STRUCK BY LIGHTNING continued.......

Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Dodge Town parking lot, Rapid City, SD

Flag of United States  , Ohio
Friday, August 6, 2010

Today is Wednesday, August 25,2010.   Andy is driving though Montana as I sit at the dinette in our new 2011 Itasca Navion 24K RV writing our story.  The landscape flows by inspiring wanderlust and story telling. 


I left off by describing how we were camped out on the lot at Dodge Town Dealership and repair shop in Rapid City, South Dakota.   Crazy Fish (2007 Itasca Navion 24H RV) is immobile and proving to be beyond the fix-it capabilities of Dodge Town, I think after two weeks of trying, they have lost heart.    The computer systems with their modules must communicate with each other in order for the engine to start.  This communication is not happening even though Dave has now replaced 4 of the 8 possible modules.  He is depressed and is in agreement with his boss, Eddie, Clayton the service manager, and fellow mechanics that this lightning strike has compromised the entire electrical system and all its accompanying computers and modules.  It needs a thorough "tear down" to be comfortable to tell us that we are ready for the road with no problems.  Dodge Town does not have time nor desire to take on such a project.   YIKES! 

Andy began talking with the claims department way back on that fateful afternoon of August 3rd.  He has become well acquainted with both Kurtis of GMAC and Dan who has been hired by Kurtis as an independent claims adjuster.  South Dakota GMAC has Kurtis to do all the claims for the entire state!  He hires out to sub-contractors when he needs to.  Andy requested we speed this thing up as we are homeless unless you consider the Dodge Town lot home.   So, Dan is on the job.  Dan took pictures, made notes, listened and spoke with Andy, had long conversations with Dave, Clayton and Eddie of Dodge Town and suggested to GMAC that this be made a "total".  GMAC saw it differently and is planning to tow Crazy Fish to Forest City, Iowa to a Dodge repair shop and then on to the Winnebago Factory (yes..the very one we toured and did an entry on!) to repair the coach. 

Andy called the Dodge repair shop and Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa to find out what their timing looked like for us.  We are looking at mid to end of October if we are lucky and all goes well.  Knowing what we know about repair shops.....we are thinking Crazy Fish will be ready in November -  if then -  and we are now looking at driving in the snow!  Good grief.  Andy decided to buy another RV and figure out what we will do with two RVs later!  His thought is, "lets get a home and get outta here!!"  The weather in South Dakota is extreme, giving one no comfort zone for what can and may happen at any time.  In our short time in SD we have experienced biblical lightning, down pours that are like having a bucket of water dumped on your head, hail the size of popcorn (with the locals telling us, "that's nothin' shoulda seen the softball sized hails last week!"), temperatures going up to 102 and down to 40 all in three weeks!.  Oh yeah....winds up to 40 miles an hour with gusts up to 60mph!  Cow boys were some tough folks. 
We got 'on-line' to find an RV for us to buy.  Andy's sister, Betsy began helping from her computer in NY. She is a researcher extraordinaire and started sending us great finds that Andy and I were furiously following up on all around the country.  We began in a tight circumference that kept widening out as we were disappointed over and over and over.  Most listings had either been already sold or the transfer of title would take too long due to an existing loan or there was some major "no" "no" we were able to ascertain during our phone conversations and emails. 

One of Betsy's finds looked like a "winner"!!  Andy told me to book us flights to Ohio for the same day.  I was on it.  We rolled our clothes (two shirts, one pair of pants and undies--no more) into our "trava sacs" which are sleeping bags with a removable sheet lining in a cotton sac, grab our computers and drive over to Enterprise to return our car.  A cab took us over to the airport where we checked in with enough time to have a bite to eat before flying off to Columbus, Ohio.  We arrived in Chicago with a 90 minute lay over.  We confidently walked up to check in and get our seat assignments to find ourselves face to face with a thoroughly harried attendant telling us she has no room on our flight.  Nothing is open until tomorrow.  We stare blank faced at her till our voices come back and tell her we paid outrageous prices for these tickets to get same day flights.  She says she needs 10 volunteers to stay over in Chicago before she can accommodate us.  We sit down dejected and worried.  No one is volunteering.  We begin chatting up how great it is to stay over in Chicago with the folks sitting with us at the gate.  No one is suckered in.  Andy goes up to the attendant again and asks to speak to her supervisor because we spent over $800 for the standard $240 ticket.  She begins furiously punching in numbers and who knows what all into her computer...smiles and hands Andy two tickets with seating assignments.  Miracles do happen!  We have no idea how she put the extra 10 people into the seats but, hey....we were flying!!

