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This little motorhome is “Bad Ass”.

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I know, I know… I shouldn’t talk about a donkey here on WordPress. Somehow it just fits.

I have been a bad Blogger. Seems having fun, while traveling around may have muddled my brain. We have been camping in Voyageur since Friday. Started off at Silver Lake Recreation area and then moved here to Chassahowitzka River Campground.  The weather has been perfect. Plenty of sunny days and nice late evening rain. The only bad thing was… I lost my new camera. Still have not ordered another one. I would love suggestions for a waterproof, lightweight, digital camera…

I am going to post this one photo from my phone and then launch Camo-Tow for some fishing. Soon as Lucy and I are back at Site 17, I will post a proper “BLOG”. I don’t want her too get angry. She is Readsy to hit the river NOW.

The Chassahowitzka River is crystal clear. Lots of fish and other aquatic life. I bought a long handled crab net at the campground store and we hope to boil up some tasty Blue Crabs this evening… Liz and Doreen are doing a marvelous job of running the campground and making us feel right at home. The facilities are pristine and the traffic low. As long as you don’t mind DEET spray on your exposed body-parts, sitting out by the fire in the lush tropical rainforest surroundings is stellar… “GONE FISHIN”…

Spokesman Dave

Purely Physical…

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“Object of my affection”

Lucy is in Bradenton visiting two of our daughters, so I am alone. When I am by myself… strange, random thoughts, occupy my diminutive brain.

When I first asked Lucy to marry me, I had never heard her voice, seen her in the daylight, or knew her name. She walked in front of my car, late one night, on her way to the “ladies room”. My little brother and I were sitting in my car in the parking lot of the local “Steak and Shake” drive-in restaurant. In those days – 1967 – all of the carhops were on roller skates. Steve and I had hoped to meet some “Babes” and I had no idea that the one woman would alter my life forever…

My mom always told me not to “Judge a book by it’s cover.” She also told me that beauty is just “skin deep.” Well on this particular night “skin deep” was deep enough… When Lucy walked by, she was the perfect vision of poise and confidence. She appeared totally unaware of the beauty that she was. I instantly loved the way she walked, the way she looked and the shy smile she cast my way as she glided confidently by. That one look, changed me forever. When she was on her way back to her car, I approached her. She was quite shocked when I looked her in the eyes and said “I am going to marry you”. Even in this awkward moment, she was the perfect lady. She stepped slightly away and pointed to the engagement ring on her finger. “Thank you, but I am already engaged.” Even in the face of my bizarre statement of affection, she was kind and polite. Hearing her voice for the first time was like a warm spring breeze covering my entire body. I never felt so totally in love before. My mind was racing. I couldn’t think of anything to say to further my chances of making her my wife and in fact, ever seeing her again…

Later, when she and her girlfriends drove out of the parking lot, my dedicated quest began. I told my brother – “I am going to find her and marry her.” That was forty four years ago.

I love her now… more than ever.

We had a wonderful bike ride on the Withlacoochee rails-to-trails bike path that ended in a gentle rain. It amazes me that Lucy looks gorgeous, even in a bike helmet. Thank you Lord.
 

I did eventually find her. It was a one-in-a-million chance. I won’t tell you the mushy story of my search and eventual engagement – unless you ask me to.

As Rod Stewart said “The attraction was purely physical…”

Best wishes, Spokesman Dave

Part Nine: “Voyageur” is home. HOORAY!

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This is a photo of a very happy RV traveler.

We picked up our Roadtrek from the Cobra Shop and the frame looks better than new. Mike and his crew did a marvelous job. Everything feels solid and true. I will schedule a “four-wheel alignment in the next few days just to straighten everything back to – perfect. Our new front bumper is on order from “Discount Auto Parts” and I expect it to arrive within the next week…

Yesterday, I prepped the new aluminum, custom-made, air-conditioning louver, for installation. It will provide a waterproof vent for the air-conditioner exhaust air. I didn’t like the flimsy factory original so I had one fabricated locally.

