So, we arrived at Weatherford and Chez Hendrix having passed through another line of impressive storms. In years past, we always watched on TV Weather the Bright Yellow and RED storms that seem to sweep across Texas, Oklahoma and such places every spring. It is a whole ‘nother thing to drive thru them! “Passed Thru” was delayed substantially by mechanical issues – more below.
He joked (I think) that he might rescind his offer of parking…
Max, it should be pointed out, is a PRINCE of a fellow. Beginning right from the beginning. When we first discussed (by email, since we had never met – this was all online-dating!) parking at his place, I disclosed we would be heading to Love Field to fly home. Max, it seems, is an Airline Pilot by profession, flies for American Airlines, and KNOWS that LOVE FIELD == SOUTHWEST. He joked (I think) that he might rescind his offer of parking…
I ASSURED him that I had been a loyal American Customer for MANY MANY YEARS. I was, during my business-life a million-mile flier on American, and had Lifetime GOLD status. I offered my AADVANTANGE Number if he wanted to check! But, I explained, my high status on American no longer even gets me an exit row seat without paying for it, and CERTAINLY does not get me a beer. Hence, I am loyal only to the lowest price and most convenient schedule now. SOMETIMES that is American, but this time it was not.
Max smiled (I assume, since this was all by email) and said he FULLY understood. I did not see a “Coach For Sale” sign in his garage when we got there, so I also assume RV WHERE YET will be there when we get back! Later, I DID have trouble printing our Southwest Airlines Boarding Passes on the Hendrix’s Printer. Coincidence? I think NOT!
One thing I should mention about Max – he lives on a grass runway, and has a BIG hanger next to his home. But no airplane in that hanger (He flys 777s for a living….is not inclined to fly when he is not working, he sez). Instead, it could be the world’s LARGEST Man Cave. It is, in fact, a Max-Cave!!! FULL of tools and stuff, including several Lawn Tractors (a bit of an obsession, perhaps, but a harmless one if you have a MAX-Cave), an old Jeepster, his new RV (which is a Freightliner-truck-based behemoth), etc.
The Max-Cave (and Max) became MOST useful to RV WHERE YET…
And, MOST IMPORTANT to my needs at the time, full of tools and connectors and wire etc. And a Welding Machine! The Max-Cave (and Max) became MOST useful to RV WHERE YET…
On the way to the Hendrix “facility” we had a “new” mechanical issue. As we were driving in the Ozarks, in the pouring rain and 60mph winds, the driver’s side windshield wiper stopped working. I was able to drive to an exit and pull over safely to wait out the rain, which was expected to be abt 3 hours. Tried to look at the issue on the roadside, but just TOO WET and difficult and the wiper mechanisms were fighting coming apart besides. Being stranded thusly with a full fridge does not really even rise to the level of an inconvenience, tho, so no panic. Took a nap!!
As we have discussed on more than one occasion, we meet the NICEST people on the road. A sidebar about this here. About ½ way into our unplanned “Roadside Rest” there is a knock on the door. Being city dwellers, Liz is thinking it’s the cops and they are mad – “NO PARKING HERE, move along…” Like we even could. Instead, it was a fella who said, “Do you need any help? I live right down the hill here and I saw you stop…”
And, to prove he KNEW our needs, “I have lot’s of tools and stuff…” I thanked him profusely – the rain was now beginning to let up, and it was forecast to be severe clear for several days, so I knew we would shortly not need the Wipers. I also knew we were probably going to need to find and order parts to ultimately fix.
He said, “If you change your mind, just wave…” He would neither confirm nor deny that this was because he was nervously keeping his eye on us.
When we got to the Hendrix, we had no sooner parked than Max said, “Anything I can help with? I got resources…” I described the windshield washer issue, which had not even been on the list of things I wanted to do while parked, but was now at the top. Max helped me disassemble the wiper mechanisms, including freeing up some gears that were frozen, preventing the roadside repair I had attempted. Once we got it apart, we found the Windshield Crank Mechanism had truly broken.
Two options to fix (until Max came on the scene). 1) New wiper assembly. Still available since we are essentially a Bluebird School Bus for many such mechanical things. $400. And, 2) New Crank Assembly (assuming old motors still had some years left) $17.
