Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurry Up To Wait...

As most insurance claims go, we are pretty much trapped playing the "Hurry Up and Wait" game. It is slightly more complicated involving 2 insurance companies, one for the truck and the other for the RV. The truck has been a bit easier since GMAC has a large presence including adjusters in Wilmington, NC where National Interstate has to send out an independent adjuster.

The accident occurred last Sunday and the truck arrived at Mikes Collision Center on Wednesday and the RV not until Thursday evening. The holdup--$3900 tow bill--color me not surprised. The insurance companies decided to split it. Although they don't seem very interested in the facts and my photos, I am taking on the fight in the interest of price gouging and deceptive information provided to the insurance folks. Yes,, and the BBB are all part of the strategy, although I will give them the benefit of the doubt to correct their ways. Principles matter.

The truck damage when all is said and done will be at least $6100 and the estimated time frame is at least ten days. With the storm circling this area for the next few days, I am not sure how that will impact work and parts arriving from across the USA. The RV's adjuster played phone tag with me on Friday and no progress was made in even starting that process, so perhaps more on Monday. So, do the math--8 days and we have gotten the Lady Eagle from the accident scene to the repair shop.

Our depression meds....

Time to Google "laptop cemeteries"....rains, pours, and all that..

Spent Thursday away from insurance company jargon and hung out in downtown Wilmington. The Coast Guard Diligence, based here, was just leaving port after being docked for 30 days. Prediction: Population count to rise in 9 months. We stayed for 3 hours for one purpose--wanted to see how the bridge worked--draw or something else? Elevator bridge--real cool--as you can tell in the background, the span across the water separates and goes straight up to allow clearance for the Cutter enroute to the Caribbean for drug enforcement.

What the Atlantic looked like on Wednesday....a few days before Hurricane Sandy disturbs the scenery...

...and the gloom of Sandy arrives, four days of it on the forecast...

Because of the looming storm, we decided to return the rental car Friday night and will go without wheels for 4 days. We did not want another claim with the storm potential, debris flying around, etc. Our hotel has been great to us offering at 25% hardship discount and is proximate to eateries and WalMart.

We have eaten out more in the past 6 days than we have in the almost 7 months of this adventure. Not the way we planned it, but now for the first time, it feels like a vacation for Teri not having to cook! I am thankful for elastic.

What to do, what to do. In a bit of a quandary as I suspect most folks would be encountering such a drastic circumstance.We have learned patience is an asset when making a big decision on changing courses.

Our thoughts are in a holding pattern, but hard to expel the "what ifs"---what if it would have happened on the 2 lane road an hour earlier with families going out for a Sunday breakfast, what if my speed would have been 2 mph faster into the median cable, what if an 18 wheeler gas tanker would have been on my left side when the tire gave way---those are all thoughts that were realities that day, just not at the moment of the incident. We don't want to live a life in fear, sort of takes the joy out of it. So, we will trust we will be protected as we were 1 week ago today and move on. It is only 250 miles further back to Austin the way our course had us going, so why not go exploring rather than direct. Time and the checkbook balance hold the real clues.

Day #206---the journey remains parked in a hotel room in Wilmington, NC.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Well, That Was One Way To Meet New Friends !

In the first 24 hours following a disabling accident in an RV journey, one speaks to a bunch of new folks. For vagabonding introverts, I am not sure that has been a great thing, merely a thing. Because I seldom have informative blogs, excuse me, "meaningful" per the co-pilot, perhaps I can offer up one in this post of what transpires after such an ordeal.

