Six days ago Dave, our 14 year old grandson Jack, Dallas the dog, and I left Columbus Ohio on what was to have been a ten day return trip to Las Vegas. We had our stops carefully and fully planned out and had included some fun adventures along the way.
On driving day three , traveling from Topeka Kansas to Goodland Kansas we got a check engine warning light,followed by the message that we had low DEF ( diesel exhaust fluid). We pulled into the closest rest area to check the tank because we had filled it at our last fuel stop. It was a little low but not too bad. We were not carrying extra DEF ( we will not make that mistake again) but managed to buy some from another RV’er in the rest area. We topped off the tank at the nearest fuel stop. We made many more stops, one at a Cummins Engine repair facility that used their computer to tell us what the error codes were but could not do anything about them.
The warning light did not go off. In fact, it just got worse. Luckily, we made it to our campground in Goodland KS just as we got the “ stop engine” light and the computer kicked in to limit us to about 5 mph, just enough to get us to our site.
After quite a few calls to Newmar and Freightliner it was decided that we would need to be towed 200 miles to the Transwest Freightliner dealership in Brighton Colorado. By this time it was around 6:30 pm and we’d been traveling since 6:15 am that morning. The tow truck would be there in three to four hours. I scrambled to throw some things in a suitcase and get the dogs food, etc together as we would drive those two hundred miles in the Jeep.
I cancelled our Tuesday reservation at the Gunnison Colorado KOA. They were wonderful and refunded our money. This was one of the last bits of wonderful we were to experience for a few days.
The tow driver showed up at 10 pm. We had to move Bella Box on Wheels out to the road. When we did I saw the biggest tow truck I’ve ever seen in my life.
Dave pulled Bella up behind the truck and I pulled the Jeep behind Bella. There are quite a few things that need to be done in order to tow an RV as large as Bella. We finalized the paperwork and the driver told us to go ahead, he would drop the RV in the secure yard at the repair shop when he got there. I got out to retrieve my iPad from the back of the Jeep and as I opened the hatch my bag fell over. My iPad dropped, hitting the pavement and shattering the screen. I’m pretty sure all of Goodland KS heard this old gramma yell the F word. For the next few days I had scrapes on my fingers from trying to use it.
By this time, it’s after 11 pm. We’re exhausted and I can’t help drive since I have night blindness. About midnight we pulled into a rest stop to try to sleep for an hour or so. The rest stop parking lot was nearly full and it gave me an unsafe feeling but we managed to sleep for an hour and then continued on to Brighton.
We arrived at Transwest at around 3:30 am, just after the tow driver had locked Bella BOW in the secure lot. We couldn’t get to her so spent the hours up to the 7 am opening sitting in the car.
At 7 am, we were told they would look at her as soon as possible and I started looking for a hotel in the area. This is when things got more intertesting and infinitely more frustrating.
There was a huge softball tournament in the Denver area this week. 900 teams had filled every hotel within 50 miles. Every place I called said they would have nothing until July 2nd.
In most repair facilities that work on RVs, you are able to stay in your RV at night because they have hookups for electricity and water. Most also have waiting areas where they allow you and your pet to wait during the day. Transwest in Brighton, even though they are huge and work on RVs had neither of these so staying in Bella wasn’t an option. Transwest is the least RV customer friendly facility we’ve ever used.
At 1pm they told us a part for the DEF system( something to do with a sensor, uptake doodad) would have to be ordered but they hoped it would be here the next day. I managed to find a Residence Inn in Boulder ( about 40 miles) that had just released some newly renovated rooms a few minutes before. I quickly booked the one we could get and we set off for Boulder. At this point, Dave, Jack and I were beyond exhausted and poor Jack had been in the backseat with his long teenager legs for over 16 hours. After checking in,we all slept for hours, got up to eat and went back to bed.
I cancelled our reservation for Wednesday and Thursday at the Cortez Colorado KOA. We’d miss seeing Mesa Verde National Park. This KOA was going to charge me the full fee but I argued and they only charged me a cancellation fee.
On Wednesday after calling Transwest several times they finally told us the part did not come in and they couldn’t tell us for 24 hours where it was.
I cancelled our Holbrook Arizona KOA reservation for Friday. There went the Petrified Forest stop. I paid the cancellation fee at the KOA.
We decided to take the day , try to salvage some adventure and drive the hour into Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a good thing and I’m glad we did it.
Look how tall Jack is! When we left New York last year, he was just a tiny bit taller than me. I’m not shrinking (yet) so it’s been a big growth year for him.
RMNP is beautiful but as with all National parks in the summer, really crowded.
Yesterday ( Thursday) morning we started making calls to try to get answers from someone on what was going on. Everyone had something different to say and our frustration level was through the roof. Finally yesterday evening, we spoke to someone at the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp in Gaffney SC who said he would try to track down this part.
I cancelled our Grand Canyon trip. Xanterra manages the RV Park, kennel and Grand Canyon Railway. I called in time to receive a refund on the kennel and the train ( as our reservations were for Sunday) but we lost the entire amount we had prepaid for the two nights in the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. Big corporations don’t give a shit that cancelling is out of your control .
This morning, Dave began calling people. He got voicemail and assistants to assistants. Finally he called our coach manufacturer ,Newmar , who patched him through to their Freighliner contact in Gaffney SC. This gentleman was able to say that a part was being shipped out of Gaffney today but couldn’t give us any other information . The local repair shop still has not called to tell us anything. It is Friday and their RV service is closed on the weekends so it looks like it will be Monday at the earliest before we get out of here.
This hasn’t been the adventure we planned but living in a moving house brings with it these risks. I did not expect a one year old, fairly expensive unit to have these issues but that was naivety on my part. Shit happens and it happens more frequently when your house moves.
Yesterday I went to the Apple store and bought a new iPad. I could have waited to get my screen fixed in Las Vegas but dear old husband Dave wanted me to do something nice for myself . There is no other person I’d rather be stranded with. Please excuse any grammar, punctuation or other mistakes in this post as I’ve typed it on the new iPad without the benefit of my Grammarly program which keeps me from looking like a complete dumbass. So if you are saying “ what a dumbass” as you try to wade through this, that explains part of it….
We will head straight home to Las Vegas when we finally get Bella BOW back. It’s about 760 miles so I’m hoping we can find an RV park along the way for an overnight.
I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to give Jack the experiences we’d planned but I think he has seen that life sometimes holds detours and we have to learn to roll with them.
He will be with us until July 24th so we still have time to have some fun.
Stay tuned for what I hope will be some good news posts …and thanks for reading this long one.