I was leaning towards the former, remembering a repair I had attempted on the original toilet. Replaced the leaking flush valve when we first got the bus, only to have the toilet crack into pieces upon 2nd use (or should I say, “Number 2 use”) after the new valve (due to old, brittle plastic). The lesson I took away from that: If you can replace a component part or a complete assembly, the latter is probably the best path since something else in the old assembly is ready to break.
Then Max said, why don’t we weld it? Not much to lose in the attempt, as option 1 and 2 would still be available. So he rummaged around in his shop until he exposed a fancy MIG welder. Within minutes the crank was repaired better than new and within an hour it was reinstalled and working on the bus. Cost: $0. You have NO IDEA how happy I am about the former and Liz is about the latter!
I spent several more days tackling items on our list of “things to do before heading to Alaska.” VERY productive time. Every now and then Max would check on me – helping with odds and ends, providing a connector, a bit of moral support, etc. I even helped him with a couple of things that he needed a spare hand for, including verifying how His RV’s furnace (like an AQUAHOT, on which I am now EXPERT) works, and that all 4 thermostats in his massive RV do NOT connect to the furnace despite being clearly label for “Gas Heat!!!???” In comparison, I am starting to feel pretty good about the logical construction of RV WHERE YET.
By the end of each day, the list was shorter and I was dirtier than the day before. The latter necessitated opening the Hendrix pool-house shower and use of full-body-Goop so I could get at least most of the accumulation off. Not all – my hands look like I did honest work for a living (we all know the truth, tho)!
At one point, I needed a new Radiator hose , some airline and a few fittings. Max took me to the local Auto Supply store in Weatherford…an old fashioned place with bins in the back and 80-something Mr. Woodruff at the counter. He deputized me as a temporary counter-worker and motioned me to go on in back to find the fittings I needed, since I could not describe then. Then he poked at the computer for about 30 minutes to produce an invoice. $56.
Even Liz got involved in the never-ending to-do list so essential to keeping RV WHERE YET on the road. The pull-cord for one of our blinds had become brittle and frayed. Could no longer retract the drape. And if one was like that, we could expect more to fail at some point. So we bought some parachute cord and Liz figured out how to re-string them. Not without a few misssteps, a little frustration and a few words that would have embarrassed a sailor in the Texas Navy (There is one, you can look it up!). So, par for the course.
Meanwhile, Liz and Max’s wife Amanda became fast friends. I think Quilting and idiot men with shops full of “useless junk” were discussed mostly. They both have one (Men and shops), though my “shop” has been reduced to a storage bin on the roof, where for the benefit of both of us at least it is not in Liz’s face every day. Max and I also talked about the fact that women are genetically incapable of understanding the value of a shop full of treasure. It’s a wonder that the Harrises and the Hendrix total more than 60 years of Marriage between us!
We went out for dinner a couple of times. Once to a local place called “Brazos River Catfish Café.” WONDERFUL. WHO KNEW there were so many delicious ways to cook catfish? And once to nearby Stephenville where there was a Texas Barbeque place called “Hard-Eight.” Our track to Stephenville was by backroads, with all sorts of quirky, rural Texas stuff to see, such as the small dirt track with stock cars flying around it and a huge number of pickup trucks in the parking lot AND the world’s largest rocking chair.
There was even a used car lot with a Bluebird Wanderlodge NEARLY IDENTICAL to RV WHERE YET for sale…for a moment Liz and I considered travelling in “His and Hers…”
Once at the BBQ place, parking lot also chock FULL of pickup trucks, you select meat from the grill, and they sell it to you by the pound. I chose “a little bit” of several things…which got away from me at some point – a HUGE pile of anti-vegan foodstuffs. Best Brisket sammy I have had in a while, and the Jalapeño sausage was AWESOME.
Before leaving the Hendrix (and leaving RV WHERE YET parked AT the Hendrix) to visit Mom and Dad and Dentists/Doctors inChitown, I offered to help Max with WiFI in his Max-Cave. There are things I am uniquely qualified to assist with, given 30 years in the IT business…and I try to do SOMETHING in exchange for all the help people give us (even though no quid pro quo is ever mentioned or expected and I know this…people just seem to like to help). Anyway, Amazon already knew how to get stuff to Hendrix from my purchases – I had sent ahead more than a few boxes — so I ordered some WiFi Stuff. Max-cave is now fully connected – Amanda’s comment: “Now I will never see him…” Couldn’t tell if she was happy or sad about that!