And the road goes on forever...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Always the Hard Way

What have we been doing? 

So, the farther we get into fixing the ’97 Dodge, the more there seems to be to fix. We take it out for a 30-mile spin towards Quartzsite towing the trailer and I don’t care for the way it handles the trailer despite the addition of the air bags and heavy duty shocks Marc installed. Getting it back home he notes that there is antifreeze leaking and further checking reveals it isn’t from the radiator hose or something simple. It’s from the engine.
I start to cajole that it may be time to consider a new(er) truck; larger, more capable. After all, everything we drive is pushing twenty years old and older. Marc balks big time. The days ebb by. We have sank so much money and time into this. 

Two weeks before I am due to leave, Marc goes out on his own to hunt for a new truck. He comes back with a line on a new GMC 2500HD 4-wheel drive with optional tow package, which gives it a dash-installed trailer brake, heavy duty springs, anti-sway and back up hitch camera. A couple days later after arriving at an agreed price he sends me in, we sign paperwork, he leaves back for work and I drive home with a new truck. All 25 miles of travel until the transmission goes gunny bag; apparently not knowing what gear it should be in so let’s just randomly shift and rev the engine at inopportune times. Marc calls the dealer an hour later and tells them to come get it—it’s their truck again, we want nothing to do with it.
In lieu of the GMC, the dealer suggests substituting a Chevy—same truck, same equipment, they’ll give us the same price. Only it’s not the same truck. The GMC has wheel trim which help prevent rust, important to folks who drive salted winter roads; and it had the running board option and cargo bed lights. It also commands at least a $1000 pricing premium for the brand over a Chevy. We’re sent home with a dealer plate and the Chevy to try.
Our deal was made on a GMC—we want the Chevy similarly equipped for the same price and MINUS the brand premium or we walk. The dealer goes back and forth for two days before capitulating. Parts should arrive to the dealer Friday to turn the Chevy into its cousin by Monday or Tuesday. With any luck, I’ll have a new truck by mid-week and I can maybe leave here on time next weekend. Why should something so simple have to turn into such a time-consuming disaster of stress and headache? 

Dealing with the typical car salesmen and glad-handing dealers made us realize what we had in our encounters purchasing our two RVs recently from Dean Peters at Schieks Click Campers in Wisconsin. What a jewel he is—a regular guy who pulls no punches and just gives you an honest deal. What a concept. 

Monday update: It’s finalized and the new Chevy is ours. The fender skirts are larger and more appropriate to heading off rust and somehow give the refined truck a more rugged appearance. We hitched up this weekend and I drove out twice and it feels so much more comfortable with the load. It has a six-speed transmission which can be manually controlled which is a boon on downhill grades; we tried it on the 6% grade into Wellton.
I’m very pleased but still nervous as a Nelly, as they say. My anxiety shifts into high gear at the thought of going off on this venture by myself even though the truck is equipped with OnStar. Who would have thought at the beginning that it would have required the purchase of a new truck and attendant expense? I figure at the speed I’ll drive and the rate of mileage, the trips will be very time-consuming. We’ve done all we can to assure me a safe trip so it’s time to do the dance. Just one more thing left for Marc to do: install the bed lining and the auxiliary fuel tank he purchased for the Dodge into this new truck. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Groundbreaking; the Golden Shovels Have at it!

This is the way the project looked on a Thursday afternoon for the groundbreaking ceremony and the following pictures shows how it looked the next Monday as the dozers went into action doing all the grading. The job trailer is set and offers spacious accommodation for Marc’s homemade plan table and his neat ‘50’s used schoolteacher’s desk.
Marc’s been trying to wrap things up on my rig and managed to find an auxiliary fuel tank for my Dodge so I won’t have to be purchasing fuel every couple hundred miles. Given that I have a short bed it needs to be cut down and modified just a tad but should still hold around 75 gallons and give me a range of nearer to 1000 miles if I’m filled. It’s always nice to be able to pick and choose your fuel stops when going cross country given the difference in pricing state to state. We also just purchased new heavy duty truck tires and he took time to get my lovely new stained glass window installed, which matches in perfectly to my rig’s graphics and colors. It’s a waterfall, river, cabin and bear in the evergreens—just the scene for the Northwood’s!
Things here in Yuma are winding down for me given that I hope to leave on the first of April if the heat doesn’t get to me before then. I now have a love-hate relationship with the desert—it’s nice in its way but the dusty, arid air wreaks havoc with my sinus and allergies and I miss the humidity and lush green of Wisconsin. Rocks and sand just aren’t inspiring enough for me anymore. Spring is awakening my sense of wanting to be back gardening and working outdoors and watching everything emerge from winter slumber. I miss my seasons!! 

Other snowbirds are feeling the heat as well, as they slowly trickle out from the lots a few at a time. Our neighbors got together for a wonderful celebration of birthdays last evening over some great pot luck entrees and it was nice to be able to formally say goodbye to all and wish them good travels. Of course, many of them no longer move with the seasons but the Canadian contingent are limited on stay days so many leave in March.