Sunday, May 31, 2009

Where I've Been ...

is a very bad place, indeed.

I started to write about what has happened back in the middle of the month but just could not do it. Still can't, actually. So here's the bare bones. Willow ze Wunderhund has had a lump on her butt that started just before Christmas as we made ready to leave Maine for Louisiana. By the beginning of May it was the size of a golf ball and causing no small distress. So off to a local vet we'd used for Iggy's shots. They performed a lumpectomy which resulted in a 12" incision that they attempted to close with staples. That failed after four days. Back for sutures - they failed in three days. Lab results came back. the tumor was metastatic. I wouldn't prolong my own or my wife's suffering with futile treatments. I be damned if I would do that to a dog. So we agonized for a day and then took her to be euthanized. It was very, very hard. She'd been "our baby" - one of two fur friends that had been with us since the start of our marriage and we'd lost the other one just before leaving Maine.

So to those friends and family who have heard nothing from us for a while, the explanation is simple. Not in the mood for conversations. Light banter not currently in our repertoire. Tolerance for both criticism and sympathy virtually nil. Silence is golden.

So, we were getting ready to leave about a week after this all came down and we got the bright idea to have our air conditioner on the trailer worked on. We'd been limping along with a 20 year old unit that needed to be recharged. We could use it for maybe 24 hours before it would freeze up and have to be shut down and thawed. So we had a local A/C firm come in and they diagnosed it as needing to be charged up. Took some freon and put some ports on this sealed system and charged it. Unit was blowing really cold air for the first time since we bought the trailer. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Four hours later (on a Friday evening) no joy in Aluminum Tube-Ville. Outside temperature 86° -- inside temperature 86°F and steadily climbing. No answer at the A/C service company. Monday became Tuesday became Wednesday before they came out. Tried a recharge to no avail -- the evaporator coils are "leaking" . I located a potential source for parts in Houston and gave all the info to the service tech with the understanding he would order the parts and install them by Friday, May 10. Friday came and went - so Saturday I called and left a message. Owner got back to me - claimed no knowledge of the situation and would have the tech call me on Monday. Monday, Tuesday came and went - called again. Long story short, got the royal runaround until the weekend and then told to go 'F*** myself' by the owner after my step-daughter complained about their shoddy treatment of us! Screwed without benefit of lubrication or even a "by yourleave" and still no cold air.

Did I mention it has been averaging 90° for the past two weeks?

So began the unsuccessful search for a replacement. The one we have now, a Coleman "SuperMach" is a 13,500 BTU unit. It wouldn't have been up to the needs of our trailer in Louisiana, anyway. So we started searching for a 15,000 BTU unit (the next larger size). Coleman has changed the design of their A/C's enough that the drainpan can not be re-used with a new unit and no one has a drain pan that fits. I have spoken at length with Coleman and Airstream and each is pointing the finger at the other like two eight year-olds with a broken window. No drain pan means water would be streaming down the sides of the trailer, at best. At worst, it would be streaming down onto the floor after being sprayed around the inside of the trailer...

There are two other A/C manufacturers in the RV industry - Dometic and Carrier. Carrier has the shortest tenure in the industry and a horrid repair/failure record by all accounts. The big gun, aside from Coleman, is Dometic. Guess who had a really massive fire that destroyed their warehouse and much of their manufacturing facility, resulting a a worldwide shortage of RV awnings and air conditioners? Yep, you guessed right. Dometic.

All attempts at acquiring a unit that will work, is big enough and won't give me a cold shower every time I pour a cup of coffee have failed. Dometic isn't able to ship until mid-June at the earliest and they intend to fill backorders in the order they were placed.

Did I mention how hot it gets inside of an aluminum tube when it's 90° in the shade and the trailer is in full sunlight? As I mentioned on Twitter this morning -- just call me "Tubesteak".

We've given up and resigned ourselves to driving back to Maine with no air conditioning when we stop. This is affecting our trip planning no small amount, of course. As of now, we plan to drive North in a forced-march fashion during the warmest parts of the day, stopping only for food and bathroom breaks. No sightseeing, no visiting. Sorry guys, maybe next fall when things are fixed. At least the temperature has been more moderate in Maine lately...

There you have the broad outlines. Lots of annoying details omitted to protect the innocent.

And So It Goes...