Brakes and Breaks

Sometimes life sends a lemon or two your way.  Best thing to do, of course, is to make lemonade!

We started our trip south on Tuesday.  Our destination was not too far; my aunt’s place in Donaldson, Indiana.  If you recall our post from last year, Paradise in a Corn Field, my 91 year old aunt is a nun who lives at one of the most unique places you would ever expect to find in the middle of northern Indiana’s farmland.  Her brother, (my 89 year old uncle), lives in their independent living facility.  We hadn’t seen them in awhile, so we thought it would be wise to check in with them before we headed south.  The sisters allowed us to park our rig at their transportation facility.  


Pretty nice campsite, if I don’t say so myself!  Water and electric included.  Plenty of room for Diana’s Escape, also!  🙂

So not long after I took this photo, we headed out.  Diana left ahead of me, and my plan was to stop and get fuel at the Pilot station on US-30, just east of US-31 at Plymouth, Indiana.  As I pulled up to the pump, I hit the brakes and heard the low rumble and grind of metal-to-metal coming from the front brakes.  I fueled up, pulled around back to the truck parking area, grabbed my flashlight and started inspecting the calipers.   Sure enough, the inside pad on the left front brake was bad.  I had just had these brakes done in Florida a little over a year ago, so this should not have happened.  On top of that, I had just had The Works done at my longtime Ford dealer on Thursday in Grand Rapids…a service that includes a brake inspection.  I was not told there was an issue.  Needless to say, after voicing my displeasure to them,  I have a refund coming for that work.  :). Anyway, there I was in Plymouth, trying to find someone to work on the truck.  No one was able to get me in, so I called the good folks at NAPA  Pilgrim Auto Parts and located a set of brake pads.  I limped over there by downshifting and using the trailer brakes only (Diana was already 1/2 hour south and sitting tight by the time I had realized what was going on) and the woman at the parts counter had my pads waiting for me.  I bought a heavy duty set of jack stands and a bottle jack, and she directed me to an empty former Kmart parking lot.  I put my high school auto shop skills to use, installed the new brake pads and was back on the road within two hours!  Fortunately I had all the tools I needed, short of the jack and the stands.

With a fresh batch of lemonade in the fridge (so to speak), we were rolling.  Previous to our departure, I had been emailing the destination we had planned to stop at that night; Singing Hills RV Park and Campground in Cave City, Kentucky.  The owner, Eldon, came across in his emails as being a very nice gentleman.  I really wanted to push hard and make it there, so we both navigated around Indianapolis and Louisville and made it to Singing Hills at dusk.  We were not disappointed. Eldon was a very kind man, and he was very proud of his small campground. It was quiet and peaceful, except for the rooster that woke us at sunrise.  :). We decided to stay for two nights, so Diana could work on thank you notes for her mom’s funeral….and so we could catch our breath.


Eldon and his wife had decorated the campground for Christmas, which was a nice touch after a long day.  🙂


Thursday revealed the inviting rural setting. Later in the morning, we tried to make arrangements to meet up with Kelly and Bill from bkamericanodyssey, after she saw a post I had made on Facebook about being in the area. They are working over at Amazon in Campbellsville, about an hour from where we were.  We also wanted to see Peg and Michele, who we had met at the RV-Dreams rally last year.  Scheduling didn’t work out, so we opted to make the effort to meet up in Florida.

After Diana had finished up what she wanted to do for the day on the thank you notes, we did a little exploring in the area.  Singing Hills is a couple of miles from the entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park.  We had been in the cave in the early 1980’s.  Quite frankly, caves aren’t exactly my thing, so I wasn’t in a hurry to go back down there.  Diana had scoped out a couple of places for us to visit.  The first was Chaser’s Kentucky Chocolates, which specializes in bourbon balls and other liquor-infused delights.  We had an interesting conversation with the owner about how they got their start in South Bend, Indiana, selling bootleg bourbon chocolate to Notre Dame students.  :). Indiana liquor laws ended up forcing them out, and they decided to move their business to Kentucky. We both came away with some fudge. Next up was an Amish store that was on the opposite side of the park, so we drove through to get there.  Along the way, we were surprised at the beauty of the Mammoth Cave NP above the ground!  The hills and the trees were amazing….even without leaves on the trees.  We also noticed that they have a crushed limestone bike path throughout the park.  We will keep that in mind for the future.

Along the route, we came to the Green River ferry.



This free of charge gem takes vehicles back and forth across the river in less than five minutes.  The vessel rides along cables that are strung high above to keep the boat from floating down the river.


In the image above, you can see the cable system.  The low winter sun on the trees was something to see. Now knowing how beautiful this area is in the winter, we will be sure to stop again in warmer weather.

We arrived at Detweiler’s Country Store and spent 1/2 hour checking the place out.  I kept my camera stowed, out of respect for the Amish not wanting their photos taken.  We enjoy perusing the multitude of goods available in these types of stores.  Living off the grid, they are usually lit by gas lights, and this establishment was no different.  But I did notice that they also were using LED lights, which are powered by a diesel generator.  We find it fascinating to see the Amish and Mennonite communities in action, as they are so self sufficient.  We also notice that their interpretation of which modern convinces are acceptable varies between communities.  Some allow indoor plumbing and some don’t.  A few will use cell phones, and others will use a landline telephone mounted on a pole by the road.  Horses and buggies are the mode of transportation…unless a non-Amish neighbor is driving them somewhere in a 15 passenger Ford Econoline van.  Whatever the case, it all seems to work well for them.  And while I am grateful for the modern convinces that make our lives what they are, the Amish always cause me to reflect on how technology can tend to overtake us.  In leading their lives the way they do, they provide a reality check for those of us who prefer to embrace modern ways.

