadly missed that attraction.
Our evening destination was the Watersports Campground in Dodge City, KS which was also on a very pretty lake that we were able to enjoy. We treated ourselves to a dinner out at Casey’s Cowtown Club where we enjoyed some fabulous Kansas steaks.
Monday nights sleep was tons better in the Winnebago than it was the previous night when we slept on the floor, so that was nice… N can’t straighten his legs in the bed though, it is literally jammed with stuff so we have little space to stretch out. Sleeping on a cushioned surface always beats the hard floor even if you can’ extend your legs!
When the sun rose it woke us up then my mom informed me that our only door to the RV was broken and she could not get out of the Winnebago. Turns out the door handle mechanism slipped from the door and made the door handle useless. I had to climb out the passenger side window to open the door from the outside so we could all escape the Winnebago. We were temporarily trapped, good times!
In the first photo below you can see my butt inside the window as I hang my upper body out the window to reach the door handle.
N took the door handle plate thingy off and then we were able to manually open the door and exit the Winnebago. Having major motor home mechanical drama before your first cup of coffee first thing in the morning is never a good thing! You can see how put off we were by the incident in these photos:
In the above photo my brother and I inspect the damages and try to understand the mechanics behind the door issue. He is not jazzed about being up so early like the rest of us. Even more so when my mom begins snapping photos of it all.
After we got through the door dilemma things were pretty incident free for our second day of travels. We departed Albuquerque, NM at about noon and went through New Mexico’s smaller cities & towns as we headed towards Logan, NM to stay the night.
We did stop in Santa Rosa, NM to visit the Route 66 Auto Museum, we also visited Tucumcari, NM where we saw the Blue Swallow motel and ate at Ken’s Ice Cream and had an interesting experience. Right next to Ken’s Ice Cream there was a diner that had a sign in the window about their grits that got N going.
We were quite delusional at that point and N looked over at the grits sign and thought it said “nasty grits” he promptly busted his IPhone out to snap photos of the nasty grits advertising while he was cracking up.
At Ken’s Ice Cream we had a less than pleasant experience. It took the order taker like 5 minutes to take my mom’s order after N and I ordered our stuff. I know in smaller towns a slower life pace is to be expected but I just didn’t expect it to carry over in to customer service that much.
I ordered a hot fudge Sunday and it was awful, my mom also got a hot fudge Sunday but she opted for sherbet ice cream instead of the standard vanilla ice cream. On the way out the door my mom also asked some random cowboy if there was a Starbucks in the town that he knew of. We needed some liquid crack and some internet access. Unfortunately, there was no Starbucks to be found so we didn’t get to publish our blog entries.
After our ice cream run we headed to our overnight destination, Ute State Park. This site boasted lake views and swimming. We had our hearts set on staying in spot # 11 because all the RV camping books said it was the best lake view site. Problem was that it was pitch black and we could not see any site numbers as we were searching fro our spot. A site map was not provided so we were kind of on our own to find an appropriate spot.
Eventually we pulled in at spot Y18 and ate our chicken and dumpling dinner before turning in for the night. Of course, we did get to snap our traditional campsite group photo and many other photos of the day that I have spread through this post.
The truck is pretty much loaded and we are just trying to get through the night of sleeping on the floor with practically nothing in the house. We pull out tomorrow at about 11:30am -12 pm, directly after our landlord inspects the house.
We have had a hay day packing the truck and installing the tow bar on our vehicle. We also had some drama with the propane tanks on the RV today.
We have reworked and reloaded the moving truck at least 20 times just trying to find the absolute best fit for everything we have. It’s been lots of lifting but I am happy to say we have successfully loaded all our stuff in 13 feet of trailer space. We had to go up to 13 feet instead of the 12 feet we booked because the load bar tracks were not spaced 1 foot apart, they were spaced every 2 feet.
That meant we could load the truck up to the 11 foot mark or the 13 foot mark. We surely could not come in under 12 feet so we just loaded it to 13 feet. We’ll see if they charge us the extra $130 for filling the trailer an extra foot. We put a call in to the company to discuss this.
The trailer hitch thing was also interesting. We actually had grown men standing on the pipe wrench trying to loosen the ball nut thingy and it would not budge. We tried using WD-40 and a whole slew of other things but nothing moved the nut. We had to take it back to home depot and get a new one, it works fine.
The last drama was our propane tanks. Our mechanic initially told us that they had outdated valves and would need to be replaced. Then we took it in for the work and he informed us they were actually not outdated and did not need to be replaced after all.
Today when we tried to fill them we were informed that filling those was against the law and were refused a refill. We ended up buying a new tank and dropping $50.00 on that.
All the little issues weren’t really all that bad, they were the source of some heated moments but those are behind us now and we are ready to get the show on the road tomorrow afternoon!