I’m writing this relieved that we avoided being stranded on the side of the road—towing our home and everything we own—with citrus-filled trucks speeding just inches by us. That didn’t happen.
But we haven’t resolved the situation yet, so I could be jinxing us by writing with too much enthusiasm at this juncture. I don’t know how this real-time blogging and jinxing works, so I’ll err on the side of caution with my tale.
The Problem, Best as I Understand It
Our awesome, one-ton diesel truck, with the Cummins engine and the this-and-that powerful, well-made, brand-new stuff under the hood, has been acting up ever since Texas. That’s when it started struggling when Tracy tries to accelerate in low gears, so he took it to a Ram dealership near the Escapees Campground (that was when we were stuck on the Group W Bench with so many residency-related errands).
That service department was worse than worthless. They blamed the problem on the non-Ram-brand fuel filter Tracy had used and charged a million $ to replace it way earlier than the maintenance guide indicates.
As soon as we reached Florida, the engine started struggling again. Tracy bought one those tools that interprets the engine warning light, and it told him, unhelpfully, that something’s going on with the fuel intake. We knew that.
So he made an appointment with the only reputable Ram dealer we could find who’s all the way over on the east coast of Florida, and we crossed our fingers that the truck would hold out until our itinerary got us there.
It didn’t. Yesterday morning as we pulled out of Hillsborough State Park, literally as we pulled out, the engine puttered and spluttered and threatened to die during acceleration.
This is an RVers’ worst nightmare (except a tire blow-out, which I guess will happen to us next). We kept creeping along though, looking for a place to pull over, and not having found one we inched our way to a Walmart parking lot. At least there, if the truck wouldn’t tow at all, we could spend the night. (Oh lord, please not.)
So we set up our computers in the trailer and went to work. We:
- found a mechanic willing to see the truck first thing Monday morning (mind you, this was a Friday),
- found an RV park kind of near that mechanic with an empty campsite for the weekend (small miracle there, and we’re fine with the extra expense and totally boring park because it’s not the Walmart lot),
- cancelled the reservations at our next state park (with a whopping $17 refund),
- changed the appointment at the Ram dealership to a day later, assuming this mechanic we found on Google Maps can fix the fuel pump (or whatever it is) on Monday, and
- shifted our next reservations accordingly.
It took two people, two calendars, and several phone calls and online searches to get this done, but we did it! And then we breathed a stage-one sigh of relief and ate lunch in the Airstream.
After lunch we limped our way to the new RV park, which is an uninteresting place in an area of Tampa we stayed in back when we had to visit Airstream of Tampa—they told us our awning problem was a matter of just resetting the control switchboard. Grr.
This weekend is going to be rainy and cold (you’ll be livid if I compare our forecast to yours, but yes, rainy and cold), so we’re glad to be anywhere but that Walmart parking lot. This place is fine.
Actually, better than fine because it has a pool right across from our site, and almost no one was in it when I peeked while we were unhitching. So, once again I channeled Thelma and Louise, this time the scene where they narrowly escape their first violent run-in, pull into a motel, and one of them goes straight to the pool to sunbathe. As if that will help.
The water was warm so I swam. I knew it was the final sunny day for a while, so next I sat on a lounger and let the sun seep into my stressed-out self and massage my troubles away. I may have even napped.
So here we be now, with rain and cold having arrived and no trails or kayaking or anything to do but walk Banjo past gas stations and fast food joints. Come Monday, we’ll find out if this stranger mechanic can fix the truck, or if we’ll be further stranded here as our state park reservations slip past us.
The good news: we have a trailer full of groceries, I have a bunch of new ukulele songs on request that I can try to learn, and Tracy created a new storyline for us to play during our Firefly game.
Wish us luck!