Kismet’s First Misadventure!

May/22/2013 5 Malia Lane
Misadventures on the road, RV Repairs


My quote for the day:

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you.
If you run into a wall,
don’t turn around and give up.
Figure out how to climb it,
go through it,
or work around it.”
Michael Jordan

My addition:

…or get out and unhook and get back on the road!




Today I left New Braunfels for a short trip of 65 miles back to Texas Custom Coach to get my slide topper replaced.  When I was here a couple of weeks ago to get my solar shades installed, we discovered the topper on the 25′ slide was torn and frayed and I was so glad that since they are authorized installers for Dometic, I could have them replaced under Dometic warranty without need to go to a Winnebago dealer as required to use the factory warranty.  I’m so impressed with these guys that as soon as I have more time and less hassle, I will be doing a whole page on Malia’s Miles with lots of pictures of the work they did for me, as well as a lot of the other kinds of repair and remodel work they do on all kinds of RVs.

Anyway, I decided to take TX-46 instead of IH-35 since I was in no hurry and I prefer the back roads anyway.  I also planned to stop at WalMart in Boerne to stock up before I got to their location in Pipe Creek.

When I travel, I use both Microsoft Streets & Trips running on my laptop beside me to the right and my Garmin GPS nestled in the cup holder to the left.  I learned to do this from another misadventure years ago when Streets & Trips crashed  while I was driving.  Of course I was on a back road and had no idea where to turn to get to my destination with no convenient pull-offs large enough to fit.

So, live and learn – now I always print out the directions to have beside me just in case.  And I also like to have the Garmin as backup, but since that screen is so much smaller, I like the bigger overview that Streets & Trips provides and their large GPS display.  I plan the trip using Streets & Trips and upload that .gpx file to Garmin so they’re supposedly on the same route (but this is not always the case, either, as I have learned, since Garmin will circumvent even a planned route sometimes).

GPS and Streets & Trips

But it’s been so long since I’ve used this setup, I forgot to set Streets & Trips to stay centered on the GPS and soon I couldn’t see the little car icon anymore.  But I wasn’t worried since I figured I could rely on Garmin.  When it told me to turn right on Spring Branch Road, I figured that was my via point to WalMart.

Wrong!  I quickly realized that was the via point I used to redirect from IH-35 to TX-46.  But I had to go six miles down that not-so-big road before I could take right turns into a subdivision to get back on 46.  All the while my English accent director on Garmin kept telling me to make a U-turn, then that annoying “recalculating” notice over and over again.  I wanted to scream, “Can’t you see I’m driving a 35′ motorhome towing a car and I can’t just make a U-turn all willy-nilly like that???”  But ok, I got back on 46 without throwing Garmin through the windshield.

Then when I got to Boerne, all was back on track and I was still depending on the Garmin to get me to WalMart.  However, it told me it would be on my right, so I got into the right lane and promptly saw I was passing the WalMart actually on my left.  No one was willing to let me into the left lane, so as I proceeded on the right looking for my chance to get over, the right lane had overhanging tree limbs and I had no choice but to go by them and could see leaves dropping behind me in the mirror.  I was freaked and just hoped that it wasn’t bad enough to scratch the paint.  I finally got to the left and saw a little shopping center that looked like I could enter at one end and come out the other back onto Main Street.

Wrong again!!

Unhook time

I got to the end of their parking lot before realizing there was no driveway out that side.  Great – I’d certainly been in this spot before with Inspiration, and I was just grateful I could unhook easily enough – there was room, no incline and the car was not jackknifed to make it any more difficult.

By the time I had unhooked and moved the car, there were 4 people standing around to see the show.  I volunteered one to watch out for overhangs that I couldn’t see with my handy back-up camera, got Kismet turned around, pulled as much to one side as I could so that people could still get out of their parking spots while I got Serendipity (the car) back into position to hook up again.  Still none of the four bystanders were moving and the comments and questions started.  One well-dressed lady standing by her Mercedes: “You drive that thing all by yourself?!” she asked incredulously.  I just wiped my brow and said, “Yes ma’am, and I usually do a much better job than this!”

By the time I got back on the road, I was afraid to make the right turn into the WalMart parking lot because there were more trees on the right that I didn’t want to get close to again.  Screw it, I don’t need anything from WalMart that bad.

I saw an HEB grocery store further down the road that seemed to have a huge parking lot, but after I made the commitment, I could see there was really no space to park both (at least without unhooking again), so I had to maneuver my way out of that crowded mess.

