Friday, April 12, 2024

So Now What?

Weather has not been good. Rain and wind over large parts of the US didn't stop here either. The last night was loud, as the wind played his rough song in the strapping of our solar panels. But at least we didn't have to get up at 6am. It was almost 7:30 when I found Dixie still sleeping on her bed.

Checking the messages on my phone, I found one from the Chevy dealer. He needed authorization "to drop the Tranny pan" to check for metal pieces. I gave authorization to plow ahead with whatever seemed necessary. It confirmed what I already knew, the fluid was burnt, plus that metal shavings were plentiful in the bottom of the transmission. Catastrophic transmission failure!

During the afternoon we got their quote. That was some tough reading! A full replacement of the tranny would amount to $8500 minus $2000 for the core of the old transmission. A hefty bill, no doubt, but it would give me 3 yrs. of warranty or 100,000miles. The good news was that they have that transmission in stock and that they will do it on Monday. That is actually great news, as we really don't want to hang around here longer than necessary.

Tomorrow morning Kathy will come to move our trailer to the next site over as our site was already booked from Saturday. She also dropped by this morning and we got her a short list of groceries to pick up for us.

Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning our angel Kathy will drive us to Columbus to get our van back. We will be eternally thankful for her help.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

When Disaster Strikes....

 An innocent morning after a very quiet night in a State Park almost ended in disaster.

We had been up early to make it all the way to Buffalo, NY. Heading up the I-70, which here in Ohio was of excellent quality, we had stopped for a short and early lunch break at a truck-stop. Getting right back onto I-70 I was accelerating the rig to travel speed, when a terrible scream was heard. And it was NOT coming from another car, but from our transmission.

Yes, and at the same time RPM was revving up without any acceleration. Clearly a transmission issue!

And that's when our ordeal through the rest of the day began. We had made it off of the I-70 onto a lesser highway and parked on the shoulder of the road. The area was full of huge ware houses.

We called several transmission places in the area (thanks Google) but none wanted anything to do with this. So finally I had to call Coachnet, our trusted roadside assistance service. It was them who found a towing company and a Chevy dealership in Columbus which could have time next week (!!!) to look at the problem. One other dealership, I spoke to myself, had a 2 months waiting time (!!!!)

When the tow truck arrived he took the van to the city. Meanwhile, Bea and I waited in the trailer. Police came also inquiring why we were parked in that spot. 

After 2.5hrs. the tow truck was back to pick up the trailer. Meanwhile we had figured out a State Park some 26 miles away in the opposite direction close to Springfield, OH.

One of the challenges of the day turned out to get Dixie into the tow truck. Way to high for her to jump or try to climb. So we lifted her 105pounds of live weight through the truck door. I think that scared her, but there was no other way. Later, after we arrived at the campground we had to lift her out again. But she did OK this time and was obviously enjoying the thick green grass outside.

That's where the tow truck dropped us of. It is very, *correction* no extremely remote and the question how we ever would get back to Columbus for the pickup of our trailer stood between us. 

I was just connecting the power cable to the trailer when I heard a woman's voice from the other side. And it wasn't Bea, as she had taken Dixie for a walk. Peeking around, I saw a black pickup truck and a woman looking somewhat bewildered. 

This person was Kathy and she had thought the tow truck driver had left the trailer without closing the trailer door. After telling her about why we had came with a tow truck she immediately offered her help for both getting things like groceries or driving us to the city to pick up our van again. WOW....we were just stunned about so much helpfulness. 

Fixing the tranny may take anything from 4 - 10 work days, depending on a possible repair or complete replacement. I already tend to prefer a complete replacement, maybe with a rebuilt transmission. But we will let you have an update on this "adventure".

Before you go away: Kudos and praise to "Shark Tooth" towing Service. Super nice and cautious driver and operator!

Kudos also to Coachnet.com! I am convinced it is the very best roadside assistance service there is available. Great timely follow-up, great service making tons of necessary phone calls on behalf of their clients and no discussions about when it comes to get you to safe and fitting locations. We have used Coachnet already twice on this trip and both times they did not disappoint.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Longest 40 Miles Of My Life...?

This morning I had a plan. Rather than stressing around to find a suitable Walmart for the night, I consulted the map. I was actually looking for a State Park in Ohio, fitting at a good days driving distance of 400 miles.

