Friday, November 27, 2009

Bah humbug

I debated calling this "The Kindness of Strangers" but I resisted the temptation. The Christmas ads have been playing for some time now on the Canadian stations. The US has been wrapped up in anticipation of Thanksgiving which appears to me to be every bit as big a deal for them as Christmas is for us, if not more of a big deal. Yesterday we were in a WallyWorld somewhere along the coast where they had a full staff on despite the fact that it was Thanksgiving. The staff were placing pallets of black wrapped merchandise in preparation for today - what they call Black Friday - which apparently is the biggest retail sales day of the year. To all of which I say "bah humbug". On the other hand......

Yesterday we got rolling around 10:00 and headed south down the Oregon coast. I had checked the forecast and hoped that we would drive out of the pelting rain that made life miserable for us while we were breaking camp and hooking up but alas that was not to be. We never shut the wipers off all day and rather than letting up it actually got heavier as the day went on. We stopped for lunch at the site of some ancient Tsunami which was actually a great relief to me. Everywhere we go along the coast its Tsunami this and Tsunami that and Tsunami the other thing - parks and streets and restaurants. Not to mention the ubiquitous Tsunami Evacuation Route signs. So it was actually a relief to know that they really did have on here - a long time ago mind you - but there is apparently some real risk.

About 4:00 we crossed a bridge on some Elk River and as I was climbing the hill on the south side a truck came racing up in my rearview, started flashing its lights at me, passed me and waved me to the side of the road as he got ahead of me. I briefly thought we might be about to be victims of some roadside robbery because it was a pretty remote area but I pulled in behind the truck and by the time I got stopped the kid driving had hopped out, run over to my window, told me I had a "huge problem" and continued running to the back of the bus. All this in drenching rain. I got my coat on and walked to the back of the bus and he was right - we did have a huge problem. The driver's side front spindle had sheared cleanly off leaving the tire and rim dragged back underneath the truck. The kid said we were setting off a spectacular light show & I'm sure we were. Apparently it happened as we crossed the bridge, he saw the truck fall and immediately took after us.

We dragged the truck a little further off the road and then Marilyn got on the phone to roadside assistance while I tackled getting us disconnected. Over the next 2 hours while we waited for a tow truck to arrive no less than five kind hearted souls stopped to check on us. The first guy that came along told me who to call locally and where to take the truck for repairs. One young fellow stopped once and then came back to tell us that he lived right at the road we were stopped at and that we could park on his lane for the night. So that's what we did because we were by no means certain that we were going to find a tow truck at that time of day on Thanksgiving.

Just after dark we saw yet another person walking up to the door so Marilyn went to answer it and was met by the mother of the young fellow that lived there. She had a cut off cardboard box with two plates of Thanksgiving dinner in it (complete with apple & pumpkin pie). Marilyn burst into tears but all the woman said was that her son had told her to bring it because we were stuck there alone with no dinner. Which wasn't completely true in our case but I guess there was no way for him to know that.

About the time we got done supper - by then it was really dark - an unmarked cop car showed up. He whipped in behind the micro-truck and I thought "oh boy, here we go". I walked back out to the highway and an affable gentleman in a raincoat introduced himself as the Port Orford police chief. Evidently Good Sam roadside assistance had been using the shotgun approach to obtaining a tow truck, phoning literally anybody anywhere close by and leaving messages for them to call back. Somebody from over 50 miles away had called the police chief to see what was going on - no doubt assuming that we had been in some kind of accident. Of course the police chief didn't have clue one about what was going on so he just hopped in the cruiser and went to have a look for himself. We both stood out in the rain watching the tow truck that it turned out had been dispatched to us drive merrily by and keep on going. Then we walked back to the bus where we explained what was going on.

The chief had recognized the local tow truck and it seemed too coincidental that it wouldn't be coming to us so he phoned the driver. As it turned out once I got to know the driver it wasn't a great surprise that he had driven by. As Eddie Myers used to say, put a pail over his head, point him west and he'll drown in the Pacific Ocean. And this guy wouldn't even had had to walk all that far. With great difficulty the cop finally convinced the driver that he had not only driven by his tow, he had driven by it despite the fact that there was a cop car complete with flashing lights parked behind it.

A lot happened after that which isn't really material to the story. Likely the bearing went out of that front hub, got hot and eventually seized up taking the spindle out. Ford in their infinite wisdom has gone to sealed bearings for the front end of everything. I had those in my 1-ton and had one go out going through Strathmore one night. I felt something in the steering, stopped and couldn't see anything in the dark. I went a few more miles until I was sure something was wrong at which point I jacked the front end and sure enough the wheel was loose already. So when that sealed bearing failed it could easily have heated and taken out the spindle in a matter of minutes, let alone hours.

Oregon Coast
Today we are parked in Humbug State Park which is absolutely gorgeous, a 5 minute walk from the ocean, quiet and virtually empty. Life is good.

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