If you have been following our RV journal of travels out west, you know that we have visited a bunch of interesting places and seen some truly magnificent scenery. It seems like this fantastic journey is a wonderful way to enjoy life. And in fact, we sometimes have to pinch ourselves to be sure it is real.
But lest you get the wrong impression about fulltiming, we would like to share some of the everyday trials that we have encountered lately. This is after all, still just life, and as they say "stuff happens". In this case, the "stuff" went from bad to worse. So this RV journal captures a sampling of everyday misadventures.
RV Journal September 19: Dropped the coach off for service at the Country Coach factory. Our expectation was that we would be tied up in the service department for 2 weeks to a month, and that we would have to be out of the coach for some, if not all, of that time.
RV Journal September 20: Since we knew we would be in the area for a while, we had booked a number of doctor's appointments. We spent the morning at Jill's dentist and the afternoon at Jose's doctor. By the way, lining up this doctor's appointment was not easy. We have medical coverage that allows us to go to any in-network doctor without having to designate a Primary Care Provider, but we did have difficulty finding a doctor willing to take on a new patient that they might not see again. Fortunately we did find one in Eugene, Oregon that understood the RV lifestyle and would take us on -- with the expectation that we would be back once a year. Today we also checked into a hotel as the repairs on our coach began.
RV Journal September 21: One of the joys of being 50, I had my first colonoscopy. The procedure itself went well; the after-effects of the anesthesia did not. Upon returning to the hotel, Jose helped me to the bed and went to shut the door to the room. I remember I felt a bit queasy, and the next thing I knew, Jose was saying in a very loud voice, "Get up Jill".
I was on the floor face down. I got up slowly, with blood dripping down my face. I had blacked out, fallen face first on the carpeted floor. Damages included a fat lip, carpet burns on my face, and the beginning of a black eye. We were glad to discover that I had not broken my nose. I got cleaned up and settled back into bed with ice packs, before I did myself in any further. I guess I just don't react well to anesthesia. I know I had low blood pressure going into the procedure (probably from not eating for 36 hours beforehand). I think that, feeling nauseous, I had started to head to the bathroom. I must have moved too quickly and passed out.
RV Journal September 22: We return to the same medical office, so Jose can have an endoscopy. This goes well and he does not have the same reaction to the anesthesia. In fact he feels fine, and we stop off at the grocery store. A fine pair we made. Jose's right hand is all wrapped up in a bandage from where they gave him an I.V. I am all banged up and sporting my black eye. More than a few eyebrows were raised in the supermarket aisles.
RV Journal September 23: We give the medical profession a break and head back to the Service Center to keep tabs on the progress of RV repairs. The back and forth negotiation and checking on status of service work would continue for the next month and a half.
RV Journal September 26: Another doctor's office visit (we are really getting to know our way around Eugene now) for Jose to have a bump on his wrist checked out. As suspected, it turns out to be a Ganglion cyst, which he has lanced. Now he has an even bigger bandage on his right hand and wrist.
RV Journal September 29: Jose sits down on the bed and pulls out his back. One of those puzzling circumstances where you don't do anything different than any other day, but this time something doesn't go right. Whatever the cause, he is in pain all day and night and virtually immobile.
Over the next several days, the pain is no better and he now has a tingling sensation on his side and a distended abdomen muscle. We head to the doctor who suspects it might be a hernia and refers us to a specialist.
RV Journal October 5th: A follow up with the dentist in the morning. Then we head over the Country Coach to remove almost all of our belongings out of the coach. This will give them easier access to do some interior work, and prevent any of our things from getting ruined. We are happy to do it, being mindful not to do anything further to Jose's back.
RV Journal - The rest of October: Over the next several weeks, we continue our medical follow-up. The hernia doc orders an ultrasound. A few days later the results are in. They show no sign of hernia, so an MRI is ordered. A week passes and the MRI results show no significant problem caused by the back. The doctors conclude that the next step would be to see a neurologist if the problem doesn't get better. We are glad not to be having hernia surgery and decide to give the whole thing some time to see if it heals itself.
Meanwhile, back at RV Service, things are going slower than we would like. We continue to escalate and check status to make sure we are getting lots of attention.