A little ways off Dayton, OH I discovered "Hueston Woods State Park. I told co-pilot Bea about it and then we went on the road. First destination was St.Louis. Bea found an excellent byway - I-270. We followed that Interstate and we never saw anything of the city. that is - other than lots of traffic. Once back on the I-70 we approached Indianapolis. The I-70 through IN is absolutely horrible. Patches on top of patches makes you jolt in your seat. It was a nightmare!

Meanwhile, Bea had located the OH State Park on the map and found that if we by-passed Indianapolis on the south side we would "run directly towards the State Park" which also would save us 10 miles of driving in total rather than following I-70 for later making some 20 miles straight to the south of it.

That sounded great to my ears, so we went for it. Total estimated time to the State Park was supposed to be around 2hrs. Great! But I was kind of getting tired too.

First part of the "shortcut" was I-465 - with tons of bad behaving traffic. The next turnoff was I-74 which was followed by Hwy 44, which led through every little forgotten town on the way. If you think the n"44" would cross these poor towns in a straight line , you are dead wrong. Nope, the town crossings ran in a ZIG-ZAG pattern. Hopelessly parked vehicles blocked intersections and it was like it was all planned that way by town council to make visitors enjoy the huge old churches, the boarded-up stores and private residences sporting couches and fridges on the front porch. One of thos featured a sign "CONDEMNED" in prominent yellow letters on the front door.

I was around that time that I asked Bea how many more miles we still had to do to reach camping haven in Ohio.

Her answer: 40miles.  OK, 40miles seemed like a lot to me and I just moaned. After a long time of continued driving and maneuvering our rig along now very narrow country roads (with sharp curves and deep steep valleys) I asked again:  "22miles", she said. WHAT? ANOTHER 22miles?

The procedure and disappointment repeated itself at 13 miles, then at 7 miles, then 4miles, and finally 2miles. During the entire drive the area got more and more remote looking. Confusing for me was also the fact that the GPS girl at the windshield had a different route than the Google map girl on Bea's phone. Sometimes they shouted at each other. 

But, yes, we finally made it to the park. There were more rigs in there than I had expected for a regular Tuesday.

Maybe they weren't the longest 40 miles of my life, but I dubbed them "Rubber-miles". 

The park is quite large, sites are electric with no water and there are lots of hiking trails, one of which I went to explore with Dixie. It lead down a slope to a small river.

Range burns in Kansas



Green fields make us forget the desert



A delightful contrast to the horrible feedlots in Texas and Oklahoma

The Mississippi


Springtime along the highways

One of several town along Hwy 44

Old Farm House

The narrow road straight ahead marks the state line between Indiana and Ohio


Monday, April 8, 2024

Just An Eclipse

Finally it's April 8, the day so many strange things are supposed to happen. We've all hear the wildest conspiracy theories, from "sudden ruptures", appearances of Jesus and "extreme human suffering" to "sickness" caused by the solar eclipse. People who spread these theories have an agenda rooted in the fear psychology and fanatic "christian" beliefs.

It is all a big hype! I have seen solar eclipses, even though partial ones only, before and it always was and will always be a natural occurrence happening between Earth, Moon and Sun. For thousands of years these things have been happening, but of course, when it happens in the US, the whole country goes crazy. It is more than ridiculous.

We had just passed from Kansas into Missouri when I looked at the fuel gage and found out we could need a fill-up. Right then I also saw a fuel station turn up on the left side of the highway. A good fit. The clock showed 1:50pm and a stop now would give us an opportunity to experience the few minutes the eclipse would last. However, we were still outside the path of a 100% eclipse. Yet the light turned a touch darker, almost like the sun would shine through a cloud. Bea calls this "metallic". And yes, the light seemed unnatural, but it didn't get dark.

We got gas and a cylinder of 7gal of propane. By the time we had finished, the eclipse moment was over. Not a big deal, as I say. Full sun shine returned and we headed off towards St.Louis.

We haven't made it all the way to St.Louis. At Columbia we found parking at a Sam's Club and a Walmart nearby. It was less than 400miles today, but we are not in a hurry. The east coast is supposed to suffer through a storm this coming weekend, and we are not eager to get hit by it.