Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sometimes Things Don't Go So Well

At Sioux Falls KOA, Sioux Falls, South Dakota...

For any readers who don't have an RV but are thinking of acquiring one, you're probably looking at that prospect with great expectation and excitement, and you may not have given much thought to any difficulties that may come your way. That was how I thought back then, so count my voice as one of experience. While this life will be wonderful, it is undeniable that there will be days when nothing goes right. This was to be one of those days.

We pulled out of Shipshewana at the crack of dawn (for us)--about ten a.m.--congratulating ourselves on our early departure. I was a little nervous about Mae, our new toad, not having towed a CR-X before and having a couple more hoops to jump through than the HHR in order to tow her correctly. Like the pilot I am, I prepared a checklist to make sure that I had followed the manufacturer's instructions, especially since there are some frightful warnings in the owner's manual about ruining the car's transmission if one doesn't follow the steps exactly. Furthermore, I couldn't imagine how the drive train of an all-wheel-drive car could be designed so as to be towable anyway. 

As I put Phannie in gear and released the parking brake with a whoosh from the air brakes, I looked intently at the visage of the little car in Phannie's rear video monitor to see that all was well. I'm not sure what I was expecting to see, but I've found that if I expect the worst, then anything better than that is a win! Thankfully, the CR-V remained intact as I nudged the accelerator and felt a slight reassuring bump as the towbars reached their full extension and locked. At that point, being one with Phannie, Mae followed obediently and perfectly as we picked up speed through the Amish farmland. I guess my expectation was that the car would simply fall apart in a pile at the first tug on its bumper and, when everything seemed to go well, I smiled and gave a nod to Dan's Service Center in Elkhart where the tow package was installed. They must know what they're doing, I thought.

We hadn't gone ten miles until I heard a beep from the tire pressure monitor and saw the red warning light flashing. It showed that the pressure in Mae's right rear tire had gone below the 27 psi low threshold limit. I watched it a few more miles and noticed that it had dropped to 25, so at least I knew it wasn't a fast leak. I remembered a travel plaza located about 15 miles ahead on Interstate 80, so I decided to go for it. In about five more miles, the pressure had dropped to 24, and by the time I reached the turnoff, it had dropped to 23. Getting out and taking a look at the tire, I saw that it had begun to develop a belly, so I knew it had to be changed. Back in Phannie's cockpit, I gave a quick call to CoachNet, who informed me they couldn't help me because I had only signed up for the basic plan when I renewed a few months ago, so the tow car wouldn't be covered. The young girl on the phone said that she noticed that I had had their premium plan for many years and wondered why I had not continued that with the last renewal. I told her that it had been an oversight and offered to pay the extra on the spot. She said I would have to get my account upgraded with customer service on a business day. This didn't make me particularly happy, and I may have have had some impure thoughts at this point. It would have been nice if someone at CoachNet would have told me about this when I renewed over the phone; I suppose I had forgotten that they have a premium plan for covering coach and car, but if they had mentioned that when I renewed, I would have caught my error and purchased the plan I usually get. They need to make an allowance for elderly clients.

At this point, I had two choices: 1) Call around myself and try to find a mobile roadside service provider or 2) change the tire myself and drive into Elkhart to have it repaired or replaced. Since time was rushing by, and we had a very long leg to travel, I elected to change the tire. 

Now tire changing is not something to which I am accustomed; in fact, I haven't changed a tire on anything in about 50 years or so. Being mostly in management positions throughout my career, I usually had 'people' to do things I didn't want to do. But there I was, poring over the CR-V's owner's manual, trying to find out some basic information--like where to find the spare tire. This education took about 30 minutes as I opened the car's compartments in a sort of scavenger hunt to find the spare tire, jack and lug wrench and trying to glean from the manual's diagrams where to place the jack underneath the frame. (I never did figure that out; it just wasn't clear in the manual; fortunately, the location I chose was apparently okay.)

After much groaning, creaking of joints, huffing and puffing and (horrors) perspiration, I finally got the lugnuts loose and changed the tire, after which we drove to Discount Tire in Mishawaka, not too far from where we were. They had the Bridgestone tires in stock, but that they couldn't get to it for an hour and a half. I bought a new tire, not wanting to trust the old one any longer.

So, the delays keep piling up and, by then, I was worried about our reservation that night in Iowa City. I didn't see how it would be possible to make it before dark, but I was willing to try.

It was not to be. The traffic on I-80 was bottled up in Chicago, and we spent an hour there to go 2.5 miles. I had to call and tell the destination park what had happened, and they were very nice about it.

As the sun was setting, I decided it was time to stop driving, so we picked a park near the Interstate short of our destination. Unknown to me, it was located at the end of the dustiest dirt road I have ever seen. By the time we reached the park, Phannie's rear cap was covered with dust, and Mae was so dusty that I couldn't remember what color she was. When we got to our site--the last one available in the park--we found that it was not satellite-friendly. But this was fine, as we were really too tired to watch TV; we just went to bed. The lot was also grossly unlevel--so much so that Phannie's levelers didn't have enough travel to correct it, so we spent the night thinking we were on a ski slope.

I decided to take Phannie and Mae to get them both washed in the morning, as they were dirty enough to be embarrassing. The next truck wash on Interstate 80 was in Altoona, so we headed there, enduring the smirks and glances from one driver after another as they passed us, probably thinking that we had been off-roading or something. So, I spent about 50 dollars, with tip included, at the truck wash for the mistake of picking the wrong RV park, which wouldn't have happened at all had the day gone the way we had planned it. 

Now I don't know if you counted all the things that went wrong on this departure day, but there were many, many of them. Fortunately, days like this are rare indeed, but they do happen. It's how well we handle the problems and our reaction to them that makes something positive of the experience. Oh yes, and Xanax would help, if you have any.

