Monday, July 30, 2012

Niagara Trip - Day 9 - A "minor" incident

July 28, 2012

I can hardly bring myself to write about this day because it was so lousy, but someday we’ll laugh about it, I’m sure.  So today I hit a bridge.  Yes, you read that right.  I went under a bridge that was too low and our roof air conditioner hit the bottom of the bridge.  The air conditioner on our 1 month old RV is destroyed big time.  We were on our way to Lancaster at the time and our GPS seems determined to send us down the smallest roads there are.  I know this area is mostly farmland, but I’ve seen big roads around and our GPS must hate them.  Anyway, I saw the bridge and I have no idea why I tried to go under it.  I just went for it and I shouldn’t have.  So, now the top of our RV had this hunk of metal on top of it that used to be our air conditioner and we can see daylight through the AC vent on the ceiling. 
Marc, while horrified at what was happening as we passed under the bridge, at least knew what was going on. He had in his head he shouldn’t go under and knew immediately something on our roof was scraping when the terrible sound began.  The kids and I (and an Amish woman mowing her lawn nearby) thought the end was near, when we heard the unexpected loud sound of the metal being mangled above.  I really thought the roof was going to collapse.

We tried to carry on with our day while at the same time trying to locate a place that could fix it.  I called every place I could find in the area.  Many of them were closed because it’s Saturday and other’s said they would have to order it and it would take like a week.  In between calls we did some tourist stuff in Lancaster County.  We started with a buggy ride where a young Amish man took 13 of us in an extended buggy through a small part of the Amish farmland that surrounds the area.  If that sounds like a lot to be in one buggy, you're right.  It was a big buggy and many of the 13 of us were under age 10, but it was still pretty crowded.  There were two kids sitting in front with the driver that immediately started bugging the driver.  They weren’t trying to be rude, but they just kept interrupting and kept asking if they could drive.  It got to the point where the driver was getting annoyed and started being rude to the kids right back.  So, we really didn’t get to learn much about the Amish way of life, but it was still nice to see the countryside.  I was very preoccupied about the RV anyway, so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference to me. 
We were really crammed into that buggy.  Jake and Max just had elbow fights the whole way while complaining that there was no room.  Zoe was on my lap and Ella was on Marc’s.  That mother should have stopped her son from talking so much thereby causing inappropriate/awkward responses from the immature Amish man.  If not for those two things, the ride was nice.  The country is beautiful.  We made a stop at an Amish homestead where a couple of girls came out to sell us lemonade, pretzels, and cookies. We saw an ironic Amish business too…a shoe store…even though most of the Amish people we saw were barefoot.
After the buggy ride we went to a restaurant.  It was called Good and Plenty.  They serve a family style feast there where you sit at a big table with other families and they bring local dishes to the table for you to share.  The food was very good and the kids were on their best behavior because we were sitting with strangers.  Although at one point Max asked as he passed a dish, “are you going to take this or not?”  He didn’t mean it in a rude way and it didn’t come across that way, but it was still funny.  He just wanted to know if they wanted the food. 
There was an unbelievable amount of food served: fresh tomato slices, chow chow (sweet and sour pickled vegetables), pepper coleslaw, applesauce, bread with apple butter to start.  Then fried chicken, ham, meatloaf, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, browned butter noodles, and green beans were brought as the main course. The meal ended with five desserts!  A whole shoefly pie, whole strawberry-rhubarb pie, a platter of mini cherry cheesecakes, a family sized bowl of cracker pudding, and a dish of your choice of homemade ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, or orange sherbet. It’s a shame to see so much food to go to waste.  It was all quite good though, and Jacob found a new favorite pie—shoefly pie.

After lunch I climbed on top of the RV to see how bad the AC really was.  I was hoping that it was just a little bent and that the plastic cover was the only thing really destroyed.  No such luck though.  The fan was cracked into pieces, so even if the rest of it was able to work, it wasn’t going to do us any good.  I removed the rest of the plastic cover, so that nothing was moving around up there and then made a couple more calls to RV places, still with no luck.  At this point, it was getting to be the middle of the afternoon and it seemed unlikely that we would find anyone until Monday.  We’re supposed to leave tomorrow for the next campground, but I wasn’t able to find any RV places there that could help either.

I dropped Kyrie and the kids off at The Hands-on House which is a local children’s museum.  It looked like it was going to rain soon, so I covered the opening with duct tape and then drove to K-mart to get a tarp to put over it once we went back to the campsite.  Meanwhile, Kyrie called her sister Kristin who is always ready to jump into action whenever there is a family emergency.  As usual she was extremely helpful.  She was able to find a RV repairman in Quarryville that does emergency service.  I called the number and got voicemail which said that he doesn’t work or listen to messages on Saturdays.  That was disappointing, but I was still holding out a little hope for a call on Sunday morning before we left Lancaster County.

At that point it was almost and we had no options left to try to get this thing fixed.  We went to a little shopping area, The Kitchen Kettle Village, that Kyrie had really been looking forward to going to for months.  She got to look around at one store with Max while I took the other kids to the park and then into some other shops.  She was busy catering to Max’s needs and didn’t find the stores that she wanted until six and that’s when the place closed (unbeknownst to us.)  That did Kyrie in.  She had been holding it together so well and was so patient all day despite everything; but she was so disappointed about not getting to go to the stores that she just broke down.  At this point we were both pretty miserable.  We had no idea how to get the RV fixed and what to do on Sunday.  Should we just continue on with the trip, or should we stay here until Monday and hope that someone can fix it?
It has been so hot each day and night of this trip that we were just sure not having AC would be miserable especially at night.  The level of sleeping comfort is already less than ideal with a baby between us on a small bed.  And what about the thunder storms and the hole in the roof?
So we were driving back to the campground and the phone rang.  It was the emergency repairman – the one that doesn’t check messages on Saturday.  He asked if our air conditioner was a Coleman, which it is.  He had us drive to his house so that he could check it out.  He was hoping that the coils on ours weren’t broken, because he had a Coleman air conditioner like ours that needed new coils and could have just swapped them out, but ours were broken.  So, he removed the broken one and put a fan in place to cover up the hole until the new AC could be put in -  just as a thunderstorm rolled in!  He managed to get it in place enough to keep out the water.  The storm moved past quickly and he was able to caulk it into place.  He said that there is a Coleman dealer in Lancaster where he should be able to get one on Monday and he’ll be able to fix it and get us on the road by lunchtime.  Hopefully, he’s right!  It was a relief to have some hope of getting it fixed.  It’s a bummer to have to skip our next stop, but it will be better to have this resolved.
It was nothing short of a miracle that the repairman called when he did.  We were near his place when he called and asked us to come right over.  He worked hard and fast as the rain started right as he removed the mangled AC from the roof. He gave us hope that we could actually get this fixed early Monday AND if we had to hang around here that meant we could go back to my stores tomorrow, right?!

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