The new louver will fill the opening and be secured over a fresh bed of clear silicone caulk with 3/16″ aluminum pop-rivets…

My new LG air-conditioner needs room to breathe and this should work fine…

Since everything is already apart I decided to sand – Ospho – and paint the old bumper brackets. They were kind of rusty and I DO NOT WANT ANYMORE RUST. Before I install the new bumper I am going to clean and prep the backside of the chrome bumper and paint it with a coat of spray-on bedliner. The way Chrysler designed the huge bumper makes it subject to retaining water from road-spray. I figure “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Self Portrait of the hard working “Queen” – Spokes-model Lucy…

As soon as “Voyageur” was parked safely in our driveway, Lucy got busy preparing the inside. She is packing all of the necessary cooking and life-support gear. Due to the incredible amount of “tucked away” storage, in this little twenty foot long RV, she is using labels made of blue painters tape to list the contents of each compartment. It will take a lot of searching to find a few of the items.

What is your favorite flat-screen TV?

We are currently shopping for a 12 volt, flat-screen, LED television and wall mount. If any of you have suggestions for suitable units please post them under “comments”. We would like one with an integrated DVD player…

We still have a weeks worth of RV chores and projects to complete but having a totally sound frame is an incredible relief…

Best wishes from Spokesman Dave

Part Eight: Roadtrek frame rust restoration

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Amazing progress has been made at the hands of restoration artist, “Mike”…

Mike did not want his picture taken. He finally said “Oh. Alright…” He is a very modest man, as are most truly talented men. In one of my conversations with Mike he revealed he had been around a “body” shop since he was three years old. Seems he absorbed much of what he observed. I find him very easy to talk to, but I would definitely slow his progress with many continued adoring, admiring, comments and my incessant questions. Best if I just shoot a few photos and be on my way. Mike said he may have it complete by Saturday. The work he has done so far is spot-on…

I attached this photo to show how really dangerous the condition of the frame was, when I unknowingly drove it home from Kentucky… “By the grace of God”…

Mike scarfed the new frame section in just forward of the spring-perch. I can tell you from having seen it first hand – he is an artist… This shot of the passenger side shows the amazing job he did of marrying new part to old…

Driver side is just as “pretty”. I have no doubt the new frame section is stronger than the original it replaced. I was completely at the end of my rope on this Roadtrek. I had prayed almost continually for a solution and spent hours looking for a suitable technician to save our dream vehicle. When God puts the right worker on the job, nothing can stand in the way… I am so full of gratitude and thanksgiving I have tears in my eyes while I type this. Thank you Lord and thank you Mike. The “Cobra Shop” has made it all happen…

Cobra Shop ordered the two new “headlight baffles” (white sheet-metal pieces) from Dodge and replaced them as well. There was enough rust in that area to make it unsafe. The red cross-member was part of the frame that came from Sebring, Florida. Mike actually had to drill out about two hundred factory spot welds to properly install the very important frame component. I am taking all of these photos, so that in the unlikely event we decide to sell “Voyageur”, the buyer can be assured he is buying a completely sound vehicle. I wish I would have been so lucky…

It is my personal belief that God can use any situation as an opportunity to increase our faith. I have learned to forgive. I have no animosity for the person I bought the van from. I believe I should have done a better job of researching before I purchased the vehicle. I also believe that God used this situation to teach me patience and perseverance. Through the long process, I learned not to doubt, but to remain strong in my faith. I asked God to help me glorify His name through the resolution of the problem. He chose to do so and we are forever grateful…

Just a few more days and Voyageur will be back at O.O.C. where we will make final preparation for our first trip. Destination Hartselle, Alabama, for a reunion with our daughters Charlotte and Aimee… I am very excited.

Please feel free to contact me about the repair, the Cobra Shop, or Mike – the expert that is putting everything right…

Spokesman Dave

Part Six: “Rusty” is going to be okay.

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Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

This is my “Happy Face”…

After a couple months of; worrying, investigating, planning, parts-ordering, dead ends, more praying, visits to two previous shops… We have success. The incredible team at “The Cobra Shop” have completed their inspection, provided a scope-of-work and a cost estimate and we “pulled the trigger”. Dismantling will begin today and tomorrow I will deliver the donor frame to the shop. The price was very fair and we are completely confident in their ability to put “Rusty” “Voyageur” back in safe, road-worthy, condition… We are very excited…

I will post follow ups as the project moves forward. Word is that “Voyageur’s” frame will be stronger and better than factory new. Once the undercarriage is complete the entire underside of the van, running gear and frame will undergo a complete rust-proofing (better than undercoating) treatment to prevent a recurrence of this problem. Stay tuned…

Thank you Lord and thank you staff and crew of “Cobra Shop”…

The Cobra Shop

(239) 995-8314
8921 N Fork Dr, North Fort Myers, FL 33903

Thank you for all the words of support and for those who spoke to God on our behalf.Spokesman Dave

Part Five: “Rusty” Restoration

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Sorry we have been off line for a while.

