It is unusual for us to travel on a Thursday, but our goal for the next week and a half was to get the RV and truck serviced. We did not have far to go on Thursday so we got a late start and pulled out just after 11:00. Without a GPS unit, we did not know how far it was to Bulls Gap, where Tri-Am is located, but we thought it would take about an hour. It turned out that the exit for Bulls Gap was only two exits south on the Interstate, so we were there in only 20 minutes. They were surprised to see us before noon as I had made the appointment for around 2:00. Since they would have the RV for at least a week, there was no problem with dropping it off so we cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer and proceeded on to my sister’s house near Maryville, Tennessee. However, she would not be home from work until around 4:00 so we had some time to kill. First, we dropped by Camping World and bought us a new GPS unit. It is an upgraded version of the one that was stolen which means it is a bit smaller and more responsive, but has all of the same features. We also dropped by Auto Physicians, where I made an appointment for the truck on Monday to make sure they knew what I wanted to have done. From there we had little choice but to go on to my sisters and wait for her grandchildren to get home from school and Suzy and Shannon to get home from work.
The main reason we were in Tennessee in mid-September was so Kal could meet up with her brothers in Birmingham to celebrate their parents’ 65th wedding anniversary on Sep 18th. This would also give them a chance to talk with their dad, pick up our mail, and pay the registration fees on the truck and RV. So Kal and I went to the airport on Saturday so she could rent a car for the trip. I am going to let Kal add whatever she wants to about her trip. Kal arrived in Birmingham ,on Saturday, in time to meet her brother and his wife at the hotel. We all wanted to watch different college football games so headed over to a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings. Pam watched her LSU Tigers, Mark watched his OU Sooners, and I watched the Auburn/Texas A&M game. Our brother Phil, his wife Shannon and their two girls joined us for a while during the evening. The following morning I headed off to the care facility to see my mom and dad. Mark and Pam would following later in the morning. Phil came by after church and we had a small 65th anniversary celebration. My mom is doing as well as can be expected with her health issues and daddy has a bit more energy, since he is no longer her major caregiver. I returned to Maryville on Tuesday, It was a nice visit with my family.
In the beginning, it was nice to laze around Suzy’s house all day with everyone at work or school leaving me the run of the house. I really did not do anything except catch up on TV and movies, play games on the computer, and read. Tri-Am did call later on Thursday to recommend replacing the slide-out gaskets which would need to be ordered. I guess I have not been taking good enough care of the gaskets, even though I have been applying the moisturizer every 6 months. But since they had over a week before I wanted to pick it up, we went ahead and got them replaced. We dropped off the truck on Sunday for its oil change and maintenance checkup. Besides the normal maintenance of fuel and air filters, I asked them to check on the Check Engine Light which had been on for the last couple of months. Every time in the past it was the exhaust filter causing the problem, which I intend to deal with while we are in south Alabama over Christmas. I don’t like having the light on all the time for this problem as I would never know if something else was wrong and this turned out to be the case. Instead of the exhaust filter the codes indicated that the thermostat was stuck and an intermittent failure of the radiator fan. There was also a slow leak of antifreeze and the repair shop in Maryland had put the wrong antifreeze in the radiator which according to them would ruin the engine block. None of these problems were serious and they felt we would be able to make it “home” before having them fixed. We took the truck back to Suzy’s on Monday to consider the matter. Kal returned from Birmingham on Wednesday and we decided to adjust our trip and get the truck fixed before we left. I called Auto Physicians to order the parts, cancelled our reservations for the next week, and checked on the RV which was still waiting on the parts. The parts for the truck did not come in until the next Monday and they were kind enough to give me a ride back so I could bring the truck right in. They told me it would be at least Wednesday before they were done and could take until Friday. This made us a bit nervous as we had to get the RV, which was done on Tuesday. However, since the truck was by this point back in the shop, we could not pick it up. They truck was finished on Thursday, and since they were willing to come and get me I went and picked it up. I learned why they were so willing to transport me around when I got the bill. I knew that working on diesel trucks was going to be expensive, but I was not ready for the $4600 price tag!!! Along with the $600 from the previous week and the just over $1000 for the RV, this had turned into a VERY expensive two week. We generally have budgeted $10k a year for repairs and maintenance and we have now exceeded that budget. I will admit that the truck is definitely running better and the check engine light has not come back on.
What, you ask, did we do over this two and half week period? The answer is nothing. Except for Kal’s trip to Birmingham, we did nothing at all. Kal did fix a number of dinners for the family, which helped out a lot, and I generally watched TV and played games on the computer. Without a doubt, by the end I was ready to be back on the road again. In addition, their five cats and dog that live in the house eventually raised havoc with our allergies. I had a couple of sleepless nights with a tickle in my throat that the allergy pills had trouble coping with and sleeping on their couch was getting very uncomfortable. By the time we left we were both coughing and feeling tired all day. The only thing I accomplished over the last weekend was to cut a couple of treated boards up to make some wooden ramps to put under the wheels of the RV to help with the leveling when needed. While I love my sister and her family, I was more than ready to move on.