It was finally time to hit the road again. With rising expectations and a fistful of maps, we turned our attention to the deep south. On the course were North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Our RV, Vinny, seemed up for the trip.
Peter had driven out to NY, while I flew from Portland. On the drive out, Vinny had a couple of reduced power episodes – a built in on our Mercedes diesel chassis – to protect the engine. The protocol is to pull over, turn off the engine and start back up. This resets the engine and if it’s a fluke, than all is well. Calls to Oregon revealed a laid back attitude of if it doesn’t happen too often, bring it in when you get back.
The cold morning of our push off from NY, Vinny went into low power mode even before we got onto the highway! Then all quiet for a while until we hit Pennsylvania when there were a series of episodes all going uphill, the last eliciting an engine check light. This was not good. Our goal for the day was Charlottesville, VA to meet up with a friend, five hours away.
It was clear we at least needed to know what was wrong. Many calls later we found ourselves in Wilkes Barre’s Motorworld – an amazing complex of dealerships and repair stations that employs 430 people.
The good news was that it was a manageable hose replacement, bad news was that the part needed to be over-nighted. Hopefully, back on the road by noon the next day.
Fortunately for us, Peter has many friends who have a quirky love for insulators. In a short time, we had a place to stay, but had four hours to kill. Seven Bowls State Park just ten minutes away, had a river running through it that stepped down in a series. I however, spent most of my time sleeping and trying to stay warm while sneezing and feeling generally miserable. Peter and Nellie (his dog) went hiking around and up to old railroad grades on either side of the river.
We made our way to the friend’s home in the dark. It was packed with insulators as well as many other collectibles. I was semi-miserable in the clutter and cool temps. It didn’t help that I locked myself out of the house at 10:00 pm when I went to get some things out of Vinny! Peter and friend had gone to the pub without me so that I could be suffer on my own. Fortunately, I didn’t have to shiver for long before seeing the headlights.
We were all set to make our way to the dealership at 10 am. Optimistically, we ventured forth in our ignorance! The part was changed by about 3:00 pm just as the snow began to fall. Not more than a handful of miles onto the highway, our check engine light came on. With nothing much left to do, we turned around. This led to another diagnostic that indicted that we now needed another part that had been recalled. We booked a hotel after finding out that the part we needed was an hour and a half south of us with no hope of getting it in the now increasing snow storm.
My misery was beginning to increase with dashes to the bathroom. Stomach virus, I’m thinkin’, usually lasts 24 hours. Good thing we’re in the hotel. The next day, after many runs to the bathroom in the night, we decide I should stay in the hotel while Peter heads to the repair shop. Or at least that’s what we thought until they call saying that no one is going any where in this weather. We consider going to get the part ourselves, when we get another call saying it should be available by 2 o’clock today. I continue to be sick, eating only broth and toast when I could tolerate it, while Peter attends to Vinny. He comes back with Imodium since my situation is getting truly dire, so we decide to stay yet again and either get an early start, or more likely go to Urgent Care.
Well, the Imodium makes things much worse. After I take it that evening, I start also heaving. This goes on through the endless night…needless to say, we head to Urgent Care. There we are told to go to the ER, I’m dehydrated and could use a diagnosis. I can’t wait to get fluids. After a mere 5 or 6 tries, blood is drawn and IV is started. I had mentioned that a hot pack on my arm would be super helpful and by the way, Memorial Sloan Kettering does it that way for me, hint, hint…when the head nurse tells me that this is Wilkes-Barre and it’s backward – no heat packs, no heating pads, nada!
Lucky for me, I actually find out what’s wrong with me – Giardia. Giardia is an intestinal parasite that is often found in streams contaminated by human or animal feces that are infected, but can live outside the body for up to seven weeks! It also “ferments” for a week or two before the symptoms show up in full force. This had been true for me as my stomach had been queasy for about a week leading up to the Wilkes-Barre meltdown. I bemoaned how I had endured all that pain and discomfort for nothing! I could have been on the mend long ago.
Clutching my meds in gratitude, we finally restarted our trip south the following morning, three days later than planned with Vinny in great shape and me steadily improving for our southern adventures!