We loaded the truck.
Now that our son is FULLY settled in his own home, (which also happens to be newer, bigger, and nicer than ours), we decided to make room for more STUFF at our house by taking all his STUFF to him. Where will he put it all? That's HIS problem, not ours!
Old Tonka toys. A container of "transformer" toys that probably cost as much as a month's groceries.
Books. Videotapes. The bed of the truck contains 20 years of memories. It'll be interesting to see what ends up for sale on eBay.
"Preflight" the truck for the trip:
Changed the oil- It takes 10 quarts and two containers of STP!
Check the tires- Air pressure and general condition. The rears are only a few months old. The fronts are gonna be a concern... they still have good tread on 'em, but the previous owner lived in Palm Desert, California and the heat there has taken its toll on the sidewalls;
Weather cracked, I hope they give me the same amount of warning the rears did before I changed 'em. I'm bettin' they'll make this trip and last through the summer so I can buy new in the Fall.
Coolant level is good.
Windshield washer reservoir is full.
Headlights, wipers, turn signals and brake lights all okay.
GPS and Sirius XM on board.
Let's light this fire and get on the road!
Headed West at 0930, that's actually early for us. We always have good intentions but ALWAYS seem to find last minute things we forgot that MUST be attended to before departing.
We checked the weather and it looks like smooth sailing all the way.
A full tank of diesel, a cup of hot coffee in each cupholder and Lucy navigating, (that's a joke! She sleeps ALL the way...) we're on our way.
Two hours into our journey, Sara Jean asks, "Is that a siren I hear?"
"I don't think so", I respond. "I think that's alternator noise in the radio."
And it was. A few minutes later the "GEN" warning light came on.
Battery voltage still reading 13 volts, I shut down all the unnecessary power users and took the next exit off the Interstate.
At these times your mind races...
"What's the best way to handle this?"
I considered my options-
If the alternator is shot, I could do what I've done in the past- stop at an auto parts store like "AutoZone", and buy an alternator. Purchase the parts there and they'll loan the tools to do the job.
We're on a busy arterial street, there SHOULD be an AutoZone here somewhere.
Instead, a Guardian Angel intervened-
Just ahead on the right I see a big sign indicating there's a "Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep" dealership, and their Service Center is in the rear. We pull up and I go inside. This is a BIG, BUSY place...
There are FOUR service writers!
I approach the closest one and he asks, "How can I help you sir?"
"We have a minor emergency. We have motel reservations in Amarillo, Texas for tonight and we have an electrical problem in our truck."
He says, "Wow. Well, we'll get to you as soon as we can, but that may be an hour and a half or so."
"Beggars can't be choosy", I respond.
I go back out to the truck and try to start it, thinking if it'll start I may still act on my "AutoZone" option. Nothing.
And I mean when I try to start the truck I get NOTHING...
No click. Nothing.
It's only then I notice when I open the door the dome light doesn't come on. This truck has two batteries... can they both be THAT dead? I pop the hood, start poking around, and find a loose cable to the primary battery. I have Sara Jean hold that cable tight to the terminal and open the door...
The dome light works! I turn the key and the Cummins roars to life.
After 30 minutes the "technician" comes out and I show him what I have discovered, and ask him if he can also hook up a multi-meter to the system to insure the alternator is still working.
He drives our truck into the service bay and raises the hood. In twenty minutes he's finished.
Ninety minutes and $89.96 later, we're back on the road.
When I review how this unfolded I realize, IF we had first encountered an AutoZone, I'd almost certainly have bought a new alternator- $$$$$$$, and that would not have solved our problem.
We arrived at the Amarillo "La Quinta Inn" at 0030 hours, tired, but happy to have more than half our trip behind us.
Do you believe in Guardian Angels?
When I review my life experiences believe me...
I have ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT they exist, and mine sometimes works overtime!