Thursday, November 1, 2012

Moab: We Came, We Saw, We Bought a Truck

Last Tuesday was the big day. The day that we left the Roaring Fork Valley which had been our summer home and headed West into Utah. We planned to spend 2 nights in Moab then continue south into Arizona for the rest of the week for vacation.

Our trip out of the mountains and into the desert was fairly uneventful. Aside from the vast nothingness of eastern Utah--literally not a single building to be seen for 60 miles into the state, when we finally arrived at the Utah Welcome Center--it was a downhill coast into the desert until we arrived at the oasis of Moab. We stayed at OK RV Park which is south of town and had an amazing view of the backside of Canyonlands National Park. The views were breathtaking, the staff was very gracious and we even met up with a few other Full-Time Families who were staying there, which was an added bonus!

We took Wednesday to visit Arches National Park in the morning, returning back to the RV Park in the afternoon during a freak rainstorm. Yes, we would visit the desert on the one rainy day! In the evening we returned to the park for Jason to get a few sunset and dusk photos of the arches.

The kids and I standing beneath Window Arch at dusk.
Thursday morning we got up early in order to head out of town by 9am. We had a long drive through the barren desert of southern Utah and Northern Arizona's Navajo Nation ahead of us before we would reach our destination for the night. We made it almost 10 miles out of town before Jason asked me to look for a good place to pull over. The truck was struggling to pull us at 50 mph (speed limit is 65), and we needed to figure out the problem. Well, we're on a 2-lane highway in the desert. There are no good places to pull over a 53-foot rig! However, a very steep uphill grade was just ahead, so Jason quickly pulled us off to the shoulder. We unhitched the trailer on the side of the highway and turned back to Moab in our truck to get a new air filter for our truck, which was VERY dirty. Surely a clean filter will give our truck the power it needs to pull us through the desert.

When we get to the auto parts store we found our first problem. The truck had an after-market permanent air filter installed. Awesome--it's a better piece of equipment than the standard OEM filter. Not awesome--they didn't have a new one in stock and had to order one in from Salt Lake City. It would arrive first thing Friday morning. Okay, well, we needed a clean air filter for our truck to pull the RV out of the valley, so we went back to the side of the highway where we dropped the rig, picked it up--somehow Jason turned that thing around, and returned to OK RV Park for another night.

We decided that we would start actively looking for a new truck, as the Blue Beast was really letting us down with its towing capabilities. We stopped into Moab Ford and looked at a couple of new 2012 F350s on their lot. They only had one that fit our specs, so we took it for a test drive and filed the info on new F350s in the back of our minds, planning to start stopping into Ford dealerships along our route. Afterwards, we decided to make the most of our situation and returned to Arches National Park for a third visit. That America the Beautiful National Parks pass is really coming in handy! We ventured down another road through the park and saw more of the amazing sandstone arches that makes this area so unique. 

Ian, taking in a view of the sandstone arches.
His jacket says, "The Journey Is The Destination". Fitting.
Friday morning comes around and Jason returns to the auto parts store at 7:30am to pick up our new air filter. He comes home to install it, only to find the part doesn't fit. So he returns to the auto parts store to inform them that they ordered the wrong part. Only they didn't. They looked inside the truck and told him that the part they ordered was the correct part for our truck, however the part that was installed in our truck was not the right part for our model. The only option that we had at this point was to clean the air filter ourselves and hope that it would get us on our way. The cleaning process would take approximately 20-48 hours and our truck would be inoperable during this time.

Awesome! Everything just keeps getting better...or not! Now we have a truck that keeps breaking down on us, that has been Frankensteined together with the wrong parts and even the auto parts store cannot tell us how to fix our problem. We're also within 1,000 miles of the end to our limited warranty which covers the *really* expensive repairs--because our $1000 here, $1300 there repairs are only a drop in the bucket of what was yet to come, given this truck's record.

So, we add another night to our stay at OK RV Park. I'm starting to feel like we're back in St. Louis all over again! Jason starts the air filter cleaning process and we begin an Internet search of the Ford dealerships along our planned route between Moab, northern AZ, Phoenix, Albuquerque and central Texas. You know what we found? Nothing. We couldn't find another F350 that fit our needs (diesel, long bed, 6 seats, fifth wheel hitch installed, to name the biggies) for almost 1,000 driving miles. Remember that warranty that would expire in 1,000 miles? We were starting to think that maybe we should look a little closer at the truck that was just a few miles up the road here. If we were actively searching for a truck and one that fits our needs is in the town that we are currently grounded in, maybe we should look at it a little more seriously.

So we called Moab Ford and talked to the salesperson, asked a few more questions and found out that the 5th wheel hitch that it was prepped for was being shipped from Salt Lake City and could be installed on Saturday. Also, Ford is currently offering 0% financing on their new 2012 trucks. While neither of us have ever taken out a vehicle loan in our lives and are extremely debt-averse, we were starting to realize that in order to purchase a new truck, we would likely need to take out a loan. A loan at 0% would at least eliminate the interest charge aspect of financing, and our average monthly repair bill since purchasing our current truck was exceeding the monthly payment on a new truck. (How sickening is that?!)

After much discussion, prayer and weighing all of our options, we decided to add (yet another) night to our stay in Moab and returned to the Ford dealer on Saturday morning to purchase the new truck and trade in our Blue Beast.

After finalizing all of the details, we were signing the paperwork just before noon on Saturday and Jason got a phone call from an Indiana number. He didn't recognize the number, so he let it ring through to voicemail. Later that afternoon, he checked his messages. It was his contractor calling, asking if he would consider returning to Snowmass for just one more week for a final push to finish the project there. After checking the weather to see that the forecast calls for high 50's/low 60's and sunshine all week, as well as an offer of a small bonus for the trouble of returning to the job from his vacation time, he agreed. Had our week unfolded as planned, we would have been in southern AZ and far too far to agree to return to Colorado for a week. Moab is less than 4 hours from the Snowmass area and we could easily turn around to go back! Also, while our vacation did not go as planned, by working this week, we are able to extend our vacation through next week and get a bit more time to travel before Jason reports to a new job site in mid-November.

Before we could hitch up our new truck to our RV for the trip back to Colorado, we needed to get some miles on the truck and break it in. What better location to do so than eastern Utah?! We drove 30 miles north of town into Canyonlands National Park and got to test out the truck's ability to handle 8% grades, hairpin curves, and a little bit of off-roading as we maneuvered into parking spots. Yes, this new truck should work out well for our family!

A view of Canyonlands National Park
So, we're back this week in the Roaring Fork Valley. The plan is to head out on Monday morning. At press time, we are still undecided as to which way to go. The whole country is open to us...well, except North. It's starting to get pretty cold up north. Maybe we'll just flip a coin. Either way, our new Bronze Beast will get us wherever we choose to go.

Our new Simpson Six mobile.
I LOVE that it is the color of the Utah desert! We'll always remember from where it came.

1 comment:

  1. I love how this all unfolded. It sounds like in spite of the problems, it ended up being perfect!