Saga of the Denali

The Park Mgr, George, looks at my car that died pulling in…
(He’s a GM Certified Technician, but is on disability so can’t physically work on the car himself.)
He tells me there’s a real good mechanic in the park named Jim, and he’ll have him come over…

Tuesday morning Jim and George check things out, and determine that the power steering pump is bad.
So Jim starts taking it all apart.
When he gets to the pulley for the power steering pump – it comes off in his hand!
The shaft between the pulley and the pump has snapped in half.


While removing the pump to replace it, he sees the water pump is leaking; the impeller inside has disintegrated and water is leaking out the plug.

Crap again!!

So he orders both pumps (from Advanced Auto), and they tell him they should both be in the next day…

Wednesday he calls Advanced Auto: the water pump is in but the power steering pump won’t be in until Thursday.
(The pump comes in late Thursday, but it’s too late to work on the car.)

Friday afternoon Jim starts replacing parts.
(The Water Pump and P/S Pump have “1999” stamped on them – originals!)
Some of the bolts have rounded off heads, so he has to run up the road to get new ones.
(They have American threads but Metric heads – Why!?)

Jim gets everything back together, fires it up – it’s perfect!
I take it down to the grocery store and gas station, and all is good!

Saturday morning I head up to Comcast to turn in my old equipment from the house.
I miss Comcast’s driveway, so I pull a u-turn at the next one.
*The power steering quits again!*
I call Jim and he drives up to take a look: the power steering fluid is full – but there are holes in *both* radiator hoses. Antifreeze is spraying all over the engine compartment, top to bottom – including on the Serpentine Belt!
(Causing the P/S pulley to slip)


I call AAA to have it towed back to the Park. They tow for free for the first 5 miles, but it’s $5/mile after that.
As it’s 15 miles back to the Park.. $50.00…

Once we get back Jim orders the two radiator hoses.
They have the bottom one but they have to order the top one.
The top hose shows up Sunday; Jim replaces both, fills the radiator with water for testing, fires the car up – but when he turns the steering wheel, fluid starts leaking out the front of the power steering housing.
It’s a bad (replacement) power steering pump!


We call Advanced Auto to report it – and they tell us this is the 3rd one in the past 2 months.
(No QC on refurbs!? No “advanced warning”!? WTF!?)
And who’s going to pay the Labor on replacing *another* pump!?
(That’s right – ME!)
Advanced Auto says they take “No Responsibility for Defects on Refurbished Parts”.
(That’s some Bullshit!)

Anyway, they order another P/S pump and Jim goes to pick it up Monday afternoon.

*It’s the wrong pump!*

Jim rips them a new one, and they offer a brand new (right) one in exchange.
It’s scheduled to be here Wednesday.

Wednesday, the new pump arrives as promised.
(It’s Jim’s wife’s birthday, but he’s spending it trying to get my car back together – again!)
I really feel bad for the guy: he’s supposed to be retired – even though he’s a lot younger than me…

I have my car back!
And so far everything is *finally* looking perfect!
(The Test will be tomorrow when I run up to Wally World.)
Jim advises I only drive “locally” for a bit so he can check things out every day – and NOT to call him if anything goes wrong tonight!
It’s his wife’s Birthday!
I’m invited, and am heading out shortly – I have a few Stories to tell to my New Neighbors!

“Life Is Good” – eventually…


Moving Day

I’m finally in the RV Park – but naturally it was an adventure.

About 9:30 this morning I close up the house, disconnect everything, raise the stabilizers and the tongue jack and back the car up to the hitch.
I put the cats in the new hard-sided cat carriers I bought (they *hate* them!) and put them in the back of the Denali.
No problem…

But because the TT has been parked in my back yard for 2 months, the wheels have sunk a bit and I can’t raise the tongue high enough to get the weight distribution bars on the hitch.
I figure I’ll just pull it along side the house onto the concrete pad and then I should be able to get them on.
So I pull forward about 30 feet…

The tearing and screeching sound made me realize I never raised the tongue jack off the ground before pulling it out of the yard!
It’s all bent to hell! Now what!? I can’t do anything – including getting it off the Denali!


I figure I’ll just head for the RV dealer/service center and get it fixed or replaced…
So I hook everything else up as best I can and start pulling out along the side of the house and out the driveway…

The tearing and screeching sound made me realize I just scraped the entire driver’s side of the TT along the gutter, tearing the end of the gutter off, poking a whole in the TT and cracking the fiberglass in several places!


