Sunday, December 1, 2013

Return from Hell

We are on our way home from the 10 day trip from hell.   According to our GPS we should be home early afternoon today (Sunday December 1st).     

Our final night in Carrollton was spent in the Butler Park.   It was without a doubt the nicest part of our trip.   After we finally got Myrtle back from Gene and Son's, it was too late to hit the road, so we gassed up and tucked in for the night.    First thing in the morning, Gerry was outside (I was sleeping still) and a deer walked right past Myrtle about 10 feet away.   It was a quiet, peaceful place this time of year. 

It was -4 Celcius that night.   We were thankful to be plugged in, warm and cozy. 

We left Carrollton Thursday November 28th, elated that we were finally on our way, 7 days into our trip, we were starting day 2. 

oh oh....what's this?    173 miles down the road the oil pressure dropped down to nothing and Myrtle died.

Being American Thanksgiving, it was a huge ordeal finding a tow tuck.  We were a few miles before the border into Tennessee.  AAA in  Kentucky could not find an affiliated towing company in the area, so they checked with  AAA Tennessee, who also could not find a towing company in the area.   They gave me a list of private towing companies I could call myself.   She said I would pay for it, submit the receipt and they would reimburse me.  After about 12 phone calls, I finally found one in Nashville that had a truck big enough (or small enough) to tow us.   The fee was literally highway robbery.   $500.00 just to hook it up and $6.00 per mile.   That meant it was going to be over $800.00 just to get 50 miles down the road to Nashville!   

I called CAA at home to make sure AAA didn't steer me wrong about the reimbursement and sure enough, they approved the tow.  They were astounded at the price as were we and everyone we have spoken to since. 

Being Thanksgiving no garages were open, so we had to tow Myrtle to a campground.  We picked Yogi Bear's in Nashville simply because they were the only ones who answered their phone.    The campground backed onto the Opsry Mall, one of Nashville's hotspots this time of year.   They had quite the light show.   

We got up first thing Friday morning and drove around to a few Ford dealerships in the area trying to find someone who could take Myrtle in and get her fixed before we would be stranded for the weekend.  From talking to the mechanics we were both hopeful and seriously concerned.   It could be as simple as changing out the crankshaft seal, or as awful as the piston rods were pooched, which would mean a whole new engine to fix her.    The estimate is $8012.00!!!!     

Sadly, it was the latter.   Gene and Son's had either put in a faulty seal, or they had not sealed the crankshaft properly when they put Myrtle back together.  

Oil had spewed out so much it got on the bracket that holds the side step.  

The faulty seal.  :(

In fact, the oil had spewed so far it got on Albert!  

Mid-Tenn Ford, Nashville Tennessee.   Myrtle's semi-final resting place.   The people at this dealership were extremely nice.   They let us camp in their parking lot for as long as it was going to take to make arrangements.    They even let us plug her in so we would not have to worry about our batteries running low.    They also let us leave Myrtle there for as long as it is going to take to figure out what to do with her.   All at no charge.   

 Good bye Myrtle, you served us well.

We rented a U-haul and picked it up Saturday  November 30th at 10:00 a.m.  We were on the road by 2:30 p.m.  heading  home with heavy hearts.    We stopped in Columbus Ohio for the night, we had hoped we could drive all the way home in one day, but after 6 hours of driving we were too sore, too tired, and too sad to go any further.  

We are both crippled up from doing way too much yesterday, but we want to get home, so we will just have to grin and bare it for a few more hours.    So far the lozenges that Gerry takes to hold off migraines is doing the trick this morning, but he is rough.    I am not exactly walking, more like shuffling,  but I can be sure I won't heal up sitting in a hotel room.    Time to get home to our creature comforts. 

The good news is we have 4 days to get home before we have to return the U-Haul, and we should be home this afternoon with 2 days to go!   We have to take it back to Niagara Falls, N.Y. before Wednesday 10:00 a.m.      We could have left her in Niagara Falls, Ontario, but the rental charge would have been an extra $300.00 .  

Incidentally, our dishwasher broke down the day before we left.  We knew we needed a new one for some time, but didn't have a large enough car to pick one up in (we didn't want to use Myrtle for a shopping trip), so we had been putting it off.   We might  pick one up on our way home today, or we might go shopping in Canada tomorrow.  :)    I am inclined to try to get it over with today, because I am pretty sure I will be flat on my back for several days by days end.    

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Leaving Carrollton

WOW!   Carrollton is a half hour behind us now, and I am feeling safe enough to believe I will never have to go back there.   We pulled in on Friday November 22 evening after only having left home that morning.

