Beach-Time and a Roadside Breakdown

Having gotten all of our "becoming a Texan" chores done and even getting our taxes mostly done and up-to-date with blogging, I was feeling caught up, in control, confident.... perhaps TOO confident. On the drive from Willis to Galveston, on I-45, a truck pulled up along side trying to get our attention and pointing back at our rig. We found a safeish place to pull over and Pam and I both took turns going out to see if we could figure out what the problem was. Nothing was obvious. Tires looked good, bike rack was still attached. Still something caught their attention, so we got back in the truck and took the next exit. Once we were driving again, I was paranoid so was watching the rear-view mirror. That's when I noticed that the camper had a significant lean to the drivers side. Uh-oh. I had a fairly good idea as to what the problem was now, but it would have to wait until we found a safe place to park for me to confirm it. Pulling off the highway, there wasn't much there, so it took a bit but we found a church with a large empty parking lot and pulled in. I immediately got out and went to check and sure enough.... snapped leaf spring. FUDGE!!!

Leaning a bit to the right...

Snapped leaf spring...

We had some good things going for us. It was fairly early, only about 12:30PM. It wasn't raining. It was fairly warm. We were parked in a safe place. As we were sitting there taking stock of the situation, a guy came out of the church building and walked over to us. I was afraid he was going to kick us out, but he just wanted to see what was going on ans offer to help. Turns out it was a school, too and he worked there. After we explaining our situation to him he told us we were fine to park here for a bit and offered the phone number of a fellow parishioner who worked in the service center of a local RV dealer.

We called there first and he wasn't there. In explaining our situation to the service manager, though, the first question they asked was "Did you buy your RV here?" This is a red flag. Many RV dealers service centers will only service rigs they've sold or give top priority to those they've sold. It's such a problem in the industry that there is a bill working its'way through committee to address this at a federal level. She said they'd call me back ... and never did. No surprise there. Next I called Grand Design. They opened a warranty case for us and told us the nearest service center was a Holiday World about 9 miles back up the highway. I called them and was told "We don't do chassis work, but even if we did, the earliest we could get you in would be August." Heck I could go to school and learn how to fix this myself in that amount of time.. So I called Grand Design back and he approved us getting a mobile service tech out to fix it. I then called Coach-Net, which I should've done in the first place. They're our roadside assistance company that we pay for. Think of it as AAA for RVs. They were super helpful. After I explained the problem and they took down all of the details of our rig, the called us back about 20 minutes later and said a mobile tech was on the way and should be there in about 2 hours. This was at about 2:30PM. The tech texted me and asked for pictures of the spring so he could bring the right part. I did. Things were looking up! We we killed some time playing in the parking lot, but 4:30 came and went and no word from the tech. Around 5 I texted him and he said he was held up and would call when he was on his way. At this point we're getting hungry. We can see a Mexican restaurant about half a mile away, but we don't want to leave the rig there in case the tech comes back. We don't want to unhook the camper as it might look bad to the church. Pam was thinking it best just to go ask the chuck guy if we could pull over to the side of the lot and plan to stay the night, call the tech back and have him come in the morning instead. I just wanted to get to the beach, we were only 33 miles from our destination! Decided we should eat first and then decide, but still had to figure out what/where to eat. Hmmmmm... Chinese delivery! Took a while to explain to the non-native English speaker on the line as to where we were, but when she understood, she insisted we pay by credit card. "No cash! card!" Frankly, I didn't blame her. I'd have thought it weird, too. Food arrived, hunger sated, and just as we were finishing up, the tech called and said he'd be there shortly. Finally about 7:30 he pulls up and has us back on the road in a little over an hour. He pointed out, though,m that the other spring on that side was about to snap the the two on the passenger side didn't look good either. He suggested we talk to GD, take pictures and see if they'd approve us getting them all replaced.

Repairs in progress.

Back on the road, we pulled into camp around 9:30, set up quick and off to bed. A rough start to what was to be a relaxing week at the beach for Pam's birthday. We were at the Galveston Island RV Resort on the south end (the quiet end) of Galveston Island. It's a fairly new park, still under construction, but super nice. Just across the road from public access to the beach and about 15 miles from the busy end of the island.

