We have been out on the road for over a week now. I feel like I have been so busy living that I haven’t had any time to write. This is not a bad thing, however I want to get some things down to help me remember.
In our first week we encountered several challenges. We left Aztec with a check engine light on the RV. Since it wasn’t deemed to be life-style threatening, we decided that this is our life now and you don’t go back home for a something silly like potential engine failure. Second challenge has been trying to find someone to fix said check engine light in the Denver area. Driving a gas engine motor home does not mean you can just pull into any Ford dealer for repairs.
The third challenge was a massive spring snow storm which caused us to change our plans spur-of-the-moment. So, instead of a planned stop in Buena Vista, we pushed through to Loveland, where we sat out the storm. We were really wishing we hadn’t left our space heaters at home!
In our first week out there have been many blessings. Because we wanted a day to work out any bugs (Shannon reset the check engine light and it stayed off all day) we decided to spend our first night mooch-docking in the driveway of our friends Ken and Kathy in Pagosa Springs, just a couple of hours away. We had a wonderful evening over home-made grilled pizza.
Tuesday was Wolf Creek Pass day, a source for some apprehension ever since we started planning our route. The check engine light came on when we started up, but we had been unable to connect with anybody who could help us in Pagosa, so we decided to push on. We did decide to drive the car separately so as to minimize strain on the engine. We made it up and over, but Shannon, driving the RV, said he was starting to get a little stressed.
Out second night out we spent in a parking lot, but not just any parking lot. Ten miles south of Saguache, CO is the Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area, with a parking lot bordering a many-laked bird sanctuary. Overnight parking in self-contained vehicles is allowed for multiple nights, and did I mention, it was free!
After we got set up with our viewing windows facing the lakes, we took a road trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. I have probably driven past this park a hundred times, just a line of sand in the distance. Probably not the last time my world view will shift with a little perspective.
Wednesday morning Shannon woke me up with a grim weather report. There was a major spring storm coming in over the Rockies, with rain and snow and temps below freezing. We decided to skip our night at Harvest Host Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy outside of Buena Vista and drive all the way through to Boyd Lake State Park in Loveland, Colorado. This involved three more smaller mountain passes with 9 out of 10 cylinders firing in the RV (it has finally been determined that the engine is not going to heal itself). We made it safely into Loveland and hunkered down for the storm. So glad we made the choice to jump ahead, because the storm was a doozie.
We also took the opportunity, while near Denver, to find someone who could help us with our engine problem. When we bought the gas engine coach we thought one of the advantages would be that it would be easier to arrange repairs. We called the Fleetwood warranty center and started a claim. Fleetwood sent us to Ford, and an hour and a half later they called us back with a dealer in Denver, an hour and a half away, who could help us. When we got ahold of them, they couldn’t take us for almost two weeks, so Shannon started calling everybody in the Denver area. Most of the time the excuse for not helping us was that the RV is too heavy and they couldn’t get it up on a lift, which seemed strange to us since access to the engine is gained thru the doghouse between the two front seats.
We finally found a small shop just up the road in Fort Collins, with a very nice mechanic who would work on our problem the following Monday. Well it turns out that in spite of all our efforts at rodent-proofing our home, we had a hitch-hiker in our engine compartment who chewed through all the wiring to cylinder #7. Our new best friend Dave, from Dave’s Automotive in Fort Collins (highly recommended) had us all re-wired, running smoothly, and back on the road by lunch. And it only cost a quarter of what a dealer would have charged. Our perseverance was well rewarded!
We have almost two weeks to spend in Loveland-Fort Collins area with lots of family time and loads of things to see and do.