The start day for our ultimate trip had finally arrived, but it was not to be May 19.
The truck decided that it didn’t like to pull the 5th wheel up the mountains. It told us this twice in definitive terms. We have had this truck (it was named BAT for Big Ass Truck) for just over a month.
The first attempt progressed almost to the Lookout Mountain exit on west bound I70 before BAT started sputtering, coughing and lurching—screaming “Uncle!”. Engine lights flashed, the turbo failed and the max speed plummeted to 25-30 mph. I glanced over at Peggy and we limped back down the mountain to the closest Ford dealer. They repaired the issues overnight and sent us on our way. A quick fuel top-off and away we go for Attempt Number Two (ANT).
Regretfully ANT didn’t go as well as attempt number one. That is hard to fathom but true. ANT lasted exactly 9.5 miles two of which were running for that top-off and hitching the Mobile Suites. Our expectations were high and optimistic as I called the Rifle Mountain Park Director to let him know we would be there late afternoon. As the phone call was disconnecting so did the truck.
As I pressed the accelerator to reach highway speed on the I70 on-ramp, sputter, cough, warning lights…
Avoiding even getting on the interstate our rolling smoke stack just continued off the exit. As the amount of blueish smoke increased the speed decreased. The drivers behind us scurried past and the truck crapped out just as we made it to the shoulder.
Have you ever been stranded alongside the road? Make that a three lane high speed state highway populated with texting, surfing and distracted drivers. Not pleasant.
Call the service tech.
Call the roadside assistance.
Wait, wait, wait.
Then just as we decide the tow truck company has abandoned us to fry like road pizza, they pull up with the wrong type of truck. Then back to the wait loop. Once the second truck arrives the real fun can begin. Fun in this instance is unhitching the 5er just millimeters from the high speed texters as the tow truck drivers point and laugh.
Back at the service ranch they see us walking in and in unison turn on their heels to execute that urgent task they just remembered. Peggy executes the best shoe string diving tackle, pins him with an umaplata and we start writing up the service ticket. I type as Peggy coaxes instructions from Techy. The word from the mechanic was up to 3 weeks to repair and that at least 2 pistons were melted back to ingot. Turns out the previous owner neglected to undergo routine maintenance and the motor suffered and well, died when we put it under load.
As you can imagine, confidence in the truck has dropped to depression era levels as we tour the stock of shiny new trucks. It took a couple of days of gut wrenching debate. Do we keep the truck? Should we get a new one? And on and on.
The final straw was the test ride in the sparkling 2011 Super Duty Lariat with cooling seats (more on the cooling seat later). It was an agonizing tug of war that ends in the purchase of Blu. We should be in Rifle next week…already or finally as long as there is not another false start.