We departed Naples, FINALLY. With a couple things in mind…getting the hell out of Naples being the first. Don’t misunderstand…nothing wrong with Naples. In fact, over the last 10 days or so of our stay, the beach near us had opened, so we could avail ourselves of one of the major attractions of the area: a swim in the gulf! But our strategy and desire remains to move our front yard every fewdays for the forseeable future. So, it was time to move on!
Our intentions were to arrive in Shipshewanna, Indiana on 29 May, to replace our refrigerator. Leon, the Amish Refrigerator guru was holding one for us (he was, but THAT turned into an adventure, too!), and with about 10 days to get there we fired up the engine and rolled out!
Obviously, it does not take 10 days to get from Florida to Indiana, so we had to make some stops. One night in tampa, where we socially-distant-visited Sydney and Vic Willis, then a “quickie” (we hoped) at our favorite Truck Mechanic near Mobile, Alabama.
I have talked about Lazzarri many times on these pages – they helped us put of a jam years ago, and have been looking after RV WHERE YET for us ever since. This time, “just” an oil change and a looking over. Also installation of an “air dryer.”
We arrived the evening before our maintenance appointment, so we gave a call to Terry Sue and Mike Gagnet. We met them a few years ago, when Terry Sue rapped on our window in the Fairhope, Al. Walmart Parking lot. RV WHERE YET looks almost exactly like their Bluebird, and she was wondering why their Bird was at Walmart…the rest of the story here.
Anyway, Terry Sue and Mike live in Daphne, and have plenty of room on their BEAUTIFUL property for us to park for an evening. We shared a drink (or several) and chatted on their huge deck, in a socially distant manner. Then retired to our driveway spot, down by their empty-for-months-during-high-season VRBO HOUSE AND POND.
It is GREAT meeting great people on the road!
Trucks, and RV WHERE YET use compressed air for lots of things, not the least of which are the brakes! When air is compressed, humidity condenses out and so the compressed air system can receive massive and undesireable slugs of water. Bad for valves and brakes. “Modern” trucks (and Bluebirds from a year or so newer than ours and onwards) have a device called an “Air Dryer” to take out all this moisture. Our bus did not – it had a “wet Tank” before the brake tanks, the theory being that most of the water condenses out in the first tank, which has a drain on the bottom. I have drained a pint of water every day from that tank!
I had decided to install pre-emptively an Air Dryer, and Val at Lazzarri said they’d be glad to. This involved finding a place for it to be mounted, and then doing all the necessary plumbing. All of which was relatively easy while the bus was up in the air for its PM visit. We walked around under the bus to discuss this, which is one of the things I LOVE about Lazzarri. They let me – actually ENCOURAGE ME to — get dirty under there. In fact, I cannot confirm this, but I THINK they assign only a mechanic, not a helper, to our jobs, since I can be relied upon to help when a third or 4th hand is required.
During the pandemic, my assistance also allowed us to NOT have others inside our living space for the most part – I could do all the things needed on the top of the engine. Next time we visit, I joked with Val, they need to have a Lazzarri shirt with my name on it!!!
Whatever the reason they let me be involved, it is a GOOD REASON to keep going back!
One of the advantages of being under the bus is that I notice things. Things that even an excellent mechanic might not. For example, just as we were finishing, I noticed a hose was wet. We had noticed this at the start of the PM, but “assumed” it was a loose hose clamp, which was addressed. But it was wet again, and not just a little wet, either. Mechanic Mike and I looked at it closely. It was a power steering hose, and it appeared to be leaking at a fitting. NOT GOOD.
This is the kind of problem that at a minimum leaves you stranded, and COULD leave you upside down in a ditch…you cannot really steer 28,000lb RV WHERE YET without power steering assistance!
We looked at the problem, and realized the hose was failing, and needed to be replaced. And it would need to be replaced with a custom hose made at a hydraulic shop. And, we were not moving before it was replaced. I had visions of weeks – good thing Liz’s niece’s wedding had been postponed, because if we had been on a schedule to get there, we would have been delayed!!! Or so I thot. Talked to Val: he said there was a hydraulic shop in the next town, and if we could get the old hose out relatively intact, he could have one made – IN AN HOUR! The issue was, it was going to take several hours to expose the hose along its whole length so it could be removed, and it was now 4:00!
So AT LEAST ANOTHER DAY!
I knew we should not drive back to the Gagnet’s, even though for all I knew that hose had been leaking for weeks. Too dangerous. Val said “NO PROBLEM” when I asked if we could stay overnight in their yard. Even ran a power cord out so we could keep the batteries charged. While in the yard, I got wrenches out and spent the evening disassembling the steering column so that the hose would be available for removal first thing the next morning.
