It was a quick trip to Indiana! Then it was not!!
As you all know I still have a full time job. Sometimes with a tight schedule. So if I am going to go play with my friends and still pay my bills sometimes a slight shot is required! Now I have done this sling shot many times at different times of the year. The Midwest in November is always a roll of the dice for weather but when you roll a breakdown in there it gets just ridiculous!
Grab a coffee and a chair and I will tell you about a Chipmunk Adventure that required a little patience and some real good friends!
Friday was a tough day at work. Things were not working the way they should and I left there not satisfied and it was on my mind. I got into the van took a deep breath, glad to be home and thought time for a road trip and long weekend! Laughs are in order!! 😊 I had planned a road trip with my girlfriend Bonnie to see my club members, Midwest Van Club in Indiana. It’s been awhile and as you read in my last blog I get itchy! Lol!
I love travelling with Bonnie as she is an adventurer as well! I picked her up and set off. We had about a 10 hour drive and darkness comes early these days! We hit the border, no cars in front of us, asked the usual questions by this cutie border officer. After he handed our passports back I asked him if he wanted to go to a party! Hahaha! He blushed! It was cute! Off we went planning our usual route across I69 to I94 to Rt31 this time because we were going to Vince’s. We were chatting and yup missed the I69 cut off. After a few miles I realized this did not look familiar. Look at the sign…I94 West. Yup we missed the cut off. We laughed, programmed the gps and it took us on a route we had not been before. Down through Ann Arbor which would have been much prettier in the day light, but a nice drive just the same. It brought us to I94 and then we turned on Rt31 then the low battery light came on. I looked at the voltage gauge and it was close to the red! Ohhh no! Something is wrong! How many miles to go..40. Maybe we can make it. The only thing we could do is keep driving. We make the next cut off and we are on a country road no sides just ditches. Not a good place to die but we still had headlights so we still had power to run the engine. Something is not charging the battery. A bad connection or a bad alternator. Let’s just worry about getting there. We get to our next right and there is a large parking lot for a Napa dealer. I look ahead and see more country road with no sides just ditches. The lights dim a little and the van gave a small shiver. I looked at Bonnie and said we have to pull over now. Not even a minute after we pulled into the lot she died! 24 miles to go!!!
Here we sat. I got out, lifted the hood, checked the battery connections and connections I could see but it is dark in the middle of nowhere Indiana! Lol! Got back in and said at least I have CAA which also worked in the US! Phewww! Called them and with a very easy transition they found the tow company that serviced the area I was in! Once I found out what area I was in! Lol! The tow company called me and asked exactly what am I driving! I told him a Chevy Roadtrek. A campervan. Those that do not know do not understand. Can it be towed with a tow truck? No! It has storage flares and is low to the ground. Soooo glad he called and asked. A flatbed was closer he would take his call and reroute him to me. It would be about 2.5 hours! Awesome!!! It was 2 am now! In the meantime Bonnie had been texting with the people that were waiting for us. It will be over 2 hours before the tow truck comes, get them to come pick you up. My house battery will run my furnace until it runs out but I can not start the van to recharge. I had got Bonnie to shut the house battery off when the battery light came on. The gauge was in the yellow. No sense both of us being cold if it takes that long. So Suzie and Norm came with coffee, cause yup they love us and took Bonnie to Vince’s.
Now I was by myself in a broke down van in the middle of nowhere Indiana! I sat and listened to the quiet, looked at the stars and wondered what the heck was wrong with the van. She had been running fine. No issues. Not charging ..if it is not charging it is the alternator would be my best guess. I had not changed an alternator in a long time and only on fords but hey how hard could it be??? Where I was going had tools, a place to do it and good friends if I needed some muscle! The tow truck showed up and by 5 am I was sitting at the kitchen table, having coffee laughing with my friends! At 6 am I had now been up for 24 hours!! I can not even remember the last time I was up for 24 hours that’s how long ago that happened. Off to bed for a few hours of restless sleep. I still had a broken van, no real diagnosis and had to be to work no later then Tuesday morning at 8 am!
When I woke up, a large cup of coffee was in order and a plan needed to be formulated. I was pretty sure it was the alternator. I had tried to start it and it started because the battery was fairly new and could bring itself up to charge. Asked Norm of I could use the tools in the garage. It was going to take awhile to get the alternator out as I was really just winging it! Lol! One of our friends Game was coming and he was a mechanic, but I did not know when he would be there and if the parts place would even have an alternator in stock. People were starting to arrive.
At one point a friend approached me and told me to relax it will get done. I was pretty relaxed knowing I had my friends around me but explained…my van breaking down is not like your van breaking down. There is no catching a ride home, or figuring it out later. At that moment, standing amid all my friends I was homeless and I will tell you THAT is not an option. So yes worried and can not fully relax until I hear her running, frantic I am not. I am confident in my ability to figure it out because everything is figureoutable!!!
Bill came over and asked what I was doing and could he help. Yes please. I had started getting the proper tools and started taking the coolant reservoir off. Bill started on the air cleaner before we could even see the alternator. Bill took out the bottom bolts and the bolts and connections to the alternator which was awesome because I am short and my van is not! Pat who is a very big man and very strong came over and slipped off my belt! Haha! Never seen that done before without loosening the tension off the tensionor! Lol! I took off or so I thought the bracket surrounding the alternator and thought I should be able to grab it and tilt the bottom forward and it should slide right out!!
