It started with the day that wouldn’t go out easy.  Our stop at Bruneau Dunes State Park seems to be doomed…then the weather forecast for Friday was grim, really grim. Being out in an open plain when the wind is gusting up to 40 mph did not sound like my idea of fun.



So stark and beautiful


The tallest single-structured sand dune in North America with a peak rising 470 feet above the surrounding desert floor.


But no time to explore…whining, yes!


Well, that meant we needed to get rolling early the day after we arrived. Wahhh, was my response when Wally the weatherman informed me of the storm headed our way. “ But we just got here…so we won’t even be able to explore the dunes…this side trip was all for naught”. Yes, I was whining but knew he was right, we needed to roll.



Really, not looking good!


Getting the coach ready to roll doesn’t take long and thankfully Ernie’s battery had fully charged overnight. The weatherman who is also the electrical guru and mechanic found a blow fuse in Ernie so hopefully our towing would go easier today.

Well, all was going well even with all my whining until Wally tried to start the coach. Engine was cranking but not starting. Yes, really.

After looking at the troubleshooting guide, Wally the mechanic tried cleaning the giant air filter and bleeding the fuel line. Still no go when he tried starting the engine, only a whole lot of black smoke. Next step was to run the onboard diagnostics. The error code suggested that the fuel actuator pump had failed. Now, we are seriously unhappy as that was just replaced during a routine maintenance evaluation before we left Anacortes.



Such a nice State Park…really we can’t stay???


No fuel pump means we were dead in the dunes…not going anywhere without the help of a really big tow truck who could get us to a certified Caterpillar engine repair center. Luckily, I had cell reception and found there were two within 80 miles. Yikes, this is going to be a whopping tow bill.

An hour later and two calls, both dealers were a week out for any type of diagnoses or repair. Well, as luck would have it there was also a Freightliner Elite Service Center in Twin Falls that is a certified for Catapillar engines and could actually get the coach on the repair schedule within 24 hours. YAY!!! Things were looking up.

Now to arrange a tow. Geico is our insurance carrier and they have RV policies with road side assistance. Looks like we were going to get to test how good our coverage is and how the customer service would perform. The Freightliner Dealer had given us a referral for a tow company that had the capability and equipment to service our 30,000 lb coach. Towing a coach is way more complicated than a passenger car for so many reasons.

After almost an hour on the phone with Geico and two reps later, I was getting slightly frustrated. Truly, patience’s is not always my strongest virtue but one thing I do know is that please and thank you get way more done than a bad attitude, so somehow I managed to keep my frustration in check! The first rep was talking so fast and most of the time I couldn’t even understand her. Somewhere along the line we were disconnected…I was actually thankful. After some searching for an appropriate vendor, the second customer service representative agreed that Big Tow looked like the best option but she needed to get approval from a supervisor.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting….there was considerable extra time spent getting authorization to use Big Tow, then working on a bid as Geico paid by the mile and Big Tow charged by the hour. Finally, Regina the Wonder Rep had everything worked out, Big Tow was being dispatched and the tow bill would be covered by Geico. It was cool that Geico confirmed the tow’s ETA of 1:57 pm via text.

While we were waiting, waiting, waiting for Big Tow we packed up the pets food, got Sucia in her crate and readied the coach for a tow. We weren’t sure how the Road House would be towed, on a flat bed or on its rear axle but know there would be some extra jostling.

Around 1pm I spotted a really big truck headed into the camp ground – YAY, help had arrived. At this point we got the pets loaded into Ernie and parked in the shade away from the loud diesel truck. Thankfully, it wasn’t a hot day and there was shade! Looking for the silver lining in all this.



Yep, thats a BIG TOW


Waiting, waiting, waiting….we expected it to take about an hour to get the coach hooked up but of course being doomed in the dunes meant that nothing was going to go easy. The air system need to be activated and the tow companies fitting wouldn’t fit properly.



Dang air fitting…we need th air to lift the coach up off its chassi.


Waiting, waiting, waiting…the rear axle needed to be uncoupled and Rob, the tow technician didn’t have tools that were the right size. Seems he has never seen such an odd bolt pattern on a coach. Really!

Waiting, waiting, waiting…boy, am I bored by now. Finally, Rob found another way to solve the problem. Boy, was he really dirty by now.

Waiting, waiting, waiting…now Rob and Wally had to figure out the best way to attach the giant tow bar to the front of the rig without damaging the generator.

I won’t bore you with any more of the details but 2 hours later the coach was being pulled….very slowly out of the camp site. Once it was out of the campsite, more waiting ensued as Rob…who does have the patience of a saint, used a remote control boom arm to pull the coach out of the site, then up directly behind his massive truck. I think he actually had fun doing this part!



Rob is controlling the big boom arm remotely…very slowly I might add. Does he know how long I have been waiting???





Okay…we are all hooked up and rolling. I can’t tell you how many games of mindless solitaire I played on my iPad but wow, was I happy to see the Roadhouse rolling. No Willie Nelson “On the Road Again” was played during the trip to Twin Falls since we actually weren’t driving the Road House. We followed with the pets in Ernie. So glad it wasn’t a two-fer tow and he was actually running.



Good Bye Site 15, Good Bye Bruneau Dunes


We rolled into the Freightliner Service Department around 5:15 pm and more waiting began. Even though they were open until 9 pm, we finally found out that our coach was on the service schedule for Friday morning. The only good news was that we could stay onboard for the night in the parking lot.



Hey Babe…we have arrived


Exhausted from all the waiting, Chick-fil-A just 2 miles down the road seemed like a good way to fill our bellies. That, a glass of wine, a hot shower and my electric blanket cranked on high put me right to sleep despite the drone of the adjacent freeway noise. Drifting off to sleep, I was sure we would be back on the road tomorrow. Hmm, or was that a fantasy dream?





7 thoughts on “DEAD IN THE DUNES

  1. Oh, I can sense the frustration. The good thing about being stuck in Twin Falls over a weekend is being entertained by the BASE jumpers. I parked by the Best Buy (or Visitor center) and there’s a great trail along the ledge. Shoshone Falls is also a must see but water levels are always different. At least there’s sights to see while being stuck. Good luck!


  2. Oh no!!! What a nightmare! So glad you at least were able to get out of the dunes with those high winds on the way. Your patience and persistence paid off. Hang in there, you’ll be back on the road soon (hopefully, really soon!). Whenever someone says to me, “So, how is it to be on vacation all the time?” I just laugh. We were stuck one time in San Diego for five weeks waiting for repairs. Still, I wouldn’t trade our full-time adventures, even with the challenging moments, for any other life right now.


  3. Hi Laurel,

    Life on the road is surely an adventure and one I wouldn’t trade despite the recent frustrations. We are learning a lot about the ins and outs of getting repairs done on the road.

    Can’t wait to get rolling again!



  4. Pingback: Waiting, Waiting, Waiting | our38ftlife

  5. Pingback: It’s a Wrap…. | our38ftlife

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