Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Missed It By THAT MUCH...

Okay. All of you Get Smart fans will truly "get" that title! If you are too young for that, go check out Nik at Night...It's a really fun show! When we left the last blog, the repairs to our new home were complete and we hitched up to Tom's truck and were ready to take off. Tom has a Dodge Ram 3/4 ton pickup with tow package and heavy suspension, a cummins diesel engine--and 220,000 miles. He is the best driver that I know and I wouldn't want anyone else to drive my 5th wheel if I have a choice. So, off we went. We parked at the rest area on the state line of IL and IN just on the Indiana border. It is a really nice rest area and even has designated RV parking! I figured we would be parked between the semi trucks, which is just fine for the night, but this was great! Tom parked in the first RV space and I parked in the "car" space right next to it. This gave us the opportunity to try out the onboard pump--which worked great! We didn't put out the slides, we just hit the couch and bed--Tom got the couch with Tank to keep him company and I hit the bed with the flat screen TV and two pugs to keep me company. Next morning, we were up early and heading on down the road. Everything was going well. We stopped often to let the engines cool and let the dogs "walk". Somewhere around noonish, we started hitting the mountains--those would be the Appilachians of which the Poconos are a part. When we made it over Snowshoe Mountain, it was a fine day! We knew the worst was behind us and all was well. Tom's truck was trucking right along, the camper was following it (which is GOOD!) and I was following both in my Durango. We stopped at the Wal-Mart at Bloomsburg, PA along I-80 with only a couple of hours of driving the next day. We would be at Black Bear Campground in Florida, NY by noonish. This is good because it does take quite a while to level, set the 5th wheel up and unpack all of the stuff that was stowed for the trip. Getting there with as much daylight as possible was great! We parked in the Wal-Mart lot and I proceeded to let the dogs out. Apparently, Tank really wanted to "go" because he came over the back of the front seat like he had wings. The pugs were sitting on all of the bed pillows which I had stacked in the passenger seat so that they could look out of the window and be comfortable. Well, when Tank came flying over and out, the pillows came out too. Frank jumped for his life and landed fine. Tango (our black pug) didn't fare as well. He landed in a heap of pillows and pug with a yelp. Now, Tango NEVER yelps! He lived the first 5 years of his life in a puppy mill as a stud and vocalizing didn't help. We were so happy to get him and he had lived with us for about 2 years. You never saw Jim without his little shadow. If Tango could, he would be touching Jim--even when Jim was walking. So, I knew Tango was hurt. He got up and couldn't put weight on his front paw. I thought "Oh great! I just broke Jim's baby's leg! I am dead meat!" Tom took Tank (the two of them were really bonding!) and I carried Tango over to potty along with Frank. Now, a male dog on only 3 legs trying to mark territory is just, well, funny--if he wasn't hurt! I checked him over and no big bones seemed to be broken and he could pull away from me, so his joints were okay. I decided to see how he slept for the night and see if it was just a sprain. Tom and I headed into Wal-Mart to get a couple of things and then hit the hay like the night before. By this time Tank didn't even come up to the bedroom--he just went straight to the couch with Tom. We woke up the next morning between a semi and the biggest horse trailer I think I have ever seen--that wasn't a semi. Tango still didn't care to use his leg when he went out in the morning. I was still hopeful though. So, we headed off to the east with the big mountains behind us. Or so we thought... Turned out that when we got to Hwy 84 and headed east we were certainly NOT out of the mountains! All was going well. We were getting close. There was a light rain which was keeping all of the tires nice and cool. And then we met Pocono Mountain! Oye! It was 4 miles straight up! Tom's truck was only able to pull the camper doing 20-25 mph! We got to the top. All was well. We started down the other side. Then... Boom! A puff of bluish smoke! I called Tom and said that there was a big cloud of smoke coming out. He pulled to the shoulder of the road. It was leaking something black all over the ground. No, not oil--transmission fluid! Now, we all know that transmission fluid should be cherry red. Black is NOT good! I looked at the exit and it said "Middletown". Halleluhia! Middletown was only about 18 miles from the campground! I knew there was a Wal-Mart in Middletown. We drove in and got a bunch of transmission fluid and some of that really thick stuff that is supposed to stop a leak. Got back to the truck and Tom dumped it in. It seemed okay. Not leaking too badly. Tom started the truck and began to pull off of the highway to the exit. By the time he got to the exit, the truck was leaking again. He pulled off onto the shoulder of the exit. Transmission fluid was leaking out like it was a hose attached to a faucet. We went to a major store in town that has tires and all. Tom asked the guy if he knew of a transmission shop. The guy directed him to AAMCO. As Tom was leaving, another guy asked if Tom wanted AAMCO or a GOOD shop. Well, let's see... So, we headed to Duro Transmission on Rt 211 in Middletown and talked to James who owns the shop. It is a one man shop and James seemed to know what he was about. He actually builds the transmissions himself. This is something that you just don't find! You could tell he really takes pride in his work. So, Tom arranged for James to tow the truck to his shop and I started calling around to find someone to pull the camper on to the campground. Boy! Was it a good thing we had plenty of daylight! I called a guy who gave me the