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Sunday, June 21, 2015

THE GREAT TRUCK VACATION

This is a brief (yes, it could have been longer) history of our most recent vacation effort.  Little went as planned but we all had a good time and came home without any broken limbs or scars.  If you aren't into reports like this, don't be afraid to skip.  


Remember, no Whitmer's or DeMoux's were injured seriously during the application of this vacation.



15 June 2015

This is a report on our vacation with the DeMoux clan.  The plan is to visit all the southern Utah parks (Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, etc.) for a week and then Teresa and I will mosey on down to Arizona to visit with my family.  It’s a lot of driving but the hope is it will be a good experience for all involved.

Departure was early afternoon on 14 June with intent to arrive in Bryce Canyon early evening.  For the most part, the trip was uneventful until we turned off the freeway for dinner. Our plan was to eat at Cove Fort and take the tour so the kids could get a little Church History with our trip.  As we left the freeway, there was a sudden change in the tone of my truck.  There was also a message stating “Failsafe Mode...” – I had no idea what that meant.  The truck seemed to struggle and there was some ‘burping’ and ‘heaving’ but the vehicle continued on its way.

Not exactly the same truck but pretty close.
After our dinner was eaten and the Fort was toured, we sallied back to the vehicles to continue on our little excursion.  My truck was acting oddly and there were moments when I wondered if we were going to make it, but we did finally arrive at our destination.  Having stressed muchly over the truck, my attitude was less than pleasant but that angel who resides in my life and heart patiently endured until we were able to retire to our sleeping abode.

This morning we devoured our breakfast, spent money in the gift shop, and then packed up the major part of the company for a hiking adventure.  My destination was the small town of Panguitch where I hoped to find someone with the skill to revive my ailing transport.  I limped (this is why “Failsafe Mode” was included in the price of the truck – so you could ‘limp’ to a safe place to get repaired) to the shop and was met by a very nice gentleman who immediately dropped everything and checked the codes in the computer (for those who are unaware, each modern vehicle has a built in computer to tell guys like him what they are feeling).  He discovered that there were two valve controls  that had failed – to his amazement!!  He has often seen one fail but to have both was ‘miraculous’ (or anti-so).


The location of Royal Express  in Panguitch

Sadly, the parts reside in another city/town and won’t be here until tomorrow so I am currently sitting outside the local seminary (no one is here cause school is out in Panguitch also) waiting for the ‘end of the world.’  Josh DeMoux will be coming to get me later today (after they finish some hiking) and we will continue on with our vacation.  I guess it could be worse – but I would have to really think to come up with that scenario.  At least I have my health.

But if I don’t quit eating at Arby’s that may even go away.  It has been a long day, and it’s only 2 PM.  There’s not a lot to do in Panguitch.  I have walked the depth and breadth of this little village and there is little of excitement.  While life seems slow here, I suspect I would enjoy being part of this community – it is a small town and they are generally lots of fun.  Unfortunately, my experience says that it would be difficult to find acceptance because I am not a native and I have very little to tie me to the current residents.  Still, it would be fun to have the small town experience once again.

Josh finally came to get me in the late afternoon and I was reunited with the rest of the family.  They had a wonderful day hiking the trails in Bryce Canyon and seeing all the flora and fauna.  I hope that I get a chance to see some of the sights before we leave.  I am astounded at the beauty of the landscape in this area and wonder why we haven’t been here before.  Oh, I think the family came here during the “year without a dad” in the 90’s.

bryce-canyon-6
Isn't this amazing?!!

This is now Tuesday and we found out this morning that the Ford dealer sent the parts for the truck UPS and not on the delivery truck.  They won’t be delivered until noon so we have some time on our hands.  Teresa and I are going to Panguitch to wait for word and the DeMoux’s are headed to St. George for one of their excursions.  I think they are going to the St. George Temple.  Their goal is to visit all the temples in Utah this summer.

