I felt much better after sleeping, though my lips hurt. I didn’t have any aloe to put on my burning skin, which was still radiating heat. I just used some regular lotion and vowed to find aloe in Palmer, which was our destination for this travel day.
Valdez was such a favorite stop, I do wish I could have spent more time there. Perhaps someday I’ll get to return. We drove back up the Richardson Highway to Glenallen, and then took a left onto the Glenn Highway.
Now, before we continue with the trip, I need to explain some more background. Anyone who has owned or looked at owning an RV recently probably realizes that there are a lot of potential problems with them. You’re hauling several tons over roads that aren’t always very kind to vehicles. This is why I upgraded my suspension and got disk brakes as soon as I took possession of my fifth wheel last year.
My RV came with a feature touted by the frame manufacturer, Lippert, called “Correct Track”. It is (and does) to help align the tires of the RV more easily than other systems. I’m told from that standpoint it’s great. However, I’d heard from other people on the owner’s forum that the leaf spring hangers were a problem, and were failing at rates far higher than normal.
Therefore, one of the things I asked my service center to look at prior to my leaving was to evaluate the suspension. People on the forum were talking about strengthening the hangers with a metal plate welded to one side. I’m not sure if my service center was familiar with the issues surrounding Correct Track or not; they told me they didn’t see “any area” of my suspension that could be improved. So, I set out and crossed my fingers.
I’m not the only one with the Correct Track system; Jerry and Wendy have it on their rig as well. Jerry has been very methodical about checking the welds, and at most stops we both look at the spring hangers to make sure they’re ok.
As we were about to set out from Valdez, Jerry told me he was worried he was developing a crack in one of them. It was hard to tell due to dirt and grime on them, but he was clearly concerned.
He was right to be.
We were about 30 miles west of Glenallen when Jerry radioed me asking me what my tire pressures were running. It was a very, very hot day; my tires were all right around 90 psi. He had one trailer tire that was 98. This was pretty unusual, so he found a pull out and stopped with me right behind him. And, unfortunately, his day was done. The leaf spring hanger on the driver side rear axle was broken, allowing the tires to nearly rub.
We had minimal cell coverage in this area; he was able to call Sally, but they were already near Palmer. We both put up our red ribbons, indicating to other Fantasy travelers that we were having trouble. Jerry decided to call Coachnet, which provides roadside service for RVers. In the meantime, Steve S (WI) and Terri pulled in to see what was happening. Unfortunately, none of us could really do anything about it. He needed a tow truck—potentially a flatbed that could take the entire fifth wheel on it.
Eventually, we were able to call Harry and Linda, the tailgunners, who were still behind us all. With them coming, there wouldn’t be enough room in the pull out. I moved my generator to Jerry’s truck with Steve and Wendy’s assistance (it’s very heavy), so they could have some A/C while they waited. They hadn’t bought a generator, hoping to not need one. I’m not in love with mine, given how heavy and awkward it is, but it came through here.
I pulled out and drove alone to Palmer, which is a northern suburb of Anchorage–right next to Wasilla. Everyone wanted to know what had happened. Mo told me that Harry and Linda had been waiting with Jerry and Wendy until the tow truck was finally on its way. They were taken back to Glenallen, parked behind a gas station and the waiting on a fix began.
The drive west would have been beautiful, but it was so hot and there was a lot of wildfire smoke that obscured things. I could see the outline of mountains and glaciers. I wish I’d been able to see it without all the haze. I did get one good picture during the trip; I believe this was still on the Richardson Highway, and so smoke free.
Once I was set up in Palmer, I drove over to the local Fred Meyers looking for aloe for my burns. It was really hot; so hot that this was the state of the Fred Meyer ice machine:
Alaska has been baked this summer. The campground’s electrical system couldn’t handle all of us wanting to run our A/C and kept shutting down. Not fun. But, I didn’t have a broken leaf spring hanger, so it could have been worse.
I went to bed hoping Jerry and Wendy would get everything fixed the next day and that my burnt skin would start healing up. And that we’d have power without any breakdowns. Only one of those three wishes would come true.