When we last spoke, Rusty (aka Voyageur) was on his way to Pam’s Motor City. We had high-hopes for Pam’s but it turned out bad. She called “Pat’s Body Shop” (owner has 44 years experience) and he said “No way.” basically he said it was not repairable and mixed in a lot of other problems. Bottom line was – they did not want to tackle the job. Said there was a lot more rust than I thought there was.  I never met the man or spoke to him. Pam assured me that he had a lot of “Up North” experience with salt damaged vehicles and it was an impossible task. Disappointed to have still another dead end, I pressed on…

The staff at Pam’s was very courteous and it was not their staff that turned it down. They don’t do any body work. I did schedule a four wheel alignment for my Land Rover.

Fearful of all the “Additional rot and rust that the body man said I had… I opted to pay $75.00 to have it towed fourteen miles to my next to the last hope “The Cobra Shop”. I had a previous visit with Mike and he was pretty sure they could do the job… Colonial Wrecker took it to Cobra… The grille and bumper are at home in my shop.

Lucy and I arrived while Mike was out picking up a sandwich, so we visited with Becky, until he returned. I spent some time inside “Rusty” retrieving a few more items that we would need on our Land Rover trip to Ocala, next week. Just a few minutes later Lucy tapped on the window and said “Mike is here…”

By the time I stepped out of Rusty”, Mike was already laying on his back under the front end. Mike spent some time examining the damage and then slid out to discuss what he saw. He indicated that the damage appeared to be exactly as I first thought – confined to the frame horns, forward of the spring perches. He explained how he would do the repairs. He spoke with a rare depth of knowledge and confidence. Mike went a step further and indicated that he couldn’t be one hundred percent positive until he had it inside and up on a lift. He seemed quite sure that there was no additional rust damage. He will be calling us first of next week with a thorough diagnosis, treatment plan and estimate.We are very optimistic…

“Worst come to worst”…

A few of our friends have asked us, “What will you do if “Rusty” just can’t be fixed?” Good question – answer – get over it. We will not let any problem that can be fixed, or was caused by money, steal our joy. Having a sick child, personal injury or loss of a limb could certainly dim our outlook. Anything else is just a MINOR set-back. As long as Lucy and I are together and our children and extended are healthy and happy… nothing else really matters. If I am with my Lucy, I am happy. It doesn’t matter if we are camping in a forty three foot, Cass-A, motorhome, Rusty, or sleeping in our Kelty Green River tent. We have chosen to enjoy every moment of our lives and to be grateful that we are a couple. While Paul was in prison and could have been killed at any time, his worried followers sent a representative to visit him, to discover his condition and offer their support. He told his followers “Don’t worry about me.” He went further and said I will honor the Lord in my Life or in my death. It doesn’t matter which.”

I feel the same as Paul. I am doing all I can to make “Rusty” roadworthy and safe. At the same time, I am not “Leaning on my own understanding.” I am “Acknowledging Him in all my ways and trusting Him to guide my path.” In the first chapter of James, Christ said “Consider it all JOY my Brethren, when you encounter various trials, for these shall build endurance.” Thank you Lord for the freedom of your love and the security of my salvation…

Stay tuned,

“Spokesman” Dave

Part Four: 911 Van Down! Van Down!

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I frantically dialed 911 on my Android phone

In only a few seconds the emergency operator answered and said “AAA, how may I help you?” She asked me if I was in a safe place and I said “Hell yes. I am in my front yard. It’s Rusty I am worried about!” I quickly explained with a slight tremble in my voice exactly what was wrong with “Rusty”. I answered a series of questions and made sure she had all the “vital signs”. She said she would dispatch an ambulance to our location STAT. She told me to keep Rusty in the shade and for me to remain calm and stay inside my air-conditioned home. I of course complied…

Rusty fell in love with EMT Lucas. It made him think of his favorite lubrication products.

Even though it seemed much longer, it was only sixty minutes before “Lucas” EMT (Emergency Medical Towing) rolled up. He approached Rusty slowly and cautiously muttering in a soothing voice as he drew alongside. Rusty was nervous, but in only a few minutes he seemed to relax and really like Lucas… He asked me what happened to Rusty’s bumper and grille and I explained I had removed them to make patient assessment easier…

CLEAR !!!