Let's count the friends:
  • North Carolina State Highway Patrol- 2- The 911 dispatcher (hat tip, did well, from this "expert witness") and the investigating trooper. Well, investigating is perhaps going a bit far since he never once exited his vehicle other than to return my paperwork and the bogus ticket for an unsafe tire which he never looked at or inquired about. Officer Iam Surly also never inquired as to our condition opting instead to immediately go for the standard fare of asking for "vehicle registration, insurance and ID's for you and your passenger". Guess Teri resembled someone from his Wanted file (well-kept chicks over 50 wanted by young bucks).
  • Roadside assistance- 3- CoachNet folks calling me back trying to find a tow solution, although not obligated since it was accident related and therefore up to the trooper or my insurance company to assist. But trying to point out I-40 was an eastbound/westbound highway was a chore as I kept on getting "My map shows you southbound". Uhhh---crow flight is not standard direction.  HINT: In the USA, even numbered interstates run east/west, odd north/south. (See, that right there is MEANINGFUL).
  • Towing service- 7- Three in communications, two drivers and two who had to come let us in to the storage yard to get more belongings. Yup, we are still a fan of undergarments and toothbrushes. Oh, as you can see from our tow truck photo, you would have thought I told them I had crashed the Space Shuttle.
  • RV park-1- Originally thought RV was OK so had KOA hold a spot for us, until we discovered batteries decided to launch themselves rendering us without power.
  • Hotel desk clerks-2- One upon arrival and one second morning to announce we needed 2nd night as no bed bugs were discovered.
  • South Dakota insurance agency- 2-  one morning call and one afternoon call for questions.
  • Truck insurance providers- 4- the initial call to after hours number to report the accident, plus 3 people on the claims/adjusters side, all who have decided I should  be the event coordinator since none of them have called me back. My main point of contact locally has been pretty much non-existent explaining to me she was new. Based upon my only conversation with her, I am thinking she was a Pharmaceutical Rep. who left with some of the product.
  • RV insurance provider-1- (Yes, we have different companies for our truck and RV). So far, just called them Monday afternoon as policy info was locked in our rig.
  • Collision repair service-1- They specialize in trucks AND RVs, ideal for us, and they have an excellent reputation (holds breath).
Twenty-three new acquaintances, almost one per hour. Frankly, just grateful "Paramedic" and "ER Doctor" didn't join the list.

8 seconds of terror trail before the Eagle landed.

Oh yeah, one more shout out as there was a THANK YOU JESUS dialogue from my passenger as we grated to a stop, so that makes 24! I think I was too busy perusing the cab for a roll of Charmin and some Febreeze before any words came to mind.

The extent of my damage to State of N.C. property were 2 posts like you see in this photo. Yes, two. For that, the officer noted $4000!! as estimated damages. I darn near went up and tapped his shoulder to say "sleep through Damage Assessment class, did ya?" Tow driver even laughed commenting "those stakes run the State about $150 each installed".

So what did we glean:
1) Sunday travel double-edge sword. This was only the second time in 6+ months to do so. Blessing--lighter traffic perhaps helped with someone not being in the left lane as we decided to take ownership of the whole highway. Drawback--trying to get tow solutions, repairs, campgrounds, etc.
2) I am a comparison shopper, hence we ended up with 2 insurance companies having to deal with. I played the odds of not having a claim (have not had auto at fault accident in 36 years of driving) and lost. So be it, I would do it again for the 30% savings.
3) I am not a fan of overlapping insurance coverages (ie, rental car, roadside, etc). So we have a piece meal, but workable solution proceeding forward. Our RV, because it was our home, had an "emergency expense" clause to go toward temporary lodging and food. Teri has knocked off Cracker Barrel and Chick Filet off the crave list. Our fairly priced hotel is very nice and comfortable. Once those funds dry, our Roadside Assistance covers another small amount to supplement. Essentially, we can live for about 15 days before we have to hunt for cardboard, find highly traveled intersections and don our transient costumes.
4) If you are not sitting down, this is a moment to take a seat. After being held hostage for 36 hours this afternoon, it was time to find out what the hold up was with having no communication since our truck and fiver arrived into the tow yard. Rightfully so, neither insurance company was impressed with a $3,900 tow bill--yes, that is not a typo and was an insane amount. The monster tow rig in the photo never even came over to our side of the highway. It was 2 men and 3 hours total time from dispatch to return to tow yard, a distance of 35 miles each way. More shockingly, when I offered up all of my photos and willing to be a witness to my facts, the insurance company seemed indifferent. And you wonder why we have skyrocketing premiums?

