Saturday, January 29, 2011

How I Got Here, January 2011

Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth Or Consequences, NM

Yes, that’s yours truly in the natural hot springs pool. I’m fulfilling a dream. I sat around for weeks thinking of doing just that, sitting around relaxing in a natural hot springs pool in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Now, I’m here, I made it, and I feel good. I already miss my family, especially Mrs. Spadoman, but she’ll be joining me soon.
The trip down was a grand adventure in and of itself and wasn’t without drama, intrigue and some tense moments. Let me tell you about it. You know I bought a 25 year old RV from my friend. It’s old, but the engine is pretty new, and the interior is laid out the way I like it.
My friend Steve joined me on the trip down. He’ll be flying back home from Albuquerque on Sunday. We left St. Paul right around 8:00 AM on Monday morning. We headed South on Interstate 35 and got near an exit in Iowa for Latimer, a small town about 50 miles South of the Minnesota/Iowa line. The RV was running good. I knew it wasn’t going to be good on gas consumption, but I did think it would get me 200 miles on a tank of fuel.
That was my first mistake. The thing sputtered and stopped. Out of gas, one mile from the exit and 196 miles on the tank of gas. I was towing my Ford Focus, Goldie, on a tow dolly I rented from U-Haul.
I pulled over to the shoulder, and tried to start it back up. Nothing. The battery was completely dead. This was an easy fix, right? Unload the car, drive to the gas station and see about Triple A coming to our rescue. I have the new RV Premium road service protection just for such emergencies.
There was a wrecker there, and the guy came right out to jump start or tow the vehicle, whichever was prudent. He put the cables onto the battery and the starter worked, a good sign, but it didn’t start. We also remembered we ran out of gas. While the tow truck driver sat out on the freeway with the jumper cables charging the battery, we went back to the station, purchased a gas can, filled it with gas and headed back out to the stalled RV.
We poured in 5 of the 6 gallons from the new very expensive new fangled gas can and it roared to life. We followed the tow truck back to the station, filled it with gas, paid the bill and headed for the small town of Latimer, Iowa to have the charging system checked. A young fellow at the local garage put electronic equipment on the system and said the alternator was good. Our dashboard battery gauge even went to a normal operating position.
We had a bite to eat at the little diner located inside the gas station and were on our way. We had lost about two hours of driving time is all, but we were on the road and headed South with a mission.

Towing the car with an old RV and bucking a headwind, we weren’t breaking any speed records or conserving gasoline!

We drove all day and were darn close to Kansas City by dark. It was cold out, so we had the heater fan blasting, the radio on listening to some music, the lights on and my phone charging in the cigarette lighter socket. 
I noticed the dash lights were dim. I chalked that up to my tired old eyes. I need glasses and bright light to read. But they got dimmer and dimmer. So did the headlights. I was just about 20 miles North of Kansas City, MO and I made an executive decision to pull in, get a room, and have the electrical system checked out in the morning before we proceeded any further. The last thing I wanted was to get stranded on some long deserted stretch of highway in the middle of the Kansas Flint Hills.
We did just that. When we turned off the motor at the EconoLodge motel in Kearney, MO, it wouldn’t start. The battery was dead again. Of course we didn’t have a plethora of tools along on this epic journey, but we did have a vise grips. Steve unhooked the battery and we unloaded Goldie for a second time. We drove to the nearby auto parts store and had them check the condition of the battery.
They did so, and we found the battery to be good with no dead cells. They gave it back to us fully charged. Now, we knew we had to find a repair shop that would take in a 25 year old RV and install an alternator. In the past, it has been my experience that it might be hard to find someone willing to work on an old junker, and being an RV, many garages don’t have high enough bay doors to accommodate such a vehicle.
We found a place to eat and returned to the motel to get some rest. After some discussion and realizing that there was absolutely nothing we could do about the situation that night, we went to sleep. The next morning started early as we were both up and ready to search out our options to get this thing back on the road.
Five O’clock AM is too early to start calling repair garages, so we made coffee and discussed our dilemma a little bit more. We drove around to the repair garages and by looking at them from the outside, decided which one would be the best bet, second best and third, you know, prioritize by judging what we saw from the street as to whether they would be likely to take in an older vehicle and get us back on the road.

Morph, with Goldie in tow, sits in the sun at the Rockin' Y Restaurant, Tucumcari, NM

This old RV sits on a one ton Chevy chassis and has a small but powerful 350 cubic inch motor. There is not more than 8000 miles on this engine. It was installed new four years ago. It’s not much to look at as the outside is dinged up and has a few bruises and a sun faded paint job. The inside is nice, but there are some tears in the drivers seat and some things don’t work properly. I felt this vehicle would make the trip and I would drive it to New Mexico, find a spot in an RV park and leave it there. I would return as I do every year and have a second home of sorts.
Having had this thing in my possession for a few days and having driven it for 1450 miles, I have dubbed it The Morphodite, or “Morph”, for short, as it has tendencies to be both heavenly and devilish. Tuesday morning, having not gotten 400 miles away from home, it was devilish to be sure. Especially when we wanted to be about 650 miles from home on that first day. We decided to have breakfast and backtracked in Kearney to find a small diner we had seen as we drove through looking for auto repair shops.
The place is called At Sarah’s Table. We walked in, sat down and ordered coffee. That’s where the fun really starts. 
To Be Continued, soon I hope.



Unknown said...

You have to do it the other way around! A trailer pulled by a truck is much better! That's how we get around Nova Scotia. The truck is a diesel, so the mileage is improved a bit! :-)

What an adventure. Glad you kept your cool and got to relax in the hot spring. Wow. I'm jealous!

Looking forward to the next episode.


rebecca said...

just seeing you in the hot spring...


you are going to be FULL of stories by the time we met up.

you have me smiling in your glory!

E said...

I look forward to hearing more.I can already see your story will have a happy ending by your photo today. : ) And I so wish I was sitting in that hot spring too. : ) Thank you for your wonderful comment on my Haiku the other day.

Chuck said...

great story as always bro...can't wait to hear the rest...and I'm envious of you sitting in that tub!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Well, I know how the story turns out, because I see you in the hot springs in T or C! But I can't wait to read the next installment!

Friko said...

Maybe I should call here more often.
This is going to be a great tale.

Mel said...

You've arrived!!!!!! :-)

And you're looking darn good in that New Mexico environment (love the hills behind you......omgosh.......)

Always an adventure! Never a dull moment.
But I know you've arrived--safe and sound, so it's all good.


Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio said...

Oh, DARN!!!!! I want to hear the rest of the story!!!!! OK, I know. I'll have to wait.
OMG,what an ordeal. That soak in the pool there was more than well deserved, let alone anticipated!
At least you made here safely (I think)!

coldH2O said...

New Guy:
I'm glad you are soaking in a hot spring, I know how bruised you must be since the Bears lost to the PACKERS. Jan can wait for the free meal. We must get together, it will be great fun.