Where are you Camping this week?
Interstate Rest Area Dry Camping
Story of the night. I was forced to stay at a rest area on Interstate 40 twenty-two miles from the nearest town. The story began with the most wonderful week of vacation in Ashville NC. But all good things must come to an end. Interesting cliche. In this case, it did as well. This story begins not with the vacation but the four-hour trip home. It ends 28 hours later with the question of whether or not I really need Travel Insurance. Driving a Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins 5.9 Diesel. Pulling 10,000 lb. fifth wheel.
I have always been taught to be prepared. Boy Scout Motto, right? With that being said, I want to point out that I have purchased not one but two different road travel assistance insurance policies. The one every RVíer will know, Good Samís, and the one that matches my auto liability insurance Allstate Motor Club. I also want to point out that these insurance companies were not totally at fault with my situation but the side effects of the Covid Pandemic also played a big part in my troublesome 28-hour trip. Something that all travelers must consider and plan for now.
The trip began in Asheville NC and eastbound on I-40. A trip that should have only taken four hours to reach our home destination. One hour and fifteen minutes into the trip I came upon a rest area sign. I told my wife I was pulling off to stretch a little and walk our dog. You all have seen these signs. The next sign you see is Next Rest Area 100 miles. Right, why have them? As I pulled off the interstate and backed off the throttle, I noticed a weird noise from the engine compartment. If you drive a diesel, you know they are noisy anyway, but when that noise changes in the sound you know that something is wrong. As I quickly glance at the signage to find the proper location to park I then realized I had lost my power steering. Engine still running I figured I just lost my fan or serpentine belt. Or, the power steering pump went out. As I came to a location where I could stop, I then noticed the whole front of the truck engulfed in steam. Dang! My wifeís eyes were popped out of her head and the dog is up on the back of my seat saying, whatís the wrong dad. After stopping and investigating the situation, I determined that the water pump had literally blown apart. This changed the tension on the serpentine belt which caused the loss of power steering.
To cut this story short, what happens next is not at all what I had planned for. The first call was to Good Samís at about 12:15 PM on Wednesday afternoon. The phone agent Spent 15 minutes verifying me and attempting to locate where I was on her computer. I explained my situation and that I needed my RV towed to a nearby Camp Ground, I needed a ride for us to the same campground, and my truck towed to a repair shop. At this point, I was assuming a possible two-day turnaround. The agent explained that she would call me back. I get a callback and the closes repair shop can look at my truck on Monday and it could be a month before it was repaired. I asked, what happened to look at my truck on Thursday thru Saturday. The agent explained a Lack of employees and a high workload. When I asked about my RV the Agent stated that they could tow it to the same location but had no idea the repair facility would allow the RV to be parked there or if we could stay in the RV. I located a KOA RV Park 25 miles away. But again, the agent stated they would only tow to the nearest repair facility which was 15 miles away from where the truck was being repaired.
The next thing I thought of was to get a rent-a-car where we could at least move around or get to a motel for the night. We call all the major rent-a-car companies and no one had a car to rent.
I called Allstate Motor Club thinking maybe with both insurances we could get the camper towed to an RV lot. Allstate agent called me back one hour later and stated that he could only find one company that would tow my RV to the nearest RV lot. $1,000 and Allstate would only pay $200.
We did spend the night at the rest area. Heavily armed. Not prepared for dry camping. Did not have a generator with us. Only had one battery that went dead in 18 hours even with our best attempt at power management. After 18-hours the furnace quit working. Outside temperature 31 degrees. Our 12V Refrigerator quit working. Lesson learned, bigger battery bank and always carry the generator.
I guess my biggest complaint here is that the insurance companies were so focused on getting my truck to a repair shop. They should have been focused on getting me, my wife, and my dog to safety with our RV and then getting the truck fixed. Now, that could have all been done at the same time but Good Samís didnít even talk about the RV. They just assumed I would be staying at the rest area for a month. Really? So maybe the call center needs to train their employees on how RVís work and what it takes to live in one for a Month. They are an RV insurance company, right. Also, if not a drivable RV, then the RV has to go to a separate location than the repair facility.
Good Samís Lost this customer for good. In doing research on truck repair facilities within a 25-mile radius of where we broke down, I found 26 shops. I call ten, and of the ones, I called five could repair my truck within a two-day turnaround. Parts were on hand. The trick with Good Samís is they will tow to the nearest location. In this case, the closes repair facility that could repair my truck would take a month. If that facility can repair the vehicle that is as far as they will go. Even if it takes a year to repair the vehicle.
Now, I guess you want to know what I did because it only took 28 hours to get to the final destination. The first thing I must tell you is that I have a very high level of Automotive experience. Even though I had none on this particular engine. I watch YouTube videos on how to fix it. Looking for particular tools I might need. I got on the phone and call the parts store, in this case, Advance auto, and check for availability of the part, material, and tool I might need. Then got on my Uber app and scheduled a ride to the Advance Store, picked up the parts. It took me about one hour and thirty minutes to repair the truck and I was back on the road again.
Why 28 hours? Well, I did make an attempt to get some sleep that night. Too dark to work on the truck. But if you have ever slept in a rest area at night you really donít get much sleep. I got up at about 3 AM and fixed the truck. At this point, the battery in the RV was so low that the jacks would not raise off the ground. I had to run the truck for a while building the battery up enough to hook back up.
Couple of points I want to make here. First and foremost, GOD was taking care of us by pointing us into the rest area before all hell broke loose. Although maybe Good Samís and Allstate's help might have been better if I was on the side of the road on I-40. I kind of doubt it but I donít know. No matter the situation the two insurance companies should have taken care of us or made plans for us and the RV first. They should have gotten us to a safe comfortable place while they worked on making the vehicle operative again. A KOA Kamp Ground was within 25 miles. I am not sure why I could have gotten the truck fixed in two days and Good Samís repair facility was going to take a month. The last point I want to make here is, YOU Donít need these insurance policies. They donít do anything for you that you canít do yourself.