Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One less obstacle to our Getaway

We got the van into the "local" Mercedes dealer today (in Kitchener, only 1 1/2 hours away) to deal with the coolant leak. They found the problem this time, and replaced the water pump and a couple of related valves. 

As sometimes happens, all did not go smoothly though. I had driven to Waterloo yesterday and stayed at our daughter's place in Waterloo for the night, to make it easier to get to the early van appointment. This morning the van wouldn't start! It had started and run fine yesterday, but wouldn't even turn over today, not even a "click". The Check Engine light was on, but no other diagnostics. The battery was fine.

After some fruitless head-scratching and discussion with the dealer's service manager, it was clear I needed a tow to the dealer. For the first time, I tried out our Good Sam Roadside Assistance service, and it worked fine. They had an Active Towing truck on the scene within an hour.

In the process of hooking up the van, the tow operator accidentally turned the key to Start, and the van started right up! This after at least 1/2 dozen earlier tries.  The Check Engine light stayed on but it ran ok all the way to the dealer. The tow guy followed behind in case of problems. Cost of the "tow" covered by Good Sam.

Even with my late arrival the techies still managed to find and fix the leakage problem. However no reason for the non-start was found, so no fix for that. Hopefully it was related to the Check Engine light, which was caused by the bad water pump. 

I know people talk about how expensive maintenance is for Sprinters, but today was a good example of getting our money's worth. This coolant leak was hard to track down, but they stuck with it. Once they found the problem, they had the parts to fix it, and they squeezed our van into their schedule and fixed it today. All this covered under warranty for our 4+ year old van. Good service and zero dollars today, great combination!

I did feel that I earned this very late breakfast, a short walk from the dealer. It was a long cold morning:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Getaway Day is approaching (maybe)

When poking around the van a couple of days ago, I noticed an odd puddle under the engine:

It seems to be a coolant leak. Very odd though, the van has just been sitting in the shed for the winter, hasn't been running since November. We've had a couple of very cold days recently though.

The dealer couldn't diagnose it from the pictures I sent, so I'll be taking the van in next week, weather permitting, and hopefully it will get resolved. I sure wouldn't start south with a problem like this lurking.

Monday, March 20, 2017

*END* of Arizona trip, March 2017

After a pretty uneventful trip for the last day, we pulled in to our driveway about 4:45 (pm!). The sun came fully out just as we pulled in to Flesherton.

For the second time this trip, we had a super easy border crossing. There were 3 lanes open, 2 with cars in them, so we pulled right in to the third lane. Passport check, "how long were you away?", "where did you come from?". 

I had to think about that last question, but I guess "Arizona" was a good answer, cause he waved us on through. 

There's still some snow around at home, but mostly bare, and bare roads all the way home.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hannibal to Auburn IN

After a fairly noisy night at the Hannibal Walmart, we set out about 7:30 on I72 with next to no traffic. About 10:15 we stopped at a rest area near Decatur IL for a late breakfast in the van.

Otherwise it was just a trek across I72 / I74 / US24 to Auburn today. We expected to stay at a commercial ex-Koa campground just south of Auburn. They were fully booked apparently, even though there were lots of empty sites, so here we are roughing it in the Auburn Holiday Inn Express, with supper at the nearby Cracker Barrel.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

El Dorado to Hannibal MO

El Dorado is a pretty college town. After fueling up and cleaning the buggy windshield we hit the road again, heading east. 8C at 8:45 am.

Motoring across US54 through Kansas, the western prairie gave way to more fertile-looking ranchland, then to farm country. Clearly there is more water available towards the eastern side of Kansas. What we saw of Kansas looks pretty prosperous, and US54 was excellent.

It was a very pretty drive this morning, through rolling hills, ponds and creeks, with blooming daffodils, forsythia, red buds and blossom trees out. A lot of the fields were purple with what seemed to be a planted ground cover:

The rest of the day was spent drifting northwest through Missouri. Another very pretty drive, a lot of it through part of the Ozarks. What a roller-coaster ride that was, up hills and down for many miles. Our van handled the hills with no problem, but we didn't see many big rig RVs through there, scenic as it is. Very little truck traffic too, maybe partly because it's Saturday? We waved to my cousin Steven as we passed by Joplin MO, only 60 miles to the south of us at one point. 

We're camped tonight in another scenic spot, the Hannibal Walmart. No, not really scenic, but convenient.

We think we have two pretty full (for us) driving days left before we're home. No marathon drives this trip I hope.