Navigating Bumpy Roads

We all travel different roads and the path isn’t always clear or easy.

2020 found us hunkering down in Florida while we waited for travel restrictions to end and for RV parks to re-open. We were (and are still) lucky to be able to park Waldo at Daddy’s house. We had friends who were on the road and unable to find places to stay. The uncertainty of the future weighed on everyone.

I spent my time finding projects around the house. I remove the 1970’s wallpaper from a bathroom at Daddy’s…

I refinished a cast iron patio set our neighbor gave us…

We were in Florida long enough for me to watch the life cycle of the Echo Moth…

While I busied myself with these things, I just couldn’t find the motivation to keep writing blog posts. I marveled at how some bloggers were able to stay relevant, how they dug into the past, dreamed about the future or adapted to a changing world. In August last year, we began traveling again. I was able to motivate myself to write a couple posts, but I was still having trouble between wanting to spent more of my time enjoying our travels and not spending the time and effort it takes to write a good post. I didn’t stop taking pictures, but I did stop doing any editing. All pictures, the good, the bad, and the ugly went into a properly labeled folder with the intention to review them later. Most still sit in those folders today.

We rounded out 2020 with another fabulous season selling Christmas trees followed by New Year’s fireworks. Things were looking up. After a pretty sedate 2020 (with no campground jobs), our bank account was finally looking like it would survive. THEN along came 2021.

Steve has been doing some work for a company in South Bend, IN. Most of it is consulting, but in late March we began a month long journey to South Bend. Our plan was for Steve to spend 10 days working in South Bend then to head west to visit a friend in Utah before heading back to Florida for 4th of July firework sales. One of our first stops was in Alabama. We spent a relaxing week at a COE park, everything was lovely until…

So….that wasn’t fun! But, hey, bad weather can strike anywhere. By mid April, we were in a state park in Indiana. Our last stop before heading to South Bend. I had never given any thought to when it stops snowing in Indiana but…

What makes this unbearable for me is this is when Waldo’s furnace decided to quit!

The outside temperature is on top, but the more disturbing number is the inside temp on the bottom. No thanks!! Steve was able to diagnose the problem and we had the part shipped to South Bend. In the meantime, he bought a space heater so I wouldn’t freeze to death. As soon as we were settled into our spot in South Bend, Steve repaired the furnace and we spent the next 10 days in relative comfort. That is until the refrigerator went the way of the furnace. Yeah, I know, Waldo is 21 years old, these things are bound to happen. Well crap!! Since we have a portable fridge/freezer in Waldo’s basement, we decided to hold off on rushing to do any repairs. He did spend a lot of time narrowing down the possible causes. They ranged from minor, relatively inexpensive to major and downright costly!

We left South Bend on May 1st, I was so glad to be heading towards someplace fun! I had our entire trip to Utah planned out and reservations made. If it sounds like this is when I started truly having fun, you’d be wrong…

Yep, that’s Waldo broken down on the side of the road. I won’t go into all the details but to make a long story short, Waldo needed a new motor. Out with the old…

In with the new…

It took 15 days for the Cat dealer to replace the motor. The final bill was more than $10,000 OVER what they told us to begin with. I was sick. We had a “rainy day fund” but this wasn’t rain, this was a deluge. Thankfully, my dad was able to loan us enough money to cover the bill. There’s way more to the story and some day, if you want to hear it, I’ll write about it.

Two weeks behind schedule we began our journey west, finally! We had a great time taking in the natural beauty of Utah and spent a rejuvenating week with a friend we hadn’t seen in nearly 3 years.

We made it back to Florida the first week of June, just in time to get ready for 4th of July fireworks again. Oh yeah, what about that fridge?

We had our choice of buying a new one or replacing the cooling unit. After the repair bill at the Cat dealer, we chose to replace the cooling unit!! I’m happy to report it is working great!

This post isn’t what I normally write about, but it is exactly what real life is like. There are a lot of bumpy roads, but thankfully there are more smooth ones! I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to telling you about our adventures. I’ve always tried to stay fairly current in reference to our location but I think it’s time I get back to editing my pictures and show you more of our wonderful smooth roads! If you want to know where we currently are, follow TheWanderingRVer on Facebook or Instagram.

Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope all of your roads are smooth.

Oh Waldo – You’re SO Hot!

