Our final goal for our 2-month break was to see Dropkick Murphys in Boston on St. Patty’s Day weekend, Mike’s favorite holiday. So since we were already driving all the way to Massachusetts from Ohio, we wanted to explore as much of the New England states as we could. So we left a week before the concert and headed to Maine first.
When we were in Havasu, we heard how mild the winter was back east this year so we thought this should be the year to fulfill Mike’s goal to go to Boston for St. Patty’s Day. But with our luck, the week that we left the weather was calling for a snow storm so big that they named it: Winter Storm Stella. They said Stella was about to bring 3-5 feet of snow our way, but we decided to go ahead and just make the best of it. Bring on the snowball fights!
We just had one other minor problem. Our furnace quit working when we were in Havasu. So we ordered the part before we left and had it shipped to Mike’s parents house. We got the part just a few days before we were planning to head east. The problem was that they sent the wrong part. So with no furnace we knew it would get a little chilly, but we had our generator and a space heater and hoped for the best.
So we left Mike’s parents house on Sunday night, March 12. We like to drive at night to avoid most of the traffic, which means we usually miss most of the scenery. But we saw lights that lit up the entire sky at Hysol Park in Olean, NY, which was something that we wouldn’t have seen during the daytime.
We made it a few more hours, just outside of Waverly, NY before we saw the sunrise and decided to stop to rest for a few hours. We found a truck stop, fired up the generator, and crawled into the camper. It was a whopping 11 degrees inside. It was so cold it hurt to touch the blankets, but we just bundled up the best we could. I curled into a ball and watched my breath until I fell asleep.
We woke up a few hours later, let the truck run warm up, and continued on. We were cruising pretty good until we heard a clunk every time Mike would punch the gas and let off. But we weren’t in a place to do anything about it, so we just kept going. As we were getting closer to the coast, we started hearing more news warnings on the radio about the upcoming weather. Now they were saying to expect 18 inches of snow and 50 mph winds. The snow didn’t worry us as much as the wind did. We were both from Ohio and used to driving in ice and snow, but the wind could potentially tip us over or push us off the road. But we continued, cautiously.
Mike continued to drive all the way through the night to Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island, Maine so we could see the country’s first sunrise. The sun was a bit hidden behind an overcast morning, but it was still beautiful along the coast line.
We parked at Schooner head overlook and walked down a path where we found a hidden cave, Anemone Cave, which is only accessible in the mornings before high tide.
On our hike back up we heard a police siren going on and off a few times, each blast lasting a little longer. We got closer to the parking lot and realized the officer was positioned right behind our camper, blaring the siren at us. Mike yelled out to him to let him know we were walking up the hill. The officer thought we were sleeping in the camper since we had our generator running, and apparently overnight parking was not allowed in the national park. But we let him know we just came to see the sunrise and kept the generator running to keep some heat in the camper. After we explained ourselves, he understood the situation and there was no problem.
We were getting tired, so we headed back to Bar Harbor where we saw some legal overnight RV parking. As soon as we left the parking lot, the gas pedal seemed to quit working as the truck didn’t want to accelerate with the pedal all the way to the floor. So we pulled over, let it idle for 10 minutes, and tried again. It was fine, just needed to warm up. Or so we thought at the time. We drove a few miles down to Bar Harbor, parked the camper, and took a nap.
When we woke up, the heater was off so Mike went to fill the generator with gas since it only lasts 6 hours at a time. He opened the camper door and about stepped in a foot of snow with his flip flops on. Storm Stella had definitely arrived while we were sleeping. But we got the generator filled up and the truck started.
I mentioned the night before that I wanted to take pictures of a lighthouse in Maine, so we had planned on going to the Bass Harbor lighthouse, which was 30 minutes away on the opposite side of the island. We weren’t going to let a little snow stop us, so we started driving. We were one of the only ones on the road beside a few snow plows. But Mike got us to the lighthouse safely, which was so worth it because I had never seen the ocean in a blizzard. It was absolutely stunning.
We left the lighthouse and started looking for a place to eat, but no place was open on the entire island except for the Southwest Harbor Shell gas station. We filled the truck up and pulled into their lot. The RV overnight parking where we were before was still 20 minutes away and the storm continued to get worse, so we felt safer staying put for the night. We went inside the gas station, bought a pizza and snacks, went back to the camper, and watched a movie until we fell asleep. The next morning we were woken up by a knock on the door…it was another policeman. He told us that gas stations were not meant for RV’s to stay and asked for our ID’s, probably to make sure we weren’t runaways. We explained we only pulled over to get off the road for our safety during the storm. He understood and talked to the gas station owners for us. By then, the roads were cleared enough to leave, so we warmed the truck up and took off. We already had 2 encounters with cops on this island, so we wanted to get away as quickly as possible.
We were headed south and had planned to get lobster for dinner. We figured we couldn’t come all the way to Maine and not have some fresh lobster. But again we needed showers before dinner and the closest truck stop was in Turner, ME, about an hour out of the way. So we took U.S. Route 1 as far as we could along the coast to Camden before heading inland.
