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Southeast (Gulf Coast), Texas, United States

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Travel To Arkansas – Post #1

We had planned a trip to Rogers, AR to babysit for our 3 1/2 year old granddaughter, Rachel, while her parents attended a conference on Friday through Sunday, beginning, 24Oct2014.  Here parents live in Little Rock, and will arrive in Rogers on Friday.  We left early on Wednesday, 15Oct, to make it a longer trip. 

We had even planned to stay a week or so afterward, but Patsy has foot surgery scheduled on Wednesday, 29Oct with Pre-Opt appointment on Monday, 27Oct at 3:00PM.  No doubt, after we hand Rachel back over on Sunday, we are going to have to do a 350 mile trip to Houston before we shut down on Sunday night!!

Part of this trip included an appointment with the Cummins Southern Plains shop in East Houston on Thursday morning on the way to Arkansas to have some engine codes looked at.  After looking at it, they determined that they need it for more time, and so, we have an appointment beginning Monday morning, 27Oct.  Our plan is to park there on Sunday night, and hand over the Bus to them on Monday morning, and then head to Victoria for Patsy’s 3:00PM Pre-Opt appointment.

To kill some time during the Bus appointment, Patsy wanted to visit the IKEA store in Houston.  It was an interesting walk-through, and we found a couple of things for the Bus.  We also had a really good lunch there!  I had Swedish meatballs, and Patsy had baked chicken……….


After lunch, we visited a local Trader Joe’s, which is built in the old Alabama Theater on Shepherd St., and purchased some goodies for our trip, and then headed back to the Cummins shop.  After setting up our next appointment, which was nested into some other planned activities for the rest of the calendar year, we left and headed toward Arkansas.

We traveled to Marshall, TX and overnighted in the local Wal-Mart parking lot,  When we got up Friday morning, we walked in front of the Bus, and saw the mess of ‘Love Bugs’ on the front.  We left and drove to the Texas/Arkansas border, and decided to do a ‘bucket wash’ on the front of the Bus in the Texas Welcome Center.  Patsy took some pictures….IMG_3988


With the Bus clean again, we headed toward Arkadelphia with the intent of turning north on Ark Hwy 7, listed as one of the most scenic in the USA, and taking in the view through the large windshield.  About 7 minutes after we turned onto Hwy 7, which is a narrow 2-lane road with a less-than 24” shoulder, I got my very first “Stop Engine” light on the dash console.  I knew that I only had seconds to get off the road before the engine computer shut itself down.  I wasted a couple of those seconds thinking something that my grandson, Matthew, says when confronted something that surprises him………… “REALLY!!”.

I was almost off the road and into the ditch when it just died and the steering wheel became very stiff with the loss of the PS system!!  It was about 3:00PM.

I called our towing service that we pay for on an annual basis, and let them know that I was in an unsafe place…… see belowIMG_3990IMG_3996

While I was on the phone with the towing service, a Park Ranger stopped by to tell me that I had parked in a “bad place”!!!  After I explained that I wasn’t simply parked, he became helpful. 

The lady at the towing service was not so helpful, and was mostly incompetent.  The problem was that nobody locally had the correct truck to tow the Bus, and she was trying to get someone to pull me to a safe place, and then get a two truck later.  The Ranger gave me a phone number for a guy that did have the equipment, and when I called him, he said that the ‘tow lady’ had already called him and said he was too expensive!!!

The Ranger reported my situation to the Arkansas Highway Patrol and went back to work.  The ‘tow lady’ and I communicated back and forth several times about tow trucks that were coming, and then not coming.  After a while, the calls stopped!! 

About 6:30PM, a highway patrolman knocked on the door, and said that I had to move to a safe place because it was getting dark!  I explained the situation, and then he said that he could get somebody out there, but it was cost me about $1000 dollars!!  I asked him to let me call the “tow lady” back and get an update and tell her that a cop was threatening me…….. and he said ‘give it a try!!’

I called back only to find out that my ‘tow lady’ had gotten off work, and had left without a very good pass-down to the next guy.  I got in touch with the new guy, who told me that they could not find anybody, and asked to talk to the Highway Patrol officer.  I did that and the officer ripped him a new one, and then handed the phone back to me.  The new guy said he was sending out, at their cost, the guy that the patrolman recommended!!

By blocking the highway, and using a heavy duty pickup in the back of the Bus with a chain on my trailer hitch, another pickup in front of me, with his air compressor hooked up to my air tanks, and me steering the Bus in reverse and being the brakes for the pulling pickup, we got it off the highway and into a driveway up the road a bit!!  What a trip!!  Patsy took some pictures.  The first is with me visiting with the highway patrolman behind the Bus.  Best visit I have ever had with a cop behind me……… he did not have his ticket book out!!!!!


In the end, it worked out.  The guys with the pickups were diesel mechanics, and after we got off the highway, they read the computer codes on the engine, and decided that I had a failed sensor on the DPF and it shut the engine down.  The PDF is the Diesel Particulate Filter which is the item that cleans up the diesel exhaust.  It burns off the particulates periodically, and it gets very hot, and it was showing super hot.

They rigged it where I could drive it to their shop at the intersection of Hwy 7 and I-30 (about 7 miles), and on Saturday morning, we drove into Little Rock, and picked up a new sensor.  They installed it and we were on our way by noon.  However, we did not take the scenic (narrow road) route, but stayed on the interstate roads.

We made it to Northwest Arkansas, near Rogers, by Saturday night.  However, our troubles did not end……. we hit two campground with bad electricity that our Surge Protector would not let the power pass.

We ended up modifying our reservation at our Roger’s campground, checked into it early, and have been doing all of our touring from there.

I did complain the the last guy that I talked with at the tow company, and he must have told somebody that I was really mad.  On Monday, they had their Quality Control person to call me and offer me an apology, some money, and gifts.  The QC person had listened to all the phone calls, which they record, and agreed with my assessment of the lady’s incompetence.  I was told that she has been disciplined, and either will be transferred to automobiles or fired.

The next post will be more pleasant as we toured the mountains around northwest Arkansas.


Steve and Karen said...

Darn Richard. You are quite the troublemaker. Just kidding. Glad that you were able to finally get the Bus moved to a safe spot and get the sensor taken care of.
It's my understanding that if the police get involved (as it was in your case) and tell you that the vehicle HAS to be moved then Coach Net (is that who you used) would have to foot the bill for whichever tow company the police officer called to get you moved.

Richard and Patsy King said...

Yeah, I use CoachNet. I did not know if they would foot a bill if the Highway Patrol demanded it or not, but for $1000, I wanted that base covered!!

I remember that you guys visited this area, and it has a lot to offer. Since we are here to babysit, and then Patsy has to be back for her surgery, we will hardly touch the things to see.

Maybe we will see you in Q.