A couple of weeks ago a neighbor asked me… “Have you seen the movie “RV” with Robin Williams?”
“Nope” I replied. “But I will now that you mention it.”
A couple hours later I got a text from my accountant Steve that read… “Check out TBS. They are playing RV right now.” What a coincidence! Actually, I’m not much surprised by these random acts of coincidence. I tend to magnetize this type of stuff.
So I started to watch the movie and pretty much hated it. It’s full of Robin Williams running into just about every problem known to man and RV’s. Not exactly the experience I want to cement into my mind at the moment. I laughed a few times, but overall I thought the movie was pretty lame.
Death To Smoochy in comparison was about 15 times better and considering that wasn’t a very epic flick, it gives you an idea just how bad RV really was.
Now I know first hand how Robin Williams felt in that movie. It seems that when you start RV-ing full time, you can expect all kinds of crazy shit to happen. And happen it sure did.
I had a pod delivered to my front door step before departing. Hired movers loaded the thing full to the brim as I packed my clothes and the few items I needed for my travels. Then I proceeded to accidentally tip the movers 75% of the cost of the move. Merry Christmas guys. Once everything was stowed away, I was finally on the road.
Quickly I learned that it’s always a good idea to make sure all the cupboards and closets are closed. As I veered left onto Interstate 5, books and CD’s started toppling all over the floor from above. A bit later, some CD’s landed directly on my head (not really the kind of head banging music I’m into). Luckily, these were minor incidents compared to what was about to happen.
I was on the road for about an hour and a half and all seemed just fine. The white knuckled feeling was starting to subside. As I approached South Central Los Angeles something went terribly wrong.
I heard a loud BOOM and feel the entire rig violently shaking.
I BLEW A DAMN TIRE!
This video below explains it in more detail…
The tire blowing experience was surreal. I was traveling in the middle lane, doing about 60 mph. Cars were surrounding me on all sides. After all, it is a freeway in LA at 2 o’clock pm.
Once the front tire blew it was difficult to keep the RV in the lane. It instantly started swerving into the left lane and cars were frantically trying to get out of the way. A quick peek into the right rear view mirror allowed me to see a small bit of clearance to get to the right shoulder.
I was able to safely navigate the 38 foot beast to the right hand emergency lane on the side of the road. There wasn’t much room, but just enough to get the rig off safely. Well, sort of safely.
Within minutes, a couple of trucks had their passenger side mirrors brush against my driver side mirrors. Luckily, they just kissed each other and no damage was done.
So I make the call to Triple AAA. Thank god I got the full RV package a few weeks ago before I ever hit the road. Can somebody say “Lifesaver”?
Well, it took AAA about 3 hours to arrive on scene. Apparently they couldn’t find replacement tires (you’ll understand why in a bit). I wasn’t too pissed about the time it took, but I was peeved that they told me it was going to be 30 to 45 minutes. Yeah, okay, sure. I didn’t really expect 30 minutes, but I also didn’t expect 3 hours.
Triple AAA = FAIL
I had 4 cold Corona’s chilling in the fridge that I desperately wanted to chug. I figured that probably wasn’t the greatest call though. Damn. O well, at least I had that Stevie Ray Vaughn “Live At The El Mocambo” VHS tape still in the VCR. Ahhhh Lenny.
A few minutes later a CHP pulled up. Yep, a CHIPS guy just like John and Ponch, minus the motorcycles. I told him of my woes and that Triple AAA was on the way. The stater was trying to urge me to drive the rig off the freeway on teh rim. “Hell no” I replied. The tow guy was on the way, and there was no way I was going to damage the rig any further. He was concerned that the tow truck driver would not be able to repair my tire without closing down the entire right land of the freeway. He had a valid point, but I was not moving the rig.
The cop bailed the scene without even asking to see my ID or insurance (I wish the next cop that pulled me over later in the story was as chill).
A couple hours later a tow truck driver shows up with a replacement tire. We still had the dilemma of getting the tire on without getting run over by rush hour traffic. Luckily, I had a idea. Maybe I could pop off the passenger side mirror and get an extra 12 inches of room to work with. The right side mirror sticks out about a foot and was preventing us from getting any closer to the wall.
Sure enough, the allen wrench that I had just been using to take apart my desk fit the bolts in the mirror. Woo hoo! I took that bad boy off and moved the rig 11 inches closer to the wall. Now, I had to jack the thing up without scraping the side of the rig on the wall.
The Mexican tow truck driver helped guide me while jacking up the RV with the hydraulic jacks. Without those hydraulic jacks we would of been hosed. We cleared enough room for him to get the tire on, and within 20 minutes I was ready to roll again.
Total cost came to $125 and a new pair of boxer shorts. Not too shabby all things considered. Come to think of it, I never actually paid for the tire. The owner of the company had to call me and gave me a address to send a check to. I forgot all about that until just now. I hope I still have that address.
So, I’m ready to roll again and I instantly get off the freeway to figure out what my plan is. If one tire blew up, what about the rest? Surely I didn’t want to go through this experience again.
