Friday, August 7, 2020

Adventures of the road

Soooo, we went dark a day, didn't we?  Well, it wasn't really DARK, it was simply looooong and tiresome. We started out with a free buffet breakfast, but because of COVID, items were limited to "To Go" snacks in sacks.  Driver picked up a couple on his way back in from Bailey's morning constitutional.  We laid everything out on the desk to admire the wonderful and nutritious spread of the day.  Didn't take us long! In each bag was a muffin, a cup of canned peaches in heavy syrup, a small bottle of Sam's Club water, a wrapped spoon, and the TINIEST granola bar I've ever seen.  I really shouldn't complain though; in many countries, this is a whole week's worth of food.  For four people.

Driver thoroughly enjoyed his hot and delicious breakfast.  LOL  Please overlook the bag of dirty laundry on the floor.  A little TMI there, eh?


So, we had spent the night just east of Memphis, so when we set out, we headed to Nashville, TN.  (took me three tries to type TN, as opposed to TX)  Just before we got there, we crossed over the Tennessee River.  It's been a while since we've seen so much water in one place, that wasn't the Gulf of Mexico, from one side or another.


Nashville is actually one of my favorite cities, or at least, it was many, many years ago, when we were there and I could tolerate cities better.  Nevertheless, I was excited to see the skyline appear, especially that pointy-topped AT&T bulding.  (It's the one on the right, between the two right-most lightposts.) I knew we were planning to go right by it, and I'd be getting a much better picture in just a few minutes.

But, at the VERY LAST minute possible, Google notified me that there was a 30 minute backup and I should consider taking an alternate route, down a new bypass, I440.  Weeeelllll, hmmmm...OK.  Driver was quick-draw on the lane changes, and off we went!  Oh my gosh, the new road was spectacular!  The asphalt was NEW and SMOOTH, and traffic was super light.  Almost non-existent! Soo, we added a few miles, but we saved quite a bit of time, and decreased our opportunity for an accident by quite a bit.  Always a good thing, if you ask me, and since it's my blog, I'll consider myself asked.  Only downside, I didn't get a very glamorous shot of downtown.  Please accept the photo below, and my sincere apologies.  Not 100% sure what the routing is for the return trip, but I may (or may not) come this way again soon.  If we do, I'll see about getting you a better photo.  Don't hold your breath, though, I value your life too much.


In just a couple more hours, we found ourselves on the approach to Knoxville.  Of course, that comes with more mountainous views.


Remember that bowl-dome from a couple of days ago?  I've been enlightened by two different followers.  Thank goodness there are people with more knowledge than I!  One theory is that it is the top half of a pressure vessel.  Exactly what kind is beyond the scope of the informant, but he has seen items of this nature before.  The other theory is that it is a contamination containment system, much like is shown in the movie, Monsters, Inc.  Well, I have not seen that movie (I have not seen a movie since Pretty Woman, but that's really not relevant, because now, there's YouTube!) so I had to do some research.  Pay attention at the 1:14 mark, and you'll see how it was used.  If you can't see that video embedded down there, just give a little clicky right HERE and you'll go directly to YouTube. Thanks to Ken and Jean for the new knowledge!




Wondering what yesterday's interesting load was?  Well, how about a truckload of rocks?  Not just any rocks....big, beautiful landscaping boulders!  The were spectacular, and would look soooo good around the waterfall that dropped into the hot tub that flowed into my salt-water pool.  If I had one, that is.  Think we could have this driver follow us around until we found another house and were ready to settle down again??  Yeah, me neither.


As we approached Knoxville, on the east end of Tennessee, we ran into more and more traffic.  And yet another jam up.  It's been a couple of years since we'd seen traffic like this, and it was going the loop around the north side of Atlanta.  But, we were in the coach, so it was waaaay more stressful than yesterday.  When we came upon this, we just routed around again, and BAM! We jumped back on the interstate at the very end of the jam up.  And, an added bonus - we stopped for fuel at a Kroger, right beside the street we were traveling, and there were no other cars at the pumps!  Win-win!


Right before we jumped off, though, we got to see the inside of a really big pole.  Or tube, or something similar.  Any thoughts on this one?


So, we got to our hotel.  It was a Quality Inn, and don't let that name fool ya...Quality was NOT their priority.  And it wasn't even cheap, either!  The hallway and the room smelled like cigarette smoke, and this charming decoration was already dangling from the ceiling to enhance the mood and get us ready to celebrate Halloween. And, to top it off, poor Driver, went to get his evening shower and couldn't get very much hot water at all. He waited and waited, but it never got much more than warm.  I, on the other hand, got in there, cranked the handle, didn't get more than warm water and cranked it some more!  I got hot water!  It wasn't scalding, but it was so forceful, it pelted my back and was really uncomfortable.


