Where’s Dart (2018-2)?

Where’s Dart (2018-2)? This is the view from our campsite.

By Regis

Another Where’s Dart can only mean one thing, the Jeep is fixed.  As we were packing up to leave, several songs were going through my mind: from the 70’s Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”;  from the 80’s Sammy Haggar’s “Can’t Drive 55”; and of course Willie’s “On the Road Again”.

I have to give a lot of credit to Liberty Jeep in Rapid City, South Dakota.  I drove up late Tuesday afternoon.  They took a look at it and had a part ordered the same day.  From there, things went downhill.  The part and Linda’s order from Amazon spent an additional 24 hours in Commerce City, Colorado.  It should have been in town Friday but didn’t get to Rapid City until Saturday.  UPS doesn’t deliver on Saturday, so we had to hope it got delivered Monday.   When Linda got her Prime package just before noon we were hopeful.  The part was delivered to the Jeep dealer by the afternoon.  They started working on the Jeep late Monday and finished late Tuesday.

Linda spent lots of time rejiggering the travel plans as the delays piled up.

Jeep Issues

Badlands National Park looking southeast at sunset.

Yesterday morning, we went through our usual routine to get back on the road.  We made sure everything was locked and secure in the motor home and hooked the Jeep up to the motor home for towing.  Once you do that, it’s my job to make sure the transfer case in the Jeep is put into neutral.  Once you do that, you check to make sure it happened correctly.  For the very first time, I checked and it didn’t happen.  Hmmm.  I was sure I did it correctly.  I tried again.  Didn’t work.  I tried a third time.  Didn’t work.

At this point, I gave up and let Regis take over.  He couldn’t get it to work either.  That means, we couldn’t tow the Jeep.  Our next destination was Deadwood, South Dakota which is north of Rapid City.  But, Rapid City was our best opportunity to find a place to fix the Jeep.  I drove the car and Regis drove the motor home and we stopped in Rapid City.  The Jeep is currently at the dealer and we are waiting for the diagnosis.  We have hatched a couple plans depending on the result.  If we don’t have the Jeep for a few days, we will look into renting a car so we can explore while we are here.  I’ve had time to review some brochures on the area and now want to stay to explore.  This little delay modifies our travel plans between here and Portland.  We have some flexibility in our plans, so once we get feedback from the dealer, we’ll make more specific plans.

On our last evening in the Badlands, we went to the Park to view the sunset over the Black Hills.  You can see the Black Hills from the Park.  The weather was a little nippy but not too cold so it was lovely.  The view was amazing.  The Bighorn Sheep were grazing on the hill behind where we set up to view the sunset.  As the sun went down, it sent shafts of light onto the Badlands.  Oh my gosh, I could do this every night.  It was incredible.

In my last post, I mentioned that the Prairie Dogs can carry the plague.  I feel its important to say that Prairie Dogs are necessary to the health of the ecosystem.  They are a keystone species.  Many animals depend on Prairie Dog populations.  As an example, Burrowing Owls burrow in Prairie Dog holes.  I want to make sure that I didn’t leave a bad impression regarding Prairie Dogs.

Sunset at Badlands National Park.
Bighorn Sheep after sunset at Badlands National Park.
Prairie dogs sitting on their front porch catching the golden rays during sunset at Badlands National Park.

Badland Landscapes

Badlands National Park

It was foggy and rainy again today.  We set out very early on a ride through the park and could barely see anything in front of us.  We were joking that any animals we would see would have to be on the road in front of us.  As the day wore on, the cloud cover lifted a bit so we got some views.  After the cloud cover lifted and we rode back through the park loop, we were astonished.  The day before the fog obscured everything.  Today, we got to see the scenery and couldn’t believe we drove past is the day before and didn’t see it!  It was a whole new experience even though we were on the same road.

Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park

I have a National Geographic Guide to the less traveled places in the National Parks.  We took the road to Sheep Mountain Table.  They don’t recommend the last two miles of the trip if it has rained recently (check) and you have a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle (high clearance?).  The road is 7 miles with the first 5 miles on a relatively decent, if wet, dirt road.  I planned to turn around when we got to the last 2 rugged miles.  What was I thinking?  With Regis at the wheel, that would never happen.  Argh!  I agree we got some astonishing views, but I was petrified that we would be stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere.  Of course we made it through.  Regis got his fix and Dart wound up in my lap on the return trip because he hated be thrown around in the back of the jeep.

Look at the mud on the jeep. What a mess!
Look closely at this female bighorn sheep. Not only is she wearing a radio collar but she appears to be ready to have a baby.
Two female Bighorn Sheep in Badlands National Park


Car Trouble

For those who have been following us since the beginning of this year’s trip, you may remember me mentioning I was concerned we may be having an upcoming issue with the Jeep.  Today was the day.  At one of the rest stops, Regis needed to get in the car for something and the car and the key fob wouldn’t work.  There was no electricity.

While driving down the highway, with Regis at the wheel, I did some internet research on my phone to find somewhere to take the car after we arrived at our campsite in Columbia, Missouri.  The local Jeep dealer did not have good reviews, but All Star Automotive on N 1st Street had good reviews.  We opted to go with All Star and risk not having them be able to handle an issue covered under warranty.  I called to let them know we were going to find a way to get the car there and the gentleman said they would look at it tomorrow if we could get it in there today.  We also discussed the possibility of taking the car to them with the motor home, but they have a small lot.  I was able to determine that our RV Roadside Assistance package with Coach Net covers the tow vehicle.  If we needed to get it towed, they could do it.

We decided to see what the situation looked like when we got to the campsite.  At the campsite, Regis was able to get in the car with the key fob but the engine wouldn’t start.  One of the wonderful guys working at the campground gave Regis a jump start and Regis drove the car to the repair shop about 6 miles away.   We were suspicious that it could just be a dead battery since the car isn’t even that old and we spend our winters in Florida.

Here’s where things get totally amazing from a customer service point of view.  Not long after Regis left, I saw the Jeep pulling up to the RV.  As Regis began entering  the RV, the Jeep pulled away!  The guy from the repair shop dropped Regis back off at the RV.  Shortly before 5:00, they called to say the car was ready and they came to pick Regis up.  And it get’s better.  They determined that the problem was an after market wire connected to the battery the wrong way causing a loose battery cable connection.  The only after market work done to the Jeep was to get it set up for the tow package at the place we bought the RV.  Anyway, it was easily fixed and the bill came to $31.50.

I’m thrilled it was an easy fix.  But, I am flabbergasted by the amazing customer service from All Star Automotive.  If you have car problems in Columbia, Missouri, they are the  place to go.

Also, the folks at Cottonwoods RV Park were very helpful.

Sorry, no pictures today.  But, the weather is beautiful.  I already paid the campground to stay an extra night, so we’ll check some things out here tomorrow.  It’s all good!