Did great through the first 250 miles which put me in BF, Alabama. If you don't know what "BF" stands for, email me or text me and I'll tell you. Anyway, rolling down the highway at about 4 in the afternoon, I smell that radiator smell and before I can react, there is a lot of smoke coming from the engine area. I finally get to the side and know that I have overheated. When I open the hood, I notice that the overflow tank is a plastic jug taped to the spot where the factory overflow tank used to be. It is empty. So, because I was smart and paid for roadside assistance through the insurance company, I call them. Well, they immediately start looking for someone to tow me. In the meantime, a Jefferson County Sherriff pulls up behind me. As he's walking up to me, I can already tell he's a good ol' boy. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Luckily, it turned out to be good. Of course, I got the look of "why the hell are you traveling by yourself". As he's looking under the hood, a fire rescue truck pulls up......then a fire truck......then another fire truck. Evidently, someone had called in and said that I was on fire. These guys evidently had nothing better to do because they kept me company for the two hours it took for the tow truck to show up. This tow truck was actually at the request of the sherriff. He talked to the insurance company, told them to let him handle it, and called this guy to bring fluids. We put some water and antifreeze in the radiator. The mechanic asked that I follow him to his shop so that we could make sure there were no leaks and he would replace the overflow jug with another. Thankfully, there were no leaks. However, in the midst of him fixing the overflow jug and lecturing me on why I shouldn't be traveling alone, he received another callout. He was gone for an hour. When he returned, he fixed the jug, told me the best local gas station, gave me his number and requested I called him when I got where I was going. A little weird but I figured he was just a big softy. While I was filling up at the gas station, he shows up. Come to find out, that whole waiting time and stalling session was because he was wanting me to spend the night in that town so he could take me to dinner. I quickly hung up the gas nozzle, paid, and left.
Did great for the next 1,000 miles. Wasn't even too hot; the dash air doesn't work. When I finally crossed the New Mexico line, I told Verlene (the RV) that we would stop at the next gas station. The gas stations were pretty few and far between. I found one and stopped long enough to eat some lunch and let Verlene cool off. I wasn't back on the road 15 minutes when she decided to overheat again. The mechanic in Alabama had been too worried about asking me to dinner that he forgot to put a tube in the jug so that the radiator could pull fluids. So, the radiator was only able to get rid of fluids....into the jug....which filled up. Guess what, even if your radiator has fluids, if it can't get rid of fluid, it overheats. I knew what I needed was just the plastic cap for the top of the jug and a tube to go down into the jug. By this time, it's 8pm. I'm on old Route 66. Everything closed at 5. I called roadside assistance, they wanted to call a tow truck even though all I needed was a piece of plastic. So, I said, "No thank you", pulled the car off the dolly and drove to the next exit to look for this piece of plastic. Of course, the people that were open didn't have it. I go back to the RV completely defeated, called roadside assistance and they had me towed. I spent the night in a auto repair shop's parking lot. The next morning, as soon as they opened their doors, there I was. I can't even imagine what I looked like nor what they were thinking. Thankfully, there were no judging looks and the man who helped me was extremely nice. He pulled the plastic piece I needed from a junk car on their property - tube included - and taped everything together for me. I was back on the road.
About halfway through New Mexico, I noticed the winds were definitely strong. This is on top of the winds created by the semis that were flying past me. All of a sudden, I'm climbing. Verlene didn't like this. She started hesitating. Finally, it was bad enough, I had to stop again. This time, I called a local repair shop and they said if I could make it to them, they would not charge me the callout fee - $150. Luckily, I was able to do this. It was determined that I need a new fuel filter. Also, I was told that I didn't have an auxiliary fuel pump. I learned A LOT about car parts on this trip. The lesson was this - the gas tank is in the back of the RV on the driver side. The RV is 30 feet. The sole fuel pump is in the front by the engine on the passenger side. So, the fuel pump was having to work overtime just to get gas to the engine; add gravity on the inclines to that mix. Yeah. Not pleasant. The mechanic was very honest though and said I could make it, it just would be slow going and at that point in the trip, it wasn't worth getting another fuel pump.
I crept my way through the rest of New Mexico and got into Arizona. 80 miles from my destination, in Marble Canyon, in the middle of the day, the dolly decides to get a flat tire. I'm kind of glad no one was with me at that point because the sailor definitely came out in me at that moment. Words came out of my mouth that I'm not even sure are really words. When I calmed down, I called Uhaul. The woman on the phone was a complete idiot. It took every ounce of energy I had to not be mean to her. When she finally figured out where I was (I had given her the exact highway and mile marker), we had been on the phone for 30 minutes. When she called back with the contractor that would be changing the tire, I was told it would be another hour and a half. So, I decided this was yet another hint that I needed to stop and look around me. What I saw was beautiful. Here you go:
So, I finally get back on the road....remember, I only have 80 miles left. I'm talking Verlene through it. Remember the fuel pump issue? Well, it is aggravated by the fact that the intake from the gas tank to the fuel line is high. This means that if I'm on an incline, the gas can't get to the line if it's less than 1/4 of a tank. Guess where my gas was.........3/8 of a tank. Guess what kind of incline was next..........REALLY FUCKING INCLINED. (sorry Surelle, it was aggravating). I really didn't think I was going to make it. Later I find out that I was climbing out of a side part of the Grand Canyon. I finally made it to the top and there was a gas station. I swear there was this ray of light from the heavens shining down on this place. I get a little gas; by this time I only had 40 miles left. Yep, you read that right, it was 40 miles of an incline. Not happy. Anyway, I get some gas and happen to see that the overflow jug was leaking. Look in and it's full again. That's ok, this gas station also had a repair shop attached. I go in and ask if they could dispose of antifreeze. Nope, "we're a state park and have no where to put it and if we improperly dumped it, animals would lick it and die." No shit. So, I got back in, told Verlene we would coast as far as we could and if we didn't make it, we would get towed in the rest of the way.
I pulled into Kanab, UT at 3 something in the afternoon on Friday, June 4. I cried. I will NEVER drive across country in an old RV that I know nothing about by myself EVER again. However, I made it and realize that those things did happen for a reason, even if I'm not exceptionally grateful for the reasons. Didn't really make any interesting stops nor eat any really interesting foods. Didn't take many photos because I didn't want to mess with Verlene's flow while she was running. Next time, someone else is driving (I'll take Dramamine) and it will have to be a brand new RV with an auxiliary fuel pump and a factory overflow tank.....no disrespect to Verlene. :)
I'll update later with details about Kanab and what I've been doing since here.