At the beginning of July we were still looking for the right truck. We found a red 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 with a standard transmission. It was the truck we had been looking for, the unicorn truck. It was a company-owned private dealer asking for loan payoff, which was the perfect situation. We went to the bank immediately and started the loan approval paperwork. Within a week, we were pre-approved and had scheduled to meet the seller. The only set back was the truck was in Stockton, CA, 8 hours away, but we decided to make a weekend trip out of it and leave Friday night after work. Mike and I spilt shifts driving and finally made it to Stockton at 3am. We were planning on meeting at 9am so we only needed a place to crash for a few hours so I googled the cheapest hotel nearby. We drove up, checked in, and eventually realized it was the kind of hotel that requires you to look for bedbugs and dead people lurking in the closets before lying down. But we were both exhausted at this point so up the 10 flights of stairs we went looking for our room. Finally found it and luckily no bedbugs or dead people so we were able to get some sleep. We got up, looked at the truck the next morning, and fell in love with it. It was beautiful and everything we wanted…still under factory warranty, perfect condition, 11,000 miles, even heated seats and steering wheel. We went straight to the bank ready to buy it, only for the bank teller to say we’ve been denied. According to them, I hadn’t worked for my employer long enough. I explained to them that I was in the same career field, but had just switched employers. The underwriters didn’t seem to care, even though all the other criteria for approval were met. They said there was no way I could be approved simply because of my employer change, even though I had been pre-approved. So we unfortunately had to give the truck keys back to the seller and return home in the rental car.
We were again back at square 1. Back to hours of researching for another truck. We were both done with it at this point. We had just gone through this process 8 months ago. It’d be nice if we wanted and could afford a brand new truck with all the options, but we didn’t want to spend that kind of money. Our whole purpose in traveling and living with less is so that we can enjoy more adventures and experiences without the worry of debt. Thats why we originally went with an older, cheaper class A RV. That engine broke down. Then we got our first ford, which was a little more expensive and newer than the RV, but still not as reliable as we had hoped. It caused us a lot of issues on the road and eventually caught fire. We obviously needed a more reliable vehicle to take us everywhere we wanted to go. All we needed was a reasonably priced reliable truck… and someone to loan us the money for it. You wouldn’t think it’d be that hard to find, but we were struggling.
So from Stockton we headed toward Havasu and were almost back in town when we stopped for gas. I went inside to use the restroom, but when I opened the door to walk back to the car I got hit with high winds full of sand. My eyes and my skin felt like they were getting pelted by pin needles. I didn’t even notice at first that Mike had driven the car up to the door to come get me, but I jumped in as quick as I could. We were in the middle of a haboob! Monsoon season had hit. The winds came on so strong and quick with lightening and thunder in all directions. We drove home to cover the boat with a tarp before the paint was stripped off. After a lack of sleep, being denied a truck, and being blasted with sand, overall it was just a rough day.
So the next day our friends made it better by taking us up to the gorge for the first time on their boat. It’s about a 30 minute boat ride up river to where the river narrows and is surrounded by rocks walls. The water is a little cooler and so refreshing. Apparently there is a high and low tide on the river because 2 boats on either side of us got stuck at the end of the day. After what felt like an hour of pushing and pulling on their boats, the ended up strapping to another boat to get free.
One day during the following week, I came home to what I now call “The Great Camper Flood of 2017”. I came home from work to water pouring out the back of our camper. I immediately shut off the water and drained the tank. The video shows the aftermath of the leak after I turned the water off.
I open the camper door to inspect the damage and more water starts to pour out. The carpet was soaked. The tank was full. I was trying to find where the leak came from. The sink was good. The connection to the hose was good. Mike came home and found that the clean water hose to the toilet had busted open, most likely from the heat. The good news was the carpet was soaked with clean water. Luckily the carpet is not stapled down and AZ heat dries things out quickly. So I put the carpet outside and started the clean up.
The next weekend, our friends invited us down to Parker to relax and stay in their RV for the weekend. What would we do without our friends? They’re awesome and are always up for a good time.
