(Part 1 of 3…I hope)
So there you are, cruising down the road, minding your own business. Your mind is full of your day’s to-do list – your destination, things to accomplish, worries to be worked through, maybe even a goal or two. Nothing could be further from your mind than how you are getting to where you are going.
Then, it happens. Maybe a rattle you’ve never heard before. It could be a sudden loss of power. Sometimes a strange rhythmic thumping announces a flat tire. And you realize with a sinking heart that every other priority is going to have to be put on hold while you deal with this.
Now, imagine that your interruption isn’t just affecting your car, but your house as well.
Welcome to #RVLife.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
It was “wheels-up” day for us in Las Vegas, NV. We had a beautiful day to travel 400+ miles all the way to the New Mexico border to take care of a MVD mix-up. We were on our way to park the “toad” (a car towed behind an RV) before we pointed our noses East.
As we headed through Henderson, Maggie May lurched. She recovered, then did it again. And again. Simultaneously, the”Check Engine” and “Service” idiot lights illuminated. After we pulled into the right lane to slow down, we noticed what was happening – the Tow/Haul feature was randomly engaging and disengaging all on its own. Attempts to turn it off manually failed.
Just about the time I was preparing to pull the little convoy off the side of US-93, we drove past a sign for a Ford Dealership. (For those that don’t know, Maggie May is built on a Ford E450 chassis.) I took this as a sign of divine providence, and we bailed off the highway and into the overflow lot at the service department.
Our trip to New Mexico was over, barely 10 miles after it had begun.
Beside The Road Instead Of On It
One of my main motivations for buying Maggie in the first place was the fact that she is a Ford truck. No particular evangelism about Fords in general, but Ford dealerships are everywhere. If something went wrong, I reasoned, it would be very easy to find someone to work on her.
What I had not counted on is that she is a Ford RV, and that makes things…complex.
The front desk at the dealership met my request with a healthy dose of skepticism. “I don’t know if that thing even fits in the bay” was the technician’s initial response. But, driving at less than walking speed and flinching every time I nudged one of the orange traffic cones marking my lane, I was able to get her inside the “receiving” area.
Then, the questions started. Had I been speeding? Had I been checking the fluids regularly? How long had the indicator lights been on before her lurching started?
After a few minutes of questions, I was able to get to the bottom of their motivations. It turns out Cruise America paid Ford to replace Maggie May’s transmission in the days before we bought her. Unless the dealership could find some nefarious behavior on my part, this was going to be a Ford warranty repair…meaning Melissa and I wouldn’t pay a dime for it.
My self-satisfaction at not having to shell out several thousand dollars for repairs was short lived, however. I asked for a potential timeline for repairs. Our technician shrugged. “There are a bunch of repairs ahead of you. Probably a week, maybe two.”
Cue the “panicked cartoon characters” music…
The State Of Separation
The next few minutes were a flurry of activity as we dashed around Maggie’s interior, trying to gather up anything we might need for an indeterminate stay somewhere else. Underwear, toothbrushes, leashes, and dog food were grabbed and stuffed into random bags. With each of us carrying bags on our shoulders and a dog under an arm, we headed for the Toad, unsure of our immediate future.
This is probably a good place to mention the real heroine of this story – our Ford Fiesta. She serves as Melissa’s work vehicle and our mode of moving around our new locations once Maggie is docked. Now, without warning, she had become our savior, and our tiny home on wheels.
Emphasis on tiny. She already spends her time packed to the gills with Melissa’s work implements – bags, hangers, and a wagon. Now she was also housing two adults, two dogs, and a week’s worth of “stuff.”
We looked in the rear-view mirror as we pulled out of the dealership, leaving poor Maggie alone in the garage, and wondered about how long it would be before we would see her again. As we hit the traffic light and turned left into Henderson, it occurred to me: I had no idea where we were going to go now.
Just like that, we were homeless.
To Be Continued…