It was a good thing that I had not eaten all of my goodies from the Snack Sack, the day before, because, at this (low)Quality Inn, there was no breakfast.  Not a limited version, and no reduced rates to compensate for the inability to serve food.  And no Snack Sack...well, you know how Driver likes his hot breakfasts...he made do with my cup of peaches and that itty-bitty granola bar. I promised him we could stop along the way if we found something tempting.  Haha, we didn't stop.  It wasn't long before we crossed into Virginia.  And I know you can't read those signs; I couldn't either.  But, from what I gather, they refer to slowing down for poor weather conditions.


Ahhh, the good ole' Blue Ridge.  They aren't the biggest or most rugged mountains in the world, but they are pretty.  At least, they are to us.




And what was the load of the day TODAY?  Why, it was gi-normous tires!  I would love to see the Tonka Toys these puppies fit!  And can you imagine how much they must cost?  Geeze, I'd hate to foot THAT bill.


Around New Market, VA, we turned into the Rest Area for a little walk-about.  Can you see that sign, way off in the distance, among the trees?  Well, unfortunately, we wouldn't have time to visit Endless Caverns today, but maybe on the way back?  I know, I know, I keep saying that... especially to all our friends who have SOOOO graciously offered us lodging along the way. And Samuel T Bryant Distillery.  We were originally going to stop there as a Harvest Host boondocker stop, but then, well, you know...God laughed.  So, being as the distillery was right beside the Interstate, at exit 74, we were going to stop in anyway, just to see about that peach moonshine, but then, we were early, and he was closed (till 10 am), and Driver thought maybe we would have more time to enjoy the facility on the way back.  Plus, then we wouldn't be knocking a bottle of shine all around the back of the car for all those miles up & back.  But, again, I digress...THANK YOU to all you dear, dear friends who have so generously offered us assistance, without regard to their personal health and safety. 


A few miles north, still on I81, we came upon the water tower for Mount Jackson, VA.  It's (very well) painted to represent a bushel basket of apples.  Sort of like the Peachoid (yes, that's its true name, even tho I just call it The Peach) water tower in Gaffney, SC or the watermelon tower in Luling, TX.  Barbara, from Portland, OR (that's a link to her blog, not to Portland's home page) has plans to make a barn quilt, and she's already made a doors quilt (Doors of Ireland)...OK, so here's a confession, I just spent a goodly amount of time, re-reading a lot of her posts, and searching for a picture of her completed Doors of Ireland quilt, but, sorry, couldn't find one....where was I even going with this runaway train????  Oh, yeah, the watertowers.  Maybe one day.....yeah, probably not.  I'm just not that talented a quilter, nor do I have the stash left for such a quilt.  But, this one was right up there in the pretty and pretty unusual categories.


So, every night, it's been quite the ordeal, getting from the car, into the hotel.  You'd THINK we were going to move in permanently, for all the amount of stuff  crap we bring in.  For ONE NIGHT!  We have the green bag - that's toiletries and Water Pik.  The light blue bag is Bailey's daily food.  The burgundy bag, that's chips and paper plates, napkins and utensils.  The suitcase, well, that's our suitcase for clothes.  The big blue cooler holds our milk ('cuz, ya know, lactose-free is hard to find!) and beer and dinner (seafood/pasta and garden salads, for 3 nights running now) and some baggies of ice.  And some grapes and cream cheese.  And the little cooler - that is for water during the day, but we bring it in to use as a vessel to get the ice from the hotel cooler back to the room, to pour into the baggies in the big blue cooler. Hiding between the blue bag and the burgundy bag is a little brown paper bag, containing a tub of wipes, anti-bed-bug spray, spray bleach disinfectant, and a can of spray Lysol.  And, to top it all off, hanging off the side, the white mesh bag that is our dirty laundry.  In plain sight, for all to see.   Now, you tell me. ......exactly which one (or more) of those bags do we leave outside??


