"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Jul 24, 2016

Dodging a Bullet

“The other mechanic said something about my shocks being…”

The man behind the counter started laughing.  Didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

“So they’re no good?”

As his laughter continued, he could only point at the work sheet with the additional note of the shocks: BAD.  “Unless you LIKE bouncing down the road,” he added.  My old truck needed front shocks, too, so perhaps I’m just used to it.  Kind of soothing.

Last Friday I needed to switch camp sites, which means ripping out the umbilicals.  As long as I’m going to all that trouble, might as well pick up some groceries and get that oil change.

Which brings up a dilemma:  when you’re traveling, who do you trust to work on your vehicle, especially since you’re likely moving on soon after? I Google’d and found a highly recommended chain.  Their oil change included a few other things, including tire rotation, if necessary.

“You’ve got a huge bulge on your tire.  Didn’t you feel it driving down the road?  Wobbling? Something?”

“I did, but I thought it was the roadway,” was my lame reply.  You know when you’re driving and suddenly your tires sound funny (on a different surface); and you worry until you’re back on the blacktop and the sound stops?  Well, I’d been waiting for the sound to stop for days.

Coulda blown any time, and he said he wouldn’t let me drive like it was.  I didn’t know what he was talking about but I’d been chatting with a fellow who became my interpreter.  Steve (who works on the road) offered to take a look for himself, since he advises his wife to check before just taking a mechanic's word.  Like I’d know; so I was grateful for his help.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Steve said on his return.  They figure a belt had broken (as in Steel Belted Radial); and the bulge must have been forming for a while. Unfortunately they had to drive to New York to get the correct tire; 3 hours round trip with the guy flying like the wind. While BC and I sat in the shade during the hot-as-Hades day, Steve kept us company much of the time.  Chatting certainly makes the time go by, and when he left to meet his Bro’ across the street for coffee, he brought me back a cup and a glazed donut.

I wasn’t upset about the unexpected repair and didn’t even worry too much about paying; because I figured by the time the RV was repaired the banks would have closed, my card would go through, and I’d have the weekend to figure out how to cover the costs.  But what’s my life worth?  Dealing with a blowout on a highway is not something I yearn to experience, daredevil though I may be.

At the Propane place, I was telling the fellow about the tire.  “Yeah, that can happen; especially if you’ve been driving in New York.”

I HAVE!!  Driving on New York’s roads last month, heading for a place in Connecticut, caused more damage than my entire drive from Oregon. Items previously secured were tossed around and broken from the ruts, potholes, uneven pavement and ditches in the Empire State; plus the roads are narrow so there’s little chance to swerve around.

That Saturday morning began on the Garden State Parkway heading North, against the Shore-bound traffic.  But I was charged double at the toll booths, $3.00 a hit, so I got off the Parkway and just kept heading East on secondary roads. That’s what I did since Oregon, figuring I’d eventually reach the Atlantic, or in this case Connecticut.

My RV began to squeak back in Chicago, inside my cousin’s gated community.  It was embarrassing, sounding like the Clampetts.  I’d paid it little mind since Ohio, figuring I’d have it checked when I had an oil change; until I found myself driving through a community and I was the only one on the road.

It appeared the entire Hasidic community was leisurely walking to or from Synagogue, in the traditional clothing of their culture.  It reminded me of being in the Amish country, and I felt awful to be squeaking down their main thoroughfare, disturbing their Sabbath.
“E-e-E-e-E-e-E-e-E…”  Mortifying. They could hear me coming from blocks away and must have prayed for silence; because a week later I told Sis that I couldn’t remember having heard the Squeak since.  But prayer has limits because the squeak returned, leading up to the mechanic who couldn’t stop laughing in my face.

I’ll have to wait til next month for the shocks; anything else life-threatening?  Nope?  Great.  I left Oregon over 4,000 miles ago, so I figure if $200 is all I’ve had to pay in auto repairs, that’s not so bad.  The cracked windshield doesn’t count since I haven’t replaced it.

I'm more disturbed that I must drive more conservatively, since I’ve become so comfortable with my RV that my standard line is, “I can practically do wheelies!”   I was reassured that it’s natural my shocks would take a beating, considering the size of the living space on top of a little Toyota 6 cylinder.  However, I’ve been driving this thing like a Humvee or off-road vehicle plus I’m also overloaded.  Have been all along.

“Nooooo………don’t want that,” I heard in unison. So damned if I'm not back to yanking stuff out to lose excess poundage.  Pots and pans are first on the list.

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