Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Publication Date: 08/1/2011
Archive >  August 2011 Issue >  Tech-Op-Ed > 

Coming Off the Road
Walter Salm, Editor
It was bound to happen. We knew at some point we would stop our endless travels in our RV and put down some new roots. But this trip was different: it was to be our last one. Driving cross-country in our monstor of a motor home, gulping costly Diesel fuel at the rate of 8 miles per gallon, we were treated to a new kind of special torture. It was called "never-ending repairs", and I suppose it was to be expected, now that the big coach is nearing the ripe-old age of 8 years. One side-note: the cheapest Diesel fuel that we found in our cross-country trek was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Every so often, I think about one of our readers and authors who always tells me that I'm his "hero" because he wants so much to do exactly what I have been doing for nearly 8 years. I hope he reads this and understands that even such a wonderful dream as living full-time in an RV can have a serious downside.

Our first stop was in Choudrant, Louisiana, in the northern part of that colorful state, an area that I had never before visited. This was a long-planned stop to have the big slide-out motor replaced by a more up-to-date system. They fixed a bunch of other, small things for me and sent us on our way, very happy. That is until the overheating engine came back to plague us. And a plague it was, all the way across the continent. Keeping a worried eye on the temperature gauge became my "hobby" for more than 3,000 miles. In Odessa, Texas, we spent the afternoon at a Diesel repair shop while they drained, flushed and refilled the radiator and pressure-washed accumulated road grime off the radiator fins.

The engine didn't overheat again until we climbed that long upgrade on I-10, just west of Palm Springs, California. Sitting on the Interstate's shoulder for an hour waiting for the engine to cool down can be a little annoying and unnerving. This was finally fixed by changing out the Caterpillar engine's two thermostats — something suggested (but not very strongly) in the Caterpillar user's manual, which I finally got around to reading. We did this in Fontana, Calif., where we sat at a service facility for 3 weeks while a refrigerator specialist tried to help us.

During our trans-continental trek, our refrigerator began to fail. At first I attributed this to the very hot weather we were having — typically 104 to 110°F (40 to 43°C) every day, wherever we were. We finally stopped in Ehrenberg, Arizona, right on the Colorado River, for a 3-week stay so I could finish the July issue of U.S. Tech. It was a beautiful, picturesque location, and the temperature hit 105 to 110 every day that we were there. Some days even 115 (46°C). Good thing our air conditioning was working.

In addition to all of the repair woes, this trip had another special kind of significance for us: because it was to be our last cross-country jaunt in the RV, we had wanted it to be something special and it was, but not in the way we had hoped. We were preparing to drop anchor and give up the RV life style in favor of a non-moving residence, in Chico, California, where we will be physically close to most of our children and grandchildren. It's not an ideal climate; it gets pretty hot in the Summer ("dry" heat) and pretty wet and chilly in the winter, but there's no snow to shovel, and precious few leaves to rake up. Chico is best described by native Californians as a "nice" town. And it is. Our new place is a real fixer-upper. We have to repair a leaky roof and do some major renovations before moving in (already well under way) but our physical address will be the same next week, next month, and probably next year.

One of the more interesting technological areas we will have to deal with are those inevitable contracts with Verizon Wireless and DirecTV. Do we keep the contracts or buy out of them, or simply let them run their course and then make needed changes? Is a good fiber optic system available in our new neighborhood? Don't know these answers yet; we're still dealing with getting new carpeting and flooring, fixing rot in the old under floor, painting and painting and painting, getting new furniture moved in, and totally changing our lifestyle. There are two common denominators to all of this: it all costs money (lots of money), and I'm still struggling with deadlines for U.S. Tech. On the bright side, we have to look at how much we're helping the local economy! They must already love us in Chico. I know our grandchildren do.  

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