A few months ago, my mother sent out an invitation to the family, asking us all to come down to Arizona for a reunion.
(For some reason, we always seem to do these in the heated months of the year, but I guess that’s better than not having them.)
Or maybe not!!
So, we polled our children and found that Josh and Heather (plus 4), Joel and Paula, Melissa (plus 2) and Teresa and I were willing to brave the heated wasteland of Gilbert, AZ. The others had some desires to attend but circumstances made it impossible.
The total personages who were committed to attend were 14 when all was said and done.
A few weeks before our trek we were thinking and discussing how much it would cost to drive three vehicles down and back plus find places to stay and purchase food and other necessaries for the trip. As we added things up, I suddenly had a brilliant idea-
Why not rent an RV and take everyone down in one vehicle? We could even avoid motel rentals if it was big enough and that would defray more expenses.
And if the unit had a stove and fridge we could take all our food with us and make it so much more cost-effective. It took a lot of discussion, but eventually we all agreed that this might be a good option for our trip.
Over the next few days I scoured the Internet for places that rented RV’s. Most were WAY too expensive but there were a few sites that seemed more reasonable.
Then I found a place that is sort of a BnB for RV's – you rent from owners who aren’t using theirs at the time. The prices were much more reasonable, so we started looking for someone in our area that was in the price range we could afford.
It took several days to find a good option – turned out to be right near where Josh lives. The rental request was placed, and the owner contacted me to make the final arrangements. We checked out the unit and it appeared to be just what we needed. It would hold all our crew (Melissa and her two had to drive separately for other reasons so we were down to 11), had enough sleeping places, and sufficient a/c to meet the needs of the AZ onslaught.
On the 31st of May we picked up the motor-home and loaded all our stuff inside for the trip. Then it was “tally-ho, and away we go.”
While the ride was a little rougher than we had been led to believe, we made good time and were having a wonderful time…… until the generator that runs the a/c began to act up. It would work for a time but then, all on its own, would shut off and not come back on. So, we turned the a/c from the front on as high as it would go and forged onward to the deserts of Arizona.
As we followed I-17 from Flagstaff to Phoenix, we had little spurts when the generator would work and help with the cooling. But it was never enough to make us comfortable – just prevented death.
We were in great anticipation of heat relief as we took highway 101 to make our way east across the valley to Gilbert.
About 20 miles from Gilbert an unusual experience occurred. I was driving in the middle lane of a large and crowded freeway (rush hour) when the engine lost power and died. You can imagine how that went over with my fellow-travelers (not the Communist kind, the Freeway kind).
There was much honking and finger-waving until I finally was able to get the vehicle started and pulled into the far-right lane.
Thankfully, the engine seemed to have recovered so we continued with our journey (and wisely we never left the slow-traffic-lane).
Ah, but all was not well. The loss of power and dead engine came back to haunt us – again and again and again – so much so that we finally decided to exit the freeway and find our way on the surface streets. Thanks Google Maps.
(By this time, we were only a few miles from Gilbert).
Now, here’s the most exciting part of this situation. Each time we started the RV, the engine would sluggishly begin to gain power and if I quickly put it in gear we could make one or two stoplights before it died.
So, put on your imagine-hat and see what we experienced.
Pull up to a stop light –
Put RV in park as it dies –
Wait until the cross-traffic seems to be stopping and then quickly start the engine
As soon as the light turns green, drop it into drive while feathering the gas so it doesn’t stall and leave you stranded in the middle of the intersection.
Then get to the next stop light and repeat.
For many more miles than we like to remember.
The only way to remain sane was to laugh together.
Otherwise we would have been in tears.
Until, finally, we reached the front yard of my brother John’s house.
Thank heavens he had a large driveway, so we could get the RV off the road and out of sight.
I invite you to imagine how our family was feeling about this whole escapade.
Though we were there for a reunion, other things needed to be done.
Sorry Mom and Dad, your eldest son must go into hibernation with his phone. ☹
Ok, enough of the pity party!!
Our next point of business was to call the owner of the RV and see what he could do to help our situation. It took some time to get him connected but when I explained what was happening I heard him say (very quietly) –
Oh no, not again.
I will confess that there some thoughts that weren’t very kind going thru my mind when those words were mumbled.
Turns out he had been in Phoenix the week before and had encountered a similar problem. His mechanic diagnosed the problem as bad fuel filter and replaced it. But now he was convinced (by our situation) that there was something else.
Well, after many hours on the phone with the tow service, repair people, and various other entities, arrangements were made to have someone look at the engine. A mobile repair company came and took away the ‘bad boy’ RV and replaced the fuel PUMP (in the fuel tank) that was much harder to replace (but should have been the first choice when the problem occurred) to make it run.
And it worked.
Sadly, all the parties not of our family ignored the other gorilla in the room – the generator that runs the a/c. Despite our pleas for help in getting that repaired, no one made any effort to comply.
All these events took place from Thursday night until Saturday afternoon. That left little time for interactions with family members (unless they were helping with the situation—thanks guys) and kinda ruined the whole purpose of the reunion. I will confess that I was just a little peeved – but I was also ready to go home.
Sunday morning bloomed with heat reaching well over 100 degrees before noon. Our plan was to leave and make a mad-rush in the a/c-less RV to Flagstaff and see how we felt.
If we weren’t too miserable our intent was to go all the way home to Utah in one day. Though we had plans to visit the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, the lack of a/c was too much to make that possible.
as we were buckling up to leave we received a call from the owner of the RV. He had been on the phone trying to find someone near us who would be willing to trade RV’s, so we could continue our vacation. After all his efforts, there was one kind soul in Tucson (about two hours away) willing to help.
We thought about it for a few minutes, took a vote, and finally decided to give it one more try.
After all, what else could happen to make things worse?
Three hours later we met this nice lady (It takes a really nice person to be so helpful) and exchanged information and RV’s –
Her RV had great a/c and was much smoother riding than the original vehicle.
We continued our vacation – Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, other sites – and finally arrived home, safe, sound, and revived by a delightful couple of days.
After some negotiation, our RV guy came to an agreement with us about how much we should pay for our adventure. It wasn’t what he wanted, but it was probably more than he deserved.
Now, what is the moral of this story?
What principle of truth can we learn to make life happier?
Truth #1 – Never rent an RV from an individual – maybe not even a company.
Truth #2 – Make every effort to avoid family reunions in Arizona during the summer months.
If you can’t, don’t drive.
If you can’t, don’t drive.
That’s all the truth I can divine from this experience.
Truth #3 – It’s much better to laugh together when things are going bad.
Thanks to my wonderful family for their patience with the miserable experience I foisted upon them.
Teresa was wonderful and Josh, Heather, Joel, Paula, and the little kids were amazing and very willing to do whatever it took to make things work.
I make one promise after all of this adventure.
I hereby, promise to never rent another RV for our family.
But I won’t promise not to buy one someday. 😊