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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Goodbyes and A Series of Unfortunate Events

~Saturday, July 18, 2020~

Day 34

Well, to sum up today was a mix of emotions. You’ll also know by the length of this post, that it was quite the interesting day. We had to say goodbye to Hannah, Devin, Easton and Carson, at least for a while.

The month we’ve been down here has been amazing, but a bit of a teaser, in that, we’ve really enjoyed making up the time we weren’t able to see them in the past year, with all of the prep of getting our home sold and preparing for this trip. And to compound things, I was so guilt ridden not to be able to be there for Carson’s birth, but that was something completely out of our control due to COVID. I did not handle our goodbyes well, as I couldn’t help but get teary when we left. Easton got a little teary too, just because he saw my emotion. He is a very sweet soul. I think my emotions got the better of me because I know how fast they will change and I don’t want to miss a thing. Can’t have it all though, and this trip really means a lot to us.

Kind of strange to know that we’re going from one extreme to the other….starting out just a few miles from the Mexican border, heading just south of the Washington State border, in just a few days. As we leave with all the confidence in the world about our next 8 hours of driving, we are presented with a brand new truck that would eventually poop out on us, just 3 hours into our drive. Of all places, the notorious Grapevine on Hwy, 5. I had just completed the steepest/longest part of the Grapevine where it levels out somewhat, when all of the sudden, the engine sputtered a bit, like it was losing power. I tried to give it more gas where it would rev up but no power. Right when this happened Jeff was working on our itinerary, so wasn’t really paying attention. But I knew something did not feel right. Luckily we were right near an exit, so I pulled off. It was one of those exits that had very little traffic and a good amount of room to wait for help. We called Ken (Jeff’s brother is a master mechanic for Ford), and he advised us to just let the truck rest for about 30 minutes, then try again. Jeff started up the truck then proceeded to the ramp for about 10 feet, then nothing. In fact, it started in 4th gear, then immediately went to 10th gear. Clearly, this was a transmission problem. Engine not overheating, and no fluids leaking under the truck. It just simply lost power. At this point we were blocking the ramp but luckily were on a slight incline to be able to coast backward a bit. It felt like 100 degrees out but what could be better to be stranded with an RV

and have access to a bathroom, snacks, and a mini-bar so we knew we were good for the rest of the afternoon. However, we do have a few tips to keep in mind for a stranded trailer because of an unreliable truck:

  1. Always carry extra beer in the fridge.

  2. Always carry a few gallons of water to add to an empty black tank in case you have to use the facilities and to keep the smell at bay.

  3. It wouldn’t hurt to keep 10 gallons in the freshwater tank at all times, especially travel days.

  4. If you have to park your trailer for a day or more, keep the propane tanks full (of course we didn’t know that we would be leaving a trailer in a Ford parking lot).

Through it all, Sadie was being quite the trooper. Thank goodness we had signed up for Coach-Net roadside service when we purchased the trailer. Our angel of a driver, Robert from Jim’s Tow Truck Service, showed up about 1 hr. later. I’d say he was in his late 20’s with energy drink in hand, and a cigarette dangling from his lips, willing to take on any challenge. At first he wasn’t sure with our truck on the flatbed portion and how far it stuck out, that there’d be clearance to also tow the trailer. While he and Jeff were dialing in the hitching, I made calls to the nearest Ford Dealer which happened to be Jim Burke Ford in Bakersfield. With it being late in the day on a Saturday, I only got ahold of someone in Payroll. Service was closed, but sales was open, so she connected me with the head of sales. Again, another angel appeared, Chris Strong. He went above and beyond what most people would do. He offered to stay at the dealership until we arrived to let us park our rig and truck in the service gate area where it was a bit more inconspicuous. And, to top it off, he even offered to drive us to the local airport so we could pick up a rental vehicle. Wow! After I hung up with Chris, I made arrangements to pick up a rental car and felt the need to call the dealership we purchased the truck from in Palm Springs. Basically I was just venting, but thought maybe out of good faith, they could help us down the road with any out-of-pocket expenses we’d incur. After about 30 minutes or so of getting everything connected, we were on our way. It was quite the bumpy ride with a max speed limit of 40 up and down the rest of the Grapevine. While Jeff tried to grasp what had just happened to us, Robert and I had a grand old time talking about his moving plans, the towing business, and his new baby boy. In the backseat, Sadie held on to me for dear life. It was quite the scenario. I know we should take these things in stride, but it’s a brand new truck. And I’m sure one day, we will have a great story to tell. But being in this unbelievable predicament, we just couldn’t believe this was happening. In fact, before the breakdown, Jeff and I had just finalized our plans for the upcoming week to visit my sister Tracy and brother-in-law Tim in Lake Oswego, OR as well as visiting our long-time dear friends, Mimi and Dave Conley in Newburg, Oregon.

We finally made it to Jim Burke Ford in Bakersfield by 6:30 with Chris waiting for us. Sales closes at 5:00, and I’m sure there are better things he would be doing on a Saturday night. Robert, the tow truck driver managed to squeeze in his truck and our trailer in a tight spot, first dropping off the trailer. He couldn’t release the truck until the payment was done through Coach Net. Coach Net basically issues a temporary credit card number to the assigned case but because our situation took longer, the card had already expired. So I had to get back on the phone to try it again. And Coach Net did not factor in the port to port amount of the tow, so that needed an additional approval. Just the payment processing took an additional 30 minutes. I felt terrible that Robert and Chris had to both wait on that. We said our goodbyes to Robert then filled out some paperwork for the drop off service. As if Chris hadn’t done enough already, he offered us a loaner truck to use, a 2010 F-350 Diesel to use until we leave Bakersfield. Wow, Ford knows how to take care of their people. Immediately, I went into gift mode. I asked Chris if he likes any kind of libations. Answer: Guinness. I also learned he likes Starbuck’s. So a Starbuck’s gift card and a 4-pack of Guinness it is. Now to cancel our reservation for the rental car and book a hotel reservation. La Quinta Inn it is for a few nights until Monday’s news about the truck. Of all places, we had to break down near Bakersfield where there’s not a lot to do and it’s over 100 degrees here everyday. When we finally made it to our hotel, we were exhausted and starved so I went to grab some grub, while Jeff made us much deserved cocktails. Spent much of the evening on the phone giving everyone a blow by blow of the crazy day’s events.

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