Click to enlarge this image of the St. George Utah Mormon Temple
Probably not taken the day they went.
So, we are wandering the little town, trying to stay out of trouble.  We thought we could go to the library but it doesn’t open until 1 PM so we went to the county offices for awhile.  Then we took a walk and are now sitting on the grass of the local Church building.  It is shady and the grass is softer than the chairs at the county building so we are in good shape.  Who knows what other adventures will rise-up to greet us as we trundle through the day.  I just hope we get a vehicle really soon.

After many hours of waiting, gawking, sitting, and fretting we received the phone call that we had anticipated.  Despite the best efforts of Royal Express Automotive, the truck is not in working order.  And the problems have exceeded the abilities of our friends in the fix-it business (a side-note: they refused any payment because they could not fix the problem.  Not your usual business strategy).  The only option left is to take the truck to a Ford dealer and let them have a crack at the problem. We considered trying to get to Salt Lake but multiple opinions suggested we had already pushed our luck for further damage.  So, we are now sitting under a tree at one of the Churches in Panguitch, waiting for a tow truck to deliver us to Jorgensen Ford in Richfield, Utah.

Map of Utah . net Presents the best map of Utah
It's in the upper right corner. 

We have read and heard of these kind of experiences over the years but, until this week, nothing remotely like this has been our lot to endure.  Actually, in the whole realm of endurance this is not a very large burden to accept.  Sure, its going to cost us a lot of money and our vacation is probably over, but we have had the chance to visit a quaint little town not known to us before.  And our kids have learned that we are not quitters or whiners when things get tough.  And maybe more importantly, Teresa and I have dealt with a very trying circumstance without rancor or blame – in fact, it has been delightful to have her with me (I hope she feels the same) while we have worked through all the excitement.  And decades from now we will always have the “Great Truck Vacation” to use as a benchmark for excitement.

We have not been able to contact the DeMoux’s (they are still in St. George) so I don’t know how we will get all our stuff home (their Suburban isn’t large enough to carry all our stuff along with theirs and the kids).  Maybe we will get lucky and the truck can be fixed fast and we can come back and help with the return trip.  They were planning to take the trailer home while we went on to AZ so that part won’t be a problem.  Worse for worse, we will just tie stuff on top of the vehicles and trailer and get it home that way.

It is now Tuesday night and we have completed a very long day.  After trudging through all that is recorded above, our tow truck arrived and carried us to the mighty city of Richfield.  There we found Jorgensen Ford – closed for the day.  But we were expecting that so no disappointment beyond the load we already carried. 

BTW, towing is not really towing anymore.  Our truck was loaded onto the bed of a large flat-bed diesel without any tow ropes, cables, or chains.  AND, towing (as it is) is very expensive.  The total cost of our experience was well over $400, but our insurance paid $150 (yea!! ;-().  The driver was nice enough but the expense made things a little discouraging.

With no other options, we checked into a motel and had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant.  The food was adequate but the tiredness of the day has now taken its toll and we are frazzled.  I feel especially bad for Teresa because her feet and legs are so uncomfortable.  I truly hope that our experience tomorrow ends with better results than the previous two.  If things continue in this vein, we may just decide to abandon the whole vacation thing and go home to lick our wounds.  More later!!

It’s Wednesday morning and our truck is with the ‘doctors’. We are hoping for some positive results but recent history is not indicative of such a future.  It’s tough just sitting and waiting but that’s about all we can do for now.  We sure hope Josh and Melissa are having a good time with the kids.

The kids did, finally, get in touch and they are having a great vacation.  All of Wednesday was spent wandering, reading in the library, and waiting for word.  About 3 PM we got a call from the Ford Dealer and were told that they have determined the problem. 

 When they ran diagnostics there were a multitude of codes that came up on the computer. By carefully replacing each item, they were finally able to see that something odd was happening.  That led them to consider some of the wiring in the system – and VOILA, that is where the problem was found.  Some of the wires connected to part of the exhaust system were worn through the insulation and the wires were making intermittent contact with other wires and parts to cause the weird error codes.  We were very relieved to hear that they had found a cause!!

