Gremlins do inhabit Airstreams just like every other place in the world, and I suppose they are especially active at this time of year. After all, Halloween is this weekend and gremlin infestation is the only possible reason I can find for so many things going wrong in the past week.
Let’s re-cap: failure of 3 clearance light bulbs, batteries in the TPMS sensors, O-rings in the kitchen faucet, one walkie-talkie, the Wilson Sleek 4G cellular booster, and the refrigerator. Plus hiccups in the GPS, one laptop, the Verizon MiFi, shower head, Tongue Twister, and a couple of broken leveling blocks.
And then yesterday, when hitching up in a heavy rain (thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Patricia) when leaving Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park in Niceville FL, I rushed the job a little too much and attempted to drive away with one stabilizer jack still down. Ugh. So that’s pretzeled.
I whacked the stabilizer with a hammer a few times—not that it did any good for the problem but it was a good way to work off frustration—and then got out the old speedwrench and cranked the stabilizer up enough to be able to tow. That stabilizer looks seriously deranged and it will never work again. I’m hoping Airstream of Mississippi will have one in stock when we drive past there on Thursday.
Despite the constant series of glitches capped by my own embarrassing mistake, as I was standing there getting soaked in the rain I felt that we’d reached a sort of turning point. It felt like I’d just hit a triple low biorhythm day and from here on things could only get better.
It was time to reach out to friends and associates, and the ever-helpful Mr Google and Ms Amazon, and get back on track. We set up the Airstream for a three-day stay on the Florida panhandle near the beach, and got busy. I ordered a few new parts to be delivered to our campground in Louisiana later this week, made arrangements to borrow a few sockets and wrenches I don’t normally carry, and we went to the local Wal-Mart to buy some Gremlin Repellent.
It must have worked because a miracle occurred. After days of the refrigerator not working (repeated attempts) and no returned calls from Arcticold (repeated attempts), I managed to get Arcticold on the phone. They basically told me that what had happened to us couldn’t have happened, and asked me to do a test to verify the cooling unit wasn’t working.
This frustrated me since I had already run through considerable diagnosis on my own and with Super Terry and knew that the cooling unit had lost its mojo.(1) But they wouldn’t offer a warranty replacement until I did one more test, which involved hotwiring the electric heater element to 120 volt power for 12 hours and then taking some temperature readings on the exterior coils.(2)
At this point the refrigerator had been turned off for about 30 hours since our last attempt. “What the heck,” I figured, “let’s make them happy,” so I turned it back on overnight and made a note to go buy an infrared thermometer in the morning.
And of course, the refrigerator started working again.
The damn thing was 27 degrees when I woke up, thanks to a combination of dry ice and a working cooling unit. I took out the dry ice and let it run all day and it stayed at 32 degrees.(3) Cooling like a glacier, and not even a “oh, sorry” from it for taking a multi-day vacation.
Super Terry’s only comment was “Did Microsoft have anything to do with designing it?” Apparently what it wanted was a long break to let its internal gasses settle, and a re-boot.(4)
Of course by this time we’ve eaten most of the good stuff in the freezer. Last night Eleanor made filet mignon wrapped in bacon with a gorgeous red wine sauce that had roasted garlic and mushrooms and … I don’t even know what else, but it was awesome. That went with little roasted potatoes and sweet squash and salad. Tonight we have salmon planned (it’s already defrosted so we have to eat it). I can’t complain about any of that. Now we’ve got a half-empty freezer and I guess that means we can stock it up with something else tasty.
I don’t trust the refrigerator fully just yet, but I’m going to celebrate by buying some ice cream pretty soon. Take that, gremlins!
(See comments for technical footnotes.)