Vandalia, IL

About an hour into my latest vagabondage (sadly, not as a dirty as it sounds), my engine started smoking. *Sigh. I was really hoping my radiator blew a hose. I seriously thought, let’s just hope it’s something with the radiator. Me and my big mouth.

I called Good Sam and about 2 hours later a tow truck arrived. I had popped the hood after it cooled down, but I couldn’t see anything.

They drove me 20-30 miles out of my way to the only service garage that would take me and wasn’t booked for weeks.  McDowell’s let me crash in their parking lot for almost a week. I made a hotel reservation for the days it was to hit 90 degrees or above. I would have toughed it out, but that’s a bit much for the dogs. That was before McDowell’s offered me an outlet for my fan. I didn’t mind getting out of the heat and having a pool, free full breakfast, T.V., and decent internet for a couple of days.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a radiator hose. My transmission blew. It was so hot, apparently it melted everything.  ?   They put in a Jasper transmission, it has an extra cooler, which will be good for crossing mountains. I didn’t quite take their word.  Mostly because they were going to send my old transmission to be fixed for about half the cost of the Jasper, then the next day they gave me 2 options which did not consist of getting the old transmission fixed.  I called a mechanic my uncle trusts (Woltering Garage in St. Rose, IL if you are interested) and at first he thought it sounded fishy. When I told him it melted stuff, he agreed with the Jasper transmission.

I was lucky enough to be with in walking distance of food and a hotel that allowed dogs.  There was also a small college across the street that butted against a field, this allowed the dogs plenty of space to run around when needed.

The day before I was to check into the hotel and 3 days before I was to pay for my new transmission, I woke to find my FOID card and my debit card chewed to bits. Yes, Gunnar destroyed my only shot of paying for my new transmission, the hotel I luckily reserved with the card days before, and any food.  Remarkably, Chase came through and sent a replacement in 2 days. I ordered it on a Saturday and I got it on a Monday. That’s some speedy delivery.



My dog is a jerk.

After they fixed the transmission, they realized something was seriously wrong with the radiator.  That’s why I don’t pray. God is twisted.

They sent the radiator to be fixed. The place thought they could fix it, but the next day they said they had to replace that too. The woman at McDowell’s said it was because the radiator sat there too long. I don’t know much about engines, but it didn’t seem like a week was too long.  I had a friend with me and he called the radiator place.  Sometimes being a woman is not to my advantage. (Okay, most of the time.) They said they went to replace the coils and there were just too many to replace.

While I was waiting to hear back about the radiator, I went to Mid-State Campers in Vandalia to see about getting my fridge working. That’s right, my fridge had gone out a couple of days before I left. I thought it was just that I wasn’t level enough. I had run out of propane and after I filled the tank, it wouldn’t start again.



This used to be a full can of potted meat. Since my fridge wasn’t work I had to buy food that wouldn’t go bad. I bought about 6 cans. This is the fate of 3 cans. Gunnar opened them with his mouth and ate all of the meat. I have one can left. Did I mention he is a bit of a jerk? Luckily, the card came and I didn’t starve. Although, let’s be honest. I would have eaten Gunnar first.

So I bought a small cooler and a some food that wouldn’t spoil. I walked to the liquor store down the road every day for ice. Glamorous, this life is not. Sometimes. Although, my hotel room did have a mini fridge. Awesome.

The amazing people at Mid-State told me about Ken from K&M RV refrigeration, who also happens to be awesome.  Ken came to my RV and poked around. He said the ignition was not sparking in the correct spot so he moved the wire a tad and Bob’s your uncle. He did ask me if I was pressing the knob in, which I was thank-you-very-much.  He charged $55 bucks for the service call. He also noticed that a part on my fridge had been recalled for started fires and mine could be replaced for free.

While I waited on the radiator, I took a little side trip.

Now I’m back in Vandalia for the foreseeable future. I’m waiting on delivery of the fridge part.

This could have been a really awful way to start my trip, but I had savings and everything aligned to make it as smooth as possible.

I have never spent much time in Vandalia, but I am pleasantly surprised. The people are really nice.
I may start doing a “Things Gunnar Destroyed” post.  I should have done one for Beasley so we could determine the ultimate champ of ruining my life.

Luckily for them both, waking up to sights such as this makes me want to kill them less:


Brothers gotta hug….or dry hump in their sleep. I can’t tell.

About Elisha

Elisha Dasenbrock is an award winning, international watercolor artist. She paints with a limited palette on claybord. Dasenbrock graduated from the American Academy of Art in 2009 and has been painting professionally ever since.