3K Adventure Part 2

Once back at Marcia’s place with the drive-away title and temporary license plates, it was time to hook up the car and say goodbye. We had made some very good friends, both human and canine in the short time we were there, but the road was calling. We hoped to get several hours down the road to make the next day’s drive to Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, a bit shorter.

We pulled out of the driveway and onto the road, and I began to get the feel of driving such a wide, tall, and long vehicle. Our next stop was the Walmart in Mena, where I hoped to pick up a prescription I’d forgotten in the flurry of packing before the trip. As we made our way down the road, I felt the brakes were not up to snuff. I had to press down more than I was used to, and felt some resistance in the pedal. I knew this vehicle had been sitting for a long while, so figured this might be one more kink that would get worked out as I put some miles on it.

We made it to Walmart and parked over to the side. I walked in and did my business at the pharmacy. When I came out to the motorhome, where Alice and Franco were waiting, I noticed a very distinct smell of brakes around the vehicle. It had to be us, because I’d parked in a very isolated part of the parking lot. Uh-oh.

We decided to drive the motorhome and car back to Marcia’s place. We knew she’d just had the brakes done, and figured she’d know who we could call to get them looked at. On the drive back to her place, it became very clear to me that something was seriously wrong with the brakes.

When we got back to the house, no one answered the door. Uh-oh. I walked around a little thinking she might be somewhere in the back 40. I peeked in the garage and noticed her car was gone. Uh-oh. By the time I’d walked back around the house, her car was parked near the motorhome and I saw her with a puzzled expression on her face. We quickly brought her up to speed regarding the brake issue, and she took us inside and helped us call the place that had done the brakes for them. They told us to bring it in right away, which we did.

Marcia kindly invited us to use her spare bedroom while the motorhome was in the shop. Here was a silver lining indeed. We’d all felt the visit had been over too soon, and now fate was extending the visit for *hopefully* not too long.

We received a phone call from the repair place late that afternoon. They’d found the problem, a bad brake hose, and had ordered the replacement. The part was to be delivered by 11:00 the next morning, and baring no unforeseen circumstances, we should be on the road by 3:00 or so that day. It was clear to me from speaking to the mechanic that we were in good hands. They understood we were scheduled to be on the road, and they were doing their best to get us safely on our way.

Noon the next day came another call. The wrong part had been shipped. The hose was right, the connectors were good, but the thing was a foot short. The correct hose was located, and it should be in, you guessed it, by 11:00 the next day. Marcia took this new piece of information is stride, and kept us entertained. I got to drive her super-cool zero turn riding mower. I was sorry when her large lawn was completed and I had to get off it. We had several nice walks with the dogs and a short visit to Lake Wilhelmina. About mid day the next day the mechanic contacted us. The correct part was in, and installation should be completed soon. We were all pretty happy, and got our things together in anticipation of the final call from the mechanic to come and get it.

We said our goodbyes again and drove our car back to Mena. We paid our bill, hooked the car up, and were ready to go in an hour or so. One thing about hooking up the car… if you miss a step, like forgetting to shift the transmission into neutral, or turning the key to accessory to unlock the steering, you can do damage to the car and/or cause the towing to be unstable. So we checked and rechecked until it was time to pull out into traffic and commence the trip.

As I said earlier, I was still getting the feel for this massive vehicle. Probably based on experiences so far, I did not fully trust the brakes, so drove quite conservatively. Also, this thing is so wide that the daydreaming you can often do with a car between the lane markers is not an option. I found I had to give a great deal of concentration to my driving, even to the point of not being able to glance over to the side to search for sunglasses, etc. We drove for several hours, then pulled off at an exit to get some gas. We found that something simple like pulling into a gas station needed some planning. Since we couldn’t back up with the car in tow, we had to be sure we’d be able to drive out once we drove in.

We probably pushed it too long the first day of driving, and wound up pulling into a Shell station that seemed to have several semi trucks out back. I asked the clerk if we could park our RV there for the night. He said sure, but wouldn’t we rather stay at an RV park with hookups? I said that would surely be better. He explained he was in partners with an operation 40 miles down the road (in the direction we were going) that had just such a place, with drivethrough, etc. I told him it was a deal. He gave us directions, and we headed back on the road. The place we were to stop and pay our fee was a Super 8 motel just off the highway. We pulled in and I asked the clerk about camping for the night. The clerk seemed puzzled. “Great,” I thought. I’m so tired I’m about ready to fall down. Then the fellow that had suggested I come here from 40 miles away walked in. He’d followed us to the hotel, and handled the transaction for us. The place was just about deserted, quiet, and very welcome. We pulled in, hooked up, and curled up in bed.

The next morning we arose and learned we were camped on what seemed to be a tributary of the Mississippi river. The place looked a lot better in the daylight, but don’t let that fool you… it looked very good to us in the dark too. It was a shame we couldn’t stay for a while and put the canoe in that river, but the road was calling… (to be continued)

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