Yeah, we can't decide which one to omit, either.  We may look like the Beverly Hillbillies come to town, but, at least, we are doing our part to reduce our exposure to that darned virus.  It hasn't been TOO awfully bad until tonight.  You know we always ask for non-smoking rooms, and when we book online, we ALWAYS book non-smoking rooms.  Tonight, at the Travelodge, by Wyndham, the hallway was smokey, and that was our first clue.  Even though ALL the rooms had no-smoking signs posted on the doors.  I opened the assigned door (after dutifully wiping the handle down, yes), took a half a step in, and had to come right back out.  Oh my, the smoke was simply overpowering.  Trucked right on back to the front desk, while poor Bellboy Driver stood guard over our Towering Pile of Possessions, made suitable apologies to the clerk, and requested a different room.  A few clicks later, two new passkeys, and we were assigned a different room.  I entered it first, and it wasn't AS bad, but it was still smokey, imho.  I asked Driver to come check it out and offer HIS esteemed opinion, and he agreed, it was NOT a non-smoker's room.  By this time, I didn't really want to go back to the front desk alone, so he pulled our Mile-High Pile of Possessions back to the lobby and waited behind me while I asked for yet another room.  The clerk looked a little skeptical by now, but, we were both ready to walk, even though the reservation was both prepaid AND non-refundable.  


After we'd been in the third room a while, we sort of got used to the smell...it's not great, not even good, but at least it's tolerable and not causing an immediate migraine or asthma attack.  But, seriously, you'd think at these prices, the rooms would be clean, the toilets would flush, and there wouldn't be Halloween decorations up in August.  Rant over, for now, but know this - I AM SO READY TO BE BACK IN MY CAMPER I COULD.......fill in your own blank there, but mine includes a brick!

Tomorrow, we should arrive in West Chester, and we already have an appointment to meet the guy who's going to pick up the dark room and photography equipment.  Who uses that stuff anymore, anyway?  I dunno, but I don't really care, either, just so long as it gets gone and we don't have to pay to have it hauled away.  All the better that it's not going directly into the landfill.  It probably will, eventually, especially when the dude determines how old and useless it is, but, hey, that's his call, and I don't care WHAT he does with it, so long as it gets gone.  I have a lady coming to get the stained glass tools and supplies, hopefully, she's coming with about $350 cash money; Charlie says it's all worth well over $1000, so, she's getting a bargain, and again, I don't care, so long as it gets gone and I don't have to pay to haul it away.

We'll be in another Quality Inn for the next two nights...I hope it's better than the first one!  Then, starting Monday, we'll move into a private (non-chain) hotel that offers us a kitchen and costs LESS than the hotel room without kitchen facilities, but only for a week.  We are hoping to extend it as necessary.  We'll see.  When we get everything hauled off, and the buyers have looked, and hopefully, placed their offers, we are OUTTA THERE! And then it will be "the way back." So, look out friends, we'll be heading your way!

Till then, y'all stay well and safe!  Thanks for riding along with us!!

 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

And plans change, yet again

Welcome back, peeps!  Bet you can't guess what WE did on Sunday!  LOL, if you guessed not much, Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!  We pretty much batted around ideas and possible routing and best/worse case scenarios.  Other than that, Not.Much!  Oh, wait, we DID discover that if we ran 2 air conditioners, and the hot water heater, we would blow the 50 amp fuse as quick as you can say, blow a fuse.  If we only ran the 2 air conditioners and nothing else, it took a little bit longer. So, with temps hovering around 100*, with feel like temps around 103 to 105*, we ran with one A/C.  Around 3 pm, when we were both dripping sweat, we powered everything down and fired up the generator and then we cranked up all 3 A/Cs.  Wow, what a difference!!  That coach cooled right down and even got (to me) a wee bit chilly.

So, Monday morning, bright and early, at 7 am, Driver was in the office, getting us registered and in line for repair.  They immediately ordered a pump for us, knowing the one we had was most likely shot, and sent him back out to wait for Jose the techs to come in at 8:30 and get one assigned to us.  Along about 10 am, we got a knock on the door and there was our hero.  Or so we thought.  First thing he did was find a cracked reservoir and got us a new one for replacement.  Look how pretty that sucker is!