I call the new owners and tell them what happened, and to get it fixed and send me the bill…

Now instead of heading down I-95 to Hobe Sound as planned, I limp down US1 through Port Saint Lucie, Stuart and on to the service Center in Hobe Sound, less than a mile from the RV park…

About 1/2 way through Stuart a guy pulls along side me honking his horn and pointed at the TT, looking real upset.
I pull into the Mall parking lot and take a look – the electrical cable from the TT to the TV had fallen off, so I was driving down the road with *no* lights (break, turn etc.) at all!


I hook the cable back up, check the lights, get back in the Denali, look behind me – and there sits one of the cats!
Those cheap cat carriers buckled and both doors came open!
So one is sitting in the back seat yelling and the other one is sitting right outside the carrier, also yelling!
Screw it, I need to get the tongue jack fixed…

I get to the Service Center, explain my plight and they replace it right away – took about 2 hours because the pole was bent all the way into the frame. There goes $257 I hadn’t planned on…

While waiting I go down to the RV Park to rent a site. The nice one that was available Thursday is now gone, but there are a couple in front of the office that look good, under a couple big Mango trees for shade. I pick the closest one to the Office (better WiFi).
(Only good thing that happened today: he prorated the rent for August, so I saved about $65.)
He said when I get back with the TT, if he’s not here there’s a guy right across the street named George that will help me back into the site…

I head back to the Service Center. When I go to check on the TT I notice one of the end caps on the rear bumper is missing, so I go over to the Parts Dept and buy a new set.

I get back to the RV park, and George is standing there waiting for me. Cool!
He says if I want, he’ll back it in for me as he’s done it a thousand times. So I gladly accept…
(It’s a real tight fit with the Office right there. )

He’s about halfway through getting it lined up – and the power steering just up and quits!


We check the belts and the fluid – no problem. It’s pretty hot from idling and running for about 3 hours (I had to leave the A/C running for the cats, who are still giving me shit).
After fighting the steering for about 1/2 hour, and failing to make progress, we decide to take a site right behind this one that’s easier to maneuver into.
Finally, the TT is in place, the awning is out, everything is hooked up and stabilized, tanks are emptied and the ice maker and A/C are cranking away.

Now I have to wait for the car to cool down and then hope the power steering works again so I can go grab some beers…

While waiting I call Comcast to get my Account closed at the house and switched over to my new site.
(This is on my cell phone, using minutes.)
After going through the voice prompts, inputting several numbers they want, I finally get the message, “We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again later.”
This happened 4 times!


Update: Gave the car plenty of time to cool down – still no Power Steering.
I have to call AAA tomorrow to have it towed – where I have NO idea.
And it’s probably something expensive the way my day has been…



Maiden Voyage


First trip with the new Rig…
Pretty much a typical “Rookie” experience:

I had to back up and adjust about 8 times to get the Tow Vehicle under the Trailer Hitch properly in my backyard, even with those “yellow ball” magnetic things.
(I’m going to get a iBall wireless Backup Camera – these “yellow balls” aren’t cutting it, or I’m so inept I can’t use them properly.)
I finally get it all hooked up and put the (2) Cats into the Car.
They *hate* it! They yell at me the entire time we were moving!
(Like I didn’t have enough stress)

I drive about 5 miles to the Park, but the Office is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
(I knew that ahead of time)
I call the “After Hours” number as instructed – several times.
Nothing – it rings a bunch of times then goes to a Voice Prompt asking for an ID #…?
So I drive around the campground aimlessly waiting for *something* to happen…
I finally get flagged down by a guy mowing the sites.
He gives me a Pass Card for the Gate (to get back in after hours) and tells me to go ahead and pick any site I want.
I can settle up on Thursday when the Office is open…

I find a really nice, shaded site – but after almost a dozen attempts backing up, pulling forward, backing up etc. (again, I’m a Rookie!) my first choice is way beyond my Competency Rating.
I’m either going to clock a tree or the power stanchion before I get anywhere *near* into it correctly.
The Mower Guy watches me with amusement, and after about 20 minutes gently suggests I try and find a more open site.
I follow his advice, find a nice open site, and after several more (6+) attempts I get it more or less where I want it.

After pulling into the “new” site, it’s surprisingly Level!
(Don’t need my Levelators! Cool!)
So I drop the TT off the Hitch and easily level it up front-to-back with the Tongue – Easy-Peasey Lemon-Squeasy!
Life Is Good…

Next I go to drop the Stabilizers – CRAP! I left the Stabilizer Wrench back at the House on the lawn!
So I head back – with the two cats bitching at me the entire time.
I grab the wrench, head back (with ‘the boys” still yelling at me in Stereo), drop the Stabilizers, and herd the cats into the Trailer.
(The younger one hid under the bed, poor thing, for over 4 hours after we “settled”…)

I connect Elec and Water – but the Sewer hoses won’t connect properly.
(Bayonets won’t click together all the way. I guess I need another new set.)
I spend a good 20 minutes fiddling (swapping ends, etc.) and finally get it to sorta stick together.
With a huge amount of trepidation I pull the Black Tank Handle.
The tank empties without the hose coming apart!
Then I pull the the Grey Tank handle – and it stays together!!

