Saturday, May 7, 2011


I never intended to vacation in Kansas. You can tell Dorothy and her little dog that for me! But here I sit in a hotel room at the Comfort Inn in beautiful downtown Topeka, typing away on the components of the computer that I could "salvage" from the coach. Not "salvage" as in the rest of them are in I can't can't get to them. Why? Because no fuel, no run engine, no run generator, no open slide, no charge batteries, no keep freezer and fridge running....and so on. See what I mean?

Last post I used the word "worse." And in retrospect I do think that was entirely fair and maybe even spot on. Now more and bigger problems have developed and so technically I suppose I will have to say that matters have gotten "worser." To be sure we are not at or even near "worst." Dare I say that? Not with any confidence, but with full faith that that will be the case.

So there I was, minding my own business and feeling a touch tired after driving 400 miles (800 since our last layover for repairs). The only problem of the day had been the wind gusts to 35 mpg that slapped us on the right side of the coach for about the last half of the day. But that was doable, manageable, bearable. We slipped off Rt 70 exit 333 and proceeded a mile down the road to our rest stop for the night, a lovely little camp ground made from an old train station in Paxico, KS. It looked very picturesque. I was glad the day was coming to an end. This trip has felt like a bit of a battle at times. Just before the entrance to the camp ground, the road that ran parallel to the train track crossed the track, essentially in a 180 degree crossing and became a 1/4 mile dirt road into camp. Do I smell diesel fuel? We pulled up to the office to register and Marilyn got out to go do just that. I stepped to the rear of the coach to use the rest room on wheels- it smelled very strongly of diesel fuel (no the coach, silly), and that is nothing resembling typical. I stuck my head out the door towards the back of the coach. Smoke? Lots of smoke? Did a quicky check to see what was up and realized muy pronto that the problem was in the engine room. There was fuel spraying everywhere. I ran for the closest fire extinguisher. I keep them pretty much everywhere ......and now I know why. Shut the engine down. Ran in the office to inform them of the problem. Put the bright orange cones out to signal disabled vehicle. We are still within about 20 feet of the rail line...and now only some three minutes after stopping dead- here comes the freight train. Crap! Did I mention we were right smack dab in the middle of the entrance to the campground at this point? You could get around us if you tried hard, but clearly we were in the way. And that train! Crap!

The campground gave me a tub to slide under the coach to catch leaking fuel. The fuel now dripping at a significant rate from several spots under the engine, was, just 80 miles up the road, a fill up at a cost of 550.00 dollars. Forget the smoke, the heat, the danger, the nuisance, the hassle, the heartbreak- that was my damn fuel budget leaking out the back end of my damn coach! And the repair budget- oh, honey, that was totaled many miles and many months back and this is only May!

What to do? Call the tow company for which we pay a handsome "retainer" of sorts for just such occasions. A first defense legal fund for breakdowns is how I have to look at it. And although there will surely be a healthy deductible, the warranty and extended warranty will surely kick in to our private version of rebuilding America one repair at a time. But not so fast. That last repair was carried out with about 300 miles left on that old extended warranty run...and that was now done, finished, completo, finite. CRAP! I say again as I notice the odometer has rolled over 60,000 miles, the end of one contract and the beginning of a new one. 60,075.4 Surely it had been clever of us, despite the transition, to sign on to an additional 4 year extended warranty contract only three days ago as we took care of that last problem with the sensor on the old policy. Surely we were paying attention to our needs. Surely our timing was perfect.

But not so fast! The new warranty company claims there is a 30 day waiting period between policies. Crap I say yet again. Double crap. Crap on all y'all! This must not be allowed to stand as no one told us about that and nowhere in the brochure we have does it say anything about that. And they now have all the money for a "premium" that could otherwise go to cover this repair! Resolving that issue is in the works. Like having a courier carry in a part from Kansas City first thing Monday morning for, hopefully, an afternoon repair. Like pressure or steam washing the engine so the fuel that is everywhere under the belly is cleaned before it becomes a fire hazard yet again on the next leg of the journey, WHEN there is a next leg of the journey. Like reconnecting the drive shaft that must me dropped to tow the coach. Like finding a hotel in Topeka that realizes this is Topeka and not Times Fricking Square on New Year's Eve. Like trying to get caught up on rest and sleep with all this stuff shaking my brain. Like trying to summon the courage (where is the lion from the Wizard of Oz when you need him?) to actually get back in the drivers seat of that big rig and try to face all this crap one more time?

The Comfort Inn. I know how it got its name now. In Topeka, anyway, it is adjacent to the Hooters Property. And last night I needed some comfort AND a drink. Hooters has that covered (or uncovered as the case may be) and then some.... It helped us kick back, calm down, chill out, mellow fellow....and forget at least some of the crap for a short while. And more importantly, a relaxed mood gives you the ability to realize that while it may have gotten bad, then worse, then worser, and could become even worserer at some point, it is still a long way off from worst.

At least some of our friends and relatives are posting "Coach For Sale" signs on Face Book. More email comments than I can respond to right now from my corner-by-the-window-simulated-knotty-pine desk in the Comfort Inn are rolling in. Our support system is deep, and we appreciate all of you and all you have to say: the ads, the jokes, the well-wishes, and yes, even some of the crap that you dish out... if each of you would just take one little dollar bill, put it in an envelope and send it to: Gundyville, On The Road, Somewhere in Kansas......


Rod and Loyce Ivers said...

Well no one said motorhoming was for the weak in spirit, or pocketbook!! But here's hoping that your repairs are completed timely and that you have come to the end of them.

I'd come over and help from KC, but we are headed to the factory in Red Bay, Al to pick up and pay for our own problems at the motorhome repair facility. Think about 10K spent down there.

Anyway these will be stories about the trip from hell in one of the campgrounds later this year!

Brits On Tour said...

Our thoughts are with you both, I guess as things are so bad, they can't possibly get any worse. you never know, you may be laughing about this this time next year, I certainly hope so. Chicken seems such a long way away.....

Jim and Jane

Greg said...

Hey Brits! Chicken IS a long way away! Ice just went out on the Yukon. Friends of ours have been camped out on the banks watching it go....