Chinook Road Trip – 2022

My 2004 Chinook Summit was built in March of 2004. It is SM-29, meaning it was the 29th Chinook Summit ever made from the original sticker on the inside of the bedroom closet. I believe I am the 3rd owner of this beautiful RV. The manufacturer, Trail Wagons, Inc., was based in Yakima, WA – here’s a good history of the company.

We are planning a road trip in June and I’m getting the Chinook ready.

Today I did the de-winterizing and needed a little help from the Chinook group I joined. I have a good sense of how our house works, but am slowly learning how the motorhome works.

Ryan and I are planning to drive to So California to visit Kyle, Larry, Penne and Charlie, then head to Denver. We will be bringing Mickey and Ava with us. Will be interesting to see if Penne remembers them.

I’m so excited to go.

UPDATE – May 8, 2022

The original thermostat (a 5 button Duo-Therm) was so hard for me to read that I did some research and found a truly plug-n-play alternative. Here’s a before and after installation of my new Micro-Air RV thermostat: (

Old one:

And the new one installed:

And the new one can be set up to control with my iPhone. Brilliant!

Ryan wants to learn how to drive it so we took it out for a short drive yesterday.

UPDATE – June 5, 2022

I had a new water filter system installed under the sink so we don’t have to buy any bottled water and tomorrow, I’m taking it to get the oil changed and new wipers put on. She’s going to be in tip-top shape for our trip.

UPDATE – June 22, 2022

We left at our planned time of 7 AM. Goal is to make it to Red Bluff, CA before nightfall. An uneventful drive including quite a few stops to let the dogs out and refuel. I don’t like to let the fuel get below one-half full.

UPDATE – June 23, 2022

We arrived at one of the most modern and beautiful KOA‘s I’ve ever stayed at (was formerly called Durango RV park). I stayed here on my 2011 solo road trip and was so glad to have stumbled on it again. Unfortunately we weren’t able to really enjoy all of the amenities because we arrived kind of late. And since it was the first road trip Ryan and I have taken in my new-to-me Chinook Summit, there was a bit of anxiety and confusion setting up camp with the two dogs. In any event, it was a pleasant night and we hit the road to Kyle’s house early in the AM.

UPDATE – June 24, 2022

The drive to Kyle and Larry’s house was not without some excitement. We stopped for gas and Ryan got out to check on the Infiniti and let it run for two minutes. I got out to fill the Chinook tank and it appears I hit the door lock button near the door armrest on my way out. We were both locked out of the Chinook and the dogs were locked in! And of course, the generator stopped too for some reason. It was incredibly hot (103° F) and Ryan was quite upset. I immediately went inside the station and asked them to call 911. I also called AAA. And the gas station attendant called a locksmith too. While we waited, we tried hard not to panic. The locksmith showed up first and went to work. He couldn’t use the slim-jim door thingy so he started picking the door lock. Then the fire department showed up. Just 30 seconds before the fire department was about to break in via the rear emergency window, the locksmith successfully unlocked the driver’s door.

Whew!!! Hugs all around and I paid the locksmith $60. We were so relieved!

We filled up the tank and drove off. About a mile down the road, it was clear something was wrong with the steering. Turns out Ryan forgot to put the Infiniti tow car ignition on the first click to unlock the steering wheel! Once that error was corrected, we went on our way and I was mentally trying to plan for how to get the Infiniti fixed (it wouldn’t start after the incident) while at Kyle’s.

At the next stop, I decided to try the Infiniti again, only to realize that I had failed to put the clutch in previously when I tried. It fired right up.


Needless to say, we arrived at Kyle and Larry’s house late – our Chinook lockout adventure cost us some time and there was so much traffic. I was beyond exhausted.

Every time I see Kyle, it feels like home. Such a deep connection we have.

It was wonderful to see Larry and Kyle. But it was quite the treat to see Penne (from Ava’s first litter) and all of the dogs got along really well.

