10.A long mechanical whine
It’s mid-September & I’m still here – at the moment here is a delightful RV park in Baldwin County, in southeast Alabama. And it feels like I’m the ping pong ball in a swift moving challenge between two mean spirited mechanical gremlins.
The game began a couple of weeks ago when I drove the motor home into my son’s subdivision (remember I had only the motor home and motorcycle – no car). I turned too sharp – my bad – and hit the curb. The same curb about a million others had hit, breaking large chunks of cement and exposing the ends of multiple pieces of rebar, one of which gave me a side-wall puncture about 6 inches from the ground. My son rattled off the names of several people – including my son – who had been skewered on that rebar. A mere $409 later, the wrecker was gone & I could leave, too.
I was fostering a small dog in the motor home; my German Shepherd Misty was tolerate but obviously preferred being an only child. I had parked the RV under some oak and pine trees, near Blackwater Bay. While I was riding, a nasty thunderstorm blew in. Living in a motor home is something like living in an igloo ice chest; the noise of a pine cones and acorns hitting the roof takes on new dimensions and heavy rain sounds like castanets. Now, Misty, aged 10, had lived only in the desert before she came to live with me in June, 2015 and we’ve enjoyed a lot of time in the desert. In her defense – and she was certainly going to need some defense – she didn’t know much about life in an ice chest in the fierce summer thunder storms of Florida. The insult of being left alone with a fluffy white dog princess only slightly larger than her dinner plate was too much when that storm rolled in – Misty freaked out. She ate the backup camera, both sun visors, and the windshield wiper knob; she decided the screen door needed no screen and would work better shaped like a chaise lounge. Jeff W, my Geico claims adjuster, has been great — no bad jokes and he even assured me he had seen worse. After my $500 deductible, they’ll cover the rest of the $1,200 in damage. The little dog has gone home.
The vet recommended Prozac. As Misty and I were in route to pick up her meds and newly delivered crate, a man pulled up beside me at a stop light and said, “Do you know your steps are out? “ Seems that the electronic monitor that automatically retracts the steps when you start the engine was attached to the chaise lounge, formerly known as a screen door, lying back under the pine trees by the water. Good news is – I didn’t take anyone out at the knees or rip the steps off on a curve. I went back to the Bay, afraid to drive further but not afraid to ask a friend to deliver Misty’s meds. And then we waited for the Prozac to kick in.
BTW – Misty first thought the heavy metal crate was an interesting bed or cave, but she obviously never intended to be locked in it, alone, during a storm. I left on my bike, in need of some road therapy, relieved she and the motor home were safe, but a storm blew in so she let herself out by bending the door, leaving blood behind to prove her point. Now the folded crate sits on its edge, an effective roadblock so she can’t get into the cab. Neither can I. Three days later, I called the vet’s office because Misty was still swinging from the rafters, so to speak. THEN they said it could take three weeks to see any improvement, so we went to town in the motor home to get her a sedative. And decided to move to this lovely RV Park in Baldwin County, Alabama, where I’m parked in the open – no pine cones or acorns here! She is much better, and I’m cutting back on her meds. She hasn’t eaten any more motor home parts, and we talk about going back to the desert, where there are no trees and it seldom rains.
It’s important to remember, as you read my whine, that I’m by myself, I know no one in this RV park, and I don’t have a mechanical bone in my body.
So – I decided I needed to buy a truck for my dog. This idea of driving the motor home when Misty needs to go to the vet, or when the weather is – or may get – bad – well, it’s just too much. So I did tons of research and identified a truck that is not too heavy, that will flat tow behind the motorhome and hold my motorcycle. I found a good one on-line – arranged a pre-purchase inspection, and am now the proud owner of a 2009 Chevy Colorado extended cab, 4WD, automatic (all required to flat tow) But the gremlins were still restless.
I bought this 2017 Jayco class C motor home in June and had noticed sporadic water puddles but couldn’t figure out there source. I took it back to the dealer; they couldn’t duplicate the leak. This week I finally realized the hot water heater was leaking. OK, I can handle this. I’m fully covered by the Jayco warranty. So I arranged for a mobile RV mechanic to come to me; he pronounced it was not just a loose fitting – that the hot water heater was bad and had been leaking since new, and that I would also have to have some flooring repaired, something he couldn’t do from his truck. He ordered the new hot water heater and installed it on Monday. I paid him $1,200 (“check, please, ma’am, no credit cards – then you fax my bill to Jayco and they’ll reimburse you”)
Next the mechanical gremlins tried to trash my truck. I bought it on Wednesday. On Saturday, water began pouring from under the dash on the passenger side; then as I drove back to the RV after dark, down a narrow country road – my head lights went out. I turned the knob and they came back on, on bright. Only on bright. Several people on that quiet road seemed irritated with me, but there was nothing I could do but trudge on. Several lights on the instrument panel came on. No choice but keep going. Then Sunday morning, the truck wouldn’t crank. By that point, I was doing my best impersonation of a rational adult, but it wasn’t pretty.
Monday morning, while the RV tech was changing out the hot water heater, the wrecker came for the truck. Of course, when the burly wrecker man turned the ignition, the damn thing started right up. I said, “I don’t care. Load it up and take it to the shop!” And so he did.
The truck repairs were a mere $500. The positive post on the battery had broken; the vents to the AC were stopped up; the fuel sensor was bad. It’s still the truck I want.
In 10 days I have an appointment to have the slide removed on the motor home so they can repair the flooring. The following day, I’ll take it in for repair of the dog damage. I’m still satisfied with the motor home. And Misty is still the dog I want.
OK – the rational adult in me says — it could be much worse. I could be a mother with children in Syria. I could have lost everything in the recent flooding in Louisiana. I haven’t been attacked by a shark or mauled by a lion, but I’m tired of dealing with these mechanical gremlins. They are not life altering but about as much fun as a siege of fire ants.