Sunday, July 7, 2013

Check Engine? Gimme A Brake!

As I write this, it’s a very rainy July 4th here at the Elkhorn Campground in Frankfort, Kentucky.  The only one I know who is overjoyed at the prospect of no fireworks tonight is Annie, our rat terrier.  She goes nutty and barks incessantly when there are both flashes of light and sudden, loud booming sounds, so the fourth of July is a double whammy for her.  Looks as if Annie won’t need that 1,000 milligram dose of Zanax after all!

The trip from Boone, North Carolina to Frankfort, Kentucky was scenic, and at last, without incident.  However, if you though after our fiasco-filled trip from Florida that nothing else could have gone wrong while in North Carolina, you’d be wrong!

Two Mondays ago, after I had a wonderful breakfast at Janet’s bagpipe camp in Valle Crucis, North Carolina (just outside of Boone, and really in the boonies), I decided to head back to our campground in Boone, a nice drive of five miles on twisty country roads.  I started our Ford F250, and after its big engine roared to life, the check engine light remained lit.  WHAT?  I popped the hood to check the engine, and sure enough, it was still there!  All of the fluid levels were O.K., so I drove back to the campground.  I called the local Ford dealer and made a service appointment.  Fortunately, the dealership had a good, many-years-of-experience diesel mechanic on its staff.  His diagnosis: bad thermostats.  (Our truck has a pair of thermostats in one housing.)  Not an expensive part, but, you guessed it, lots of labor time was required to make the repair.

For added fun, I happened to tell the mechanic that the cruise control quit working on the way to North Carolina, and I couldn't get it to come back on.  The diagnostic computer noted the problem had occurred, but when the mechanic tried the cruise control, it worked perfectly.  Of course it did!  The mechanic checked one of the controls attached to the bottom of the brake fluid reservoir that disengages the cruise control when the brakes are applied – it looked O.K.  But what’s this?  A nearby control switch, also under the brake fluid reservoir, was leaking!  It would have to be replaced.  Cost of the little part?  A mere $155!  The thought of running low on brake fluid and having to make a sudden stop while going down a steep hill on a winding country road, with our 15,000 lb. home in tow, flashed through my mind.  I considered this repair to be a blessing.

A few hours, and $770 later, the truck was once again road worthy.  I do the math.  Let’s see... We’ve gone 950 miles, and spent $2,400 for tires, $770 for the truck repairs, and $350 for fuel.  Hmm, that works out to $3.70 per mile.  It would have been cheaper to charter a private jet!  But if we did, think of all the excitement we would have missed.  And we’d never have enjoyed beautiful roadside scenery, such as rolling hills in Tennessee, on our way from North Carolina to Kentucky.


  1. Nice picture. Welcome to my home state (at least I was there first couple years of my life) of Indiana. As soon as SWET flies, the $3.70 per mile will be chump change. Buy more when you feel like it. Seriously.

  2. And don't forget the purchase of the dulcimer (although very beautiful). Y'all are almost up to the cost of O'Bama's trip to Africa (and they had security detail that could have fixed all these misfortunes).

    I'm not going to be so bashful to sign as "anonymous", so keep on living that jet-setting life!

    p.s. I guess I have to use "anonymous" since I don't have a different named URL set-up.

    Love you both,
    Linda S.