April 10 2009

My Worst Day in RVing


It was gusty and lots of 18 wheel traffic, so I knew it was going to ba a day of little relaxation. Just keeping it in my lane was going to take attention.

About 150 miles west of Phoenix and 30 miles east of Quartzsite, AZ, the truck started shuddering, so I firgured I had a blowout somewhere.  Got it off the road and got out to check, the trailer was fine, all tires OK.  I had lost the front passenger tire on the truck.

We have roadside assistance, but I figured I could change it faster.  My wife on the other hand, insisted we call roadside assistance. After a brief arguement on the merits of the idea of calling or chaning it myself, where I was reminded I had a bad heart and we paid for road service.  I relented, as I often do to the higher power and reasoning ability of my wife.  I have learned after 45 years of marriage, the best thing to do is apologize and shut up, it makes for a lot happier marriage.

Anyway, roadside assitance took 45 minutes to get there, changed the tire and had us on our way again.  I drove to Quartzsite, got 4 new tires, while my tread was good they were all 5-6 years old and I had read the tire stories about keeping your tires less than 6 years old. So four hours after the blowout we were back on track, only 4 hours behind schedule.

I pulled out of Quartzsite and onto the freeway, got about 3 miles down the road and the engine quit. I started toward the edge of the road and then noticed, the gas guage was on empty.  In all the excitement with tires and stuff, I had not paid attention to the gas.  With the strong headwind we were only getting about 7 mpg, as opposed to the 10-11 we usually get.  Fortunately, I could see the exit just about a mile ahead, so I let it cost as long as I could.  After coasting, I tried a restart and, walla, got the engine going for a short run, another coast got me to the ramp and up to the stop sign.  Another crank, walla, another short run to frontage road and a coast right into the gas station.  This was very fortunate, becasue my wife informed me we WEREN’T calling roadside serveice twice in one day… Believe me, I paid attention to the gas guage the rest of the trip…

 We got a late start because we didn’t expect to be on the road for long.  So now its getting to be 6:30 PM and we still have an hour and a half to get to the campsite. We decided to give the south entrance to Joshua Tree a try and save the driving time.  As we got off the freeway, we discovered the south entrance and Cottonwood Campground was still 8 miles up a twisting road.  It’s a first come first served campground so no guarantee we would even get in.  We reconsidered.  Just bite the bullet and make the 1.5 hour drive, at least we had reservations in Black Rock Campground. I saw a large gravel area I though I could turn around in, size was OK, but there was a dip and I scrapped what I thought was my trailer hitch.

Back on the freeway and headed to Black Rock Campgrpound at the west entrace to Joshua Tree.  Still fighting a quartering head wind.  The road into the campground is terrible.  Its rutted out, pot holes, steep sides on the pavement, plus very poor signage.  Getting there after dark didn’t help any.  The roads in the campgrpund are narrow with the signature Joshua Trees sticking out and making turns with a travel trailer difficult. Had to make a couple of circuits before we found our site, pulled in and its not level in any direction.  I moved around a couple of times, put all the blocks I had under one side of wheeels, still not level side to side.  Raised the front the full length of the jack to get it level front to rear.  All this in 20 mph winds and 40 degree temperatures.

After finally getting it as level as possible, I was putting down the stabilizer jacks, got to the last one, the right front, and guess what, no jack.  It wasn’t my hitch that drug, it was the jack and it knocked it completely off.  The perfect ending to a perfect day…

At least most of the damage was to my ego.  The tires I probably needed anyway, the jack will be about $75 for a new pair, that’s the only way they come.  We were tired and cranky, but no major harm.

Its been two more days on the trip and no other problems, so I guess we had all our bad luck at once.

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Posted April 10, 2009 by Tom Martin in category "Camping Adventures", "Camping and RV

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