Monday, July 25, 2016

Beasts of Burden, Now Plural

Four days following our brake repair...

     Another couple of work days behind, and only the open road before, we are hitched up and ready to roll.  Goodbye Jacksonville and goodbye Florida.  We've outstayed our welcome as we had no initial intention of spending our summer in the furthest south parts of our Continental U.S.  Today is the day we finally leave after four hot months.  The brakes still feel strong and we are excited about the journey ahead, so spirits are high among the troops.  

     We conduct our final walk around before departure, and there it is.  A low trailer tire (one of our four), clearly not road worthy.  After a long sigh, we pull her to the nearest gas station for air.  Closer inspection reveals a screw fully embedded in the rubber.  Our spare isn't holding air either, so its time for another trip to the repair shop.  Our first two attempts to find a simple tire mechanic fall through as it seems most tire shops are not equipped for something so large.  But a trucker tire shop is happy to help, and at less than 10 miles away we are pretty sure our freshly inflated radial with hold.  It's E rated, which perhaps gives me some false sense of comfort.  

     After a few wrong turns we arrive safely.  $15 for the tire patch (not a plug - the store owner doesn't approve of such methods), and $100 for a new spare and we are on our way north to the Deep South - Savannah and Charleston.  

     Throughout both the brake and tire issues, a couple of things remained evident:

   (1) "BB", our Beast of Burden Excursion, has a (fraternal) twin.  Together the truck and trailer will hence forth be known as the Beasts of Burden.

   (2)  It is so much easier to take these things in stride when there is no job I have to show up for every day.  If we get set back a day or two, its usually not a problem at all.  We build in buffer to our travels when heading into town for work, reducing the stress.  

   (3) God seems to have our backs.  If the brakes went out on the highway instead of parked at the campground, we may have been in a seriously dangerous position.  The same may have been true with a tire blow out at 60 mph.  So we couldn't help but smile and say, "Thanks God for timing these maintenance issues as you did."  What would usually end up as a point of frustration turned into an opportunity for praise.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Beast of Burden

I've heard that these Ford excursions can be maintenance heavy, and we've already experienced that from time to time since its purchase.  But with yet another issue upon us, "Beast of Burden" has slowly become its nickname, at least in my mind.  Fortunately it still fits the "BB" we orignally named it.

We find ourselves at one of our Pensacola area campgrounds with three days of work in the books.  We are hitched up and ready for the road.  I mount the "Beast" on the driver side, press firmly on the brake pedal to engage drive, and squuuish.  The pedal has nearly no feedback, no pressure at all.  Brynn sits quickly and confirms there is a problem and I haven't lost my mind.  We unleash some ropes holding our kayak to the roof to access the hood. After locating the brake reservoir (wih the help of the vehicle manual), we spy an empty tank. Its no wonder the brakes are shot.  With the hope that its a slow leak, we find a kind soul to drive to the local gas station and bring back a few bottles of DOT 3 brake fluid.

In the meantime the boys are on the payground, since the RV is already sealed up and road ready.  We even play our first ever game of hide and seek.  Or if you are LJ, stand wide out in the open and giggle when chased.

After an hour delay, we receive our fluid, top off the tank, and venture forward.  First stop, 50 yards down the road to the dump station.  But it only takes 15 yards to deplete the brakes, and now I'm a runaway train at 2 mph.  There's still just enough pressure at the calipers to bring us gradually to a stop when standing on the brakes.  We flush the tanks and crawl back to our pull through site.

Plan B.  We give a call over to Blue Angel Auto Service and explain the situation.  They say they can likely have it fixed and ready by morning.  Good enough, I can still make it to my course in Jacksonville which starts in 2 days.

I creep the Beast 4 miles down the road at 25mph, still with so little braking power I can hardly come to a stop.  Nevertheless I make it in one piece, hop on my bicycle and make the reverse trip, at nearly the same speed I did in the truck.

After returning to the campground, we decide to play Putt Putt that the boys have been eyeing since we arrived.  But before I can even tee off, the mechanic calls.  Brake lines are fixed, oil changed and tires rotated.  Grand total $220!  A great price in quick fasion.  Back on the bike I go, pedaling yet again along this familiar route.  It's approaching 6 PM, only 10 hours behind schedule .  But with a newly refreshed vehicle we take to the road enroute to Jacksonville, where our next journey awaits.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Siesta Key

We had such a great time with family over 4th of July in Siesta Key. It doesn't happen frequently enough, but when it does it's a joy!!