By the time I made it to Texas Custom Coach, it was nice to pull into their huge lot and be greeted again like family.  It was much later in the afternoon than I had anticipated getting there, so I didn’t figure they would install the topper today, but they got started on it right away.

Texas Custom Coach installing slide topper

I left in the car to go back to WalMart and by the time I got back they were all done!  Meanwhile, other techs checked out my air conditioning which hadn’t been cooling as well as I was used to in Inspiration.  Also, in the last couple of days, whenever the bedroom A/C came on, I could hear a rustling sound that lasted a few seconds, then it stopped.  When I first heard it, I thought it was birds or squirrels trying to find some shade under the bedroom slide topper, which had happened before at Pecan Grove in Inspiration.  But after running the slide a bit in and out (which usually discourages critters to leave) the noise didn’t stop and that’s when I realized it only happened when the A/C came on at first.

Dave said he discovered that the thermostat was not calibrated correctly and was reading 4 degrees off.  So if I wanted it to be 76, I actually had to set it for 72.  He also said it was normal for it to run continuously in this kind of Texas heat (almost 90 today).  He said the rustling sound when the bedroom unit comes on sounds like a piece of the foam insulation had come loose and is blown up at first, but then settles back down until the next time.  They will check it out better tomorrow to see if they can reach inside to glue that back down, hopefully without removing the rooftop unit itself.

My two kitchen lights that had gone out a couple of days ago just turned out to be burnt out bulbs.  I hadn’t figured out how to remove the flush glass covers to check that myself and couldn’t believe that two went out at the same time.  I was afraid something had gotten disconnected with that big slide moving, so I was glad my fears were unfounded.  They didn’t have the right kind of bulbs, but Steve told me I could get them at Home Depot and showed me how to change them.  Biggest shock was that those tiny halogen bulbs cost $6.00 each!  Whatever – I bought out their stock of 5 so I have 3 extra now.  Nobody ever said RVing was inexpensive…

They’re so on the ball here that I’ll probably be able to leave here sooner than Saturday, which I had projected.  But of course if the A/C issue needs parts ordered, that may change again.

Oh, and when I finally looked to see if the tree branches had scratched the paint any, I almost fainted when I saw several thin, but long lines of scratches along almost the entire side!  How can this be???  I drove Inspiration all over the place for 12 years without one scratch, but I have to do this on my new Kismet???  But Steve said they don’t look that bad and can probably be buffed out pretty easily.  So I’ll get with John, their paint specialist, tomorrow to see if that can be done.  Please, Lord – don’t let the miracles end now…

At least I have finally mapped out my 1,200 mile route from here to Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park so I feel better prepared.  However, I never feel like I have to stick to the plan if something fun comes along that I hadn’t foreseen.  But there are two parks on my route (Roosevelt State Park in Mississippi and Oak Mountain State Park in Alabama) that look like beautiful, restful stops and I’m still looking forward to one of those places to stay since I haven’t experienced anything but “this will have to do” kind of stops for way too long now.  Will see if I can get in and how long I can or want to stay since I refuse to be on any timetable to get anywhere.  I’ve been shackled by that way too often for one reason or another, too.

So, misadventures or not, I am so looking forward to really hitting the road soon with Kismet and Serendipity!


Update 5/23/13:

I thank God for Texas Custom Coach!  Not only did they fix the slide topper in record time, this morning they were able to buff out almost all the scratches from the tree limb encounter yesterday.

When I actually looked at the entire length of the coach, I could see it was much worse than I thought it was last night.

Scratches on motorhome side

They were the worst on the back end.  Oh my poor Kismet!  I was also beating myself up like crazy that I just didn’t just stay stopped in that right hand lane until some kind soul came along to let me into the left.  But the jerk in back of me started honking and no kind souls were in sight.

honk while I reload

Where was this sign when I needed it???  Had they no fear, if not respect?  We’re in Texas after all – I could have been a pistol packing mama!  And who would have thought there was so much traffic in the middle of the day in downtown Boerne, TX?  They were all in a hurry to get past me and pretend they didn’t see the big RV before – heaven forbid – I got in front of them!

But I’m glad I didn’t resort to violence because John, the paint guru here, got his handy buffer out and went to work.  He was able to get out all the scratches all across except a couple of small ones that he said cut into the paint itself.  I can live with that.


Voodoo handbook

But is it still okay if I put a Cajun curse on every driver in Boerne who would not let me in the left lane yesterday?

I hope so, because I’m looking into it.  evil grinMessing with Kismet is never a good thing!