And here is our tech (I do not know his name) reinstalling our drive shaft.  Yes, it has to be removed for towing, else we will burn up our transmission.  Please don't ask any questions - that's all I know.
We had a really quiet weekend, but Monday is a workday, and boy, was there a lot of activity here!
Everywhere we looked, there were cabs, cabs, and more cabs.
There were also school buses and big trailers lining the perimeter of the concrete lot, some of whom were refrigerated units.  Do you have any idea how LOUD those suckers are?  Oh.My.Gawd.  And continuous!  What a roar!  Not to be outdone by the line of reefer trucks lined up on the road right beside us though...you see, kitty corner across the street is a place called United Freezer.  Yeah.  It has its own set of engines that run 24/7, and now there are about 20 reefers all lined up and running, waiting for Tuesday morning pickups.
So we spent all of Monday with our hoods gaping open, like baby birdies, just waiting for mama and papa to come home with a worm.  
It's not a good look, is it.  So sad.
Sooooooo, eventually, Laurie, our service writer, who also happens to be a former mechanic of 22 years' experience, and the current assistant service manager, tells us she has ordered us a new harness (?) and is having trouble finding the appropriate high pressure hose.  The didn't have one in the warehouse, despite having FOUR of these failures just last week, nor did they have one available from the factory, in Gaffney, SC.  Laurie got creative and asked if they could take one off a unit already on the assembly line.  Hmm....I'm pretty sure that isn't gonna happen.  I mean, why would it? While we were waiting for a callback from the factory, she showed us around the shop.
I didn't feel right taking pictures in the actual training room (besides which, I had left my phone in the camper, so I *couldn't*), but it was all outfitted with life-size sections of chassis.  There was a full-size transmission, a whole dash/ceiling/front of truck/back of truck assembly for wiring, brakes, and probably 12-15 computers for training.
Sooo, towards the end of the day, we checked in with Laurie once more, to see what kind of progress had been made.  We could have saved ourselves the trouble.  There was no progress, really.  There are no hoses available, and the backlog is 40 days wait.  40 days, you say?  Yup, FORTY DAYS BACKLOG.  So she put in a request to have a hose pulled off the assembly line, and it might or might not be approved.  If it IS approved, and they can get it packed up in time, the hose will be overnighted and we should see it around noon Tuesday.  If it's NOT approved, it just won't show up.  They don't seem to have a process by which anyone gets notified, so we don't really know what's going to happen or if anything is gong to appear on Tuesday or not.  IF it shows up, along with the pump and harness, they can begin working on it, and maybe we'll be done by Wednesday quitting time, and leave on Thursday morning.  So I got on the phone and reset all our reservations, yet again.  Remember, these campgrounds have been on notice to save me a spot first, in April, then September, then August, now the dates are changing yet again.  It has to be as frustrating for them as it is for me, for sure.

If no parts show up, well, genius that he is, Driver came up with another plan.  We could leave on Wednesday morning, and simply travel by car, spending nights in hotels, and taking our chances in restaurants along the way.  Definitely NOT ideal.  Not really even desirable in any way, shape or form.  But, it had potential to get the job done.  But what about all our stuff?  We travel with the car loaded with our patio chairs, a propane tank, the porches and our bicycles on a rack in the hitch receiver, precluding us from opening the hatchback.  Well, no surprise to any of us, the harness showed up, but the hose did NOT.  Yeah, Dick Luck, once again.  So we hit up Laurie with our new plan, and she understood the urgency of our journey and was kind enough to offer a corner of the shop to store our carload of possessions.  So, here's Callander's Corner at Premier Truck, in Dallas, TX.  What's that I hear you ask?  Why, YES, this DOES mean we'll have to travel BACK to Dallas to pick up the coach when all is said and done.

Once we got the car unloaded, we grabbed all our dirty clothes, and the towels we had been using and hightailed it to the closest decently reviewed laundromat we could find.  Talk about a Cultural Experience.  Oh my, oh my.  We are sooooo spoiled having our own clean, working, convenient and paid-for washer and dryer, right there at my fingertips.  Oh my, oh my.  We are accustomed to using the washers and dryers in campgrounds, sure, but it's been quite a while since we had been to one open to the public.  Talk about a Cultural Experience, it is definitely NOT one I wish to repeat.  I don't know who wrote that glowing review, but we had to work hard to find a washer that was in working order and not super expensive.  We only found ONE, yes, just ONE, but it was small, so we'd need TWO, and I didn't really have time to wash back to back in one, instead of simultaneously, in two.  So, we bit the bullet and used one of the large capacity, high dollar (as in FIVE dollar) washers.  We found an empty one that appeared to be in working order and loaded it up.  
Then we went outside to wait.  While there, we got to watch the locals doing their thing.  We were pretty sure we were going to witness a 2 or 3 car accident, but they managed to avoid the crash, but then we were almost involved our own selves.  And we were sitting still, minding our own business, in a legitimate parking spot!  We couldn't wait to get outta there!
What a relief it was when all our clothes were mostly dry (after 3 goes of free drying, I was done, whether the clothes were or not!), and we could move on with our chores.  We had decided that we would empty the refrigerator of all the fresh produce and milk we had purchased (cuz, ya know, there's a pandemic going on, and you don't want to be going to grocery stores all over the country...stick with one that you know and isn't overly populated, and stock up) and leave only the meat in the freezer, giving away all the rest.  We would also make a big garden salad and a bowl of seafood/pasta salad to take and eat along the way.  All that would require some refrigeration....so, off to Walmart to purchase (yet another) cooler.  Don't mind that we have two, back in storage, in Florida...we needed one HERE and NOW.  Thank goodness we'd had the foresight to pick up a suitcase at the park-wide garage sale while we were in Alamo Rose, that week in January.  When we got back to the camper, we packed up our clothes and started in on making dinner and dinners to come.  After all, the earlier we got on the road in the morning, the farther we could make it by afternoon.