We had a wonderful pool party at Kyle’s daughter Katy and Jeff’s house. Jeff even saved my life when I choked on a piece of steak and he did the Heimlich maneuver on me. Never a dull moment.

We discovered that the low beams on the Infiniti weren’t working and one headlight was out on the Chinook. So I had Firestone fix the Chinook and will have my mechanic fix the Infiniti headlights since they are covered under warranty when we get home. And as luck would have it, Jeff (Katy’s husband) is an RV technician and he was able to find the loose connection that made the rear slide amber light not come on – problem solved! After a truly memorable visit, we made our way to Grand Canyon National Park – it’s been on my bucket list forever!

UPDATE – June 28, 2022

We arrived at our campground (Trailer Village Campground) at the Grand Canyon and it was amazing! Elk roaming everywhere! I want to plan a trip to stay here for a few days in the future to soak up this amazing place!

After a way-too-short stay, we left for Denver. I didn’t want to spend 12 hours a day for two days driving to Denver so we decided to stay in Moab, Utah; an absolutely amazing place!

After a good night’s sleep, we headed to Denver! We were so excited to visit with Matt, Ashley and our beloved IzzyB (aka Isabella, aka Chickadee)!

While going up to Vail, CO on I70, I had to shift down to first gear as we were fully loaded and towing the Infiniti. Going down from the summit was quite the experience! When we got to our exit, the brakes were smoking as I was riding them pretty hard to keep the Chinook from going over 60 (the Infiniti specs say not to go faster than 60 when flat towing). I posted a question on the Chinook message board and got some great advice about how to safely drive both up and down steep grades while fully loaded.

IzzyB is two and a half now; she’ll be three on October 29, 2022. I’m so blessed to be in her life. She actually ran up to me when we arrived and jumped in my arms!

Matt, Ashley and I went off to Devour303 to have a drink and say goodbye (it was closing permanently). While there, we were talking about all kinds of stuff and Matt went on the above rant about my getting a new “gold” Volvo just before we moved to the Seattle area in 1990. Amazing to hear how he processed some things when he was so young.

PS – it was this 1990 Volvo – Sand Beige Metallic

Also, while the three of us were at Devour303, Ryan was taking care of IzzyB. She was napping when we left. When she woke up, Ryan stepped up and actually changed her very dirty diaper (it was the first time he ever did anything like that, ever)! Woo hoo! Such a good Uncle!

Matt, Ryan and I also took IzzyB to the Downtown Aquarium while we were there. It was quite the experience watching IzzyB interact with everything! She even touched a Moon Jellyfish!

IzzyB is almost ready to use the potty! So proud of her! She’s talking up a storm now and I can’t believe how much she’s changed since I last saw her in April of this year (2022).

We had such a wonderful visit in Denver! Ryan stayed at the house with Matt, Ashley and Isabella and I slept in the Chinook with Mickey and Ava. I only wish the campground was closer to their house. I brought the dogs with me each morning to the house and then came back to the Chinook after IzzyB went to bed.

On July 5 we headed home. Ryan remembered he had in-person school on Saturday, July 9th and we wanted to have a day to decompress.

It was quite an exciting drive on I80 in Wyoming. For those not familiar, I80 is basically a two lane highway (4 lanes total separated by some ground in between the two eastbound and two westbound lanes). We saw some police lights up ahead and as we approached, we realized the lights were on our westbound side of the interstate and coming at us FAST. Turns out it was a police chase with a dark gray SUV coming toward us going eastbound on our westbound lanes with two police cars very close behind with sirens and lights glaring! Wish I had my camera going.

The trip home was beautiful and my co-pilots were at peace.

We arrived home early evening on Thursday, July 7, 2022. All in all it was a GREAT trip without anything going wrong with the motorhome or the Infiniti.

And for the record, gas mileage in the Chinook fully loaded and towing the Infiniti:


Chinook Road Trip – 2022 — 1 Comment

  1. Awesome seeing you all and penne’s mom and dad
    So glad we were able to visit
    Just more memories to add to our life journey since 7th grade
    Love you guys ?Kyle