Blog Post

JUN
05
2014

Arches

We all loaded up into a rented truck and went looking for some scenery yesterday. We started out in Arches National Park, and then did a big loop drive up through the La Sal Mountains. We found lots of pretty things to take pictures of, but didn’t. For some reason when we’ve got visitors the camera barely comes out. So, we were at Arches and have no pictures of arches.

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This morning I just barely got the bus to fire up. The starter was just about dead. We found a new one at the first store we stopped in at, and this afternoon I crawled underneath to get dirty.

Before tearing things apart I was looking at the starter and noticed a cotter pin sticking right through it. For some reason I can’t even begin to explain I grabbed a pliers and pulled it right out. I guess I thought it was something installed to keep things from moving around during shipping. Or something. I don’t know. I do know that it was stupid. As I did it I felt some sort of tension release inside of it. Crap.

Well, I went ahead and installed it anyway. It took me about two hours to get the old one out and the new one in, mainly due to one bolt that I couldn’t see from above or below, and that I couldn’t reach my hand to either. It’s only a two bolt installation, so of course one of them would have to be inaccessible.

Anyway, got it all hooked up, turned the key, and surprise, surprise, the bus didn’t start. Bummed at my own stupidity I removed the new starter and put the old one back in. Click, click, click. Nothing. It wouldn’t start at all now either.

So after we got the kids to bed I threw the newly broken starter in a bag and headed out to the highway for what I remembered to be about a two-mile hike. Double that and add in the low sun beating on my face and the hot tar and the speeding trucks—this was turning out to be a hell of an afternoon.

By about the midway point I was thinking about how in just about every other country we’ve ever been I would not have had to walk this far, I would have been picked up. I had my thumb out the whole time and not a single person so much as slowed down. Not that I should talk—when was the last time I picked up a hitchhiker? It’s been years. What a jerk. I need to start paying back the world for all the rides I’ve been given.

I stumbled into the auto store, opened up the refrigerator, and downed a bottle of water. I’ve wondered who is buying these way overpriced sodas or waters at auto parts stores, and now I know.

I told the guy my problem, explaining the bit about the cotter pin, to which he replied, “No, you didn’t do that. No, seriously, listen to me, you did not do that. Stop telling me that you did that.” He was determined to replace it for me despite the fact that I’d pretty much nullified the warranty. And he did, he got me a new one. Even better, he offered me a lift home. My faith in the kindness of strangers restored.

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COMMENT : 26
  1. avatar
    Mark and Cindy - s/v Cream Puff Reply

    Hey Bums,

    We just became bums.

    We just sold our business and the house is next. Getting ready to move full time onto Cream Puff.

    All the best,

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

  2. avatar
    ROGER Reply

    Been there done that. Invariably every time I do something for the first time I break something and it costs me..I almost hope stuff I fix breaks so I can do it right as it would be the second time and my 1st effort pays bene’s on the second fix..but no it’s always something else that breaks or fails.

    I work on motorcycles, Goldwings mostly and my cars. Lots of skinned knuckles.

    • avatar
      Pat & Ali Reply

      I hear you. This new starter will probably go on to last the next fifty years, and I’ll never get the chance to do this easy job again.

  3. avatar
    ROGER Reply

    PS I feel your pain!! ;)

  4. avatar
    Cidnie Reply

    Cowgirl Ouest is KILLING me! <3

  5. avatar
    Guymon Reply

    “No, you didn’t do that. No, seriously, listen to me, you did not do that. Stop telling me that you did that.”

    Hilarious!

    I’ve read your book “Live on the Margin”. The last 1/4 of the book let me know your a H3ll of a lot smarter then you make yourself out to be. I still need to re-read that part a few more times till it makes sense to me. Maybe I’ll just stick to software development, it seems easier.

    • avatar
      Chris_B Reply

      Yep, that scene has to be in the movie.

  6. avatar
    Shawn Reply

    Damn… we had an invite to go to Moab with a group of friends, and would be out there this week if we had taken them up on it.

  7. avatar
    John Reply

    May I suggest that , in your travels, you pick up a small gas powered generator, and battery charger, to use mainly as a charging system during breakdowns, that only happen in remote places. John

    • avatar
      Chris_B Reply

      Great idea. Would be good for running a lot of stuff in a pinch including power tools and a microwave.

    • avatar
      Pat & Ali Reply

      I can’t see how this would ever help us. We don’t own any power tools other than a drill. We don’t have a microwave. We don’t have a phone, a tv, or really anything. A generator would allow us to leave the lights on for a few more days, that’s about it. If we’re somewhere that we can’t get help inside of a week then we’ll probably just perish.

      Also, we do have 300 watts worth of solar panels on the roof. They just haven’t been installed yet.

  8. avatar
    Donald and Deborah Reply

    My daughter was my mechanic’s helper too :) thirty five years ago.
    She fished too, while her brother picked blueberries, go figure :)

  9. avatar
    Joe Reply

    Glad they had the starter, pays to have a common 318 gas engine.

  10. avatar
    Bob Reply

    Wow. Same story, different day. Just dont need to float.