Now we have to wait for the parts to come in from the warehouse.  The delivery is supposed to be here on Thursday at 1 PM and repairs should be completed by late afternoon.  Our prayers are that this will be the one time when the estimate is correct.  The cost is estimated to be about $660 but I don’t know if that includes labor.  Whatever it takes, I am sincerely ready to get on the road and out of the situation we have had for this week.

The City Library is our current abode.  We have found that people don’t look at us too funny like at other places.  Hopefully this is the last time we will visit this place for some time.  But if not, at least they were nice to us.  I have read almost ½ of a very large book in the time we have been here – but I really don’t want to buy it to finish.  Maybe the library will have it at home.!?
Woohoo, we just got the call saying our truck is ready to go.  I can’t tell you how excited we are to be free once again.  Provided we actually do get out of town.

richfield radio utah richfield utah
An old historic library in Richfield, UT
(no snow when we were there)
We are free.  It only cost us $629 to purchase the freedom for the truck and its occupants.  We have escaped the forced imprisonment caused by the foibles of the truck.  The part that failed was a sensor that was on the exhaust manifold.  Somehow the connection succumbed to heat and exposed wires to the elements.  That exposure eventually eroded the insulation on the wires and allowed said wires to short together, causing random errors in the computer system of the truck.  It’s a wonder the technicians were able to find this failure but we are grateful for their efforts.  We are now ready to end the ‘joy’ that has been our 2015 vacation and return to the drudgery of normal life.  Tomorrow we will pack up all our stuff and that of the DeMoux’s and point our caravan towards the city to the north.

This has been a truly interesting experience.  We have been blessed in many ways and we are grateful for the protection we have received.  Though we exceeded some of our monetary allotments, we are still in a place where we can absorb the losses and move forward.  Amazingly, there have been no major meltdowns during this whole thing and we feel blessed to have had some amazing people help us through numerous challenges.  A big hand goes out to Josh and Melissa for being very workable with our ‘phantom vacation.’  They were left completely alone and still tried to do all they could to help our circumstances.  We are very blessed to have such good children and grandchildren.

As I sign off, I offer my thanks to a loving Heavenly Father who guided us and blessed us all the way through the challenges we encountered.  In the eternal scheme of things, this was pretty small.  But to us it was a great learning opportunity.

Oh, and I learned that you don’t eat a whole pint of Talenti gelato just before you go to bed.  Bodies as old as mine are not equipped for so much goodness.

Postscript:
I thought we were through with the adventures of vacationing but I was mistaken.  Two more significant experiences should be included in the records of this trip.

1. While we were taking down the trailer and getting ready to depart, I was preparing to slide the beds back into the body of the trailer.  The supports were removed and then I was distracted by a need in another area of the camp.  While I was occupied, Teresa went to pull down the bar that holds up the end of the tent.  As she climbed up on the bed, it collapsed and the rails were bent.  She was very shocked and embarrassed but it wasn’t her fault.  It took a fair amount of time to get things in a place where we could get the beds retracted and the top down on the trailer.  I feel bad for Teresa because she had NO idea I had been working there and she was just trying to help.

2. On the drive home, we stopped at the Fremont Indian Visitor Center on I-70 to eat our lunch.  It is a nice place and there are some interesting exhibits.  When it was time to go we all piled in and rejoined our fellow travelers on the freeway.  Some time after connecting with I-15 we were passing a large truck when a gust of wind or turbulence from the truck started the trailer shimmying from side-to-side in a very dangerous way.  I was able to get things settled down but as we got to the bottom of the hill I saw an explosion of rubber from the right side of the trailer.  Quickly stopping, we discovered that the tire on that side was completely shredded.  It looked like a small piece of rubber had come off initially and bent a piece of angle iron so that it contacted the tire.  Then the speed of our travel demolished the tire. We did have a spare but it needed a little (or a lot) of air.  Fortunately we had one of those portable pump things that did the trick.  It took a little time to get things back in order, but we were soon on our way.

There!! Now the trip is done.  We are back to normal life mode and hope that you are having a good summer yourself.  See you next time.

1 comment:

Kay Harris said...

I'm glad to hear everything turned out OK but sad to hear you won't be coming for a visit to AZ.