Monday, November 7, 2016

Trip West 2700 miles of Bad Road and Friends!

OK - Let's just say it was a memorable trip!

The trip took exactly 21 days total - start to finish including a couple breaks, two by choice and two not by choice!

I departed Hartville, Ohio on October 15th with plans for one stop on my way to Great Smokey Mountain National Park to visit friends and camp for 3 nights. Almost immediately upon departure the truck developed a slight miss when under load with the trailer - like going up hills. I planned to drive further but when I stopped for gas on the West Virginia Turnpike I realized I had no running lights, had brake lights and turn signals but no running lights, not feeling like fixing or researching in the dark I spent the evening in the truck stop. Had two days to get there so not an issue.

The next morning I left early and drove all day to arrive at my reserved campsite next to Sherry and Bill LeVines in the Elkmont Campground in Great Smokey Mountain NP - It was beautiful and there was Bill and Sherry as I arrived, wondering what took so long!

A few beers a great campfire and dinner already prepared was waiting for me, who could ask for more! Sherry directed me to my back in site and we settled in to catch up on old times and relax. Which I was more than happy to indulge in!

Sherry and Bills Wonderful little A Frame Camper!

Sherry and Bill!

The rest of the Family!

Dinner was waiting!

My secluded site across the road from Sherry and Bill!

After a wonderful evening the next day we took a drive looking for some fall colors! I found some!

I forgot to mention I had a tooth ache...UGH!

I did manage to dig out the camp chef and fire up some appetizers for our last dinner!

We had a wonderful time catching up on old times and enjoying each others company, need to do it more often! The next morning I departed and headed West with hopes of getting just past Nashville on my way to Memphis to see another old friend. On I-40 just East of Nashville near an exit to Mount Juliet the traffic came to a screeching halt - I was stopped for close to 30 minutes - now worried about darkness and no running lights, I eased off the exit and pulled into a Cracker Barrel for dinner and hopes for room to park for the night and meet up with my friend the next day near Memphis! Tooth still hurt and truck still with a slight miss. Had a nice dinner at Cracker Barrel and they said no problem parking for the night, I was well away from the restaurant in the back of the lot.


The next morning after posting my location on Facebook I get a message from the friend I was to meet in Memphis and he calls me and says, I have been having tests done at Vanderbilt Medical Center and I am not in Memphis I am near Nashville and my daughters is the address of the hotel I am staying at come here instead. So I agree and sit down at the computer to put in the address to my trip planner and it says you will arrive in 2 minutes! LOL! He was in the hotel directly behind the Cracker Barrel! So I text a smart ass remark for him to look out his window I am already here!! He walks over and we make plans to have dinner and find an RV Park for me to stay for a while!

We visited 5 different parks in and around Nashville only to find them either full for the weekend or closed for the season! We looked back two exits and finally found one with space after the weekend, made reservations and paid for a week and went back to Cracker Barrel to ask if I can stay - they are most cooperative and say no problem!

The next day Roy Groover who I was visiting informed me that he had made a dentist appointment for me for Friday! However after the dentist and I discussed he wanted me on antibiotics for a couple days, so another appointment for Monday. I moved to the campground on Sunday the 23rd of October with reservations to leave on the 28th! Monday morning I had two teeth pulled and recuperated then spent the week getting a few other tasks resolved like visiting a mechanic shop to investigate the truck issue. Roy and I had a wonderful time catching up everyday and enjoying a few cocktails and dinner each night! I pulled out with the truck running much better and a little behind schedule so planned to get West with a vengeance! Still had a long drive through some pretty boring areas and wanted to make up some time through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico! This took me three days of driving with the truck running pretty good, although still have the slight miss.

Now the tragedy!

As I pulled into a campground in Gallup, New Mexico I felt a slight rumble as I pulled into my site, thought more wires were loose on the truck, so decided to spend an extra day and check oil, tighten wires and fix the plug on the trailer so I had running lights!

So I stayed Monday the 31st of October and Tuesday the 1st of November in Gallup with plans to drive from there to either Kingman, AZ or if all felt well with running lights make the run right on into 29 Palms.

Well that didn't happen!

After leaving Gallup and driving at 64MPH with the truck running pretty good, I stopped at a rest area and as I pulled out I felt that rumble again. Only in 2nd and 3rd gear - once in 4th it seemed to smooth out. Drove a total of 157 miles then felt a huge bump and crash and the truck slowed down and I eased off the road - thankfully a nice wide paved berm and was able to get completely off the road! Get out to investigate and realize the drive shaft is gone - same problem I had last year in Tulsa. SHIT!

Check the GPS and realized I was 40 miles or so out of Flagstaff and made the decision to call a tow truck and head back to an Aamco and see about arguing about the repair! Waited about an hour and a half for the tow truck and walked back about 200 yards and found the drive shaft. Tow truck driver real nice guy and towed me into Flagstaff and the Aamco shop. Dropped the trailer in front of the shop and ran an extension cord for me to hook to electric - they were about to close, so I hooked up the sat dish and got the last game of the World Series on and settled in for the evening.

Next morning the boss was there, the truck went on the lift and he started looking for parts...which ended up being quite an undertaking. Seems Ford no longer manufactures the parts considered obsolete and no junk yards had what we needed so found a place in Phoenix that could make the complete drive that ordered on Thursday the 3rd of November and I settled in for another night. The driveshaft arrived up on Friday and we realized one part was wrong so made arrangements to get that replaced and be back up here early Saturday morning.

New Drive Shaft!

Missing part!

Nice shiny new drive shaft!

Truck was finished by 9 am on Saturday - test drove and double checked - only thing we can figure is when it was last repaired they did NOT replace the cutlass bearing and it failed which caused the catostrophic failure of the drive line! Well it is all new - the Aamco in Flagstaff was fantastic charged me no labor, parts only which was bad enough, but they kept me on the lift and at the top of the list to complete - They were great!

the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful - made good time and arrived at 29 Palms in time for Saturday night dinner and a few beers with my winter friends.


All settled in!

Plenty of room for more winter guests!

Grill is ready for a nice steak tonight - propane refilled - ran out in Flagstaff which made cooking impossible so snacked. Just for the record - I kept track - I said "Step on the gas you dumb bastard" 453 times as people got on the highway and would not speed up when I could not pull over! I burned 280 gallons of gas at an average of $2.12 per gallon or about $600.00 and that averages out to 9.6282 MPG, even with the miss!

More people arriving daily - good friends and neighbors Ed and Shirley arrived yesterday...

All is well, Life is Good!

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

1 comment:

  1. Glad that you are finally there and settled in. Sorry to hear about all the mechanical problems, but here is hoping that all that is over, and the rest of the year is good.

    P.S. - that photo of the sunburst between the tree trunks is super.

    Steve Redding