Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fun on the way

Okay, so some of these were before we left, and it wasn't all fun.... I don't think the cats really missed us.

A mushroom cloud Tanner pointed out to us. He said, Mom it looks like a bomb! I only caught half of it out the car window. But the other side looked like a mushroom too.
Teagan trying out Tanner's football equipment.
Teagan enjoying his watermelon. That kid can suck down some melon. We have to watch him though, he'll chew up the rind too.

And now for our, "We finally made it to Iowa" story. We left the house at 9 am. Everything went smoothly, until about 12:30 around Covington, Indiana. The Rv started chugging like it was running out of gas. So, we stopped for gas. Shortly, after entering Illinois, it chugged and stalled several times on the side of the highway. Just a bit past Champaign, it finally died. This was 2:30 in the afternoon. Thank goodness for Motor Clubs. After waiting about 4 hours for a tow truck, the kids and I jumped into a taxi and headed to Peoria. Luckily, we found a hotel with an indoor swimming pool, which saved a little of my sanity. Meanwhile, Bobby is still waiting for the tow truck. Apparently, the only place in Illinois that could possibly fix the RV was in Peoria, an hour from where we broke down. The worse part of that was, there was an RV sales and service center IN THAT TOWN! But this was Friday afternoon...... Anyway, Bobby finally made it Peoria about 9:30 pm. So, Saturday morning, while munching on our continental breakfast, the mechanic calls to say, "the oil filter's clogged but, in my experience, that screws up the fuel pump, so I recommend replacing that too. It will be $725." What?!?!?! Being the frugal person that I am, I say, no way. Just replace the filter. Bobby also had them throw in the fuel pump part. Apparently, the tow truck driver removed the drive axle or something (and threw it in the RV, so now there are grease stains to go with the ground in Play Doh), so the labor for puting that back, replacing the fuel filter, and the cost of the fuel pump was $460. Add the taxi, the tow, and the hotel, and we spent over $700! So much for souvenirs and fun money.
Okay, so Saturday around noon, we're finally heading out of Peoria. Hmm, funny, the RV is acting up again. So we pull off into an abandoned parking lot in the sweltering heat, and Bobby replaces the rear fuel pump that the mechanic recommended we replace for $725. Remember? So it runs a little better now, and we finally make it to Iowa. Yayyyy!!! Oh, wait, no, it's chugging again. After chatting with his cousin, Bobby learned that the rear pump going out wouldn't make it chug. The front pump would. Great. According to 411, there's an O'Reilly's on Hwy 101 in Iowa City. Oh, here's the exit, should we stop? Well, the kids are asleep, it's running okay......
Ten minutes later, we're dead on the side of the highway. Again. And, on a hill, in a construction zone, so there's really no shoulder. We limped into Iowa City, rolled into a gas station parking lot as the RV died, just a couple blocks from the O' Reilly's. Fate? Or just dumb luck? (Oh wait, I forgot, there was another stop somewhere in Illinois at an Autozone. There they recommended disconnecting the O2 sensor, calling it quits and heading home.) Anyway, while we roast in the parking lot, Bobby crawls under the RV, again, to replace the front fuel pump, for another $100. How convenient. There's a Dominoes Pizza next door. Guess what's for dinner? We make it out of Iowa City, 9pm Saturday night, when we should have been in South Dakota at a campground, heading for Mt Rushmore in the am.
When we got stuck in Peoria, and knew we wouldn't make it to the Mt Rushmore KOA in time for our reservation, Dad suggested a different route. (Side note: After hearing of our plight, the KOA graciously refunded our deposit despite canceling a Saturday reservation on Friday afternoon) So, on to our new route...... we headed into Nebraska. Somewhere between Iowa City and Ogallala, NE, Bobby ascertained that we needed to stop for gas when we got down to half a tank or the RV would start chugging and staul again. That worked for awhile, but eventually got annoying. After filling up in Ogallala, we were driving down the bleakest, loneliest looking stretch of country road in NE when...... the chugging....... like 15 minutes after we filled up. I'm really surprised that my poor husband didn't