As (I think) I mentioned before, the She-Beast’s first trip included quite an epic fail.
Read on for the story about the maiden voyage. In short, here’s what happened:
- We got stuck for 17 hours only ONE HOUR outside of LA on the side of a very busy portion of I-5 with huge semi trucks passing us and blowing us around all evening
- It was a pretty simple repair
- AAA was of absolutely no help – they were in fact quite incompetent and wasted a ton of our time
- My bank accounts got frozen
- The RV got stuck on the tow truck
- And more!
As you know, I quit my job and let my apartment go, moving into the RV full time. Downsizing to fit everything into an RV was a heck of a task. I cut my things in half, then cut them in half again, and then again, and again… and I think I’ll need to do it one more time to be all set.
The week before my lease was up was spent moving things into the RV and painting the bedroom, that way I’d have at least one somewhat clean, comfortable, and updated room to keep things in while renovating the rest of the rig.
My first plan was to head up to my parents’ place outside of Seattle, WA to spend the summer. This would allow me to have some sort of home “base” with electricity and space to work so I can finish prettying up the RV.
I convinced my older brother (who also lives in LA) to ride with me as long as I bought his plane ticket back. Our goal was to leave early mor
ning on the Friday before the 4th of July (Monday) and get there with plenty of time to hang out with family and enjoy fireworks. We were aiming for a Saturday night arrival. Let me just say… that didn’t happen.
We broke down just after the grapevine, which was pretty stressful to drive through. As we were literally coming down the hill off the grapevine into Bakersfield, I heard a loud pop and suddenly COULD NOT STEER! We were in the left lane on I-5 North and I had to quickly get to the side of the road without crashing or running into anybody. It was terrifying. When we stopped, I was shaking and my heart was pounding. I was super grateful that we were okay.
When I got out of the RV, there was green liquid spewing out from underneath the engine (which I later learned was coolant) and a strange round metal thing barely teetering on the edge of a small rubber platform underneath the engine.
Luckily (or so I thought, haaaahahahaha…) I had added the RV upgrade to my AAA coverage, thinking we’d have no problem to get towed somewhere and get all fixed up. NOPE!
AAA has a 7 day waiting period after you add the coverage (why?!) and I had added it right before leaving. But, they told us they could at least try to connect us with a towing company who could tow us – the only catch is we’d have to cover the charge.
Well guess what? AAA is so incompetent that they connected us to three separate towing companies who could NOT tow us. In fact, the first person they sent was on their way and called to confirm that we needed a battery jump. Um, NO. We need a lot more than a battery jump! So I had to call AAA back and go through that process twice more only to get turned down twice more by companies who couldn’t tow us.
Finally, we were connected with the amazing Dave’s Fleet Towing & Maintenance. Originally, we were going to request a tow.. But then I thought hey, they have “maintenance” in the name. Can they just send a mechanic and fix us up?! It was going to be $105/hour, but they were able to do it!
Unfortunately, I forgot their name after getting off the phone and didn’t have their direct number since I was connected directly through AAA. We were told it would be about half an hour til the mechanic got there. An hour later, I called AAA to find out where the company was and if we could contact them. But AAA couldn’t even figure out who they had connected us to. -_- -_- -_- It took probably 20 more minutes of us going through company names to find one that rang the bell – and thank god, it was the right one.
While waiting, we had the police stop to make sure we were okay, tell us there was a 4 hour limit for being on the side of the freeway (as if we could help it, ha), and warn us to be careful, that there were rattlesnakes in the grass where we were. COOL. COOL. I was reaaaallly loving life at that point. 😉
The mechanic didn’t arrive until around 10 pm (we had broken down at around 7pm.) He was quite the character, asking where my boyfriend/husband were (my brother had taken an Uber into Bakersfield for food, claiming I was starving him to death, lol) and told me great stories about his times as a roadie on the Sunset Strip. When trying to figure out what the issue was, he looked at me and goes… You know how much I cost, right?! And I replied, yes, I don’t have any other option right now! You better hurry up! 😛
He was able to pretty quickly identify that the smog pump had seized (SO glad I already got my smog check done and approved :P) and broken the belt. There’s no way we could fix the smog pump quickly in the middle of a weekend night on the 4th of July weekend, so we decided to bypass the smog pump using a smaller belt. The only problem was no shops were open.
Our amazing mechanic had his coworker come tow us to a truck stop nearby that he knew of (this was not easy on my wallet, let me tell you. And in the midst of all this… Chase bank froze all of my cards. ) He promised to meet us back there the next day to measure the belt size we’d need and install it. The tow truck showed up at about midnight.
When we finally got to the truck stop, the RV was stuck on the tow truck. No, I shit you not. After breaking down an HOUR outside of LA, being unable to even FIND a tow, let alone being covered by AAA, waiting for hours for a mechanic, having my bank accounts frozen, and finally getting off the freeway and away from the semis that seemed like they were going to kill us.. the RV got stuck. on. the. tow truck.
The tow truck driver had to run around and find grease in the middle of the night to loosen some part that wouldn’t come off so that we could be done with the night. That took another hour.
Finally at about 1:30 am we were able to get back on the RV. We were covered in dirt from walking around in the dirt parking lot. We were dying of heat, exhausted, and disgustingly dirty, but tried to get some rest anyways.
My brother was SO delirious that he ended up grabbing my butt in the middle of the night, thinking I was someone else. When I was like “Mark, that’s my butt!” he goes “I know! It’s a good butt!” – I thought “WHAT.. THE… EFF…” and froze for a second, when he realized that I’m his SISTER and took a giant leap out of bed and yelled “OH MY GOD!!!” hahaha. It was hilarious but pretty gross. He slept on the dinette after that. 😛
In the morning, I woke up to call Robert (our mechanic) when he said to, but he was already outside!! Can you believe that? He was like a scruffy RV angel sent to save us. I LOVE LOVE LOVE when people are dependable and do what they say they’re going to do.
After a few more hours, mostly spent waiting forthe part to be delivered, we were back on the road. Robert had fixed us up with the new belt, and we were off to the bank so I could unfreeze my cards.
I can’t thank Robert and Dave’s Fleet Maintenance towing enough for being reliable when AAA was useless. Not only did he identify the problem quickly, show up promptly the next morning, and fix it perfectly, but he made sure we got towed to a safe location when nobody else could handle the size of the RV. I wouldn’t have had any idea where to ask to be taken and am so grateful he knew of a truck stop nearby.
After that, it was smooth sailing the entire way up to Seattle! We stayed overnight the next night near Ashland/Mt. Shasta and woke up to beautiful views. We ended up arriving at my parents’ on Sunday evening, to looks of disgust and gags at how smelly and dirty we were. It was pretty funny all in all, and I’m amazing that one little belt can cause so much trouble, but also be fixed so easily.
I hope you enjoyed this long winded story. 🙂 Even with the breakdown, the trip was totally worth it and I don’t regret a thing. Life is just one big adventure, after all!