So, where we are at time of posting this evening. The truck is being towed by itself to a repair shop through its insurance company as they paid 1/2 of the tow bill. The RV insurance will now have to come in and solve their piece of the tow which amounted to the tires being kicked and verifying the flashers on back were still working--they did zilch otherwise as it merely stayed attached to the truck the entire time never striking an obstacle.

We should have estimate on truck damage by tomorrow afternoon. Once the RV posts bond and is released from custody, it will go to the same repair shop (blessedly they work on both) to have a thorough systems and safety check to certify it as towable and liveable.

And just think, who started this whole thread on the Darker Side of full-timing?

Much to ponder...much to ponder...I did receive this link today along with this link from my wife via email. Is it time for a team meeting?

And do we have a potential complication brewing in the Caribbean tonight?

Oh, and to close out, one more gem from the wife's memory bank as we awaited the trooper's arrival--"you remember last night commenting you didn't have much to blog about right now". Careful what you ask for.

The journey of life continues, the RV one is on hold. But the thought of a small ranch home with a 3 legged hound chasing around a flock of hens by day and howling at the moon by night sounds appealing----------------------------------------tonight.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


You pray relentlessly to be spared of a highway disaster and when it happens, you still pray and give thanks for it could have been much worse. For that we are thankful.

62 MPH cruising along the right lane of I-40 eastbound for Wilmington, NC when the BIG  BANG happened, front driver's side blowout, the worst case scenario as at that speed and our weight, you are going to be pulled immediately left with almost no steering ability. Off to the left we went, down into the wide median and slowly, by this point, into the dividing median cables, where all the damage began as the metal pylons planted themselves into our truck's body.

If you look in front of the tire about ten feet, you will see the pylons are only about 3 feet out of the ground, but the damage is at 4 feet high in the truck. The tow driver reasons we were getting ready to FLIP when we were impaled back up right. It would have given a new meaning to Flip-Flop Vector.


Forty-five minutes later, NC State Patrol arrives taking another 45 minutes to write his report. Another one hour later, it takes 2 tow trucks to yank us out and tow us 35 miles into Wilmington where the truck and RV rig are now resting comfortably in a tow yard. My underwear are still not resting comfortably.

Our 2 RV batteries went flying out of the 5th wheeler's compartment so that eliminated any possibility of having the unit towed to a campground on a Sunday. Disarray inside the rig, as well. We will of course want full safety check on the rig's axle, braking and frame before using it to reside in. We will know more on truck when adjuster meets with us tomorrow. Not an insurance pro, but guessing $5,000-7,500 range and several weeks.

In the interim, sitting in a Wilmington hotel sans a car which we will try to solve tomorrow. Fortunately, we are surrounded by numerous eateries and a Walmart.

Oh, and the salt in the wound, officer gave me a ticket for an unsafe tire explaining "if you would have gone off on the right shoulder into the grass, you would have been fine as you wouldn't have caused any damage to State property (wire divider) and no ticket would have been issued, but we need to be able to tie your insurance company into it. Oh, and sir, I don't believe it is even considered a moving violation". WHATTTT??? I am moving and get a non-moving ticket? I only get it cause it was my front left tire and not my front right tire? I am sure if I would have gone right he would have written me for "Sod Disruption", or something. Maybe it was cause I was wearing my "In Texas, We Dont Call 911" shirt with a pistol on it. Oh, and my court date is January 9th, how is that for court efficiency in N.C. Watch for my photo on America's Most Wanted in February.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Apple/Appalachian/DC + Random Acts of RV'ing, V 19.0

I was thinking about starting a blog about travel sights that we go to---anyone seen something like that before? Bwahaha. So, before we get to the good stuff (Random Acts), we did enjoy NYC, DC (with our oldest), Philly and a 6 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail above Harper's Ferry, W. VA---all in the past 2 weeks! I don't need no stinkin' budget!

Philly cheesesteak, gyro platter and pastrami sammich with garlic fries--at this rate, in a month, I am going to have more Chins than the Chinese phone book.

OK, enough with tourist-palooza. Let's get to the material you come here for---useless info on our RV experience. Teri even quipped this week "If you think about it, your blog is "meaningless". Before you want to send funds to get me a mobile, grief counselor, she is right. Instead of Flip Flop Vector, maybe a name update to Seinfeld Goes Camping. Now, just to figure out a way to make Jerry's kind of money.

