After departing Vermont in July, we then headed to New Hampshire and Maine, enjoying a few days at each destination as we went, visiting various beaches and, of course, Acadia National Forest. The coast line along the northeastern states is simply breathtaking! Posting pictures of it would not do it justice, as it has to be seen to be appreciated.
We decided to return to Vermont in early August and spent a few days at a campground on Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT. Dave was brave enough to go swimming in the cool water on Lake Champlain. I, however, decided to forgo swimming as I had woken up the morning before with a swollen left eye and decided not to risk getting it infected from lake water. (I think I had a piece of fine sand blow into my eye from being on the beach the day before). Turns out that the water wasn’t that cold after all, 70 degrees per the sign at the life guard station. They have a beautiful sand beach at the city park in Burlington with a very nice camping facility.
After leaving Vermont for the second time, we then began our slow trek back to Indiana by staying at various campgrounds along our route as we drove along the southern banks of the Saint Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Dave has always wanted to do that, so it was the perfect opportunity to do so, especially since we were scheduled to finally have our windshield replaced (this would be the third windshield in a year) in Elkhart, Indiana on August 17.
We made arrangements to stay at a campground in Shipshewana, Indiana once the windshield was replaced as neither one of us had ever visited Shipshewana before. The area is about 40% Amish and the countryside is just incredible. There is a large flea market that is held two days during the week and we took a day to check it out. Be forewarned, wear very comfortable walking shoes as the place is really big! There are also Amish restaurants in the area that offer home-style cooked meals that will satisfy any palate so be prepared to have your taste buds dancing. For entertainment/shopping, there are horse carriage rides that one can take, Amish cabinetry shops to spend money in, and numerous RV factory tours to take that are scattered throughout Shipshewana, Wakarusa, Goshen, Elkhart, and Nappanee. In short, a bit of something for everyone.
We thought that we were in the clear once the new windshield was in; however, we had torrential rainstorms for next two days straight and discovered a leak where the sealant around the windshield had not adhered. So, we drove back to the windshield shop once the rain had ended to have the leak issue addressed and the glass installer noticed ANOTHER crack in the brand new windshield that he had just installed, same spot as all of the other cracks had been too. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I should start laughing, crying, or find a phone number for an exorcist as I was beginning to think that the rig was cursed.
Luckily for us there was an RV repair shop right next door to the windshield shop and they suggested that we speak to them to see what the root cause of the windshields cracking could be. So we did. We drove our rig next store and spoke to one of the technicians there. He was extremely confident that he could fix our issue as he had repaired many rigs with this same exact problem. After researching the reputation of the repair shop, we made a reservation for mid-September and headed south to Bloomington, Indiana to nest until it was time to drive back to Elkhart.
On September 20 we drove back to Elkhart and first thing the following morning, the technician drove our baby into the shop and began his investigation/repair. It appears that there were two issues that caused the cracking of the windshields. One was that there was a piece of original fiberglass that hadn’t been trimmed off properly and was putting stress on the windshield. Secondly, the technician found that there had previously been a halo modification installed prior to our purchase of the rig; however, the struts were never bolted down which caused the cap of the rig to sway slightly, again putting additional stress on the windshield. Had the previous installer of the halo mod correctly installed it, we may never have had the issues that we’ve had with the previous windshields. As it is, we are now on our fourth and, hopefully, FINAL windshield.
We had a bit of excitement, if one can call it that, on our way to Indiana. We stopped at a campground in Ohio and discovered that our tow dolly had lost the inside and outside bearings on the right wheel of the dolly, and that the shaft now had a ridge worn in it from the leftovers of the bearing race wearing into it. After numerous phone calls to repair shops, we finally found one that said that they would be able to work on it. We called a tow company and had the dolly put on a flat-bed tow truck (as it was unsafe to tow on the road) and had it delivered to the repair shop. Our intent was to leave it there for it to be worked on, continue on our journey to Elkhart, and then once our windshield was repaired, we would then drive back to Ohio and pick up our dolly. Unfortunately, the cost of the repair was way more expensive than it would be to buy a new tow dolly.
The tow dolly experience scared us though, as Dave neither saw, heard, nor felt anything different in the way the rig was handling once the bearings gave way. We still don’t know how long we had been traveling with tow dolly like that. The thought that someone could have been hurt (i.e., a wheel pop off, the car break loose, etc., causing an accident) was a bit more than we could stomach. We decided then to just drive separately until we could decide what we were going to do from that point forward. Should we trade in the car for a Jeep that we could tow four-down or keep the car and continue to drive separately? We investigated the possibility of trading in our car for a vehicle that we could tow four-down, but neither one of us could justify the additional cost (depreciation on our car, high sticker price on a new vehicle) for doing so. So we continued to drive separate, which in reality, sucked.
I began to do some investigation on the internet and discovered two companies that sold tow dollies with no maintenance sealed bearings, exactly what is like on a car, and also had some other features we desired to have at a reasonable price. I gave Dave the information and he dug deeper, finally settling on one factory in Kernersville, NC that he felt offered the best tow-dolly; sealed bearings, disc brakes, surge brakes and extra security chains. We called the factory and ordered one so that we could pick it up on our way when we headed south.
After spending six wonderful weeks in Bloomington, Indiana catching up with friends, and taking care of doctor and miscellaneous appointments, we left out on Monday, October 12 and began to make our way to Kernersville, NC. I remarked to Dave that once again, ironically, we had departed Bloomington on Columbus Day. Hmmm, does this make us explorers?
We picked up our new tow dolly on Thursday and we are now on our way to the sunny state of Florida for the winter. This winter, instead of staying mainly in one place, we will be moving around the state. We’re going to start out in Clermont so that we can finish out our Disney passes, but then we’ll be heading to Vero Beach, Key Largo, Naples, Tampa, and Destin to name just a few. Adventures await!! J