The truck noise continued when Mike would punch the gas or let off and it was getting louder. Then about 2 hours into our drive, the gas pedal seemed to stop working again. Mike held the gas pedal all the way to the floor and we continued to lose speed. Then the truck hesitated and ramped back up to normal speed after about 30 seconds. This continued to happen more frequently as we got closer to Turner. Mike already suspected that the first noise was the rear U-joint, and he thought the new gas pedal problem could be a dirty fuel filter. So we stopped by NAPA and drove down the road to Murray’s truck stop to fix everything. It was getting to be mid-day so we fired up the generator so I could make lunch while Mike worked on the truck.
Mike got the U-joint and filter changed, we ate lunch, and then we each finally got showers. Mike got his shower first, then came out and warned me that the water was only luke-warm at best. Maybe that’s why it was only $3, instead of the usual $10. But either way we were clean and definitely ready for some lobster. Mike got all fancy and wore his nice jeans, or as he likes to call them his “lobster-eatin’ pants”.
Through conversation at NAPA, the guys suggested Demilos in Portland for lobster. It was only an hour away, so we headed there. We noticed right away that the clunk noise was no longer present, which meant the new U-joint fixed that problem. But the gas pedal continued to occasionally go out. Mike was able to slowly gimp us to Portland just in time for dinner. We pulled up to Demilos, which turned out to be a floating restaurant in the middle of a marina. It was perfect. We were finally eating on the water, surrounded by sailboats, while Mike taught me how to crack open a lobster. This was the Maine experience we were waiting for. We were able to forget all the problems of the day and just have a nice dinner.
After dinner, we tried to make it as close to Boston as we could. We got to north Boston before the truck was running really rough, so we started searching for the closest auto parts store, which was the Advance Auto Parts in Revere, MA. By the time we got there, it was already closed, but we had until morning to further research the problem. We parked in front of their store, but this time we left a note on the dash explaining why we were staying overnight in their parking lot so we didn’t have another cop knock on our door. Before heading to bed, we researched different forums for other Ford’s with similar problems, in which most of them suggested to change a few of the sensors. There were so many sensors that all had similar symptoms if they failed. I mean there was the TPS, IVS, CPS, ABC, 123, I don’t know. We were both new to diesel engines and how they worked. The problem that came up the most in our research was the TPS. So the next morning, which was St. Patty’s day, we bought a TPS sensor, changed it, drove around the parking lot for 10 minutes, and no problems! We were both so excited to have fixed the problem ourselves and were both looking forward to the festivities downtown.
So we got back on the road heading toward the parade and not even 1/4 mile down the road, the gas pedal was doing the same thing. Apparently, the luck of the Irish was not with us. We were both fed up, so I started calling Ford dealerships and independent mechanics. All nearby dealerships were a 2-week wait minimum because we needed a diesel mechanic. So I got ahold of an independent diesel mechanic who said he could look at it the next day. The problem was that we had to drive through downtown Boston to get to the shop on the south side. We quickly found out that Boston is not an RV-friendly city. There are 2 main tunnels that lead to the heart of the city, which we were not allowed to cross because we had propane on the side of the camper. And then there are streets that have low clearance for cars only, but don’t have warning signs until the very last second. So we detoured all around downtown through St. Pattys day traffic until we got to the shop an hour later.
So because we had to leave our truck with the mechanic all weekend, we also lost our house. We packed up all of our clothes and valuables, booked the cheapest hotel room we could find, and Uber’d it there.
We got settled in the hotel, took a Lyft downtown to start the holiday festivities, and met up with a few friends who were in town from Havasu. Boston was so hectic. Several of the bars had long waits with high cover charges. Mike and I went to grab a quick bite to eat at Faneuil Hall since we hadn’t eaten all day and had planned to meet back up with our friends at one of the bars. By the time we were done eating though, the bar wouldn’t let us in to meet our friends because they were at capacity. So now separated from our friends, Mike and I walked over to Wild Rover and waited in line to pay $40 to get in, but at least they had an Irish band on the 2nd floor. Happy St. Patty’s Day!
The next morning while we were hanging out at the hotel, the mechanic called and told us he thought the turbo was going bad and wanted to take the engine apart. This was not good news. But Mike questioned the diagnosis and told him that we were going to come pick the truck up the next day.
Meanwhile, we got ready and headed to Agganis Arena for the Dropkick Murphys concert. The opening band, The Interrupters, was really good too.
The next day, we checked out of the hotel and got another Uber to pick up the truck. Boston has no free space and very limited parking, so the only place we felt comfortable taking the truck was back to the hotel. Luckily, the gas pedal worked fine at slow speeds on the way back. The truck seemed to work better at slower speeds than highway speeds, so we still needed to figure out what was going on. Mike researched and worked on the truck in the parking lot for hours. He ended up posting his own forum asking for help online. A few people replied and told him to test a few different things. Mike ended up finding a fuel sensor leak on a few wires, which was eating away at the coating. He immediately drove us to NAPA, bought a cap, plugged the leak, cleaned the wires, used electrical tape to cover the wires, and DONE! We got back on the highway and the truck was running like a champ. We were so relieved. And I’m so thankful Mike is such a handy guy. He always figures things out.
We got the heck out of Boston and drove straight through to Ohio. We didn’t want to be stranded again if anything else went wrong, so we didn’t stop. We spent a few more days at his parents, picked up our utility trailer, and again headed west. We stopped through Terre Haute, IN to visit some of my family on the way, then we continued on until we drove past the CA state border. Our cross-county road trip from Maine to California was complete! We made it back in 3 days without any issues, which was shocking for us. So then we headed south toward Lake Havasu to start our summer adventures.