run into oncoming traffic at this point. He was so frustrated. Oh wait, the oncoming traffic was one car or truck that only drove by every 10 minutes or so. That's right. So, they probably would have had time to swerve, if not stop, before hitting him. Anyway, he crawls under the RV. Again. And what, to his surprise, does he discover? A broken wire! To the FLIPPING FUEL PUMP!!! Hmm, how long has that been like that? Since Peoria perhaps? Ugh!!! So he fixes the wire...... and smooth sailing after that. Even the stretch from Casper, WY to Dad's house that I drove while everyone else slept. Except for a deer, a fox, and half a dozen rabbits, it was a pretty boring stretch of road. Well, except for the curves, hills and tunnels through the Wind River Canyon. Thankfully, it was dark at that time, and I couldn't see how far down the "scenic overlooks" went. We arrived at Dad's at 4 am. How cool is Mapquest? Door to door directions. I called Dad to say, Hey, we're out front.
As if that was the end of the story...... after about 4 hours of sleep, we seemed to be doing just fine, until we were several hours into our Yellowstone expedition on Monday evening. For those that haven't been, yeah, there's mountains there. So lots and lots of up and down. Oh, the forest fires. Forgot that part. That added who knows how many hours to the trip to the park. Normally, my Dad is 75 miles from Yellowstone's east entrance. Unfortunately, it was closed due to the fires, so we had to drive up to Cooke City, to go in the Northeast entrance. Uh, if you have a fear of heights, especially when combined with curvy roads, and shear drop offs, I don't recommend a window seat when driving Chief Joseph's Highway.
Anyway, we were almost through the park to get to our campground, when the annoying chug returned. We stopped and let the RV chill for 10-15 minutes a couple times before we came out of the park, and somehow made it to the campground in West Yellowstone, MT. For future reference, unless you have some unrequited need for an indoor swimming pool or nearness to a tourist town, camp in the park. Save the driving for the sightseeing.
Tuesday, we toured, hiked and picnicked in Yellowstone with my Dad, stepmom and little sister (in their car). That gave the RV a day to rest. That evening, after we were sightseed out, to quote Bobby, we came back to the campground. The kids, Dianna, Lauren and I took the kids swimming, while Bobby and Dad worked on the RV. Again. Apparently, in Peoria, when the dumbass mechanic sold Bobby the fuel pump, uh, it wasn't the right one. So, my creative mechanic husband did some rigging. See if you can follow: the new pump on the rear tank was the wrong one. The new pump on the front tank worked fine. The old pump on the front pump worked fine and was still connected, so he spliced it somehow to run on the rear tank. I'm sure there are technical terms involved here, but, this story is long enough. Suffice it to say, that seemed to cure all our ills. We had no more problems either in Montana, driving back though the park and mountains, or on the way home. Until we were almost in the dreaded state of Illinois. No offense to any Illinoisians (it really is a pretty state, if you like cows and corn), but I don't think I have ever had such contempt for one state. Remember, that is where our problems first started, plus the dumbass mechanic, and I didn't mention the one hour taxi ride with four cranky kids and no AC!. Anyway, we made it home, with a few chugs (but no stauls) through Illinois and a couple in Indiana. Bobby thinks the wire rigging he did to the rear fuel pump was just loosened on the rough roads in ILLINOIS! We even managed a quick visit with an online friend in Iowa, and a stop at Sonic. Mmm, coconut cream pie shakes.
We made it home just after midnight. And went back to ordinary life when the alarm went off at 7:30am. On to the first day of school and back to football practice.


Sarah said...

Sorry I missed you in WY! Your travel story sounds horrendous! I wondered how the YNP fires were affecting the camping - most recently the Cody entrance was closed due to mud slides! Love your photos. I have a picture of Alicia's son, Roger, on the same bear couch from earlier in the month. We'll have to swap stories when I'm in Ohio this weekend.

Krista said...

I'm glad you finally made it. Love the pics! I'm sure the kids had a blast. And they'll remember this trip forever. That makes it all worth it.