Lucas climbed inside Rusty and yelled “CLEARRRR!” seconds later 64,000 volts surged from Rusty’s coil, hit the spark plugs and Lucas yelled “I’ve got a pulse! Heart rate 1000 RPM, respiration normal. I think he can get onto the stretcher under his own power.” I breathed a huge sigh of relief and Rusty smiled just a little…

Rusty shuddered just a little, as Lucas guided him slowly and carefully aboard the waiting “stretcher”. He only slowed down a little when his stout, Class III hitch receiver, dragged on the asphalt driveway. I told Rusty not to be afraid and directed EMT Lucas to continue moving forward. Just another few feet and Rusty was safely on the ambulance…

Lock him down gently…

Rusty groaned a little, in mild protest, at having his wheels restrained against the uncomfortable back-board. Lucas explained that all patients must be restrained for their own safety and that his frame was just to weak to use. Rusty was pretty brave. He had a few tears, but he never really cried. It made me sad to see Rusty immobilized, but I knew in the long run it was for his own good.

While the EMT completed safely restraining Rusty, I called the Triage Team at Pam’s Motor City and told them he was on his way. They assured me the doctors, nurses and technicians would be ready…

“Please Lord…”

As Lucas rolled out I yelled “Run CODE. Lights and Sirens!” I did my best to hide my fear from Rusty. I did not want him to see me crying and make him even more nervous at going to the hospital alone. I prayed as he pulled out of sight “Please Lord, bring Rusty safely to P.M.C. and return him to us whole again. I promise I will always keep his tire pressure perfect and only burn high-octane fuel.” It will be a long night for all of us, as we wait to hear the diagnosis and treatment plan for Rusty’s rehabilitation…

” Get Well ” cards may be sent to: “Rusty Roadtrek”, c/o Pam Oakes, Owner – Pam’s Motor City, 13395 Metro Parkway, Fort Myers, Florida 33966. Please do not send balloons. It makes him “gassy”

Spokesman Dave

Rusty Roadtrek: Part Three

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“Cheer up it could get worse” It did…

I am not posting this to “Bitch and moan”. I am very sorry that I didn’t investigate better before I paid for the van. Water over the dam. I want to document my discovery and my attempt at correcting the problem.

I took the van to one shop “Gene’s Frame Repair” and had a terrible result. I later found that this company was definitely not the best one for the work. If you are interested in what I found click here for the WINK TV “Call for action”.

Next I spoke with Doug Martin “Beach Fender Mender”. After a series of unanswered voice-mails and messages left with his wife Daniel, I decided it was time to move on. If the man doesn’t keep his word on “Call backs” I would have expected the same results on my project.

On to the reason for my huge repair problem…

Passenger side frame rail. Extensive rust damage. Crap! Looks like I shouldn’t have bought a “Pig in a poke”. Needless to say, I was heart broken when I saw it. This was supposed to be the vehicle that Lucy and I would travel in for the rest of our vehicle expedition lives. Well “cry or try”… I am not one who quits in fear or gives up without a good fight. There has to be a way to make it like new.

My first order of business was to find a suitable frame section from a donor vehicle. I made twelve phone calls with “Sorry no” results. My thirteenth call struck pay dirt. I spoke to Steve at Jim’s Auto Parts in Sebring, Florida and he said “Sure. I got what you need right here.” I asked how much and he said “Buck and a half” standard salvage yard jargon. I said “How much for freight?” Steve replied “I run my own trucks. That price includes delivery.” Amazing. A perfect donor frame deliver to my door for $150.00. Next morning I had my frame. It looked great. No rust or damage at all. I wire brushed it, painted on a coat of Ospho and then a primer coat of zinc chromate. The frame is ready for installation…

I have an appointment with Pam’s Motor City on Thursday. She has a complete body shop as well as engine and regular mechanic service. I am very optimistic that she owns the right company for the job…

I removed the grille and bumper to make it a little easier for her to get to the problem. In the process I discovered more rust damage underneath. Good thing is, the damaged parts are all in good shape on the donor frame.

I am bound and determined to complete the repairs and have this gorgeous Roadtrek back in fighting trim. While it is in the shop I will replace all front end bushings, tie-rod ends, sway bar links and front shocks. In addition; new rear main seal, timing chain, complete tune-up and replacement of passenger side exhaust header will be completed.

Lucy and I can’t wait to get “Voyageur” back on the road and back to doing what it does best. Carrying us on another great adventure creating wonderful new memories… I will keep you posted on my progress.

Party hardy,

Dave the “Spokesman”

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