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Alice's Christmas Vacation


Last updated 12/29/2020 at 3:24pm

Merry Christmas (late) and Happy New Year from Tucson, Arizona. We came to Arizona for the warm weather and to see what it would be like to spend Christmas in the RV. "Why not?" we thought, with no family in Colorado and social distancing being a thing. Our friends asked us to join them, so we did.

Well, trying to get all of our things ready, buy gifts, have them wrapped and stashed in the RV before Christmas without forgetting anything was difficult, but having the RV cooperate proved to be a greater task by far.

I know I have told you that our RV is not new; it has been good shelter and carried us safely all over this country, but it was not new when we got it. It doesn't have orange décor from the 70s (thank heavens). It is a 2003 gas powered RV that has been REALLY used, but had a lot of life in it still when we got it. It has served us very well until we got to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The land of entrapment. A funny check engine thing happened and the engine power slowed way down, and The Old Man stopped the engine and then turned it back on again and it seemed fine... but that check engine on the dash was still illuminated. We camped for the night in Albuquerque, and all things seemed great. Our friends were in the site next to us, and we waved at each other through the windows – it was cold outside! We rested and hit the road again at 7 a.m.

We got up and had breakfast burritos that I had frozen so we could just heat and eat on the go. We were munching and excited to be on our way. We start to pull out and boom, the power dropped again. We could go no faster than 10 miles per hour. The Old Man tries starting it again... nothing changes, but he tries it over and over, again each time we drive maybe 5 feet... We were slowly reaching the exit gate of the RV park. Men seem to think, if I gun it, it will blow out the cob webs, so he tries. My daughter and I along with the dogs are hanging on for dear life as his ego takes over and he tries to race onto the highway only to get stuck on the side of said highway just off the exit road, a very busy highway outside of any major anything. Every car or big truck that goes by is the equivalent to a wave on the water rocking us around. Oh, the dogs have to be taken out after that escapade and of course there is no place to safely walk amongst the rubbish and broken glass. We tell our friends who graciously pulled over with us to go on ahead and save a site for us at the next campground. They agreed.

At this point I should also tell you, we were out of propane. We planned on getting it in a place in Pueblo on our way out, but their pump was broken; then the campground in Albuquerque had propane, but no one able to pump it for us. We borrowed two tiny electric heaters from our friends to stay warm overnight. Well now we are on the side of the road, no electric, no water in the tanks (because of the risk of freezing). Yes, Vacation 2020 was off to a splendid start.

We searched for a mobile mechanic, then we searched for a mobile mechanic that would work on RVs... fun times. Our party was a hoppin' now! So, we found one. His English was difficult to understand, but he came about two hours later. He wore a mask and we could see in his eyes he was a bit overwhelmed and kept trying to get his meter to read our engine... whatever that means. Well, none of us have cell service, not even the local guy, but The Old Man does and so he has to call this guy's boss and translate what he is saying to the boss.... I spoke up, "Let him use your phone to talk to his boss," duh! So, they talk... The boss then has to come out with a bigger meter and a part. They change the part and the meter is still not reading stuff... Ugh, it is now about sunset and it's getting really cold, no heat! So there is a huge accident on the highway ahead of us, like it was huge! It closed traffic both ways. The mechanic and his boss help us limp the RV across the highway to the truck stop and park it there to wait for a tow truck to take it to a dealer to reset a button... that's what is causing this – 600 bucks. Now to find a tow truck to take an RV.... Yeah. Take it to a Chevy-certified shop to have the button reset after the part has been replaced.

To further your understanding, this is a Saturday. The night has rolled in and it's cold! Any certified Chevy mechanic is not going to be open on a Sunday, where are we towing the RV to... a parking lot in front of a place we "hope" will be able to do it... Folks, at this point I was done!! Completely frazzled!

I walk out to the parking lot, where my husband was standing wringing out his head and I said, "Unhook the car! I am not sleeping here! I am taking the dogs and our daughter to a hotel!" ... He looked at me with a shocked look and humbly said "Yes, Dear." So he did just what I asked. I was quickly unraveling and he knew it; at that moment all of this was his fault, and that he knew, too. He was supposed to have taken the RV in for a tune-up and oil change; this issue may have been found at that time. Well, come to find out it had done this before and the check engine light was on for months. I never drove it; I did not know this!! At that moment my "Ca-ca doody" list was full with just one name: his!

