We leave Tucson on Friday morning headed to Kearney, Az for a quick visit with Jeff’s cousin Kami. We chatted for awhile, caught up on things and watched her happy little boy play around the park. Jeff and I were headed to the White Mountain area after our visit, and planned on finding some camping somewhere between Show-Low and Pine-Top. His cousin said we’d be going over a big ‘divide’ or pass on our way and it was a heck of a road. We assured her Vanna was a beast!
Now, I’m not usually one to fall for superstitions or the likes there of but we did happen to leave on Friday the 13th. Vanna did pretty good going through the divide we were warned about. (which had 10% grades!) But after the divide, things got a little hairy. It started with the van acting as if wasn’t shifting and slowly losing power. We had stopped to get gas and as Jeff was taking the gas cap off the tank, gas shot out! After fueling up, we tried to continue on down the road, however Vanna had other ideas for us. The van continued to lose power,then would completely die. We were able to get the van to start back up each time and make it a little farther, eventually landing at an auto parts store. Jeff came back out with a fuel filter hoping that would be all we needed. The owner at the auto parts store sent us to a Jiffy Lube in town to have them change the filter since we didn’t have all of the necessary tools with us in the van.
We left the Jiffy Lube with our fingers crossed. Vanna made it down the road, through the stop light and then she lost power and died again. We knew then it was going to an expensive fix. We took it into the Big-O in town for diagnostics, they told us the fuel pump needed replaced but they couldn’t get to it until the next day. Waiting another day is fine when you really have no timeframe to be anywhere. But when your van is your home and your van is broken, you have to hope the van makes it somewhere for sleep and back for your appointment to get fixed in the morning. Thankfully Vanna made it safely back to the Big-O the next day. Now two hours later, $700, and a brand new fuel pump we were ready to get back on the road again!
While we were waiting there in Globe, Az for our van to get fixed we received an email back from an old friend of Jeff’s wanting to meet up in Phoenix while we were still in Arizona. They hadn’t seen each other for about ten years, so we decided to drive back that direction. His email had indicated they (he and other friends) were going to a bar about 7 o’clock for a grand opening and we should meet there, gave us the address and said see you later. Now, by the time our van was fixed and we made it to Phoenix, we still had a good 5 or so hours to kill before 7 and not wanting to spend too much money since we just dropped a ton on the van, we were stumped on what to do for the day. Phoenix was very warm that day, 100 degrees, so doing something inside sounded nice but we didn’t want to leave the dog and bird in the van without A/C. We ended up driving around most of the day, which meant we were wasting more gas. Jeff stopped to fuel up at some point in our day and all I hear is curse words coming from around the side of the van. As he was filling the tank, gas just poured out from the top. He crawled under the van thinking maybe just a clip or something didn’t get tightened enough, but couldn’t really tell what it was. Maybe the gas leakage was just a coinsidance and it won’t happen again. At this point we’ve been in the heat all day and now we get to smell gas while we’re driving, we’re both thinking that this bar’s grand opening better be stellar. We found a park to hang out at until it was time to meet up with his friend, so we get cleaned up and drive over to the address he provided to us. Jeff pulled up the emails when we pulled up and as he was re-reading them, he hands me our phone saying ‘just read the first sentance and look at when he sent it’. His friend had sent us the email on Friday the 13th, and said they were about to head down to the bar in a bit. We didn’t get the message until Saturday, so naturally just thought he meant Saturday evening they were going. So, here we were sitting in a parking lot at a bar waiting to meet his friend that wasn’t going to be there. We wasted gas driving all day, exhausted ourselves in the heat, and got headaches from the smell of leaking gas. Frustrated at our ignorance, we decided to just head towards the mountains for some camping.
We landed in Payson, Az that night and in the morning Jeff re-fueled before we ventured on into unknown land. I again heard curse words coming from the side of the van and knew this time something was for sure wrong. Gas was pouring out again, so we decided we probably should take the van back to the Big-O in Globe for inspection. However, since it was Sunday we thought it wouldn’t hurt to get a little camping in before we took it back. We spent a day and a half in the forest before venturing back down to Globe on Tuesday. The same guy who fixed Vanna before helped us again and about an hour later came back to let us know a gasket had fallen completely down. He replaced our fuel pump entirely and sent us on our way..
The big test was getting gas, we needed to make sure everything was in good working order before we left Globe again. Jeff pulls into one gas station, the pump works however gas shoots back out. Hmm, well how about another pump? Same situation on another pump, so we went back to the Big-O. Bewildered at first by what we were saying, the mechanic got under our van. An anti-sifening valve was to blame for our troubles. He told us to go get gas again and we left crossing our fingers. We pulled into a different gas station this time, however now the pump declines our card. The bank had put a hold on the card since we were in a different state and had those few quick swipes before when we tried to get gas and it shot out. Frustrated, Jeff tried clearing the situation as he had this same discussion with the bank when we paid for the van to be fixed on Saturday. After about thirty minutes on the phone and numerous attempts to use our card, the situation was finally cleared. We pumped gas, filled all the way and just watched for a couple minutes. No pouring of gas, just a lingering smell from before. We were so excited! Jeff and I made a quick stop at a grocery store and we’re back on the road again!