Hahaha! Ummm nope! It was not even budging! It looked like I got all the bracket bolts off but could not lift it any higher due to the dipstick tube! Ohhhhh so flippin close! As I stood and looked at it my hands filled with grease willing it to come out I heard a van drive in and it was Game!! Oh my stars was I glad to see him! He would know the secret! I had missed a bolt holding the bracket! He had the alternator out in less time then it took me to take the bracket almost out!!! Hahaha! Oh the universe sent me an angel!! We went to the parts store they had one in stock, came back and he put it in (in half the time it took for us to get it almost out! Lol) and she started right up!! Now I could relax!! Woohoo! Let the Party begin!
Vince has a beautiful piece of property surrounded by woods! The leaves had fallen and it was perfect for leaf jumping! Unfortunately the weather gave us one window and I was fixing the van! Darn!!! I think I would have been the only one leaf jumping tho! When I said it they looked at me like I was nuts!!! Hahahaha! Woohoo! I can still make my friends who already know I am nuts look at me like I am nuts!! 🤣🤣
After a wonderful evening and good sleep Sunday brought hugs and goodbyes! Bonnie and I set off to do some shopping and head back. We had 48 hours to do a 10 hour tour! Time to shop! I love the US for their individual items. I hate throwing away food but when it is sold in too big of a portion it goes bad before I can eat it all. It was a beautiful day as we set off down the highway! Now I am not much of a shopper. Never really have been. But if I am looking for a gift then it has to be what I exactly want. Since most times I do not know what I want, it takes some looking!
We stopped at a few stores on the hunt for Christmas items and 2 birthdays. The different things they have I can not get here at home. We stopped at a store called Cost Plus World Market. Our friend Josh had said if you were looking for different that would be the place to go. It was a small detour off our route so we made sure to stop there! Ohhhhh score! I got my grandson a Yard of Popping corn! He loved it! I also found Jack Daniel’s coffee. Jack Daniel’s being my favorite alcohol and coffee being my favorite drink! Oh my what a delicious combination! It is good!!
We decided to stop in Lansing for the night and hit a Cracker Barrel for breakfast and shopping on our way back. Stopped at a really nice Hampton! They are my go to hotel. Got a nice suite for a good price. We were cozy. Went out to the van for a smoke and to get a couple of things. I am not good at packing, good thing home is always close!! Lol! It is snowing!! Hard! Really??? Look at the weather, there is a storm coming! Ohhhh nooo!!! A winter storm in early November? Ya maybe some flurries, but we left the Midwest!!! Maybe it will blow quickly through and we can get behind it. The only thing to do is wait and see! We waited and watched the snow keep falling. Went to bed and woke and yup, the snow was STILL falling! They were closing roads and it looked nasty!! We went down and asked for a late checkout. Bonnie talked to a couple of ladies later that just pulled off the highway and they passed 9 Jack-knifed tractor trailers!!! Ohhhh that’s not good! We booked another night!
did find out the only thing I do not have in my van is a corkscrew but nothing a hammer could not fix! Lol!
I went out to start the van and let her run. More for my knowledge I could if anything! Lol! And doesn’t this happen!
Oh my stars not again!! Now I am in Michigan and this starts again?? What could it be?? She was running fine!!! After about 10 min of letting her run the volts went back to over 14 and the light went out. Everything seemed to be charging! Pheewwwww! Come on baby get me back! I am already a day late for work! I started her a few more times just to be sure and she worked fine! The next day the roads had been cleared and it was smooth sailing! Past quite a few cars and trucks still buried in the ditches and middle of the highway from the night before! You have to know when to stop!!! Just pull over and wait it out! Made a quick stop at Cracker Barrel and a breeze through the border and just after Sarnia it started to snow! Really???? Its NOVEMBER!!! Down the 402 as the snow got thicker! Dropped Bonnie off and made a quick get away as the snow was getting thicker and I still had a ways to go! As I turned in to the 403 not 5 km from where it was snowing hard it stopped. Dry roads and clear sailing! Woohoo!! Bonus! The van was running good! A nice comfortable ride back! Oh wait you thought that was the end of the story…….Parked at a Walmart that night! Had a great nights sleep after a long extended weekend! Got up to start the van and yup you guessed it! The light was on!! Ok well I have got to get this fixed. Could the alternator I got in Indiana be bad! That was Games guess!! Ohhh brother!! Called my friend Mike who recommended I take it to Zack at Thruway Muffler in Port Colborne where I was working. Explained what happened and he suspected bad alternator. He said he was busy but he would look at it. Could he keep it over night? Hahaha! Not unless I can sleep in the parking lot. I live in it! Ohhhh leave it here and I will take care of it. Sure enough bad alternator. He replaced and I hoofed it from work to pick it up!
He was nice enough to clean up connections and tighten the tensionor and do a couple of things at no charge and even the parts shop did not charge me a core so I could return the other one. The next time I am in the US! We have no Autozones over here! Making a bad experience a little nicer!
This Chipmunk Adventure required a lot of patience, knowing that I can figure it out and the love and caring of a some very good friends! I am very Blessed!!! Andddd I found an Awesome Purple Jacket!!! 😊💜
Finally she is running fine. Back to work and awaiting another Chipmunk Adventure!
See you next time! Thanks for coming along!