DAY 39 – 10/23/2012 – Beached! In which the truck fails…

I just put a pan of Toll House bars in the oven. There’s laundry drying in the shower and the rice and beans leftovers are stowed away.

It’s day two in the Creekview Campground in Rosendale, NY. We’ll be here for a while. Maybe another week.

The 4Runner blew a head gasket on Sunday night. It sits idle on the campsite, waiting for attention.

It’s just another adventure on the Tramper Voyage, sort of “Little House on the Prairie” style! It’s ironic that right now I’m reading A Painted House by John Grisham. It’s not his usual tense legal drama but rather a story based on his own childhood in rural Arkansas in the ’50’s. There aren’t many modern amenities. Hard, hand labor is the order of the day.

While we do have Internet and cell phones we have no microwave, dishwasher or washing machine. The water reservoir must be filled daily. Hot water is produced only after we turn on the water heater, powered by propane which, in turn, also has to be refilled. So, compared with our former lifestyle, we are somewhat roughing it in a small trailer. And, it’s raining which keeps us inside.

But, it could be worse. A whole lot worse.

On Sunday evening, we were finishing a day of driving after a nice hike up Monument Mountain near Great Barrington, MA.

Here's the gully that I dropped David's camera into while on our Monument Mountain hike. The camera dropped, I screamed. It bounced, I screamed again. Bounce. Scream. Bounce. Scream. Then, splash! into a stream. I think it's dead... but it had a good 10 year run.

Here’s the gully that I dropped David’s camera into while on our Monument Mountain hike. The camera dropped, I screamed. It bounced, I screamed again. Bounce. Scream. Bounce. Scream. Then, splash! into a stream. I think it’s dead… but it had a good 10 year run.

We had arrived in the Shawangunks region of New York state and thinking about where to park the Tramper for the night.

There was a description of a nearby trailhead parking lot that sounded good (and free). But, the Shawangunk mountains are a playground for New York City and the trailhead lots were crowded with rock climbers on this beautiful October Sunday. Also, we encountered a tremendous traffic jam outside New Paltz. Everyone was headed toward the interstate back to the city.

Sunset in New York, with the car thunk-thunking.

Sunset in New York, with the car thunk-thunking.

So, we opted to head for a small campground instead. The truck, by this time, was starting to run very rough. The trailhead was on a mountain. The campground was in the valley. We chose the campground, just a few miles away. Good thing we did!

It was full dark when we pulled in. The truck was overheating but managed to pull us into a campsite. We met the manager (or maybe he’s the owner), paid for the night and settled in.

David soon determined that the truck had blown a head gasket. Oy! It will require a pretty big repair. David has spent the last two days on the phone and online, trying to figure this all out. I’ve been mostly reading and washing things. And baking those cookie bars which are now cooling in their pan. The Tramper smells delicious and is nice and warm.

The Creekside is a small independent operation. Maybe a dozen campsites. Hot showers, flush toilets (I know! Sorry! I try not to mention the ‘t’ word much but it’s a reality!) and electric and water hookup for the Tramper. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABill, the manager/owner said he stopped selling firewood a few years back. He didn’t want to deal with collecting the sales tax. He’s a bit of a curmudgeon but he adds local color and is giving us a nice weekly rate.

We landed in a pretty good spot! Imagine if we had opted for the trailhead. Life would be a lot less cushy right now.

My good friend Donna gave me this lamp years ago. It makes a nice glow at night.

My good friend Donna gave me this lamp years ago. It makes a nice glow at night.

There would probably be no cell phone or internet service on the mountain either, even with our hotspot. We’ve run into that situation many times on our trip. Lack of these services would have made it very difficult for David to get help with the 4Runner. Not impossible, just more difficult.

So now, we wait. And hang out in the trailer. It’s very cozy and comfortable in here. The renovations that David did are holding up very nicely! In some ways, it’s easier to live here. There are different chores but a lot fewer chores than at home. Life is simpler and sweet.