One more thing: This is the second time we have caught a leaking tire before damage was done to Mae, thanks to our monitoring system. If you don't have one of these, you might want to give that some more thought. 

The next leg takes us to Sioux Falls, South Dakota on our way to Rapid City. Stick around and see what we do next. We're not even sure ourselves. 



Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.


I had rather own little and see the world than to own the world and see little of it. --Alexander Sattler



20 comments:

  1. Sounds like you did a very good job of handling all the problems that you encountered . I hope you have smooth sailing for the rest of your travels. Vern in Boise Id.

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    1. Thanks, Vern! We're thinking about heading toward your beautiful state. Plans are fuzzy right now.

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  2. If a slowly deflating tire and a dusty coach are your biggest problems, you are one lucky man. In spite of days like that, we all have a pretty good life! I too find it necessary to write about the little down days, like when we had the accident on the Alcan, so that others who are dreaming about this life don't think everything is roses all of the time. Be safe, friend, and may alll your problems be no larger.

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    1. You're quite right, Merikay. I cringed when I read about your ordeal and, compared to that, our little difficulties were quite trivial. I suppose my point was that a newbie shouldn't be surprised to have a day when nothing goes right. It was also a reminder for us to appreciate fully the days when everything does go right. Have fun and safe travels, y'all!

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  3. It is an amazing lifestyle, but if you live in an RV you will be guaranteed to have some issues, good thing it was nothing major. We too have had our share over the years. Travel safe....

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    1. Thanks, George. Yes, I'm glad it was something trivial. We're so accustomed to smooth travels that I thought it worth mentioning that not all days are like that. It will also be preserved as part of our great adventure.

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  4. I am guessing that your CRV towing instructions recommend running your car with the gear selector in R, then Through the three forward gears, without putting into R again! Then let it idle for three minutes.

    On my first CRV, I had the transmission overhauled at a little over 200,000 miles. I don't know if towing affected it or not. However the Honda mechanic suggested that I let it idle in each forward gear for a full minute, and then run it through the forward gears again a couple of times.

    The procedure is to allow the gears get well lubed before they turn while being towed..... supposedly they use needle bearings that 'hold' the oil longer. This is especially important when the car has not just previously been driven........ like when you overnight at a Walmart, and you leave it hooked up, and you are doing the prep without any recent driving.

    On another point, I have been saved by my TPMS at least three times. I bought on sale in Quartzsite after loosing a tire on my toad, and not realizing it until a passing car honked and pointed it out to me. Lost the tire, but no toad damage with about an inch of rubber left on the wheel. No way to tell what kind of tire it was, but I had just put 4 tires on it from Discount Tire, and with my receipt, they replaced it for free with road hazard!!

    If this is you worst day, you are having a great RV experience.

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    1. Well, the instructions are slightly different on the '14 but, yes, it does make sense to run through the gears and perhaps stop at each gear longer than the book calls for. In this car, you run through the gears, stop in 'D' for a while, then run in neutral for 3 minutes without going back to 'R'. And yes, this couldn't be classified as a serious problem day, but I really don't think I should have ANY bad days except when I play poker with you.

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  5. Did you leave your management skills behind when you're retired
    first clue you release the airbrakes on your motorhome
    Which means you have an air supply
    Which should also means,,, you should have an air hose
    See how simple it was,,, air up the tire,,, even if you have to do it more than once which,, you said wasn't too far from discount tire
    See Tire management solution solved..

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    1. Another management skill: Evaluating the situation and taking appropriate measures. Since I had a good readout on the tire pressure, I saw no need to stop on the side of the Interstate and risk harm to myself unnecessarily.

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  6. Just wasn't your day I suppose, but could have been worse. We pulled off into a gravel area one day, it was a small area so the turn was fairly sharp. One of the trailer tires picked up a sharp stone and by the time I got out of the truck the tire was flat. No jack big enough to pick up the trailer, so after a few minutes of panic, what do I do now, it came to me. Placing my leveling boards in front of the good tire in front of the flat one, pulled the trailer up onto the boards which lifted the flat tire off the ground enabling me to change it. Yes there were a few choice words and some grunting and groaning, but the smart fellows we are, got the job done.
    Hope the rest of your trip is uneventful and you have safe travels.

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    1. Thanks, Richard. My troubles were indeed small on this day, but much of what I write is for the sake of storytelling--for my readers and for myself when I truly can't remember anything. (That may not be far off!) I, too, hope I don't have to tell a story about a really terrible day.

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    2. Your welcome, Mike. Sorry Mike if my comment came across as if I thought you making a big deal out of your day. I to write for the same reason as you but I don't have the flair of story telling like you. One of the reasons Pat and I read your blog is because of the way you tell a story, always informative and entertaining.

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    3. Ah Bill, you didn't come across that way at all. And I always look for storytellers when I choose a blog to go in my reader. That's why I chose yours. So many bloggers just post photos and say nothing about them or their journey. I don't get that, and they don't make the cut. Thanks for being a blogger friend!

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  7. Replies
    1. Indeed it is...even challenging days are all a part of the grand mosaic that is our wonderful life!

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  8. Life would be so dull without those kinds of days. But you've had enough now so it's time to have good, fun days.

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    1. So true, Sandie. A little sour now and then helps us remember how good it is when life is sweet!

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  9. I didn't realize you had to change the tire yourself 🙀 I'm so impressed!! 😍❤️️

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    1. You needn't be all that impressed, darlin'; it's not really rocket science. It's just that I had grown lazy by hiring others do to things I probably should have been doing. ;c)

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