Here it is American Thanksgiving, six days later and we are finally heading out.

While they were putting Myrtle back together, they put a few holes in her radiator.   Admittedly, the rad is the original from 1988, and with 25 years on it, it surely doesn't owe us anything.    However, search as they might, they could not find a rad anywhere.   We were worried we would be stuck in Carrollton until after the Thanksgiving weekend.

The eldest son Keith took over from his brother.   He found a retired radiator repairman who was willing to open up his shop and fix our rad for us.

Meet Gerry from S & S  Automotive in Trimble County, Kentucky.    He found 8 holes in our radiator for us.  It took him two hours to fix it, and he only charged us $50.00.   We didn't have the exact change, and since he is out of business we certainly couldn't expect him to keep a float around.  We gave him $60.00 and felt like we got one heck of a good deal.

He was quite certain that the holes in the rad were caused by putting too much pressure into it when they were pressure testing.   His exact words were "I wouldn't say that they did this on purpose, but that's what it looks like to me".    hmmmm   I don't think they did it on purpose either.   I think the rad is old and they were not very careful.   Regardless, we will have to get a new rad as soon as we can find one.  I am sure that will be sometime after the Thanksgiving weekend.

We took the rad back to Carrollton and they put her all back together.   This time they didn't put any pressure on it.   They said they didn't pressure test it, they put a vacuum on it, but that would essentially do the same thing if they put too much negative pressure on it.   The rad still had a small leak, but we had a bottle of radiator stop leak from Gerry which seems to have clogged it right up.

It was almost 5:00 p.m. by the time we got Myrtle back.  So we pulled into the campground down the street.   It was a lovely night knowing we would be all set to leave first thing in the morning.

First thing turned out to be 8:15 a.m.    Gerry saw a deer walk right past Myrtle this morning.

 We were trepidatious as we left the campground.  Were we actually on our way?    

  We didn't think we would really be out of there until we actually saw Carrollton in our rearview mirrors.     We did it!   The Twilight Zone is behind us.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Broken Down in Carrollton

We pulled into Carrollton, Kentucky on Friday night planning to spend the night and head out first thing Saturday morning.   Here it is Tuesday, and we are planning to head out some time before noon on Wednesday morning.   Will it happen?   I sure hope so.

I made the call to CAA at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, they said it would take 45 minutes to an hour and they would call me when 

they were on their way. At 8:30, they called and said it would be 45 minutes to an hour. Then they called at 9:15 and said their truck 

broke down, they should be another 20 minutes to half an hour.  It doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence when the tow truck 

breaks down!

He did finally show up, and it only took him half an hour to figure out how to use his toy in such a way that it could tow our toy. 

We finally got Myrtle to the mechanics. They open at 9:00 a.m., admittedly we were an hour late getting Myrtle there, but...they 

closed up at 10:30 to go out for lunch???? lmao. I asked them where a good place to go for breakfast was. They must really like the 

place because 5 minutes after we ot there everyone from Gene & Son's showed up too.    We asked them what they would 

recommend for us to do to kill some time. They suggested walk around Walmart.

Eventually we headed back to the mechanics to see how things were coming along.   Myrtle needs a new water pump and it was on 

its way.    It was to be delivered by 2:00 p.m.     

Coincidentally,  Gene had to close up shop to take his wife  for her doctors appointment by 2:00 p.m., but the parts won't be here 

until 2:00 we will know by 4:00 p.m., BUT...if we are looking for something to do besides go to Walmart, there is a little 

town called Madison over the Indiana border about 12 miles up  we might find a nice restaurant there.      

We headed to Madison.   We didn't find any interesting looking restaurants, but we were very impressed with this floating dock.    The water in the Ohio river floods so often that the docks have 50 foot high poles holding them in place horizontally so they can rise and fall as much as is necessary.

Downtown  Madison.

The bridge crossing from Kentucky to Indiana was bizarre to say the least.  It looks like they started to build the bridge, then realized it didn't line up with the roads!  lol   We headed back to Carrollton to find out if Myrtle was ready.   She was not.   Apparently, they couldn't get a couple of bolts out.   There are two long bolts that hold the water pump on that run through the timing chain plate and into the block. They were going to try to get the bolts out, but if they broke them they would need to get us a new timing chain plate.  We said to go ahead and do it, and if they had to to just order one.   Then we rented a room at the Super 8.

Barge in the Ohio River.

