The Big Lebowski gets a tow.
There is something about being close to home after months away that makes one eager to get going. Yesterday we drove twice our usual distance in order to leave only 4 hours of driving today to make it home. The Big Lebowski would be parked in its own berth by midday, well before the freezing drizzle and Friday afternoon congestion ground traffic to a halt. Plans do not always resemble actual results. We’d only been on the road for 11 miles, streaming up I94 in Wisconsin, when Greg noticed that Big L’s temperature was 200 and climbing. By the time he pulled over and stopped all the lights were flashing on the dashboard. Shoot. Greg hiked to the bedroom and took a quick look see under our bed to find the serpentine belt long gone and the engine hotter than a Cheesehead watching the Vikings beat the Packers. I can’t pass up the opportunity to point out that on the sailboat the engine was in the kitchen, on the RV its in the bedroom, every guy’s dream. Geez.
Heavy traffic whizzes by at 70 mph.
Being good scouts we were prepared and had a spare serpentine belt on board. Unfortunately, it was stowed in one of the basement cargo lockers on the port side of the RV and neither of us was keen on standing in the traffic lane of this busy interstate in order to rummage through those lockers until we found the belt. So we called Good Sam’s, our tow insurance provider and requested assistance. It took nearly an hour on the phone with Good Sam’s very proficient Ilia before the proper belt was located and a tow truck dispatched.
Tony, one of our rescuers, securing the tow bar to the axle.
Greg then called our designated rescuers to confirm a few details, including that they needed us to back the car off the tow dolly. Traffic was intensifying and I noticed that while most truckers at least attempted to change lanes and move over, only about 50% of the car drivers made the effort. We didn’t exactly feel safe inside the RV, let alone standing unprotected on the shoulder. Where is a trooper when you need one? I spotted for holes in the traffic while Greg removed the trailer pin and the wheel straps, crouching nearly in the lane of traffic for the left strap. We breathed easier when Greg backed the car off the trailer and parked it on the shoulder. Which was the cue for the trooper to finally appear. It turns out all those car drivers are fully capable of moving over when there is a trooper parked on the shoulder. The trooper was happy that a tow truck was supposed to arrive in 30 – 60 minutes and took off.
The disabled FedEx rig is towed into Sal’s.
The mega tow truck from Sal’s Towing and Truck Repair soon appeared, backed up to the front of the RV, extended a lifting arm under the chassis and raised the front like it was a stripped down Yugo. That was the easy part. The hard part about towing an RV is that the drive shaft must be disconnected and air must be hooked up to the brakes, both requiring a lot of work beneath the RV. Sal’s employee Tony hustled to minimize the time he spent as potential roadkill beneath the Big Lebowski. And even though Sal, dressed in bright neon green, kept waving traffic to the far lane, an unhealthy percentage of drivers couldn’t bother to move over, whizzing by at 70 mph. Our rescuers completed their prep without incident and Sal took off down the interstate towing all 30,000 pounds of the Big Lebowski at 70 mph. As we accelerated in the car to catch up we passed a FedEx truck with double trailers parked on the shoulder just a mile beyond where we landed. Greg noticed a dangling mirror and wondered whether the truck had been clipped while sitting there.
The damage one wild turkey can do.
About an hour after we were towed into the shop, Sal’s mega truck reappeared with the FedEx truck and both trailers in tow, reminding us of one of the long barges being towed down the ICW. Greg eyed the largish hole in the windshield on the driver’s side and the blood streaked cab door and strolled over to get the full scoop. A large wild turkey had flown directly in front of the truck, smashing through the safety glass. FedEx trucks roll with 2 drivers so they can run around the clock. The driver who had been sleeping at the time of the strike asked Greg if he was hungry as there was still turkey left. He opened the door to show that part of the turkey wound up inside the cab. Yikes. We now thanked our lucky stars that our serpentine belt had left us disabled, protecting us from collision with this turkey.
Roadkill turkey INSIDE the cab is more than I could take.
Two more disabled trucks were brought in that day and we chatted with their drivers, comparing notes and silently noting that these guys were all losing pay as a result of their misfortune. By 4 pm the repair was finished, our car reloaded and we were streaming north on I94. By 4 pm it was also raining in Minneapolis, with the temperature hovering near the freezing point. We also took note of the dead deer littering Wisconsin ditches at a rate of one per mile and decided there was no need to drive after dark and tempt fate once again and parked for the night in Eau Claire. Tomorrow is another day!