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001_U.S.A.__Wandering_USA__Engine_Trouble__Kiss_From_The_World_travel_and_people_magazine

Wandering USA: Engine Trouble

I left Clear Springs on Monday to get back to work and have Murphy checked on. First, I stopped in the small town of Meadville again to use the public library for internet. I grabbed some food while I called around to see where someone could possibly fix Murphy’s awkward engine problems. After sitting on the phone for over an hour, I discovered no one in Mississippi would accept my 1992 E350 engine… Excuse after excuse met my ears.

So I decided to drive to Memphis. Tennessee looked more promising. I called back Good Sam and had them find me a place to get a diagnosis in the morning and then made a reservation at a nearby KOA campground.

I was almost to the highway when it started to rain. Giant puddles built up on the sides of the road so I made sure I stopped extra early. Apparently I did not stop soon enough. My brakes locked up and I felt the momentum pick up as I approached an old Grand Marquis. I turned the wheel to the right to avoid it, but I bumped into the rear right corner anyway. Basically the tail light was cracked and there were some scratches… but an accident report was filed and I moved on as pissed off as ever.

Just after Jackson, Mississippi Murphy decided she didn’t want to function properly at all anymore. So I pulled over. Vaughan, Mississippi is where I ended up. At least, that’s what a sign said in front of me. Realistically it looked like there was nothing around for miles. Experimentally I tried to restart the engine, and it just wouldn’t do it.

I pulled up the hood and checked the oil. It wasn’t too low, but it could have used a quart so I put that in there. There was coolant in the overflow tank so that wasn’t an issue either. No leaks, nothing I’d know anything about would be wrong with it. So I called Papa. Again.

I hung up before it even rang though, because a pickup truck pulled up in front of me. My hand went to my knife and I waited for the guy to get out. I memorized his license plate and noticed it had a University of Mississippi logo on it. I relaxed a little, but not too much. He stepped out, in jeans and a collared shirt with a University hat on his head.

“Hey, do you have help coming?”

“No,” I said as I slumped my shoulders a little.

“You sure picked the middle of nowhere to breakdown.”

“Yeah, I noticed.”

“Do you want me to take a look?”

“Sure.”

His smile was like a light in a dark and cruel, broken RV, black hole of a world, as he said, “My name is Kevin.”

I introduced myself and told him the problem. He helped me restart the computer and then offered to follow me for a few miles to make sure I didn’t break down again. At first I was hesitant, so he gave me his number to call in case I broke down anywhere in Mississippi because he had friends that could help me in other areas too. With no crazy psycho alarms ringing in my head, I agreed to let him follow me for a little while.

After 20 miles I felt really bad that he was still behind me, so I called to let him know I thought I’d make it. He passed with a wave and got off at the next exit. Southern hospitality was something I could really get used to.

I made it to Memphis, and managed to find the KOA, which was awkwardly located in Marion near West Memphis… in Arkansas. My confusion only lasted a moment and eventually I found the place, but not before I met trucker 949 at the gas station across the street… You may remember trucker 949 from this creepy anon post a while back.

Well I made the mistake of leaving my card just before he walked in and engaged me in a conversation. He seemed nice, but a little off and I was in a hurry. I rushed away and got settled at the KOA, finally checking my phone only to see the message at the top of my notifications list.

You can imagine my fright, as I was actually across the street at the KOA, not far far away as I proclaimed. I will not say whether or not the gun statement is true, but I can tell everyone I’m well protected.

The morning after, I woke up early to get to the Ford Dealership nearby that Good Sam pointed me to. To make this long story short. I sat there all day with my dog, who scared a couple people once or twice. They played a guessing game, trying to find which part was causing the issue. Replacing the fuel filter was guess number one – so I gave them the one I had already and they installed it. THEN, and only then did Murphy act up again. Awesome. New diagnosis: fuel pump needs to be replaced. Their price tag- $1100. I debated it, but decided this would just have to be the last time I pay to actually get this POS fixed. It was only about a grand.

I waited another hour while they waited for the part to arrive. The service manager came in the room and said, “We can’t fix it here.”

I just stared. I didn’t know whether or not he was joking. It had to be joke.

The service rep came up to his side, “There are motorhome house systems in the way of the fuel pump and we just don’t have the equipment to do it here.”

They weren’t joking.

“What do I do?”

They told me I could take it to a nearby truck repair center, where the labor cost would be higher and my total closer to $1500.

So far I’d successfully held back the tears, but now they flowed down my cheeks like an unwanted river. I made the 7am appointment at the truck repair place in Memphis, Tennessee and asked them how much I owed them.

The diagnosis was supposed to be $100 and they had even installed my fuel filter, but they charged me nothing. They must have felt bad for me, but I was extremely thankful. At that point, I thought that adding more to the pile might have broken my spirit to continue.



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I'm a 24 year old writer and full-time wanderer. My dog, Legedu (Leg-a-doo), and I just finished a trip in my 23 year old motorhome wandering through half of the vast USA. Armed with an annual national park pass, a camera and my pen, I'm determined to see everything this country has to offer. Next Spring I will set out once more to travel through the rest of the states.As a Master's Graduate at the School of International Service at American University, I'm fascinated by culture and societal conflict. This is the story of my ultimate global cultural immersion. I'll get to know the culture of my own country intimately and then set out to meet the rest of the world.



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