  11. avatar
    Maureen Shull Reply

    Love cowgirl Ouest!

  12. avatar
    hobhopper Reply

    It’s almost never the starter.

    • avatar
      Pat & Ali Reply

      What’s almost never the starter?

      • avatar
        john h Reply

        I think he may mean that it’s usually the battery, mostly, although you recently plunked a new one in didn’t you? A jumpstart would be the best clue, if the starter solenoid is clicking. From experience, never trust a battery, no matter how new.

        • avatar
          Pat & Ali Reply

          Ahh, well, in this case it most definitely was the starter.

          • avatar
            john h

            good news!! Upside down under vehicle repairs are only fun for so long.

  13. avatar
    Dave Denison Reply

    The things that fail on a old RV – are almost never the starter. Because now you have a new one! Next might be the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, radiator, ignition module, rubber fuel lines from the tank to the pump, throttle cable, shift cable, transmission tailshaft seal, parking brake cable, driveshaft support bearing…(I could go on for pages)! The good news is that with an older RV, there are fewer complicated assemblies to fail.
    On the 413 and 440 mopar V8′s there was a heat shield between the starter and the exhaust manifold. I dont know if they had one for the 318-3′s though. If there was one, it will extend the life of the starter, by keeping it from getting roasted. And on my 413 RV engine, the heat shield made installing the starter more difficult.

  14. avatar
    Beth Bergeron Reply

    No photos of arches! What?! My kids would tell you they look the same as bridges anyway and you had some nice photos of bridges. What’s the difference between bridges and arches? Bridges are made by water and arches are made by wind—or is it the other way around? Love your photos. Hope you go to Bryce Canyon–a place I’d love to see again.

  15. avatar
    Helge Reply

    Hello Pat and Ali,

    it is such a pleasure to watch your lovely adventures and your beautiful family. I love travelling too, but i never spend more than 3 weeks together in a country. I have always been interested in traveling South America and Russia for a year. Some questions I have:

    1. Wow can you reach the strong mentally, being alone at a campsite in a foreign country with poor people, always knowing they could eventually attack your family with guns? Not the money is important or the bus, but the live of everybody. This thinking always made fear in my head, not knowing how to have the right instinct in bad situations.

    2. Are both of you working in an independent job, so you can quit for a year or do you quit your jobs every 10 years, for example?

    3. And i know it is a private question:

    How can a man earn the money for such a beautiful trip? I work hard as a worker, but there is only room for a little appartment, meeting some friends. And i even dont have a girlfriend and kids, which is sad.

    What do you think, how can i avert my fear and become a real man which has the right instinct in difficult situations?

    Thanks a lot and keep on the lovely travelling,

    Helge

    • avatar
      Pat & Ali Reply

      Hi Helge, thanks for writing in. We made a conscious decision one day while walking around Bangkok, that we were going to change our mentality and always choose to believe that people are good. Why do you believe that poor people will attack you and kill you? If you were to lose everything you have tomorrow would you suddenly start robbing and murdering? Of course not. So what makes you think that that is what others would do?
      The money question can be answered most easily by reading our book, Live on the Margin. You’ll see it at the bottom of the page.
      Anyway, it’s great that you love to travel and see the world. Next time try to go with a different outlook though. People are all good inside, until such time as they prove otherwise. Accept their generosity without prejudice and you’ll be amazed how much more fun you will have.

  16. avatar
    Helge Reply

    Hello Pat and Ali,

    thanks for taking the time to answer my comment. I will buy your book, because you know how to travel the world :-) My english is not so good, so excuse my writing. You made a good point: Believing in the good in people will make you having less fear.

    But I did not find the right words to explain the main thing: I do not think that somebody which is poor, will automatically kill people to get some Euros or Dollars.

    I think it depends on the mentality of the countries. This is the point i sometimes think about:

    A girlfriend in germany loves to travel africa. She has been robbed for 7 times. She gave the money, because i also think like her: money is not important, but the live. Dont play the hero in the wrong moment!

    A robber had a gun, another had a knive, and so on. This stories and many other build the fear, i now have. When i was 18 years old, i did not think about fear, i only had the normal people fear, for example in higher altitude on buildings.

    When i was robbed in romania, this was not a problem. But another day, i was nearly robbed in a forest at night and things could have get into trouble. Only because there was a group of tourists behind me, i was not knocked down. Behind the trees, i saw the moving shadows of the men. It was really scary. And another day 8 dogs around my body nearly bite me, when i walked near a field. I didn`t panic, this saved me from being wounded.

    When i was in Nepal, i fell very save. The mentally of the people is totally great. They are very respectful, intelligent and even in scary situations, you dont have to matter because of their respectful mentally.

    But there are different points: A bad man in germany will not kill you because he is not poor. The friendship to guests in arabian countries is fine, until you met some radical people.

    The people in USA are mostly predictable, until you met a man, handling a gun wrong, not because he is poor.

    I know a lot of russians in germany. They are great, but some of them can get angry in a short moment. The men are incalculable.

    So it is all about mentally, am i wrong? What do you think?

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