Home » 2013 Cross Country Road Trip

Brother's House in Ohio, OH

Monday, June 24, 2013 - 3:00pm by Lolo
566 miles and 11 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Andrew's wounded Honda CivicAndrew's wounded Honda CivicThis was it -- the final drive of the motorhome out of the driveway. From this point on it would live on the West Coast, as would the boys. Tommy had just graduated from Williams College and was headed to Seattle to work for Microsoft. Andrew had just graduated from the Yale Graduate School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and was headed to San Francisco to follow up on some job leads. Along with us this journey, we also had Andrew’s girlfriend Celeste, who like Tommy had also just graduated from Williams and was going to work for the San Francisco city government.

Spirits were high, as well as emotions. This after all had been their home for their entire lives and now they were leaving the nest, and not just a few towns away, but to the opposite coast. Boy, this was going to be a tough one.

The Caravan arrives at Jim and Bev'sThe Caravan arrives at Jim and Bev'sWe were only about 3 hours into the trip before Andrew had his first breakdown – not him, but his car. They were slightly ahead of us and called from a rest area that their alternator belt had ripped apart and flew somewhere onto the highway. Andrew was unfortunately familiar with alternator belts because of a recent journey to Savannah, Georgia where his air conditioner compressor decided to break, resulting in many lost hours and dollars. Obviously, the $800 they sunk into that repair was money thrown to the wind, as here we were again with the same problem.

Things were getting pretty tense and we had about another 2,800 miles of family fun to look forward to. Our first trip photos were of the tow truck bringing the poor little Honda to a nearby Meineke to have the belt replaced. 4 hours and $120 later (to replace the belt), we were back on the road, headed to my brother Jim’s house in Columbus, OH. Unfortunately, our plans for a 4:00 BBQ were now significantly pushed back a few hours.

Late Night BBQLate Night BBQAlthough the Meineke manager assured us that the air conditioning compressor was fine and that the problem was due to the belt not being tight enough, it wasn’t long before Andrew started having the same symptoms he had on his way to Georgia and again earlier today – the air conditioning cycling on and off. Apparently, this is a tell tale sign that something is seriously wrong with the air compressor. To prevent further calamities, we decided to make an appointment at a Midas shop near my brother’s house for the next morning – just to make sure everything was alright before we made the big push across the country.

We finally arrived at Jim’s around 8:30 that night, exhausted by our long, frustrating first day. Fortunately my brother and his wife are the most upbeat and fun hosts anyone could ask for, so it wasn’t long before we were relaxed and having fun.

Chef Jim does BreakfastChef Jim does BreakfastThe next morning, we dropped the car off at Midas and asked for an estimate. We almost fell over when he said that the whole compressor had to be replaced, since Andrew had just had this done in Georgia. We had always expected that his selection of a car mechanic at midnight on I95 was probably not the wisest. Fearing more problems crossing the country, we decided to bite the bullet and pay the $1,300 for a complete redo of the air conditioning system. He assured us over and over that this would be guaranteed to solve the a/c problem and that they definitely would have no problem crossing the country in this vehicle – at least no problem stemming from the a/c system. Although unhappy about the price, I felt some sense of relief that at least we wouldn’t have to worry about the car constantly breaking down.

White the Honda was being worked on, we headed out for a family walk at the local Hoover Dam – that’s right, Ohio actually has its very own Hoover Dam, not quite as spectacular as the one in Nevada, but nice all the same.

Jimmy tried to tempt us to stay with them another night, but we were running on a pretty tight schedule and had to keep heading West. I already had push all our camping reservations back a day, as there was no way we would reach Lake Anita State Park in Iowa that night. Hopefully, we could get back on track with the revised schedule.

Around 4:00 that afternoon, we said our thank you’s and goodbyes, and pointed our caravan west, confident that our troubles were behind us.


My brother's home in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio