Saturday, June 26, 2010

Out of fuel?

We took off from Tennessee around noon heading north east.   Every surface inside the camper is sticky and the potty needs a break from all the work it got from the little grand kids. We bypassed Nashville and got on the Western Kentucky Parkway. Now, she kept on saying that we should refuel. The little voice in my head was saying stuff like, "Don't be such a pussy." "We still have a hundred miles left in that tank." And "We can get much better prices a little farther down the road." So I kept going.  The Low Fuel light was blinking intermittently but the gage read almost a quarter tank. 

We turned off the W.K. toward a big diesel sign. At the top of the exit ramp the steering suddenly required a great deal of effort and the coach was not responding to desperate, repeated jabs of very firm pressure on the accelerator pedal. Luckily the fuel station was all downhill. We coasted about two thousand feet, right to the one diesel pump and rolled to a stop without applying the brakes.  

We filled the tank.  It took 86 gallons to top off our supposed 100 gallon fuel tank. But the engine would not restart. We read the manual and re-primed the fuel pump but to no avail. Calling several road service guys yielded advice to use ether to start the engine. The Quickee Mart sold starting fluid. Stuck at the pumps in Central City Kentucky would be a bad place for a Yankee to start huffing my way an Ether Binge. We also have ice, lime twists, vermouth, Ketel One and a cocktail shaker. But I resisted the urge to shake up a Bone Dry martini.

So we waited for road service because I couldn't find the air intake into which I would squirt the starting fluid. When the guy did show up he lifted the bed to examine the Cummins diesel under the bed and began to slightly dismantle the fuel pump.   He kind of resembled Jed Clampet's poorer, less sophisticated, relative.  The road service vehicle was a 18 year old dark blue Lincoln Town Car with black interior.   They had all the windows open despite the brutal heat and 100% humidity.  His bride/cousin waited in the passenger seat while we searched for the air filter.  There was fuel at the pump evidenced by the copious amount of liquid released when he twisted a bolt on the fuel pump.  Proof that our priming efforts were successful.   This dude pressed his greasy, fuel soaked hand, up under his nose and sniffed his fingers like an eighth grader after his first make out trip to home base.   He took another big whiff then waved his hand at me,  "This kerosene?"  I turned my head away and assured him that the pump said diesel fuel and had a gigantic nozzle, way too huge to fit in a car tank.   After he looked carefully at the pump he muttered something about "ul tra looow sul fur smells fun knee."   This guy was like a Wine Expert only for Diesel fuel!  We began our collective search for the air filter anew.   We discovered it under a screwed on panel and saw the air intake is up on the roof at the back of the coach.  "Thars where I haf ta go."   He instantly scampered up the ladder to the roof, squirted the starting fluid down the air scoop (who knew) and the thing roared to life.  His picket fence grin flashed broadly "Thar she goes. Runnin' now."   We were quickly on the road again.   This guy was that good!   

Trying to make up for the 4 hours we lost in the fuel station we pressed on into the night. Kentucky and West Virginia had lousy road marking and visibility was greatly diminished by sheets of driving rain and huge, blinding lightning flashes. We drove on to about 1:30 or 2:30 am depending on which time zone's jurisdiction we were. We slept at a truck stop just south of Cincinnati among 200 big rigs. P said she would never be able to get to sleep because they ran their engines all night. She was unconscious in 4 seconds!

We have a lot of cleaning and maintenance to do when we get back.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Armadillos and Cat Turds

Our trip home through the outer regions of the civilized word was destined for trouble from the start.   There was a part of Georgia we passed through that was very hilly.  That road was so steep they had thoughtfully provided a place for slower drivers to pull off and allow braver people to pass.   We also drove by HUGE confederate flags flying over single wides elevated on stacked cinderblocks.  There were hundreds of Armadillos lying lifeless by the side of the road.   We saw at least 50 Florida Citrus Centers, Plantation Peach Outlets and Big Daddy's Fireworks tents.

After the gigantic hill we approached an intersection.  It was not a right angle crossing but shaped more like an "X."  Having just gone about 100 miles at 25 miles an hour the stop sign really didn't register.  P lifted her foot and squirmed in her chair.   "Stop..., stop sign..., STOP!"  Oh hell, that's me... she's talking to me.  So I jammed on the brakes.  All kinds of stuff began moving around in the back of the coach.  Beer cans were rolling in the fridge,  pet food sliding, parrot wings flapping, waterbowls sloshing over.  

This is the sudden stop I was worrying about.  Maybe I should just remove my foot and hurtle right on through the 4 way stop?  How bad could it be?  We have out of state licence plates.   The flat grassy intersection was deserted.  I was seriously considering ignoring the stop signs completely.  P was bracing for some kind of disaster.  Her shoulders were up and she had a very firm grip on both arms of her seat.  She was struggling against inertia by bracing both her feet on the floor of the coach.    Just then a very distracting thing happened.   A cat rapidly came toward the front of the coach accompanied by a strong obnoxious odor.  He was sort of leaping as he desperately tried to control his trajectory.   He bounced off the CD player with all fours then landed against the windshield in a crouch as we screeched to a stop.  Siamese had a funny look on his face and his posture was not the best.  It soon became obvious that the cat had been in the catbox during the panic braking.  Poor little guy was hanging a rope just prior to the application of the brakes which caused his immediate, untimely, ejection from his sandy commode.  One little log was still dangling from his chocolate starfish.  He was cowering against the glass with a pained expression on his cat face and scuffing his butt from one side of the coach to the other while leaving a pathetic, spotty, beige, turd particle smudged, putrid, skid mark across the top of the dashboard.

"Pull over", she said.