Next I turn on the LP, crank up the A/C, turn on the Water Heater – *and the power goes out*.
Thinking it was My Fault (TM), I head outside to make sure I didn’t trip the breaker.
While I’m out there the Mowing Guy drives by and says this entire side of the Park is out – so it’s *not* My Fault (TM)!
I open up the awning, bring out my camp chair, and sit there just enjoying the scenery with a glass of Jim Beam and Branch Water…
(Life Is Good)
About 2 hours later, the power finally comes back on – WooHOO!

Now I’m ready to check (over-the-air TV) and the Park’s WiFi…
TV is.. ok – about 10 stations, but only 2 in English. Thank goodness one of them is ABC HD…
(The other is a religious channel.)
I have a bunch of TV shows already on the hard drive, so I’m all set anyway.

Next I power up the WiFi booster.
Good strong signal – but it’s Encrypted, I don’t have the Password – and the Office is closed until Thursday!
(The Mower Guy didn’t give it to me when he gave the Key to the Park – but to be fair I didn’t think to ask.)
So I call the after hours number again – and still no answer after numerous attempts..
Finally in desperation I head next door, and the nice young lady there gives me the password.
After some configuring – I’m Golden!
(I’m using a Pepwave Mini – nice unit! *Strong* Booster and creates a really good HotSpot/Local Network for the laptop and the Roku.)

So I’m finally sitting pretty at the Savannas County Campground/Park.
I plan on staying until Thursday – or more likely Friday…
(I decided to stay until Sunday)
It’s 82 right now with a decent breeze, but it’s supposed to go down to 58 tonight – so I’ll see if the furnace works!
(Never did need the furnace, but I fired it up just to make sure it works.)

All in all, I’m LOVIN’ this new Adventure/Lifestyle!


New “Home”

This is a short walk-through of my new “digs”

I’ll get back to the Podcasts as soon as I get settled.


Episode 075: Cadets LaSalle

“In 1963, a drum corps emerged literally from the shadows of the magnificent “Peace Tower” of Parliament Hill in Canada’s National Capital of Ottawa. This group would go on to set the drum corps world on fire, but unfortunately, the flame that was the Cadets LaSalle would burn out much too quickly, lasting for only a decade.” …

Links to material used in this episode:

A History of Drum and Bugle Corps Volume 2
Fleetwood Sounds


Camping World and my RV

Good News/Bad news

Good news
Camping World called yesterday to tell me the ’93 Pace Arrow checked out fine and to come get it. So my son and I head up to Kissimmee at 9:30 this morning, arriving about 11:45.

I meet with the Financial Guy, we sign some papers, and head outside.
(I got a one-year Good Sam Elite membership with Roadside Service and Traveler’s Service. Cool!)

The Technician gives me a complete walkthrough, explaining everything.
(I even find a Winegard satellite dish in one of the compartments!)
I meet again with the Financial Guy, give him the check and purchase a new Sewer Hose.
I meet the Tech again and we take the RV out for a short test drive, and all’s good.
I drop the Tech off behind the dealership, and sit idling waiting for my son to bring the car around to follow me home – just sitting there and admiring my “new home”.

Bad News
All of a sudden the RV.. sputters and dies. It’s dead, real dead. No clicks, no whirs, nothing.

I go back inside to report it, and 1/2 hour later they send two Techs out back.
They jumpstart it, but it dies almost immediately again.
After several attempts, they look inside the engine compartment and fiddle around for another 45 minutes.
They finally determine the Alternator is shot.
They manage to keep it running long enough to get it into one of the bays.

After another hour senselessly walking up and down the aisles of Camping World, I head out back to see what’s up.

Good news
The Tech comes over to me and says it turns out the battery was so drained and old it wouldn’t hold a charge, so they put a brand new one in, and it’s running fine.
So off we go.
This is around 5:00pm.

Bad news
I drive East on 192 about 50 miles to I-95 South, slow down for the ramp and merge into traffic.
The engine won’t go back into Overdrive, and the RPMs are pegged at about 3800RPM at 60mph!

