Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Sand Castle is Home

What an adventure getting the Coach home...

The original plan was to fly up to Allentown with Mike, and Mary and I could drive the new "Sand Castle" home after our inspection and final closing, handing over of the check, to the dealer. How plans can change in such a short time.

The Saturday we had planned for was out, mother nature decided it would snow and the winds would blow. Trying to fly in that mess would be crazy and neither Mike nor I are nuts. On to plan B, I always have a plan B.

Since I have the Presidents day holiday coming up I decided I would couple a Friday vacation day to make it a four day weekend. The wx was looking great so I hatched the plan with Mike.  After a call to Mike I find out he will be out of town on business so flying to Allentown is out. Mary is working so I called my friend John.

John has been my friend since childhood, 5th grade I think it was, at Saint Mary Magdalen school. Our adventures started out getting in trouble together way back then and paying the price when the nuns punished us. Needless to say but we spent many after school hours writing out pages of the history book and not the pages with pictures. I still get a chuckle when I think back. We have remained close over all these years and even if there's a gap between meet ups we always pick back up where we left off.

I sent John a text and he was up for the mission. We called and coordinated the departure time and the plan was set.  John was at the house this morning around 8:45 and I guess we hit the road shortly there after. The run to Allentown was an hour and thirty minutes, smooth sailing.

The walk through inspection flowed fairly well with a few items that needed attention. I found a small hairline crack in the bathroom drain pipe that left a puddle the size of a dime after running the water. John caught the bad smoke detector and missing batteries in two others along with two broken window lock/latches. Once the water systems were good we suspended the walk through and I had the chance to get a lesson in winterizing. Hands on is the best and Bruce the mechanic was really easy to work with.

Brandon, my sales guy, and I went to take care of paper work since the few remaining "how to do" items needed to be checked when the rig is back outside. It's been a long day so far and we haven't taken a lunch break, but we continue on. With the exchange of paper completed I wanted to catch the second part of the winterizing process. When I head back out to the garage I find John waist deep into a storage compartment hooking up the supply line to the pump. The water pump is just far enough into the compartment that Bruce had a tough time reaching it, I could never get close tom reaching it since I couldn't get past my belly.  John on the other hand wiggled his way in and completed the hook up. I got a price break on the winterization.

We were ready to test the new awning and restart the generator to run both rooftop a/c units. When hooked to shore power it is recommended that you only run one unit.  If it gets that hot out and you need both then it's best to disconnect shore power and use the on board 5kw generator. Everything checked out good and we were ready to head home.
The plan
After a quick strategy meeting of the minds we decided to retrace our path in, through down town Allentown, it was the quickest way to I-476. John was my chase vehicle in my SUV and we had hands free phone connection if needed. My knees started shaking just like the day of my solo, it was an uncontrolled reaction to the adrenaline rush and I could not stop it. I figured it would stop once I made it through town without hitting a parked car or a passing car in the narrow streets, it didn't. We made our way towards RT22 and that would take us to I476, the blue route and home.
The new route
As we approached the blue route I got a message for a reroute on my GPS, it stated one of the roads on my route was closed, replan?  Of course not, I'm a man and I'll work it out, famous last words. As I approached 476 the turnpike was closed, that's right the main highway, my route home was closed.  Ok, is this some cruel joke? I squeezed my way down the ramp, having already committed my rig in that direction.  Bigger means people give way and that worked out as I wiggle in line with John tucking in behind running interference.  I had to make a U-turn in front of the toll booths with traffic coming from the opposite direction through the toll lanes, my knees had stopped shaking by then since all power was being routed to my brain to feed the increased power draw.