Unfortunately, it isn’t near as sexy as it sounds. If you’ve following our travels, you know we have had a long time problem with Waldo overheating. There were travels days we spent more time on the side of the road than motoring. This has led to some very frustrating days, tears and more than my fair share of unlady-like fits of screaming.

I’ve tried to keep my posts happy and full of America’s breathtaking scenery,ย  but I’ve decided that isn’t really a fair way to describe our lifestyle. Yes, for almost a year now, we’ve been exploring new areas of the country and having the time of our life. But – it isn’t all beauty and magic.

When we arrived in Beatty, it was in a fit of overheating. We are extremely fortunate Steve is a mechanic by trade. He has been working on cars, trucks and motorcycles for 40+ years. RV maintenance comes easy to him. Changing the oil and filters doesn’t require a trip to a shop. This has saved us countless dollars. But, this nagging overheat issue obviously wasn’t going away. He had already changed the thermostats, checked hoses and replaced the overflow tank, all to no avail. He came to the conclusion Waldo needed a new radiator. UGH! To make matters worse, we had taken Waldo to an oversized carwash to clean away some of the grease and grime which has accumulated around the giant CAT motor. Using the high pressure hose, he began spraying away, only to watch as parts of the fan blades fall to the ground. Great, now not only do we need a radiator, but we also need a new fan. Thanks Steve. But, to be fair to him, the blasted thing is 18 years old and has 190,000 miles on it.

We had only planned on staying in Beatty for 6 nights, but ended up staying for 9 nights. The 3rd day there, Steve called around for parts. We could get a new fan from Freightliner in Las Vegas, a mere 2 1/2 hours away. They could get us a new radiator as well, for the low cost of $2200. When he gasped at the price, the parts guy suggested he call a radiator shop, not far from Freightliner. The woman who answered the phone was beyond helpful! She was pretty sure she could get us a replacement for about half the cost. The catch was, she needed Steve to bring her the defunct radiator so she could check some measurements.ย  So, with the limited tools Steve brought with him, he set out to dismantle Waldo’s cooling system. The camp host loaned us two 5 gallon buckets to drain the antifreeze. We were lucky the park let us work on Waldo there. Lots of places wouldn’t have. Once the radiator (and all the other miscellaneous crap was removed), Steve set off for Las Vegas. I was feeling more than a bit cranky and was content to let him make the trip alone. By the time he returned, a little before 10pm, I had calmed down – some. Both the fan and the radiator had to be ordered and wouldn’t be in for several days. We spent those days exploring Death Valley.

Wednesday finally rolled around and we headed back to Las Vegas. We picked up the fan and 15 gallons of antifreeze from Freightliner and called the radiator shop to check on the arrival status. It wasn’t in yet, but was on its way – another hour or so. Since we had time to kill, we went to WalMart and did some resupplying. As we were coming out of WalMart, I was nearly deafened by the sound of F-16s flying overhead. It was the Thunderbirds from nearby Nellis AFB. How cool is that?!?!? Since I hadn’t brought my camera, a crappy cellphone pic will have to do…

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With the excitement over, we headed to the radiator shop. They were just taking it off the truck when we arrived. Perfect timing. With the Jeep loaded to capacity with parts and supplies, we headed back to Beatty. We had just dropped over $1500 in Las Vegas and never set foot inside a casino.

Thursday, Steve got right to work putting Waldo back together. New fan…check…

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New radiator…check…

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It took a little longer to put things back together then it did to take it apart. It always amazes me when Steve can take a pile of bolts and know which one goes where. I mean seriously, when he took it apart, he threw all of the bolts into a bucket. When I take things apart, I label everything and take pictures so I can put it back together, maybe that’s why I’m not the mechanic! Soon enough, Steve was ready to start the motor. I have to admit, I might have been holding my breath. But when the “Wait To Start” light went off, Waldo fired right up. We let it run for a while, satisfied everything was good. The real test wouldn’t come until we drove down the road. We have since traveled to Alaska and Waldo hasn’t overheated once, thanks to my wonderful mechanic, husband and best friend. His ability to handle the mechanical problems has saved us thousands of dollars. It is a comfort knowing he can do these things, but it doesn’t help my anxiety in the moment things fail. I’m working on handling things better, but for now, if you hear a scream of panic, it still might be me!