Except for one thing.  We hadn't counted on a rain/thunderstorm.  Last time we saw rain like this was when we were back in Florida, 2 winters ago!  In the photo below, it's important to know that we KNEW there was a car ahead of us, in our lane.  No, we couldn't see him either.  That's how hard it was raining!

As we traveled, I called around to all the campgrounds holding reservations for us, and begged forgiveness as we cancelled them for good this time.  Eventually, we made it safely to Arkansas and kept going. We had to pass the sign for Hot Springs, and, boy, was it tempting!  Several years ago, we had taken baths at the National Park, in ages-old bathtubs, bathing in hot, hot mineral water, piped in directly from the springs.  Ooooohhhh, they were wonderful, and they'd feel soooo good....but, no time for that on this trip!  Drive on Jose, drive on.
We did find a couple of gents having a day like we've had a week...and this geyser was spotted at a very neat and clean rest stop.  What really caught our eye, though, was how lush and green everything was.  We haven't seen green grass like this since I cannot remember when.
Did you know there was a river running through the middle of Little Rock?  Yup, there is.  I believe this was the Arkansas River.

Shortly after crossing the river, these two vehicles passed us.  An informal poll was taken on Facebook, and the winning answer was that this was likely the septic tank for all the BS being flung about these days.  Except it probably isn't big enough to hold it all.  We really don't know what this object is, and if you have any ideas, we are all waiting to hear 'em.
And, finally, we got through Arkansas, and came to Memphis, TN.  What a lovely skyline.
Oooooh, crap....but there's another bridge!  This would be the Mighty Mississippi.  And, noooope, didn't get a picture of this one, sorry.


As we passed into Memphis, this lovely building came into view.  This would be the Headquarters for Ducks Unlimited.  Apparently, there is a decent restaurant with a magnificent view up there at the peak.  And, in case you were wondering, no, we did NOT stop.  No time, for one thing.  And, HECK NO, I'm not going up there, for another.  
Tonight, we are at a cigarette smokey Baymont by Wyndham, and we've eaten our seafood pasta salad.  Why it smells like cigarettes, I just don't know.  We were told that all the rooms are non-smoking.  I guess the rooms don't smoke, but I'm pretty sure that ate least SOME of the customers do. So that pretty much concludes our adventures since last Friday.  It's been a bumpy ride so far, and we know of several others that have experienced the same parts failure/no availability that we have.  True, that doesn't make it any better or easier to swallow, and we still have the scary prospect of hitting up a hotel every night for at least 3 or 4 weeks, then we will still have a few days of lodging to account for.  Right now, our plan is to go check out Barbara & Charles' "guest shed" down in Silver Springs, FL.  (Quotes, because it's outfitted nicer than most homes we've seen!)  We are hoping that we won't have to impose on them too awfully long, but we are really looking forward to seeing them.

Till next time, y'all be well and stay safe, and we'll try to do the same.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

All's well that ends well, but, unfortunately, it's not yet ended!