Yummy maple syrup we enjoyed on our pancakes this morning. Purchased from Matt, the nice shoe salesperson we met back in Maine

Yummy maple syrup we enjoyed on our pancakes this morning. Purchased from Matt, the nice shoe salesperson we met back in Maine

Tomorrow, AAA will come and tow the poor 4Runner to a shop in nearby New Paltz. David’s been talking with a guy in an auto shop there. David has a talent for establishing an instant rapport with people and the guy seems to want to help us out. Not a discounted-price kind of helping us out. But, he’s sympathetic and maybe won’t rip us off. Fingers crossed!

Now the bars are ready to eat…

– Jane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI outlined nearly this exact scenario when we were “truck shopping”.  No amount of prep can eliminate all risk.  When buying the ’95 4Runner for 2 grand I stated, even if we blow the head gasket or transmission, we may just have to throw another thousand at it.  We’ll just meet some new people and settle in biking and waiting.  If you recall the “blacksmith’s hammer” of pre-ignition, it is pinging that likely killed the poor head gasket on the anvil of mountain climbs and sometimes highway paces.  Fortunately, Toyota has a revised MLS, Multi-Layer Steel gaskets that reportedly hold up better.  I wish the truck were nestled in my own garage where I would disassemble, measure and repair everything with the help of a local machine shop…but I won’t be dropping bolts on the ground here where the weather could change overnight and it’s raining right now.

I always believe our problems are only as big as our hysteria.  Sometimes, I almost think I like it when I have trouble.  No, I don’t really like problems, but have always enjoyed a methodical reaction.

In my teens I was on a school bus shuttling skiers to the Trailside Lodge in Vermont.  When it became stuck on ice, sliding slightly into a shallow ditch nearly everyone sat still worrying about being late for dinner.  Even though I knew I couldn’t budge the thing by pushing, I went out, walked around for a look.  I managed to direct a few willing strangers and a friend to lay branches under the wheels in the culvert, then safely orchestrated pushing and rocking from our team to free the bus.  Thought and caution are good reactions.

We will sort this out.  (At least it is not ruining a treasured one-week vacation) And, who better to be stuck with? ..than Jane

– David

7 responses to “DAY 39 – 10/23/2012 – Beached! In which the truck fails…

  1. so glad you guys are safe and warm in a nice spot while you are awaiting the car to be fixed.. 🙂 Here is hoping for a quick and relatively good price!

    • Thanks, Misty! We’ll surely blog again about the outcome. A new possibility is that David will do the job himself, if our campground host will open his garage for David. Lots of reasons why this might be a bad idea for Bill, so we’ll see!

  2. vminichiello@gpstrategies.com

    You guys are doing what American’s are renown for. Being ingeniuos and persevering! Hang in and God bless!

  3. I know what you mean about, “I almost think I like it when I have trouble.” It’s time to be creative in both solutions and attitude. It’s a chance to get an unexpected adventure. Never would I think you would “enjoy” Jane’s trials and tribulations with the big C, but it sure was a test of creative attitude, I’m sure.

    I did a quick google search on back roads to New Paltz and you’ll see it’s a short bike ride of 9 miles for you when the truck is ready to be picked up. 🙂

    • Yup, we also just found the Wallkill rail-trail here from out of town. Cool bike shop in town Table Rock Bikes (owner’s son has been racing pro…have to chat him up about Duvall and Bird)

  4. This is very much a side item to your post, but that caption to the picture of the gully where you dropped David’s camera?

    “The camera dropped, I screamed. It bounced, I screamed again. Bounce. Scream. Bounce. Scream.”

    I can picture/hear that SO clearly. Laughing so hard right now. 🙂

    Love you guys! Hope you continue to enjoy your forced stop for however long it takes.

    • How well I know that you know me! You’ve been witness to my ‘hysteria’ many times. And we are enjoying the stop somewhat. David doesn’t pout or throw a fit when things don’t go his way, which helps the mood in camp tremendously. Love you, too!

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