Ok missy GPS do your thing, I trust you, find me a way back home. Of course recalculating seemed to take forever but I was silent, she needed her space and I now respected that. We managed to get rerouted back to RT309 SB towards Quakertown and I happily followed. I guess my punishment for not listening to the GPS the first time was a route filled with small back roads following RT100 that was a lane or two each direction and filled with twist and turns, hill climbs and long downhill runs with traffic lights along the way through small town Pennsylvania.
Road warriors
John and I have been on the phone through out this misadventure. We were now passing through Kimberton, PA, we were getting close and I could navigate my way from here and somewhat remembered the roads. I had been through this area in my youth, skating and playing roller hockey at Kimberton Roller rink. We were now only single digit miles from a major highway, RT 202, home was within reach. We finally joined the big road, I was relieved and the kness had quit shaking. From this point is was getting comfy, and we made it to the house after dark but both vehicles intact.
Saturday mornings photo, what a beast!
I couldn't have done it without John's help. He was the perfect chase driver, grabbing lanes when I need to move over, stopping when I pulled over to plan and providing moral support. Another fun adventure added to our list of crazy things we've done. THANKS JOHN!!!


Jim said...

I always look forward to reading about the new adventures in the Mascelli household. I think that today's write up was one of your best. Now how about some current interior photos?! :)

As a former Class C owner, I can totally relate to the challenges of navigating a motorhome. We were coming home from the Poconos in ours a few years ago and just as I slowed on the ramp from I-80 to the NE Extension in Lake Harmony, the engine quit. Drifed to the shoulder but she wouldn't restart. Was a hot, mid-summer late-Sunday afternoon and Lake Harmony is a ghost town when outside of ski season. Fired up the generator, cranked up the rooftop A/C, and tried to find a tow truck that could pull an RV. Three hours later, I was still stuck on the side of the highway with my pissed off wife and young son, a state trooper now behind me with lights flashing, and no rescue in sight. On about the 30th and most desperate attempt, the engine did catch but wouldn't hold idle and would stall when I tried to put it in gear. However, I did discover that if I revved the engine and then dropped it drive, I had just enough RPM to get her rolling. However, as you can imagine, throwing it in gear in this fashion produces quite dramatic results. At my wits end an eager to get off of the shoulder of the road, I floored it and we literally peeled away towards the turnpike. My next challenge was the toll booths. As before, I was unable to slow the engine to near idle. Thankfully we had EZ pass so I didn't have to stop but I still have to get through the narrow toll lane. My solution was to get a head of steam, throw it in neutral, and "drift" through while revving the engine. On hindsight, I can only imagine what I must have looked like as I barrelled through the EZ Pass lane in a huge motorhome with the engine screaming in neutral. I repeated the same process as we got off at Willow Grove. At this point I now had to face the reality of traffic lights but at least we were close to home. I prepared to slow, having a safety plan always handy. Lo and behold, this time the engine dropped to idle and purred like a kitten. Not sure if I was more relieved or pissed. We made it the rest of the way home uneventfully. Took it right into the truck repair shop and they were never able to find or replicate the cause. I speculate that I must have pulled something into the fuel system that eventually dislodged. Sufficiently traumatized, my wife made me sell it the following month. I sold it with full disclosure to a guy who intended to gut my beloved coach and turn it into a full blown Eagles tailgate machine, complete with multiple flat screens and a stripper pole. I still look for her in the Linc parking lot on Eagles Sundays. :)

Now that you've been baptized into RV ownership, I thought you could appreciate the humor of my experience. Aside from that one eventful day, we loved our class C. Wish we had it back now that the kids are growing, because there are lots of places that I'd like to go. For the time being, we are camping in a popup but it's nowhere near the same.

Best of luck to you guys. Looks like you got a beauty. Clearly it was very well cared for and the floorplan and footprint look perfect for your mission. Between the Sundowner and the Sand Castle, you guys now have the perfect setup.



Gary said...


Man I am feeling your pain! Laughing, but can share some of that misery. There were a few times on the way home, between my knees shaking and afraid of rolling it off a shoulder on RT100 that I screamed out loud what in the hell am I doing here!!??

I just went out this morning and got it turned around and backed in the drive way partialy along side the house. I didn't even hit the house or the porch columns! Ground is to soft so I am keeping it on pavement. I hope to placw an extension of pavement or stone while the coach is in OCMD.

Thanks for sharing the story...good stuff.

Jim said...

Now you need a golf cart!


Jim said...

There are two morals to your adventure:

1. Pilots tend to think alike.

2. Driving a motorhome in traffic is far more nerve wracking than flying a single engine piston in solid IMC. Go figure.

Have a blast with the Fleetwood. Beautiful rig!