Friday, August 9, 2013

Coleman Lake Part 2

This is the sickening sight that greets me on Tuesday morning, our last day at Coleman Lake.



Suddenly the lack of cell service becomes more than an annoyance.

Joann immediately pitches in to work the problem.  Turns out, she's great in a pickle.  Soon our neighbor, Frank, camping with his wife in a nearby site, joins in.  We soon discover the problem – a great big metal screw.  It's really jammed in there.  



I have some of that fix-a-flat stuff in a can but Joann is concerned that I would have to get a new tire ($$$$) if I use it. 

Plan B: remove the screw, patch it with Frank’s kit, borrow an air compressor, and inflate.  This would allow me to get to Heflin – 15 miles or so out of the forest.  Good plan but it's a no-go.  The screw will not budge, Frank doesn't have the kit with him after all, and the air compressor Joann borrows from a nearby work crew is ineffective. 

BTW, the nearby work crew are plumbers who promptly proceed to turn off all the campground water! Not knowing how long I'll be there, I have just enough time to fill my water tank before the water source is gone.   

Plan C: find some cell service and call for Progressive’s roadside assistance.  Frank drives me the miles out of the forest to obtain a signal.  The signal is poor and the call is dropped a few times.  Oy!  Finally I get word that a local service is on its way and will arrive at my campsite within the hour.

We drive back to the campground to wait.  We talk for a while as Joann hitches up Zelda, her cute little house-on-wheels. 

Joann, Frank, and Zelda

Then the thunder starts.  Followed by – what else? – rain, of course.  Frank goes back to his trailer as Joann and I scurry into the GDB to wait.  After an hour-and-a-half, I have a sinking feeling.  Joann, bless her, unhitches her truck and insists that I drive it to a cell signal in order to call the local repair place.  

I end up going all the way into Heflin to get gas for Joann’s near-empty tank.  I call the number Progressive gave me and the lady informs me that they can’t come after all (they don’t do ‘heavy-duty’ vehicles).  She tells me that Progressive has dispatched someone from Gadsden, at least 90 minutes away. 

While talking with her, Brian, the fellow from Gadsden, calls and needs to the campground.  Oy again!  Like most National Forest campgrounds it is tucked away down a series of  forest roads. 

I tell Brian I will meet him at the Texaco station in Heflin near the turn-off to the NF.  By now the rain has stopped, I'm feeling frustrated, and have a need to pace around outside.  I get out and a big work truck pulls in to the station – full of convicts!  I haven't seen so much orange since the last Tennessee football game.  

If I wasn't so hungry, wet, and irritated, I’m sure I would have laughed.  I try to walk around but the blatant staring soon gets to me so I get back in the truck.   All the while, I'm chanting my mantra: Itcouldbeworse.  Itcouldbeworse.  Itcouldbeworse.

Brian arrives sooner than expected and we drive to the campground.  It takes him about 10 minutes to get me roadworthy using the patch kit.

Go Brian!

The surgery is a success.



Brian is only able to inflate the tire to 40 PSI and the rear tires require 80 PSI.  So Joann follows me into town and makes sure that I got some assistance at a tire shop before she heads home, some 4 hours later than planned.

So much for our anticipated leisurely morning!  We were going to pack up at a slow pace, then drive into Anniston for some shopping at the RV dealer.  As it was, I don't arrive home till almost 6 PM.

Lesson learned.  I will think twice before staying anywhere out of cell phone range.  Last time I stayed at a campground without coverage, I arrived home to find that John had gotten a GI bug and was sick.  

It seems I have my share of mechanical glitches the past year but am cautiously optimistic that I am in for some trouble-free road trips in the future.    

Many thanks to Frank, Brian, and Progressive!  And especially to Joann for sticking it out with me!

Hey, it could be worse!







28 comments:

  1. Just a little bump along the way. The comic is priceless. :)

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    1. Just 'another' bump along the way. I'm ready for some smooth sailing.

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  2. Love the comic, especially since we just had septic tank work done! You are very lucky to have that kind of friendly help. I would have been terrible if you were alone.

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    1. Ain't it the truth? Fellow campers, in my experience, are the best. I don't recall ever having a conversation with my neighbor in a hotel.

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  3. Ouch,,,,do you have a spare tire? Its been a while but Ive had to change a few myself.

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    1. Good point - I do have a spare. Unfortunately, it's rather a last resort. It's encased in one of those continental tire kits and the whole outfit weighs 80 pounds. Yikes!

