Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What's That Noise?

Gary likes to travel at night when we go on trips. I prefer the daytime so I can see the sights, but as long as we're going camping, I'm not complaining. The plan for our trip to Three Rivers State Park was just like most of our other trips. Leave during the night, head to a rest stop somewhere, catch a few hours sleep, then continue on. We left home just after 1AM on December 31st. We headed north on I-95 to Jacksonville, then got on I-10 to head west. All was going well until a few miles on I-10. Something started making a horrendous noise under the hood of the van. Gary pulled over to check on it, and determined that the front bearing in the alternator was the culprit. He debated if we should continue on, or turn around and try to get back home to make the repairs. He decided to continue on. I wasn't so sure if that was extremely brave or extremely stupid. There are no large towns on I-10 heading west until Tallahassee, and that was a LONG way from where we were. I know Gary was nervous about the problem, and I was even MORE nervous. I could just invision getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. We passed by two rest stops after we had gone past the point where I-75 crosses I-10. Finally, we stopped for the night at the third rest stop we came to. The bottom picture is of our "campsite" for the night. The noise from the van had been so loud that I could hear it, so it must have been driving Gary crazy. It hadn't gotten any worse, and the alternator was still charging the battery. It was pretty cold at the rest stop with temps in the high 30's, but we were tired enough to sleep even with all the noisy trucks "camping" next to us. When Gary woke up, he got on his computer and found the location and phone number of the nearest NAPA Auto Parts store, which happened to be in Tallahassee. We were fairly close to there by the time we had stopped for some rest. Gary called the store and asked if they had the alternator in stock. They didn't, but one of their other local stores had it. The store manager, Adam, was VERY helpful, and sent a driver to pick up the replacement part from their other store. In the meantime, we made our way to Adam's store to get it. Adam offered Gary the opportunity to change out the alternator in the back parking lot of the store, and I'm glad that Gary decided to take him up on the offer. I couldn't take much more of that noise, plus the constant worry. A couple of hours later, Gary had replaced the bad alternator, and we were on our way to Three Rivers for our camping adventure. MANY thanks to Adam at NAPA for helping us out. Gary and I can't express how much we appreciate the help. It was a carefree trip for the rest of the way. I got to see the sights since it was mid-day, and there was no more noise to ruin our trip. Seeing that Three Rivers sign on the interstate was a pleasant thing, and finally arriving at the park was even better. Our final day of 2012 was one we won't soon forget. Happy New Year, everybody!

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