4 miles down I-95 is Palm Bay so I pull off at an Exit and head to a close-by Mobil Station to fill the tank (it was between 1/2 and 1/4; started with a 1/2)
I swing into the outside of the furthest pumps and shut it down.
I try to reach the gas cap with the hose and I’m too far away (Rookie!).
So I jump back into the RV, turn the key.. and nothing.

It’s dead, real dead. No clicks, no whirrs, nothing.
There’s also a small puddle of transmission fluid underneath the front end.
This is about 6:30pm.

Naturally I panic and call Camping World. They’re closed for the evening.
So I call the Financial Guy on his cellphone (he gave me his card and said to call him any time.)
I tell him what happened. He says call Good Sam and give them the Membership Number he printed out for me, and he’ll call his Lead Tech at home and get right back to me.

I call Good Sam: they don’t have my Number in their System yet (it takes 72 hours).
I explain my plight to Clarice, a very nice and understanding gal.
She puts me on hold, talks to her boss, and he approves my Membership on the spot.
I tell her what the Financial Guy told me, and she says it’s best to wait for Camping World to get back to me.
If they don’t, she says call back and they’ll arrange for towing to the nearest auto shop on the Approved List.

So I call the Financial Guy back – and get his voice mail.
I wait 5 minutes and call again – voice mail.
This goes on for about 1/2 hour.

I finally call Good Sam back, get a different gal on the phone – and she tells me my Membership Number isn’t in their System.
I tell her about talking to Clarice, and that she had the Mgr approve my Membership.
She puts me on hold for a few seconds, comes back and says Clarice explained everything to her, and did I want towing?
I do, so she gets all the info she needs – and informs me that the towing is free but I’ll have to pay for parts & service at the auto shop.
I tell her I’ll be calling Camping World in the morning, because *I* am not paying anything.
She’s cool with that, and says she’ll tell the auto shop.
She then says she’ll call around for a local auto shop that works on RVs, call a tow truck for me, and will call me back when she has it all set.

45 minutes later, she calls me back and says everything is set, the auto shop guy knows about Camping World probably going to pay for it, and that he’ll start working on it first thing in the morning.
This is 7:45.
The Tow Truck will be here by 8:45.

The tow truck shows up at 9:00 (he did call me a couple times to explain he was on another call, and had to get a bigger tow truck for the RV).
The tow truck driver backs up, runs his huge lift under the RV, I put it in Neutral and he starts forward.

The RV won’t move.

It turns out these RVs had a safety feature built in so that unless the motor was running the drive shaft was locked.
(So kids didn’t put it in Neutral and have it roll into the lake or something.)

But the RV is dead, real dead. No clicks, no whirrs, nothing.

He calls his boss, and it takes the two of them over 2 hours to finally get the wheels to turn.
(The drive shaft bolts were rusted and rounded off, so they couldn’t just remove it.)

The RV finally got dropped off at the shop at midnight – and we got home at 1:15am.

I’m calling Camping World tomorrow, telling them where the RV is – and to come and get it.
I’m cancelling the deal.

Too bad, as the interior is gorgeous!


Episode 074: Spirit of Atlanta

“Established in the fall of 1976, Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps was the creation of brothers Freddy Martin, a successful suburban Atlanta band director, and his wife, Lynda. That summer, they and Bob Hoehn partnered with a local network television affiliate to realize their dream of an Atlanta area junior drum and bugle corps.” …

Links to material used in this episode:

A History of Drum and Bugle Corps Volume 2
Fleetwood Sounds


Episode 073: Phantom Regiment

“The Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps has been in existence since 1956. Originating in the “blue collar” community of Rockford, IL, the Regiment is the surviving marching unit in an area where drum and bugle corps have existed since the end of World War I.” …

Links to material used in this episode:

A History of Drum and Bugle Corps Volume 2
Fleetwood Sounds


Episode 072: Bluecoats

“In 1972, Canton, OH, police officers J. Babe Stearn and Ralph McCauley, the director and assistant director of the Canton Police Boys Club, met with Canton businessman Art Drukenbrod to discuss an idea they had for a music program at the Boys Club.” …

Links to material used in this episode:

A History of Drum and Bugle Corps Volume 2
Fleetwood Sounds


Episode 071: St. Rita’s Brassmen

“The Saint Joseph Patron Parish was small, mostly Italian, and located in Brooklyn, New York. In 1956 the parish leaders were moved to organize a Sea Cadet corps for the youngsters of the neighborhood. The corps had a two-fold mission: to keep the kids out of trouble and to represent the church in parades for the annual Italian feast.” …

Links to material used in this episode:

Fleetwood Sounds