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  4. I love the comic. Hope it's okay to copy it and share it!

    Kim, get Good Sams Emergency Road Service. It's cheap and they are especially for RVs, but they also cover every vehicle you own wherever you are. Even at home!

    One time, coming home from Florida after heavy rains, we got the truck and Aliner bogged up in clay to the axles -- in our yard! I called them and they had someone out in 20 minutes to pull us out. They even parked the Aliner for me because I was too shaken to back it in.

    Another time Ron was in town and had a flat tire. They had someone out in 20 minutes to fix it. Also, Ron locked the keys in his truck one time and they had someone out in an hour.

    They are nationwide, and they sure beat AAA when you have an RV.

    The only downside is they will pester the heck out of you to join the Good Sams Club for $20 a year. It's still cheap insurance.

    We wouldn't leave home without it.

    Of course, you do need a cell connection to call them.

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    1. I'm very happy with the Progressive RV insurance. The roadside assistance is included in the policy. And our other cars are covered by USAA. The response time was only delayed by the local vendor - not Progressive's fault. Yeah - it was the lack of phone service that made it more of an ordeal than it otherwise would have been.

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  5. when I start my travel blog I might just name it . . . itcouldbeworse.com.

    Glad you're home safe.

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  6. I did a little research on the web. There are a couple things about Slime, and Fix-a-flat that the manufacturers don't tell you. 1) the stuff can totally ruin your valve and then you have a bigger headache than just a flat; 2) the water soluble stuff IS water and so it will interact with the part of the rim that it comes in contact with, often causing terrible corrosion. 3) Folks with tire pressure gauges that monitor air pressure--totally ruins the system. Apparently I was wrong about it being bad for the tire, but there's other stuff it can be bad for. I think it was worth it to keep at it (even though it jangled your nerves) and get real air and a tire repair, than to use the Slime. I have no idea what it would cost to get your remote monitoring system repaired or replaced, but I'm not guessing it would be cheap. So I was wrong in some ways and right in others. Now we know. ;)

    Sorry you had to worry about my low gas level in addition to everything else! It was no problem at all to unhitch. You saw how long and difficult it was to hitch it back up. Uttt.

    I think it was an affirmation in many ways of how much people tried to be helpful. There was no one involved that went, "It's your problem." Or, "Not my problem." Folks genuinely tried to help. So, see there are good people around, not just all those terrible crime reports on the tv.

    Just consider it a learning experience. In a total flat out emergency, I'd use the Slime to get out of a flat in Death Valley, or out of some awful precarious situation rather than getting run over or killed. But, in our situation, it was best to avoid it. You can save it for that REAL emergency.

    Deep breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth. That's what some of us do for anxiety. You are not the only one that has long dialogs in her head about "What should I do? Is this the right choice?" etc.

    Even though we are girls, we persevered and got things taken care of. Good shot of Brian. Very photogenic. ;)

    Smile GF, it was just one more thing to learn something new about. No blood or emergency vehicles were involved.

    Have a great one!

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    1. Thanks for the info. Good to know that Slime is a last resort. Oh yeah, just one more life lesson.

      And you are right about how all the crime coverage in the media can skew one's perspective. That's one reason I like to travel so much - it puts you in touch with the real world, not the TV one that is populated with nothing but dangerous people. I've had more than my share of mechanical issues in the past year and have run into nothing but helpful folks.

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  7. My motto is also itcouldbeworse. Glad it didn't go flat on the side of the road somewhere! We had a fifth wheel tire blow out and shred going down the interstate. Roadside services all use the local tow trucks where you call from. Doesn't matter what kind of roadside assistance insurance you have. Even Good Sam would have taken that long to get there -- they would've called the same people that your Progressive called. Sometimes there a tow truck nearby and sometimes not. But all the services will call the same local guys for assistance. It just depends on where you are as to how fast you get service.

    I have a 5-star response personal emergency device and it works on cell service so, aside from the fact that I need cell service to get internet to work, I can't be out of cell range or my emergency response service doesn't work either. I wonder how to find out if out-of-the-way places have cell service before you make arrangements to stay there?

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    1. I remember your post about the blow-out and the photo of your temporary office set up on the exit ramp. Joann gave me full warning about no cell service but you never think it's going to be an issue. In the future if I have no info, I'll call the NF ranger office or other contact number. Funny how 20 years ago, no one had a portable phone - now we can't do without them.