Their spot was within walking distance to the river where we hung out all day. We made friends with other travelers, who were fun and offered us tequila. After spending all day in the sun, we decided to go back and eat dinner at the RV. Mike fell asleep outside in his zero-gravity chair listening to Jimmy Buffet and Michelle took a nap inside. Jim and I were holding strong so we decided to head down to Fox’s on the river. It wasn’t before too long Mike and Michelle joined us for the night.
The next day Mike and I got the boat on the river. The water was rough from all the other boats driving past Fox’s at top speed, but we went for a cruise up to the dam and back.
The following week I got a call from the local car dealership in Havasu saying they found a 2009 F250 that met our requirements and wanted us to look at it. We weren’t thrilled it was a Ford, but we kept our options open since time was running out. After work, Mike and I went to test drive it. Before we got in, the dealership said that they just noticed the steering was off on their test drive so they would have to look into it to fix the issue. Mike and I figured we would go ahead and test-drive it to see what the issue was and Mike knew right away it was the steering gear box. They said they would fix it, but we wanted to know if there were any other issues so we scheduled an inspection with a 3rd party mechanic in town the next morning. The only other issue the mechanic found was the 4×4 actuator was failing. The dealership took the truck for the weekend, fixed both issues, and the next week it was ours.
The next day was our friend’s going away party. He was moving to California, so we went to the R Bar to celebrate him moving on.
A few days later Mike and I pulled out of the campground to go to dinner for Taco Tuesday and the tire blew out on my rental car. He changed out the tire for the spare in only a few minutes and we were back on our way for some tacos. I took it to Enterprise a few days later who switched me to the Dodge Caravan, the soccer mom minivan, or as I liked to call it, the party bus. I didn’t have that for long before they switched me to the Hyundai Accent.
The next weekend was another boat weekend. Our friends took us near Parker dam and then found a cove to hang in the rest of the day.
The next week, I started working 4 10’s, so my normal days off were now Wednesdays. The following Wednesday, Mike also had the day off so we decided to get some things done. We had been searching on Craigslist all morning for a bigger enclosed trailer. Somehow since starting traveling, we had accumulated things along the way, like camping gear, snowboards, a boat, etc. It ended up being that neither one of us wanted to open our 6×12 enclosed trailer anymore, let alone find anything in there. So we decided we needed a bigger one. One trailer came up for sale in Riverside, CA, about 4 hours away, so we contacted the seller and planned to meet on Saturday. So we knew with getting a bigger trailer we needed a weight distribution hitch. Another search on Craigslist and Mike found one of those in Mojave Valley and asked the seller to meet that morning. We started to head up that way, but the seller stopped responding so we stopped by Topock for breakfast. We ate some pancakes and french toast overlooking the calm river sitting in naked-butt-chairs. By the time we were cashing out, the seller contacted us back saying he was finally home. So we got the hitch we needed for the new trailer.
We felt like we had done enough work for the day, so we went back to the campground, grabbed our boat, got on the lake, and headed up to the gorge. It was a beautiful, calm day. We found a little beach for our little boat and just enjoyed the day. This was the furthest our boat had ever gone up the Colorado river.
That evening on our way back to the lake, the boat started putting and we eventually ran out of gas. We never thought our little boat would run through a 6 gallon tank of fuel just going about 30 minutes north and back. The boat has no gauges on it, so we’re left with guessing how much we think we’ll need. We were wrong. So after being a sitting duck for a few minutes, a nice older gentleman stopped to give us a lift back to the launch ramp at Site 6. It was an entertaining ride to say the least. Our boat was so small it felt like we were tubing.
Saturday came quickly. We ended up driving 8 hours total to and from Riverside to get the 28′ enclosed trailer. We liked it because of its heavy-duty all-steel construction with 2 ramp doors, which works to be able to take the motorcycles and the boat out separately.
On our drive home though, Mike started noticing it was getting harder to get the truck into gear. By the time we were almost home, it almost didn’t want to kick into first gear at all. We called the dealership, who ended up having to take out the whole transmission. It was just our luck again. Dang Ford’s. But the silver lining was the warranty. We were without the truck for a week, but it was all covered by the dealership.
Meanwhile, we were still able to enjoy the lake with our friends, go tubing, hit up the sandbar, and enjoy some island music from Jimmy Buffet.