A lady at the restaurant we had breakfast in told us there was a plaque in City Hall that shows how high the flood of 1936 went.   This plaque was about shoulder high.    City Hall is about 300 yards from the river and perhaps 50 feet higher.  

Here, I am standing at waters edge behind the restaurant we ate at.   2 weeks ago, the water was so high it came up to their porch.   I circled the steeple on City Hall,  you can just barely see it over the top of the white building on the right.

This restaurant kind of scared us....tarps over the roof and frogs legs and gator on the menu.   We didn't venture in.

By 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning we decided we best get over to the mechanics, just in case they were waiting for us to continue on.   It had to be almost done !!!   Nope.    They had broken a bolt and were going to have to break the timing belt plate.   Ok, so do it.   Well, they have the part in Cincinnati, but it likely wouldn't be delivered until late today or early tomorrow, but if we went to pick it up, then they could probably get it done today.    Off we went to Cincinnati to this warehouse, and picked up our part.  1 hour each way.

We passed this vehicle on the way, and felt very lucky that Myrtle was not in this much trouble.

By the time we got back, the fire was out and the car was on the tow truck.   We had hoped that Gene's would have been as productive with Myrtle.   Nope.   When we got back, nothing had been done and the son who was working on her must have been gone for lunch.  sigh.   We left the part with Gene, went for lunch, then headed back to check on the progress.

He had the timing chain plate out!  YAY.    

He didn't however have anything put back into Myrtle and didn't think he would be done by the end of the day.   He said "I know youse are getting frustrated, but these old trucks are real hard for a fat boy like me to work on".      We headed back to Super 8 and rented another room.  

We told him we would be back at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, and he thought it possible that he might be at least almost done by then.

If you ever are driving down Hwy 71 from Cincinnati Ohio, and find yourself needing to pull over for the night, do not decide to drive for another hour before stopping.   Once you pull into Carrollton, Kentucky you get stuck.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Carrollton, Kentucky

The good news is we found a mechanic to take a look at Myrtle.  The bad news, is he can't look at her until Monday.   I do have RV CAA, which is a sister to AAA.   I should be able to have her towed without a problem; however, it really is better to stay in the Walmart parking lot for two more nights than it would be to sit in the mechanics parking lot for the weekend.    Here we sit.   I will call first thing Monday morning.

We are guessing it is the water pump, and coincidentally it appears something is going on with the fuel injection or fuel pump at the same time, or perhaps just crap in the fuel.

So, what to do in Carrollton, Kentucky?   The answer is not much.

Apparently the only tourist attraction in this town is the Butler-Turpin State Historic House located in the Butler State Park.    It was unimpressive from the outside, and there didn't appear to be any tours going on this late in the season, so we didn't get to go inside.

We were treated with the sight of a magnificent buck.   Unfortunately, I had the wrong lens on my camera so you have to look at the above two pictures very closely.

Kentucky is a beautiful state, but it is getting too late in the year for the autumn colours and too early for the snow covered winter scenes.    


Once we had seen everything there is to see in Carrollton, we came back to Myrtle and set up the satellite dish.    We are all nice and snuggled inside watching the temperature plummet outside.   It is going to get down to -4 Celcius here tonight.      

Friday, November 22, 2013

Winter 2013, The Adventure Begins

We finally started our journey this morning.   We left home the first time at 7:50 a.m, got half way to the border and realized that neither one of us turned down the furnace.    At least we didn't get far before we had to turn around and go home.

    I made up a check list yesterday for the folks who will be hanging out at our house while we are away. and hung it on the inside of the front door.   I even penciled in a couple of things I forgot about.   Obviously, neither one of us read it this morning.

I checked the check list on the way out the second time.  :)

It was an uneventful drive all the way to Kentucky.    Gerry had a headache all day, and we pulled over at a Walmart in Carrollton Kentucky just in time for Gerry to get an all out migraine.

We went into Walmart to get some milk for cereal in the morning and when I came back Gerry noticed water was pouring out of the engine.   It's not coming out of the radiator, it is actually coming out somewhere in the depths of the engine.  Myrtle won't start either and it is way too dark to try to figure it out right now.       Oh well, in the immortal words of Scarlet O'Hara  Tomorrow is another day! . 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Gerry and I have had to postpone our trip for a while.   We aren't sure when we will be leaving home.   A family member is not well and we do not want to be far from home for now.

