Next day we head off early in the fog to resume out journey westward. We head to Asheville on Rte 64 through Brevard, and join I-26 north toward Asheville where we pick up I-40 first north through the Smokies and then west through Knoxville and pick up I-24 heading toward Clarksville, TN where we spend the night. At the Cottonwood campground outside of Clarksville the temps are in the mid 90’s, the WiFi signal is strong but one cannot connect to the internet, and the cellular service is spotty at best. It is truly one of those Ray Bradbury-ish dead zones and, to top it off, our rear coach air conditioner quits during the night so we’re running on one unit with temps in the hi 90s! Yikes!
Next morning we strategize and decide to head on to Lincoln, Nebraska where Susy has located Leach Camper Sales (http://www.leachrv.com), a Tiffin RV Dealer that is also an authorized Coleman AC repair facility. It’s also on the way to Wyoming, our next destination, and we’re hoping that we can achieve a quick repair and be on our way. Of note is the fact that the area is in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave with temps approaching 100 degrees and there’s no way we’ll survive without the bedroom AC. Also of note is Susy’s knack for honing in on a business that can help us out. A call to Leach’s service manager confirmed that he’d have one of his techs take a look at our AC when we arrived in the early afternoon and we’re hoping for a quick-fix when we get there.
Now, the good news is that when we arrived at Leach a team of people jumped on our case but, the bad news was that our AC compressor had seized up and the entire unit needed to be replaced. Moreover, we’re in the middle of a Midwest heat wave and AC parts/units/supplies are in short supply everywhere and all dealers are way behind in filling orders. Nevertheless, led by Pat Leach himself, the team managed to find one of only two units available nationwide, in Detroit and had it shipped immediately. Unfortunately, the weekend is in the way so that the earliest we can expect it is this coming Monday. If so, we could be back on the road again Tuesday, in time to make my scheduled fishing trip in Dubois, WY on Friday! With the able assistance of our team at leach, they found us a spot at The Pine Grove RV Park ( http://www.pinegrovervpark.com) here in Greenwood 20 miles away from Lincoln where we will cool our heels until a spot at Camp-A-Way (http://www.campaway.com) in Lincoln opens up on Sunday.
I can’t praise enough the guys at Leach, especially Pat Leach, David Shields and Deb. This is a big operation, with 11 acres of RVs and campers, a great service facility, people who are on the ball, and a business that is just plain busy. Yet they had us in a service bay less than 20 minutes after we arrived, diagnosed our problem, and had options plus a solution in less than two hours. For those experienced in the world of RV service, this is simply standout service and they went through all the hoops they could find to try to get us back on the road quickly. For those RVrs who get told that there’s a three-week wait before they can expect service from a dealer on the road, I just want to confirm that there ARE dealers out there that stand out from the vast sea of mediocrity that characterizes this industry. Just superb.
Meanwhile, here we sit surrounded by corn and soybean fields to our east and west, I-80 just on our south side, and an auto junkyard across the street to our north. While lacking in ambiance, the park is well run and clean with nice sites and great TV reception so that we can enjoy the Olympics.
Last night, amid 98 degree heat, we were treated to a series of thunderstorms that the Midwest is noted for. Constant lightning, driving rain, booming thunder, black clouds went on for just about four hours, after which we were treated to a 25 degree drop in temperature and a resulting sound nights sleep. With Susy now up and about, we can start to plan to make the most of our stay here in the Lincoln area while we wait for our replacement AC unit to arrive.
So here’s what a week in the Lincoln, NE area will bring you if you follow our lead:
- Golf at the Ashland Country Club (very nice, fun and cheap)
- BBQ at Johnson Restaurant in Ashland (great, and cheap)
- Car shopping at Lexus of Lincoln and Omaha, and Omaha Acura (great people)
- The NE State fair in Lincoln (goats, bunnies, mud racing, and construction equipment operating contests). Plus bad hot dogs.
- Shopping at HyVee supermarket in Lincoln (superb, including booze)
- Art at The Great Plains Museum (yawn)
- Fine dining at 801 Steak House in Omaha (superb)
- Watching lots of the Olympics in great over-the-air HD (fantastic)
The slide show below will give you a taste of our stay while we cool our heels at Pine Grove Campground right next to I-80 and Camp-Away, also right next to I-80! One night we are hankering for meat and pick one of the top steakhouses in nearby Omaha (http://www.801chophouse.com). Fine food, good drinks, great service, and terrific ambiance in a classic, dark wood-paneled, emporium of beef.
We also will need a new car when we return in October so we terrorize all the local Acura and Lexus dealers in Lincoln and Omaha with a zillion questions. Despite letting them know up front that we live 2K miles away and will probably buy locally, these people spend an inordinate amount of time with us showing/demoing/pricing new suvs. All were a real treat to be with, knew their products completely, and were absent the “good-ole boy” slime often present on our local car salesmen. Plus they followed up with us with answers to our questions and additional info after we left. What a refreshing treat. A perfect example was, as we drove down the highway just before arriving at Acura of Omaha a passing car alerted us to the fact that one of our Jeep tires was going flat. Seconds later as we came to a halt in the Acura parking lot the tire went completely flat. As we kicked the tires of the new ACURA MDX , Steve Carberry and the service guys there wheeled the Jeep in, fixed our flat with a patch and had our car ready for us when we left. Great guys and fine service (http://www.acuraofomaha.com).
On Wednesday we get the magic call that our AC is in and can be installed by the team at Leach at 8:30 Thursday. Fantastic! We are there at the appointed hour and are on the road again headed West by 10:30 AM. It’s great to be on the road again. The delay has caused us to have to unfortunately cancel our stay in Cody, WY, and me to miss my scheduled fishing trip in DuBois on Friday with Frank Carlton but we are again air-cooled, completely functional, and headed West to Cheyenne for the evening before heading on up to DuBois. Settling in to this little campground in Cheyenne for the night (blessedly away from I-80 and other interstates) we are surprised to see that they also have a little BBQ restaurant. Jumping on the chance not to have to cook we do take out of pulled pork and ribs and are delighted since the quality is superb, the people great, and the night cool. This was a great place to stop (http://www.campcheyenne.com), not just because of the BBQ, but also it being the home of Miss Wyoming High School America 2015, and Little Miss Wyoming Pre-Teen!!! Can’t make this stuff up.
Finally in Wyoming, we can finally enjoy the fact that we have “arrived”, not at our final destination here but at least amid the vast sage and brushy plains that we’ve come to enjoy. Plus we’re only a day away from high desert red rock canyons, clear streams, and timbered mountains of the Wind River Range near Dubois.