Nomadic Life – Week 10 – The Lake Erie Coast, Cuyahoga Valley, & a Repair

Nomadic Life – Week 10

A sea of seagulls has taken over the parking lot.

The start of our Nomadic Life – Week 10 found us on the northern Ohio shoreline west of Cleveland in a Walmart Parking lot adjacent to a Home Depot. The seagulls outnumber the shoppers in the lot. We spent Saturday taking a slow drive along the coast and stopping at several parks to take in the scenery. The first park was Lakeview Park in Lorain, Ohio. We sat on the beach with our toes in the water for several hours reading books before making lunch and then continuing east. Before we completely left the area I needed a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful Lorain Harbor Lighthouse so I sent up the drone.

The Lorain Harbor Lighthouse sits at the tip of a long inaccessible causeway.

Huntington Beach Park

Next, we stopped back in Huntington Beach Park (we stopped here last week) east of Avon Lake, Ohio. The beach here is great, but it was amazingly crowded so I set up my hammock on the cliffs above the beach where it was much less crowded and read some more before taking a siesta. It was a little warm, but the breeze off of Lake Erie made it tolerable. A perfect lazy day on the road.

Nomadic Life – Week 10’s Map

This is a new feature I’m trying in an attempt to give you all a better idea of the places we travel. It isn’t 100% accurate as Google has an issue holding paths that I set. It is a rough path at best. Let me know if you like having it.

Our goal as nomads isn’t to travel as fast as we can from tourist stop to tourist stop but rather to travel slowly and find the little-known gems as well as those major attractions along the way. Doing our best to fully experience a place before moving on. Thus far during our nomadic life, we have followed a direction that was dictated to a certain extent by necessity. We had to go to Tennessee to work out the legal residence and then we traveled quickly north to escape the oppressive summer heat. Now we are sort of stuck in Ohio waiting on parts for the roof crank system repair. This idleness has allowed us to move at a slower pace as we originally intended. So we didn’t move very far at the beginning of this week, but we found some amazing local parks.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Click on the image to see the blog post about our visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Sunday we found ourselves headed towards a National Park of all things. I didn’t know that Ohio even had a National Park. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is wedged between Akron and Cleveland. We spent the next two days biking and hiking the trails and learning about the history of the area. It was a great way to spend the rest of the Labor Day weekend.

First Nomadic Life B-day

One more year, just a bit crazier! This is what nomads do when they have to much time on their hands.

Jennifer’s birthday is September 4th. The first one on the road and it was a good day. We partook of several free food options. First free pancakes at an IHOP and then free coffee at Starbucks. We settled into the abbreviated work week here at Starbucks. After work, we found a local Italian restaurant and had a birthday pizza. Unfortunately, while getting the pizza YOLOM (our rig) was backed into and we now have a small dent in the bumper. This might have been an omen of things to come.

The Camper Repair

YOLOM split apart and being worked on. Sad day!

Wednesday we went back to the RV mechanic to have the parts changed out on the broken crank mechanism. We were cordially greeted but in a way rather matter of fact. I got the impression that no one in this shop wanted to take on our repair. This made me a little apprehensive, but I thought maybe it was just a misconstrued personality trait. I had talked with the owner several times on the phone and he seemed like a man who genuinely wanted to help people with their mechanical issues.

Jennifer and I set up in the shaded overhang next to the building and went about a day of work as the repairs were made. It was hot. We sweated profusely. All the while I dreamed of heading north to cooler weather.

An Expensive Break

The repair took longer then we had expected and therefore cost more than we had hoped. The final bill was a few cents shy of $800. I wasn’t overly thrilled about this expense, but hey the repair was done and we could get back on the road.

A New Problem

It was past 3:00 by the time we had settled up and set off. We headed east to a local park to have a late lunch and finish out the workday. We arrived and raised the roof which to the mechanic’s credit went up with the ratcheting click that we had been missing. However, one side of the roof now sat lower than before and the safety poles no longer fit into place. These are used in case the ratchet mechanism fails; the polls catch the roof rather than crushing the inhabitants. Given the recent failure, I am keen to use these more than ever.

Return to the Repair Shop

We returned to the repair shop and we were greeted with indignation. I’m not sure where we went wrong, but they were not happy to see us back. I explained the issue to which I was aggressively informed that they had done all they could and that no other RV mechanic would have even looked at it. Based on the experience of calling most of the RV repair places in a 200-mile radius I believe that this statement was indeed true. However, I felt like they had taken the job and I had paid them handsomely and so they should fix this new issue as it was a safety issue. The roof not being level also concerned me as this old rig doesn’t need more excuses to fail.