The work week went quick as they usually do. We had a couple of nice-ish days, but the majority of the week was overcast, some rain and a lot of wind. Pam was able to spend some time on the beach with Crayton while I worked. We did have one quiet day where after work we all went out to eh beach and I was able to fly the drone again. This is only the second time I've been able too as we've always been too close to airports. Apparently I can just call the airport and get clearance, but I've never had time to do that so far. Here, though, there were no airports and I was good to go.

Beach Drone footage

Friday we had a return visit from the mobile tech as he replaced the other three leaf springs. He was (again) many hours late, but did the work in short order. Grand Design tells me they'll reimburse us for the repairs, but frankly the guys fee seemed kind of high, so I expect there might be a bit of a fight on this one. With all of the trouble we've had with our brakes and suspension, and knowing that the wrong failure here at the wrong time could cause a crash, we've decided to upgrade to MorRyde Independent Suspension and Disc Brakes. It's pricey, but we should never have to worry about these particular issues ever again. We have an appointment in mid-May, so that means a brief interruption to our trip as we high-tail it for Elkhart Indiana to have the work done.

Saturday was Pam's birthday and we had a great day! Got her up with breakfast in bed, had a leisurely morning and then headed into town. First we went by Moody Gardens. We vacationed here for a few days two years ago and went to Moody Gardens then. We really enjoyed it then, but it was especially neat to take Crayton there again now that he's a bit older and see the difference in his experience. He really enjoyed it this time and seemed to get into all the critters even more. We then FINALLY found somewhere to take our recycling after having accumulated over a months worth while trying in vain to find somewhere to take it. Most RV parks don't recycle, we've found and Texas, doubly so. We then took Pam to do some shopping and then had a nice dinner and a walk around downtown Galveston. On our walk we found a funky little toy store with a small arcade in the back. Crayton played his first game of pinball all on his own. I wasn't even watching, I was playing Galaga, but he managed to put in two quarters all on his own and get the game started and played it all without my help. To the best of my knowledge he hasn't seen a pinball game in a year and a half. Pretty cool! On a related note, I scored a personal best 193930 on Galaga. It was a rainy dreary day, but we made the best of it and had a great time. So many beach towns are pretty similar and Galveston is no different when it comes to the attractions in town, but it has still retained some character, reminding us more of the Florida Keys than it does Myrtle Beach.

The Butterflies at Moody Gardens

A Moody Monkey at Saki Gardens ... or .. was it a Saki Monkey at Moody Gardens...

Buttons to push!

The lagoon.

Follow the yellow brick road

Our Pinball Wizard!

Sunday the weather was a bit different. Not necessarily better, but different. Instead of warm rain it was windy and cooler. Today we went into town again to go see the Galveston Train Museum. We missed this the last time we were here and it was a really nice little museum! We've seen better and we've seen worse, but their collection of old steam engines and their beautiful old Santa Fe Diesels we a real treat. A bit of sepedipity. We briefly met a family with a 2yo boy at a toy store downtown the day before and there were here at the train museum again. Chatted with them a bit and it was interesting to hear the same issues they had with their boy as we'd had with Crayton here two years earlier (i.e. can't take him anywhere to eat). Town was super busy as it was the beginning of spring break and there was a Corvette convention in town, so we high-tailed it back to the camper and spent the remainder of the day relaxing and getting ready for the next day's drive, which promises to be a doozy. Nearly 400 miles on a notoriously bad stretch of I-10. Wish us luck...

The Santa Fe # 316

The Mike Gordon Special

Giving a campaign speech?

UPDATE: It turns out the mobile tech DID gouge us on his price and didn't itemize his receipt well enough to figure out how. Grand Design stepped up, though. They not only are reimbursing us completely, but they're going to dispute his charges and try to recoup some of it. Big lesson learned for us and a big thank you to Grand Design for doing the negotiating and disputing for us. They've been awesome to work with, even as the mechanical issues continue...

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We went from 3700 square feet in the suburbs to 370 on wheels. We work and travel fulltime with our son and kitty.


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