As SOON as the shop opened, Mike and I removed the hose – me on the top end, inside the bus, and Mike down below, and they took it over to the local shop. An hour later the hose was back, and in another 30 minutes it was installed – PERFECT!
We must be on the “friends and family” list at Lazzarri, because Val said he would email me the invoice later even though he knows FULL WELL we live on the lam…
I pulled RV WHERE YET out of the bay so that they could carry on with other work and then spent another hour to put everything back together, and we were ready to be on the way – well before noon! I learned then that we must be on the “friends and family” list at Lazzarri, because Val said he would email me the invoice later. Think about that for a minute: He knows we live on the road (which is for all intents and purposes on the lam), and yet he was willing to bill us! Not like he could send cousin Guido over if we failed to pay!!!
Truth is, they have a new computer system, and it takes longer to gather all the bits and parts to produce the bill, he disclosed to me. PROGRESS! But, I am sure the fact that he trusted me made him feel comfortable with the delay!
We pulled out of Lazzarri again, ready for a summer of adventure. The problem is, all of the adventures that we had started out intending to experience in 2020 had been cancelled or postponed already. Still, we KNEW that we wanted to be farther north, so we pointed RV WHERE YET in that direction and proceeded northwards!
We needed to consider how to replace all our summer plans with more pandemic-sensible plans. We decided this could and should involve socially responsible and distant reconnection with friends.
Zoom cocktails have been a lot of fun, but we were looking forward to “REAL” interactions, carried out in the safest ways possible.
Moving North, Our first stop, for Memorial Day weekend was in an RV Spot across the river from Memphis, Tn. This park was right on the river, so watching continuous barge traffic in both directions was one of the major activities. Memphis itself was all but closed, but fortunately, we’ve “done” Memphis before so we weren’t missing that too much; and I personally find watching the barges to be endlessly fascinating.
And, we had an unforeseen and MAGNIFICENT surprise awaiting us in Memphis! It seems our Alaska co-conspirators, the Enfingers, were also heading towards Northern Indiana, and decided to stop at the same spot near Memphis for a bit of a reunion! HOW FUN WAS THAT! We had a pot-luck meal, a few cocktails and time to catch up on our respective trajectories since we had finished our Alaska Summer.
A lot had happened in Enfinger-world. They had gotten a new Bus (even though they were not looking for one!). They had shed their Toad (though they were planning to acquire their daughter’s). And, Steve had a mustache instead of a beard. Other than that, it’s amazing how conversation and camaraderie can pick up right where you left off with good friends!
Also available in Memphis was former Chicago Neighbor, Brian Walsh. Memphis was basically closed, so we couldn’t really meet for Music on Beale Street, but Brian agreed to grab some carry-out BBQ, bring it over to RV WHERE YET and enjoy a laid back, socially distant afternoon of barge-watching! This was AWESOME, and a prototype for re-engaging IN PERSON with friends we have been “only” electronically connected to for months.
From Memphis we moved onwards to Shipshewanna, for our refrigerator replacement. We showed up at our appointed time, and met Leon. He said, “Welcome” but then disclosed a problem. By now, we don’t even think of problems as “problems,” but as opportunities to keep our brains and lives adaptable and limber. “What’s up,” I asked.
Leon has been holding a specific Dometic fridge for us. It seems, though, this fridge had doors that opened the wrong way, and furthermore, ONLY ON THIS MODEL, the doors could not be reversed! Leon was VERY apologetic…he had meant to ask us, but forgot. He said a door kit could be ordered – for $600! He also said he had a “Scratch and Dent” new fridge that would fit, and he had already recharged it so he would give us the same warranty he was offering on the other (3 yrs vs. factory 1 year). DONE. A couple hours later, our old fridge was a memory and the new fridge was installed!
And, not a moment too soon. There was a wad of fiberglass insulation on top of the old fridge. This was soaking wet from condensation, and the bottom was FROZEN to the top of the fridge. In short, the insulation in the walls of the fridge had completely disintegrated.
NO WONDER the fridge did not stay cold anymore.
On the other hand, no more “Refrigerator Lottery” in RV WHERE YET for entertainment. This is a game we played (we are easily amused, these days).
“How warm will, the fridge be this morning?”
30ºF? 40º? 50º? 60º? Yikes!
And, If 60º, “How much will the milk taste like sour cream?”
From Shipshewanna, our intention was to settle in Bridgman, MI for a week, and use the time for Socially Distant reconnection with multiples of friends. The problem is, the County park we were SOOO looking forward to staying at CANCELLED our reservation. You’ll have to read the next post to learn how we dealt with THAT!