This was posted a day after it was written due to lack of Internet access. Glad I purchased that WiFi extender/repeater.
Saturday's departure was scheduled for 10AM. There were still a few little things to do. Departure was pushed to 11 AM. After all, our first overnight stop (Victoria) should only be a 5-hour drive. What's the rush? 11 AM came and went. We were still not ready. We could leave at noon and be in Victoria around 5 PM. No problem, it doesn’t really start getting dark until around 5:30 PM. We almost made it off by noon. It was about 12:15 PM.
Only ten minutes into the trip I had one of those “OH, SHIT!” moments. I left my laptop on the couch – the one at home, not the one in the motor home. We turned around, went back to the house, and I retrieved my "external brain". Too bad I can't actually plug my head into it. OK, change departure time to 12:45 PM. We may still make it before dark-thirty. We had only one stop to make (in Lufkin, about 25 miles down the highway) to pick up a couple of spare parts at Mustang CAT.
When we hit the Lufkin loop we began looking for Mustang CAT's sign (I had never been there before, but thought I knew about where it should be). Carol Ann spotted the CAT sign first. Fortunately it was on the right-hand side of the road so it would be an easy turn. As we were pulling off of the loop onto the side street I said, “THIS IS NOT MUSTANG CAT!” It was a Peterbilt service center that had a CAT sign out front because they serviced CAT engines. No problem, turn around and get back on the loop. Problem. There was no good place to turn around and I had no idea where this road would lead. No problem. We saw a place were we SHOULD (not a good word when driving a 40-foot motor home towing a car behind it making it impossible to back up) be able to turn around.
I knew the second that the rear wheels dropped from the pavement to the dirt that I was in trouble. How could I tell? In addition to the loud scraping noise, the real give away was when I realized that the rear wheels were turning but the coach was not moving. After a few choice words I exited the coach to take a look. The rear wheels were hanging over a ditch, barely touching the dirt. The rear skid plate was resting (although it looked more stressed than resting) on the pavement. Then of course, our tow car was still in the road. Because I had turned left to turn around, the car was now blocking both lanes with the tow bar resting (that word again) on the pavement.
I began “un-hitching” the car, which was somewhat difficult due to the position of the tow bar. I had no trouble disconnecting the cable for the running lights, the air hose for the pneumatic braking system, the “break-away” cable, and the two steel safety cables. The pins holding the tow bar to the car were hard to remove because of the angle. I finally managed to remove them with the aid of a rubber mallet and considered myself lucky to have smashed only my left thumb and index finger in the process. At least we weren’t blocking both lanes anymore. Traffic could still get by us by sharing a lane.
This is the kind of situation in which you are so glad that you upgraded your Good Sam Emergency Road Service to the “PLATINUM” service. I got out my cell phone and called. They answered right away. Great. I explained the situation to them. I was put on hold while they “validated” my location. The music-on-hold made me feel even worse. After no less than 5 minutes of this torture the agent returned to inform me that she had “validated” my location and that, yes, I was where I said that I was. She informed me that with my “PLATINUM” membership I was entitled to one truck and one man for two hours. I was then asked to repeat my membership number, the manufacturer of my motor home, and its length. I was placed on hold again while she sought someone to help me. After 10 or 15 minutes (which seemed like 30 minutes) she came back on the line to tell me that she was having trouble finding a tow service in my area that could help me. Translation: "I can't find a tow service that will accept the job for what Good Sam is willing to pay." She said she may have to look for a tow service “out of the area”. Translation: "You might be there a long time." Not wanting to be placed back on hold, I asked her to please call me back before she started looking "out of the area."
Half an hour later, and still waiting for a call back, I walked the 100 yards to the Peterbilt Service Center and asked if they would please recommend a good tow service. You figure a Peterbilt place has to know a good tow service. With no hesitation the man said, “Rick and Collins” and wrote down the name and phone number for me. I walked back up the road to the RV and consulted with Carol Ann. Translation: “I don’t care if we do have an emergency road service policy, I am calling Rick and Collins!” So I called Rich and Collins and was told that they would be there in 15 minutes. YES! As soon as I disconnected, my phone rang. Good Sam had finally found someone that would accept the contract. They would be there in 45 minutes to an hour. Translation: "Bubba should be there with his '49 Ford pickup in a few hours." I thanked her but told her to cancel the tow call because I had someone coming to help in 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, Carol Ann volunteered to go find the parts store and purchase the spare parts while I waited for the tow truck. True to their word, they arrived on the scene about 10 minutes later and had me out in 5 minutes. I didn’t even ask the man “how much?” I just handed him a credit card. It was the best $150 I had spent in some time.
Carol Ann returned after we had gotten the coach back on the roadway. We got the car “hitched” back up and we were on the road again around 2:45 PM. Feeling somewhat better, I asked Carol Ann if she had any trouble finding Mustang CAT. No, she said, but they were CLOSED! All that trouble and grief and we didn't even get the parts.
The rest of the day was uneventful and we arrived at the Victoria, Texas Sam’s Club about 7:15 PM. We parked in a secluded section of the parking lot and I was able to settle into my recliner only to discover that they had NO FREE WIFI! What a way to end the day! I may as well go to bed. Guess I’ll have to wait and post this from Harlingen. Bummer!