An Unfortunate Collision

From here the situation got worse. The owner moved to enter the camper to inspect the situation, but in his haste nailed the door frame with the top of his head and nearly knocked himself out. I caught him on his stumbled way back down the steps but the damage was done. He was now bleeding rather profusely and using words that would have made a sailor blush. I apologized for his misfortune and after a conversation with one of his mechanics while he was attended to we agreed that we would return the next morning to have the camper worked on again. On our way out of the parking lot, the ambulance arrived so I was concerned for most of the night about the health of the owner.

Repair Shop Round 2… or so We Thought

We drove 30 minutes to the nearest Planet Fitness, took showers and then called it a night. The next morning we made the drive back to the repair store, this time in a torrential downpour. We parked and after a few minutes, the owner appeared. I was relieved to see him up and moving. I enquired about his head to which he told me it wasn’t good.

Without pausing he informed us that they had done all they were going to do on the camper.  He continued by saying that they had fixed the problem we had come in for and that nothing else could be done. Not really sure how fixing one problem and causing another equals a job well done, but they sure seemed to think so. I attempted a polite argument about the issue that remained, but he wasn’t hearing it. He seemed quite flustered by my not “understanding” that they were done. He then bid us farewell, handed me the schematics on the crank mechanism (nice to have I guess) and walked away. I felt like my jaw hit the concrete floor.

Where to Go from Here?

I returned to the truck in the pouring rain where Jennifer and I contemplated solutions to our new predicament. To say that I was unhappy with the situation would be an understatement, but more than anything else I was shocked. I have never paid someone to do a job and had an unsatisfactory/unsafe solution and that been the end of it. After our contemplation, we came to a solution. We would cut the safeties down on one side so that we were able to get them back into place. This works for now, but I am still apprehensive about that side being low. It seems like it is putting unnecessary weight on two of the lifts. Not much to be done since no other RV mechanic seems to want to touch a pop-up and the one we had been dealing with was done.

Swallowing My Pride

Since we aren’t carrying a plethora of tools along on our journey I had no way of doing the necessary cuts to the safety polls. I returned inside to talk with the owner about the proposed solution. He agreed to do the cuts and insisted that we pull the truck into the shop to get the measurements done out of the rain. We shook hands as if this concession made everything right. This moment was one of me swallowing my pride. We got everything cut and we were back on the road in less than 30 minutes. All we can do is hope and pray that the repair holds up long-term.

Clarification on the Situation

The above may seem like a scathing review of a shady business. I hope to have painted the picture clearly. I don’t name the business because they were trying to do something nice and the situation fouled quickly. Apparently, the type of crank system we have isn’t well loved in the industry. It was a temporary manufacturing change from a rock solid crank that has been used for nearly 30 years. Manufacturers abandoned this system after only a few years and returned to the older system. This was a revelation to us in that it is all we have ever known.

With that in context, the fact that this mechanic was willing to work on it at all was a miracle. Still, I feel like the situation could have been handled better or at the very least another attempt made to align the roof properly. In my perception, the mechanic got 75% of the way there and then gave up. Now I am left wondering how long before the next failure.

Back on the Road

Our office at Lake Milton.

We returned to the park that we had briefly visited the day before on the shores of Lake Milton. This would be our work spot for the day. The weather remained cloudy for the remainder of our stay, but the view was still really nice. We pushed on after work to Hermitage, Pennsylvania just beyond the Ohio border where we called it a night.

Riverfront Park

The view of the Allegheny River from Riverfront Park in Franklin, Pennsylvania is stunning.

Friday we pushed on to Franklin, Pennsylvania and worked at Riverfront Park on the shore of the Allegheny River. After work, we pushed on into the Allegheny National Forest and found the remote the Kelly Pine Campground. We had the place to ourselves which would normally be great but tonight was a moonless, rainy night. We were both a little creeped out by the utter blackness of this solitude.

It was a week of highs and lows but it was a Nomadic one full of adventure. What more could we ask for? Hopefully months of travel with no breakages… that would be nice 🙂

One Comment Add yours

  1. Linda Davis says:

    Hey Jake and Jennifer,

    I do like the added map!

    Love you both,
    Mom

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