Landed in Columbus, Ohio by midnight and took a cab to our motel room I had booked.  Nice place with a wood burning fireplace and a full kitchen, pool and basketball court for $59/night.  We could have used this place in Rapid City!  We showered, rinsed out our undies and got a great nights sleep with a wake up call for 7:00am.  A free full breakfast buffet greeted us at the office.  Nice greeting.  Hawthorn Inn is the place to stay in Columbus, Ohio!  Randy arrived by 9:00am as arranged, driving his 2008 Navion.  She looked great!  We liked all the upgrades, the price, the feel and the owner too.  Then the problems began.  The title was in an LLC that Randy had mistakenly put in the wrong name.  Andy says, OK, no problem, we can get in touch with your lawyer and work this out.  Randy then lets us know that his lawyer has just had throat surgery removing his voice box and can't speak on the phone!  Andy is getting a bad feeling about this.  In good faith and still trying to get this worked out, we take off to Randy's house outside of Dayton where we are left with his girlfriend to have lunch while he gets some business done in town.  The ride to Randy's proved the V6 to be a good engine with more power than we were used to.  The brakes started grinding about half way and then a trucker came up side us and was pointing to the side of the vehicle.  One of the basement drawers had come open while moving!  Randy could not get it fully closed.  Out of time and patience, I went with Lynn to get lunch while unbeknown to us, Andy stayed behind in the RV and arranged for a cab to pick us up and take us to a dealer in Dayton with a 2010 View for sale.  After lunch and good byes to Lynn, we drove with April, the cabbie, who's dream it is to have a vacation in Hawaii, to Arbogast RV dealership and our sales rep, Dan. 

The last 1/2 mile or so we noticed an RV in front of us on the highway.  Sure enough it turned in to Arbogasts and was the RV we were there to buy.  Dan was, as it turned out, charging the truck battery as it had gone too dead to start the engine and a booster from the coach had to be used to start it.  We began to check it out and look around inside when they scooted us out and suggested we do the paperwork first while the guys do the prep. Then we could go for a test drive.  Andy got insurance and had it faxed over, we put a deposit down and were invited to stay the night in it on an RV pad with water and electric hook ups as it was too late for test driving or finances.  So....we spent the night in what we hoped would be our new home.

Everyone was gone and the moon was shining brightly.  We tried to start her but no go....dead battery!  She doesn't hold a charge or is being drained by some other problem.  Uh oh.....not good.   There was rust on most of the brackets in the compartments , scratches on the refrigerator and microwave and the products and materials in general were cheapened down from our Crazy Fish  The interior was not our style at all....white and was this going to work?  NOT.... that's how. 

Andy throughout this process had been talking with as many RV buddies as possible to hear any and all suggestions.  Our friend from the Navion/View group we belong to, Michael Vickey, after hearing about the dead battery, etc...suggested we call Lewis RV dealership down the road in Dayton.  He claimed they had the best prices on line.  Andy called and got Ed to pick us up at the gas station across the street in an hour.  After much ado with the sales manager of Abogast we were released from their sales grip and given our deposit back.  Phew!!! 

We walked across the street, bought some waters and energy drinks and waited for Ed.  We stood there hot, dirty, frustrated, tired and feeling every bit of homeless as we were.   Ed showed up and our spirits rallied.  Caffeine and forward motion;  it's a wonder how it lifts the spirit!  Ed showed us one RV after the next that we then would find out was already sold.  We were feeling so down again that we were about to strangle Ed if he made one more blunder when he brought us back to the first 2011 he had showed us.  We had not wanted to buy such a new RV but we liked it right away and it was less than the 2010s we had been seeing online.  Was it our state of mind or was it a real fit we still are determining.  Ed cut us a good deal, had it prepped, filled with LP, water, diesel and had the title and temporary registration and plates ready by the time Andy got the insurance and took care of the finances.  All of sudden we were actually driving off the lot!  We did one stop for some food and drinking water and I plugged in the GPS to take us to Dodge Town, Rapid City, South Dakota -- 1,200 miles away.  The most extensive test drive ever done!  We had forgotten to take her for a spin.  Well it is ours now and it is great to have a home again.

