Brought my boys and their friend down to Byerly RV to pick up the Beast. Thought they might get a kick out of riding in it, even if it was just from one repair shop to the next. They’re weren’t really enthused, because it meant leaving their video games for an hour or so, but I made them go anyway because that’s what parents do.
I miss the Beast when I’m away from it. I don’t know if it’s one of those abusive relationships or something, because every time we’re together I get hurt…whether emotionally, physically, or financially. Or all three. But I keep coming back.
There she was, ready to be picked up. All electrical issues finally resolved, save the camera system which they’ll fix when the part arrives on Monday. I was super excited. For the first time, the Beast would be pretty much whole on the inside, meaning all the housing systems once again up and running. Now it was time to take her back to Clarke to have the leveling system repaired.
I climbed in, fired it up, and began to pull around to the front of the building to pick up the three boys. It seemed a little…bouncy, but I just figured it have been a good week or so since I drove, so maybe I just wasn’t used to the feel of it. Whatever. The boys climbed aboard, still not overly impressed, but making the best of their situation. Good enough for me.
We exit the RV center and make our way just a few hundred yards to the first intersection, turn left, then take another left to enter the highway. Pretty shaky, but tolerable. I quickly reach about 40mph and suddenly each dip or imperfection in the road feels like we’re going to bounce off the road. Something’s just not right. I hit 50, and a few potholes, and all hell breaks loose. We’re bouncing so bad it feels like the entire front end is lifting off the ground. If I wasn’t buckled in I would have been lifted a solid 12 inches off the seat. My whole body shook violently as tried to control the Beast. I could feel what used to be pectoral muscles 10 years ago jostle up and down like sad sacks of meat. In the back bedroom, and in the spirit of the Olympic Games, Christian performed a half gainer with full twist in roughly 4 feet of air before landing back on the mattress. I could hear one of the boys say “are we going to die?” Things were not good. I coasted back down to about 25 and immediately exited the highway, just 2 miles from where we left. Even at 25 every tiny bump or crack in the road would send shock waves through the coach and rattle our entire bodies. It was scary and I felt horrible for the boys. I immediately called Byerly and they said to bring it back in right away (if I could) and they would take a look, even though they didn’t work on anything related to chassis. The boys didn’t like that answer. They wanted out and I couldn’t blamed them. So did I. But back onto the highway we went. This time I topped out about 20-25 mph in the far right hand lane, much to the dismay of Eureka, MO and everyone on highway 44 that day. Oh people were pissed too. Cars and trucks honking like crazy, flying by and crisscrossing lanes. It was exactly 2.4 miles back to Byerly so each and every one of them could kiss my ass and use the other THREE lanes.
Back at Byerly the boys and I waited patiently in the service area while the technicians attempted to diagnose the issue. It felt like a hospital waiting room and I just knew any minute the doctor would emerge and say, “we did the best we could, but I wasn’t able to save her.” I was totally bummed and sat mostly quiet, pondering what this latest problem was going to cost me. The boys were quiet too, and extremely well behaved…as one might expect after a near-death experience. Christian even consoled me a bit saying it was a “kinda fun adventure” as I apologized for dragging them along with me.
3o or so minutes later they brought the Beast around and all was well! The technicians had mistakenly worked on the leveling system earlier in the week before realizing that was being fixed at another shop. In doing so they tripped the breaker for the air bag suspension, so we were riding entirely on the springs. I used the word “terrified” to describe the ordeal and the tech said “I bet”. I said “it felt like the front tires were coming off the ground” and he said, “they probably did.”
Back onto the Beast we went. I was certain the boys would opt out and ride home with Aimee, but much to my surprise they were ready to go another round with the Beast. It was about an hour drive out to Wentzville to Clarke Power Services. They never complained.
48 hours later and the Beast is ready to be picked up. Again. It’s like carpooling the world’s worst kid to and from the world’s worst activities . Aimee and I go solo on this one and spare the boys. We scoop up the coach, pay $170 more than what was originally quoted, and start making our way out to Hawk Point through Troy…but grab some Big Sticky’s BBQ along the way. Their nachos are ridiculous.
Since there’s a Walmart a mile or two from Big Sticky’s, I leave it parked while we go eat. Upon my return I decide to check the front end to see if in fact the hydraulic fluid leak had stopped and notice the familiar red puddles dotting the pavement. Oh come on. I’m pissed. So very, very pissed. It’s 5:00. Clarke closes at 5:00. I call anyway assuming I would leave a message. Instead, the Regional Manager answers and apologizes up and down for the inconvenience and offers to come out and meet me and take a look. Since the hydraulic fluid has nothing to do with the motor and the coach is driveable, I tell him I can just drive it back there if someone will still be there. He’s catching up on paperwork and isn’t going anywhere. Fantastic. He then offers to give me a ride back to Troy, which I don’t need because Aimee was following me in her car. He said he hadn’t been to this location in three months, and used to be the Manager there. Now, as the Regional Manager, he answers the phone at 5:00 when he could have easily let the answering service pick up; he stopped conducting an after-hours interview to greet me at the door when I return; follows me outside to look under the coach to get an idea of the issue and assures me they’ll take care of everything. All the while apologizing for the inconvenience. I like this guy. He gets customer service.
Turns out all the fluid was residual fluid built up in the miles (seemingly) of plastic wire loom that protects all the electrical wiring. When it had leaked out of the leveling motor, and when they drained the overflow tank, it filled a lot of the old corrugated loom tubing and made a mess. They replaced it all…every inch of the old wire loom was removed and replaced with brand new tubing. For free. It looks brand new and I couldn’t be happier.
Now the Beast is back out in Hawk Point again, waiting for it’s final cleaning and loading. It still doesn’t seem possible to me that we’re leaving in 6 days. Of course there’s always a possibility we won’t. It’s not really up to me anymore. I guess it never was. This is the Beast’s world, I’m just trying to live in it. Literally.