The Month from HELL! Part 1

The month from HELL Part 1 Well this story starts in Moab Utah. I lost my car keys somewhere between when I was packing up and hooking up to get out of there but I didn’t realize it till much later in the day. I use the valet key for the ignition because I need to keep the steering wheel unlocked when towing my car with the RV.I was all set-up at Windwhistle campground near the needles overlook and settling in for the night when I went to lock my car and couldn’t find my keys. I tore the RV and Car apart looking for them with no luck. The next day I call the campground in Moab to see if they have found any keys. Nothing… crap… Of course I have spare keys so I put together a new key ring and all is good. By this time I am already at the Valley of the Gods in far southern Utah and the campground in Moab calls and they have a set of keys. In my excitement I failed to ID the keys carefully enough for the clerk on the phone and drove nearly 3 hours to discover that they were not my keys. Ugh oh well thankfully I had spares but I did have to cut the lock on the chain I use to secure my bike to the RV. Life rolls on… On the good side I collected some amazing video and pictures of the area, Hovenweave, Four Corners, Cedar Mesa, Natural Bridges and some of the funnest is from the Moki dugway. It’s a road that runs up the side of the canyon and you gain about 2000 feet of altitude in 5 miles of steep switchback road. Be watching for that in future travel videos when I get a chance to work on them. Unfortunately my schedule was disrupted again. I get news that another close friend of mine is seriously ill. Man it has been a year for people to get ill. I have to admit that I am still a little down about the passing of my friend Don up in Idaho this year. Bad things happen to good people is little solace to the passing of a great person. Every time I have made firm plans with someone to do something the situation has changed and I have had to cancel. Three times this year I’ve made significant plans with firm dates to be somewhere and do something and life changed. That’s been pretty hard on me because normally my schedule is pretty loose… I’ll be in around this area at about this time kind of thing which is bothering me, I am almost afraid to make plans now for fear something else will come up. Are you through feeling sorry for yourself yet? Well probably not as were going to see… Continuing my migration south I find myself broke down at Camp Verde Arizona. I blew a hydraulic hose on Rusty and the power steering and radiator fan are hydraulically driven. I was able to limp into an exit and luckily find a vacant lot to park in while I waited for roadside assistance. Unfortunately the engine got pretty hot with no cooling and the pressure in the surge tank (overflow reservoir) got pretty high and blew a hole in that tank… If you’re a regular watcher of my videos you might remember I noticed it was leaking a couple of weeks prior to this event. I will say that Goodsam, as much as I hate camping world, their roadside assistance has been pretty solid. They located a mechanic, and there is happy ending story there…but the tow truck took 22 hours to get there. Luckily I was safely parked and if there was any advice I could give to RV’ers is when you break down patience is the key. Just be patient if you can. It saves a lot of aggravation that is just wasted energy and frankly there is little you can do to speed things along without pissing off your service provider and the last thing you need is someone working on your rig that is peeved at you! Excuse me while I spit in your food sir… (sic… asshole) It takes three hours and two tries to get the RV ready to tow. I started to get a little nervous when the first thing the tow truck driver did was put the rigging to tow Rusty by lifting the front tires off the ground on backwards… Uh oh.. Warning signal # 1 I thought. The night before I had gotten a call from some other local tow company, I don’t recall the name, bad mouthing the company that was coming to tow me and that they had a mechanic that could do the repair and they would come tow me. This guy went on to tell me couple of horror stories about the towing company and how they had never heard of the shop doing the repairs. It was a tad bit entertaining and I admit to egging the guy on a little. Now I’ve watched tow truck wars or some other crappy reality RV show about the towing business a time or two and I was skeptical as hell about this call. He was just trying to poach my business and I am of the opinion that roadside assistance wouldn’t have called the people they did if they were not capable of doing the job…. I did check out the mechanic they referred me to and they turned out to be quite nice and did a very good job. More on that in a bit. Basically the snafu on the towing was that there was a wreck on the interstate south of Camp Verde that day and all the big tow trucks in the area were down there working that wreck. They did say that they would come get me that night around 9 or 10 pm but it was Sunday night and the repair shop wouldn’t be open till the next day anyway so I just had them schedule the tow for the next morning. So we are finally on the road to the repair shop, two heart attacks and three hours later but the road we had to go on was being worked on and they were installing round-about’s every mile or so with the outside lane of coned off so the two truck had to take the tightest radius turns possible… We’re twisting and turning around those and holding up about a mile of traffic but finally get the five miles down the road to the turnoff. We can’t make the turn onto the road to the shop because of the construction.. It’s all coned off. Man at this point I am starting to come to a low simmer temper wise, but I just want to get this freaking thing over. This road we take as a detour I have to run ahead of him as a spotter because we have to traverse some washes in the road and he is worried about dragging the ass end of the RV on the road as we go through. Now I am close to freaking out and seriously wondering if we’re going to make it to the repair shop in one piece… I’m having severe anxiety attack and all I can see if my RV laying on its side with a tow truck attach ed to the front. To top it off the google maps location is WRONG…. Fuck me! Side story the driver didn’t even know where he was