So, y'all may recall (or maybe not, if you're a new reader), my dad passed away on Dec 4, after a brief spell of lung and heart issues.  My brother, Charlie, flew out to Pennsylvania, gathered up everything that looked important, including his computer (!), his wallet and keys, and flew back to Arizona.  He submitted a change of address so that he would be able to keep up with the mail and bills, and maybe begin to unravel the financial spaghetti noodles.  We opened Probate and filed all the right paperwork (including getting special notarizations and stamps back around the beginning of February, and the paperwork all made its way to the Registrar of Wills before the end of February.  And then COVID hit.  And our paperwork was finally found on someone's desk, but the clerk told Charlie that he couldn't finish processing it, and the person that could is already gone, and HE was leaving in 10 minutes.  And then the doors closed and locked, and that paperwork all stayed there till JUNE.  JUNE!  Just in case you don't know this, there are deadlines one must meet in order to avoid fines and penalties.  Deadlines, people, deadlines.  And I don't believe they are excused because you don't have your paperwork, even if you don't have your paperwork because there's a frickin' global pandemic and the courts closed with all your paperwork sitting on some clerk's desk!  OK, so, rant over....where exactly does that leave us?  Well, once the paperwork was finally approved, Charlie could begin contacting all the financial people that were holding assets for my dad.  (he could legally begin paying all the bills, too, instead of us having to front all the money and hope for reimbursement!)  And he had two people contact him about purchasing the house, believe it or not Ripley!  TWO!  Well, one was a flipper, so I'm not really sure he even counts, 'cuz I know he's gonna lowball us right down into a ditch.  Heck, unless he has better principles than most flippers we know, he's going to want US to pay HIM to take the house off our hands.  Well, THAT ain't gonna happen.  Nor will we finance it for him, as they so often request.  Sooo, the other dude sounds really promising.  He has friends in the area, and he has been looking for a house in this neighborhood for several months.  He's also really handy, so he says, and he is looking for affordable and a fixer-upper.  Well, have we got one for him!  And it's just him and his girlfriend, no kids, so the size is just perfect.  We put out an Ugly Hedgehog ad for free dark room and other photography equipment (Charlie couldn't even find a place to accept a donation), and got a taker. Then I put out a Craigslist ad for any or all of the stained glass supplies and tools, and I found a sweet lady that has an aunt interested.  I believe she's going to take it all, for the paltry sum of $350, sight unseen.  Charlie said it was well over $1000 worth, but he didn't have time or money to pack and ship it, so it'll be a blessing to someone else.  Now we just had to get there to get things moving, right?  

First order of business was to chat with our Volunteer Coordinator.  Luckily for us, she was amenable and understanding, and willing to let us out of our contract.  Yeah, I was sweating that.  But, THANKS Jennifer!!!  That was a BIG load off my mind.  So we made arrangements to leave on Saturday, making campground reservations all the way to Coatesville, PA.  Yay, job well done.  And then it occurred to us that we were going to need assistance getting out that pretty gate without getting our car smashed.  You may recall, it started to close on us on the way in, and Driver had to scoot along to make sure we didn't get caught.  Well, going out promised to be even more difficult, as we would need to wait for a long, clear stretch, without oncoming traffic.  Jennifer reminded us that no one worked on Saturdays, so we really needed to leave on a Friday.  Ok, no biggie, we'll just hustle things up a little.  

We typically keep a neat and clean campsite, so it didn't take us long to pack everything up.  We gave the pool to Ben and the tomatoes and pepper planter to Cixto.  (how he gets it to his house is his problem!)  We loaded up the car and gave mail forwarding stickers to the staff, juuuust in case any of those financial institutions sent anything to us at Balcones. We will absolutely miss the gorgeous view and sunsets.  We were truly blessed with a spectacular sunset on our last night. 


Saturday morning dawned clear and cool, and we were able to safely exit the Refuge, with the help of Cixto.  Goodbye Hill Country!

So that I didn't have to rearrange all the campground reservations, we just decided to split up the first day's drive and we chose a Coast to Coast resort to stay in Friday night.  It was about 12 miles off the Interstate, but we figured we'd have plenty of time, breaking up the mileage like that.  Originally, we had almost 400 miles to go, this way, we'd have just over 100, then just over 300 the next day, and we'd be right on track.  This was the approach to the campground in Whitney, just north of Waco.  Love it!


Oops, this photo should have come first.  Every little town needs a hardware store, right Charles?  This is the main street of downtown Whitney, TX.  Wish we could have taken the car off the dolly and explored a little, but, not this time...


So, the next morning, Saturday, we go to pull out of the campsite, and we both heard an unusual grrrooooan coming from under the front hood.  We looked at each other and remarked on it, but we kept going.  I had programmed the GPS to get us to Texarkana, but when we got out to the main highway, yes, THE ONE WE HAD COME IN ON, that stupid woman insisted we turn RIGHT and go south.  Why, oh, WHY would we do that?  Well, Driver is wont to remind me that she knows how big we are, and she knows where we can and cannot go...while I reminded HIM, that we came in from the LEFT, on this VERY ROAD, and that was our desired direction of travel.  Well, often, I allow the GPS to override me, just because she knows how big we are and where we can and cannot go.  Even though every fiber of my being told me, we are traveling in the WRONG direction, and this made NO sense, No Sense, At All.  She finally signaled that we should turn left (which made me feel a bit better), but, geeze Louise, she turned us down onto a little Farm Road that wound among the cornfields and added about 30 miles to the journey.  And, eventually, dumped us out exactly 1 exit (and about 2 miles) from where we had originally gotten off the Interstate the night before.  But, hey, we got to see Lake Whitney out of the detour.  And we didn't have to pass, or be passed by, any combines or other oversized farm implements.  We did meet a tractor trailer coming at us, in a curve, but we had enough room to pass without either of us going off the road. 


