Saga of a Bad Vacation

What a zoo the past 2 weeks has been. We left Sat, Aug 5th for what was planned to be 5 days in the Yosemite area. Here’s what happened instead.

We left on schedule at 10am and drove to Visalia where we stayed at a KOA overnight. We left there about 9:25am, and stopped for about two hours in Oakdale CA for gas and food. We drove through the actual town of Groveland, and about 8 miles later (3:40pm, Sun 6th) we felt and heard a shudder coming from the engine area. A little steam came from the engine area, and since we had done a lot of climbing with switchbacks, first thought it overheated. But when Dave tried to start it after a cool off period, nothing. Tried a couple times then realized we’d have to get towed to the campground (1000 Trails Yosemite Lakes), 11 miles further down the road.

Oops, no cell signal. Unload the car from trailer, and I drive back to Groveland leaving Dave with no way of knowing what’s happening. It’s about 4:30 that I make the first  of many phone calls to Good Sam (GS), and 4:45pm when I get the first text from them of “Request received”. I won’t bore you with all the phone calls to GS, with me occasionally driving back and forth to let Dave know what’s happening, but there are a few highlights of the odyssey.

About 6:30, MeWuk Tow driver Ferni showed up and towed the trailer to the campground, then this wonderful guy spent about an hour with Dave trying to figure out what was wrong. Possible starter issue. Ferni then drives to find me where I’m parked in Groveland and stayed with me for over an hour; each of us on our cells and my tablet, trying to get GS to dispatch someone to tow the motorhome. The company they first (& 2nd) tried to dispatch was a total flake (you never want Charandia Towtrucks). When they never contacted us and never showed up, we let GS know that our research showed they don’t have a tow license, at least under that name. On to more and more dispatches.

Finally, about 3am on Mon 7th, GS said that nobody would be there until after they could dispatch someone after opening hours. So, I drove to the coach for about 4 hours of sleep. That’s 12 hours that I spent sitting in my car, with the car idling to keep the phone charged. Difficult sleep as the shoulder of the road is slanted so we felt like we were in a tilted house at a ghost town. 7am, back to Groveland to sit in car again bombarding GS with phone calls. By this time, we’ve been elevated to the “Care Team” (GSCT)

The GSCT is more helpful (the GS customer service was horrible). GSCT kept in touch more frequently but still unsuccessful, and I insisted they put us up at a motel for a proper sleep. We checked in about 7pm and were asleep before 9pm.

Now, it’s Tue Aug 8th, and 8am finds Dave back at the motorhome without cell service, and me back in a parking lot in Groveland with the car idling, making/receiving calls with GSCT. Finally, a tow company (Stanislaus – driver Matt was great) is dispatched and actually shows up to tow the motorhome to the campground where we arrive about 7pm. For those keeping track, that’s about 52 hours that Dave and the motorhome are on the side of the road, minus the 12 hours in the motel.

Now, on to getting a mobile mechanic to install the starter (fortunately there is a NAPA in Groveland that had one in stock). GSCT tried most of the day on Tue to get one to plan for Thu am. Finally, after phone conversations with Ferni, our new friend from MeWuk Tow, I asked GSCT if they could officially dispatch him to be the mobile mechanic.

Wed Aug 9th, we decided to take today off from all the drama and actually go to Yosemite – our one day out of the five planned. We went on the Valley Floor Tour so that we could see the major highlights, even though we couldn’t do some of the other things we had planned. It was a relaxing day, and even though it was hot, the breeze created in the open air tram kept us cool.

Thu Aug 10th, Ferni shows up as planned and installs the starter. Once done, turn the key, and crickets! He checked out a few other things and it’s determined to be the engine. Second engine in two years. Nothing can be done but to call the GSCT to arrange a tow off the mountain. (Ferni’s company doesn’t have a big enough rig to tow the motorhome.) While GSCT is working on that, we took Ferni and his son to a local place for a late lunch. By the end of the business day, nothing set.

Fri Aug 11th, I spent part of the day in Groveland talking with the GSCT. They had to find a “service provider” willing to do the work needed. They finally found one and  I thought it was all set for Stanislaus to be there Sat morning between 9 and 9:30 to tow us to Modesto (thankfully insurance is paying for all this towing). Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a place that will take the motorhome for scrapping out. Finally found a place that would come get it from Modesto, and pay us $1000. This day, we also went to Sonora to pick up a box truck from U-Haul. Rest of day we started unloading things from the motorhome into the U-Haul. Thankfully, we didn’t need to buy boxes as they had dozens that someone had left with them to turn over to the next person who needed some. In the last picture (link later), you can see we only had a few boxes left over, and the 20 ft U-Haul worked well.

Sat Aug 12th, found out that someone messed up and it ended up being MachOne instead of Stanislaus, which was dispatched for the same time originally planned. We had emphasized that we had to be out of the campground by 11am. We finally left the campground at 10:30am, arriving in Modesto at Tom’s Truck Repair at 1:05pm. They had told us where to park on the street to dry camp there until they opened on Mon. The rest of the day we spent doing more packing.

Sun Aug 13th, in morning we packed some more in the cooler morning hours, then we took a break and went to the Castle Air Museum. It was hot, but we still enjoyed it. We took the tour of the VC9, one of the former Air Force One jets. After our return, and it cooled a little, we kept at the packing.

Mon Aug 14th, we met John and the delightful Tamia who is the one who “runs” the office at Tom’s. Made arrangements so that  Family Car Buyers knew to get the keys from Tamia when they could get there to pick up the motorhome. A little more last minute packing, and we finally were on our way before noon. With gas and food breaks, we arrived home at last at 8:15pm.

Meanwhile, on my tablet, I’d been researching motorhomes that fit our needs, and some of our wants. Found one we really liked the looks of (Forest River) and made an appointment to see it on Tue morning at CampingWorld in Colton. Mon afternoon, our salesperson Ezekiel let us know that after 4 months in inventory, someone bought it out from under us that day. Drat, wasn’t meant to be. He started texting links to others that fit our needs, one being the same one we had planned on, but an earlier model. Of the 6 in the inventory, we narrowed it down to first 2 choices in Temecula and another 2 in Menefee.

Tue Aug 15, we met Ezekiel in Colton and we went to Temecula to see our first two choices. We would have loved to combine features of the two. The one we did not choose was that earlier model of the Forest River – I actually gave up a double refrigerator as there was more to like about the one we chose, a 2017 Fleetwood Flair (we’d already pre qualified with USAA).

Next up, many things happening, and partly because we upgraded a couch to recliners, we won’t be able to pick it up until Tue the 22nd. Then starting the next day, we will finally move stuff from the U-Haul into the new motorhome.

Pictures of both Yosemite and Castle Air Museum
Pictures of the new motorhome

Rest in Peace HamShk the 1st, Welcome HamShk the 2nd.

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