It snowed here yesterday!!  Not very much, but it is staying on the ground in our neighbourhood.   Just two kilometers away it is all melted.   We are worried about Myrtle's pipes freezing, but are hoping by keeping the furnace on very low everything should be fine.    She isn't winterized and we are taking a chance, but the long range forecast doesn't show anything below -3 at night and generally above 0 during the days.

We'll keep you posted, but I don't expect to be leaving for at least a week and perhaps a few weeks.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Time to Start Planning

We have decided to leave on November 11th.   That gives us 2 weeks to get ready.     We have figured out our basic route that gets us to the  Acapulco region for Gerry to spend the Christmas season while I fly back home.

It's cold out, and Gerry is already suffering, so we are going to try to get to the warm weather as quickly as possible.   We will stop at Flying J's, Pilot's and other free parking lots until we get to the Millwood Landing Golf and RV Resort  in Arkansas near the Texas Border.    That is 1225 miles from home.    We hope to get there in just a few days, but it all depends on how much driving we can tolerate in any given day.     We are going to push it, and expect to need a few days rest once we get there.    We have chosen this place simply because it is an ROD (Resorts of Distinction ) on the shortest route (according to Streets and Trips) between home and the Laredo border, where we plan to cross into Mexico.     We have an ROD membership, so our stays in any of their campgrounds is prepaid.   We may as well use them!!!

From there it is just over 600 miles to Laredo.    We will head straight down the middle of Mexico for another 1,000 miles, keeping a heading semi focused on Acapulco.     We haven't planned our stops along the way yet, but I am sure we will add several hundred miles to both our odometers before we get to the coast.

I have to be home before December 23rd for my oncologist appointment, just on time to add good news to the Christmas season.    That will be 7 years a survivor of leukemia for me, and rolling up on 10 years a survivor of breast cancer.   I have been in a drug induced remission from CML for almost 6 years, with only a couple of blips along the way, and I have no reason to think the results of my next quarterly test will be any different.   :)  

Gerry will stay somewhere near Acapulco, which seems to be the most logical place for me to fly out from.    He will probably have about a 3 week vacation from me (or is that me from him???) before I fly back close to mid-January.    Once I get back to Mexico.....where to go before heading home for March/April?

Do we head southeast to see some areas of Chiapas we missed last year, along with some amazing ruins along the Guatamala border?   From there, perhaps a vacation on the Mayan Riviera to visit friends or maybe meet up with relatives?  It's only 500 miles from Bonampak.  

 Or do we head up the fabulous West Coast and revisit Colola and Sayulita, two of our favourite places we visited our first year?      In case you missed our stumble upon the turtle sanctuary, here is the link to our blog that year.    We vowed we would go back when we had time to spend a week or two or three.

Albert has a new alternator and water pump just for the trip.  Myrtle needed some welding and tightening up of all those parts that got knocked loose from the crazy roads we took down the east coast last year.   Otherwise, all she needed were the usual new plugs, wires, filters and a oil change to be ready for the next trip.    We do wonder how many more years she has left in her.    Being a 1988 she is no spring chicken.

We found a Smart Dealership near home that seems to be able to get parts overnight, so if we have any problems with Albert this year we will immediately look toward home instead of trying to find a Smart Dealer wherever we are.   Then have someone from home ship it to us.   Last year, in November we needed a part for his door.   We waited in Texas for 10 days before we gave up on getting the part from Germany in any decent amount of time.   We ordered the part once we got to Cancun in early December.    It was February 8th when we finally got the part installed.    Wow.   We have no intentions of staying put so long this year.     The reason we have such a challenge getting parts, is Albert is a diesel.   They only made them in 2005 & 6, and they did not sell them in the U.S. or Mexico.

Ready or not......we are leaving on November 11th.    I miss home already and I haven't even left....but boy oh boy, I am starting to get jazzed.            

Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Orleans

We met my sister Bernita  in New Orleans for a vacation on the way home.   What a blast!   We spent six days, and got a lot of touristy things in.    I am going to do a separate blog for the Air Boat Swamp tour, because I have so many awesome pictures I just haven't chosen which ones to use.    My sister Bernita went through all our pictures and picked out the 53 I am posting here.  :).  So hard to choose!

I uploaded all these pictures a month or more ago, and have been trying to get Bernita to do all the commenting.    So much time has passed and neither one of us has found the time to do it yet, so I figured better to post the pictures without commentary than not post it at all.    We had a blast, and I highly recommend a visit to New Orleans, but  be careful, I couldn't stay any longer or the drinking would kill me!   Hope you like the photos.

Yes...those are bones....human remains can be seen when you peer into broken graves. 

They pack em in!   The music was phenomenal!