name of a guy who had a guy named Martine (pronounced Martini--like the drink--he told me) call me. Martine sounded like "The Godfather" on the phone. He was really nice and gave me another name. What in the world was going on???? NO one had a truck to pull a 40 ft camper??? Really??? So, I called the number that Martine gave me. This was Hockenberry's. I was really tired, wet from the rain, and feeling just a bit cranky by this time, but trying not to let my frustration show as I went through all of the calls. After all, all of these guys were really trying to help us--they just couldn't help us themselves. They certainly didn't HAVE to network on my behalf, but they were going out of their way to help a stranded stranger. I might take this opportunity to say--there really ARE great people everywhere! So, I asked Hockenberry if he could pull the camper--expecting him to say he couldn't and to give me yet another name to call. But, much to my extreme surprise, he said, "Sure. No problem. We can get you there! Be right over." He was so chipper and friendly that I just wanted to whoop and holler! I had a ride! In a while. He was over the Greenville Mountain in the tri-state area and it would take a while to get to us. I had no idea where Greenville Mountain and the tri-state area were, but hey! He was happy to come and I was ecstatic to have him on the way! We headed over to Duro Transmission and got Tom's clothes and tools out of his poor truck. The transmission would take about 10 days. Then, we headed back to the camper. The guy arrived in a huge wrecker. Not those wreckers that we see all of the time--this is a wrecker like you see on Wrecked on SPEED TV! Kind of like this one... Yep--That should do the job! Well, turns out it was Charles Hockenberry, who owns the company. He told us that everyone was busy because of the rain and the mountains and people were wrecking, so all of the wreckers were out. He is about my age and has several trucks. His sons and daughter work for him as well. He just happened to have just finished a job and was ready to hop in and help us! Nicest guy you would ever want to meet! He was nice and told us about the area as he attached the hitch to the back of the truck and then hooked us up. Then, of course, our light connection was not the same as his, so he put his portable lights on the camper and ran the wires to his truck. He asked where we were going and we told him. He looked at our written directions and asked if it was by Suresky's. Not a clue! Don't even know what a Suresky is (turns out it is a large Chrysler car dealership in this area) but he seemed to know where he was going. We followed him up and around the hills and ridges and twisting roads. Not hard to follow him--He had what seemed like a million amber spotlights on top of the truck--all flashing! We got to Florida, NY and went down the center of town following the flashing lights with my camper attached. People definitely knew we had arrived! :-D Once you get to Florida, there are signs all through town pointing to "Campground". You will NOT get lost! We pulled into the campground (I had called ahead to let them know that we had vehicle trouble and would be later than we planned, but were on the way). I was headed into the office when the guy came out. He definitely knew we had arrived! It was quite a site that greeted him--huge wrecker pulling huge camper followed by bright red Durango. What a convoy! I had my wallet out, but he just waved us on, gave us directions to the pull through sites and said to take care of the camper and then head back down tomorrow to take care of the site cost. He looked a little shaken actually. So, off went our little caravan--up the hill. I looked at the 5th wheel in the pull through closest to the road. The front was so far off the ground that the guy could park his giant pickup under the gooseneck! Really? Uh, no! We got out--as did the drive of the wrecker. We asked if he could give us a minute to look at the spaces to find one that was a little more level. Sure! He jumped out and helped us find a good spot. He seemed like he was actually enjoying this looking around, picking out the perfect spot. He found a great one! Then, he pulls out his cell and calls the office to ask if we can use this back in spot instead of a pull-through. Nope. This spot didn't have water and electric, but the one next to it did. Can you believe the tow truck driver actually used HIS cell to call the office for US???? I mean, this guy takes customer service to a new level! He backed the camper in and then with the winch? (Hydraulic lift thingy that picks up a car) on the back of his truck, lifted the camper until it was level to make the process much easier because it was beginning to get darker outside. It was sure a snap to level the camper with the help of him and his truck! He gave me the bill--I gave him a LOT of bills--and we were ready to begin the rest of the setting up process. What a day! But, we were here and ready to set up our home in it's new location. Jim would be up the next day after work. All was well--well kind of--Tom still didn't have his truck. But he did have a new buddy! Uh, and an unhappy Missouri... Who is gonna KILL me if she ever sees this picture! ;-D


  1. Sounds like you had quite an adventure! You are really brave to post a picture of your sister-in-law....... my sister was here and warned me to NEVER post a picture and I am scared!!

  2. Yvonne...I just kept thinking what a brave woman you are! So independent and smart!!! You are my hero, and I miss you!

  3. Kathy--That's so funny! (she says shaking as she thinks about Nina finding out about that picture!) LOL

    Diane--Thanks! I miss you too! Talk about BRAVE--YOU are the one that heads to countries where you have to stay in places with armed guards! Jason needs to take a speaking engagement up here so that we can all see each other! :)

  4. See what you can do about that, Yvonne! You get him a gig, and we'll be there! Always wanted to go to NY!! :)