I was really pissed because the first question I asked Camping World during my RV orientation was… “Do I need new tires?”. The told me that these tires were made in 2001, and the life expectancy of most RV tires is about 5 years. However, these tires still had tons of tread and there were no visible signs on cracking on the side walls. They assured me there was still some miles left on them.
So I got off the freeway and decided to do some investigating. But first, I decided to stop for my first diesel fill up. That wasn’t too bad. And seeing 5 cops at the gas station really made me feel like I had landed in a nice and pristine area. Geez, can it get any worse?
Then, I saw a large propane tank and asked the asian dude if I could fill up there. He assured me I could and instructed me to maneuver the rig into a small fenced in area. It was too crowded, and I almost side swiped a Cadillac. No thanks I told him, I’ll try somewhere else.
So I parked for a bit to relax my mind and check my email. I also let Webber piss on a bunch of bushes near a elementary school. While on the internet I started calling around to tire shops and doing a bit of research.
Apparently, Goodyear manufactured a tire “G 159″ that was NEVER structurally designed to be safe for class A RV’s. These tires were made for low speed buses in the city. When you put these tires on Class A RV’s that are on the freeway, the sidewalls heat up and blow out.
Goodyear themselves have admitted this and a class action lawsuit hammered them a few years ago. Within one hour I had more knowledge about RV tires then anyone I had met at Camping World. The fact that they let me drive away on these tires was appalling at best. Especially since they knew I had a open check book and was willing to buy ANYTHING needed for the trip.
By this time I was furious. I called the Camping World a few blocks away from where I was and explained the situation to them. They went on the hunt for some new tires and I moved the RV into their parking lot for the night. I’d have to wait until the morning to get some new tires.
When I finally got to the Camping World parking lot it was deserted and boring. But I did have 4 cold squeezers in the fridge. Time to crack those while I took Webber for a walk along the train tracks.
As more boredom set in, I decided to do a Google search for a local bar. Wouldn’t you know it… Imperial Showgirls was just down the block. A quick cab ride later and I was standing at the front entrance looking for the door man. Apparently there was a $16 cover charge.
Seeing no door man, I decided to let myself in. The place was nearly empty. I chatted with the bartender, or should I say… watertender because they didn’t even serve booze in this place. ARgggg. Cali strip clubs suck.
The action picked up and I had a decent time. (Strip club tip – don’t use the ATM’s in those places. This machine charged a 10% transaction fee. Great business tip – Do get into the ATM business if you supply strip clubs.)
I called a cab and went back to the parking lot and fell asleep.
In the morning Camping World could only install 3 tires for me. I’d have to cruise to Valencia to get 3 more. They also buffed out the tire marks on the side of the rig and refastened the panel that had jarred loose. They worked on the rig from about 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and I was ready to roll again.
The stop in Valencia took about 2 hours as well. When it was all said and done, I had spent about $4000. But I did have new tires and that made me feel much safer.
Before taking off, I decided to have a try at filling the propane one more time. There was this old asian dude manning the service station. He looked a lot like Mr. Miagi, but didn’t have nearly the grace. In fact, he couldn’t even get the propane hose on the nozzle for about 4 minutes. I almost had to do his job for him. Poor old guy.
Now it was time to climb the Grapevine. Climbing the Grapevine was pretty easy in this rig. I’d pass up big diesels with no problem. It was coming down the other side that was sketchy. This was the first time I had used the exhaust brake, or “Jake Brake” in trucker lingo. All in all, it was pretty easy. Another hurdle accomplished.
I drove through the night and parked at a truck stop about 150 south of Sacramento for a bit to eat. Lucky me, the Colts were playing a Thursday night football game. I watched Peyton do some of his magic, bs’d with some truckers and then got back on the road. After about 45 minutes I decided to call it quits. Webber and I hit another truck stop and passed out.
When we awoke in the morning I was anxious to get across the Oregon border. I didn’t want to hit any snow in the mountainous area of Ashland. We drove and drove and drove.
Finally we stopped in Weed. Weed is a great place. I remember staying with 2 cool lesbian chics there about a decade ago. I could probably settle down in a town like Weed. We didn’t stay long even though we wanted to.
Everything seemed to be working out okay. No snow through the pass and we were making great time. I stopped in Grants Pass for a quick nap and then decided we’d do the last 4 hour stretch and get into Portland around midnight. I couldn’t wait to get into town and have a nice beverage or six.
Finally, we hit Salem Oregon. Only one hour away from our destination. Then…. Red and Blue sirens. Shit! Cops were pulling me over.
A young state cop seemed to be in disbelief that the RV was truly mine. He kept asking questions about whether or not I had narcotics inside and whether or not I truly owned the vehicle.
After about 15 minutes of interrogation he finally let me go. Apparently $70,000 in cashiers checks with your name on them works as pretty good proof you aren’t a thief. I wouldn’t let him enter the RV to search and he ended up letting me go.
Whew! Luckily he didn’t find the dead hookers in the trunk.
Finally, an hour later we exit the 205 freeway onto Foster road and are headed to the bar for a nice cold squeezer. We made it. Yippee!
What happened next when I got to the bar was even cooler. I’ll save that story for next time.