Unexpected Difficulty Getting Back to Ohio

When Tom and I planned our month of exploring we planned one week in Utah, 10 days in New Mexico, and then a couple of days each in the various states along I-40.  What we didn’t plan was unexpected difficulty that changed our route entirely.

We started off okay, although we only spent five days in Utah.  We were tired of no cell service, so we headed to Albuquerque early.  Except, we didn’t know it was the Balloon Fiesta, so we had to move around in order to get the nights we wanted.  And we had a tough time getting a site in Santa Fe for the same reason.  Despite that unexpected difficulty, we had a lovely visit to both places.  I will be writing more about specific locations soon.

As we were getting ready to leave Santa Fe, we found out we didn’t have any brakes on the RV.  Not good.  Definitely an unexpected difficulty.  We found out before we left because it is one of the things we always check before we pull out.  After two hours of phone calls, we came to two conclusions:  the actuator on the brakes was not working and no one within 300 miles could fix it in less than two weeks.

Slow roads in Oklahoma and Kansas

Deciding to trust our beast of a truck, we headed to Junction City, Kansas, to the birthplace of our RV.  The service manager at New Horizons agreed to work us in to an already overbooked service schedule.  Tom drove carefully along the slow roads to Kansas, leaving plenty of stopping space.  We left Santa Fe on Tuesday and got to New Horizons on Wednesday.

Thursday the brake guy in service was sick.  But Friday he determined the brake actuator was bad.  He agreed to replace it on Monday with a unit they had in stock!  Hurray!

Monday the service guy installed the brake actuator and the brakes were working again.  Despite the unexpected detour, Tom and I were looking forward to resuming the end of our planned trip.  We didn’t plan to drive far on Monday:  just the other side of Kansas City.

Unfortunately, along the way we encountered another unexpected difficulty.  As we drove in slow rush hour traffic on I-435, our tire pressure sensor started beeping.  One of the tires was about to blow!  But we were stuck bumper to bumper in the middle lane of the interstate!  Tom started working his way across the lanes of traffic to get to the nearest exit when BANG!  The tire exploded and we could see and smell burning.  Not a good thing when the wheel is on your house!  No shoulder on the interstate, so we exited the interstate and pulled into the parking lot of the closest gas station.

After close examination we determined the bearings in the wheel had locked up, causing the tire to overheat and explode.  There didn’t appear to be any damage to the RV but the spindle on the axle was completely melted and the axle was bent.  We weren’t going anywhere with just three wheels on our wagon!

Parked at the QT

I called Good Sam Roadside Assistance but it was five minutes after 5:00.  All the service places were closed.  We could get help to change the tire or jump a battery but no help with the axle until morning.  So we asked the manager of the gas station, QT #178, if we could stay overnight.  The QT is open 24 hours a day and he agreed to let us stay as long as we pulled into some parking spaces on the side.  Little did we know this QT is the world’s busiest gas station.  It took two hours of watching for us to get enough parking spots together open.  We moved, but even that little distance put stress on the one tire.

The next morning a service guy was at the RV before 9 a.m.  Unfortunately he needed to order a new axle before he could help us.  Fortunately MORryde, the maker of our axles, agreed to overnight one to him. Their definition of overnight and ours is not the same.  Monday was our blowout.  Saturday the axle finally arrived and was installed.

Then we faced yet one more unexpected difficulty.  We needed to get the tires aligned before driving the 700 miles back to Ohio.  Kansas City has some great truck and RV places, so we made an appointment with the one our service tech recommended:  TransWest.  Unfortunately, the earliest they could take us was eight days away.  Sigh.  So much for the plans we made.

But as long as they were aligning the tires, we decided to replace all the tires on the RV and get all the bearings checked.  Did I mention that some of the tread had come off one of the RV tires in Arizona?  Hopefully they can do all that in one day so we can get back home!

We are hoping to get back to Ohio without any more unexpected difficulties, but it has been an eventful trip so far.  Tom and I remind each other that any home has breakdowns. After living in the RV for 4.5 years, I guess we were due.  We are safe, we have a place to stay, and we get a whole week to explore Kansas City.  We are blessed – and someday we will get back to Ohio!