While he unhooked the car and I gathered supplies for us and the dogs, with the help of the truck-stop WIFI we were able to find a hotel that would take two dogs and two frazzled and in much need of a hot shower gals. Old Man was staying with the RV and a gazillion blankets; also, we did have a generator and the two little heaters still.

We check into our room, spray everything with disinfectant, settle the dogs and begin to consider relaxing after a crazy drive to the hotel and I get a text: "You better come get me" from Old Man. "Why?" was my response.... So caring and loving.

He goes on to tell me it's getting really cold and the generator is leaking oil, he can't run it. My head said, "Crap and more crap." I still had my comfy PJs in my hand... I sat on the edge of the bed and about cried, and I may have cussed. It's a long drive back there and we were going to order food, and I was so ready to eat! My daughter, being a smart one, tells me just to relax and she orders an Uber for her dad, texts him and asks what he wants for dinner, she then orders Uber delivery and we have a nice meal when he gets to the hotel. I still was not happy with him, but it was getting better.

At 9 a.m. Sunday, Old Man left to meet the tow truck. The driver knew where to tow him to get this thing fixed. But they did not open until Monday morning... Okay, so we had to spend another day in the hotel and it is a two-minute fix from everyone we talked to; it is no big deal, we will rejoin our friends on Monday morning.

Sunday spent laying on beds is a dream, right... until that's all you can do, there is no place else to sit, someone is tormenting your dogs through the window to make them bark, and someone else keeps playing with your doorknob to see if they can get in... Yeah, top-quality neighborhood. There was a huge homeless camp outside by the front of the hotel; we came through the back road and did not see it when we arrived. But Monday morning it would be OK; they open at 7 a.m. and we will be fixed and back on the road probably by 8 and at the latest by 9... Yeah, that sounds great!

Monday morning Old Man takes off to be at the shop at 7 when they open; there are already five other people waiting to get in, too. When he finally talks to someone, they tell him the guy who does that thing he needs is not going to be in until 8. So he waited. The main mechanic finally shows up but he has to complete a job from the day before that he hadn't finished before he could look at ours. We get kicked out of the hotel at 11 a.m. ... I called about a late check-out, and he could only extend it until noon. So, my daughter and I are without a vehicle and stuck with two dogs and all of the things we brought with us including a large collapsible dog crate. Praying that the mechanic gets things done.

Then, because life is just so boring at this point, the mechanic gets to looking at the RV and says nope, it wasn't that thing you paid 600 bucks for... it was this $6 part right here and then the factory reset thing. OH NO! (Scratch the trip, we can make it home for Christmas! Arg!!) But he has the part, and it's a fast fix... he will be done really fast. Old Man tells the mechanic that his wife and daughter will be kicked out of the hotel at 11 so please hurry.

It's 11:45, and the husband calls and says, "It's done, I'm going to run to Costco after I hook the car back up to the RV and get propane then swing by and grab you girls.... "WHAT?????" The car takes him a long time to hook up, like over half an hour or so... "I would prefer you pick us up before you get propane – they kick us out at noon, IN 15 MINUTES!!" He replies, "Well, let me get off of the phone so I can get this done" .... Yeah, no problem... I can handle being homeless... I got this.

I take a deep breath and have my daughter run down and grab the luggage rolling thing... We load it with all we can including a dog. The hotel phone rings... the front desk saying they need to get the maids in there, are we leaving or would we like to extend our stay another night.... I explain that we are heading down right now. I left a tip for the maids and off we went... down to the curb – literally. We are standing there with the big dumb baby dog, our little chiweenie, and all the dignity we can muster as we are now in the midst of the homeless commune...

When what to my wondering eyes should appear? A clunky old RV with cousin Eddie driving it. Like a madman up under the grand carport entry of the hotel as if he were a knight in shining armor... that needed a lot of buffing.

So we were saved and survived our brush with the possibility of being homeless in a state away from home. We finally caught up with our friends and have enjoyed the cactus, but also RV shopping – because this RV is not returning to Colorado with us. It will become whatever old RVs do ... retire in retirement or snowbird country here in the warmer region of the country. We have a move to make of all of our stuff from one RV to another while here, and let me tell you I am ready to be home so I can actually relax!! This trip is getting so expensive: $2,000 for this one to get retired and whatever the new RV is going to cost – cha-ching – plus hotel, dining and entertainment. Yikes!!

Happy New Year, everyone!!

You can contact Alice at [email protected]


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