As you may know, we’ve added a bunch of pages to our blog summarizing our visits to various places – complete with pictures! We still like to do official “blog posts”, however, especially when there’s a story to tell that does not lend itself to our photo summaries. Here’s a little post about a three hour drive that landed us at a seedy motel overnight. Good times!
When living on the road, you know there may/will come a time that you will have to deal with mechanical issues with your “rig” (that’s the truck and/or trailer for you non full-time RVers). Though we have some friends that made it around the country without so much as a flat tire, such good luck is unusual and you try to prepare for a frustrating, though hopefully safe, side-of-the-road experience. Our trip from Sacramento to Morgan Hill, California gave us that experience.
After spending Thanksgiving with family, we were scheduled to get back on the road and head to Morgan Hill, about an hour south of San Jose, California. Though California was in a drought, the forecast called for significant rain (finally), so we headed out early enough that we could arrive in Morgan Hill and set up camp before dark and/or bad weather hit. Around noon, we were driving a horrible stretch of I-5 south through Stockton, CA – potholes, construction, road debris, you name it.
Suddenly, our truck dashboard “pings” and reads “Trailer Disconnected”. Panic!
Look in the rear view mirror – whew, still there! Regardless, we carefully pulled over to the side of the freeway to try to figure out what happened.
If you are not familiar, I-5 is the main artery on the west coast, stretching from Canada to Mexico. The semi trucks love to fly along at 70-plus mph and, at least on this day, did not seem to be interested in giving us any room on the shoulder to inspect our problem. Not pleasant. We hoped the bumpy ride had simply jarred something loose and we could plug it back in. No such luck.
Unable to identify the problem, we were able to get back into the truck and get back on the road, only to realize we had no trailer brakes! We limped along and eventually made our way to Manteca, CA, where, not knowing the root of our problem, we tried to get into a Ford and/or RV dealer. After navigating the trailer through narrow roads of downtown Manteca, were were unable to get into the local Ford dealer. Thankfully, we drove a bit further and found an RV dealer that was able to get the trailer in immediately. About 90 minutes later, we were back on the road. Apparently the problem was limited to the trailer and the dealer happened to be an “authorized” repair shop per our trailer manufacturer, so the whole thing went pretty smoothly.
Though we now faced the prospect of not getting to Morgan Hill until the evening and having to set up camp in the dark, we decided to get back on the road. We hoped to avoid the storms coming in late that night and setting up in the rain. About 40 minutes later, as we were driving down I-5 in the dark, a semi pulled up next to us and indicated we had a problem. We pulled over (again) and could not find anything wrong (again). So we got back on the road and made it to the next interchange where we pulled over at a gas station to take a better look.
We realized that our running lights on the trailer were not working. Brake lights, blinkers, and hazards all worked – but no running lights.
Not sure what the problem was, we still had a good mountain pass between us and Morgan Hill. The thought of jockeying down a mountain without running lights and with semis following close behind was less than appealing. So we decided to stay at the local motel and park the truck, trailer, and all of our belongings, in the motel parking lot.
We were told it was “pretty” safe because the police patrol it fairly regularly after they experienced recurring break-ins. Yay!
After transferring the most important valuables from the trailer to our room, we walked to the fast food joint next door, got dinner, and made it through the night, sleepy but intact. We woke to rain and a huge puddle several inches deep surrounding the trailer in the motel lot (the lot’s storm drain was plugged). At least the trailer was still there. After getting soaked re-loading the trailer, we got on the road and made it to Morgan Hill, which was a brown sea of mud and puddles. In hindsight, we could have just driven to Morgan Hill the night before using our hazards and likely been OK, but navigating the campground and setting up in the dark would have been a mess.
So, about 24 hours after leaving Sacramento, we made in to Morgan Hill – just a three hour drive away. Moral of the story? Who knows!
All things considered, things could have been MUCH worse (obviously). We were tired and soaked, but safe. While we hope this is the worst roadside issue we will have, chances are something else will come up. Such is life
on the road. You can see more of what we did once we finally made it to Morgan Hill here.