At the end of our scenic tour of the lake and neighboring farms, we finally came to a stop sign at the Interstate 35 frontage road.  Now, we were traveling East, mind you, and we WANTED to travel NORTH, right?  Sooooooo, tell me please, how is it that "Turn Left and get on I35 South" makes any sense at all?  Perhaps that's how come we went around Lake Whitney and got to add 30 miles to our journey?  (remember, we only get 6 miles per gallon, so that 30 miles cost us about $15!) Anyway, I overrode this time, and instructed Driver to go under the Interstate and turn LEFT, onto I35North, as desired.  It was during that particular turn I noticed him really man-handling the steering wheel.  And instead of going onto the frontage road, and approaching the on-ramp to the interstate, he pulled off the road, and onto the shoulder, telling me he wanted to check something out, 'cuz the steering was a little off.  That was an understatement.  See where the tip of the screwdriver is pointing?  Just under it is a bead of pink fluid. That, friends, is power steering fluid.  Without which, power steering does not work.  Nor does Comfort Steer, which is how we compensate for wind gusts and which also keeps our wheels at zero turn when we stop and helps us back up, and lots of other tricky maneuvers.  So, definitely on the list of things you've gotta have...


The closest Freightliner service center appeared to be about 60 miles BACK, in Waco (I had wanted to go to Waco, but we decided with the car on the dolly, we'd just wait until Barbara & Charles could go with us, as we had originally planned, back in PC (pre-COVID) 2019.) and he was honest and told me right up front, he couldn't get a wrecker to us until Monday, and he wouldn't be able to look at our issue until Monday afternoon or Tuesday.  Besides, even if we could get a wrecker to tow us in there, he was not an Oasis facility and we wouldn't be able to stay in the coach, nor would the coach have access to electricity.  Sooooo, in order to avoid a panic situation, I called Freightliner 24/7 Customer Service.  The phone number is listed on the driver's window sticker, right under Newmar's number.  I don't generally like stickers, but that one gets to stay!  Forever.  First thing Todd wanted was the last 6 digits of our VIN.  I knew he was going to ask for that.  'Cuz it's impossible to read!  The sticker with the VIN is located on the inside wall, behind the driver's chair, in front of the slideout wall.  And is extra tiny print.  Not a snowball's chance I was going to be able to read that.  Thankfully, Driver had just printed a new insurance card, so we got that out, and I was able to provide the VIN from there.  Smart guy, and good lookin' too.  So Todd (Freightliner) engaged Diamond (Massey Towing Service) and Stephanie (Premium Trucking) and set us up to get towed from our location to Dallas, where Premium Trucking could let us stay onsite, with power, until Monday, when the RV side opened up again.  We had to unload the car from the dolly, and when we did, we found where the fluid had gone once it leaked.  Yuck.


We remembered that you need to reduce the tire pressure on the dolly tires to 10 psi if it was going to be towed any distance, so we did that.  Then we (yes, I'm using that term loosely, it's Driver, all Driver) tried to remove the Newmar mudflap.  Remember, when we first bought the coach, and it had to be towed, the tow driver didn't do that, and he tore our new mudflap to pieces?  They couldn't replace it with an identical one, so they upgraded it because we were pitching a fit to take possession and leave, or just leave.  Smart guys, figured a little upgrade would help make the sale.  Poor Driver, though, hot as it was, he was just dripping, quite literally, after this futile attempt to remove the mudflap.


After a short wait of about 90 minutes, Shane, from Massey Towing Service arrived on scene.


And Bailey sat like the princess she is, during this whole ordeal, just looking around, like, "what's all the fuss about?"


So, off we went, jacked up and hitched up.  Driver, Bailey and myself followed along in the (fully-loaded) car.  If you can't see the video embedded below, just give a little clicky-doodle right HERE to see it directly from YouTube.