Friday morning, we woke up to snow flurries.  Our plan was to only drive 200 miles to northern Alabama, but we ended up going 300 miles to Birmingham, so as to try to find some warmer temperatures.  That last 50 miles is turning out to be too much for us, so we are going to try to put our upper limit at 250 miles per day in the future.  On the subject of driving in two separate vehicles, it is working well for us.  Diana is able to drive ahead and scout accessibility for the rig.  Once at the campgrounds, we are able to keep the truck and trailer hooked up and run our errands in the Escape.  That is a huge deal.  The walkie talkies work well when we are within a mile of each other, but a quick phone call seems to work better overall.

That’s it for the first part of our journey to Florida.  We will reveal our winter destination, once we reach it.  While we have been to the Sunshine State countless times, this will be the first time we will have spent an extended period there.  Stay tuned and safe travels!  🙂

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22 thoughts on “Brakes and Breaks”

  1. You just never know when there will be a problem with your truck or trailer when you are on the road. Glad you were able to get help and had all the tools you needed to get back on the road again quickly. We visited Mammoth Cave a few years ago and we were also struck by how beautiful it is above ground. And I love riding on ferries! Look forward to seeing where you end up in Florida.

    We also try to limit our driving to 250 miles or less a day although some days we will push it to 300. We always like to stop by about 4:00 at the latest. We try to stay at least two nights everywhere we go.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim and Diana,

    It was so fun to talk with you both the other night. I wish we could have made a meet up work out BUT I’m so glad we decided to wait . Peg has a WHOPPER of a cold that is not worthy of sharing with y’all!!! We will see you in Florida!!! Continued safe travels to the Florida Sun.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the shout-out! While we were disappointed to not get together – we completely understand the need for moving south!
    Bill says sadly Ford Super-Duty’s have this problem! He “shoot’s”, with an IR (InfraRed) scanner, the brake area (same spot on both sides) to make sure thay one isn’t getting hotter than the other – that’s when you might be having a problem and further inspection is called for. Kudos on getting the job done! If you didn’t already – Bill also says you should use plenty of high-temp grease on the mounting tabs and make sure the caliper pins are free (not stuck). Even after the purchase of the stands – you probably saved a ton of $$$!
    Wishing you continued safe travels! Keep in touch!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I certainly agree with Bill above. We have had multiple problems with our Ford Super Duty Brakes hanging up and causing the same issue. I have replaced the calipers multiple times. It is a known Ford issue. The rubber protective boot on the caliper piston fails and allows road grime and oxidation of the piston. Check with the IR temp gauge regularly and you may have to replace the caliper. I also notice a drop in MPG when one is hanging up. Good Luck, love you blog.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the info, Shawn. I wonder if there is an aftermarket company that makes a higher quality caliper. It’s definitely something I am going to look into.


  4. Hey Jim, in my case I’d make Lemon Curd, or maybe Lemon tart — but if you like lemonade — be my guest. (just kidding)

    Love the sites at Singing Hills.

    Are you in for a day or two or are you back on the road again?

    when you talked about getting talkie-walkies I was wondering about communicating during the day. We talk a lot as we travel and over the years we have made a lot of decisions while driving. I think for the way we interact it would be hard to be in separate vehicles. Glad it’s working out well for you guys though.

    We’re on the go again tomorrow. Three nights there, then an 11 night stay on the coast (if the road to the campground isn’t closed — it was recently due to water and there are 8 out of the next 10 days with rain in our forecast.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad you were able to replace the pads yourself – and that you discovered it at a safe location! Love the little ferry. Hope you don’t have too many more long driving days ahead of you – I much prefer less than 150 🙂 Sounds like the second vehicle is working out well for you two, sure seems like a smart option!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Big batch of lemonade here too! We got to the central coast of California at Morro Bay and discovered excessive wear (like no tread) on the outside of one tire. Headed into Bakersfield on the way to the desert and stop at a dealer who mention the dreaded words “bent axle”. We had to wait for over a week for an appointment only to find out we’d have to leave it with them for several days! Yikes! It’s our home we pleaded!
    I guess he felt sorry for us and told us they would be taking it to a local frame and axle place anyway and gave us their number. Called them up and they took us in right away. 4 hours later everything was fixed (not bent but out of alignment).
    On the road again! Damn that lemonade taste good!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bummer you couldn’t see Kelly and Bill. Super impressed by how you handled the brake situation. Don’t be surprised if things start breaking left and right. Even though we had the rig almost a year before we started traveling, the movement is what really shakes out issues with the rig. So so happy for you guys and can’t wait to see what happens next 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good thing I’m handy, Trace! We have been fortunate, as far as the fifth wheel goes (knock on reconstituted wood). It’s a 2007 that we’ve owned since 2011. We’ve had it to Yellowstone and the UP of Michigan, and this is its’ second trip to Florida. Little things do pop up now and then, but nothing I haven’t been able to handle yet…again, knock on reconstituted wood!

      Yes, we really wanted to see Kelly, Bill, Michele and Peg. We are going to do our best to see them in Florida.


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