From this point on, my entire drive while making my way back to Seattle would be along the I-90, which I now know is no way to see the country. As a result, the drive through Montana was unexciting, though, the flatness of it was a nice break from the rolling prairie hills of Wyoming which sucked up all my gas. I battled massive wind gusts nearly the entire way from South Dakota to Central Montana which was frightening at times. The gusts blew me over into the next lane. Fortunately, there were no cars beside me each time that occurred. It wasn’t until I reached the Absaroka Mountains that I started gaining any noticeable elevation. By then I was expecting to see towering peaks as I approached the Rocky Mountains. I drove over a couple minor passes, then all of a sudden, I was in Idaho. I guess the picturesque Montana mountains I had in my head were not along I-90.
I was now on my way to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to visit a friend I hadn’t seen since I was about 16. Naively, I thought it wouldn’t be too hard finding RV accommodations. I decided to stop at a place called Wolf Lodge just outside Coeur d’Alene which looked like a real nice resort type of place. I got off the freeway, and as I drove slowly down some back roads I noticed the truck engine wasn’t running quite right. As I stepped on the gas, it seemed to choke. I was sure it was just my imagination.
I arrived at Wolf Lodge and when I asked the lady at the office if they had any spots open she immediately answered, “No, I’m sorry,” without even looking at her books. Hmmm. That might not be a good sign. And then I realized it was late afternoon on a Friday. Oi. One by one, I called every park in Coeur d’Alene and each time was denied. Apparently, Coeur d’Alene is a happening recreational area. So, I started looking in Spokane Valley. Fortunately, I got lucky with the first one I called which was a KOA about 13 miles away. Ready to roll out, I pulled back onto the road, and just as I did the check engine light lit up. GAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
This time, I was less reactive since the truck didn’t completely shut down on me like it did when I was driving down the freeway in Denver going 65mph. Without anywhere else to go, I decided to try to make it to the RV Park. All the while looking for escape routes in case the engine died. Relieved when I finally made it there, I was comforted by the thought that it seemed I could at least continue to get around just fine.
I settled into my camp spot and thought it would be a good time to do a load of laundry. I struck up a conversation with a woman my age when my load was done washing and I realized there were half as many dryers as there were washers. Well, that’s dumb. So, while we waited for the guy who hogged two of the three dryers with four loads of laundry, Angie and I got to know each other a bit. She and her boyfriend had driven up from Texas and were looking for work. He was a welder and she created art and jewelry made from glass. Her boyfriend had just landed a job in a town just outside Coeur d’Alene, but it would be another week before he got a paycheck. I gathered they were running low on money since she mentioned they had stayed in their truck in a Walmart parking lot the other night. They splurged staying at the KOA so they could take showers and do laundry. I gave her some ideas of how to take free showers and possible free places to stay such as Bureau of Land Management land. Whether or not there were any BLM lands nearby I had no idea, but she seemed excited at the notion, nonetheless. As for the showers, I told her about the time a group of friends and I were camping and all we had for showers was a pop-up tent, a gallon water jug and a river. Coeur d’Alene didn’t seem to have any shortage of rivers and lakes.
When Angie got done folding her clothes she said she wanted to give me something. She took off the necklace she was wearing and slipped off the pendant that was attached. She held it out to me. I was slightly puzzled and not sure what to say, never having been given a gift by a stranger before.
I asked why she was giving this to me and she said, “Because this is what I do. I give away things I make to people I like.” And she continued to explain that she had found this piece of glass and shaped it into its final form. Still dumbfounded, I thanked her graciously and formerly introduced myself since we hadn’t even exchanged names for the hour and a half we had been talking.
The following morning, I had the enjoyable task of trying to find an auto shop that was open on Saturdays. After calling a handful of places, including two Ford dealers whom I left messages with and never bothered to call me back, I finally got in touch with a place called Lett’s in Coeur d’Alene. I headed over there that morning and after they scanned the computer, I boastfully said to the tech, “Let me guess, it’s a code having to do with the fuel pressure sensor circuit.”
“Yeah,” he seemed surprised.
I gave them the whole scoop of what happened in Denver. I was standing at the admin desk talking to Curtis for a while when I realized he was already searching for a part on the computer. Remembering my conversation with Mike back in Denver when this first happened and how it could be one of several issues, I immediately thought, Why is he searching for a part if they haven’t even diagnosed the problem? So, as sly as I could, I told him when I had this code pop up in Denver, I had discovered it could be a half dozen different things causing the error code. He then went to another computer and typed something in. A minute later he listed off all the things it could be. Yeah, I know, I thought. And then he went on to tell me he’d feel more comfortable having his lead tech look into it on Monday rather than having the less experienced guys try to troubleshoot the problem. Again, I thought, Yeah, I’d feel more comfortable with that too!
Fortunately, I was distracted the rest of the weekend hanging out with my old high school friend. It’s crazy seeing someone after so many years and seeing they still have the same mannerisms and little habits that they had when we were kids. I got to see a little bit of Coeur d’Alene which is absolutely beautiful. I will definitely be back to explore the area more someday.
When Monday morning rolled around I was apprehensive about taking the RV back to Lett’s. I had since learned Lett’s used to be a detailing shop and the experience I had on Saturday left me wondering if these guys really knew what they were doing. After the experience I had with Best Auto & RV Repair in Denver, I swore I would never go to another average auto shop but I didn’t have a ton of options. So, I was left to give Lett’s a shot and see what they came up with.
After meeting Steve, the lead tech, I was much more confident he might be able to figure out what was going on with the RV. It was clear he had a lot of experience dealing with Ford motors. In the end, he replaced the fuel filter and fuel pressure sensor. The good news was the engine no longer seemed to be running funny when driving in a low gear. With a few more new parts installed, Betty and I set out on the homestretch back to Seattle.