towing me when he arrived. Warning signal #2… Warning signals 3 through 10 should have been how long it took to get the RV hooked up and ready to go. I’ve been towed before and it’s never taken more than an hour to get on the hook and rolling once the truck arrives. Side story if you don’t know this in the desert areas many of the side roads go through washes and rather than put a culvert in or a bridge they just let the water run in the wash and warn you not to enter them when they are flooded. Sometimes they are not wide enough to accommodate a long vehicle… Frankly this more than anything else stops me from getting to many boondocking sites I would love to visit. Okay back to our main story I get on the phone with the repair shop and they had moved the month before and were now on the other side of town…13 miles away. Man despair is settin in…I’ve got to follow this freaking guy back through round-about city all the way back across town. Now I’m pissed and people know it. I did call back to the repair shop and apologize to them as we were making our way to the other side of town but a nightmare story wouldn’t be told unless there were a couple of other things. There is no place to turn around so we have to traverse about a mile and a half of washboard gravel road to get back to the main highway. Keep in mind that the entire back of the RV is covered in hydraulic oil and antifreeze and now a ¼ inch of dirt is covering everything on the back, my bike, tow bar, the entire back and engine compartment where the oil had sprayed… Every freaking thing… Side story number two… it cost me $10 bucks at the quarter car-wash to get the car clean. I still have one window a month later that I just don’t seem to be able to get the oil out of the seal and it leaves an oily film on the window when I roll it up and down… Finally we are at the repair shop and there is no way he can make the turn into the shop so another mile down a sketchy road with me running spotter so he doesn’t totally destroy the RV getting turned around so he can try and make the turn into the shop. What a relief we are finally here and my stress meter drops from 11 to a solid 5… Now I’m worried that it will be something with the engine (which I still have a warranty on) and there is going to be a big hassle getting that resolved, but it turned out to be a hydraulic hose. Clearly where it had been zip-tied to the frame it rubbed through and blew so it will be a fairly straight forward job to repair the hose and replace the surge tank but the parts are in Flagstaff 50 miles north. Having nothing better to do I drove up and got the parts and the repair is complete and I’m out about $1200 parts and labor. Bust out another thousand. You’d think I had a boat. I guess it is a land yacht and it’s never been less than a thousand when I’m in the repair shop. That’s why I do as much of my own work as I can. While they are completing the repair I am cleaning up the bike, tow bar and cables with a can of break cleaner I picked up while I was at the Freightliner shop in Flag. So it’s 8’pm and I’m nestled away safely in the parking lot of the repair shop slides out getting ready to take a shower. I’m super tired at this point and it has been a stressful day. I just want a shower and a whiskey or three, go to bed and get this day behind me. Ready to shower I open the medicine chest to get something and a bottle of aftershave that I have been packing around unused still in the box for at least two years falls out and lands right on my big toe… F’edy F’edy F F F I’m pretty sure it was broken because it still hurts like HELL> and another stupid move on my part… Just a couple of hours before that as I was driving back from Flagstaff having a conversation with myself about the day I thought that I needed to be careful opening the cabinets. Anybody who’s RV’ed for a while knows that you’re not always on glass smooth roads and stuff gets bounced around and will fall out of your cabinets occasionally. They call like a rolling earthquake! Ten minutes of crying and cussing about my toe, shower done and food on my mind I go open one of the kitchen cabinets, a-freaking-gain without the care needed and a bottle of hoisin sauce (Korean bbq sauce) tumbles out and breaks on the tile floor, chips the floor and splatters glass and sauce everywhere. Okay that’s it… I’m fing’ done with this day. Mess cleaned up a couple of 5 fingers and 4 rocks and its bedtime. Usually it’s the other way around. 4 fingers of whiskey in a double rocks glass with 5 ice cubes but this had been a shit day and I was out to put it behind me! So the next day I am awake at like 3 am and can’t get back to sleep. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and the time rolling back an hour when I hit Arizona combined added insult to injury. I still needed to reassemble the tow bar and bike rack so I had to wait till the sun came up. I thought to myself the run I’ve been on the last couple of weeks I’d better be sure and get it back together correctly… No worries I’m out of there by about 7:30 with a plan to stop at a rest area for about an hour and let Phoenix morning rush hour thin out. Plus there is a hell of a hill to climb southbound out of Camp Verde on I-17 and I wanted to do it in the cool morning air in case I had done some damage when I over heated limping in from the breakdown. Also cool air is denser and you get a little more oxygen in it so your engine will have a little more power. Well I get on the interstate and get up to running speed and I notice the power steering is a little herky jerky… I could feel it surging a little as I turned the wheel and I am well into this climb. It’s not that bad just a little annoying and with the run of luck I’ve been having I’m sure it’s going to blow at any second…. Another quick RV tip, do not stop on the up slope of a grade if at all possible. Losing your momentum on a long uphill climb is a real pain in the ….. I get to thinking that I bet it’s just air in the system and the farther I rolled down the road the less pronounced it became so I was pretty sure it was working the air out of the system. When I got to the rest stop I checked the oil level and it was down two quarts. I keep several spare quarts so I top it off and by the time I get 10 miles south of the rest area it is pretty much back to normal. Phew another crises adverted but the day is young!!!!! More in part 2…..