A good trip is worth some effort (and money)

It’s roadtrip time again.  After several quiet weeks of relaxing and taking care of lots of little things (including a set of kittens from the Humane Society), we are getting ready to launch the Airstream for a few weeks in California.

The trip will be great fun, but getting ready to go has been stressful.  The big thing for me was the putting in another refrigerator cooling unit—again—with another “lifetime warranty” replacement unit. (The lifetime of the first one was six months.)  Putting in a cooling unit is a hassle.  It takes two guys to get the fridge out of the trailer, and about four hours for me to do the swap and re-install.  The end product always includes a few bleeding fingers and some back pain. So I don’t enjoy it.

Just in case you read a prior blog about this and were wondering if the company that sold me the cooling unit has risen to the customer service challenge since last I posted, the answer is NO.  They have been uniformly anemic: Calls not returned, endless excuses, and delays were the name of the game. From the time I gave them the results of the tests they required (to prove failure of the first cooling unit) to the time they finally shipped the replacement was about three weeks. It was another two weeks before I got it, in early December.

I installed it last weekend and guess what?  It doesn’t work.  Wouldn’t produce any significant cooling even after running full-bore for 24 hours. In fact, the one I sent back was actually working better.  I sent them a message to let them know but of course nobody replied.

Enough of the fridge battle.  I bought a new Dometic this morning from a local store and popped it in this afternoon.  (I’m getting very good at replacing refrigerators.) It is presently doing its thing quietly in the carport, and I expect ice in the freezer come morning. As I often say lately, there aren’t many problems that can’t be solved by throwing large amounts of cash at them. In this case, fifteen hundred simoleons. That may seem like a lot but it’s a good deal compared to replacement cooling units that don’t last or don’t even work out of the box.

(Thank you for reading my rant.  I feel a little better.  I’ll now switch to some happier information.)

Our upcoming trip is the result of several happy accidents and confluences.  We will start off in Quartzsite to get a long-awaited inverter installation.  I’m going to be evaluating a new Xantrex pure sine wave inverter that will power our microwave oven even while boondocking, which should be a real convenience.

Then we’ll head to Death Valley to meet friends and camp for a few days.  Our next major stop will be Malibu CA for a bit of seaside camping and a chance to overlap a night with some other Airstream friends, then up to the SF Bay area to attend an Airstreamers’ wedding and visit Silicon Valley friends we haven’t seen in many years.

Then we plan to take Route 1 down the California coast (yes, you can do that with a 30-foot Airstream, no problem), and after a couple of nights we’ll head back to home base in Tucson.  All told, about three weeks on the road.

You’ll notice the word “friends” appearing frequently in the above trip plan.  This trip is entirely driven by our desire to share experiences with good people, many of whom we’ve met along the road in prior travels.  We always see some friends on every trip, but it’s a particularly good trip where nearly every stop has a friendly face waiting at it.

Right now Eleanor and I are working through long lists of things that must be done before we can leave, and it’s a lot of work. Earlier today when we realized the fridge was dead and a few other obstacles popped up we considered delaying the trip.  But I know that once we get rolling, all the effort to get ready on time (and the sliced fingers, and the money) will be worth it.