The truck is ready. We’ve got the bed packed with suitcases, and several bins full of necessary items that we will need to live in the RV for the trip back home, like pots and pans, plates, eating ware, bedding, dish detergent, a basic tool kit, tarps, bungies, duct tape, electrical tape, zip ties, dog food, dog bowls etc. The day before we left, we stopped at Best Buy and purchased a mobile “Sprint” hot spot router, so the kids could stay connected to the internet and maintain their study schedule while we are on the road. According to the “Nationwide” service map for coverage…we thought this would be our best option, particularly since our phones are Sprint phones.
We left mid-day on October 6th, heading east on I-90. The truck purred right along as the miles rolled under the tires. The dogs weren’t very happy about having to ride in the back of the truck bed with all the other “stuff”. They were feeling ostracized and isolated from the rest of the family. They managed to work their faces up against the sliding back window and stare at us with their pathetic and forlorn faces, while the blue tarp flapped that covered the rear area flapped over their heads. The front and back seats were crammed with coats, books, snack food, lap-top computers, pillows, shoes, water bottles and anything else we didn’t want to risk getting wet. The quarters were cramped with all the “stuff”…but we were rolling and “on the road again”.
We wanted to make some “time” and put on some miles due to the fact that we got out of “Dodge” so late, so we set our first stop to be somewhere in Montana. By the time we got to Superior Montana, the cramped quarters were feeling small. We were all hungry, whiney, bitchy and tired and the “fun” was beginning to wear off. We found a place to eat dinner, then decided to find a cheap place in town to spend the night. Superior isn’t that big, so it was easy enough to find the “Budget Motel”. The room was small with two queen sized beds and smelled of heavy air freshener in an vain effort to mask the prevalent dog odor. I had no compunction about bringing our dogs into the room for the night. The beds were hard and we could hear the trucks on the freeway that was a block away. To add insult to injury…we paid $75.00 for that crappy room. Not exactly what I would call a “budget” price for a low budget flop. It was the most we paid for the crappiest room along our entire journey east! But it was late…somewhere close to mid-night and we were too tired to continue on.
None of us slept well, so we got up early…loaded up the dogs and our gear and continued our trek east. We lost internet reception in the mountains of Idaho. We thought that this would be a short term “temporary” situation due to the mountainous terrain as we traversed the Rockies and the continental divide…but no. All day, we continued to see the cell towers all along the major I-90 corridor…but still no reception. Frustrated by the lack of reception, we stopped in Billings Montana for fuel and dinner and afterwards went into Verizon Store. The clerks smiled when they told us that Sprint didn’t have service coverage in Montana OR South Dakota. We were flabbergasted; because the service area maps that we were shown prior to buying their services, CLEARLY shows vast coverage for both those states. The total lack of coverage proved to be true until we got close to the metropolitan Chicago area. This created the situation where we were on “roaming” for any phone calls we made and no internet connection for home-schooling for three days as we crossed Montana, South Dakota, the southern part of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern Iowa.
As we rolled across the mid-west, it all became a blur of flat corn fields. One state morphed into another with nothing other then the sun to provide a point of reference and a sense of direction. There was only a road sign to distinguish one state or time zone from the other. It was like being adrift on a sea of corn fields. The occasional over pass provided a wide expansive perspective of the landscape…like riding the crest of a large wave that provides a panoramic view of the corn and the horizon. After a while, it became a standing joke. Sooner or later, to break the monotony…one of us would exclaim…“oh LOOK…CORN…!!!”. We began to wonder…what happened to the wheat, barley, alfalfa, hops, potatoes? Nope…jus corn, hundreds of miles of corn. With the advent of bio-diesel, corn has become quite the cash crop for the mid-west corporate farms. Forget about what it does to create the $5 dollar price of a 16 oz box of cereal, $4 dollar loaf of bread or any other feed or food commodity that is made with corn or other grains that aren’t being grown.
Then it happened. It was very subtle. A dash light…the ABS dash light. Uuuungh…??? BRAKES…??? Now the thought of pulling a nine ton RV with a truck that was having unknown brake issues was not comforting thought. I hit the breaks…heads lurched forward with howls of protest and surprise…all felt well. The dogs were peeking up between the tarp folds wondering “whaaaa happened…?”. We were close to our Ohio destination when we stopped for the night, so I decided not to worry about it until the morning. We found a motel for the night. While the family was getting settled into the room, I located the Ford dealership in town.
The next morning, bright and early I was up and headed for the dealership. Early being a “relative” term at this point. Locally it was 7:30 am, but by my body clock…it was a mind numbing no coffee 4:30 am. I showed up with hat in hand to plead my story with hopes for being able to get my truck checked out sooner then later. Fortunately, within a half hour, they were able to accommodate my needs and got my truck into the bay and began to troubleshoot the issue. $125.00 later, they figured out that a corroded sensor was my only problem. The sensor was replaced and my problem was solved. I considered this to be a small price to pay for peace of mind and the ability to STOP.
RV Wholesalers was only fifteen minutes away, so we called to let them know that we were on our way over to pay for and pick up the RV that we had ordered. We were all excited as we piled into the truck headed for RV Wholesalers. We announced our arrival at their office and waited for Cathy, our sales rep to come out and meet us. With smiles and pregnant anticipation, we introduced ourselves. She asked that our RV be brought around to the front so we could do our “walk-through” inspection and familiarization with how everything worked. The tow vehicle wheeled our “new” Cyclone 3950 HD Toyhauler into the lot and backed it into a place in front of the building. We had made prior arrangements to have them order and install a fifth wheel hitch in the back of our pickup, and their shop crew was anxious to get started on the installation. The plan was…they would be busy installing the hitch, while we did our walk through, signed papers to finalize our transaction. To facilitate the hitch installation, we transferred the dogs and all our stuff out of the back of the pick up and into our new RV. Then we began our walk-through. That's when our smiles, hopes and expectations rapidly began to evaporate…