Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Mackinaw City

We are happy to report that we made it to Mackinaw City. We arrived last Friday afternoon and found the Blue Chip already in the water.

Our leaking sewer problem was fixed by noon last Monday and we were back on the road. We didn’t get far and stopped to have lunch with Mike’s Uncle John and his cousin Ray Haski. Uncle John lives in Tucson, AZ and is in Pittsburgh visiting with his daughter Judy, who unfortunately was out of town during our visit. Uncle John is Mike’s Dad’s only living brother and turns 90 this year. He looks and is doing great.

From Pittsburgh it was off to northern PA and a short visit with Mike’s old college roommate, Bill Petraitis and his wife Jill. We didn’t mention it before, but we are towing our Jeep this year. Don’t ask why, as no one has a good answer. Any way with the Jeep on the back we can’t back the motorhome up, so we had to take it off when we were in Conneaut Lake at the Petraitis’. When we were leaving we moved it to hook it back to the motorhome and noticed a funny smell like something was burning. It didn’t seem that bad and we were just going to be towing the Jeep so we didn’t worry about it.

We got to Detroit (Royal Oak) and visited with our business partners, Jim and Diane Richards. We ended up spending almost all day Thursday there working on corporate issues that needed to be resolved. Just as we were ready to leave, some one got into the coach and broke the automatic steps that come out of the door. We are not going to say who broke it, but let’s say that he is big and heavy. The steps were now just dangling in the air ready to hit what ever we go by. Mike was able to tie them in an up position which made getting in and out of the coach a bit difficult.

Instead of making it to Mackinaw City Thursday night as was our original plan, we slept at the road side rest in West Branch, about half way there. Mike was up early Friday and was anxious to get on the road. Linda was up shortly after the diesel engine started under her bed. Mike saw a sign for a Camping World store in Houghton Lake and decided to go over there and see if they might either have or could order a part for our steps. We pulled into their parking lot and waited until 8:00 AM when they opened. Mike took the manual for the steps in to the store and showed them what part he needed. Not only did they have the part in stock, they could put it on. By 9:00 we were fixed and back on the road.

Life is good. Two minor repairs to the coach, which we were able to have fixed immediately while we waited; and all for less than $600. We arrived in Mackinaw City Friday afternoon and saw the Blue Chip floating serenely at the dock. Our thoughts were immediately, “wonder what is going to be wrong with the boat this year.”

But alas, the boat problems would have to wait. Mike unhitched the Jeep from the motorhome and the Jeep wouldn’t start. It was stone dead. He figured that the battery must have drained while we were towing it as the ignition has to be left on to unlock the front wheels so they can turn. Mike moved the motorhome around in position and put on jumper cables. Still nothing and that is with four batteries hooked to it. He jiggled everything and pounded a couple of things and finally it started. He ran it around the block and that burning smell that we didn’t worry about before was back. Now he was worried. He called a Dodge dealer that was 25 miles away and they said they could look at it on Monday morning. No use worrying about it now, as we had a lot of work ahead of us on the boat.

The first order of business is a thorough interior cleaning of the dirt and dust that occurred over the winter storage. Mike checked out the boat’s living systems to see what was still running and what wasn’t. The aft refrigerator which just had a new compressor installed in it wasn’t working. Fortunately the repair man that just installed it was still in town and came back to look at it. After some deliberation and consultation with his boss, he found that he had over charged it with Freon or what ever they are now using. A small tweak and it was now cooling.

Next started the unloading process. It is amazing how much crap we can jam in that motorhome. It is also amazing how late it stays light here. We quit at 10:00 PM that night just as it was getting dark. We don’t have a freezer on the boat, so we had to use up the last of our Weight Watchers TV dinners. Mike was certainly sad to see that streak end, 106 straight days of TV dinners. He did loose some weight though.

Saturday we completed the unloading process and got everything stowed on the boat. It is amazing how much crap that boat can hold. Sunday we took the motorhome down to Cheboygan to the Wal-Mart and Glens Super Market and bought more stuff to bring back and unload and store on the boat. On the way back we stopped at a campground to dump the holding tanks and fill with water. That is when Mike discovered that the repair man who did the tank valves didn’t put the water hose back in the coach, so no water. Oh well, we have an extra on the boat. By Sunday evening everything was all done. The motorhome was empty and the boat was loaded. All that was left was to clean up the motorhome to put it away.

Monday morning we were off to the Dodge dealer to have the Jeep looked at. The Jeep started without any problem and there was no smell. Mike thought for sure it was going to be on these “everything is working fine we can't find anything wrong with it” occasions. We dropped the Jeep and walked about a mile down the road to a restaurant to have breakfast. That is about the farthest that Mike has walked since he started to have knee problems. Just as our order came, the dealership called and said they had found the problem with the Jeep. It was some type of electronic control module that was bad, but they didn’t have one in stock and would have to order it. The good news is that they could have it Tuesday morning. After breakfast, Mike suggested to Linda that she should walk back to the dealership alone and bring the car back to pick him up. Linda suggested that he should take a hike.

We spent most of the rest of the day returning stuff that we bought Sunday that didn’t work and buying more stuff that we forgot to buy the first time. We also discovered on Monday that the forward refrigerator that we filled with all the stuff we just bought Sunday was not working properly, although it worked perfectly before we put any stuff in it. After what seemed like an eternity sentenced to “the hole”, commonly called an engine room, Mike found a bad connection to the water cooling pump and repaired it. Afterwards it was off to the “quarter car wash” to wash the motorhome. Do you have any idea how many quarters you have to put in to wash a motorhome?

Tuesday it was back to the Jeep garage. It took a little longer than expected, but we got it fixed and were back just after noon. We moved the motorhome up to the barns where we store the boat for the winter. With everything done our plan was to make a dash to Mackinac Island. Linda decided that was too hectic and just wanted to sit here and relax for the rest of the day.

So today is the day that we pull the plug on the boat and head out for the beginning of our summer boating adventure. Now we will see how the boat runs.

Take care, Love,Linda, Jake and the Fat Man