3K Adventure

Alice and I embarked on an adventure a couple of weeks ago. Several good stories presented themselves which were hopefully files away for later. The purpose of the adventure was to purchase and pick up a motorhome we’ve been looking at for some time. The ‘home was located in the mid-western part of Arkansas. Since we decided to bring out dog along, we couldn’t fly or take other mass transit, so we settled on taking the car. Franco’s crate just fits into the back of our Vibe if the back seats are folded down. We also brought out Mad River Kevlar canoe along in case some inviting water presented itself.

The problem with taking the car was that we’d have two vehicles to drive once we made it to Arkansas. I did some research, and learned there were 3 ways to tow a car behind an RV. They are no wheels down, 2 wheels down, and 4 wheels down. The first involved buying a car hauling trailer, driving the car up onto it, securing it, and then driving away. There are none of the car’s wheels touching the ground, hence the “no wheels down.” Two wheels down involved purchasing a 2-wheel trailer/dolly. The front wheels of the car are driven up onto this dolly, are secured, and then driven down the road with the car’s back wheels on the ground. 4 wheels down involved bolting a sturdy tow bar onto the car and buying a tow arm set and an auxillary car brake combination. Using this system, all 4 of the car’s wheels are on the ground with the car’s steering unlocked, so it steers itself around the corners.

As revealed in the “Ted the Auto Mechanic” post (click HERE for that story,) I chose the 4 wheels down option and installed the tow bar on the car. This I bought new since the part is specific to the car. I searched for several weeks on eBay until I found the tow arm and auxiliary brake unit on eBay. We also had to buy a receiver drop for the RV since the height of the receiver on the was too high for the car. Fortunately, the RV receiver and our Ford pickup receiver were the same height, so we were able to practice hooking up and towing the car before the trip.

With everything purchased and tested, all that was left to do was pack the car and take off. Alice worked the day before we left, so I spent the day getting the car ready. It took me ALL DAY to get everything put away the way I wanted it. That night the High School was putting on their annual play, which Alice and I try to support every year, so I drove in to town, picked her up, and we attended the play. We got home later than we would have liked, went to sleep with the alarm set for early the next morning.

Our destination was Des Moines where I’d found a Motel 6 that accepted pets. We got a good start and thanks to Alice’s exceptional navigational skills, we found the hotel without much trouble. This place was right next to the Des Moines Airport. It was a well used place that seemed somewhat short on maintenance. We found a place to eat and learned upon returning to the hotel that the heat was out. We spent a chilly first night on the road.

In the morning, we were up early for a short walk with Franco, and a repacking of the car for the leg of the trip that would take us to Marcia’s place in Arkansas. I’d brought the suitcases down to the car and had Franco on his leash. Now Franco is a big ball of love to everyone he knows, but he is a 90# German Shepherd male dog. As we were walking to the car, there were a couple of large males that were obviously drunk, talking in loud voices very near to other people’s rooms. They looked me over as I approached them and did not lower their voices nor alter their path to avoid mine. They continued their talk and swagger until they noticed Franco. I happened to be looking their way when they noticed him as he studied them intently. They both stopped in their tracks and their eyes were bulging. “That’s a big dog,” one of them said. “Yes, he is big,” I replied. Two formerly loud swaggering guys tiptoed quietly away from us. I smiled to myself at the time it happened, and have smiled about it over and over since that day.

The drive to Mena, Arkansas took us through some beautiful country. Marcia’s place was 33 acres in a very nice section of the surrounding countryside. We both really liked the place. Marcia lived in a comfortable brick home surrounded by acres of beautifully maintained yard and fields, and some very nice woods and streams. She also had 8 dogs, all of whom had a story attached to their rescue. Marcia, it seemed, had a big heart to go with her beautiful property; a heart that included making homes for dogs that wouldn’t otherwise have one.

Franco fit into this group of dogs with a few hiccups. A couple of the dogs wanted nothing to do with any other dog, and growled when another dog came near. Franco respected that. Some were exuberant extroverts which Franco had to get used to, since his pack has been mostly human all his life. One dog in particular wanted Franco to be sure to acknowledge his leadership role in the community, which Franco eventually also accepted after a few incidents. All-in-all, it was a very good social opportunity for Franco.

It was a great time for us. Marcia welcomed us into her home with the native graciousness that must have given rise to the phrase, “southern hospitality.” We got the grand tour and immediately felt at home there. We saw the motorhome and really liked it. We decided to sleep there that night to get the feel for the place.

In the morning, we all piled into Marcia’s car and headed for the Mena Department of Revenue office to do the title transfer. It went like clockwork and we were soon back at her place and readying the ‘home for the next leg of our trip.

(to be continued…)

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