The Misadventures of the Frickes

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Thursday, May 28, 2009


We’ve had a lot of challenging adventures on the road. Jim captured it best in an email he sent to some friends:

We have been on the road almost three weeks now. In that time, we have had about 2 full sunny, warm days. The rest have been a combination of cold, wet, damp, rain, overcast, snow and hail. Other than the two warm days (70's), it has mostly been highs in the upper 40's to upper 50's with lows in the 20's and 30's. So, any ideas we had of following summer across the continent have not yet come to fruition. The worst weather, or the most interesting, depending on your perspective was at a NFS campground between Cody and the East Entrance of Yellowstone. During the night, I heard the sound of the rain change to something a little sharper on the roof. We awoke to 6" of heavy wet snow. Definitely not conducive to moving any further up the road (like Sylvan Lake Pass @ 8600' or so). That night, one of the propane tanks went to empty, so it was a bit chilly in the camper until I got out and changed over to the fresh tank.

We have had, of course, a series of 'misadventures' to accompany the most excellent adventures: Our Verizon data card would not boot, so I had to have a new one UPS'd to our first camp site in Wisconsin Dells. But they did not send the same card or the software to support the new card. When I called to complain and get support for activation, they told me to download the software (obviously, could not grab the concept that I had no connectivity!!). While enroute to the Dells, the Tahoe engine light came on, so we spent a day with the car at the local GM dealer. That turned out to be an emissions issue, and was fixed under warranty.

Still at the Dells.....while packing up, I noticed that our bike rack did not seem particularly stable. It was in fact, in danger of breaking so the bikes had to go inside the camper. All this resulted in a stop in Rochester MN, where we found a Verizon dealer who got our card up and running, and to a bike shop for a new, heavy duty bike rack. The old one went into their dumpster.

The Verizon dealer was MI, every time I go in I wait in line for a salesperson, who may or may not be helpful. In this case, there were 3 salespeople waiting on me. Same deal in the bike shop. The guy took the floor model outside and put it on my trailer to prove it would be hefty enough, and then helped me put together and install the one I bought. It is amazing how friendly and helpful people become when you explain that you are living on the road, or they ask where home is and you point over your shoulder at the 8' x 20' box you are pulling down the highway.

I am finding that long distance hauling, even with a very good rack, is hell on the bikes. You can imagine, riding on the back of a moving, bouncing trailer for 2500 miles (so far) exaggerates even the smallest movement. Paint gets rubbed, rubber gets rubbed through, wires get frayed.....I have to keep on top of it at least once or twice a day (and the sad thing is, with the weather, the bikes have not been anywhere but on the rack!!!)

Let's see, what else.....Oh yeah, the battery in the Tahoe died at a NFS campground at Wind River. Not a big surprise though. I had had to recharge it at least once or twice back home, so I knew it was not long for this world. But, the funny part to this story is... I charged it enough off of my camper generator to get us into the nearest town (Thermopolis). Found the only auto parts store in town and plunked down another $100 or so for a battery (the new bike rack had set us back almost $300, by the way). So, I asked the clerk if I could swap out the battery in the parking lot. She looked at me kinda funny, so I explained that back in Lansing, it is against the law (city ordinance) to work on a car in parking lots of auto shops. She said: "Listen Son, you are in Wyoming now, you can do pretty much anything you want". So, I proceeded to bum a tool from her, because, of course, I have a tool box with everything I need, except the one thing I needed. (Funny, how at 55 I did not mind being called 'Son' by someone probably close to my age, whereas in my 20's I probably would have taken offense at anything beginning with "listen, son....")

Several other things have shaken loose on the trailer. Vent screws drop from the ceiling, doors open and spill their contents. The very expensive, high capacity battery I bought needs regular refreshing from the generator (about every two days). I am thinking that is mainly due to the frequency of the furnace blower kicking on and off all night long. I am sure there are other things I am forgetting, by choice or by accident.

But, in spite of the weather and the saga of misadventures, we are very much enjoying the life of leisure. I have to say that it did take awhile to start getting into the groove and routine, especially when it seemed like I was having to spend a lot of time fixing stuff. The trailer seemed all to small and confining at first (partly due to not being able to spend much time outside without getting cold and damp), but we have started finding ways to maximize our use of space, and the concept that everything needs to have more than one purpose or it is a space waster.

Right now, I am sitting outside the camper, listening to my generator humming a recharge the battery and give life to the laptop tune. It is cool and cloudy, but I can glimpse the Tetons between the trees, overlooking Jackson Lake. Contemplating a late afternoon beer, and glad I am not a working stiff no more.... Jim
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