11 July 2008

Mt. Rushmore to Chicago...Mechanical Problems

We pulled out of the campsite at Mt. Rushmore just before 10AM on Tuesday, destination the famous Wall Drug in Wall, SD. As soon as we hit the “Mass Pike” (I-90 east) the billboards for Wall Drug appeared. The store became famous in the late 1930’s after the owner and his wife decided to offer tired travelers free ice water on their way to Yellowstone National Park. People stopped in and usually bought something in addition to the free water. Today, the store has several cafeterias, an outdoor playland for the kids, and sells almost everything, including prescription and non-prescription medications. We spent about 1 ½ hours browsing and had a very good meal there for lunch. I also picked up a biography of Teddy Roosevelt by David McCullogh, a very talented historian.

The drive from Wall to Kennebec was uneventful and boring for the most part. We stopped for the evening around 4pm in a nice little campground just off the interstate. We set out the next morning for Albert Lea, MN around 9:30AM. Our first stop was for gas in Mitchell, SD. We also visited Cabela’s and drove through town to take a picture of the world famous Corn Palace. Every year the town comes up with a theme and decorates the outside of the building with corn kernels and husks. It takes about three months to take down the old murals and put up the new ones at a cost of about $100,000.

After Mitchell, we continued on to Jackson, MN where we (almost) decided to stop for the evening. We pulled in to the KOA there and hooked up, cooked dinner, took Grace to the play ground, then decided to keep going to Albert Lea, about 85 miles down the road. We arrived for the evening about 8:30pm.
The next morning, Thursday, is when things started to go south. First off, the car we have been towing, a 2008 Ford Edge, had a dead battery and we didn’t have any jumper cables. Kate went over to the office to see if they had any when a fellow camper offered to jump start the vehicle for us. It started up and we ran it for 15 minutes or so to try and charge the battery. Then we hooked up and headed for Clarksville, IA, to connect with some of Kate’s friends from Amherst who now live in Iowa.

After a wonderful lunch and some good fellowship we hit the road for Dyersville, IA, home of the Field of Dreams Movie Site. The field has been preserved pretty much as it was in the film and is open to the public from April to November. We arrived at about 4:30pm and headed out to run the bases with Grace. After some looking around and a visit to the souvenir stand we went back to the RV to head for Illinois. Uh-Oh…we managed to park in such a way as to make it impossible to make the turn out of the parking lot. We thought we could make it but the roof of the souvenir store was just too wide and we couldn’t back up with the car hooked up. It took nearly an hour in a pouring thunderstorm to get the car unhooked because of the angle. Finally, I rolled the car to the edge of the parking lot and backed the RV up to reconnect. Soaking wet, we headed for Galena at 6:10pm.

More trouble…we made a wrong turn just short of the campground in Galena and ended up on a dead end street not wide enough to turn the rig around. Once again we unhooked in the rain, moved the car manually (battery still dead) and maneuvered the RV around to reconnect. Just as I went to plug in the car tow lights, sparks flew and some fuses were fried on the RV. We had no turn signals and no dashboard lights. We towed the car to the campground and figured we’d call Good Sam and AAA in the morning.

Friday morning we called AAA…the mechanic arrived about 8:45am and jump started the car. He told me to drive it for a good hour or so at highway speed so I buckled Grace in the back and headed for Wisconsin. Kate remained with the RV to wait for the Good Sam tech. He arrived around 10am and checked all the fuses he could find…everything was fine. Still no turn signals and no dashboard lights. He left about 10:45am and didn’t charge us since he didn’t do anything. I returned around 11am and hooked up the car and we decided to go towards Chicago and maybe find an RV dealer there who could solve our problem. As we started out I realized that not only were the turn signals not blinking, I didn’t have a speedometer or odometer. Thankfully, our GPS has those functions and so we used it to monitor our speed as we looked for dealers. We found one in Rockford, IL who sent us to a repair shop a few miles away. After about an hour of checking fuses and searching the owner came out and said sometimes there is a fuse box INSIDE the instrument panel. Sure enough, there was a single button snap holding the instrument console down and when the snap was undone the entire panel lifted up and there was the fuse box we had been searching for. There was one blown fuse and the turn signal flasher was shot. The tech replaced those in about five minutes and everything was working fine. The bill came to $11 for parts, $111 for labor. Nevertheless, we were very thankful they could fix the problem quickly. We left about 4:30 and arrived at our campsite for the weekend around 5:30, relieved to finally be in the greater Chicago area. We’ll be here for three nights.

1 comment:

Carlo said...

Well, I was joking about the curse thing, but now I'm starting to wonder...