In the meantime, we make the best of the situation. We visit with friends and acquaintances who were having service work done. We also take advantage of the time (and a great WiFi connection in the hotel) to catch up on email and other business. And we got out to enjoy the Western Cascades and Eugene area -- although we didn't get to ride our bicycles as much as we had hoped, due to the back problem.
Tourism and social visits notwithstanding, by this time we were fast approaching Oregon's rainy season. We were beyond the one month mark we had been mentally prepared for. Bottom line: We were chomping at the bit to get on our way.
RV Journal November 1: Repairs are finally done at the Country Coach Service Center.
RV Journal November 2 - 4: We take the coach over to have some regular maintenance done (lube, oil, filters, wheel alignment and a brake check) and then to have some solar panels installed. All of this goes pretty smoothly.
However, the first night we are back in the coach, we find that the Hurricane Heat was not functioning properly. It keeps shutting off. Ever optimistic, we think that it might just be air in the lines from all the repair work and time not being used. We try to bleed it and reset it and see if it corrects itself.
As we are leaving the coach that night to go out, we see flames shooting out (since it is now dark, we could see the flame). We turn off the furnace for the night until we can deal with this new twist.
In the morning, we contact ITR (the Hurricane people), and are lucky enough to arrange to have a tech meet us the next day.
RV Journal November 5: The ITR tech changes a diode and all appears fine. We head off to leave Oregon - in the pouring rain. That evening, we debate whether to stop near Grant's Pass and at the last minute, decide to stay the night at a Wal-Mart. Jose goes out to unhitch the toad, since the parking is tight. "You won't believe this", he calls back to me, "The muffler from the furnace is dragging on the ground".
By this time, we are not feeling blessed with any great lucky streak, so I do believe it. As does Jose, who crawls under the coach in the still pouring rain to assess the damage. Fortunately the muffler is just a little flattened, but not worn through. We find an auto parts store to get a new muffler clamp to reattach the muffler until we can find the right-sized replacement muffler and finish the repairs. And we go into Wal-Mart to stock up on groceries.
RV Journal November 6: We continue south into California, still in the rain. We decide to drive part of the scenic Avenue of the Giants to see the Redwoods. A few miles into the drive, we pull over so I can take a picture.
A couple driving past stops and says to me, “Did you know you have a flame under the left front tire of your truck?” I said no, quickly got Jose – and lo and behold, a flame had ignited in the wheel well of the truck, and it was burning away.
We used the fire extinguisher, with little impact on the growing fire. Then the priority became to get the motor home disconnected from the towing equipment, so that it didn't go up in smoke too. By some stroke of luck, Jose quickly found the key to unlock the tow bar where it connects to the coach (not a key we typically need to use). So he got the motor home pulled a few hundred feet away out of danger.
In the meantime, the helpful couple had managed to call the fire department (thankfully, since our cell phone had no signal).
The cops and fire department soon arrived. At this point, the fire had taken hold of the whole cab of the truck and we were waiting for the gas tank to blow. Watching the fire and the smoke reaching up toward the giant trees, we were hopeful that we would not end up being known as the “RVers who burned down the Redwoods.”
From what the fire chief told us, the fact that we had a full gas tank left no space for fumes, which seemed to prevent the gas tank from exploding before the fire could be extinguished.
Not that it mattered too much, for when the flames were out, the truck and all the contents were totaled - bikes, golf bags, cycling and golfing equipment, suitcases, etc. In our fulltime RVing life, the truck was our shed, so it was full of stuff. As to the cause of the fire, we can only guess and will probably never really know. It was indeed a bizarre event.
We finished up the necessary business with the fire department, police officer and towing company who was carting away the remains. Everyone told us to go ahead and continue our trip. So we continued down the road.
That night we pulled in to the next Thousand Trails park we had planned to visit in Morgan Hill, CA. The next day we went about regrouping. The insurance company was top of the list. Then we rented a car so we could fix the Hurricane muffler and start doing some initial shopping for a replacement tow vehicle. We are thankful that no one was hurt and that we are here to deal with the remaining problems.
Certainly we hope that we are nearing the end of this recent series of unfortunate events. But we know that there will be other trying times. Life goes on. And so do we.
Some days it is harder than others to "put a smile in every mile". We know that with time, these same mis-adventures will turn into stories to laugh about. But until then, we alternate between a small chuckle and a long sigh.
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