As I sit in a hotel near East Millinocket on Sunday afternoon, it would be easy to be discouraged about this journey. After all, I did leave Rome 12 days ago. I have been in Maine for 10 days now. But I will let you know I am not discouraged but hopeful. Hopeful that God will continue the work he started almost a year ago. Hopeful that I will see miracles. Hopeful that God give me the strength to carry on.
On the trip up as we neared Millinocket, the Rv leaked out all the Antifreeze on I-95. Stephanie and I made it to the exit before the engine completely shut down. A man immediately stopped to help, as he saw we were completely surrounded by smoke. He just happened to have the tool in his garage to check where the antifreeze was leaking from. He also just happened to live less than a half mile from where we broke down. He tested it and antifreeze poured out from the water pump. We cooled the engine down by pouring water in and drove it a mile to park at a gas station for the night. Unfortunately we couldn’t get it to a mechanic until the next morning at 8.
The next morning we began the trip 7 miles down the road to a mechanic, stopping every 2-5 miles and pouring a couple gallons of water in the engine to cool it down. The first mechanic we arrived at was all booked for the day. Being Friday, he wouldn’t be able to even look at it until Monday. He sent us a mile down the road to another mechanic. They immediately told me they don’t work on RVs. They did say I should take it down to Bangor to the RV place. Unfortunately this was nearly 20 miles, and took almost 2 hours having to stop and cool the engine down frequently. I think we went through 12 gallons of water getting there. We get there and tell them what’s going on, and they tell us they don’t do any chassis work, only coach work. That means they only work on the home part of the RV. But, they sent us 3 miles down the road to someone who could definitely get it in today, hurray!!! We drove it down, cooling the engine a couple times on the way. A couple times I almost destroyed my face from the spewing antifreeze/water when I removed the hot cap. We got it there, got an estimate on the confirmed water pump issue. In 5 short hours we were on our way. With Amy, Susan and Malachi planning to arrive the next day, we decided just to sleep in the Lincoln Walmart parking lot for the night.
Amy and the crew arrived shortly after lunch the next day. We bought groceries and some final things we needed. We still were planning to begin the AT Monday morning. After that we headed to a campground about an hour from where I would begin. Upon arrival, I went in to get a spot to camp. When I went back out, the RV would not start and seemed to be over heated. I tried a few more times and it did start, but a big cloud of smoke shot out the exhaust as it did. I woke the next morning, changed the oil, and drove it around a few miles. It still didn’t seem to run correctly. Being Sunday, I would have to wait until the next morning to have it looked at again. At this point, I decided to push back my start time until Tuesday morning, knowing that if I didn’t start Tuesday I would have to wait until the next week. Starting Wednesday would put the record time finishing on a Sunday, and that doesn’t work for my journey.
Monday morning I drove to the mechanic in Millenocket, again they don’t work on RVs. He sent me to an RV shop in Medway. I got there and they don’t work on the chassis. RV wouldn’t start again, and I broke down, thinking this could very well be the end of my journey. 20 minutes later, I tried again and it started with another huge cloud of black smoke. I went to the 3rd mechanic for the day, and they were booked. I then walked across the street to the 4th mechanic of the day and the 7th of the trip. I told me he could work on it, finally. He gave me estimates for replacing the head gaskets ($1400) and replacing the motor ($2200). Yep, that sucks. But, what else could we do? We are this far into the journey and God has provided so far, would he not continue to provide? We decided to have the motor replaced and he said it should be done at the latest on Thursday. It was a bit of a stretch to pay this much, but a relief to know we would basically have a new RV after the work was finished. Oh, I forgot to mention the film crew broke down in New York and had to get towed off the interstate. They were now planning to arrive around 1 am on Tuesday morning.
We all talked and decided to begin the AT on Tuesday. The crew would stay in a hotel room and crew me during the day. I would sleep in the pop up with the film crew. When the RV gets repaired, we would find our groove and be good for the summer. We had a plan!
It was cold and rainy on Tuesday morning. After a long trip up, Ryan and I were at the peak of Katahdin around 11:15 am. After a quick video, I began my journey on the AT at 11:19 am. Did I mention it was sleeting and in the 30’s at the peak? I took off from the start, trying to get back below the tree line so I could warm up a little. Within a mile I broke my first pair of glasses. I began cramping on the way down from an electrolyte imbalance. But I got it all straightened out by the time I got back down to the car. I then made my way to where Amy was waiting around mile 15. At this point I had been blown away by the beauty of the trail in Maine. It was incredible! I loaded up and set out into the 100-mile wilderness. The rest of the day was great except for my feet being soaked. I called it a day around 1 am at 41 miles into the AT and crashed with the film crew. Oh yeah, I broke a second pair of glasses and was now on my last pair. That was day 1.
After 3.5 hours of sleep I got up and headed toward Jo-Mary rd. around mile 56, with hopes to make it to mile 100 or so. Between 41 and 56, I was more miserable than I had ever been. What was the reason? MOSQUITOS! Malachi counted the bites only on the back of my neck, and the total in that area alone was 29.
So you don’t have to read a novel tonight, I will post more of the journey tomorrow…