Two nights on the road and we pulled into a KOA just outside of town.  Dodge Town had been kind enough to lay out an electric line for us at their lot but it wasn't enough power for the air conditioner and it was easily 98 degrees with no cooling off for sleeping.  We were now already two night veterans and had a routine.  Andy slept on the upper cab double bed and I on the single dinette.  Our fabulous full wall slide out had malfunctioned the first night out and after doing all that the manual said to do it still wouldn't re-set itself.  We needed a certified Winnebago Dealership!  One of the lights blew out for no reason,  the water pump will not stay on and the TV runs only on 110 volts!  We are having buyers remorse while at the same time being hugely grateful to have a home on wheels again. We have to remind ourselves that the man we bought Crazy Fish from in 2007 had had to have the slide motor replaced and that we never had any trouble with it after that.

Sunday morning began the process of moving all of our stuff from Crazy Fish into the new, still to be named RV.  Jodie started with the kitchen and I went to work on the mechanicals.  The outdoor systems were no problem until I hit the bike/kayak rack.  Winnebago had changed the rear panel over the trailer hitch so our stabilizing brackets no longer had a clear shot to the platform.  We would have to route the brackets so low that they would scrape the ground a different times down the road.  Oh well, new plan... we would take the bikes and leave the kayaks until we are reunited in the future. 

Switching our belongings brought us face to face with how much less storage space the new RV has.  The food pantry is 2/3rds less and without our over cab closets (a double bed is there instead of cabinets) we were challenged with a puzzle.  Bike racks happened, storage happened after giving away bags of stored food goods and rearranging our clothing storage we actually had only three bags of 'stuff" sitting on the couch that still needed to be put away when we decided to hit the road.  We will find spots for the rest of the electronics, and our office supplies as we drive!  We are driven to get to Bainbridge Island to Mercury and Carlee's before the birth of our first grand baby.  

Every day on the road we get more settled in as we live with the slide always in and the water pump only working if one of us held the button down while the other used the water and the generator shutting itself off and the outside compartment doors refusing to close easily....etc.etc.  Too much stuff to ignore and all of it on warranty.  Andy called ahead finding a Winnebago repair shop in Pasco, Washington.  We headed straight for Pasco!   We arrived Thursday afternoon a day before our Friday appointment.   Laura says she thinks she can get us in!  Our new mechanic, Steve of Russ Dean Family Motorhomes drove our new RV into the bay and began working.  By closing time he had the slide out working and was figuring out how he could get our other voltage issues solved with the panels they had on site.  Laura arranged for us to stay on a full hook up pad  they maintain for us broken down RVers.   Steve recommended we try "Famous Dave's BBQ" for dinner.  WOW!  one of the best!  Succulent and saucy, both the ribs and pulled pork were flavorful and perfectly cooked.  We also really appreciated the sides of great tasting beans, sweet cornbread, cooked apples and corn on the cob.  YUM!  I liked the ribs a bit better than Andy because the rub was a tad salty and that always pleases me.  That sweet salty thing really rings my bells.  Andy is more of a straight sweet man!  Mr. bones, of Long Boat Key, Florida is still our favorite but Famous Dave's is a great runner up!!!  Before dinner we pulled into a town park along the Columbia River for a walk to stretch our aching legs.  So much driving and sitting gets our bodies cranky.  The wind was blowing like crazy along the mighty Columbia River.  The water is clean and smells terrific, the park is loaded with 'people friendly' ideas from the bike/walk paths that apparently go for 35 miles, grills, picnic tables, benches, bleachers for boat race viewing and a stage for concerts on the lawn.       Very nice town indeed.

Friday welcomes us with lovely weather and Steve telling us he has the answers and fixes to all our problems.  Andy gets such a good feeling from Steve and the whole "Russ Dean" experience that he has Steve install  a Fantastic fan and fan scoops that he was going to install himself.  That's confidence!   By noon Laura is settling up the receipt with Andy (all under warranty except the fan installations) and we are on the road in 100% working order!  YIPPEE

We are now on route 395S heading for route 14W to drive the scenic way along the Columbia River.  Around and up route 5N onto the Olympic Peninsula, along Hood Canal and over to Bainbridge Island.  The next entries will catch back up with our sight seeing back in Rapid City and the Sturgis motorcycle rally!!  Please don't get confused with our entries jumping back and forward in time.  Thank you all for your blessings and caring and funny comments during this crazy time for us.  We have enjoyed and re-read every comment to keep our spirits up.  "Keep Heart" our friend Jack's Granny Eileen always said, and we will, with your help. 
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Bill Oakley on

Wow! You two were really put through wringer with this. But the new RV is really nice looking. Good luck with it and all the best!

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