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    2. When we didn't have cell phones, there were pay phones around. I stopped at a state park that did not have cell service. I went into the campground office and asked if they had a pay phone, they said no. I asked if I could use their phone, they said no. What if there was an emergency? I am not comfortable if there is not a phone around. I had to drive 5 miles to get a signal to call my daughter and let her know I would be out of cell service overnight.

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  8. I really have fallen behind in blog reading. WOW!
    That was an adventure you didn't need and I always think about a flat. Screws and nails really don't care about out safety. Glad it all worked out.
    Really looks like a wonderful place to camp without the humidity.
    I love the little A-lite and would love to find one someday. But who knows with my new camper shell I may be just as comfy.

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    1. Jo,

      I know you are excited about your customized shell. Looking forward to seeing the photos. I don't believe the A-Lite is still in production. Joann spoke highly of the A-Liner Scout as well.

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  9. Many lessons to be learned here - the first, I think, is that it all turned out okay. People are wonderful and willing to help, and the only things lost are time and money. Don't worry, be happy. ;)

    Another lesson is that road service of some kind is well worth the money we pay for it. Hopefully I'll never use mine, but I'll happily pay for it year after year, just in case.

    I'm sure there are other lessons, but I'll finish with this one: I don't go anywhere that my phone doesn't work.

    When people tell me about beautiful campsites in the middle of nowhere and I ask about Verizon cell service, they tell me there is no service there, but it's worth it. When I tell them I'm a solo traveler and don't go anywhere I don't get phone and Internet connections, I often get snickers and harrumphs. But if I get a flat tire, fall down, get very sick, Katie is hurt, etc., I NEED my phone. And the Internet is my entertainment.

    If you DO call to ask about cell service, make sure you ask about YOUR cell service. Here at Bluewater I have excellent connections, but just learned that's because I have Verizon, which is the only one that works here.

    I'm glad it all turned out fine. You guys did good! :)

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    1. Good advice. Well, people can roll their eyes all they want. Until they are in your shoes, they need to keep their unsolicited opinions to themselves. If I had been alone (the usual case) and no one else was around (also not unusual), I would have had to rely on the first stranger that came along. Even though I truly believe people are good, it's still daunting. Especially for the female of the species!

      I admit, though, I am ready for a trip with no mechanical problems to solve.

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  10. Gee, what an adventure!! So glad you were not alone and things worked out!! In reading your post we have decided to go ahead and purchase some kind of road service. We had it when we full-timed but haven't gotten around to getting any this time. Going where you have no cell service is scary...no matter if you are solo or with your husband. We have AT&T and I regret leaving Verizon. When we can I think we will return!! Lots of lessons to ponder here!!

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    1. Good choice. I'm sure you know since you've had it before that even if you never use it the peace of mind is worth the price. It would have cost me a bundle out of pocket to have someone come out and repair the tire. Not to mention the frustration of trying to find someone on my own. Would have been much more of an ordeal.

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  11. Got to pass this on.... I sent your comic to my sisters. One of them captioned it, "The price of freedom."

    Thought that was hilarious... and apt! :)

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  12. Kim, I had been thinking about a continental kit for my spare tire, but after your comment about the weight, etc. I many continue to not think about it and just buy a vinyl cover for my spare on the back of the trailer, every few years. I can at least get it unlocked and down on the ground. The truck's spare - yes and no since it is underneath.

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  13. HAHAHA! Not your predicament - that sucked. It's just good that you stopped digging.

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  14. Carry a tire plug kit. If the hole isn't too big it can be repaired. First you pull the screw out then a large sewing needle looking tool with a gooey cord like material inserted in the eye gets shoved in the hole. You then cut off the excess so it isnt pulled out while driving. Air the tire up then go to a tire repair shop for a permanent repair or tire replacement. Its actually very easy and remember, after you buy it you won't need it.

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  15. Carry a tire plug kit. If the hole isn't too big it can be repaired. First you pull the screw out then a large sewing needle looking tool with a gooey cord like material inserted in the eye gets shoved in the hole. You then cut off the excess so it isnt pulled out while driving. Air the tire up then go to a tire repair shop for a permanent repair or tire replacement. Its actually very easy and remember, after you buy it you won't need it.

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  16. Thanks for prompting me, RJ. I just ordered the kit from Amazon.

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