On April 23rd, 1994, after nearly one year of courtship, Rebecca and I put it in writing at the Chapel of Riverside Church in New York, followed by a spectacular honeymoon in Paris. We frolicked in the shadow of Notre Dame, blissfully unaware that our 25th anniversary would be shadowed by the burning of that great cathedral.
We're glad that Notre Dame will recover, and look forward to revisiting it before too long.
We're also glad that our 2019 Further West Tour, that needed four months and a rental car for five weeks, is now over. Huzzah!
If you read our March Newsdumpster, you may recall that we were stranded in a genteel suburb of Phoenix, trying desperately to raise a $10,000 GoFundMe for a new transmission and steering mechanism for our venerable touring camper, the Blue Meanie. We are delighted to say that we reached our goal, with enough left over for a box full of snow globes. What came afterwards, however, was no laughing matter, unless you enjoy laughing at the face of despair.
Our big celebratory plan was a stop at Giordano's pizza, less than two miles away, before hitting the eastbound highway. After our first turn driving out of the lot, however, three dashboard lights announced themselves, followed by acrid smoke from under the hood as I pulled into the restaurant. Never was a sadder pizza eaten than on that evening. We then drove back to the garage, where our service representative was delighted to see us again. Just kidding.
It turned out that the lights indicated that a new steering sensor, whatever that is, pooped out and needed immediate replacement, which would take several days. The smoke, it turned out, was a false alarm, brought on by residual glue or sealant or something to do with the new transmission.
After a harrowing four-figure repair bill and several days, and with renewed vigor, we waved goodbye to the kind staff at Mercedes-Benz of Arrowhead, and set upon our way. This time, after about two minutes, I noticed a different dashboard light. Owing to a previous experience ten years earlier, I knew that our heavy-duty alternator had alternated its last. So after five miles, we turned around and made like an arrowhead back to Arrowhead. Two days, and another pot of credit later, we finally broke through Phoenix's gravity and made it to the grand interstate.
Not long past Flagstaff, however, we began to notice a strange, guttural, engine-y noise that got dutifully louder every hundred miles or so. We managed to rattle our way into another Mercedes-Benz service center in northwest Arkansas, where we learned that the Blue Meanie's harmonic resonator, which we never even knew existed, had forgotten its intervals and needed replacement. This time we were mercifully back on the road within 24 hours.
Since the Blue Meanie, built in 2006, is now two generations old, parts are almost never readily available, requiring from one day to several weeks to arrive. Our touring schedule requires that we be at our venue at a precise place, date and time. Due to our malfunctions, three of our venues were kind and understanding enough to reschedule our shows to various later dates. And thanks to the miracle of car rental, we completed the California portion of our tour with aplomb. But this cannot go on.
After myriad repairs over the past year, most of them major, the Blue Meanie now runs like new, and will for many more miles and years. This is why it is time to part company with our beloved, fun and loyal friend of thirteen years, and it will be such a friend to whomever owns it next. Due to our multiple tours of other countries, we are no strangers to the world of hotels, Airbnbs and the like, and look forward to our upcoming tours with new vigor and less anxiety.
If the day comes when we can afford to build Blue Meanie 2.0, you will be the second to know, after us.
Does this mean you will shrink your touring schedule in the US? No, it means the opposite. We've been avoiding the Rockies and other distant regions to avoid Blue Meanie problems. We plan to visit places out west that we've been neglecting. Also, some of our tours may be shorter, but more frequent.
Won't it be expensive without being able to park anywhere, anytime? Though the Blue Meanie was originally designed to be off the grid, issues with the house batteries and propane heating system have kept us on the grid lately. We've found that the difference in price between a decent campground and a decent hotel or Airbnb is not terribly large.
I donated to your GoFundMe campaign. I feel cheated! Are you kidding? Without your help we'd still be in Phoenix, and probably on the street. The Blue Meanie needed to be saved so that we could keep touring. Now we can.
If you sell the Blue Meanie, what will you do with that money? Squander it on burgers and unhealthy living? We intend to pay off most of the debts incurred beyond our GoFundMe amount, i.e. car rental, lodging and other Blue Meanie repairs. If there is anything left over, we may trade in our trusty Subaru for something more hybrid and fuel efficient. Anyting left over will be squandered on burgers and unhealthy living. If you have money to burn in this regard, our GoFundMe page is still open for the next little while.
I've been enchanted by your adventures in the Blue Meanie for so many years. I wanna buy it and have my own adventures! Just reply to this Newsdumpster. But I know you're lying. I made you up.
Theo: How did you like this month's Newsdumpster? Vincent: It was even worse than last month's. It's giving me nightmares. I'm heading out to the cornfield. Theo: Why not visit hungrytown.net or facebook.com/hungrytown until you calm down? Vincent: Maybe I'll just stay in my room.
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