We didn't get too awfully far, when we saw that the tow dolly was just shimmying from side to side and bouncing up and down like a crazy woman!  I wanted to call Shane right away, but Driver stopped me dead with, "do you REALLY want him to answer the phone and talk while he's driving your house down the road at 70 mph??"  I thought about it for maybe 2 seconds and told Driver if Shane didn't slow down, we were gonna pop those tires and loose the dolly altogether, so what choice did I really have?  I knew I couldn't drive across country, heck I can't drive more than 10 minutes without falling asleep at the wheel!  Well, the question was moot, anyway, because I called.  I got straight into Shane's voice mail, so I just hung up.  And then MY phone rang, and it was Shane, telling me that dolly was bouncing all around....  We all talked about what to do (I asked him to slow down, to reduce the shimmy and bounce; he did, but it didn't seem to help)...remember, we could tow the dolly on the car, but then we'd have to do something about the bikes that were on a rack fitted into the car's hitch receiver.  We thought MAYbe Shane would have something we could strap the bikes onto the dolly with, or MAYbe we could put the bikes in the camper somehow.  I dunno, but SOMEthing had to be done, and QUICKLY, or we were gonna lose the dolly.  We all pulled off at the next exit, and Shane was planning on pulling into a conveniently located Love's Travel Plaza.  That is, he was, until he missed the entrance, and had to turn down the street marked NO TRUCKS.  We all brainstormed, and the best we could come up with was to load the car back up on the dolly, leaving the bikes on the rack on the car, and we 3 would ride up in the tow truck cab with Shane. I tell you what, we were one long mutha.  :)  


Off we went!  This is the view from the sleeper cab of the Kenworth that pulled our collective butts 39 miles to Dallas.  Shane was really good, but there were definitely some hair-raising moments, when he had neither hand on the wheel, was looking at Dick, or was answering one of two phone calls or replying to a text he received.  You all know how I feel about those cement barriers in construction zones, well now Shane knows too.  Can you say, SQUEEEEEEEZY?  Yes, I held my breath, thinking that might help, I suppose.  Bailey scooted under the mattress bench, and try as I might, I could NOT reach her.


I did not have my Google maps up when we came across this intersection, so I didn't really know where we were going, and yes, just viewing this interchange brought me to tears.  A prayer of thanks was definitely on my lips when we came through it without having to go up high.


Here's Shane and Driver, teaming up to place the tow dolly in a parking place, out of the way of all traffic at the service center.  Of course, it had to be about 200 feet from where we were parked.  Uphill, natch.  Heat index was about 103 by now.


And here is the back end of our lovely home.  Since our water situation is so limited, and we don't have access to a hose or anything, it'll have to stay like this until we can get into service.  Hopefully, they will be able to wash it off and no damage will have been done.


And, here we sit.  This facility is about 10 acres, total, and every.bit.of.it.is.concrete!  Oh, except for one small grassy area that holds 2 trees and a shade canopy and picnic tables.  They call that the dog park.  It is in the far right corner of the lot.  You'll note, we are in the far LEFT corner of the lot.  And that concrete is too hot for my feet, so I'm sure not gonna make Bailey walk on it!  She rides in style, in my lap, in our fully-loaded car.  There are 52 bays in that facility!  I sure hope we get one of 'em tomorrow!


And what have we here?  That little tube thing is the drive shaft!  So we can't move an inch under our own power!  They had to do that to tow it properly.  And there's that infamous mudflap.  They'll have to reattach that, once they get all the fixin's complete.  Otherwise, it will get re-wrapped and put back up into the coach, to sit on the floor in front of the sofa for the next however many days.  So, here we sit, waiting patiently, sweltering, because the 50 amp plug outside won't allow us to run more than one A/C at a time.  Don't know why.  We run the generator some, during the hottest part of the day, and it will pull all 3 A/Cs, but we have to be careful of our fuel situation, 'cuz we haven't gotten to the service station yet!  We are right across from a TA truck stop, but, remember that drive shaft?  Yeah, we can't go anywhere until that gets back in, and even if it were in, we don't have any power steering fluid, and we have no power steering, soooooo...here we sit, waiting patiently until Monday.


Since we didn't have anything to do today, and nowhere to go, we Zoom danced this afternoon, for 3 hours!  Oh my, what fun that was!  Of course, we forgot most everything, but eventually, it came back and we did OK.  We had some really great callers, Jeremy Butler, Penny Green, Denise Carbonell, Dayle Something, Tom Miller and Bill Harrison, and one or two not-so-hot callers who shall remain nameless.  (because I'm not about shaming anyone, plus, I don't remember their names!) 

Our carefully planned out reservations have been changed and all our visitors have been rescheduled.  At this point, we don't know when we'll be moving again.  But I do know this...we were holding our tanks on Friday, so we only have about 2 more days, and we're gonna have an issue.  There are no dump or water facilities here.  And there's that pesky drive shaft....on the ground.  Oh well, it's yet another chapter in the Adventures of Dick Luck.

Y'all stay safe, keep well.  Fingers crossed for safe travels for us all!