It has not been a good day today. By 9am I was broken down, in traffic, and didn’t get out of Phoenix until after 4pm. And someone stole my backpack somewhere in the middle of it.
Left camp early this morning, about 6:30am. I was planning on going to the Organ Mountains for my overnight stay, I enjoyed it the last time I was there and it’s around 7 hours away, which would be just perfect. As I was rolling into Phoenix, I figured I’d stop by a Flying J and grab a shower. I haven’t set up / tested the shower in the camper, that’s a story for another day. It’s incredibly busy there, but I find a spot to park way in the pack of the truck parking lot. As I’m walking towards the building, I go to make my reservation and realize my shower credit has expired. Grr. So I got back in the truck, and Google routed me through a couple miles of Phoenix because it’s morning rush hour and the side streets are faster than the highway.
I’m about 1 mile from getting back on the freeway, and the engine stops. If it were a gas engine, I’d say the power to the fuel pump got disconnected. I am able to stop the 15,000 pound machine I’m driving without hitting anyone, and it refuses to start. The starter motor turns and turns, but the engine never catches. I’m blocking traffic in the right line, close to an intersection. The truck will not move. This is at 8:45am.
I called the shop that I just paid nearly $6k to, and told them what’s going on. They arrange a tow truck and service at the BulletProof Diesel headquarters which is in Mesa, AZ, just north-east of Phoenix. Around 10:15 or 10:30am (I can’t remember), the tow truck driver shows up with a regular tow truck, not a flatbed. This means the White Knight is going to be tilted at a precarious angle towards the trailer, and the drive shaft has to be removed. When entering and leaving parking lots, the driver has me spotting as he creeps in and out. At certain points, the camper is literally inches from the trailer.
We get to BulletProof Diesel’s headquarters, and they’re so busy they not only have all of their bays filled, they also have trucks in the driving area to get to the bays. They have me parked out back, and a technician wheels out a cart of tools and gets to work.
By about 4pm, they’re done. Everything is covered under warranty. Apparently the first shop didn’t do one particular procedure correctly, and it messed up some kind of filter/actuator for the high-pressure oil system. This engine uses oil as more than just a lubricant, and something got messed up there. If it wasn’t under warranty, that would have been $600+, and a $300-$400 tow. Fortunately, I walk out of there without paying anything.
While I’m driving away, trying to get out of Phoenix, I realized my backpack is missing. I stopped for gas and looked around everywhere, but it’s nowhere to be found. As I carefully trace my steps, I realized it must have been stolen while I was waiting for the tow truck. For some period of time I was waiting, I hopped in the camper and apparently left the truck unlocked. It was a shady part of town, and sure enough, someone decided they wanted my backpack more than a sense of morality.
I was extremely lucky that my laptop and wallet were not in the backpack. The thief did get an older iPad, around $10 in cash, a couple USB chargers and USB memory sticks, a car charger for my laptop, the extension cable for the charger for my laptop, the receipt of my $6 in truck repair, and the item that’s bothering me the most: My noise canceling headphones.
I use those headphones on every trip greater than an hour or two. The White Knight is not a quiet machine, and I like those headphones so much I’d even use them in my Lexus. The idea of spending the next two days, solid, driving without them was unacceptable. I don’t know what the decibel level is in the truck when I’m driving around hauling/towing everything, but it’s certainly higher than when driving unloaded. The headphones actually cancel out the noise (not just drown it out), which I think of as a health benefit. My hearing isn’t perfect to begin with so I do try to not expose myself to excessively loud noise for long durations.
I know myself, and I know that if I don’t replace the headphones, immediately, I’m going to spend the next two days fuming about them being stolen. To say that it would make me an unpleasant person to be around is an understatement. This trip is already so expensive, what’s another couple hundred bucks? I’m thinking that after this trip, I’m going to have to go into fiscal-conservative mode to a whole new level. This is getting a bit crazy.
I found a Best Buy in Tucson, and they were good enough to let me have a new pair of noise canceling headphones. My regular credit card that I’ve been using for all of my daily purchases decided to decline on me, which was very strange. I still have several thousand in credit available, so I have no idea why that happened. I have backups of course, so it wasn’t a real issue at this point.
Oh, and in case you’re curious, my first fill with the camper and trailer came in at 9.2mpg. I’m not sure it’s going to get much better with different driving conditions, but we’ll see. At least it’s stable driving 65mph, even with a gusting 20mph crosswind. I can’t say that about the old truck. When the wind is calm, it almost feels like a normal vehicle since the ride is softened with all the extra weight.
Oh, and one more thing! While I was getting my truck repaired today, I convinced them to help me check the tire pressure on the inner wheels. There was one that was completely flat while in Breckenridge, and that tire was down to 53psi. The other tires were at 75psi+, so no huge worries about those for now. The White Knight still needs a new set of tires though, so that’ll be happening sometime soon.
Tonight I’m staying in the best buy parking lot. It’s a giant shared lot with lots of various stores, and there weren’t any signs (that I could see) that prohibited overnight parking, so I’m just stopping for the day. Trying to find a nice BLM spot after dark is pretty much impossible, and I could go find a Walmart if I really wanted do, but I think this’ll do for now.
Having the truck break down and my backpack stolen were really hard to deal with. I wanted to get some good driving time in and arrive with plenty of sunlight left to enjoy one of my BLM spots. Instead, I got my backpack stolen and sat around all day as my truck was repaired, again.