We finally left home at 3:40 PM. Not only did Joe get flat on his work, but Roxy had a bath at Petco. I was pretty happy about that—she was MUCH fluffier and nicer to be around!
We had an uneventful ride for the first few hours, and other than a Dunkin Donuts stop for coffee, we didn’t stop until around 6:30. Joe was ready to switch drivers at that point, but as long as we were stopped (at a PA rest stop on I-80), we decided to have some dinner. We talked to Beth and had yummy chicken sandwiches, and then we were ready to pull out. I turned the key in the ignition, and…..nothing.
So Joe got out and began to trouble shoot. My first thought was that the battery had been discharging for the past 3 hours, and was dead. This seemed strange but not impossible—we had a problem like this on our very first trip(s). However, we do have not one but FOUR ways to handle this—two powerful battery chargers, a jump circuit between the truck battery and the house battery, and last but not least, our generator. But it was clear that the battery was fine—all the other electric circuits worked fine, and our headlights were strong. (Except, at this point we noticed that one was burned out on the low beams—another small issue.)
So I waited while Joe did his thing—poking, prodding… I guess it’s a lot like what he does with his patients, LOL! He told me it “looked like it was a problem with the starter.” Now there’s a part we haven’t fixed or replaced yet. My job was to turn the key each time he said, “Now try it.” And after about 15 minutes, it worked, and the battery turned over. He looked triumphant and said, “I found the problem! It’s a broken solenoid.” Well… ok. What’s a solenoid? It’s some small $2 part that when it breaks, the starter won’t work.
Now it was my turn to be useful. I had been studying “The Next Exit”, and saw that 5 miles down the road was an exit which listed an Advance Auto Parts store. It was only 7:30, and I hoped they’d still be open. 15 minutes later we were at the store, parked in the parking lot under some very bright lights. Joe took the broken solenoid out (it was screwed to the side of the engine compartment), as well as the burned out headlight. He went in and got replacements (we had Temple scrip for the store—oh how sweet!!) and it took another 15-20 minutes to put the new parts in. And, VOILA! We were all fixed.
We continued on our way until about 10:30, by which time I was getting tired and Joe was snoozing next to me. Since I didn’t want to wake him and ask him what was coming up on the highway, and since I knew we were near a Flying J, I pulled off at that exit (173) and we set up for the night. Sad to say, I woke up at 3 a.m. unable to go back to sleep. After some tossing and turning, I decided to get up and type this blog instead. I noticed as we left the highway, there was a Hampton Inn at the exit ramp. So maybe they have free wifi, and if so, in a few hours I can quickly upload this before we get back on the road.
By my calculations (the DeLorme Street Atlas with Joe’s last house call left open on the desk top was convenient!) we are still 9 hours from Elkhart, IN. That’s longer than I’d hoped to drive in one day, but that’s what happens with a late start. And meanwhile it’s raining. I hope that stops before it gets light—that could slow us down also. Although I’m wide awake at the moment (it’s 4:30 a.m), it’s probably not nice for me to wake Joe up and start driving….