Don't you wonder how folks with this mindset approach an RV dealership--"Yeah, hello, I am looking to see if you have--uhh,uhh--like a pup tent that has wheels on your lot--you know, like a Camper Starter Kit".

I have an idea, let's go down to the cemetery and get those 1,000 pound head stones, throw some wood on top, and call it a picnic table! Then, let's put it so far forward on the site the RV awning can't cover it while it is raining. QUACK!

Really--that sign inside the campground's Men's bathroom? I wandered out to the fenced in dog run area expecting to see a sign that said "Men, please use urinal in men's restroom rather than the fire hydrant".

What is up with RV parks and their trending eco-friendly toilet paper? Uhhh---it is not finger friendly, if you know what I mean. Like much of the "green" movement, there are unintended consequences when I am having a movement. In this case, the easily degradable paper causes one to have to consume more water than usual to clean their hands--aren't they the same group that wants to save on water usage?

What Teri sees as a campin' breakfast meat.

What Teri's husband sees.

                                   I had no idea Home Depot sold firewood.

Getting off one of our DC subway stops. Shouldn't the sign just say "Stairs"?

Price gouging at our NJ campground laundromat. At that rate, I thought they might spray some white paint in my undies--you know, to freshen 'em up a lil bit after using the eco-toilet paper?

Really, at a campground? "Sir, we do apologize that our Wi-Fi is phenomenally intermittent, but hey, have you tried out that batting cage yet?" Oh, you bet they charged for it--what were you thinking-- "Buy one load of clothes washing, hit 5 balls free"?

There you go folks. In 1 minute's reading time, I took you from tourist-palooza to poop-palooza. Hope you enjoyed. These weary travelers are glad to be done with hills and chills, now resting comfortably in the temperate, coastal climate of the Carolinas.

Day  193, the journey continues---in small increments.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Reveal of the ReDo

Finally. Well, almost done. Estimated 30 hours of sweat equity invested over a period of about 2 months, but well worth it we do believe.

Decisions: I decided on bedroom decor (Yawn theme) to offset Teri's desire for color and eclecticism (Retro Ice Cream Parlor theme). Balance. We removed all of the side pieces (vertical valances for the lack of a better word from this virgin RV remodeler) to open up the window look more. We had quality enough fabric just to wrap the horizontal valances rather than remove just in case the next owner had a yearning to return the rig to the hideous original scheme.

Teamwork:Teri decides, we execute. Teri removes paint stains from my clothes. Teri sews, I watch. I subtract expenditures from budget. Real simple.

The budget: less than $250, majority paint and fabric.

Presuming you know anything about RV upholstery and design, I do not feel I need to label the pictures Before and After. If you cant figure out which is which, you have not been an inside an RV from year periods 1990-2008.

GLAD it's over.

It will eventually be for sale. We however will  not take it back to the Quaalude generation motif, you can do that yourself if interested.

As for other updates, we have been busier than a 1 toothed man at a corn cob eating contest.  Teri has filled in nicely as a co-blogger apprentice with our stays in Philly, the Big Apple and the District of Calamity with her writings here. Glad to be leaving the traffic rat race. Seriously, these 3 metropolis need to come up with a new traffic violation--Driving While Emotionally Impaired. It is like they have a remote sensing device that activates their car horn within 1/2 second of a light turning green if their car has yet to move. Chill people.

Moving forward. The second half of this journey, now that we are 3/4 of the way around the USA, will be about "no obligations". Other than our boys possibly joining us at Christmas time, we have no set plans. Even for the holidays, we won't know where we will be at until about 2 weeks prior, so be it. Since we have journeyed over the Cascades, the Whites, the Greens, the Rockies, the Poconos, etc--we will now become more Intercoastal in nature, or what I call my wife when she gets cranky--"beachy". We hope to be staring at the Atlantic Ocean in less than a week.

Thanks for following along. If you have any questions regarding the makeover, give us a ring. Day 191, the journey continues out of the mega-expensive Northeast. Forever.