Testing road service

Day 41

The time finally came for us to leave Park of the Sierras and move north. Temperatures had been warm where we were and really hot (by our standards, at least) in the central valley. It had been around 90 the last couple of days in the park with temps in the low 100’s below us. Dry heat or not, sunny 90-degree days feel hot to me, and we were happy for 50A service and dual air conditioners in the trailer.

We only had a 3.5 hour drive to Lodi according to Google. Our plan was to meet friends near Lodi. We had reservations in a full-hookup campground at a discounted rate of less than $30/night, but our friends were staying nearby at Brannan Island State Recreation Area. In many ways it was more our style, but it was more expensive, didn’t have full-hookups and had mixed reviews. Since it would be nice to stay with our friends, we decided to head there first, check it out and either stay there or fall back on our reservation at the full-hookup park.

Given the relatively short drive, we hit the road shortly after noon. It was the hottest day yet, with temperatures already in the 90s at the park. We pulled out onto the busy two-lane highway, and as I check my mirrors to merge into traffic I immediately noticed that the top of our kitchen slide had tilted far (12-18″) out. The bottom of the slide was still in, but clearly we couldn’t drive like that.

We pulled over and cautiously took a look during a break in traffic. I had no idea how to get the top of the slide back in. We considered trying to extend the slide, but I was concerned that we’d cause more damage (it’s not designed to extend the slide with the slide tilted out), and extending the slide into traffic didn’t seem like a smart idea regardless. (Stupidly, we did not take a picture; it would have been really nice to have a picture not just for the blog, but to show service staff.)

Time to try out our RV road service. We got through, went through the process of providing all the details, and the dispatcher called the local sheriff’s department since we were not in a great spot. We were then told that a tech from the emergency road service would call us when they were available.

The sheriff’s dept eventually made it to us, recommended a safer spot, and offered to slow traffic while we moved about 1/2 mile down the road to a pull-out. With the slide hanging out, I did a slow drive down. Interestingly, the slide slowly tilted back in on the drive down; by the time we made it the full half-mile, it was pretty much back where it was supposed to be.

With us in a safe location, the sheriff took off. While we were waiting for our call-back, we inquired with our dealer about this slide out failure and searched the internet without getting any good information. We also checked with our warranty company. No joy. We considered extending the slide (it was in now), but we found out that in a huge bit of bad timing, an acrylic glass (oxymoron?) had escaped and was crushed under the slide when it tilted back into position and a couple of large chunks were trapped under the slide. We had a couple of hours invested into the road service at this point and decided it was best to just wait for a mechanic.

We finally got a call back from the tech at the road service place. After asking their twenty questions, they said they would dispatch a tech from a local rv repair place. Fifteen minutes later the rv tech calls, asks their questions, and says they’ll be there in 20 minutes. They arrive 35 minutes later, cut a wood brace to keep our slide in (a high-tech solution that we’re still using), and we followed them 15 minutes down to their shop.

Once at their shop, they were able to lever up the slide enough to get the remains of the acrylic glass out without too much more damage to our floor. We tested the slide mechanism and it still seemed to work okay. It did not seem like they had much experience with higher-end motor homes or fifth-wheels (hydraulic slide-outs and residential refrigerators were apparently novel), and we’d been delayed over four hours by this time, so slide brace reapplied, we decided to move on down the road.

At this point, ETA for arrival in Lodi was around 8:00 pm. The State Recreation Area that our friends were staying at was about 20 minutes farther off of the freeway. After our long and somewhat stressful day, we chose to just stick with our reservations at the decent but sterile RV park so that we could get set up before dark and settle down.

The good news is that our road service worked. They called for police help (which apparently took a few calls in our case), arranged for a mobile mechanic and covered the trip charge. Total out of pocket for us was $50. On the other hand, we needed a lot of patience. Nothing happened fast. And we were thankful that we didn’t have an issue with the truck – with temperatures in the 90-100s (we hit 106 on the drive to Lodi), the truck was running with the A/C on throughout the entire day.

Postscript: Other than the floor damage from the glass, we have not noticed any long-term ill effects from the incident. We will get the slide-out checked when we get home. It was a stressful and long day that I don’t want to repeat, but it actually had very little impact on our trip plans in the end. The only real change we had to make was not staying at the same campground as our friends, which wasn’t a big deal as we still got to spend the day with them the next day.

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